Tabula Rasa

I am firm in the belief that our environment is responsible for a lot of what makes us who we are. Part of who we are comes from genetics, but I believe the majority of it comes from the environment. And whatever genetic predispositions our minds have can still be greatly altered by the people around us and whatever situations in which we find ourselves during the developmental part of our lives. You are the product of your childhood. Your parents are mostly responsible for how you turned out. You totally have the right to blame them for all your problems, or if not them, then someone who played a major role in your early years. Even as an adult, every life that comes in contact with yours has the potential to shape and mold your self in new ways. You have just as much potential to shape and mold other people’s lives as well. As the saying goes, no man is an island. We are all interconnected and we all pull our nature from each other.

We all start out life as a blank slate. Throughout the time we spend on this planet, things are constantly being added to the parchment of our personality. Each new thing builds onto every other thing that came before it. Habits are formed, routines are established, opinions and ideals are isolated and solidified. Each addition to the page makes it more difficult to add something else because there is only so much space that can be utilized. It’s like you are trying to write out everything that defines yourself on a single sheet of paper.

During childhood the page is completely blank, so you make very large pen strokes. Then, during adolescence, you realize there is not quite as much free space anymore, so you make smaller markings. There is still plenty of space to write what you have to say though. As you enter adulthood, your letters become very small and scrunched together at the bottom of the page as you try to wrap things up. Hopefully you don’t have much more to add because you have pretty much run out of room. Throughout your later years you occasionally add a few things in the margins (you only have room to edit your initial draft with the most important changes). There is always room for additions, but it becomes more and more difficult to throw them in, and your initial large pen strokes will always dominate the page.

Life is written in pen. We cannot go back and erase our mistakes. We can, however, cross things out. We can acknowledge that our lives began to take a certain path, but now we choose to take a different path. We are forced to keep the scars of our past, but the depth of those scars depends on how thoroughly those previous markings are scratched out. Sometimes we can even get our hands on some whiteout and cover up old parts of ourselves in order to write in something new and fresh. It’s a way to somewhat recover that initial blank slate state, although there are still imperfections.

I feel like recently I was able to whiteout my life. Not all of it, but a large part of it that had been really dragging me down. A major part of me that was holding me back. And now that it is covered up, I can go back and rewrite it. I can explore options that I could have explored before but never did. At first I was relieved to be rid of such a burden, but now I am excited, because what was once a burden is now a huge opportunity to discover myself again. I can look at familiar ideas under a new light, and it is spectacular. Seeing things from a different perspective makes a huge difference in the way life itself is experienced.

Until next time, may you write legibly on your metaphysical parchment.

 

Notebook on Wood

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Why Do I Write?

I write because I think.

I have all sorts of ideas running around in my head: good ideas, bad ideas, interesting ideas, boring ideas, fun ideas, serious ideas. The problem is that they are all jumbled up and unusable. I can’t speak my mind; I can barely open the door to it without being buried under a pile of mismatched concepts. I’m not the kind of person who can just sit down, close my eyes, and arrange all of my thoughts in my head into order through sheer will. I need some medium through which to channel my thoughts, a place where I can set them all out and sort through them one by one. That medium is writing.

When I write, I don’t just pick the good ideas out and neatly place them on the page. I pour my mind out onto the page into a huge mess of nouns and verbs and adjectives. As I empty my head I am constantly rearranging the words, each new word changing the context and meaning of all the others, each new meaning bringing more words onto the page. I will have an opinion about something, and then 500 words later I will have a completely opposite opinion. When I write, I argue with myself. I don’t come to a conclusion and then decide to write about it, I write in order to come to a conclusion. Sometimes I don’t come to a conclusion at all.

If I have a bad idea, I write it down anyway. Then I elaborate on the idea. As I elaborate, I stumble upon a couple other related topics that are slightly more interesting. I veer off in the direction of one of those topics. I might hit a dead end and backtrack to the beginning, or I might hit something of value and follow it through to the end. Writing is an adventure for me; I never know how things are going to turn out until I give them a try. I’m not sure how other people write, but this is how I write.

This is why I write.

And I love it.

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Life Goes On

I’ve typed about 50 variants of the same sentence and I still can’t seem to get it right. I’m swearing under my breath because I have the idea, it’s there, somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind, and yet I can’t quite summon the words to coax it out into the open. Perhaps it’s time for a break.

I pry my stiff fingers from the keyboard reluctantly. They are stiff partially because they have remained in the same position for far too long, and partially because it is absolutely frigid in here. I don’t understand why they don’t just turn on the heat. I sit up straight (I really need to stop slouching so much) and stretch my arms. I crack my joints and stand to let some of the blood flow again throughout my body. I have been sitting in this uncomfortable chair for about five hours now, and I am sorely regretting that decision. I walk up to the counter of Serendipity, a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop that is the only place open this late at night, and get a warmer on my coffee. I don’t know why. I don’t even like coffee.

I chat up with the barista a little before heading back to the little corner where my laptop waits for me. The laptop was a graduation gift from my dad, although to say it was simply a gift and nothing more would be a little misleading. It was more like a bribe. He got it for me so that I would go to college, and I upheld my end of the deal. At least until halfway into my second year when my grades started dropping and I realized I had no fucking clue what or who I wanted to be. I tell people I dropped out to “explore my options” or to “discover myself”. In reality I dropped out because I was afraid I was going in the wrong direction, and I found it much more comforting to avoid going in any direction at all. I guess that caused me to go backwards, which is a direction and thus counter intuitive. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly in my right mind.

I’m not entirely sure what it is I think I am trying to write. At first it was a novel, then it slowly transformed itself into a short story, and now it’s… now it’s just a jumble of words. I’m probably going to end up scrapping the whole thing. Five hours of sitting in this uncomfortable chair tonight, possibly another few hours before I make up my mind to finally give up, plus god knows how many other countless hours sitting in other uncomfortable chairs, wasted on this array of words that have lost their purpose. I’ll probably use some of it for the next project I decide to tackle, but that project will most likely be just as successful as this one. I should just give up now and save the time and effort. That would probably be the smart thing to do. I really should just do the smart thing for once.

I find myself staring blankly at the computer screen. Still no progress on this confounded sentence. I look up and take in my surroundings, as if perhaps I can gather some inspiration from the dank and depressing room. I notice there is only one other person here, besides the barista. A sad-looking man sits in the corner opposite mine. He seems to be well into his fifties, and he has a thick dirty grey beard and thick wire glasses. His clothes look stained and ill-fitting. He’s probably homeless. Why else would anyone be sitting alone in an old coffee shop in the wee hours of the morning, doing nothing but just sitting there with a sad look on his face, staring at the wall? The whole depressing scene makes me feel a little sick to the stomach, so I take my eyes off the man and bring my attention back to the screen in front of me. Back to the depressing pattern of purposeless words that don’t seem to be doing much for me at all.

The music isn’t helping, either. I don’t know the name of the song that’s playing on the radio, but it’s probably the most depressing song I’ve ever heard. I can’t take this anymore. I save my work (what’s the point?), shut off my laptop and place it in its case. I’m not going to be inspired tonight so I might as well go home and get what sleep I can manage. I walk over to the counter on the opposite side of the room to leave my mug that is still full of coffee there for the barista to collect. I turn around and begin to head for the door when I feel a tight grip on my left arm. That’s unexpected. I freeze in my tracks because my body has no idea what to do with this sudden situation I am finding myself in. All I can do is slowly turn my head towards the sad old homeless man holding onto my arm.

Our eyes meet, and all the sadness I felt radiate from him earlier is nothing compared to the miserable agony that is now concentrated in his eyes, a concentrated bolt of grief and dejection that burns into mine and leaves me feeling like everything within my body has vanished and has left a cold vacuum in its place. His eyes are now empty. His body has gone limp except for his grip on my arm, which is somehow even stronger. It takes me a while to realize that there are now only two people in the building, the barista and myself.

Everything after that happened pretty quickly. The officer asked the barista and me a couple questions, and then had the corpse taken to the morgue to be cremated. I found out a little later that the old man didn’t have any friends or family, at least not any that cared to deal with his body, and before I knew what I was doing I asked for his ashes. I was told I would have to pay for the cremation and I said that was okay. Ever since he looked at me in the eyes with that… that look, that forsaken look, I just felt totally numb. I felt like I fell out of my body and it kept moving without me. I still do feel like that. Now I’m sitting on the stoop of the crematorium holding a small cardboard box containing what was once a sad old homeless man. A man I never knew. A man that no one seemed to know or care about, no one in the whole world. What the hell am I supposed to do with this?

I sit on the stoop for about an hour, and I finally come to my senses. I go back inside and give the lady at the desk the ashes. I tell her to do whatever it is she has to do with it. I tell her that it’s not my business, that I didn’t know the man. Then I walk home, drop my bag on my bedroom floor, and take a nap. Life goes on.

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Resolutions Shmesolutions!

New year resolutions are silly. If you really want to make a major change in your life, it shouldn’t require the transition between December and January to do so. You should just, you know, do it.

Unless it is illegal. In that case, you probably shouldn't.

Unless it is illegal. In that case, you probably shouldn’t.

However, I get why we do the whole new year resolutions thing. A new year is a symbol for positive change, and a lot of people (including myself) need a strong symbol in order to motivate themselves to do whatever it is they want to do. And often, that symbol isn’t even enough to get us off our butts and out the door! Each and every year we say that things will be different; they seldom are. Like I said in my previous post, change is hard to deal with. The main reason any one person isn’t successful in changing themselves to be the man (or woman) they want to be is simply the fact that they don’t want to face that change. Deep down they do, but on the surface they push it away like it’s a bad thing. Well, this year can be different. It can actually be different. Eventually one of these years has to be, right?

I feel like my new year resolutions will be fulfilled this time. I believe this because I have already made some progress on my goals, which is more than I could say each year before. The hardest part is starting, so it should be all downhill from here! Or, if not downhill, then the uphill incline should at least be getting less steep. I used to be stuck in a rut for months at a time, but now I feel like every day I make one more step towards my ultimate goal of being a better man. Every day I’m a little bit smarter, a little bit stronger, a little bit more mature, more responsible. The fact that I’ve managed to keep up with this blog the way I have, something I’ve never been able to do before, is certainly a sign that progress is being made. I feel like a better writer. Ideas seem to flow more freely from my once-cluttered mind. Now I’m at the point where I can draw motivation simply from looking at how far I’ve gotten so far. That is a wonderful thing.

You can get there. You can do it. This isn’t one of those inspirational, motivational, whatever blogs where I am constantly encouraging you to keep moving forward. Actually, if you haven’t noticed, I tend to be somewhat cynical in my writing. Not very motivational. But since I feel so motivated right now, I might as well share it with the few readers I have managed to accumulate so far. So get up! Get going! It won’t be easy, and it might not be fun. Hell, it might even be a living hell. But if you really want to reach an end, then you must be willing to go through whatever it takes to get there. So whatever you want to do, whoever you want to be, go for it. When you reach the finish line–and you most certainly will!–you can look back on the hardship you encountered and laugh in it’s fat, ugly face. You will stand on the top of the world and look smugly upon those who doubted you. You will do great things. Stop whining. Start winning.

 

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Adventures in Skyrim Part II: The Warrior Stone

Just a warning to anyone who has not yet played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and wants to. Adventures in Skyrim contains spoilers about the main storyline and various side quests. If you are the type of person who likes to discover everything the game has to offer on your own, I do not recommend reading on.

The light of the noon sun reflecting off the snow blinds me as I step out from the darkness of the cave.

I must have been down there for hours. It wasn’t an easy journey, and without the help of my new friend Hadvar I might not have escaped Helgen at all. I can usually fend for myself, but I’ve never been up against a dragon before. I never thought I would ever even need to go up against a dragon before. Dragons are supposed to be extinct. I guess there is still a lot about this world that I have yet to learn. Great.

I am being too hasty to call Hadvar a friend. After all he was the imperial guard sentencing me to death just earlier today. He did save my life, I certainly owe him for that, but that doesn’t mean he is automatically promoted to a rank that only my late brother has held. No, he needs to earn that position, and I am quite certain he never will. Nonetheless I am thankful for his help. If I have learned anything from my little brother, it is to make sure that those who claim to be my allies remain my allies, even if it means I have to display… proper manners. Ugh, the whole concept makes me sick. Still, it is wise advice. I get ready to speak when Hadvar cuts me off.

“Thank you, Gorgoth, for helping me escape Helgen. Please, go see my Uncle Alvor in Riverwood. He will give you any supplies you may need. I certainly misjudged you before.”

I’m a bit thrown off. “Um… yeah, no problem. Thanks for not killing me.”

We part ways. As an Orc, words are not where I draw my strength. This conversation, however, was the most awkward one I have ever dealt with in all my years. I suppose I better head to Riverwood and meet this guy’s uncle. I could definitely use some supplies. I managed to grab a few things on my way out of Helgen: some Imperial armor, an old sword, a little bit of food. I’m used to getting by with what I can scavenge, but I prefer a weapon at least a bit heavier than this rusty short sword. The weight feels more natural to me. Perhaps it is because all my life I have carried a heavy burden.

My eyes adjust to the brightness of the day. I can see Riverwood in the distance, down the mountain and on the other side of a river. Having no where else to go, I head for this Alvor fellow. I munch on a couple grilled leeks I managed to get on the way out of Helgen, but it’s not much. I hope Alvor has some food, because by the time I get to town I am going to be starving. Running for your life from a gargantuan flying beast tends to build up a hearty appetite–and then I stop. I hear a humming noise coming from somewhere off the path to the left. It doesn’t sound like any sort of animal, at least not one native to this region. It sounds more like… like something of a magical nature. I really don’t want to investigate. Part of me does. Damn it, curiosity, you are going to get me killed one of these days.

I have a strong hatred toward anything magical. Mages in particular, but anything with magical properties was most likely brought about by a mage. Conjurors, masters of the arcane, are not the sort to be trusted. They don’t play by the rules. They use their deception and trickery to change the rules however they see fit, and they still don’t play by the rules. However for some reason I feel drawn to whatever is making this strange sound. I ready my sword and sneak over to the source. I come into a clearing, and it seems like no one has been here for a long time. I let my guard down a bit. In the clearing there are three tall stones with ancient markings. Coming even closer, I can see the markings are depictions of three star signs. I never cared for stargazing, but my little brother Grengar was oddly fascinated by them.

As children we had to steal on occasion to get by. We mostly stole from passing Khajiit or Nord caravans, but we never killed anyone. We would sneak in at night and take what we could without being seen. One of these nights, just before Grengar’s ninth birthday, I was raiding a campsite and came across an old star map. My brother and I never did much to celebrate birthdays, but I thought he might appreciate it. I snatched the map and head back to our hideout at the time, a smelly old bear cave that had long been abandoned. Grengar was thrilled when I gave him the map. Ever since then he had watched the stars every night, telling me of the stories the sky held. I’m sure most of the stories were his own fabrications, fueled by the limited information his tattered star map contained, but I didn’t stop him. I actually enjoyed his stories. He was a creative Orc. Perhaps one day he would have applied for the Bard’s College in Solitude… I guess that doesn’t matter anymore.

The obelisks in the clearing each have a different sign: The Mage, The Thief, and The Warrior. I am particularly drawn to The Warrior Stone. Grengar used to tell tales of a great warrior who wielded a warhammer twice the size of his own body. He wore the skin of dragons into battle, and with a single swing of his great hammer he could bring down a horde of giants. He didn’t fight out of necessity, or for survival. He fought for the honor of the battle. He fought to protect the weak and innocent from the monstrosities of this world. The Warrior was my favorite of Grengar’s stories. Perhaps it is because I always hoped that one day I could be as great as The Warrior. Of course it is a tall tale, completely unrealistic, and yet… I feel like one day, I could be that great. I need to become The Warrior, for my little brother’s sake. I suddenly feel empowered.

An alien strength runs through my body. I realize that I am standing not a foot away from The Warrior Stone, and it is glowing brighter and humming louder than it was before. It is channeling some sort of ancient power into me, and I cannot resist it. Then, as quickly as it started, the stone stands silent once more. The rush of power fades from my body. My mind, however, is clearer than it has ever been. I feel rejuvenated. I feel alive. The strange magic of the stone seems to have opened my mind in a way I don’t fully understand. I stand in that place for several minutes, but it seems like nothing else is going to happen. I continue on my way to Riverwood.

This has certainly been one of the strangest days in my life, from dragon attacks to magical stones, and I have a feeling it isn’t going to let up any time soon. I guess I better get used to it.

The Warrior Stone

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Chopsticks

I feel pressured to use chopsticks when I eat Chinese food. I don’t think I’m alone here.

chopstick image

 

It’s not a very strong pressure, but it exists. I don’t have to use chopsticks, because the food comes with a fork as well. Yet I always hesitate when making the decision of what utensil to use. It certainly doesn’t help if people I am eating with choose the chopsticks. Using the chopsticks wouldn’t really be that big of an issue for me, because I’m not that bad at using chopsticks. But the fork is so much easier. For me. If someone grows up using chopsticks all the time, and that’s easier for him, then by all means let him use the chopsticks; I grew up using a freaking fork!

It’s very likely that no one cares in the slightest about what I choose. I doubt anyone is paying any attention at all to my cutlery conundrum, but even when I am alone I can’t help but hesitate when given the choice. If I were in the heart of a small tow in China and the only option I have is a set of chopsticks, there’s no problem there. I don’t mind using chopsticks. But what if they let me choose? Would using a fork be considered rude? I doubt it, otherwise they wouldn’t five me a fork!

Maybe I want to show off. Maybe I want to demonstrate to the room how culturally aware I am. “Oh, look at me everyone! I care so much about Chinese culture that given the choice between a fork and chopsticks, I choose the freaking chopsticks. I’m like freaking Gandhi over here.” It’s silly, because the only thing that proves at all is my capacity for being pretentious. And who am I trying to impress if there is no one around? Myself? That’s sad.

I don’t know where the pressure comes from, but I need to fight it. So what if I use a fork? That doesn’t mean I hate Chinese people. It means I like using forks. Deal with it.

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Adventures in Skyrim Part I: Gorgoth the Orc

Recently I got back into playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Playing it obsessively. It’s pretty much the greatest game ever. Since I have been playing it so much lately, it’s pretty much all I can think about when I try to write. So I have decided to write about my adventures in Skyrim. What I love about this game is the rich flavor that comes with it, and the even richer flavor that it allows you to create when you play the game yourself. Here is my story, or rather, the story of Gorgoth the Orc.

I’m on the way to my execution. For the first time in my life, I don’t care.

My hands are bound and I’m surrounded by imperial guards. Attempting to escape would be suicide. Of course, I’m going to die anyway, but it wouldn’t make sense to cut my life shorter than what it is already going to be. Maybe if I run and have the guards take my life it will be better, though. It would mean I die on my own terms, not theirs. It’s what I would have done if I had been in this place a year ago. But today, I don’t feel like running. Today I will finally get what has been coming to me, and strangely enough I am at peace with that.

A year ago, Grengar would have been the one who quietly accepted his fate. I would have tried to convince him to fight back, to die a noble orc death and not by the blade of an executioner. I would have tried and succeeded. While my little brother had a strong heart, he always, albeit reluctantly, followed my lead on such matters. I used to think of it as him being easily swayed, but now I know that is not the case. Grengar always stood by what he believed in, and wavered for no one. The only reason he listened to me was because he loved me. He knew that if he did not follow me, I would leave him behind without thinking twice. Unlike him, I was only focused on my own selfish agenda. Of course, deep down, I have always cared for my brother in blood and battle. But it took an immense sacrifice to bring this realization to the surface. How cruel must the gods be, to make me understand who I care for most by ripping him from me? His death will never be forgotten. The gods have made sure to brand it’s image against my soul.

The other prisoners are talking among themselves as we close in on the town we are to be executed in. One of them calmly talks of his home and family. He talks of them like he is only going out for a few hours, and will be back to their welcoming arms by nightfall. His serene and somber stature reminds me of my brother. One of the other prisoners, a younger and much more anxious man claiming to be a simple thief and having nothing to do with the Stormcloaks, has trouble coming to terms with his predicament.

“Why are we stopping?”

The calm prisoner looks at him, and simply remarks,

“Why do you think? End of the line.”

As the cart pulls to a halt, the thief finally breaks. He bolts and attempts the escape I would have attempted if I were the orc I once was. And, yes, my analysis was correct. It’s a suicide run. The arrows pierce him in the back before he can get out his insult to the Empire. I think he was saying something about how they weren’t going to kill him. I guess he was wrong.

Grengar never really knew our parents. They died when he was just two years of age. I was much older, about seven, and I took on the responsibility of raising him. I can say from experience that it is difficult raising a child when you are a child yourself. But I did my best, and I like to think that I did a pretty good job. Our small and broken family took our misfortunes and turned them into strength. We wandered, hunted, found shelter where we could. We never starved, but we did learn how to be hungry. We never froze, but we learned how to be cold. The tundras of this region are not favorable for an orc, but orcs are strong. Comfort is not well known to our people, but survival is.

We never joined any of the groups of bandits that also roamed the land of Skyrim. They couldn’t be trusted. If it were just myself, I would have joined them as soon as I could. But as long as I had my brother, he was my only companion. It was the only thing Grengar would not budge on, even for me, and I respected his wishes. Well, until I received an offer that I just could not refuse. That was the day I dishonored by brother and indirectly brought about his death.

“Next prisoner, step forward!”

That’s me. I step out of the cart and move toward the imperial guard. He puts his hand up and stops me from moving forward any more. I comply, thinking of the thief that tried to steal his freedom and took an arrow to the back.

“Hmm, you’re not on the list. Who are you?”

“I am called Gorgoth,” I say.

The guard looks apologetic about having me executed. How quaint.

“I will make sure your remains are transported safely to Orsinium”

Ha, thanks. I was really worried about my remains, thank you for assuring me they will be returned to my ancestral home. Fool. I walk over to the chopping block and another, one seeming to enjoy this all a bit too much, pushes me down with his foot against my back. I lay my head against the block and wait for the executioner to do his job. But then, what’s that? Is that… a dragon? No, it can’t be, dragons are extinct, they have been for ages-

“YOL TOOR SHUL!”

Chaos and fire everywhere. My execution has moved down the list of priorities, and I am now grateful I did not try to escape earlier. While my hands are still bound, I am now free to escape and survive. Perhaps my brother is here with me now, and it was his spirit that told me to wait until the right time. He always was a very rational minded orc, and somehow he always seemed to have the intuition to predict something as unpredictable as a dragon attack at the very last moment. Perhaps he is the one who sent the dragon. However you managed to help me, brother, I thank you. I will survive in your honor, and fight your fight. Even if it takes me to every corner of this gods forsaken tundra that is Skyrim. Even if I have to travel to the beginning of time and slay the Alduin the dragon. Blood and honor!

…yeah, I know. I’m a total nerd. And I’m okay with that. FUS RO DAH!

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A Warning From the Spider King

It’s a disturbing paradox that we have all come face to face with, that the more you know about the universe, the less it makes any sort of sense whatsoever. A person’s life on Earth is a perfect example. When you are a child, all you know is the warmth of your mothers arms. Life is perfectly reasonable, life is simple, everything has a place, and that is where it stays. If anything ever falls out of place, simply call for mother and things will be alright. As you experience childhood, you begin to figure out that life is slightly more than just existing. You are taught the concepts of right and wrong, cause and effect, consequences and rewards, and everything is straight-forward enough. If you touch fire, you burn your hand. If you throw a tantrum, you get a spanking. If you do as you are told, you get a gold star and a lollipop. For the most part you accept the rules that are provided and you try to follow them. You are still at the stage where your perception is only touching the edge of the world around you, but soon you become aware that you are not alone.

You realize that your actions can influence the lives of others. You build friendships, but you also acquire enemies. You discover how easy it is to hurt people, and how hard it is to deal with the guilt you face after the damage has been done. Your focus shifts from yourself to others, and life gets a little convoluted. Convoluted, but manageable.

As you transition from childhood to adolescence, you begin questioning the world. You realize that it isn’t always clear what is right or wrong, and the more you try to distinguish between the two the more confusing it gets. Why is it wrong to do what feels good? What determines if something is good or bad in the first place? As you become a young adult, the unanswered questions pile upon one another. You wonder what your purpose really is, and if you even have one. At this point life is no longer simple. There is an entire universe around you, filled with people, and cultures, and ideas, and you are simply a cog in the machine. At this point you become unbearably self-aware. You recede into your own universe, in which you are the center. Now all of the understanding in existence is contained within yourself.

You are an infinitesimally tiny dot in an incomprehensibly large place. And that dot is also an inconceivably immense universe of itself. Life has become so complicated that, when looked at from a distance, appears to have cycled back to the original perspective of the infant. You are back to seeing only your existence  and nothing more. But this time nothing makes sense. You no longer have the ignorance and security that once made life simple. You are lost, alone, and desperate for answers. But the more you learn, the less you seem to know. And that is why life is so agonizingly cruel.

You may think I am being way too dramatic about the whole ordeal. So what if life is complicated? Don’t think about it so much and just enjoy the little things, you might say. Well, that is sound advice for someone who has lived an ordinary life. But I am not ordinary. I have seen things that change a man forever. I have seen God. I have taken a step beyond the limits of human understanding, and as a result all the traces of simplicity that I had managed to hold on to were stripped from me like life is stripped from a man who was just hit by a train. All of my unanswered questions were answered.

Everything you have come to believe as truth in your life is complete rubbish. And for the sake of humanity I wish the real truth upon nobody so unfortunate to come across it. It isn’t necessarily a horrible truth, as the actual content of the answers to life’s unanswered questions isn’t really important. What’s important is the state of KNOWING the answers in the first place. Let me just say that the man who coined the term “Ignorance is bliss” has provided society with the most invaluable phrase that humanity will ever know. And oh how I wish I could experience that sweet bliss just one more time.

I sense that you are skeptical of my claims. It is reasonable to be so. I am certainly not the first to claim that I have seen the face of God and that I know the absolute truth of the universe, and those that have done so in the past are hardly dependable sources. And maybe I am crazy. For my own sake, I hope I am crazy. In fact, I am sure that if I am not already on the brink on insanity, it is only a matter of time before I am. If I am truly mad then disregard my ramblings. But if there is any bit of truth in my story, any at all, it can serve as a warning to those who are willing to listen. A warning not to fly too close to the sun on the wax and feather wings of the mind. A warning that once a fly is caught in a web, his restless resistance is what wakes the spider from its slumber…

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The Blogoscope: Virtual Booze

You can tell a lot about a person by they way that person blogs.

I am not saying that by reading a blog you will discover the deepest and darkest secrets of the blogger. But I think a blog does reflect the general attitude a person has on life. The internet is, in a way, virtual booze. In the same way that drinking a couple of cold ones will loosen your tongue at parties and will make talking to complete strangers more comfortable, the internet lowers our guard and boosts our confidence to the point where we don’t mind sharing our thoughts with the world.

Sometimes people get so intoxicated with this internet liquor that they lose all self control, and they become, as the online community has come to call it, “trolls”. They go on angry rampages of off-topic comments, they start flame-wars, and they give absolutely no regard for proper internet etiquette. An internet troll might be a very respectable person in real life, but once he pulls that cork off of his virtual bottle, his sad and harmful addiction takes hold… there should be an blogoholic anonymous group or something for these people. Someone needs to help these poor victims of virtual drunkenness.

Anyway, what I am saying is that people often blog about certain topics with ease, while talking about those same topics to someone in person might make the blogger uncomfortable or even embarrassed. Now I know that there are plenty of people who wear their hearts on their sleeves and who talk freely about everything, no matter the medium. Those people’s blogs won’t tell you anything new if you know that person in real life. But the internet is full of the shy types as well, and their blogs are the ones that will truly remove the veil.

A blog is a sort of window into a person’s outlook on things. It can even tell you how consistent someone is with their attitude. If a blog always has a very sad and remorseful tone, then that person is generally sad and remorseful about stuff. If a blog often goes from extremely happy to extremely dark, then that person is a roller coaster. Some people blog about the negative side of things, other people blog about the positive side. Some people portray an “I don’t care” sort of tone, while others care very much about pretty much everything. You are probably thinking, “So what? This person is depressed, so she writes about sad stuff. What’s the point?” If it were that simple, there would be no point. But it rarely is. Saying someone is depressed is a very generalized statement. The details contain so much more. Any poetry enthusiast will tell you that one can find a world of insight within three lines of single poem. And what is a more complex piece of poetry than humanity itself? So the next time you are reading a blog post, remember that you aren’t just passing time between your afternoon classes. You are looking through the blogoscope, into the mind of another human being. You are looking into his dreams and desires, absorbing her joy and sorrow, feeling a fellow human’s very soul. Think about it.

Until next time, may your (virtual) glass always be full.

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Legend of the Manathree

A very old story I wrote forever ago.

A very long time ago- when all of the continents were one piece of land known as Pangea and humans had not yet risen above the other primordial creatures of the land and sea- dragons ruled the earth and manatees could fly. This is a legitimate scientific and historic theory supported by solid evidence in fossils and ancient manuscripts. This period of time is known as the Age of Legends.

In the Age of Legends, there were three manatees that had mysterious magical powers and ruled all of the flying manatees. They were very wise, and they led their people into prosperity and opportunity during their reign. Their names were Heb, Jeb, and Greb. The people of that era formally called the three benevolent mystics “The Serendipitous Saviors of Skyhome,” but a more casual title formed over time and is used to this day. They are most commonly known as The Manathree.

Everything was peaceful among the manatees, however the draconic empire grew cautious of these rival creatures of the sky. With the powerful Manathree leading the flying manatees of Skyhome, the fear manatees had for dragons had all but faded. Territory that was once controlled by dragons became contested. The manatees only wanted to share the sky with the dragons, but in the eyes of the belligerent dragons, they were on the brink of war.

One night Maloka the Mutilator, the fierce emperor of the dragons in that day, composed a plan to stop the manatees once and for all and to restore the dragons to their former might and glory. He sent for his most trusted advisor and powerful magician Fel’dun, a dragon unmatched by his cunning and knowledge of the ancient magic. Maloka then told Fel’dun his plan, which was for the advisor to shape shift into a beautiful womanatee (female manatee) and seduce one of the Manathree. In doing so, the other two manatees would become jealous and suspicious of the first, and in this way the three mystics would break up. Without unity among the Manathree, the unity that had been driving the manatee kingdom would also evaporate, and the kingdom would be vulnerable enough for the dragons to overrun it and prevent it from ever recovering. The dragons would once again rule.

Fel’dun approved of the plan. He told Maloka to prepare for the attack while he carried out his part of the scheme, and then flew to the isle of Quaren, a remote piece of enchanted rock that hovered several miles above the western coast of Pangea. The isle of Quaren was halfway between Skyhome and Drogarth (the capital of the draconic empire). Alone, Fel’dun transformed into the most beautiful womanatee of all prehistoric earth, and flew off to Skyhome, the kingdom of manatees.

At this point it is crucial for the reader to understand that Skyhome is literally a city in the clouds. No one knows how it got there, but that was where the flying manatees lived. Some say the gods favored the manatees for their grace and charm above all other animals, and so they granted the manatee race a home that also had these traits. But regardless of its origins, Fel’dun now glided silently towards it in the form of a beautiful womanatee.

When he got to the Temple of the Sun, the place where the Manathree lived, he found Heb sitting alone reading Origin of Species in the library. Seeing his fleeting opportunity, he tried to seduce Heb. After several failed attempts, however, Heb would still not give in to temptation. “My people respect me, and through that respect we will win our freedom from the dragons through diplomacy and reason,” Heb stated with dignity. “If I fall victim to temptation now, all is lost.” Fel’dun became frustrated, and as all dragons lose their heads when they are angry, he retorted, “Accept what is before you while you still can! The dragons will come and destroy you. The wrath of Maloka will enslave you and your people, and the only temptation you will face will be to beg for a quick death!” At this point Heb wisely decided that something wasn’t quite right, and he used his juju to look into the mind of Fel’dun. “I see you, my enemy. You will not leave this temple alive.” Fel’dun became very frightened, and did the first thing that came to his mind. He changed back into his true form and ate Heb. As he was trying to escape the temple, however, Jeb and Greb rushed into the room and killed him with magic lightning.

The next morning, the manatees mourned the loss of their leader. The Manatwo (a name that never really stuck) then declared war against the dragons, and after a long and gruesome battle the dragons were defeated. They were told to leave earth and never return, and no one knows what became of them. The manatees had won the war… but the losses were too great. Jeb and Greb slipped into a depression and went their separate ways. With the Manathree torn apart, the flying manatees of Skyhome lost their sense of unity and purpose and broke apart into separate tribes themselves. They lost all ties with their past and each other, and as a result of this social decay the magic that held the manatees in the air eventually gave out. One by one, the manatees fell out of the sky and plummeted into the Specific Ocean (back then there was only one ocean), where they made their new home. Once called “sky cows”, the manatees took on the lesser title of “sea cows”. Thus the Age of Legends ended, and the Age of Historical Fact began. THE END

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