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 contained 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.

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!!!

Motivation & Habit

I feel Interest (orange) and Apprehension (dark green) toward Habitica.

This website was recently left for me in a comment by @Jeremey on one of my last posts (which was posted a long time ago… I haven’t done any personal writing in a long time). I’ve tried a website like this before, and it ended up being more work and sucking more time than actually doing the tasks I wanted to do. This one seems to have much… much less work involved. And it has a phone app, so I can deal with it on my bus commutes rather than other more productive times.

While the system seems much more developed than things I have tried before, I worry that I will need to party with people to actually fight monsters… which I don’t really know how to get, and the phone app seems limited on FAQ type information. We’ll see how long it keeps my interest and how much it helps, but here’s hoping! If it works, I just might become more active on this blog again…. I get gold for doing this, which I will need soon to have video game time.

February 24th, 2017

Today I feel Confused (teal) and Optimism (yellow and orange mixed).

First off, my confusion. I could have sworn that I have been keeping up with writing my blog, and maybe missed yesterday…. I wasn’t sure. When I looked, I’m a few days behind. Really not sure how that happened. Sorry regular readers, I don’t think it’s a sign of what’s to come, maybe just an off week.

Now for today specifically. I’m feeling pretty positive about some things. I had one of those moments today when I figured out one of my problems might be caused by a cultural difference, which was finally explained to me today in more detail. With this new knowledge, I might see a few things improve soon… I’m at least going to stay glass half full for now. More details when I have time.

Technically it’s already the 25th, and I need to go to bed… but getting farther behind would be bad.

February 19th, 2017

Today I feel Optimism (yellow and orange mixed).

I realize I have missed some days posting, there are a lot of changes happening in my life. Not bad per say, just a lot. So there are things like this blog and my book that are a little neglected at the moment. I sencerely want to continue both, so I feel optimistic that I will fit them back into my life.

This blog gives me space to think and share those thoughts. It can be very refreshing for me, which I certainly need right now. My book gives me space to tell a story, which I love to do. I’ve had some time away from my cave to rest and be disconnected from a lot of things. I’m realizing I just have too much on my plate, and there are some things I’m just going to have to start saying no to.

I really think I can do it.

February 11th, 2017

Today I feel Anticipation (orange).

I went to computer nerd heaven today. A four floor electronics market filled with small shops. Think Radio Shack on steroids. There I went around looking for deals on parts. Most places were prety much the same, so I got everyhing from one shop, which gave me a small discount. Also, I won’t have to put it together myself. They’re doing it for free. I can pick it up tomorrow!

This one can handle up to three monitors, so I’m going to work on having one downstairs. I’d be able to throw a movie or TV show down there when I’m cooking and cleaning. I also want to work on installing a nice sound system with small speakers all over the apartment. That way I can listen to music all over without needing to worry about making it too loud for the neighbors. If you are wondering about the third monitor, my room is already using two.

I won’t bore you all further with the rest of the new computer’s specs. If you can’t tell, my apartment is becoming the ultimate man cave. It’s very exciting and full of projects that will last me months.