Everything is Derivative

Everything is Derivative

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this argument (usually from American men) when trying to discuss philosophy and profound revelations. Yes, we live in the age of information, and we are influenced by everything around us all the time. Truly original thought is near impossible (although I have met one man in particular who thought that everything he said had never been said before. He’s a self proclaimed megalomaniac though so, don’t take him too seriously). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a profound thought/idea/philosophy and adapt it or apply it to a personal experience or a hypothetical situation to make it mean something else or describe it in different terms. This shows true understanding and makes it original thought rather than parroting.

We are all influenced by the culture and religion of the society we are brought up in.

Parroting of a typical argument:
If you grow up in a Christian household, you’re likely to be Christian yourself.

Personal interpretation:
Being raised in a predominantly atheist area, I learned to to be ashamed of my religious beliefs. However, travelling to different areas of the country, I have been exposed to different cultures and found a new appreciation for religion as a whole, and as separate doctrines. However, I still struggle with the personal shame that I internalised as a child. Shame is also something that is usually associated with religion. It is typical to be taught to be ashamed for not subscribing to the ideals of the religion you are brought up in. Therefore, can Atheism be considered to be a religion in and of itself, as the worship of no Gods, rather than the absence of religion? And if so, is it possible to grow up without the influence of religion?

See how I also included the idea that childhood conditioning could have a more profound effect on a person than cultural exposure alone? And questioned that validity and perceptions of religion? Those aren’t original ideas either. But the fact that I am able to see their connection and relevance to the conversation shows my understanding of several theories. This is how we come up with new ideas/philosophies. We allow different theories to co-mingle and see how they play out in real world scenarios. Simply appreciating them for being clever doesn’t benefit anyone or anything, and what is the point in philosophy if you’re not going to really think.

So yes, everything is derivative but, you know, you can’t make mac ‘n cheese without wheat, water and cows. It’s still it’s own delicious creation though.

(Sometimes, I swear they just say it to try and sound smart.)

Do You Think She Hates Me?

Do You Think She Hates Me?

I don’t have anything deep or philosophical to talk to you about today, so I’m going to tell you thoughts I’ve had about my book in stead.

You may or may not know that November is National Novel Writing Month or, NaNoWriMo for short. The idea is to write 50,000 words towards your novel within the month. People do variations on this, working on scripts, thesis, a short story collection, or having timed goals in stead of word counts if they are editing pieces, or whatever. The main point of the event is to dedicate yourself to working on an important project for a full month.

I first had a go at this 10 years ago. I was young and excited and had no idea how much work it would actually be. I did not reach my target. I had another go in 2011, 2012, and 2014. I never got close. The most words I ever wrote was 17,566. But this year will be different. I signed up to WritersHQ back in August and I’ve been writing more consistently and refining my methods to make writing large pieces easier. This year is my year.

I had originally planned to write the full 50,000 words since I’ve been isolating since April with little to do, but then, just before November began, my employers found me a job that I could do from home. So now I’m working I have less time to write but, determined not to let my novel fall by the wayside, I in stead decided to do a ‘half NaNo’, setting my target at 25,000 words. Call this cheating if you like, but considering I’ve never even made it to 20,000 before, I think this is still a good target for me. And if I reach 25,000 before the end of November, I’m not going to just stop there, I’ll keep going, it’s just motivating to have a realistic target to strive for.

But now to the thing that I actually wanted to talk about. The most integral part of any novel is interesting, 3-dimentional, characters. If you don’t care about the character then you don’t care about their story. One of the skills that I’ve recently developed is deciding who my main characters are before I begin writing. The exercise is to write a sort of bio for them. What are their likes and dislikes? What is their background, their history? Do they have any particular catch phrases or nuances? Etc. This not only makes sure that they are well rounded characters, but it makes the story writing easier because the characters already have personalities so you know how they would act or react in certain situations without having to think about it too hard.

The thing that I was thinking about the other day is this: My main character is a troubled person with a troubled past, and as such she behaves in some questionable ways and can often be irrationally cruel to others and to herself. But because I’m focused on word count right now rather than quality, some of her history and reasoning is being momentarily left out so I can really delve into it on my second run through. This means that my protagonist is doing some pretty horrendous things without any real explanation, and I wonder if she would be mad at me for making her do them.

Obviously I know that she doesn’t really have thoughts or feelings of her own, and I’m fully aware that I made her up, but when you put that much time and thought into creating a person, it is difficult sometimes to not think of them as a real, living being. So sometimes I feel as though, by writing her story, I’m making her do and say things that she may not want to. If I had taken the time to write in her backstory she might understand why she is acting so strangely. So I guess I feel sorry for her because I have inside knowledge that she doesn’t, and even though I know that it will eventually all make sense to her, I wonder if, at this moment in time, she actually hates me for screwing up her life the way I am. The idea of it makes me sad because I have a real fondness for her, after all, I did bring her into existence. And as much as I would love to make her happy, she’s not, she just doesn’t understand why yet.

If you’re not a writer (or avid reader or RPG gamer) I’m sure I must sound crazy to you, but you know, welcome to the inner ramblings of my mind.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Everything Happens for a Reason

I am a person who believes that everything happens for a reason. I have to with everything that has happened to me. If I didn’t then the universe is just cruel and unfair and what’s the point in struggling against the tide? But in stead of hopelessness, I chose to believe that, although I may not know why, and may never know why, the things that occur in my life have to happen in order for some other event to happen that creates balance in the universe. This belief brings me peace of mind and allows me to carry on trying when everything is telling me to give up.

5 years ago I went back to college to do an Access course so I could go to University. Halfway through my college course I got a very severe flu-like illness and never fully recovered. I got M.E. I was still able to complete my course (just about), but was unable to get the work experience required for the University course that I wanted to do. I was rejected from all four of my University choices and left pretty distraught. I was on the verge of giving up when my favourite University offered me a place on a different course. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it was close and it could lead me to what I wanted to do, so I accepted and went to University.

1 year of that course and my health had deteriorated to the point where I was almost completely bedbound. I was still managing to get the work done (and was getting good grades) but my tyrannical course leader said that if I didn’t show up for class then I would be kicked off of the course. If I was kicked off of the course then I would be kicked out of my campus accommodation, making me homeless. I somehow managed to get a meeting with the leader of another course who said he’d be delighted to take me on. I ended up loving that course and that department and they supported me with my illness so I was able to graduate this year with excellent grades.

If I had been accepted onto the course that I originally wanted to do then I wouldn’t have wasted a year on a terrible course and I would have graduated last year and been in work this year when the virus hit. And what was that course that I wanted to do? Child nursing. Yep, if I hadn’t gotten M.E, I would currently be a Nurse in the NHS right now.

Just saying… everything happens for a reason.

I am a know-it-all

I am a know-it-all

I am a know-it-all and no-one likes a know-it-all. I am the one who says “Actually” and “Technically” and “I think you’ll find that” and I know that people don’t want to hear it and hate being corrected, I see their eyes roll and their mocking tones and jeering points but I can’t help myself. I have to be right, I have to know and I need people to know that I know. I hate to fail, to be wrong, to make a mistake, and it does happen because I am human. What makes it worse is that the people who are there to see me fail, to prove me wrong, to witness my mistakes, they take such glee in it and point it out and rub it in, because I am a know-it-all and no-one likes a know-it-all.

Universal Energies

Universal Energies

Do you ever have those days when it feels like the universe is against you and everything that can go wrong, does? Well my day today was the opposite of that.

Science hasn’t yet nailed down the ins and outs of the energy or frequencies that radiate in all things. They are working on it and one day it will be considered fact and taught in physics class in schools, but until then people will find their own way of explaining this phenomenon depending on their culture, religion or personal experiences. Personally, I am a Wiccan (as well as a Buddhist) and we believe in the Rule of Three; all energy that you put out into the universe will return to you threefold. It is also called Law of Attraction, the Power of Thought, Summoning by Visualisation, you reap what you sow, what goes around comes around, Karma and other such things.

I have done a lot of terrible things in my youth and had a lot of terrible things happen to me but at a certain point in my life, I decided to change this pattern and try my best to be a good, kind, human being. Then worse things happened to me. I couldn’t understand why I was being punished when I was trying so hard to be good. I knew I wasn’t perfect but I thought that trying meant more than the actual accomplishment. I also tried to reason that if I was suffering there must be a reason for it and a lesson to be learned. To be fair, I did learn from those events and they have made me a better person but I am sure that the same effects could have been achieved with far less trauma.

What I didn’t realise then, but do now, is that your inner thoughts and feelings matter just as much, if not more, than your activity. If you ask someone if they are okay and they say they’re fine, you can tell if they’re being truthful or not. Similarly, if someone says that they are happy to do a thing that they’re really not, you can feel their discontent. Doing a thing or saying a thing does not make that thing a true reflection of yourself. Your inner thoughts and feelings are sensed by those around you and absorbed by the universe.

A person who wants a new job may send out CV’s, dress smart, go to interviews and attend job fairs, but if they have the inner belief that they won’t be good at anything else and maybe it’s best if they stay in the job they have then they are unlikely to get a new job despite all of the legwork they do. In another scenario someone may long for a good lasting relationship and sign up to dating sites, join clubs, socialise and go out on dates but if they believe that they are not worthy of love and no one will ever love them, then they won’t find the love they seek.

This is a concept that I’ve always been aware of but never actualised. Partly because I always thought I had little control over my thoughts and feelings (another self fulfilling prophecy) and partly because I believed in the mantra “fake it ’til you make it”. I thought if I behaved as the person I wanted to be then eventually I would become that person. Now I realise it is the other way around, you must make the change inside first, then it will shine through you effortlessly.

Since listening to “Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender” I have made a conscious effort to watch my thoughts and feelings and adjust them when they go astray. In today’s example I had the thought “What idiot would park in such a stupid place?” I observed the thought and reflected. Perhaps the person didn’t know this was a bus route. Maybe there was an emergency or they are only stopping for a short time and didn’t realise they would cause an obstruction. I myself have done similar things without knowing I was being a hindrance. In fact, I have quite a talent for accidentally getting in people’s way. When you reflect like this you remember the human-ness of us all, the anger dissipates and you forgive them knowing that if it were you, you would want to be forgiven.

Negative thoughts like this come up several times a day but when you take the time and make the effort to observe them, experience them and reflect on them, then you become a happier, calmer person. And when you become a happier, calmer person it radiates from you and people around you become infected with it. Suddenly everyone is polite and friendly and considerate and the world seems to be working in your favour. Everything goes right for you, even the things that normally would ruin your day seem to be fortuitous and even comical.

I had a good day today and I plan to have many more.

I am not my body, I have a body.

I am not my body, I have a body.

Listening to “Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender” by David R. Hawkins (M.D, Ph.D) on audiobook often has me thinking. It is a book I’m sure I’ll listen to several times. Yesterday it triggered thoughts that clarified themselves this morning. The thought was this:

I no longer identify with my body as being who I am. How I perceive myself is a topic for another post, for now I want to focus on my body. I used to hate it and abused it as a form of self punishment. Currently, I relate to it more as a vessel that keeps me grounded and allows me to experience the world through it. It’s not perfect but I love and respect it for what it allows me to do, especially after I have treated it so badly in the past. I also have a kind of nostalgic familiarity with it that brings me comfort.

It’s like your old car. The doors squeak and the windows rattle, sometimes the key sticks and lights flicker but it gets you to work in the morning, helps you carry your shopping home, let’s you visit your family whenever you want and takes you on holiday. It has that scratch from the time you threw your keys down without thinking, and the permanent marker that your baby cousin got hold of. Remember the time your friend was running late so thought she’d do her nails in the car and spilled the polish everywhere? You take care of it to keep repair costs down but also because you don’t want to lose it after all this time and all the memories you have in it.

This is how I feel about my body. It doesn’t work all that well and I don’t really like the way it looks, but we’ve been through a lot together and I have much love and respect for it. I take care of it and it takes care of me.

This was the thought that I had this morning but I have felt this way for some time, I just hadn’t realised it. It had an oil change recently and has been running a lot smoother and that caused appreciation and gratitude for this old hunk of junk.

Although this thought only presented itself concisely to me this morning, I felt it a few days ago during my zen mediation meeting. As part of our practice we do a few minutes of walking meditation. While I was walking I noted that I was enjoying it, that it was easy and fun. I found that I was feeling the ground beneath my feet in a way I never had before. I didn’t feel my toe joints moving or the impact of my weight on my ankles or knees, I was feeling the flat, solid, warm floor pushing up against the soles of my feet. It almost felt like it was carrying me, like every time my foot came down through the air, the floor caught it and supported it while I swung my over foot about. It was both bizarre and marvelous seeing something so mundane from this new perspective. I look forward to more experiences like this.

Losing Myself

Losing Myself

When you have a chronic illness, especially one as debilitating as M.E, you expect it to take over certain aspects of your life. Where I go, what I do, who I see, and how long for are all dependant on my M.E. We have a one-sided, controlling relationship where I have to check in with it before I make any decisions about my life and it lets me know what I can and cannot do. If I rebel and disobey then I am punished. This is a compromise that I’ve gotten used to and, though I’m not completely happy with the life I’m living, I’ve managed to reduce my suffering by doing as I’m told. The unsettling thing I’ve noticed recently is that, like any unhealthy dependant relationship, it is starting to dominate my thoughts and personality as well.

As a biologist and someone with a scientifically driven mind, I spend a lot of time reading research, journal articles, patient stories etc., looking for treatments, insight, knowledge or understanding, any kind of hope for a way out of my situation. When you spend so much time reading about a particular subject, when you surround yourself with it, it quickly becomes all you have to talk about. I hear myself relating every topic of conversation back to M.E, either my personal experiences or to something I’ve read or heard. I hear people feeling awkward and trying to respond politely. I know that they aren’t interested but it’s the only way I can contribute since M.E is the consuming aspect of my life. Even things as common as the weather (the heat steals my energy and the cold makes the pain worse), how was your weekend (great, I spent it the way I spend every weekend, recovering from the week just passed and preparing myself for the week coming), or if anyone dares complain that they’re tired (you don’t know what tired is! I’d do anything to feel as tired as you right now!). I don’t have hobbies, I rarely go out, I can’t spend time with friends, what’s left for me to talk about?

But my M.E is not a bad boyfriend that I can break up with, or an addiction I can overcome. It forced it’s way into my life uninvited and unwanted and made everything all about itself. It swallowed me up and now, I am more M.E than me.