The Account of a Lifetime

December 30, 2007

Two-thousand-and-seven

Filed under: A day in the life of... — xisor @ 6:56 pm

So, how was it?

Generally, like I’ve said before. It’s a very good year. I’m ending the year on a far more sucessful note than I did last year. I’m still not performing very well academically, and indeed the forthcoming year, two-thousand-and-eight can’t be as hopeful as this was. I’m in a better place, there’s alot more that can go wrong this year. Last year things couldn’t get worse except from the obvious (disease, death of people close to you, economic decline etc).

This last week has been fun. I’ve seen folks I hadn’t seen in months, spent time with family, conversed a lot with people and generally had alot of good thoughts on my mind. Speaking to my niece today and on hearing that her house wasn’t terrible joy-filled today, I thought to myself

“Damnit! I’m the only one in this house. Negative vibes be damned, I’m controlling this house and it’ll do what I feel!”

A small bit of mental tomfoolery later and bellowing out a great guffaw I transformed the lonely house of 34 Albany Park into one of laughter and joy. Instantaneously, this decrepit place became one filled with hilarity, happiness and cheer. But then, that’s really only an extension of my mind. The house itself wasn’t cheerier, but like all such pseudo-reason and delusion, it’s fun!

A cheering thought, if nothing else.

I downloaded a lot of self-help leaflets from my universities’ student support page. not because I feel I am in need of them now, but because I’m very confident that this ‘happy mood’ that’s stuck with me for the last six months really can’t last. I don’t expect it to. Part of me doesn’t want it to. It couldn’t  survive terribly well out there…beyond ‘the bubble’ that is St Andrews. There’s too much life, too much extravagance and extremity in the real world for this sort of thing to survive unblemished. Sure, there might’ve been happier and more exciting moments out there, but that’s for the future.

For now, I’m content to enjoy this…tranquility. Even studying and the horrible fact of me not doing sufficient revision isn’t enough to dampen the spirits…yet.

But, returning to the point: It’s been a good year. One of the happiest I’ve had. I’ve come so far, mentally, that I’m extraordinarily pleased with myself. I’m also quite in control, but also scared. Not in a bad way, but wary…cautious, tentative. It’s like standing on the threshold of your house. You’ve got safety, peace, control behind you, but the future…it’s outside. It’s somewhere you’ve not been. Sure, it exists, it’ll be happening whether you’re there or not…but it’s different. It’s odd. It’s surprising.

 I’m confident it’ll be just fine, but I really can’t expect the happiness of ‘my home’ out there. And that applies roughly to the last six months. It’s been brilliant. Great. I’ve done so much, come so far, seen so many things. But it can’t, won’t and shouldn’t last. That’s not adventure, that’s not living. Happiness is all well and good, but there’s an adventure lying beyond this, and I’m keen to explore it. The happiness has been brilliant, fantastic, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. But that’s not the end of it. It shouldn’t be the end of it.

It’s the adventure, the call to move on in life. To explore and progress. I’m really looking forward to it.

So, what does two-thousand-and-eight hold?

First up, of course, are exams. Four exams: Fundamentals of Pure Mathematics, Special Relativity and Fields, Physics of Atoms and Complex Analysis, to be precise. After those I’ve a three week break. After that I’ve the eighth semester. And it should hold wonders like Fractal Geometry, Geometry and Topology, Computational Physics and Quantum Mechanics 3. It might even hold General Relativity, but I don’t want to jump too far ahead.

 In any case, the next semester should be fun. But then…the summer. I need a job. I’d hope to get academic placements, but again I fear I’ve left it far too late. Then fifth year, my final year. Two-thousand-and-eight, the year of the beginning of the end? In a manner of speaking, it totally and completely is.

I’ve really no idea what to expect of 2008. It can’t be as bad as ’06. It surely can’t be as good as ’07…so what of it? What lies beyond?

Well, this incarnation of me, this instantiation of who I am here at the end of ’07 certainly won’t know. But I might remember thinking about it, one day!

In other news

Something has been dragging me towards pursuing a personal philosophy. Since the loss of religion in August there, I’ve been flying free…playing it by ear morally. My philosophy and morality rests on what I developed as a rational thinking Roman Catholic for the last twenty-one years. But with the steady inception of sceptical and critical thinking into the day-to-day metaphysical ‘me’, it’s difficult to hold onto that. It is difficult to want to hold onto it. But I do feel, deep down, that there’s something I should aspire to. I want to codify my ideas of right and wrong so that I don’t have to figure everything out from first principles every time I consider a problem (or worse, not bother from first principles, and instead simply arrive at an answer that might or might not be a useful, productive or even correct one!).

No, principally, I’m initially drawn towards stoicism. I’d dearly like to pursue study of it, even if only to explore my own morality. In discussion with many people lately, it’s become a very clear point in my thinking: emotions aren’t a terribly brilliant basis for making decisions. But I’ve asked before: If not emotions, what is?

Well, I read something today…

Emotion manifests thought, thought manifests actions, and our actions manifest our reality.

From: http://skepchick.org/skepticsguide/viewtopic.php?t=7334

It’s a simple thing, right enough. It might not even be accurate, but it’s a handy way of picturing things. What I feel, what I chemically/neurologically feel is the essence of who I am at any given point. Things happen that I might not expect, be able to control or even be aware of. But then we come to thought, actions and reality. Perhaps there’s a bit of feedback. So long as we can give a meaningful gap between ’emotions’ and ‘actions’, then I feel that we can do something…’good’ with it.

Simply being as aware of things as we can (i.e. trying a lot), is likely the best any of us can manage. But to justify that to myself after the fact, I ought to have been trying in the present, yes?

I think I’m beginning to achieve that. At present, I’m still failing miserably, but looking back it strikes me that a change is there. As I continue, hopefully through ’08, ’09 and beyond, I’ll become that bit better a logical thinker. Less angry, less emotional in conversation and argument and debate and discussion. Hopefully, when the time calls for emotional I’ll be well prepared for that too (damn, I’ve had 21-years of that, I’m sure I can manage!), but time will tell…I hope.

 Now, as I’ve been looking into a lot of ‘thinking’ things recently, it also occurred to me that I ought to watch my language a bit more. Wishing folks Merry Christmas nowadays feels a bit…hypocritical of me. Not because any non-Christian saying it would be wrong, but since I’ve consciously made the change from one t’other I ought to be a bit careful. Merry Christmas has been replaced by and large with ‘happy holidays’ or ‘have a fun time’ or something like that. Of course, if people are celebrating Christmas themselves, I’ll wish them a Merry Christmas, but that’s not the point.

Also, for ‘Happy New Year’, I don’t disagree, I just feel it’s a bit bland. I’m very tempted to wish people long life and prosperity. Certainly, the idea of saying “Have a prosperous new year” carries a large appeal for me. I may well adopt this. I’ve only got the next day or two to test it out…and I think I will.

So, unless I blog later or tomorrow, it remains for me to hope that you’ve had/are having a good holiday season and bid that you also have a merry hogmanay and a prosperous new year!

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