What Is Certainty?

 
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What is life if not a constant cycle of change and unpredictable predicaments? There is never true certainty in life. What’s certain is 1 + 1 = 2, but when it comes to the determinants of events in the sequence of time in association to life, can we ever be certain of what comes next? Can we ever be certain that how I see yellow is how everyone else in this world sees the color yellow? Or does crossing the street feel the same to me, as to the person next to me? Certainty is a made up construct, whether in regards to the sequence of events within the confinements of time and space or whether in identifying an experience. When we move forward (whether physically or metaphorically), nothing is absolutely certain and that’s the beauty of life.

Walking through my day-to-day, I sometimes sit and wonder what it would be like to experience the world through someone else’s eyes. I wonder does joy and happiness feel similar between two people or are experiences of happiness exclusive to the definitions identified by an individual. If different, how different is the experience of happiness between individuals? Are the experiences dependant upon past experiences and environmental contexts? What if each individual experiences everything in entirely different ways? How then, within our human capacity, would anyone discover this distinction? How can I be certain that what I identify as happiness is exactly what someone else identifies as happiness? The truth is, no one will understand the intricacies and level of each individual's distinction of experience. Nor do I have the capacity to truly understand the consciousness of another. The acknowledgment of a shared experience is the only evidence I have to rely on, but certainty is inadmissible.

"...DO I HAVE THE CAPACITY TO TRULY UNDERSTAND THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF ANOTHER. THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF A SHARED EXPERIENCE IS THE ONLY EVIDENCE I HAVE TO RELY ON, BUT CERTAINTY IS INADMISSIBLE."

On this planet, we are made singular. Although the world has witnessed thecloning of a sheep, I side by the notion that even if genetically identical, an experience is still absolute. Meaning no two experiences are identical. An experience is experienced by an individual in a particular moment, in a very specific way that's unique to that individual's experience. Even in identical twins, how will each twin experience the world?  This also sets the stage for the debate between nature versus nurture, or maybe it is a combination of multilayered influences from both nature and nurture which shapes what we call human experience. The one thing that's certain is although explanations and observations can lend to an understanding of another's experience, the capacity to actually experience how someone else experiences the world is unachievable within current human capacities.

What I am pointing to is that I can never know whether Anna experiences eating oranges in the same way I do. I can say that we do. I can claim that I am tasting the same tastes, feeling the same sensations, and understanding different experiences in the exact same way, but I can never really truly know. Therefore, I am here to encourage every individual to take ownership of their life.

There’s no one else in this world that experiences life and the world in the same exact way as I do. There’s no one else on this earth that loves chocolate the same way I do. There’s no individual on this planet that loves yellow in exactly the same way I do. There’s no one on this living breathing planet that resembles me in the exact same way, so why let choices be held down by a world that I know doesn’t always understand everything in the same way I do? Why allow the doubtful voices of others (and maybe even my own voice in reaction to others) change the way I want to live?

This is a call to action, for myself (and hopefully for anyone reading), to stay true to the callings of the heart. This is a call to action to commit to the voice within. If there’s one thing I can boast about knowing, is the fact that I will only know how my life is and how I experience life because in truth the only thing that’s certain is that I am the only one that will experience my life and my journey.

 

The Transformational Power of The Mind

 
Malibu & Agoura Hills, California

Malibu & Agoura Hills, California

There’s something about committing myself to making an effort on bettering myself that’s remarkably transformational.

I first encountered this phenomenon in a pretty dark period in my youth. Like a lot of teenagers, I went through a rather turbulent self-discovery period (turbulent also for my inner circle). It was a time of great self-discovery, of intense desires to retaliate, and an undying mandate to carve out who I am as an individual in the world. Yes, those days of turbulence and satisfyingly rebellious achievements back in my teenage years (probably a common experience for most) was when I learnt something very important.

Transforming my life starts with the attitude and mindset I manifest within which will then shape who I am and how I am in the world. I can’t recall what elated me to this epiphany, but from that day forward this truth has never left me as I continue to navigate this unpredictable life I live. What’s transformational was the idea that the quality of my thoughts will impact how I behave, how I speak, how I react, and how I am in the world. If I think positively, positivity is what I am returned with. If I think negatively, negativity is what I am returned with.

Awakening to this understanding and knowledge allowed me to empower myself to dig deep and force myself to think positively. In darker times, I forced myself to look optimistically at my future even if it felt hopeless at the time. In darker times, I forced fed all the positivity I can muster and handle. I told myself how wonderful life is (even if I didn't believe it quite yet). The life changing learning was realizing I was in control.

I realized that no matter how I was or how my mind reacted, life will keep moving forward. The world is not going to check in on how I am doing, the world isn’t going to tell me what I allow into my mind. The world will keep going and time will not stop.

The moment I committed my mind to a positive and optimistic attitude was life changing. A lesson which has stayed with me all these years and one that has taught me never to let my life slump so low. I am the owner of my mind. No matter how I react or what I think about life will keep moving forward, the world keeps going, and time will never stop. The world will never pause to console me. It’s about the choices I make about how I react to the world and how I think about it, which will manifest into the life I live (even if it means force feeding positivity from time to time).

 

The Danger on Focusing on Yourself (I Rarely Hear About)

 
Half-Moon Bay, California, U.S.A

Half-Moon Bay, California, U.S.A

Working on yourself is a great thing, but when focusing on the ‘I,’ ‘Me,’ and ‘Mine,’ don’t forget about the people around. Remember to continue to love, care, and set time for others too, especially with friends and loved ones.

It is a hard pill to swallow when my imperfections are highlighted. It’s normal to go into self-denial and maybe even anger or feel insulted when someone feeds me a dose of truth about myself that I don’t like to hear. It’s hard to sit still and take it in, especially if I am in the mindset of the victim and in the mindset of being attacked. Naturally, if any living thing feels like they’re being attacked or threatened, our innate instinct is to protect ourselves; even plants have immune systems to protect against pathogens and bacteria. It is in our instinct to protect ourselves in the way we see fit.

Here’s where my hard truth hit me. If I take the time to consider the perspective of the other person, if I take the time to see things through another’s circumstance and place myself in their shoes, then I will realize and empathize with the truth of their circumstance and how they are experiencing things. Coming out of denial is an incredibly hard but humbling task, especially when leaving denial meant facing my ugly truth and admitting I was wrong.

In my experience, it is important to realize where these truths are coming from. If it’s said by a negative person or an enemy of some sort, there’s probably little truth to what they are saying. But, in my case, when I paid attention to the source of my truths, these truths were said by those who love me most. Accepting these truths was my wake up call.

In my precision and focus to find happiness in myself, to improve myself and my life, I had completely lost myself in the ‘I,’ the ‘My’ and my world of ‘Me.’ I neglected to take notice of everyone else around me. I didn’t even considered what their experience was like on the other side. It was about what I want, how I’m feeling, how I’m doing, and nothing about what they want, how they're feeling, and how they're doing. There is a level of danger in magnifying the self and here is my reminder to myself.

Everyone has problems of some kind or another, everyone has a world of considerations, thoughts, emotions, plenty of experience, suffering, and unexpected turns thrown at them, so don’t think for once that I am the only one going through something because I am not. Especially when going through something with others, remember to look up, look around, and consider what other people are going through or what they are experiencing because maybe listening to what others are going through and finding the shared experience in whatever it is I am dealing with is where happiness in myself, happiness in relationships, and happiness in this world is found.

 

 

Life Is Full of Imperfections

 
Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Tegalalang Rice Terrace, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Living in a world where we are bombarded with messages, visuals, and the demands for perfection, it is easy to forget that nothing in this world is actually perfect and that all things are imperfect in one way or another. If we observe the world truthfully, we will see that reality is far from perfection and that the world is inhabited by imperfection.

If life was perfect, change becomes unnecessary. If life was perfect, there will be no reason to grow, learn, or improve. What is even perfection if in absence of that which is imperfect?

Life is imperfect for a reason. Imperfection rewards me with the space to continue to strive for better. Imperfection leaves me room for change, to better myself and my situation. Life is not static.  

In the acknowledgement and acceptance of imperfection, what I am left with is a decision about how to interact with the imperfection. If my imperfections take form in a mistake, then what are the steps I take now in realizing my imperfections.

What's important in life; which I seem to lose sight of, especially in troubling times, in the face of challenges, or when encountering pain, is accepting the reality of the imperfect world we live in. Imperfection is what makes me human and it is what makes the world unique. Mistakes are part of the standards of imperfection. Mistakes is what can catalyze positive change. Mistakes is what can help me accomplish my mission towards the best version of myself. 

Whether mistakes were made, whether wrongs happened, whatever my past holds, there’s no way to change what has happened. Imperfection is a reality to embrace, as perfection in this world is impossible. Even with the conflicting messaging culture and society glorifies, being a perfect human all the time in all situations is an impossible task. The good news is there’s a lifetime of opportunities to improve from the wrongs of the past.

 

What Self Work Is Like

 
Aboard Le Pirate Explorer somewhere in Komodo Islands, Indonesia

Aboard Le Pirate Explorer somewhere in Komodo Islands, Indonesia

Self work (or working on yourself) is easier said than done but to me it is about making a conscious commitment to myself, to devote my energies to my well-being, and to strive towards a goal to develop myself in the best way possible. I believe self-work takes a level of isolation as I am the only person in this world who is truly in touch with my own self and if my goal is to arrive at the best version of myself, most of the work I do for this journey should be done alone.

I aim to get to know myself as much as I can so that how I value myself, how I see myself, and how I think about myself is not dependent on other people. The extreme is where I am completely confident in myself and are so sure of who I am, that no one and nothing can change how I see myself; but of course this is an unhealthy extreme if attained. The people around me, my ever changing circumstances, and my ever evolving life should make different impacts along the way, whether positive or negative. My main objective here is to remember to look inwards amongst the commotion in order to have the space to develop myself authentically as an individual.

My aim is to get to a level of certainty and confidence in my own self, to a point where I know what is right and what is wrong devoid of the people and circumstances around me. What I want is to be able to stay true to who I am as an individual despite what the world throws at me. I liken this goal to an immovable water buoy, I may sway with the currents and be changed by the winds but no matter how turbulent or strong they pass through, my core values, vision, and self remains.

I don’t believe there’s a way to short change this, if I want to know myself, I must know who I am when I am alone. I must understand what drives me, what discourages me, what distracts me, what brings me a sense of adventure, or as simple as what do I want to do in my spare time. Sure, I can learn a whole lot from friendships and relationships by understanding how I am in the context of others, but I see these learnings from others as indicators not as what defines who I am.

What I think is paramount is to first understand myself without the disruption of the needs, wants, and desires of others. Only then can I give back in a healthy way into my friendships and relationships, which are crucial to our very human need for social connections.