21 March 2009

The Serendipity Berries Manifesto

So, this is it. Post 100 and my final blogger post (appropriately on 3/21/09). Unlike many creative types who blog to showcase their work and further their productivity, I blog to procrastinate and shirk my real writing duties. So, thank you for joining me for the ride. It was a fun exercise to write daily and then every weekday, but I must get back to my novel writing.
I leave you with one last episode of fist-waving on a soap box, a.k.a., the Serendipity Berries Manifesto. It's just eight things and won't make you Gandhi or Mother Theresa, but it might make you happy. And if you're leading a full life and spreading joy wherever you go, that's a pretty good start to making the world a better place.
1. Follow your passion. Waiting for a sign? The right moment? This is it. Right now.
I've never regretted taking risks, even when I've failed with flying colors. If you never fail, you're probably playing it too safe (a.k.a., failure by default). Like dating, sometimes you don't know till you try, and you're allowed to change your mind. The goal is to be fully alive and pushing yourself to maximize your potential.
2. Be nice. Kindness should be the default setting. I always regret straying from kindness.
3. Be grateful. Especially for simple pleasures and perfect moments. Appreciation is a peaceful, belly-warming feeling, and being conscious of how fortunate we are keeps us humble and committed to serving others.
4. Play. It's exercise for our creativity, and it's fun. And having fun is important. You don't get old until you stop having fun.
5. Create. Leave something meaningful behind when you die.
6. Travel. Go outside your comfort zone. It puts your life and reality in context. My partner and I are spending this week in Morocco-- with stopovers to explore in Amsterdam. Can't wait!
7. Laugh. Often. And especially at ourselves. Laughter makes us happy and enables us to make as many mistakes as we need to learn. I've heard it even cures cancer.
8. Love. Everyone. Everything. When you are filled with love, everything seems right with the world. Everyone is on your team, and together, you are invincible.
So, that's it. Just eight things. I wish you a happy, love-filled life.

Aiyo. I hate goodbyes. How about this? I'll say goodbye to blogger, but if you still want to come by and say hello, I'd love to see you. I'll be here from now on.

20 March 2009

The Incomplete Manifesto...

from Bruce Mau Design has relevance to life, in general.

Like #39, for example:

Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces -- what Dr. Seuss calls "the waiting place." Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference -- the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
Enjoy the entire manifesto here.

According to wikipedia, a manifesto is "a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature, but may also be life stance related. However, manifestos relating to religious belief are rather referred to as credo." (How's that for wikilinks? Almost every noun has a link. Are all those links useful? At what point are there too many links?)

If you were to write your own manifesto, what would it say? What would it be called? What would it look and sound like?

19 March 2009

World builder

Here is an example of what it really means to be a creator, in the full sense of the word. This is a video of a man who creates a holographic world for a woman he loves. Enjoy.

18 March 2009

Softer brains for more happiness

So, the bad news is that brain decline begins at age 27, according to the BBC.

The good news is that our 'mellowing' brains are actually happier and less neurotic, according to another BBC article.

And what about those 'brain training' claims? A hoax, according to BBC.

What actually does make a difference? Exercise, a healthy diet and an active social life. So, hanging out with friends is like exercise for the brain. And it's free. Nice.

I'll close with one of my favorite quotes (I don't know who said it, and I'm pretty sure I didn't come up with it): "The key to aging happily is a healthy body and a soft memory."

Have a happy, brainy day.

17 March 2009

Lost (and humor) in translation

So, I have finally succumbed to the traveling bug that has been ailing me for quite some time now, and it's time to let the trip planning begin. To get started, here is a nice quote to set the mood and some funny signs seen while traveling, taken from travelpuppy. Enjoy!

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilisation, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints."
- Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), Scottish novelist, essayist and poet

Please to bathe inside the tub.
In a Japanese Hotel Room

Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beet soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion.
On the Menu of a Polish Hotel

The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.
In a Yugoslavian Hotel

The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.
In a Bucharest Hotel Lobby

To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.
In a Belgrade Hotel Elevator

Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 and 11 A.M. daily.
In a Hotel in Athens

We take your bags and send them in all directions.
In a Copenhagen airline ticket office.

Would you like to ride on your own ass?
Advertisement for donkey rides in Thailand.

You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.
In a Japanese Hotel

You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.
In the Lobby of a Moscow Hotel Across from a Russian Orthodox Monastery

Dresses for street walking.
Outside a Paris dress shop

Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.
In a Leipzig Elevator

Drop your trousers here for best results.
In a Bangkok dry cleaner's

For your convenience, we recommend courageous, efficient self- service.
In a Hong Kong supermarket

It is not allow in the hotel room for guest participating in Illicit Arts, banging of firecrackers, gambling and wrestling.
Hotel Jincheng (Shenyang, China)

Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
In a Norwegian cocktail lounge

Ladies may have a fit upstairs.
Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop

Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.
In an Austrian hotel catering to skiers

Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.
On the Menu of a Swiss Restaurant

Please leave your values at the front desk.
In a Paris Hotel Elevator

P.S. Total non sequitur, but for you SoCal residents, Obama is coming to visit you! Bask in his awesomeness for me!

16 March 2009

Livin' the dream

"Living the dream" is a funny expression that people say wistfully (and don't seem to believe is possible). A woman said I was living the dream by being a full-time writer, and a friend told us we were about to live the dream and doing what academics should be doing when we told him our post-graduation plans.

I believe we can all live our dream life-- we just have to make choices that are in line with the lives we want to lead. And that can mean giving up higher pay and prestige, but you get freedom in return. (Hard work and luck help, too.)

So, on to the good news. My partner and I somehow got everything we wished for: he got the tenure-track professorship at a respected university in California, AND we get a year to backpack around the world. I'm still screaming whee and dancing around and waiting to wake up. But no, it's real, and we can't wait to start planning.

To be clear, we aren't just going to be lying on beaches and traipsing from one UNESCO world heritage site to another. We'll go to places where my partner can do field research that relates to his work, and I'll be keeping a journal of our travels and hopefully working on my third novel. (Maybe our travels will be the foundation for the third novel. Two birds + one stone = awesome. And this is assuming I finish my second novel by this summer.)

So, I share our good news in the hope that it will inspire you to think big and get what you really want, too. Because yes, the economy isn't so hot, the job market is tough, and traveling takes money and planning. But it is definitely all doable. So, why not me? Why not you? I am a firm believer in 'Everything is possible.' So, what's your dream life? How can you make it happen?

Have fun!

13 March 2009

A painting (in photos)

I got two blank canvases as a gift last spring, and I thought it might be fun to share the process.

So, my brother is into fantasy, and I had planned on opening a bakery called pixie cupcakes, so I figured it would be a natural fit to make a pixie painting.

I've never taken a painting lesson, and I just guess my way through, but it's fun. If you haven't tried painting and are even mildly interested, I'd say give it a shot. If I can do it, so can you.

As you can see, the wings aren't painted in this photo yet. (I forgot to take photos of the finished painting before I gave it to him. Oops.) They are basically every color you see on the canvas, with a layer of silver over them, and I trust your imagination to finish off the job.

Once the front of the canvas was done, I painted the sides orange so my bro wouldn't have to frame it if he didn't feel like it.

So, there you go. A painting. It took me about a weekend to finish it.

Your turn. Have fun!

12 March 2009

Perspective on salary

Here's a visual representation of academic salaries:

This is when you know you didn't choose your job for the money. If we did, we'd all have chosen to be football coaches.

11 March 2009

The world today

I just came across Karl Fisch's "Did You Know?" video about information dissemination, advances in technology, the characteristics of the world population and where we're headed as a global community. It's worth watching, if you haven't seen it already. Enjoy!

10 March 2009

Late-blooming genius

This article should give us all hope. Haven't quite fulfilled your potential yet? No worries, you have time. It isn't your usual "Lincoln was nothing before age 40" or "Einstein learned to ride a bike at age 60" (though those are also true and inspiring).

Scott Barry Kaufman examines traditional notions of IQ and explains how more complex abilities (say, creativity or leadership) often take years to mature. How mature brains process and access information differently from younger brains. And he looks at how learning disabilities (like dyslexia) and huge emotional setbacks (losing a parent before age 21) have often turned out to be assets, producing scores of successful entrepreneurs and artists.

09 March 2009

The 25 Most Powerful Books. And Bert and Ernie doing gangsta rap.

Here is Mental Floss' 25 Most Powerful Books of the Past 25 Years, based on societal influence, not on publishing records.

It's a well-researched list, and the magazine offers detailed rationales for each book. Number 6, Ehrenreich's Nickle and Dimed, for example, helped lead Congress to raising the minimum wage in 2008.

The Washington Post didn't entirely agree, but it's an interesting list to consider.

1. And The Band Played On (1987) Randy Shilts
2. Maus (1991) Art Speigelman
3. Listening to Prozac (1993) Peter D. Kramer
4. Thinking in Pictures (1995) Temple Grandin
5. Nickle and Dimed (2001) Barbara Ehrenreich
6. Into Thin Air (1997) Jon Krakauer
7. The Satanic Verses (1988) Salman Rushdie
8. Middlesex (2002) Jeffrey Eugenides
9. The Alchemist (1988) Paolo Coelho
10. The Easy Way to Stop Smoking (1985) Allen Carr
11. A Perfect Spy (1986) John Le Carre
12. What is the What (2006) Dave Eggers
13. On Writing (2000) Stephen King
14. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1994)
15. The Known World (2003) Edward P. Jones
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1998) JK Rowling
17. How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997) Alain de Botton
18. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) Tom Wolfe
19. Infinite Jest (1996) David Foster Wallace
20. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984) Milan Kundera
21. Beloved (1987) Toni Morrison
22. The Handmaid's Tale (1985) Margaret Atwood
23. Freakonomics (2005) Stephen Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
24. Eats, Shoots & Leaves (2003) Lynne Truss
25. The Tipping Point (2000) Malcolm Gladwell

And in case you need a bit of levity in your life, here's Bert and Ernie's take on gansta rap. I can't really understand what they're saying, but it's highly entertaining. Enjoy!

06 March 2009


Ah, facebook. There is a meme going around, asking how many of these books you've read. It claims "The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here." It turns out this list is from the Guardian's Top 100 List from 2007.

The BBC's list of 100 books, called the Big Read, is from April 2003. In any case, I appreciate them because they're lists of favorite books, including Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh, rather than some academic telling you you should read something because "it's part of the canon."

Here is a more highbrow list, Random House's 100 Best Novels, if you're interested. And for those of you who want something more international, you can try this list.

So, how do your reading habits stack up? I'll include both lists of favorites for you.

(If you'd like, you can add symbols like V or X if you've read something, + or - for books you liked or didn't like, * for books you'd like to read, etc. It's your list-- do whatever you want.)

Have fun!

The Guardian list:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott X
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Husseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bereres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas X
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

The BBC list:

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

05 March 2009

Education and choosing who to rob

Education is a tough nut to crack. They seem to be trying everything to improve it. There are now standing desks, so students can fidget and blow off all the energy they want.

A fifth-grader is on a crusade to pass a law prohibiting homework (video)-- and garnering a surprising amount of support.

In Colorado, they're getting rid of grade levels and putting students in different 'levels' for each subject in what is being dubbed video-game progress, in which one stays at a level until they pass it.

And lastly, when choosing who to rob, thieves should remember that appearances can be deceiving. In England, a teen tried to rob a 72-year-old woman-- only to discover she was a champion sprinter when she was younger.

As Jean Hirst later recollected:
"She had a head start but I covered 70 yards in about 15 seconds and was within two strides of her when she looked over her shoulder and saw me. She probably thought I was an easy target but she shouldn't have judged a book by its cover. The look on her face was one of sheer amazement and she just threw my bag aside."

04 March 2009

Everything is possible

Or at least, it's the title of both of these videos, which are pretty neat in very different ways.

The first everything is possible shows what happens when people try to do crazy and/or impossible things-- and actually pull it off. Complete with "Unchained Melody" remix and "Con Te Partiro" ending. (You can always turn the sound off if those aren't your thing.)

And here is a mesmerizing commercial entitled "everything is possible" of penguins flying.

Okay. It's beautiful 'footage,' but it isn't real. Here's how they made it, and here's BBC's April Fools' ad, "Flying Penguins on BBC Documentary," putting it all together. And it sounds like several British media outlets joined forces with the BBC (or perhaps fell for the joke), including the Telegraph, to break the 'miracle in evolution' story.

abc lists some other entertaining April Fools' jokes from 2008, including U.K. Chancellor Alistair Darling scratching lottery tickets in response to the weakening economy in this priceless photo:

and French President Sarkosy undergoing Stature Augmentation Treatment so as to be taller than his wife.

I was pretty impressed with how large in scale these were, and I think we need to step up our April Fools' efforts this year. Anyone with me?

03 March 2009


How often do you feel lonely? What do you do about it? I felt pretty lonely last week and holed myself in instead of calling a friend or asking someone out to tea. And I know I'm not alone in not wanting to bother people when I'm not 100%. It's hard. It's partly not wanting to interrupt someone at an inconvenient moment, but it's also not wanting to show just how weak and vulnerable we really are.

This past week, after finishing my solitary confinement, I've been asking people about their loneliness, and I've been surprised to discover that everyone feels lonely. And often. And being around lots of people can actually make the loneliness feel even more acute.

It seems another common problem is that we isolate ourselves further by believing that no one else feels as lonely as we do-- that everyone else is happily surrounded by loved ones and eating fondue and partying it up all the time. Right? Well, apparently not.

Not only does everyone feel lonely, no one felt there was any better solution than simply being at peace with the loneliness. So, there you have it. Most of us are born alone, die alone and live much of the in-between alone, too. But, rather than focus on the half-empty, we could be glad for the times we're not alone, grateful for those who make us feel connected and loved, for communities who make us feel like part of the family, and of course, for our families who, in spite of knowing us and our oddities for years and years, still talk to (and maybe even love) us.

So, now, I reach out to you: my secret readers, lurking in internet darkness. I don't know who you are, specifically, but I do know that, on average, thirty people visit per day. And as of yesterday, you've come from 21 states and 28 countries. Ready? It's time to de-lurk. I'd like to shake your hand and say hi properly.

So, tell me about yourself. (You can answer as many/few questions you'd like.)

Where are you from? Where do you live?
Where would you live if you could live anywhere?
How alone do you feel? What makes it better?
What else is on your mind these days?
What makes you happy? What are you passionate about?
How's the weather where you are?
What do you think constitutes a life well lived?

And if you're too shy to post a comment, please email me at serendipityberries@gmail.com. Let's be less lonely today.

02 March 2009

Reality as God

I had a long discussion with a student-turned-friend about living life, and he told me he'd become a big fan of Byron Katie. Her goal is to teach people how to end their own suffering, and she describes her own discovery here:
I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.
Katie's general idea is that all suffering stems from a belief in untrue thoughts. So, if we can eliminate untrue thoughts, we'll be free from suffering. The way in which one can accomplish this is through the four questions Katie lays out. So, take something that makes you unhappy, and test it:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

One example might be "My mom shouldn't have put so much pressure on me." Is it true? Sure. Can you absolutely know it's true? Well, maybe, maybe not. How do you react? Pissed off, resentful, poor self esteem. In short, pretty horrible, pretty unhealthy. So, who would you be without this thought? Well, let's see-- I'd have a better relationship with my mother, feel better about myself and generally feel more free.

And lastly, what if you turned it around? My mom should have put so much pressure on me; I shouldn't have put so much pressure on me; I shouldn't have put so much pressure on my mom. Depending on how heavy the issue is, this thinking could make your brain explode. In a good way, hopefully.

So, my friend says his new outlook is that an ideal life means connecting, really engaging fully, with reality. That, if you want to connect it with spirituality, then reality ('what is') is what we are trying to understand and connect with. That if God is all the laws of the world (gravity, time, space, limits), God is reality, and reality is God. Here is a free excerpt of her writing, if you're interested.

I know this may seem blasphemous and out-there for some, but I think it's interesting to ponder. At the very least, it gives nice blueprints for how to ask the four questions here (instructions) and here (a worksheet) and how to forgive someone here.

Peace of mind for everyone.