TMI

I was never one to believe that knowledge would ever be bad. I’ve always been a strong believer that knowledge, by itself, was something objective and fair, something that must be filtered and OPVLed and evaluated. That knowledge was never hurtful in its own way, but instead, the misinterpretation of knowledge brought pain and suffering.

But the more I think about it, the more conflicted I am.

One of the strongest cases I have to bring is my move from Knoxville to Seattle. Call it what you want, but that move was really eye-opening for me. Yes, maybe I was just a country bumpkin seeing the bright lights of the city for the first time. I was shocked by how everything moved so fast, how students were able to do anything they wanted, how everyone had opinions – such opinions!- and were working towards something greater than themselves.

I saw all of this and was afraid.

One of my most vivid memories from 8th grade was walking home from the NorthWest Chinese School’s math classes. It was the first time that I was in such an intense learning environment, with students younger than I was! We never had those kinds of experiences in Farragut; we just went to competitions every now and then, and there was a Mu Alpha Theta chapter at the high school that I participated in. As long as you followed the rules and played by the books, you were considered golden. I wasn’t prepared for geniuses  like this.

After that meeting, I hung my head and walked home in shame. I lived close by, in an apartment during that time, and all along the walk, I wondered aloud: Was it really a good thing to come to Bellevue? To compete with the best and the brightest?

I’ve always managed to convince myself that having the additional information outweighed being ignorant. After all, ignorance does not absolve you of your incompetence! It doesn’t relax you when you go into college unprepared, nor does it help when you are struggling later in life. Those who willingly stay in ignorance are fools.

And yet…

Would you rather be a happy fool or a cynical wise man? Would you rather see the world as it is, with all of its terrors and darkness, or dream on in a utopia of bubbles and laughter?

I shall stick to my principles. I will take the knowledge as it comes, regardless of how hurtful it may be. “You aren’t going to be the best.” “There are people out there more deserving than yourself.” “People in your same situation are able to go much further than you have.” “She just really isn’t all that into you.” “You aren’t doing a good enough job.” “You don’t deserve this trust.” “You aren’t worth it.”

I swallow each bitter pill, relishing the painful knowledge that it brings. But now I too understand the minds of those happy, those soma eating ignorant fools.

Spur of the moment

When I first began writing for a public audience, I wrote like every other 12 year old preteen. I automatically assumed that my thoughts would be the most interesting, most riveting ideas ever conceived by mankind, so clearly everyone in the world should revel in my ideas. In what my current  teachers would likely call “word vomit”, I would write about the first thing that comes to my mind, not giving a hot about how personal it would be, what the topic was, if it actually made logical sense, or any other factors. Instead, I was more excited that some of my own words would so easily be converted into a digital living creature on the internet!

For an instance, I was immortal.

As I grew up a little bit more, I began to realize exactly how words have power, and proper wielding of such could lead to an increased sharing of ideas or perhaps even better conversation or discussion. My thoughts were not limited to myself, nor were they absolutely right. I learned to polish and to revise, to take in new ideas and make them my own. This was a good time, when I was not afraid to say what I meant, while being humble enough to accept when I was wrong.

But as time went on, I began to dwell on my thoughts more and more. For much of this past year, I would write down small snippets of ideas in my planner, vowing to return to them one day. These snippets would always seem to arise at the most inopportune times, when I was riding the bus, in the middle of BYSO practices, while being lectured by mom, in the middle of the short walk between my school and my home, etcetera and etcetera. I’ll return to you someday, I promised to no one in particular. I won’t forget about you, I’ll make you into something real soon.

But the problem is, as evidenced by my distinct lack of updates on this blog, is that this just doesn’t happen all that much. When you move past that small window of time when the idea seems just crazy enough to work, you begin introspecting, usually too much introspection. I started to doubt my own abilities, to be confused over what was needed and what was not. I gave up entire articles because I wasn’t satisfied with how to word the beginning sentence, worried that it would not be politically correct or perhaps just not the perfect combination of words.

Even more frightening is that I realized my thoughts change over time. It is very difficult to write about injustices when you have just relaxed over a comforting home-cooked meal, and even more so to describe the joys of life when you had just pulled an all-nighter finishing coursework. Although both of these ideas are still true and were once part of you, they only exist for some fraction of your lifespan.

As part of the International Baccalaureate program, each candidate needs to write an extended essay, a paper of roughly 3700 words that thoroughly investigates a topic. As an extremely daunting task, our ToK teacher, one of the best advisors and mentors I have had the opportunity to have, told us this: “Just write it. Write your [crappy] first draft.” We all laughed and chucked; when did teachers encourage students to not do their best? But his advice was solid. By getting those ideas out of your mind and onto paper, or in my case a cheap word processor, processing ideas becomes easier. You don’t have the pain of remembering what you wanted to say, the ideas are on the paper in front of you!

This is extremely similar to the mottos of the National Novel Writing Month, as well as the National Blog Posting Month, or even the National Poetry Writing Month. All of these vents were made with the idea that writers don’t begin with a perfect idea and do nothing but polish, but instead start off with word vomit, before slowly revising to create something better and better.

While I hope this message can be applicable to everyone who reads it, I also hope that it will be especially encouraging to myself. Don’t waste our time reading the news, just sit down for a second and write! You don’t have to block out a perfect time or even set up your nice and cozy writing environment” to produce something of meaning.

Just get that crappy first draft out of your system, and write. Write. WRITE!

 

After Dark

I think that my more sappy, more romanticized nature comes out only after dark.

Isn’t the sun just too bright sometimes? In the day, it is there illuminating everything that is around. Some people think that the sun is there to show the truth, but I digress. The sun and the day is there to show merely one version of the truth. The night and the moon can do so much more.

It’s the late hours when I begin to forget about my worries and lose myself in the thoughts of friends and family, of triumphs that will always be but also regrets that always were. It’s a time for reflection and contemplation, but also a time for crazy dreams and wild hopes.

I really do love this hour, but I too shall soon succumb to the sweet slumber of sleep. Good night, y’all. Good night.

What Cookie Clicker Taught Me About Life

If you haven’t played it yet, go check out cookieclicker.com here. It’s okay, I’ll wait for you for a while. Gotten to the grandmas yet? The shipments, the farms?

Good.

This is why I think that the cookie clicker is a perfect metaphor for the futility of life.

As I mentioned before, I get addicted to finishing stuff. I pursue full completion and absolute resolution. An essay isn’t complete until it’s entirely perfect. A book is not complete until every detail and theme has been thoroughly explored.

So a cookie clicker game puts me at somewhat of a quandary.

I don’t think I want to know about how much time I’ve wasted on this game, or this kind of mindless drivel in general. Oh what I could have done in the meantime! But thankfully, this game has made me consider some interesting facets of life.

1) There are a lot of stupid things that we can do with our lives. If you want to, you can bury yourself with absolutely meaningless work in the delusion that it will bring you happiness.

2) The feeling of happiness is not something you can easily click and obtain. Happiness is something that is derived from a wide range of things. If the only reason why you are doing something is to get some kind of artificial stimulus of pleasure, it’s going to fade away pretty quickly.

3) Humans will never be satisfied with what they have. One of the marks of cookieclicker is that it scales almost perfectly. As the amount of cookies rapidly increases, the cost for more upgrades increases just as quickly. The carrot of satisfaction is always held just a foot before where you are now.

4) It’s just a game. One of the biggest destroyers of the game is the ease of hacking into the game. While playing, you feel like each cookie is a valuable thing. But after you look into the code, you come to the realization that it’s nothing but a collection of numbers. All of that clicking and time? Just to increase a number by a couple powers of ten.

I’m not sure if I’ll go back to this game, but I know that I’ll waste time like this just as frequently in the future. The distractions of everything can become overwhelming. Reflecting on lessons like this may help bring me back to reality sooner.