Star Fish

One of two stories that has weaved in and out of my life for a long as I can remember, adaptations of The Star Thrower have been a guiding light for my goal in life. It has been a great source of Inspiration (teal and orange mixed) in my life.

I’ll do my best to tell the story with my own words.

There was once a philosopher who studied the world around him, and searched for knowledge in any form. He regularly went to the ocean to ponder and to write. On one such day, the philosopher saw a small figure dancing on the beach in the distance. Curiosity drove him faster in his walk, as he was excited to observe something new.

As he grew closer, he saw that the small figure was not dancing. He saw a boy reaching down to the sand, picking up objects, and throwing them into the ocean waves. The philosopher approached the boy.

“Good morning! May I ask what you are doing?” he called to the boy.

Pausing his work to reply, the boy looked up. “The storm last night washed all these star fish to the shore. I am throwing them back into the ocean.”

The philosopher of course saw the thousands of star fish on the shore, it was a common sight after large storms. He hadn’t paid any attention to it. Curiosity still pressing his mind, he changed his question, “Of course I can see what you are doing, I should have asked why you are doing it.”

“The sun is up, and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back to the sea, then they will die.” the boy replied sadly.

Concern that the boy would suffer further, severe sadness if he continued his hopeless project moved the philosopher to help the boy understand. “My boy, don’t you see how many there are. You are striving to achieve an impossible task. As sad as it is to see a life pass away, it is part of nature. I have studied nature for a long time. If you save a sheep from a wolf, the wolf will starve. It is best to not toil so hard against nature, you can’t make a difference.”

The boy, who had politely listened to the philosopher, bent down to rescue another star fish. Throwing it into the water, he turned and said,

“I made a difference to that one.”

I have always found in this story that the “wise man” was rather stupid. Because of this, I decided to put a new perspective of my own into his words. The point of the story doesn’t change though.

The world is so very broken. While there have been giants of social reform and humanitarian aid throughout history, the world is still filled with pain in every corner. If even these world changing giants couldn’t fix the world, then what hope do I have to do anything? I know they say in school that nothing is impossible, but those sweet words and ideas don’t change reality.

This isn’t to say that we should stop trying, or that it is bad to dream. But I think the perspective is important. Personally, I know my role in life is to support others. I don’t belong on the front stage. But even making a difference in my small corner of the world is hard sometimes. It’s easy to get discouraged and wonder if anything I do really matters. Somehow on those days, no matter how many years it’s been since I’d even thought of this story, the image of a boy throwing star fish into the ocean bubbles up and gives me hope.

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The Sky is Happy Too

Yesterday was a day filled with Ecstacy (yellow), Joy (yellow), Delight (yellow), and every other happy based emotion there is. At 4:00pm yesterday the Taiwan Constitutional Court gave their ruling on a case that determined the status of same-sex marriage in Taiwan. Of 15 judges, 13 ruled in favor, one partially opposed and one opposed. Taiwan has become the first Asian country to legalize marriage equality.

On the bus ride to work, the tension in group chats was so high just before the announcement time. People who have fought so hard for their rights, for so very long, and all their supporters were on edge. By 4:15 the news was spreading like wildfire and my phone was blowing up with messages on group chats with happiness you could feel, even through symbols on a screen that make up words. So many describing all the tears of those around them from pure happiness and relief. All the tension from less than an hour before was washing it’s way through thousands of people.

Around 4:30 it began to rain, and I couldn’t help but just smile.

The Biology of Courage

Yet another TED Talks video  in my recent binge of them when I have moments in my day too long to just sit, but not long enough to get into anything serious. This one made me feel very Curious (orange).

I can say I’ve been under a lot of stress inducing things recently. Walking into an interview and hearing “I’m really sorry but we have an emergency, can you help sub a class for a little more than two and a half hours? The age group is 4-6 year olds.” Another interview cancels, more resumes to send out, taxes to file, a small pain in my side that is terrifyingly (dark green) similar to what I felt the just before the last few kidney stones I had…

This list goes on. Everything from financial stress, medical stress, relationship stress, career stress, and more. All hitting me at the same time. I’ve been more than a little worried about what effects this would have on my health… yet another stress.

After watching this video and thinking back on all the times I’ve felt courage, it really never is the absence of fear. That moment when you choose to fight rather than flee, or that moment you choose to win no matter what, is filled with heart pumping fear.

Sorry I don’t have the link handy, but years ago I read an article or hear some speaker that compared the biological impact of modern day work stress to fighting a lion that wants to eat you. The chemical response was almost the same, and some people are working themselves to death because of how long the body stays in that chemical state.

I’m sure many of you have seen #firstworldproblems both as a joke about something silly, but also as a response to someone trying to reach out because they are going through something. Somehow suggesting that they aren’t fighting lions for food, so they should chill… when in reality, some of the things we deal with in the modern era are just as taxing on our bodies.

Luckily, it seems our bodies also come with stress resilience built into the stress response. The trick for me (and I’m sure many others) will be learning to use it properly. I know I have done it before. That moment when you’re playing a new game that you aren’t already max level, and a huge dragon shows up. I’ve been fighting scary bosses my whole life, and now my automatic response is “bring it on, this will be fun.” It’s to the point now, that monsters in my dreams make for the most fun dreams because fireballs. No joke, my nightmares are always about real life, and monsters in my dreams are just fun.

Of course, the levels of stress seeing the giant digital monster are no where near the stress I face in real life… but isn’t practice always easier than the real thing? Personally I plan to try to use that as a model, and see if I can put that feeling into real life using the ideas from this TED Talks video. Let’s see how it goes.

New Year Family Card

Today I was feeling Curiosity (teal and orange mixed).

While trying to be more productive, I have been keeping the amount of time spent in video games much less, especially while I’m on a roll. So when I wanted some break time, I went to YouTube to scrounge around the TEDx channel.

I came across an interesting video about time management, specifically managing your free time. [LINK]

I don’t have time often means it’s not a priority. If you think about it, that’s really more accurate language. I mean, I could tell you I don’t have time to dust my blinds but that’s not true. If you offered to pay me $100,000 to go dust my blinds I would get to it pretty quickly.

The speaker suggests to find out what your priorities are, write what you want to see on next year’s performance review at work, or the next family letter you send out. Basically just write what you want to have accomplished in the future, what would make you proud. So, even though she said not to actually send that letter out, I am going to write mine here. In about six months I invite you to look back with me on this entry, and we’ll see how it all turns out.

31 December 2017

Dearest Friends,

A new year is just around the corner, and I’m taking some time to look back on everything that has happened this year.

It was a pretty rough start for my career. My hours were being cut, and then I was informed I wouldn’t have a place in that school much longer. So I set out to find a new job, another step in my teaching career. I sent out a lot of applications and went on a lot of interviews before I found a job that seemed to fit me more. After the craziness of summer and the new fall semester starting up, I enrolled in online courses to get my TEFL certification. Classes are going great!

As many of you know I started writing my first novel this year as well. After a few months of not getting much done, I really buckled down and am happy to announce that after finishing this letter, I will be posting a chapter that puts my word count over 60,000! Thank you all for sharing in the adventure with me, and for reading each new chapter every two weeks.

Thank you all for your love and support. Happy New Year! Time to open this bottle of wine and begin the party!!!

Time to Play

I feel Amazement (teal) and Serenity (yellow). I am getting into this game more than I expected I would. As of now, I have just been granted the ability to choose a class. I went with mage so I can throw fire balls at things. I’m going to try to get my avatar as close to an 8-bit red mage as I can, but it doesn’t look like I have many options.

Either way, my overall life is starting to improve. I have not found the motivation to write as much as I wanted, but the general tidiness of my house and my eating habits have improved. That alone should start to improve my energy which will hopefully translate into the other things. But…. right now I have goals of leveling up so I can learn new skills, buying armor and weapons, and a few little pets I want.

The problem I face with any game is what to do when I have achieved my goals. I’m four levels away from having all the skills, it’s not too hard to get the best armor and weapon, and I’m close to having all the pets I want. It will be interesting to see if there is some kind of “end game” content or something I can do to keep me going. For now though, I’m happy to finally be a mage, and that some areas of my life are in fact developing better habits.

It felt kind of sad that little numbers that give a value called “experience” to a digital avatar is more motivating than my health and well being… but when I think about my students it actually makes sense. Ask a kid to read, they don’t want to. Tell them it’s important for their life and future… they don’t care. Even college students struggle to do homework because it’s a chore. Change reading into a game, and they can’t get enough of it. We spend our childhoods learning how to play, and then we grow up and stop.

Why did we stop playing? Why do we view work and studies as chores when they could be games? At what point did we suck all the fun out of life and convince ourselves it was okay because we are now “grown ups”. Maybe it’s time to stop “adulting” and start playing again.

Endless Red Tape

Today I feel Disgust (purple) toward government agencies and their mountain of forms that need to be filled out to exist in this world. Forms that are so convoluted that without intimate knowledge of how they work, I feel doomed to failure…

And sure enough, I was greeted first thing this morning with a letter from the IRS that I have made mistakes in my taxes. Taxes that I don’t have to pay mind you, I just need to file twelve pages of forms so they know I still exist in a foreign country. I’m honestly not surprised. I’m not an accountant that charges almost $300 USD for safe completion. I am just a lowly peasant. But now I have my own case file and a government agency full of representatives to tell me what I need to do… that is if I can ever get through.

We are experiencing higher than normal call volumes right now. Did you know most questions can be answered on our website? You can even do most things there like pay your bill. If you still wish to speak with a representative, your call will be answered in the order it was received. We are currently closed. Office hours start at 7am and end at 6pm…

If you’re wondering, no there was not any kind of pause between sentences. Someone please tell me how on earth this works? If they are closed, then how are the experiencing higher than normal call volumes?

I did manage to get through to the federal loan services department regarding my student loans. I got some good news from them, but in order to make the good news into reality, I have a lot of paper work to fill out online. I was warned that once I complete it online, there will be a glitch in the website which will flag it as incomplete and therefore deny my claim. After that happens, I have another office I can call to complete the forms…

At least she warned me ahead of time that this error is guaranteed to happen?

I would just like to mention, that I also have to file Taiwanese taxes in the next few days. That process will consist of me going to the tax office, them using my ID to pull up the tax information provided to them directly from my employers, me answering a few questions, and then me walking out of the office with everything done. If I go in the early morning, chances are that I won’t even have to wait. The receipt for my records will be a single page.

The Gamer

Today I felt Surprise (teal) when I took a personality test based on types of people who play video games, or rather what their main focus and drive is when playing games.

Bartel Taxonomy of Player Types

Four basic goals of players:
– Killer (they want the competition)
– Achiever (they need 100% completion)
– Socializer (they are in it to spend time with people)
– Explorer (they want to find out what makes everything tick)

Before searching for a test to take, I would have pegged myself as a social gamer, with a reasonable score in explorer. I would have put Achiever with a low score for 3rd, and last place with almost nothing into Killer. I assumed these would be my scores because I usually just play whatever game mode my friends are playing. I do like to explore and have knowledge. I tend to shy away from PvP, and never care about 100% completion. Also, my role is always support, so that should have meant I am more focused on the social aspect right? Then I started to take the test.

I had to be very careful to keep my answers honest, because I noticed that my answers were moving me away from what I had expected. However, I did manage to keep true to what I would actually do and want and here were my results:

Chart

 

93% Explorer

60% Killer

27% Socializer

20% Achiever

 

 

 

 

When it really comes down to it, there is something about being the support character on a team that rips another team to shreds. Epic battles are the most memorable moments.

So what kind of gamer are you? If you have the time, please use a little of your time to take the test yourself (LINK). It didn’t take me very long at all. Leave your results in the comments!