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.

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.

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!

By Your Side

Today I was feeling Overwhelmed (a mix of red, teal, blue, purple, and dark green). It was a cocktail of all the emotions generally felt when needs aren’t being met. I was informed that my school is actively seeking to replace me next fall. They want to take the company in a different direction, and are hoping to have a more senior teacher in the position. Obviously this was shocking (teal) news, and I wasn’t super happy about the situation, but at least they are giving me a few months notice. Long story short, it’s been a rough few days.

A song that has been a song playing in the back of my mind since I got the news, By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North. A little history on this song, I heard it in passing while alone and depressed in Washington D.C. years ago. Remembering that time, and the song itself, have become a dull ripple from the depths of my mind, that has been creating a calming hum. The last two lines of the chorus to be exact.

’cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Today I was going to another branch to teach a Saturday afternoon class, and I did something I only do about once or twice a year… I missed getting off at the correct MRT station. I got off the train, and crossed to the other platform to go back the way I came, but the screen said there were a few minutes left to wait. My back has been acting up a bit again because of the weather, so I looked for a bench to sit down on. There were people on them, so I kept walking. I saw this:

Hands

The plaque was very nice too, so I’ll share what it said. Try to look past the broken English, and just feel it. After you read it, pause for a moment to try and feel all the people who have ever sat in these hands.

Wandering in a quiet, green park, feel tired? How about take some rest in a chair? A Chair is a comfortable company for humans; no matter people are in psychological or physical fatigues. The shape of this sculpture derives from the hand gesture that meditators often use, called “Samadhimudra”, which symbolizes the fluctuating emotions. The transformation of this gesture into a useful chair can be compared to the elevation of a fun life to a metaphysical lever. Sitting on it could invite insights to the passengers’ minds; children climb on it as well. This sculpture serves for various functions; it is reflective, visually amusing, fun to play with, and it is useful as a chair itself. In real life, very often, a minor stuff has certain temperament to induce our insight. Chairs are often no exception. This piece of work is a miniature of national park. As such the creator of this artpiece names it “Small Park”

All of the overwhelming emotions are still here. I still feel hurt, tired, and angry. But at that moment, waiting for a train, they no longer felt as heavy.  In the midst of a very dark moment, I have been wishing that actual hands would hold and comfort me. I felt tired of symbolic or imaginary hands, and wanted real hands to hold me. A rare mistake on a route I only take to teach a class a few times a month brought me to these.

I couldn’t ask for more.

March 28th, 2017

Today I feel Disappointment (blue and teal mixed) and Frustration (red).

Old college habits of procrastination are still alive and well it seems as I try to adjust to working a lot more from home. I’ve had to burn a lot of time every day recently to finish some project work, and it’s going to be interesting to see how close to the deadline I get if I want to be paid for that work this month.

Looks like I’ve got a lot of small habits to change. Maybe rather than trying to change my whole schedule and life, I should start changing small habits one at a time. We’ll see how it goes from here.

March 5th, 2017

Today I feel puzzled (teal).

Once again I had some strange dreams. I don’t remember much about the individual dreams themselves, but in each dream I would wake up and be in a different dream. The same people were in all the dreams, but what was happening was always changing. I know some of the dreams made me feel really happy (yellow), others rather sad (blue)… thankfully none of them felt scary (dark green). Some of them seemed so real, that after “waking up” so many times and being in yet another dream, I honestly wondered when I woke up this morning if I was still dreaming.

Lots of strange dreams recently…