Word of the Week #172:

Paramount

What is the most important thing in life?

I have been wondering about that for a while, now.

Now, there are many who might say love. And while I appreciate it, I think love gets too romanticised too often.

Many would say money, but, really, money is just a tool. It could become worthless at any given moment.

Before we begin our thought experiment, though, I would like to lay down some ground rules. Here, we are considering ourselves to be a live human of sufficient health living in normal circumstances.

After all, life is the most important thing. Can’t do nothin’ if yo’ dead, right?

Secondly, if you are alive, the second most important thing is that you stay alive. If you have life, but you are struck with an incurable disease that is very certain to kill you very  soon, there is nothing you can do about it.

And, thirdly, we consider normal circumstance because if you are a live, healthy man who has just been flung off a plane 10km above ground, you will find your priorities suddenly changing. What is the most important thing for you in that situation? Love? Money? Family? Pride? Nope. You would probably trade all of them in to get a working parachute and the ability to use it.

Thus, we have established the parameters.

Now, if you are a reasonably healthy human in normal circumstances, what is the most important thing for you?

I will be honest, I had not thought of an answer, as I started to write this; nor should I necessarily have one, to be honest. My role, as I see it, is not to give you the right answers. It is merely to ask you the right questions.

This time, however, I believe I do have an answer.

What is the most important thing in life?

Control.

If you have control, you have everything.

Earlier today, I was ill. By my own estimate, I was at 40% of my abilities. What did I do? I used my limited abilities to treat my own body, and I now feel much better. I am probably in the 75-80% range, but that is so much better. 

If I had less than, say, 10% of my abilities at my disposal, I might have failed to do that.

So, what is the difference between 10% health and 40% health? The ability to fix myself. Control. 

What is the difference between having $10 in your bank account and having $100,000,000? Control.

What is the difference between knowing how to use the power of science to make life better and not knowing the difference between a geode and a diode? Control.

What is the difference between having 10 followers and 100,000 followers? Control.

If we look at it objectively and analytically, even love is a form of control.

Education, passion, discipline, skill, strength, they are all simply means of exerting control over your surroundings.

No matter what the domain, no matter what the means, if you have control, you have everything.

And if you have everything else but you lack control, you really have nothing.

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Word of the Week #168:

Dilemma

Generally, I pride myself on two qualities which may seem rather paradoxical:

  1. My ability to plan and prepare such that I never have to get things done at the last moment.
  2. My ability, whenever required, to always get things done at the last moment.

However, there are instances when I happen to disregard the former and rely on the latter, and while I do get the job done, it comes at a cost.

Today, I could have written a post earlier in the afternoon and had it scheduled to be posted around midnight. Instead, I chose to spend my time doing something that, for the life of me, I cannot recall.

I can get it done at any time I want, right? I am good at this.

And now, with less than half an hour to midnight, I am typing away on a touchscreen device just hours after having dislocated my left thumb.

Yes, it hurts.

No, I won’t go to the doctor.

Now, shall I conclude that I am struggling to get things done because I chose to wing it and should never do that again, or should I always chose to wing it because I can always get things done regardless how much I am struggling?

Either way, considering I started 28 minutes before my deadline and finished with 14 minutes to go, I think this is a good choice to have.

Word of the Week #164:

Trampoline

So, I’ve been having a couple of tough days. Like, tough in a very bizarre way.

And instead of whining for a thousand words about how those days were horrible, since that’s not the purpose of this post, may I offer an illustration.

giphy

It happens every now and then, apparently…

But that is not what this post is about. Instead, let us talk about how one can use to avoid spiralling out of control during these brief periods.

No matter how badly I may be freaking out in any given moment, all I need to do is employ a very simple trick.

Take a step back.
Filter out everything that is going wrong.
Focus on everything that is going well.
Use your focus to patch temporarily patch everything.
Continue to work on the long-term solution.

See, one simple trick and I bounce right back.

Word of the Week #163:

Sabbath

I know, I know, it is not Friday. Or Sunday. But I have always been a bit of a Maverick, right?

You see, on most days, I work a lot. Like, a LOT. Through pain, sickness, fatigue, boredom, distractions, whatever. I get my work done, and I am proud of it.

And I am also proud of the fact that I manage to get days to do just nothing at all.

Like, literally nothing at all. 

Shower? Nope.
Lunch? Nope.
Basketball? Nope.
Dinner? Nope.
Music? Nope.
Random streaming? Nope.
Respond to a random work mail? Nope.
Hours and hours of social media? Nope.
A million thoughts swirling through my head? Nope.
Getting off my comfy bed? Nope.

This is what I call taking a day off. Like, literally off.

This is how I can prepare for another week of insanity that has become the norm in my life. 

And sometimes, this is what you need to make sense of the world: Nothing.


PS: I actually did work 9 hours, today, and counted that as nothing. I guess something is really wrong with me. But, I love it.

Word of the Week #162:

Ocular

Normally, I pride myself at being able to work through most sorts of injuries and ailments.

Blinding headaches, incessant colds, harrowing coughs, fractured wrist, broken shoulder, dislocated fingers. I’ve seen it all. And I have worked through it all with nary a complaint.

There is, however, an exception to this rule, as there often is.

I am truly hobbled, you know, figuratively, when something happens to my eyes. That is just the nature of my work, you see.

And yet, I will maintain that I may have been slowed down, I can never truly be stopped.

I am inevitable.

Word of the Week #150:

Contingency

Gah… I’m so tired.

I have been feeling so unusually weary all day.

Like, have you ever felt so tired, so weary, so completely and entirely drained, that suddenly Coldplay songs start making sense?

When you try your best but you don’t succeed,
When you get what you want but not what you need,
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep,
Stuck in reverse…

Yeah, that bad…

Not that it is any surprise; I did miss my lunch two consecutive days, after which I played basketball till I could barely walk, following which—ironically enough—I went for a walk.

Unusual circumstances yield unusual consequences. That should be no surprise. And these circumstances did teach me, or at least refresh into my memory, an interesting lesson. 

You see, for situations like these, always keep something sweet at hand.

It could be some juice, or a bottle of soft drink. Perhaps a few slices of pineapple, or some cookies. Anything sweet and light, that may offer a jolt of energy that will help you survive till your next meal.

Sure, it is not the healthiest of ways to live. Sure, it will have repercussions in the long run.

But you know what, it is always better to live unhealthy than to die healthy.

And sometimes, there is nothing better to do than live to fight another day.

And if your limbs just do not have the strength to even manage that, well, to once again quote the second coming of the bard himself, I will try to fix you.

Word of the Week #136:

Hubris

The Earth is dying.

How often have you heard this line? I heard it a couple of days back, here.

It tends to pop up during debates about the environment, and the damage we have been doing to it over the past few millennia.

Now, while I agree with environmentalists on many topics, perhaps most, I do strongly disagree with this one statement.

And not only is it inaccurate, it is also quite arrogant.

Think about our body’s reaction to an infection. If a virus invades our bloodstream and tries to take over, our body will raise its temperature to make itself uninhabitable. It may cause some discomfort, it may affect some systems, but once the virus is exterminated, not only do we survive, we actually grow stronger.

That is what the Earth is experiencing right now. Being overrun by an invasive species, it is making itself less habitable to purge the infection. Some other species may be affected in the process, and life as we know it may change on the planet, but it will survive.

The Earth is not dying. If anything, it might be trying to kill us.

Our planet has survived for over 4.5 billion years, and has hosted life for the past 3.7 billion years. It has experienced dozens of mass extinction events, like the one that killed off the dinosaurs, but it has always found ways to evolve and thrive.

I think we can safely assume that the planet will survive us. Well, at least for now…

How much longer will we survive? Now that, Detective, is the right question.