Sometimes I like to imagine that the way I choose to live my life, the counter-culture, interested in things like art and philosophy and nature and trying to to sincere in what and why I do things. Trying to do things for the 'right' reasons, rather than because of societal expectations. All of these things and others that go along with them. Sometimes I imagine that this sort of living is somehow better than others. That in some real, objective way it matters if people live this way, or if people live their more ordinary lives of suburbs, television, celebrity culture, chain stores, cliched speaking and catch phrases. That their way of living is somehow a lesser than mine.

But in reality, I imagine it is probably just a matter of taste. And that these tastes are based on our disposition. Because our tastes and dispositions lean a certain way, we then develop reasons to justify and explain why these ways are better or more 'meaningful'.
But when it comes down to it, it seems more of an aesthetic choice. Something entirely subjective. Even seemingly noble traits like sincerity or fortitude are just aesthetic preferences. And if they are just aesthetic preferences it would mean that for me to feel as if me and my friends or people who are like me are superior for being holding these particular interests is no different than feeling that same way because someone doesn't like a certain song I like. Or a certain food I like.

Ultimately, isn't that what rules so much of our lives? Taste? Suppose we could be happy, completely totally fulfilled happy if we took a drug and sat alone in an empty room for the rest of our lives. Most people don't like the idea of that and I suppose I don't either. But what if the end results could be the same, what would be the difference between that and achieving complete totally fulfilled happiness through having lived a fulfilling life with hard work and family? The difference is merely aesthetic. Of course, on a practical level, at this point in time, we do need certain behaviors to achieve certain mental states. But what if we didn't? If something seems like it took hard work to achieve, we admire the results, but if those same results were achieved through fortune or laziness, then we don't. I imagine that we admire hard work because we evolved in an environment where hard work was necessary for survival. People who were lazy would have made our lives more difficult, brought the tribe down and us in the process. Because of this, we would have evolved a negative feeling towards that type of behavior so as not to reward it. And this feeling manifests itself as an aesthetic preference, which becomes a value.

I guess what I am trying to say is that more and more I am coming to realize that much of what I value, while it may have some practical value, is largely based on an emotional pull in the same way aesthetic or food preferences are. And it is the rational explanations which comes later. In many ways, the overall idea of the life I would like to live and the person I would like to be is mostly just based on an aesthetic preference rather than something objective. It can sometimes be a disheartening thought to feel like the primary driving force of my and our lives is nothing more than aesthetic taste. For some reason, I like the idea of their being some way to live that is objectively better than others. Probably because of my Mormon upbringing I am conditioned with a desire for their to be an ideal way to live that is based on some objective measure. Which isn't to say their are not things which will not improve the quality of our lives and things that will not. But as I talked about above, an optimum state of well-being is not something people value above all else. If that were the case, people would feel no discomfort with the idea of us all taking a pill which would make us happy for the rest of our lives while sitting in a blank room alone, even if it were guaranteed to work.
I have several more thoughts on this. and more specific examples to explain the idea more clearly. Maybe I will end up writing those additional thoughts and examples. Maybe not. Hopefully I will.


Honesty to myself.

I have found there is a certain peace that seems to come along with being honest with myself.

For example:

A couple months ago in a class someone told a riddle and in trying to solve it I asked a question which I didn't really think about before it came out of my mouth and when it actually did come out of my mouth it turned out to be a very dumb question.

After I asked the dumb question the teacher made a joke about it and one of my nerdier classmates responded with an annoyed 'no! jeez!'. (it had been a 'yes or no' question)

After this moment I find myself stewing over it a little bit, coming up with a variety of reasons why the question may have seemed dumb but was actually very smart and that it was my classmates who were at fault for laughing at the question. I felt a feeling of frustration and resentment that seemed to linger for a while as I kept thinking about it, thinking of more elaborate explanations of why the seemingly unintelligent question was actually clever.

After a while I finally realized what I was doing and I acknowledged to myself that the question had in fact been stupid and I would have laughed as well if I heard it asked by someone else. The truth was, I had been embarrassed because I felt it made me look dumb, so in an attempt to defend a certain image of myself in my mind I was trying to think of explanations which allowed me to maintain that image. Once I acknowledged this to myself the frustration and resentment that I felt while trying to defend myself in my mind was released and became replaced by a sense of calm acceptance.

It was a simple realization, one I am sure many people have at various points in their lives. One I have probably had before and will probably have again.
But since that moment it has been something I have thought about often and in moments when I am feel frustration towards another person or thing, I try and think if my frustration is actually a defense, if it is me trying to rationalize something to myself in order to protect my ego or the image I have of myself. When I am able to recognize and acknowledge that I have been doing this, I have found that I will immediately feel sense of relief and release. That moment of recognizing and letting go of your defenses can be such a freeing experience.

I took a picture of myself while moving my eyes back and forth as fast as I could and this is the result. Doesn't it look creepy?



I feel as if those, (such as Jimmy Carter and most everyone on Npr) who claim that Joe Wilson yelling 'you lie' at Obama was an act of latent racism diminishes the significance of obvious and verifiable acts of racism.
Of course it is possible that J Wilson's comments were spurred by racism, but suppose his comments were not, how would they have appeared then? Probably just the same. How then, are we supposed to distinguish between angry disagreements inspired by racism, and angry disagreements inspired by being angry and disagreeing in and of itself?

When people attribute racism to areas where there are no obvious or clear reasons why it is racist other than that a black man was involved, then obvious acts of racism become diminished. It places genuine and serious acts of discrimination that actually cause harm to people in the same category as ordinary human interaction, in effect cheapening the claim of racism. If people continually hear acts that may possible be racist but may just as easily not be racist labeled as racist the charge of racism begins to lose meaning. If people become desensitized to the charge of racism because of it being used too freely, then it may lessen people's attention to it in times when necessary.

Because racism can be so harmful and destructive in subtle ways, I understand why people may feel extra vigilant about looking for it to reveal itself in concealed ways, but there is a fine line that when crossed dilutes the its meaningfulness.



There has been a lot of talk on the Left lately on radio shows I listen to and websites I read about the growing incivility of political discourse. To me it seems like the Left are being babies. When Bush was president I heard equally harsh, if not more harsh criticisms and protests against him.
A big deal is being made about people who have been comparing Obama to Hitler. Bush was compared to Hitler on a regular basis and I didn't hear this sort of lamenting over the loss of civility then. It seems their issue is less that people are making over the top exagerated criticisms, and more that a person they support is being criticized and so now they take issue with the way those criticisms are being done, even though they seemed to have no problem with similarly carried out criticisms against someone they didn't like. All of a sudden people on the left are talking about 'respecting the office of the presidency' which before I only heard from the right.


I'm beginning to recognize in myself the less positive aspects of aging. I'm finding that it takes me longer to learn physical tasks. I recently learned how to use a letter press and noticed how much longer it took me to grasp than it would have once before. I notice I have become less creative. I used to have new ideas constantly, so much so that I felt overwhelmed by them because I couldn't bring them all to realization. Now the ideas come more slowly. And are more similar to other ideas i've had.
But I have also experienced positive aspects of aging. The ideas I do have, I spend more time on and think them through more clearly. I feel much more stable and content than when I was younger. I know myself better and know better what actually makes me happy versus what things I just like the idea of and wish would make me happy. At the same time I can be less inclined to experiment or try new things. I day dream a bit less. I feel less compelled to be understood. It seems young people want so strongly for people to understand them and 'get them', which i know I felt as well, but I no longer feel that in the way I may have before.
I listen to way less music than I ever have before. Overall I prefer being older.


Cat Burglar

At some point during the night last night I woke up hearing a foreign noise that I later decided was probably our next door neighbors having sex.
But when I woke up, perhaps because of the sound, the dream I had been having, and confused sleepiness, I was suddenly stricken with fear that someone might break into our apartment.
I wasn't worried that the sound was of someone breaking into our apartment, but that someone might, in a few, moments break in.
This is not something I normally worry about. Rarely do I even lock doors. In the house I lived in before I didn't even own a key.
The feeling of fear and concern was so strong that I felt as if it was a spiritual impression telling me I needed to lock the door.
I generally don't think in those terms and now that it is morning I feel somewhat amused by it.
But I lay there for a few moments, unable to think of anything besides someone opening our unlocked front door.
Since Marissa and I don't have a bed yet, we sleep on the futon in our living room.
It would have been a strange and scary experience to be laying in bed(futon) watching a stranger open your front door. I imagine it would be uncomfortable for the burglar as well since he or she would have been expecting us to be upstairs in our room.
Instead, we would make eye contact, since I was looking at the front door. For a moment neither of us would know what to do, and ideally the cat burglar would just back out and close the door behind him or herself.
After a little while of laying in bed full of fear I got up and locked the front and back door, somehow knocking a painting off the wall in the process.


Never Forget.

It is funny how 'never forget' or some variation based on the idea of not forgetting has become the slogan of September 11th. As if anyone is at risk of forgetting what may be the most momentous event to occur in their lifetime. Not only is no one at risk of forgetting, but is this even a mantra we want to be repeating? Never forget, keep fear, anger and resentment burning inside of you?

It would be interesting and nice if instead of being constantly reminded to not forget, we had a mantra about forgiveness. As a Christian nation, a mantra of forgiveness would be more inline with Christianity than one of never forgetting, Something no one is at risk of in the first place.

Here are a few pictures of the new place Marissa and I have moved into. As well as a couple pictures of a morning glory flower I have been growing which recently bloomed.



Sometimes in the morning I will check the news and my email and click on links. I will start to get this overwhelmed but excited feeling I used to get when I was younger and interested in discovering as many new bands as I could. Overwhelmed because I know that no matter how much looking I do there will always be many things undiscovered, things that could possible be very interesting. This feeling is also very exciting. The excitement of unknown treasures. I can spend several hours clicking from one link to the next with this sense of urgency that I might miss something interesting. As anyone who has been with me while using the internet knows, I might have 15-20 different tabs open of things I want to read.
But then I force myself to close it all, and suddenly all the urgency is gone. Tabs that I felt such a strong compulsion to keep open and make sure I read, once gone are not missed at all and I feel myself
I guess this is a good example of how having too many options can decrease our enjoyment. As much as I love the internet this part of why I prefer books. When reading a book I only have one option and don't have the sense that there might be some incredibly interesting bit of information just around the corner that I might be missing and must keep my eyes open. With a book, I only have one option, which unfolds linearly allowing me to be satisfied with what I have and the order I take it in. I know it will all be there, and I won't miss any of it, even if I forget to bookmark the page for later.



Imagine your discouragement if you were doing a scavenger hunt worth $1,000,000 and you reached the final quest which was to find an Asian person (from oriental Asia.) whose native accent is Irish.

Chinese leprechaun