Thursday, July 30, 2009


Imagine being given a choice between two options.
The first option is that you would be given a desirable attribute, such as being intelligent or gifted in a particular art. Whatever trait you most admire in others, you would have. However, no one would ever know you had this trait. In fact, people would believe you were deficient in that area. So if you were actually very smart, everyone would think you were dumb.


The second option would be the inverse of the first. Everyone would believe you were extremely gifted in an area where you were actually not.

No matter what you did, no one would ever find out the truth, so there would be none of the stress of having to maintain a false appearance.

I imagine most people would choose the second option.
Wouldn't it be weird if these were choices we actually had to face in life? I suppose we do to some degree, in terms of weather or not to lie or cheat, or pull a Milli Vanilli, but it would be weird if choices of this magnitude were things we faced occasionally.

There was something I had been wanting to write, but it slipped my mind. So instead I wrote about this and the heatwave. I hope I remember.

Surfing the Heat Wave

The Seattle area is having a 'heat wave'. This means it has been over 90 degrees for more than a couple days. The record for consecutive days with over 90 degree weather in this region is 6 days. Yesterday Seattle hit 103 degrees for the first time since weather has been measured.
In Arizona the record for consecutive days above 110 degrees is 18 days.
Marissa is from Arizona, so you might think she would find this Seattle heatwave to be insignificant to normal Arizona weather, but some things make this Seattle heatwave more difficult to bear. Mostly the fact that almost no one has air conditioning and it is very humid.
The hot humid weather makes me feel nostalgic for my childhood summer vacations to Omaha, where it was always very hot and humid. I notice that as an adult I am much better at coping with the heat.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I haven't been online much. Well, i've been reading the news and watching hulu, but haven't logged onto anything social for about a week. Partly because school is so busy during summer. Partly because once I miss a couple days of keeping up on things, the effort required to catch up feels unpleasant, so I will put off email/blog/facebook checking .And with all things, the more it is avoided, the greater it becomes in our minds and often in reality. Now a week has passed and I have so many things to catch up on.

I don't mean to sound as if I feel extremely overwhelmed and burdened by internet responsibilities. It is not something that weighs on me throughout the day. Only for split seconds when I think to check my email, then remember how many hundreds of messages there will be, so I decide to wait until later. I have no trouble being able to put out of my mind things I don't want to deal with at the moment. This is both positive and negative. It helps me be generally free from anxiety, but also can also cause me to not follow through with tedious, but important tasks. If there is something unpleasant, that I cannot do anything about, and dwelling on it will only cause worry and anxiety without helping the issue. In these situations it is to my benefit to not worry or think about future responsibilities. However, other things that are unpleasant, but are made worse by my inaction, such as turning in a form to my bank, are also very easy for me to not worry about. And because I am not worried about it, I often end up not doing it, which often leaves me having more to do than before.

I guess this illustrates why many spiritual attributes are difficult to attain. They are not helpful to our survival, so evolution would not have favored those traits. In this example I suppose I am specifically thinking of 'being in the moment'.

As much psychological benifit may come from 'being in the moment', it is clear why this was not a trait favored by evolution. It is easy to imagine why someone who is able to think about and be concerned with future events, is going to have a much higher survival rate than someone who is perpetually 'in the moment'
Very young children and people with brain damage are good at being in the moment, and that is why they aren't able to take care of themselves.
Our ability to constantly think and worry about the future, as well as consider our failures and successes from the past are a lot of what has made humans so successful at a variety of tasks. Yet this same attribute which helps us survive, makes it difficult to enjoy our survival. When we can slow down and appreciate things, it allows us to enjoy and savor the experience of being alive. But when we do this too much we don't take care of responsibilities necessary for survival.

I read a book last year about a woman, who was a Neuroscientist but then had a stroke. She damaged much of her left brain, and lost many of the functions that help us survive such as linear thinking and a sense of self. In essence, she had achieved the Buddhist conscept of Nirvana. She felt literally one with everything around her, because the part of her brain which tells us where our body begins and ends was damaged. She also lost her ability to reason forward or backwards, so she was very much in the moment. She described feelings euphoria and ecstascy and all the things one would hope and expect to feel if you had reached Nirvana. And yet, because of these very same things, she lost all her survival skills. She had to be taken care of by her mother until she recovered those functions which allowed her to survive, yet took much of the euphoria out of survival.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


One thing that hadn't occurred to me about summer living at this latitude is how long the days are. The sun rises before 5:30 and doesn't set until past 9. I find myself waking up around six and not being able to return to sleep. I realized I didn't have any reason to fight this, so I have begun making the most of my morning hours, which I love.

Perusing various news sites this morning, it occurred to me that Cnn isn't quite the reputable news source I had previously imagined. Not that their reporting seems flawed or overtly biased, but the stories covered and emphasized barely reflect what I see as the important issues of the world. I feel I could thoroughly read every day and still be relatively uninformed about actual news stories. On the other hand, I would be very informed about celebrity news and crime stories. I would know all about who had been kidnapped lately and who the prime suspects were, in addition to any minor setback a celebrity may encounter, but I would only have a shallow awareness of any other event.
It still doesn't compare to fox news in terms of vacuous coverage, but it is much closer than I had previously thought. I'm not saying is terrible, it just isn't what I had imagined before I tried using it. I had imagined it being more in depth and relavent, instead of gossipy tabloid. It does have articles on 'important' issues, but they are far from the focus. For example, a very important bill was enacted today effecting the federal student loan program, has reported on it, but one would have to search for this article to find it. What you wouldn't have to search for are articles like 'Disco Saves man's life' 'photo may show children's grave' about a murder which happened over a decade ago.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Heavy eyes.

my eye lids feel really heavy right now, but I am not particularly tired.