The Account of a Lifetime

February 21, 2008

Shyness when you know the answer

Filed under: Cogitations,Reflections — xisor @ 3:30 pm

It’s not often that I find myself readily lamenting how shy I can be, but this last week or two I’ve really noticed it. In classes these days, things are really quite difficult. Good, but really difficult nontheless.

 The lecturer’ll often ask a question. Typically simple, but I seem to often know the answers. No biggie, it’s always pleasing to know you know the answer. (Assuming, of course, that I’m not just succumbing to confirmation bias.) In any case, it’s also a bit tedious after a while to notice that you’ve known the answer to every question posed yet still sat, awkwardly, saying nothing.

So, what’s the remedy? Well, it’s sortof obvious, speak up if you think you know the answer. But that’s the crux of the shyness. You don’t. I can’t. It’s not exactly a fear of being embarassed, yet on the cusp of deciding to say something, it’s always a sense of looming terror that hangs over you, that stops you (me) speaking.

 It’s really quite annoying. And even still, if my answer’s wrong it’ll illustrate it for everyone else. I’d like to believe that everyone has this sort of inner dialogue wth themselves in class. Of course, some will smugly know the answer and watch the rest sweating it, some more will be petrified that they don’t know the answer. For me it’s not quite any of those…I just…I’m reluctant when the push comes to shove.

Furthermore, I found myself praising people for asking insightful questions a lot, recently. This is good, I think, but I’m soewhat worried it’s the foundation of jealousy. Even still, for now it presents an aspiration: that I would like to start asking insightful questions again. Indeed: simply asking questions again would be a start!

I came across something a few days ago that I’d not seen before. A webcomic (I’ve seen those, but it was this particular one that got to me). It mentioned a few things about heightening your curiosity and enjoyment of life. I think I might well try to adopt them!

Take wrong turns,
Talk to strangers,
Open unmarked doors,
Go over to groups of people doing odd things and ask about the stuff.

I think that sort of thing could be a good ‘key’ to unlocking a bit more impulse within myself. Spontaneity, I suppose. It’s nice to indulge in such ways, I hope. I cannot reason any particular downside to this sort of arrangement. We’ll see how it goes, I suppose.

 As a final note, the shyness itself might be overcome this way. But I wouldn’t want to lose it completely. I almost did in fifth and sixth year at highschool and then first year at uni…and I think I became a bit of a pratt. Some shyness is good, but not too much. Certainly not what I have now!


February 16, 2008

Green Earl Grey

Filed under: Cogitations — xisor @ 2:59 pm

It’s surprisingly delicious!

 In any case, it’s the weekend after classes have started back, and it’s going quite well. But that’s not what I want to blog about. Rather…

Dreams, friends, obligations and logic

 It’s a strange topic, but we all do have aspirations. Whether it’s to go out and have a good night out with friends at the weekend, to become rich and prosperous, or even something humble like making a few people happy along the course of life. In any case, we all seek to pursue something. In my own time I’ve had little future desires. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a scientist, when I was a teenager I always simply assumed I’d go to university to do something sciencey and only when I got to university did I really consider what it was all about.

What good is science? What is the need for good? What makes for a valuable life? Why does anyone do what they do?

 Everyone has dreams. Just last night my good friend said that, more than anything she could want, was a cigarette and a glass of Dr Pepper. Bizarre? Of course. I dislike Dr Pepper and ciagarettes are perhaps the only thing in existence that’d be a serious candidate for recieving my hatred. She knows this, of course, and I know this. But it’s become increasingly apparent to me over the last few years that just because I think something or I disapproveisn’t really any reason for me to exert this on anyone else. The only things I really share with almost all of the rest of humanity is a tentative grasp on logic and reason, and a mutual desire to ‘share this little circle’, as Russel Brand’d say. (This little circle being the Earth, as viewed from far away).

 Now, sharing this little circle is all and well: one has to compromise, to be insightful, to be compassionate and to know when to exert oneself and one’s desires and when to forfeit them. Perhaps not even that, one need not know  that, but one must be prepared to make decisions based upon that. (Indeed, choosing ‘indecision’ is a respectable choice in itself, as much as I wish it weren’t)

 But this is something I struggle with when it comes to other people. I see the importance of forfeiting my own desires, but it is rare to see visibly that other people do. To many people “Because I want to” is a very fine justification for many things. And in most case, they’re perfectly justified in wanting whatever it is they want. But for myself, I am almost always not justifed in my desires. I see them as destructive, selfish, fruitless and ultimately dangerous…I ought not to be trusted with such things as real responsibility.

And yet? I still jump into conversations because I want to. In day to day life, I find it exceedingly difficult notto simply indulge myself. I’m a reasonable guy, I’ve had a fine moral compass over the years and fair enough…I’ve made a fair few abysmal mistakes. But it has, to my knowledge, never been the case that I’ve not tried to change or ammend my ways, in the end. It might take some time…but I try.

 But with other people?It isn’t even that I feel they should feel the same way. My perspective is loosely unique to myself, I haven’t yet encountered it elsewhere (though I imagine there’s people who share my views but have refined them much more, and of course there are people out there who’ve got far greater, far better views…), but the important thing is that I meet the original criteria: That I continue to share logic and reason with the rest of this little circle.

 That isn’t because it’s important, but because it’s essentially everything that there is whilst I’m still in this frame of mind. There’s no particular way to go left or right with it, I can’t forcemyself to change my views. But I can keep them, try to make them internally consistant, and then start working on their outward exertions.

And that’s where obligations come into it. All people expect something of you. I know for myself that I’m likely to be disappointed, I realise why my expectations are fruitless until I can convey them meaningfully to other people. So, until I can do that, consider my life one lacking in expectations of other people. Of course, I’ll still hurt, I’ll still bleed, I’ll still cry…but I’ll have the wholesome reassurance of logic to reason things out. But strike all this, reverse it. My obligations to other people? What if their expectations are irrational? Ought I to ‘lower’ myself to an epextation from someone else? Betray my principles?

Once upon a time it’d have been a firm no. But I only just said that my principles are to be treated as non-existant. I know I’ve values…I disapprove of smoking, I find myself…repulsed by any sort of mind-altering drug that isn’t alcohol (and even then I still don’t sit happily with alcohol), I amn’t too fond of the idea of people knowing something for themselves without thinking outside of themselves….and this sort of principle will always stand between me and any sort of tangible happiness.

 Well, not entirely, but you might see what I mean: It’s always an obstacle. So long as I think in this manner, I’m not likely to be able to simply vault emotional foibles without a severe set of revelations or epistles from elsewhere.

And that’s the crux of it. Tea/laughter/time heals everything.

Of course it doesn’t. But these are things I find myself clinging to, not out of reason, not out of logic or empirical evidence. Not even out of sensible speculation…but because that’s what’s there. I have time, and I have laughter. Excellent defence mechanisms…but I can’t really rely on them.

 So, where to go from there? Well, there’s only one left! A harmless(?) cup of tea. Delightful!

February 6, 2008

Control and results.

Filed under: A day in the life of... — xisor @ 11:48 am

Well, it’s about time I summed up some self-control. First up is the organisation and orchestration of my thoughts. I have had enough of them running free and while. I’m aware of some skills I have, and I’m not entirely happy leaving everything to chance…largely as I can’t be at all sure (or even hazard a guess) as to what the odds are. Exerting some control over oneself, over ones mind, seems a good place to start asserting yourself.

 So with that in mind, I’ve begun my little excursion into neo-stoicism. It’s not gone very far yet, but over the next few months and years I’d like my studies to be fruitful insofar as I regain a fraction of my logical and rational self back from the abyss! Unfortunately, some of me might have to go into the abyss to get the other bits out…but we’ll examine the trade as and when the time comes.

 In other news

It’s results day. Two low 2:2 grades for Relativity and Fundamentals of Pure. A moderate 2:1 for Complex Analysis and a First for Physics of Atoms. Altogether, I’m quite pleased. This semester sits at an okay 2:1 average, with my honours average (CWM) coming out at a 2:2. I can hopefully pull it up towards a 2:1, but we’ll see how that goes.

In other other news

I’ve been reading alot lately, it’s good fun. Everyone should do it. The more and the more often…the merrier, I suspect. I also need to remind myself to read some Philip Larkin.

But anyway, to close, I’ve got to dash and pick up supplies. It’s (extended) Lord of the Rings-athon day today, first time I’ve watched them in a while. Probably doesn’t do to only have had an hour-and-an-half’s sleep, but I shall endeavour me bestest to watch ’em all!

 Pip pip and to the town!

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