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.

 

Proximity Of Life

 

Roaming through an old city like Rome and realizing the speck in time I exist in, I reflect upon the significance and short lived reality of my life (don’t worry, what comes next won’t sound so depressing). Although a lifetime feels like a lot of time, within history's context, my lifetime is nothing more than a mere speck-- nearly invisible amongst the decades of generations prior and amongst the decades of years to come.

Rome’s grand Coliseum is a memory in history left in ruins, but to those who lived it I am sure it was so much more. Not just for its scale— what I mean is size in this context— as that is still somewhat evident in the ruins left behind, but imagine the scale of what the coliseum once was in terms of the experiences which surrounded it—how the Coliseum was in operation in its glory days. The rampant activities back in the day, the thousands of people roaming in, out, and all through its grand structures. How much more was the experience of the coliseum back then? How different was the experience compared to the millions of tourists pouring in today? For the record, I am pretty sure a typical summer’s day wasn’t as smoldering hot as the one I experienced today. To that I say global warming is a very real thing, but that’s a topic for another time.

In my jaunt through Rome’s historic cityscape I reflected upon its history and my relevance within this wider context. I find myself asking questions. Questions with extreme relevance in my own consciousness, but within this new perspective, becomes such a minor consideration. Questions about how should I live this life? What am I destined or made to do in this life? What legacy will I leave in this world (or maybe none at all)? What is the meaning of my life? Such big questions tends to dawn on me, yet again such questions seem so small when placed against the true extent of history and time.

The question of scale then comes into question. Right now my life and my reality really only exists in my world. What I mean by that is my context of living. That is where I am in the world, what I do, my friends, my family, my environment, and all the components of my life which make it mine. Right now, it’s my travel to Europe. Another day it’s my life in Singapore and another elsewhere. What becomes clear when I interact with the idea of history is how small I am amongst the enduring length of history and the future. The questions then becomes: what is my life within this expansive context? What is the significance of my life with this perspective?

My answer is simple, what life is to me and how I live life then becomes even more important. How I see the world and value the world through my eyes becomes so critical to what’s significant in this moment in time. My eyes alone is what will see my life from a magnified perspective. Everyone else outside of myself will only see me as a speck in history, as a part of something much larger. I alone is what experience my life in the most immediate and intimate sense. No one else can understand the proximity of my life but me, so what is the point in living a life that's not mine? What's the point in living a life that belongs to someone else? How do I want my life to be within my proximity?

 

 
 

Smash That Scale!!

 

The truth about my relationship with the scale. There's no denying the raw reaction to the somewhat arbitrary number on that screen, but what matters more when it comes to body weight is understanding body composition (i.e. total and ratio of fat and muscle mass).

Body weight is composed of various variables, two important factors to consider and what most average scales do not factor in is lean muscle mass! Let's also not forget that muscle weighs more than fat, so someone who may appear smaller but is heavier may in fact just be someone with a greater percentage of lean body mass.

"Now I cared more about how I feel versus wasting my energy on worrying about an arbitrary number." 

The day I decided to ignore the number on that scale was a game changing moment. The simple shift was what helped me focus on what’s important. Instead of going by how much I weighed, my progress became more about how I felt. Do I feel energized? Do I feel athletic? Am I happy with how my clothes fit? Am I happy with my bootay? (Let’s be real that was on everyone’s minds! HA!) Now I cared more about how I feel versus wasting my energy on worrying about an arbitrary number. We all know what skinny-fat is right? I remind myself everyday the number on the scale is meaningless to my actual progress. Health and wellness is not about how much I weigh!

When I was at university in the U.S., like many first years I had gained some weight. I admit, weighing myself and worrying about weight was never much of an issue growing up because I was an athlete and always active. I was only ever chubby through puberty (might also be due to the fact that I had yummy cheesy Cheetos almost everyday). Gaining 9kg (about 19 pounds) my first year in university was an absolute shock. It pushed me towards a very frantic weight loss journey for the years which followed.

The number on that scale was my enemy! I was so focused on the number that even small fluctuations upwards or lack of change downwards had the sway to ruin my whole day. What I didn’t take into consideration at the time was my ratio of lean muscle mass to fat or how healthy I actually was. It was frustrating, especially because I spent weeks committed to a very restrictive diet and to a tough workout regiment.

It took me a few years to understand a few things:

  1. Focusing on the number on the scale was counterintuitive to a measure of my progress, because in fact I was more in shape than ever before. I was running 9km (about 6 miles) at least three times a week, on top of kick-boxing and indoor spinning classes. I worked out for a total of 6-7 days a week, sometimes twice a day.

  2. Muscle weighs more than fat, so the number on the scale didn’t drop much even if I was doing more because in fact I was putting on a lot more muscle.

  3. Health and wellness has a lot more to do with how I feel. It is not about a number. It is about a lifestyle.

What I realize now is that health and wellness  is about my journey. It’s about finding what works for me. It is about how I feel. It is a way to enhance my life, so it shouldn’t add more stress. Being kind and honest to myself about my journey was the best gift I gave myself. Fitness and health shouldn’t be a chore, it’s a means to better my life.