I wrote this in my livejournal post, and thought it would be appropriate to post here since it is a very good definition of who I am:
Come, friend, sit down at the fire with me. Let us drink tea and talk.
Oh, you wish for an introduction?
I am a bit of a mystery. The road I walk is rarely traveled, yet it takes me through groves of trees, over wind-swept seas, across searing deserts, to the highland steppes, and there at the peak of the highest mountains, I spread my wings to fly. Fly to the stars, to where dreams come true.
Only to fall back to reality – to the knowledge that our world is often harsh and cruel and to fight against the hate inherent in our world is exhausting. I am a determined individual, who refuses to give up the notion of love and forgiveness and peace. My optimism tells me there is always hope, even if that hope is frail and the light is weak. It takes some energy to give the light greater strength, so it can burn brighter to break apart the hatred surrounding it.
This is not enough, you say. So you ask, who am I?
I am many things.
I am a student,
a possible lover.
I am spiritual;
I am gay;
I am an introvert;
I am androgynous;
I am introspective;
I am peaceful;
I am compassionate;
I am optimistic;
I am a writer;
I am a scientist;
I am a poet;
I am a musician;
I am a composer;
I am a good-listener;
I am emotional;
I am rational;
I am logical;
I am an intellectual;
I am empathetic;
I am a survivor;
I am flawed;
I am a human being.
This is all aspects of me, but there is always more to me than meets the eye. Come, and drink tea with me, for what you hear here is only a small sliver of who I am. To truly know a person, takes an eternity.
When you create a universe, you need to make a set of rules, and those rules must make logical sense within that universe. They cannot be a hodge-podge of ideas that do not relate to each other. They must relate to one another and be consistent. From those basic sets of rules, you can then utilize your imagination to create all sorts of planets, stars, galaxies, cultures, or whatever as long as they follow the basic sets of rules you determined at the onset. These rules do not have to be complex, and there doesn’t need to be a lot of them. Just enough to help guide your imagination and keep the universe you build consistent.
That’s one of the number one rules for world-building for any sort of novel, whether it be fantasy, science fiction, or literary.
On another note, what is reality? Having just watched the movie Inception, I am forced to wonder what exactly reality is. This movie did an excellent job suspending my belief and drawing into their version of the future. The idea that someone could be trained to slip into your subconscious, walk with you in your dreams, and extract information from you without you even realizing you are in a dream – now that is a fascinating and scary idea. There is clues to give away these extractors, as they call themselves, but the idea of being able to fully experience such a dream world, to have that be your job, is mind-boggling. Anything can go in a dream. You can alter the physics of the world in a variety of ways. Reality seems to pale in comparison, and what this movie tackled was far more than just planting an idea in someone’s subconscious. No, that is part of the themes it tackles, but it also tackles the idea of reality itself and what exactly is reality to a person.
That is why I am left with the question: what is reality?
Is there a way to alter our reality? To change our fortunes in life? To somehow achieve what we always dreamed of without having to do it the hard way all the time? Can we somehow twist our reality so it favors us?
If so, then it would be nothing but a fantastical dream.
I’ve sought for a long time to believe that love is the fabric of reality; that our empathy is what separates us from the rest of creation. The fact that we can empathize and love one another is coupled with our intelligence, our ability to reason, because it is with that ability to reason that we are able to understand empathy and able to seek to understand others. They are united.
Yet there are times in life when I wonder if this is just my optimistic view of reality. That perhaps love is not the fabric of reality. If it is not, then what is? Is reality rooted in mindless chaos? Is reality rooted in this unfeeling and nihilistic concept that everything is nothing and our lives don’t truly matter? That our intelligence will only resort in more ways of destroying one another because, although empathy exists, empathy and love isn’t strong enough to battle and defeat the overriding notion that “The Other” needs to be destroyed or subjugated at all costs?
In the colonist era, this idea of subjugating or destroying to take what we need from those we came across is still rooted in our culture today. Especially those who speak English, a colonist language that was forced on a multitude of areas. In America, we have fought a great many battle to obtain equal rights for everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and religion, but it is a fight we still seek to win. We fight against this notion that “the other” is evil and must be destroyed or subjugated and never allowed to reach the same level as “the us.” This notion that the majority, who in American is often white, Protestant, and Republican (not always this, but most are), is the “us” and all the minorities that seek equal rights throughout the ages (African Americans, women, gays and lesbians, transgender people,intersex individuals) are the “other.”
Can love and empathy overcome that? For African Americans and Women it has legalistically to some degree but there is still a lot of work to be done culturally and socially still. LGBT and intersex people are still struggling to reach the legal side of the battle at the same time they fight the cultural and social battle with Women and African Americans.
I ask myself these questions because in my reality we would all be equal and at peace. We would be able to respect our differences and rejoice in our diversity. We would seek to understand one another and not seek to destroy or undercut each other. We would work together to build a brighter, cleaner, and happier future for ourselves and our future generation; a future that would clean our world and nurture it, that would give all humanity an equal chance at a joyful existence. But my reality is not the world’s reality.
My reality is nothing but a hopeful and impossible dream.
Reality is so much more than our mere five senses can analyze, and so many people restrict themselves to just those five senses. When they do, they lose sight of the more spiritual side of life. The more complex and connected side. There is more to life than just what our physical senses can see/hear/taste/smell/touch. As humans, we are complex – we have a physical (and/or sexual) side, a spiritual side, an emotional side, an intellectual side. All need to be tended to in order to be a whole person.
Often people become hung up on the spiritual and emotional side of humanity. Some would try to live without their spiritual side, but then they restrict their lives and they miss crucial aspects of reality and life.
Is spirituality the same thing as religion?
No, it is not.
What is spirituality then?
It is discovering the center of your being. Your inner most self, and from there, understanding yourself as you are in the present. Not what you hope to be tomorrow or what you were yesterday, but what and who you are in that present moment. That is the heart of spirituality. Understanding yourself and your spirit, and from there accepting your past and embracing your future. Spirituality involves loving yourself, and through that love, you can understand yourself and be able to step outside of yourself in order to empathize with and love others. Some may expand their spirituality to things outside of themselves, such as nature or other people or even a higher power of some sort.
Religion is dogma; it is rules; it is doctrine. It is concerned with the inner being, yes, but it is not necessarily about finding your inner center or understanding yourself in the present moment or even accepting yourself; either of those could be a part of the religion or they may be barely mentioned. Generally, religion is more concerned with following the will of something above yourself – the will of a higher power, and that will imprints rules on your life that you should follow in order to live a good and healthy life. Sometimes this is good for a person, and sometimes it is bad, especially when religion is taken to an extreme.
Anything taken to an extreme is usually bad for one’s well-being.
The emotional side of humanity is often neglected in cultures that view an outward display of emotion as wrong. Emotion taken to an extreme can be unhealthy for anyone, but expressing emotion is necessary for one’s health as well. It is through the expression of emotion that we are able to process traumatic/tragic/painful events. There is a multitude of ways to express emotions in a healthy manner, and one of the most poignant and captivating way is to do it through art, writing, or music. Creativity often involves emotion, and if you tried to rid yourself of emotion, you would find the well of creativity within yourself start to run dry.
There is always a balance to such things, and it is that balance that is often disrupted and may cause unhappiness or confusion or a feeling of “being lost” or even anger and pain in a person who is unbalanced and whose needs aren’t fully met.
Humans are complex beings, and in order to be healthy and whole, we need to balance all aspects of ourselves and meet our basic needs. Finding out what our basic needs are often involves spirituality to some degree as well as introspective intellectualism – that reasoning capability we all share.
To try to simplify humanity to just black and white is to lose sight of who we are as a people. We are complex; we are beautiful; and most of all, we are a spectrum of diversity. To simplify that and try to ignore it is to choose to be unhealthy and stupid.
Events lately has forced me to sit down and contemplate various aspects of my life. I have decided to write it here.
I base my faith on four things: God exists. God is Love. Love does no harm. Love is the fulfillment of God’s laws.
Throughout history – within the Bible and in outside sources, there is laws that people claim is God’s laws. Now, how do I know which ones are truly God’s laws? Well, if God is Love, and Love does no Harm, and God exists, then by those three specific statements of truth, I can infer that Love is the fulfillment of God’s Laws. So any Law that does harm, any law that has no love cannot be from God. Having said this, I now have to define love. Love is caring for not only other people but also the world itself in a respectful, gentle, understanding, hopeful, and peaceful manner.
That is my personal truth.
This is the central topic for one of my current college courses. Based on all the history classes I’ve had throughout the years and thinking back on what other professors and friends have termed as “civilized,” I’m left with the following impression: The old definition, that is still prevalent in people’s minds and mental schemas today, is that civilization is based around cities, and not just physical cities, but large groups of people controlled through exploitation and coercion. There is a strict social order, that lately has evolved somewhat, but still remains similar to the old medieval system of a ruler/planner of the city/country, the priests who shape the views of the populace in the city/country, and the warriors/soldiers who are the coercive power of the city/country. In today’s current society, especially in America, I would place the President and Congress as the ruler/planner; the corporation and their public relations departments as the “priests;” and the warriors/soldiers as the various police, FBI, and other military units. They may have different names now, but their functions are pretty much the same as the ones defined above.
To be frankly honest: That definition sucks.
Exploitation and coercion is not civilized. It is just another form of barbarism placed in a slightly more orderly setting, and even then I wouldn’t call it particularly orderly.
What is civilization then? If we throw that definition out the window, what else can we use to define it?
My idealistic nature says this: Civilization is egalitarian. Its core precepts are not exploitation but respect and equality. Civilization is where critical thinking and evaluation is commonplace. What do I mean by both of those? Critical thinking implies I examine my actions and those around me, and I evaluate them against the idea that my actions are good if and only if they respect others. If this is so, then exploitation is inherently wrong because it does not respect others.
However, would such a society ever exist? We’re slowly trying to edge our ways toward it, especially with our demands for equality for the oppressed minorities. We’ve moved forward in some areas – for example women’s rights – but at the same time we’ve either stagnated or gone backward at the same time. It’s hard to kill centuries of belief that men were inherently superior to women, and that women were inherently evil and unable to reason. Overcoming such belief is hard, and only through critical thinking, evaluation, and recognizing the worth and equality of women and men – both of whom have important and good ideas to contribute to the betterment of society – only then can we defeat such ridiculous beliefs. But well, that depends on continuing to think critically about this issues, discussing facts and not stereotypes, realizing that the belief is quite false and not good, and recognizing the great amount of women proving again and again they are good and quite able to reason and can excel in many male-dominant fields – often performing better than some of the men within such fields. However, even despite these shining examples, bigots, who seem to be unable to critically think or respect others, still discriminate. It’s a sad reality.
I used women’s rights as an example, but I could also apply this same idea to Queer rights and the rights of racial and ethnic groups. The minorities are the ones that are the most oppressed and the last to receive their rights, sadly enough.
Respect, tolerance, life, pursuit of happiness, liberty – all of these basic human rights should be shared by all regardless of gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, religion, or heredity. We are all human. Until all share in these rights, we won’t ever have a civilized society.
It’s interesting how a photon is both a wave and a particle, and this dual nature seems to extend to various other quantum particles such as electrons. Its one of the reasons why determining the velocity and location of such a particle simultaneously is just not possible.
When I am sitting at my desk attempting to work through a rather complicated Calculus problem, my mind wanders from this dual nature of particles to the fluidity of humanity. How is humanity fluid? The answer to this question is identity. For instance, atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons, where the protons and neutrons are made of quarks. The identity of an atom can be altered by converting some of its protons and neutrons into energy, which is, in essence, what fission is: turning one element into another – changing its identity and releasing energy as one does so.
I suppose the parallel I’m seeing is that in humans we also can alter our identities, and it does require energy and time on our part. For example, gender fluidity: I could one day dress very masculine, and this would take some extra energy on my part since my physical body is female and I’d need not only masculine clothes, but also an understanding of how a male behaves in public; both would help me pass as a male. Here I altered my identity from female to male, and although it took a bit more energy and time for me to create this change, my identity was altered. However, I must point out that in this example it is just a presentation change and not an actual physical change – so I suppose it wouldn’t be completely parallel to my quantum example of the atom, where it undergoes a physical change in identity. Instead I will compare it to the dual nature of a photon. How it is both a wave and a particle at the same time. So in essence, my fluidity with the nature of gender could be seen as a dual nature, where I can be perceived as both female and male – even if many would not classify me as physically male. Part of this fluidity is creating an identity that is so believable that people do not question it, and for some people they determine it best to go beyond just presentation and into physical change. This is hard and it requires not only energy but an understanding of how both genders is perceived by the majority, so that the transformation is passable.
But think, what we identify as does change over time. Gender is an extreme example that many never consider. Part of this reason is that some people are content with their gender identity and see no reason to alter its presentation or physicality of it, while others are not content and so either become extremely fluid in one’s presentation as I tend to be or undergo transition into their correct gender. The idea that gender is not concrete is hard for many to comprehend and often scares/disturbs people, but it is important to discuss.
Let us take a look at another example of fluidity; this time in one’s spiritual identity. Let’s say one person is Catholic. However, in just a few days to a few years, this person may seriously examine their spiritual identity, and realize that they do not fully align with the Catholic identity, so this will send them on a search of the spiritual identity that they perceive fits them more solidly and comfortably.
Identity is not set in stone as some would like to believe. It is fluid. Just as the dual nature of particles is fluid – either wave or particle upon observation. Our natures isn’t nearly as random as a particles’ might be, but it is still quite fluid.
This is a concept that many refuse to consider, but it is true. Humanity is fluid. What we perceive as set in stone, truly is not. We may wish it and try to force it and others to stay one identity, but in essence such a behavior only seeks to harm us and whoever we tried to force to be who we wished them to be. For such an action only pushes this fluidity under the surface and forces it into secrecy, which is never a good place to be. Living in secrecy is a painful and harmful place to be, and no one should have to hide who they are. We are all human, and we are fluid and full of complexity and wonder. Our lives on this Earth is fairly short when we consider how old this universe truly is – 13.73 billion years old. Truly, our life is but a speck in the great scheme of life, so let us enjoy ourselves and others for the wonder and beauty that they are.