Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Art of Living

It must already be clear as crystal that I write quite a lot about what I read.
One the flight home for the holidays I read Micheal Crichton's 'NEXT'. Crichton readers would know that all his books are very scientific and tackle many sciento-economic issues, in a manner of speaking.
NEXT tackles the genetic modification problem. The book is well written, I read it all the way from Sydney to Auckland. It is also substantial! MC, as always, does his homework.
On the flight back to Sydney I read 'The Art of Living' which is based on the 'teachings' of Greek philosopher Epictatus. I'm all for self-help and 'clean up your life' type books much as I would like to believe the contrary. No, I do not have a drug problem and have not been subjected to abuse of any form or shape still I find myself, from time to time, questioning the nature of things.... simple, everyday things. Things like 'why do I always get a raw deal', 'why doesnt God like me', 'why is it so hot today'. You get the drift.....
For some strange and inexplicable reason certain books almost come to me exactly when I need them.
Dalai Lama's writings came to me and though I would like to say it changed my life I cannot as I didnt really follow it through completely. It did make a huge difference in that it changed my frown to a smile for several days to come.
In the same vein I happened to read 'The Meditation's' by Marcus Aurelius.... good book, hard read. And now Epictatus.
"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and cannot control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible. Within our control are our own opinions, aspirations, desires, and the things that repel us. . . . We always have a choice about the contents and character of our inner lives" says he. He also goes on to say "circumstances do not rise to meet our expectations. Events happen as they do. People behave as they are. Embrace what you actually get. Open your eyes; See things for what they really are, thereby sparing yourself the pain of false attachments and avoidable devastation. . . . When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it, you can either accept it or resent it." When you accept it, you can do something with it. If you resent it, you will try to do something about it. But history, even immediate history, cannot be otherwise. It is futile to decry it. Do something new with it instead; be active, turn it into something positive, if you can".
Hear hear....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New Year Revolutions!

So its the new year, time to be out with the old and in with the new. The end of last year for me can only be described as tumultuous, no less. I am still trying to clamber out from rock-bottom. Whoever said that once you hit rock-bottom the only way you can go is up, didn't consider the possibility that once you hit rock bottom you might wander down there forever!
I take refuge in sarcasm and causticity (if that is a word!), it is the one constant in my life and something that can be called upon in any circumstance good or bad and it will never let me down. It is my sanctuary. More so because my options for coping are limited - laugh like a moron, cry like an idiot or lace everything in sarcasm to the point where everything only elicits a callous, non-committal and non-caring reaction.

Some things I have come to realise from last year's events:

1. Caring unconditionally for anyone/thing will only lead to heartache, headache and muscular fatigue.

2. When you have to literally pick up your flatmate's dirty linen you should rethink the whole 'end of lease clean up', listen to good advice and torch the place.

3. No two people are compatible - the making of relationships is a fundamentally flawed process and the only way two people can live under one roof (and emit a sense of harmony and well-being to the outside world) is through total dominance and/or subservience.
Compromise is a myth as is compatibility.

4. If you have children under the age of 3 please have the good sense not to travel half the world (on an aircraft) with them till they are old enough to realise or listen to you when you tell them not to kick the seat in front of them and bawl like there is no tomorrow. Because invariably it will be me in that seat in front!

5. It takes more strength of character to stand up to your friends than to your enemies.

6. It is always better to be the exploiter than the exploitee (if those are the only two options!).

7. I have also learned that realisaton and learning are two completely different concepts.

Happy New Year everyone!!