Day 20. peace. (Post-A-Day)

32011be89a6c11e3b7fd123d3be4afff_8Peace is a difficult concept to define. In some ways peace can be defined more easily by what it is not. In other ways, it must be defined by what it is. It can be the absence of trouble, or it can be the ability to withstand trouble. It can be a state that is external or it can be a state that is internal. Yet, it is hard to define exactly what it is, and why we seek it. Most of the time we do not fight wars for the violence of the thing, but in the hope, faint though it may be, for some sort of peaceful state of our particular nation or what have you. Not in all cases, as sometimes wars are for conquering and such. We know we live in a troubled world, and peace may be so hard to define because the troubled world is the only world we know.

Peace is externally, I suppose, a state of being absent from immediate threats, and the need to defend against them. Internally, however, peace is harder to find, but I think in the end, is something that comes with contentment.

I think peace is something that we do seek after, and all in all, it is a good thing. Yet, the seeking of safety is often harmful in itself, and leads to a state that is anything but peaceful. Something that has been seen throughout the ages in paranoid governments, usually to their own undoing. Safety is not often a good thing to seek after, even if you achieve some state you regard as safe, you’ll usually find you wasted a lot of opportunities for something more. Peace is different than safety I think in that there is a vulnerability to it, where safety just keeps placing more walls up until one is trapped in their own little prison.

Day 19. feet. (Post-A-Day)

28134eb6999611e3a2180ed42c4d86e6_8Today the subject is feet. I’ve got two of them, last I checked. A left one and a right one, though as I have not studied dance extensively it may be argued that I have two left feet if I tried. I stand firm, I have a left one and a right one, with or without the dancing.

Throughout the ages feet have generally been regarded in different ways, shoes have been a popular item for thousands of years by many cultures, however, and for good reason. They are a simple but useful way of protecting oneself from numerous hazards, I certainly wouldn’t want to go into some places without them, and I’ve always been one to disregard shoes when possible. I was surprised to learn that this is a bit unusual in my culture. I’ve nearly always taken my shoes off when I visit other peoples houses, so I was a bit surprised to learn how one complaint folks have about Americans is how they don’t take their shoes off in houses. I’m sure there are numerous exceptions to that, and perhaps the complainers happen to have had a good run of shoe wearing Americans rather than shoe removing ones. Still, I do often notice a disregard for culture sensitivity in my own culture, and whether its ignorance or arrogance can be hard to discern at times. I honestly don’t mind criticizing my own cultures absurdities, and harshly if they are harmful. In general, it’s probably best to take your shoes off even in America. I enjoy wearing Converse shoes.

Lets see, we’ve not talked about socks have we? Well, now we have, but that’s beside the point. Socks are useful for keeping your feet warm in the winter, but I’m not sure what else. I prefer the brightly colored kind, but somehow I seem to end up with an abundance of black socks in my sock collection.

Feet is also used in reference to a unit of measure. English… Such a strange little language.

Day 18. magic. (Post-A-Day)

15a1249698e311e398851245b7a783e5_8Today’s subject is magic, not my favorite topic, though it is a word I use in my stories to describe the abilities of my characters, but is more of a placeholder word for whatever it is that they can accomplish, not really a magical thing. However, I think there is a magic of sorts to reading, and writing. The creation of stories and the reading of stories can transport one to another world, and through the characters of those stories both the reader and the writer is likewise transformed as the character goes through their particular journey. That is in a sense, a magical thing, or at least magical works as a word to describe it.

I enjoy creating stories and telling stories, but almost more, I enjoy partaking of them. One of my favorite methods for learning languages is to watch foreign films or television, or films that happen to have a relevant language to what I’m learning as a language option. Disney has a number of their films with French as an option, thank you Disney! Sometimes the stories I encounter in other languages are so interesting that I forget I’m watching it to practice language. Perhaps this is best, language learning should be fun.

I’m not a huge fan of magic, in general, though I like fantasy, I still like magic’s twin brother, science, better, and in some cases I despise both. Science is good, but I don’t think science should trump all things, there are things that science has no business in, and the triumph of science over all things tends to lead to more harm than good.

Day 17. vegetable. (Post-A-Day)

ad7c2024982311e3a785129179c830b0_8What does one say about the subject of vegetables? There are of course many things that we could say, we could talk about vegetarianism and you could do so from many philosophical, nutritional, and even religious perspectives. There has been a great deal that has been said about the subject of vegetables and whether to eat, or not to eat them, throughout the ages.

While I’m not sure if it is technically a vegetable, I have chocolate as the picture. After all, it’s closer to a vegetable than not, it is a plant and not an animal. It’s not like there are herds of chocolate bars that are ranched on chocolate farms like sheep, goats, or cows. I’m not sure whether it is technically a fruit or a vegetable, but whatever it is, there are quite a few people who seem to enjoy the stuff. Myself included. Though all humor aside, I’m sure if there were chocolate farms, the chocolate wouldn’t be very well treated, just like sheep, goats, cows and such are not very well treated on some farms. Actually, the sad truth is, a lot of chocolate has an even worse aspect than that: Slavery, including child slavery is high in the chocolate industry. Welcome to the modern world and all it’s ‘wonders’. I bring up the subject a lot, but I do not have a lot of solutions to present, it is worth looking up information about where your food comes from when you can. I hope that in the future I can find more chocolate that I can be assured of is free of it, most of the ‘known’ brands seem to be tainted, not sure about the one in the picture. Though not all are, and it is hard to keep track of which one is which unless it’s certified to be free right on the label itself, which few are. I may have a few options, but most are short-term or unreliably available options without a substitute available, plus it’s nearly impossible to find chocolate that doesn’t have soy in it these days, there are a few, but they can be very difficult to find or are just not that high-quality a chocolate.

In regard to other vegetables, I have to say, that I tend to enjoy eating vegetables quite a bit, and if there is one section at Wegman’s I could get lost in trying to figure which one I would like, it’s the produce department. Vegetables really are quite delicious.

Day 16. create. (Post-A-Day)

864bc194976511e3a91412128f76ceb1_8There is something about us, as people, that likes to create things. I suppose it is our desire to partake of our own story. We are after all images of the creator, it is only nature that we should seek to create things ourselves, it is one of the things that is at the very core of human nature, to create things, to make things for the sake of art. It is a wonderful thing, I think, and something you do not see a lot of elsewhere. Where does this desire to create things come from? From an early age our imaginations seem intent on creating things, on leaving some memoir of our passing through. I do not think it is attributable to simply being afraid of obscurity, it is much more than that. Sure, that can be a motivating factor, but it does not tend to be one that produces great art. I believe it to be due to the matter of being created in the image of God, that we have it built into us as part of our very nature to be what some have called ‘sub-creators’ and I think that is an excellent description of what we are.

It is a curious thing that we have this drive within us to leave the world more beautiful than we found it. Sometimes I think we get accustomed to thinking that everything must have a survival function of some sort, but I have to ask, why do we try to beautify our world? If anything, it is something that fights against survival, it uses resources and calls attention, but we’ve done it for thousands of years. Why do we create things? And why do we seek, passionately for some of us, to leave the world more beautiful than we found it? I think it is because we are created beings ourselves that we seek to do so, even though not all of us would realize that is why we seek it.

We must create, it’s in our nature.

Day 15. my drink of choice. (Post-A-Day)

ade91dd0968611e3a520120efe0b0f31_8My particular drink of choice? Probably tea, just because, and this sounds so weak against the backdrop of all that I just said, I like the amount of choices in flavors and such. Coffee being a second, or sort of equal choice, due to the wide spectrum of what it does when it’s roasted to different amounts and such, for having such a similar fundamental flavor it really does have a lot of subtile changes in how it taste, but I’ve yet to find a coffee that isn’t coffee tasting. Tea, I’ve had some green teas that do not taste anything like black tea or white tea, yet it is all still the same tea leaf.

However…

I could talk about more wonderful things, but to be honest, I have to ask, in our drink of choice, is it really blood we thirst for? Almost all our drinks, including water itself, have some violation of human rights attached to it in some fashion or another. Tea and coffee are stained with slavery, water is taken from those who already don’t have access to clean water to be bottled and sold. I don’t know enough about alcohol, I do not drink it myself, but if we will harm for something like tea or water, I have no doubt that we will harm for something that is addictive, it can be fairly safely assumed that there are abundant violations of human rights in the alcohol industry as well.

Tea is interesting, half the world’s problems in the last five hundred years have had something to do with it. Tea has left quite a dark stain on the world indeed. The history connected with the drink leaves a bitter taste in a different sense. So much for being the solution to all problems, quite the contrary, it seems to be the culprit that shaped our insane world to this day, and I am not happy with the way I see the world’s nations going. I wonder, what will be the next ‘thing’ that sends the world into chaos. Last time the planet drowned in a cup of tea. What’s it going to be this time? For awhile it seemed like oil perhaps, but I’m not so sure that really will be the case. I don’t know, and I’m not happy with it. No matter how you cut it, it seems that greed is at the heart of it. History does hold a tendency to repeat itself, but then, so do historians. In spite of the dark aspects of the history of the tea trade, I still am rather fond of the drink.

Coffee isn’t free from a dark history, and both tea and coffee are still marred by slavery and such to this day.

The problems of drinks are not just that Starbucks isn’t found in my particular city. They has centuries of war and death attached to them, and yet I still like my coffee and tea, and probably will continue to do so. I have to ask myself though, am I a culprit of some future war by drinking them?

The thing is, people will do anything for addictions, and some substances are highly addictive, a common thread throughout most trade is substances that are just this kind. People like to say some absurd nonsense about being able to do what they want to themselves ‘as long as they’re not harming somebody else’ the problem is, you can’t even drink water without harming somebody else in this world, not to mention addictive substances. If tea could set the world into chaos, imagine the results of our current ‘anything is acceptable if it makes me happy’ attitude to these things. I shudder to think of it. Has it ever occurred to folks that there are more important things than one’s own present happiness? Like having a planet to live on in the future for instance…

Day 14. heart. (Post-A-Day)

633b810295bd11e3aecf0ac913b3a2f4_8Heart is the word we use as a term to express the most vital part of someone, or something, it is in reference to one of are most important body parts, the heart. It is also what we call that hard-to-describe center of ourselves that we can’t really put a name on, but it’s that central part of ourselves, the true self you might even say.

You might say that we feel with our heart, and we know things, with our heart, almost as much as we do with our minds. Sometimes, our minds haven’t quite caught up to the revelations of the heart, and we find ourselves surprised, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, by what we find when it does.

I used to subscribe to the notion that the heart couldn’t be trusted, but I do not think that to be the case anymore, at least in so far as much as it can be said that the mind can’t be trusted. It’s healthy to hold a measure of distrust of one’s own thoughts, be they of the heart or the mind, it’s quite unhealthy to blacklist the whole heart or mind. Yet, I think a lot of people do exactly that, and it is hard, and it doesn’t make one humble, it makes one cold, stone cold, and dead. A person is a living creature, our hearts are meant to live.

I am not even sure I can say that all hearts do not have some measure of life to them, some say that only the redeemed heart is living, and I understand what is meant by that, but it is another thing entirely to say that absolutely nothing good dwells in all hearts, which is the essence of what is being said. I disagree, if nothing good was in all hearts, there wouldn’t be a point to do anything other than the worship of oneself, but that’s not what I see, to some degree, I see widely among people from all sorts of backgrounds, sacrificial love, and genuine joy. Things that can only come from a heart. Nor do I subscribe to the notion that the motives were somehow always fundamentally selfish, and were only done for outward appearances and so forth. To my mind to suggest that people cannot be good, in any state, is to pose a challenge to the nature of goodness itself.

The heart is what I see as the central part of the person, though in some cultures it has even been regarded as the nose rather than the heart, so it isn’t a universal notion that the heart is our central part by any means. I’m sure it’s been one thing or another throughout the ages. To our fatalistic modern view of things, it tends to be the brain, but it almost is on a very cold and dead sort of level that it is regarded as such, a mere collection of chemicals and nothing more, here for a bit, and then to rot. Kind of depressing really.

A heart is an amazing subject, if nothing else. One of the things in this world that last forever, is the heart, after all.

Day 13. perfect. (Post-A-Day)

4072676894f411e3aee71284e9aa6fe5_8Perfection eludes us, though we find hints of it, we find we rarely ever find it. It isn’t that perfection doesn’t exist, we just happen to live in a world where perfection is elusive. Yet, despite it’s elusive nature, that does not mean we should not strive to seek it. In the seeking of perfection we find a great deal of goodness, and beauty, and hope. So while perfection itself, is a noble destination, the journey there is also of importance, and we are better suited for the perfection at the end for having to chase after it, rather than having it easily within our grasp.

Perfection, is a word that we use to describe things that are without flaw, or are in short, perfect. Perfection is something we wish to be, yet fear to claim for ourselves, and are slow to bestow upon others. Very rarely does a person have the ability to look upon someone and consider them, in their heart, a perfect person.

I think that true perfection is impossible to find, in this world, but by no means does that mean that it doesn’t exist. This world, after all, is a smaller part of a bigger story, and it is in the bigger story where true perfection is found. That doesn’t mean this world isn’t important, it is of immense importance to the Universe, and beyond. It is a land where we pass through, and is both home, and not home. It is a land of shadows, and is as a mirror. It reflects a truer place. Perfection is a desire we seek to see in part because the eternity that is set within the heart, we may not know exactly how to place it into words, or what it even looks like, but we seek after perfection in the pursuit of something we are not always aware that we are searching for. In many ways, the pursuit of perfection is but the echo of eternity, and our hearts seek what we are not aware of, but wish to find.

Day 12. out + about. (Post-A-Day)

c20de8a0941e11e399bb122faec0aa0b_8Out and about. Most weeks, I probably would be out and about today, however, I stayed home this week. But, I have more than a few pictures from previous venturings, so it’s not a big deal. In the photo, I was standing atop the roof of a nearby building, quite short by most cities standards, but one of the taller ones in this city, still high enough for an enchanting view. There is a certain thing about being above the places you’re familiar with from the ground that leaves one feeling a sense of freedom of sorts. Almost as though one has left one’s cares on the ground. it is a nice perspective, but I do not often have the opportunities to be that high up.

Sometimes it is like that, in order to get a better feel for something you need to step away from it and take a good look at it from afar. Sometimes things in life do require closer attention, but most of the time, there is a benefit in stepping back and looking at the whole picture. Sometimes we get so caught up in the little details of something that we forget the bigger picture, and most of the time, the bigger picture is the thing we set out to accomplish in the first place. Again, attention to detail is a good thing, but giving our souls to the details at the cost of everything else is not.

Cities are interesting, we build them, and have been building them for thousands of years, and for good reason, I believe that humans are fundamentally social creatures, we actually need each other, not just for survival, but because it is a fundamental human need to be with other people. Cities are were the majority of the planet’s population lives. And even outside the cities, most people have a community of some sort, whether it is their family, or their neighbors, there usually some sort of community involved wherever humans are found. Occasionally you might find someone who is isolated, but in general, humans are found near other humans.

I used to like to play SimCity 2000, an old version of a series that, as far as I know, is still going on, but I haven’t really kept up with it since then except for the 3000 version, which I didn’t like as much. But, it was fun to manage the city. It was a game, but I was surprised at how I would learn things from it that I would then look at things in real cities and start looking for ways that actual cities could be improved upon. Games do tend to be that way, if you pay attention, they are very effective teachers. Gaming is often a way of preparing for real-world situations, though when I say gaming, a far better term would be playing. Play is absolutely crucial to our development, and it is something we should not grow out of, playing is how we figure out to resolve problems before we actually encounter the problem. Gaming is certainly a part of that. One of the things I’ve neglected too much lately is taking the time to play. It’s one thing to study a lot, but you also have to play with it, or it’s all for naught! We learn by playing much more than we learn by study, though study is a part of learning, and extremely important, it is more often better thought of as a means to an end rather than the end itself. Play on the other hand is both a means and an end. So for goodness sake, go out and play!

I’m afraid this is to be a bit of a random post, but I’m fine with that!

Day 11. mistake. (Post-A-Day)

25aa14fc935b11e3ac3e12e658c54b75_8Mistakes happen, and we know this. Yet, we tend to expect perfection, both in ourselves and in others. And while it is true that perhaps perfection has its place, mistakes give us an opportunity to learn things we might not know if we always did things right on our first try, never failed at anything, and so forth. There is nothing wrong with striving for perfection, it is when we cannot accept failure as a means of progress that we err. Mistakes happen, we should learn from them. It is difficult, I suppose, and I too am still learning to learn from my mistakes rather than letting my mistakes define me, as if they were some external force or something. No, they are something to learn from. It’s not always easy to learn from our mistakes I admit. A lot of times we’re too wrapped up in our error to understand anything other than something is wrong with whatever it was that we were working on.

Even if you fall, you can still get up, and try again. This too is hard, it may seem easier to quit I suppose, or like me, tend to not even start for fear of failing at it, but the one good thing about falling is that you may get up and try again, and often you’ve learned something from your fall that you did not know before.