Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vanity and Luck

Every time you overcome a bad habit, say quit smoking, there is a moment that you feel in power, in control, so much so that you think you can start the habit again in moderation (smoke once a week). Most of times, this will be a slippery slope back to the old state (or even worse).

  1. In Islamic mysticism, at the critical point (of feeling in control) you are overcome by "vanity", believing that what you do is "only" the results of your own efforts and abilities. You forget the role of "God's will" and this is the presence of the "ego" that is the source of all sins.
  2. In a slightly different interpretation, you forget the help of your "luck" or your personal power. Even though our successes should help us to improve our confidence and trust, this trust must be placed on the right combination of our efforts/abilities and our luck. The bottom line is the necessity of modesty and humiliation. The feeling of "being in control" seems dangerous, an alternative is to feel "in harmony and lucky"! :)
  3. Amazingly, in Hafez poems the two interpretations meet!
Note: Items "1" and "3" are heavily influenced by my discussions with a good friend, mazzzz :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Luck

"There is something you ought to be aware of by now," don Juan said. "I call it the cubic centimeter of chance. All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when his cubic centimeter pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess to pick it up.

Chance, good luck, personal power, or whatever you may call it, is a peculiar state of affairs. It is like a small stick that comes out in front of us and invites us to pluck it. Usually we are too busy, or too preoccupied, or just too stupid and lazy to realize that that is our cubic centimeter of luck. A warrior, on the other hand, is always alert and tight and has the spring, the gumption necessary to grab it."
--- Journey to Ixtlan, p. 234

Friday, April 22, 2011

Barcelona!

Long gone is the time
to love and to be loved
walking up the tiring steps
of conversing with shadows
that randomly pop up
in the busy streets of our mind
polluted by the load honking noises
of the stalled dreams
Giant disappointments
from the past
do not let the hope
get through
Let's walk back to the park
of familiar faces
lie on the ancient carpet
of friendly whispers
and pray together
with our feet in the air

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Normal Day?

In a way, everything is the same as it was before the last Tuesday ("A Chapter is Closing ..."), and yet, everything feels lighter, good and bad events pass by, more easily :)

Today is a normal day: I am neither depressed nor happy. The day, however, feels as if it is out of sync, events happen a little too soon or a bit late, and I make small errors that throw me off ... Strange feelings!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Limits, Potentials, and Acceptance

A very interesting TED talk by Caroline Casey on "Looking past limit":

http://www.ted.com/talks/caroline_casey_looking_past_limits.html

After a few weeks I finally decided to watch this talk. The message is clear to me: I need to find out what I want to do with my life. The stage is prepared, and this has to happen within 12-18 months from now. I feel frightened and at the same extremely excited about the possibilities. I wish my self good luck and guidance.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Voodoo

Brian Carpenter was on "Fresh Air" (link: http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/) today. He has a new CD and the track "Voodoo" was played on the program. I really liked it. Here is the link. Scroll down the page a little, you can find on the left side of the page and listen to it. You can also listen to that part of the program, which explain the peculiar features of 1920's jazz.


http://www.npr.org/2011/04/07/135045403/brian-carpenter-eclectic-jazz-rooted-in-americana


Brian Carpenter's music is like a road map of the U.S. The multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter has cited places like Coney Island and the Florida Panhandle as inspiration for his concept albums Dreamland and Boy From Black Mountain.
On his latest recording, Hothouse Stomp — which he recorded with his ten-piece Ghost Train Orchestra — Carpenter musically travels to the jazz scene in 1920s Harlem and Chicago, when bands had fewer horns and more eclectic rhythm sections.
"There was a small period of time between 1926 and 1932 in New York and Chicago when the bands were made up of nine to ten people," Carpenter tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "So they hadn't yet evolved into the 16-piece big bands we know today. But they were small enough that they kept that visceral, bluesy sexual energy of early New Orleans jazz."
Carpenter rearranged music from several 1920s performers, including a brassy track called "Voodoo," which was originally composed by a Chicago-based vaudevillian named Tiny Parham, who played in between burlesque dancers and chorus lines at the Savoy Ballroom.
"His music doesn't sound like anything else," Carpenter says. "It's very eccentric. It's very idiosyncratic. He's got these slow, lumbering brass lines and these reed lines. Some of it's really creepy. And it's also just very beautiful — when I discovered Tiny Parham, I fell in love with him. There's nothing that really sounds like that."

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Chapter is Closing ...

Last Spring, I started a journey in "love". For me, who had forgotten what "love" was, this has been an amazing journey. I am glad that I opened myself to a range of experiences, amazing feelings and sensations. I mixed up "love" with attachment, dependency and co-dependency, obsession, over-indulgence, and tendency to control. I went through the pain of realizing the limitations of friendship and love. In the process, I also experienced the essence of letting go, only a couple of days ago, and that closed this chapter.

This does not mean that I am done with love! In fact, I discovered that I love so many things, including Sima, my family and friends, my students, poetry, music, and my practices. I also realized the boundaries that have to be respected and the necessity of letting go of the need to control.

I found a new friend, Hafez, in the process. Every now and then, he speaks to me through his poems, and guides me through rough times. Being in touch with someone from six hundred years ago! It is beyond my wildest imaginations.

I am curious to see what will be the new chapter and new challenges. I know for sure that I will have phases of depression, desperation, anger, and hopelessness. I guess that is my way of learning and fulfilling my life.

Positive Psychology - TED

Some new and interesting research:


http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_seligman_on_the_state_of_psychology.html

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Sea of Mortality: بحر فنا

It should be obvious that I do -NOT- "believe" most of what I wrote in the previous post, otherwise I would have a much happier life :)

****************************

Yesterday, I listened many times to the clip I posted a few days ago (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUqHAWQGX8k). I love the first line of the poem (by Hafez):

دولت آنست که بی خون دل آید به کنار
ور نه با سعی و عمل حور و جنان اینهمه نیست

Luck with a tortured heart is not Fortune     
Garden of Eden with hardship is not much

But I was constantly singing the second line, almost unconsciously:


بر لب بحر فنا منتظریم ای ساقی
فرصتی دان که ز لب تا به دهان اینهمه نیست

At the shores of the sea of death, we are waiting impatiently
Grasp the moment, between the lips and the mouth is not much

When I got home I realized that this line is exactly what I felt yesterday. I had sense of being close to (spiritual) death and was waiting for a sign, something to tell me that all I am doing is not just craziness!
This realization made me calm. The feeling that Hafez, one of the greatest poets, at some point had the same feeling was comforting.

********************************************

I did not see any sign last night. When a tornado/strong storm hit Atlanta last night I went out and watched the storm, thinking that such a magnificent display of natural forces is ideal setup for a sign :) But nothing happened!

Today in the morning, when I parked my car in the university's parking space, in a totally ordinary moment I sensed it: I felt a coldness in part of my soul and sensed that something died in me. I immediately remembered another related experience on last year's Christmas day  (that I described in a poem titled, peace and void, link: http://myimpossibilitytheorems.blogspot.com/2010/12/peace-and-void.html).
In the afternoon, as a couple of our guests were talking, I sensed something broke in my soul. Today, that part died, and I immediately felt a relief and a sense of lightness!

*********************************************

Today, after a while, I got back some sense of power and Fortune back. Made good decisions and thing had a good flow. On my was back home, driving on a highway, I was looking at the city lights along the highway and the scene brought, for a moment, brought an amazing sense of joy and love.

I know that days like yesterday will happen again, miserable, depressed, angry, and hopeless days. But today I felt that it is OK!

**********************************************

A short TED talk:


http://www.ted.com/talks/mark_bezos_a_life_lesson_from_a_volunteer_firefighter.html

Monday, April 04, 2011

Neil Pasricha: The 3 A's of awesome 

http://www.ted.com/talks/neil_pasricha_the_3_a_s_of_awesome.html

*********************************

Every now and then, like today, I realize that my life does not have any fucking authenticity (excuse the language, but that is how I feel now) ... I am playing roles for everyone, including myself ... it is not only sad, but hopeless ...

*********************************

I am extremely angry, even though I did my best to avoid this situation. I went for 15-20 minutes meditative walks a few times between the work sessions, but my rage and disgust with myself is getting out of control!

*********************************

This day will also pass, tomorrow will be either better or worse, but will be past too, that is how this pointless, idiotic life will continue for a while until a fortunate event ends the torture ...

*********************************

I do not want to make any promises anymore, should accept that I had lost the battle before it even started by being born to a  depressed, schizophrenic family ...

*********************************

It is very easy to talk about detachment and letting go, or acceptance, but when do I need such things? Clearly, when I am depressed and under stress, and yet, I can barely let go or accept who I am when I am in my best mood ... how is it even possible to do them when I most need them, like now?
This is a joke, I have wasted most of my life on a stupid joke that is not even funny!

*********************************

Tasks are -not- completed around me, especially research and papers, even with the presence of a real treat, it is really scary!

*********************************

Work day, after 12 hours in the office doing stupid job of preparing for a PhD seminar, is over.
My final thought: There is nothing out there: energy, personal power, inner calmness, are all human's imagination ... there is only randomness: you cannot make randomness like you, hate you, or even notice you ... As a famous (Persian) saying goes, this life is nothing woven into nothing!

Clear Shallow Water

I started reading this novel, `` The Driver ,'' by Hart Hanson , and I did not like it much and decided to stop. But then I came ba...