Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Paradox of Life

"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain" -Khalil Gibran

How can two seemingly opposite emotions reside simultaneously within a person? If a person is filled with sorrow, how can joy possibly be experienced, and likewise if a someone is brimming with joy, where is there room for sorrow?

But of course, life is filled with great woe and extreme ecstasy as well as the rest of the spectrum. And without sorrow, would we even know what joy is? Surely, we must experience despair, hurt, anguish to know, appreciate, and live the bliss.

It's a bittersweet thought, but then again, so is life.

Monday, 23 February 2009

simply amazing

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Jumping on the random bandwagon

1. 25 is too unrandom of a number for a random list of things, so i'll stop this list when i run out of things to say.

2. when it's kind of cold out, but not freezing cold out and i put on gloves, my hands tickle.

3. i'm not technically a vegetarian, but i don't like the thought of eating meat, so i usually don't.

4. I don't know how "cool" is defined, but i'm pretty sure all my siblings fit the definition.

5. Sometimes I think I have an overeating disorder, although since I've moved to london, it's gotten slightly better, but really i think I eat a lot (ask my family)

6. Sometimes I worry about what my life will be like "in the future", but then I realize what's the point in worrying... Just let life happen like it's supposed to

7. I like to crunch on the seeds in grapes.

8. I am grateful for the few constant friends I have in my life.

9. I like to feel special on my birthday, but I don't like being the center of attention.

10. Sometimes, big groups of people make me nervous

11. Snowflakes are beautiful and I think there is something miraculous about them.

12. I think so much of what governs our thoughts and actions is arbitrary.

13. There are a few things I would change about myself, but one is that I would be able to sing (well and in tune.)

14. I LOVE singing along to songs I know (probably to the disappointment of those who have to listen to me)

15. I really don't know what all the hype is about junk food. I think good for you food is quite tasty and keeps you healthy and active

16. When it rains in london (which is does pretty often), I look forward to all the cool-looking umbrellas people carry around.

17. I want to paint a picture of umbrellas

18. I don't think London's weather is as bad as people think it is.

19. I love the movie Amelie. I think she's my role model.

20. I wish I could concentrate better. I think I have slight ADD.
21. I love chapsticks and lip glosses and I usually misplace them in a pocket or purse and buy more. Sometimes I rediscover a lost chapstick 2 years later and it's exciting.

22. I definitely am the kind of person who will laugh out loud about something that happened days or years ago.

23. I waste a lot of time and wish I could be more efficient.

24. I daydream a lot.

25. I recently read somewhere that jealousy is a waste of an emotion. I love that thought.

26. I hit 25 and need to keep going, so that I break out the "25 list" box

27. By breaking out of the "25 box", I feel like I'm being an individual, but by blogging and making this list, I know I'm so not. This reminds me of the structure of feeling concept that came out of "The long revolution" I had to read for lit class. I'm sure no one knows or cares about what I'm taking about, except my classmates, and I'm pretty sure they're not reading this.

28. I love stargazing and I don't get to do enough of it in London.

29. I want to see the northern lights.

30. From my experiences with people, I think Americans get unfairly stereotyped as wasteful and ignorant. Some truly are, but so are a lot of non-Americans. And some of the most conscious people I know are Americans.

31. I don't like the concept of nationalism.

32. I could actually keep this list going for much longer, but for your sake and mine, I'll stop..

33. I'm sure I'll spend the next hour, or day, or week thinking of things that I should have put on this list. oh well..

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Do things ever change?

How typical is it for people in their early 20s and/or college students to be so idealistic about the world and their place in it. And equally, how characteristic is it for those same people to graduate and almost instantly turn jaded? Why is it that people feel so helpless thinking they won’t actually be able to make a difference? Why is it that in campus coffeeshops and sociology classes problems seemed big, but solutions tangible? And why at the encounter of one or two setbacks, those once idealistic people think that they were just na├»ve, young college kids who had yet to experience the so-called “real world”.

I speak for myself here as well as for many of my peers. We would attend meetings, learn about issues in class, and discuss with each other global conflicts and social problems. I saw the realities of US public school education on a Native American reservation right out of college, and then I went to India and saw the agrarian problems farmers had to face, despite India’s “booming” economy. A few other instances dealing with bureaucracy and the NGO culture left me feeling jaded and thinking that so few people care enough to take the little steps to make society a little better and develop our humanity that I thought “forget the big stuff, it’s a lost cause”.

What about these experiences left me so blind to the fact that change can and does happen?

In my current Literature and Culture class, taught by the intense Dr. Shamoon Zamir, from King’s College, we have been reading parts of The Long Revolution by Raymond Williams. I might understand the book better after I write my essay, (which is what I should probably be working on now) but the main message I’m hearing from Williams is that we live in a world that is and has been going through a democratic, industrial, and cultural revolution, a genuine revolution, that changes people and institutions and is impacted by the actions of people who oppose the status quo.

He introduces the idea of the ‘structure of feeling’, which I take to mean the embedded cultural norms we embody. He says we are often not even aware of our cultural norms until they are disrupted. It’s like a fish in water doesn’t realize the water until it is removed from the water. So, often any form of cultural production is a repeat of the structure of feeling. It is rare to break out of the structure of feeling and one example he provides is that of the socialist movement, who often seem to revolt against capitalism, but do so on the terms of capitalism. So, for example, when unions get together and demand higher wages, they are demanding something that feeds the capitalist structure, when perhaps they should be lobbying against the work they have to do, or the fact that they need such unions in place to protect their rights.

I know the above example relates to change somehow, but I can’t quite articulate it. Regardless, there are such clear indications of change. The fact that I (a woman and of color) attended University of Illinois and am working towards a masters program, without any stigma is something that not too long ago would not have been possible. The fact that Barack Obama is the president should be sufficient proof to demonstrate that things do change.

So what if people are often motivated by economic incentives? People will drive less when gas prices become exorbitant or only turn off their lights when they are paying for their bills. Well, at least it’s something to motivate people. So what if people do things to join the trend? At least it is the trend. Millions of people who turn up to protest a war indicate concern and not apathy and that in and of itself should provide hope that people do care. As Williams says, it’s a long revolution, not just a revolution…

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Vegetarian quotes

It’s so fitting that I keep finding funny vegetarian quotes..

(i’m not technically a vegetarian, though people confuse me to be one)

..perhaps rightfully so..


* I’m not a vegetarian because I love animals. I’m a vegetarian because I hate plants. -A. Whitney Brown

*Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge you because you are a vegetarian.

Monday, 2 February 2009

How much do the 'petty' things in life really matter?

I’m not trying to say that hardships or frustrations are by any means petty, just that maybe some perspective would help…

There are over 6,800,000,000 people on this planet, and that number grows almost by the second. (Compliments of this cool website that updates the world population.

Our planet is 1 of 8 in our solar system.

Our sun, the nearest star, in our galaxy is 93 million miles away (It would take a space shuttle 7 months to fly there)

Our sun is one of over 200 billion stars in the milkyway galaxy.

That means there are many solar systems just in our galaxy.

Our galaxy alone is almost unfathomable. Pictures of the milkyway show our sun as a tiny dot and our planet is not even recognizable.

The Hubble Space Telescope estimates that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe.

So what does all this mean?

It means that our universe might be infinitely large. No one really knows the extent of the universe.

I can’t help but feel small (not unimportant, just small..)

And I can’t help but wonder what else is out there and what our purpose here is..

It’s as if we are tiny specks in this infinite universe..

I wonder how our world would be different if everyone gazed up at the night sky once in a while. Would people really get as upset over little things? Would people still frantically hurry places? Would people really need that new pair of shoes? Would they still get upset if a friend didn’t call?

What about all the devastating events that occur in our world?

All the ethnic conflicts, the land conflicts, the exchange of oil for weapons that allows a people to be massacred..

A quote from the (Iranian) astronaut comes to mind:

“If people can see Earth from up here, see it without those borders, see it without any differences in race or religion, they would have a completely different perspective. Because when you see it from that angle, you cannot think of your home or your country. All you can see is one Earth…”

- Anousheh Ansari

I put her nationality in parentheses for a reason… (perhaps I shouldn’t have even included it..)