You can’t have your cake and eat it too

One quote that’s stood out for me in recent years has been from Ray Dalio’s book Principals which states “if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want.” I think that quote sums up my life in a nutshell.

I was talking to one of my friends, Austin, recently and we were assesing where we both were in life and where we wanted to end up in the future. Right now my friend Austin drives a luxury car, works less than 30 hours a week, has most of his meals either catered or delivered to him, never pays a cent towards rent, has all the consoles and games he’d ever want, and to top it all off he has a loving girlfriend who routinely “shows him love”.

Comparing that to my life I drive a decade old car, work about 40-50 hours a week, barely ever get food delivered to me and eat leftovers when I do, pay a couple thousand in rent, have one console with a couple games, and a loving right hand who routinely “shows me love”.

Our lives are indeed very different, but sometimes I look back and ask myself if I made the right decisions. I went to college for a major I was passionate about, got my degree, and worked in one of my dream professions. Now I’ve willing taken on responsibilities for things as an investment in my life and career but have brought little to no immediate reward. I got all the important things I was aiming for, but not everything I was aiming for.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too,” I guess. Most of my goals are done through necessary means but sometimes there are unintended consequences to accomplishing the goals. I bought a piece of property but didn’t think about all the costs associated to it like lawn mowing costs, natural disaster insurance, refinancing costs. My main goal was accomplished but at the price of a lacked sense of responsibility. I ate my cake (bought the property) but lost the feeling of having my cake (the freedom to use that money on other oppurtunities and the mental freedom of not focusing on bills.

Unintentional consequences are real for bad decisions and even if you have a hint of them happening, you need to make the decision as if the worst scenario was happening. From tere you must ask yourself “Is the end result of my objective more important than those things going on? We never completely know that going forward

Looking After Numero Uno

“Sometimes you have to look out for numero uno,” my friend said on a quiet night outside our college library. He was giving his response to my question of why he didn’t want to study with our classmate Roger. At the time I thought it was bit harsh but I understood those words after some thought and accepted them as words to live by.

My living situation at the moment involves one place of residence with lots of space and only 2 people living there. One of those people is me, and another a “friend” I allowed to live with me. If you think the wording of that last sentence sounds strange, it was made to enunciate the fact that I’m ALLOWING her to stay with me. I work, and pay the bills all by myself while she shamlessly benefits off of it.

This woman is not my girlfriend or lover (nor was there any expectation she would ever be), and I simply helped her out of the goodness of my heart. But like all acts of kindness, you give a hand and lose an arm. “You won’t even know I’m here” is the furthest from the stance she’s taken in my home. Instead her current life purpose is to make my life miserable from a seeming lack of understanding of how common courtesy should work.

She dirties but doesn’t clean, she hears but doesn’t listen, and she takes up space but gives almost nothing in return. And its been almost 3 months. She has no self-awareness of how her household actions (and lack thereof) might affect me, and takes pseudo-ownership of MY possesions. She sees MY space as OUR space and doesn’t see anything wrong with the length of time she’s stayed at my place.

Throughout my life I’ve allowed things like this to happen, with all of these situations stemming from my lack of ability to set boundaries. My inherent altruism is breeding ground for a guilty conscience, but it seems a guilty conscience would be preferrable to a state of mind constantly in a state of anger. I’ve now lived to about a quarter of my life and have to start making decisions that keep me happy and put me in a good mindset. I will no longer allow those around me to squander my happiness for their own gain.

From this realization I will start doing everything in my power to get my current roommate out of my living space from now on. I know for a fact that if I had a friend go through the same situation as I am, I would be overzealously giving advice to kick that roommate out so why not give myself the same amount of respect that I do my friends? If that means losing some of my friends, then I’ll accept that too. What’s the use of having friends who treat you worse than you’d treat them?

My Experience At Yosemite

What was my experience? Well I was assumed to be high when i made a joke and my small ego said why not get high? I had 2 gummies after smoking a bit of the pen and felt it all. Then John offered to smoke some of his pipe, and I did. Then I got so high I couldn’t localize myself. I told Bobby what was happenning and he directed me towards the tent. i laid down and tried to sleep but my thoughts kept racing. It was marijuana induced insomnia. My brain was eushing with thoughts. After a while I wanted to make it stop. My mental fatigue did nothing to bring it down, and I laid in the tent trembling. I heard the rest of the camping group spot shooting stars, but I couldn’t make my way out of the tent because I was so disoriented. I needed someone to keep me grounded, so I called Bobby in to get me some water. He left, and I sat in the tent thinking of a way to get him to stay and keep my mind focused, but I couldn’t. All I could think about was how big a mistake I had made earlier that night to begin consuming marijuana; Or even earlier to the beginning of summer where I thought I might try it because of it’s alleged mind enlightening properties and it’s ability to alleviate depression. I’m not diagnosed as depressed, but I imagined if it’s used for the disease it could only have positive mind altering affects.

As I laid in the tent other thoughts hit me. It was as if my mind was enlightened to all the things I had done in the past. Many past decisions now seemed stupid, and I thought about all the things I took for granted. Because this was camping, this includes things such as basic utilities we use for everyday life. Also in this mind-altered state, I thought about how much was left to say to the people I love. My mother was among these people, and I realized how much she’s done (and still does) for me and my failure to show my appreciation. I thought of how stupid continuous use of weed was. I thought of my roommate Max and how appreciative I was of him stopping me from getting to that point long before. I thought of many things although mostly in a paranoid worried way.

I thought about how uncharacteristic of me to take chances going to a place I knew nothing about. I thought about how stupid it was to decide to go camping in an area considerably far from any civilization. I thought about my previous blatant disregard for dangers n the area including bears and rock slides. How could I be so stupid? Now I sat up, thinking that this experience was pennance for all my wrongs. Marijuana now seemed a demon substance for me, and that it fostered more than pleasant experiences. I thought about how free legislation was on marijuana and how bad this could mess with an area if introduced to quickly without registration. I was now flipping sides to how marijuana should be banned, and that this experience, if experienced earlier, might have significantly messed with my cognitive development as a teenager.

Strangely enough, although I abhorred the idea of any further recreational use of this drug and this whole summer camping experience, I was grateful for the insights it gave me. Mixed into the ridiculous thoughts, were deep contemplations of life that I did not want to deal with. This high left me with all the things I have been storing and ignoring in the back of my mind. All open decisions and responsibilities that were important yet unpleasant to think about. The stress of thinking about all of these things accumulated into one exprerience which my mind could no longer ignore. Everything from how to handle the impending death of an aunt with cancer, to my inability to tell my mom to go camping, my fear to tell certain people how I feel about them, and even the purpose of my lifr (a long htought about question).

Laying there I decided to write to keep my mind off things and although I wrote about a paragraph, my mind would not stop spinning with these important distressing thoughts. They would not be ignored and put to the side and there was nothing I could do to block them out, I understood that now. I laid there thinking that maybe this was enlightenment. Maybe there was a hidden trove of wisdom waiting to be released into my mind i exchange for my current sanity. I felt I was going insane, and possibly schizophrenic right when I began to appreciate the things in my life.

I began to feel empathy like never before and felt enormous pity towards those who I previously had indfifference. I thought about how cold it was getting in the tent, and how miserable it must be to be homeless in San Francisco. I pitied my roommate who’s occasional smoking of cigarettes became a addiction before his eyes. I thought of my sister who I had taken for granted, and my cousins who are mentally insane. Now, I felt, I began to understand a microscopic piece of that pain. The disconnect that one’s mind might have from the brain. Life in that state felt like a function that was constantly riddled with noisey inputs and expected to return reasonable results.

Why was I scared? The fear of not being able to return to normal was one of the bggest things on my mind.

The next day. My brain, and it’s power to feel chemicals.

Teo days after I write this memo because the traumatic psychological affects of this experience is still present and will not go away until addressed. I need to further learn how to be honest with myself and other about the way I feel, and not build up negative emotions. Funnily enough, as I write this, my brain feels the way it does on a high. The catharsis of writing is keeping my fingers attached to my keyboard, and refusing to go back to it’s usual activities. I feel as though I need to releaase these thoughts, but now that they have been addressed, I’ll soon enough figure out a way to handle all my individual problems. This is the time to work on the things I have a new found appreciation for. I would like to say that I can implement all my positive changes, but I can’t. Anger is something I don’t find as part of an enlightened mind, but I have a lot of. The mai target of hate is mainly myself, but a great deal is projected outward. The courage of addressing certain problems is still not there, and open decisions are still beign rtionalized.

How definitions can help you in your daily life

Back in college I took a class called Abstract Mathematics where i learned things that would stick with me for years to come. One of these things were my professor’s emphasis on definitions. He said before we can start understanding how to perform a mathematical proof, we really had to get a sense of what everything was.

For example, understanding a definition of something can start by playing around with conrete examples. This is because implications that can be made about concrete example may help in understanding the general structure of a definition. These fact elicitation methods used on definitions are commonly known as deduction and induction. Deduction states that “Because a structure is defined to works like this, it should imply this other behavior is true”. Or in the case of induction you can ask “because this concrete example works like this, we can generalize some of these properties to other cases of this definition”.

This process of developing proofs is great for evaluating the logical consistency of arguments. Whenever I have an argument with someone of a certain belief I always check for logical consistency. Note that this is different from questioning whether any standalone subjective view I don’t like is logical, but rather it’s the assessment of whether one’s view is logically consistent with the other views in their belief system.

The crazy thing about logic is that you can form an argument about general statements as long as you have logical assertions that relate them together. For example, the logical operator for implication (usually denoted as =>) can be used to say that the statement A being true will always imply that the statement B is true (A => B). The ‘~’ symbol means the negation of something. So if A is true and we write ‘~A’, that means the expression evaluates to false.

The thing to note is that logical consistency isn’t really checking the validity of these statements themselves, but rather if the proper usage of logical connectors are employed. Whatever statement I choose for A, and whatever statement I choose for B are irrelevant. Everyone can start with their own base assumptions, but I shouldn’t be able to contradict myself if I am to be logically consistent.

Another example can be made using these statements: Statement A is said to be true, A being true implies statement B is true (A => B), B being true implies statement C is true (B => C), and C being true implies statement A is not true (C => ~A), then I have a logical inconsistency.

If I were to write all the statements in mathematical notation it would look like:

A
A => B
B => C
C => ~A

When dealing with an argument we require all the expressions to evaluate to true to classify it as logically consistent. In this case I said A is true which implies B to be true. Because B being true implies C is true, I can write:

A => B => C

and actually just drop the middle part by using a mathematical concept called transitivity:

A => C

Now if we couple all our statements together I can show that the argument is logically inconsistent:

A
A => C
C => ~A

A is true, and A implies C is true. C unfortunately implies A is not true which causes us to reach a contradiction because it was already stated that A IS true. You can put in any sentence you want for A, B, and C but based on your logical connections of your facts, the argument will always be logically inconsistent.

Let’s take a concrete example of what was just written:

A = “Austin is a man”
B = “Austin likes women”
C = “Austin wants to date women”

A
A => B
B => C
C => ~A

In logic terms I’m saying “Austin is a man” is true, I’m asserting that because “Austin is a man” is true “Austin likes women” is true, as well as “Austin likes women” being true means “Austin wants to date woman”, but the last statement says that Austin wanting to date women somehow means he’s not a man. Now you could argue about whether my actual statements or implications are true in the first place (like whether A=>B) but the structure of this argument will always breed logical inconsistencies for whatever statements are put in for A, B, and C.

Ricky Gervais, Loneliness, and Gratitude

Since I was a kid I’ve been watching shows written and starred by the great Ricky Gervais. The first Ricky Gervais movie I saw was called “The Invention of Lying.” Somehow as a 12 year old kid, I could hear the comedic genius underlying this work and knew I had to see it.

The movie imagined a world in which the action of lying was something that had to be discovered. In fact, the concept of lying was virtually inconceivable in this world. The first person to conceive of this thought was the main character Mark whose life felt meaningless and dull, and who’s traits seemed unspectacular in every way (he was an underdog). The overarching moral taught by the movie was that achieving one’s life peaks means less when they become possible through illegitimate means. In other words, making one’s dreams happen using morally apprehensive methods takes some of the joy out of the achievement.

Following the work “The Invention of Lying”, most of Gervais’ other works use the same underyling structure. There is a character who has seemingly been brought down by life (whether they’re damaged, in pain, or they’re expecting pain), but they somehow find ways to appeciate the subtle joys in life in the end. Gervais explores not only the nature of human suffering with these works, but goes the extra mile in an effort to discover the human condition. To discover what is it that makes us tick. Why is it that we wake up everyday? Why is it that we don’t kill ourselves everyday? Why do we continue to live life even though everything sucks?

Everyone you love will either lie to you, leave you, or betray you at some point and even with this knowledge we live. We all know that we were born just to die, but even then, we live on. “What’s the fucking point?” is the question we should be asking after all this. We shouldn’t enjoy life if it’s most likely just going to end horribly should we? Honestly i don’t have the answer to any of these questions. And Ricky Gervais? He doesn’t have concrete answers either, but he does propose potential solutions through his medium of storytelling, and his style of capturing realistic and relatable human profiles of all walks of life.

Disappointment

It seems that every single one of us humans live on with the knowledge that we all will someday be disappointed. Some times the periods of disappointment are few and far between, and other they’re more frequent but we all know it’s coming. Whether it’s from our fellow kin, environmental circumstances, or the acts of a random stranger we cannot avoid it. And yet we still move on hopeful. they say optimism is key to living your best life, but what hapiness can optimism bring when the factors in our lives predestine ourselves for inevitable disappointment? Sure an optimistic view of wanting to win a lottery will fill you with excitement until lottery day, but won’t the reality of your improbable situation hit harder than if you kept a pessimistic view from the offset? A quote I’ve often cited is “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” Ever since I first heard that quote it’s resonated with me. Such a striking way to view reality; In the appreciative way of one’s history rather than the lost quality of one’s life in the future. It indicates the prioritization of one’s maximal current happiness as the goal rather than the future gain with the logic that the memories of a valuable experience is worth more than the future moments of less glory.

How To Not Be Wrong

How many times have you said something that was utterly incorrect and immediately regretted making the assertion? For me it happens quite a lot. It happens so much that I once read a book bearing the title ‘how to not be wrong’.

In the book, mathematical thinking is the proposed solution suggesting that the path to never being wrong was one paved with the foundations of strict logic. The book gave advice on how to avoid flawed logic through the explanation of a process identifying incorrect personal assumptions. It focused more on how not to be wrong in general rather than how not to be wrong in public, but that is what I want to focus on for the rest of this blog post — how not to be wrong in public.

The thing about ‘not being wrong’ in public is that we all have the ability to accomplish this goal. There’s a famous joke describing how to never write incorrect code: Never write code at all. In the same vain, the secret to never making an incorrect statement is to never speak at all!

This might seem like a ridiculous way to live one’s life, and I concur, but I believe this line of thinking is on to something. Although never speaking may be an extreme, I do believe there is a happy medium between wanting to not be wrong and achieving it through mutism.

For example, speaking only when something seems 100% sure in your mind will prevent you from being wrong. So will keeping your mouth shut when it seems *less* than 100%, but that’s probably the hardest challenge to overcome for most people.

Humans typically prefer to play the odds when they’re not 100% sure about something, to seem more credible in a conversation. It’s here, when the odds are played, that bad things start to happen. People will start to make statements on things they’re 40% sure of just to get credit for offering up the conversational jargon first. Even when people offer up wrong information, those people know that social conventions will probably stop others in the group from fact checking. The thing is, there’s always someone who might do it anyways.

Some people also take chances of being wrong when denying someone else’s credibility. Even if the denial of credibility is valid, the person giving the denial might feel obligated to offer to give the ‘correct’ answer to substantiate their rejection.

Confusion

The thing about confusion is that it’s something I can’t quite make sense of. It’s an unavoidable ailment that always manages to strike time and time again. I imagine most people encounter confusion to the capacity of maybe just a perception-based misunderstanding where a Starbucks barista unexplainably gives a consumer a green tea latte when they asked for a vanilla bean frappuccino. Clearly the barista was confused during the moment at which she acted on the information, but the interesting thing to note is HOW the confusion sprouted in the first place. The 2 phrases ‘green tea latte’ and ‘vanilla bean frappuchino’ clearly sound different so why is it that she got the order confused?

This is the nature of confusion, you don’t really know what caused it, you don’t know how to discern the confusion at the time of occurrence (as is the fundamental nature of confusion), and you have no way of stopping it in the future. In some scenarios it’s harmless, but in other scenarios it can be deadly. I would never want the pilot of my airplane to undergo a bout of confusion when hearing an error signal. Perhaps this is life’s premonition, an indicator of the slow corruption of our minds into chaos. A taste for those of us that await the age of Alzheimer’s for those of us unlucky enough to not die before then.

The nature of mathematics lends itself to showing the hardest complexities of life itself so I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced confusion in this area. Today specifically, I noted a bout of confusion when trying to derive a formula for something called a ‘projection’ in the field of linear algebra. A projection is, in layman’s terms, what happens when you would like to see where a line segment will lie on another line segment on a graph. It’s okay if you don’t understand my explanation, it’s somewhat irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make. Anyway, to derive the formula you must make some logical deductions which can be made both geometrically and algebraicly. The source of my confusion was being able to understand the geometric interpretation of the deduction but somehow miscalculating the algebraic formula even while having the geometric image clear in my head. It makes me wonder: What was the cause of this and how do I prevent it??

It would be great to be able to have such granular control over one’s intentional mind, but if it were possible I’d probably be a different man today.If I would probably get rid of all sexual thoughts — a source of fun experiences at best and an addictive annoyance at worst (one that makes me make bad decisions and befriend women who I have no interest in befriending over normal terms). But confusion would be the close second.

When anything is true, nothing is true. Where the validity of contradiction reins, there is no logic, or arguments, or debates. Nothing is right and nothing is wrong. I latch onto ‘a’ belief because of my cognitive imperative to strive for happiness through success consistent with my reality. In this reality I understand nothing may be true, but operate in this reality on an assumption for which I treat as truth.

To explain my thought process through the logic to which I believe to be a shared for most of mankind, I would say my view of reality can take concepts from Schrödinger’s cat experiment. It’s an experiment of uncertainty where you put some kind of poison in a sealed box with a cat, but never look inside it. The state of the cat from your perspective is neither alive nor dead, but in a state in between — an indeterminate state. That’s where I believe all our minds lay, in this indeterminate state where we act on assumptions that best reduce the state of uncertainty in our brain. I may still believe the cat alive or dead based on my need to reduce this uncertainty in my mind even though I can never truly, wholly, and logically ‘believe’ either one.

The discussion of belief leads us to use the term ‘belief’ that was itself defined within our reality, to explain reality. I once read a section of a book on the nature of information that discussed whether this was possible. Whether our ontology ever really allowed us to describe itself with precision. I ask if perhaps our language and concepts within this reality restricts us from fathoming other realities, or if the current nature of our reality is flexible enough to adopt any concepts. If our reality was flexible enough to describe all and any concepts then we can deduce that the concept in question already existed, undiscovered within our reality. Then there’s the question whether this talk of reality is all paradoxical. If the fact that I can talk about a different reality within this reality lends itself in support of the argument that this is the only reality. More paradoxes to think through, more cognitive corruption, more…confusion.

Confusion is so elusive that it may just be a way to suppress our thoughts. It may be exactly what tethers us to each of our operating subsets of our reality.

To bring us back to ideas that don’t reduce to complete drivel when discussed, I recently read an article of a philosopher who was able to give insight as to why I feel so shitty when I noticed I’ve been duped by my own mind. It’s the buildup of something labeled ‘free energy’ within the brain. The more the demand for release, the closer we get to a state of panic where we are able to realize our actions don’t line up .It’s the one ‘bug’ in my ‘code’ that constantly reminds me of my short cognitive shelf life, and I fucking hate it.

Who Am I?

Recently I was with a friend who found out something about me to which she was shocked to hear — the fact that I have once traveled outside the country. It wasn’t anything secret, but it made me realize that there are some things I prefer not to share (not that this was one of those things). Upon further analysis I’ve determined that I just don’t like to share too many of my emotions with others.

The thing about giving away my life experiences (and accompanying emotional perspective) to people is that it grants them the power of manipulation over my feelings. I specifically observe this with my female friends. To prove a point or win an argument, most girls I know will distort one of your life experiences as a way to show your flaws and subsequently invalidate your arguments.

An example of this is a girl saying to me “You don’t know what commitment is! How could you possibly know? You’re a virgin so you’ve barely even come close to haivng a relationship.” In this example, a female friend is attempting to utilize one of my supposed embarassments to try and keep my voice of reason quiet. Of course being a virgin has little to do with the general argument of committment, but the goal was to win the argument by shaming/hurting you into submission.

In fact, Na’im Lynn, a comedian and one of Kevin Hart’s entourage, reiterates this point perfectly. In one of his standup routines he talks about how women use personal attacks to win arguments. They break you down mentally until you no longer feel good about yourself, leaving you with not even the will to fight the original argument you were participating in. I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization of the whole gender but I will say that I’ve experienced this in a lot of my own interactions with those of the opposite sex.

Anyway, back to the question of “Who am I.” Let’s use a collection of words to help in my self description:
angry
joker
unsatisfied
loving
passionate
stern

…I think any more elaboration of who I am can be inferred from my blog posts, but maybe one day I’ll give an actual perspective of who I am from the perspective of me.

The Gift and Curse of Time

I hate time. From the times where time never seemed to move in middle school to the times where time seemed to fly by too fast in college, time had never been on my side. It’s the ever pressing silent force that’s always pushing you forward towards moments you’re unprepared for. This is the curse of time.

I love time. The way the atoms move to change somehow lead to the changing of color in trees during the fall to the way it acts as a loyal friend always staying to assuage any trauma. Time is the third wheel who will ultimately help a relationship stay together, and will be the first excited to hitch you when you’re ready. This is the gift of time.