Sunday, April 29, 2012

Differentiation

I am reading a book by David Schnarch, ``Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love & Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships.'' He introduces the idea of differentiation using an example of his own problems while writing his dissertation that forced him to choose a difficult path to stay honest to his own beliefs. His concept of differentiation has something to do with knowing who we are and insisting on it, and he argues that it plays an important role in our relationships, including marriage.
I tell you this story for several reasons: for one, it illustrates differentiation, a cornerstone of a passionate marriage---and of this book. By differentiation, I am referring to standing up for what you believe. Calming yourself down, not letting your anxiety run away with you, and not getting overrreactive. Not caving in to pressure to conform from a ``partner'' who has tremendous emotional significance in your life (in this case, my professor/chairman). Great abilities to have when you're married. ---p.14, Passionate Marriage

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stories

Sima had a small operation last Friday, out-patient, but she stayed there one night. The first few days of recovery was painful, but everything went well and she is 95% recovered now.

I had an accident yesterday (Friday). A school bus backed up and went over my car's hood. The driver denied that she backed up once police arrived at the scene. We may have to go to court.

This morning (Saturday) I took the car to the insurance place for evaluating the damage. On my way back I heard a couple of stories on NPR that caught my interest:

1- Story of Zoe Strauss photography and her art works on billboards of Philadelphia:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2012/04/28/151527282/taking-photo-exhibits-to-the-streets

2- Story of a book by Philip Broughton, "The Art of the Sale.'' I specially liked the interview with the author.
http://www.npr.org/2012/04/28/150882787/the-art-of-the-sale-lifes-a-pitch

PS. On buying happiness, a TED talk by Michael Norton:
http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_norton_how_to_buy_happiness.html

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Intimacy, Love, and sexual desire

One of the areas that has caught my attention is our sexual desires and eroticism. I am reading a book by Esther Perel, ``Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic.'' The basic premise, so far, is the necessary distinction that one has to make between intimacy, love, and sexual desires. Here is an interesting quote:
Sexual desire does not obey the laws that maintain peace and contentment between partners. Reason, understanding, compassion, and camaraderie are the handmaidens of a close, harmonious relationship. But sex often evokes unreasoning obsession rather than thoughtful judgment, and selfish desire rather than altruistic consideration. Aggression, objectification, and power all exist in the shadow of desire, components of passion that do not necessarily nurture intimacy. Desire operates along its own trajectory. ---p. 31, Mating in Captivity
When I put these in the context of my recent encounters with my dark side, things make more sense. World around us is truly an amazing place, full of imperfections, at least to our intellectual minds and our preset values and convictions. Or, as I have recently come to appreciate more and more, everything has good and bad side, every thing!

 The caring, protective elements that nurture home life can go against the rebellious spirit of carnal love. We often choose a partner who makes us feel cherished; but after the initial romance we find ... that we can't sexualize him or her. We long to create closeness in our relationships, to bridge the space between our partners and ourselves, but, ironically, it is this very space between self and other that is the erotic synapse. In order to bring lust home, we need to re-create the distance that we worked so hard to bridge. Erotic intelligence is about creating distance, then bringing that space to life. ---p.32, Mating in Captivity

I suggest that our ability to tolerate our separateness---and the fundamental insecurity it engenders---is a precondition for maintaining interest and desire in a relationship. Instead of always striving for closeness, I argue that couples may be better off cultivating their separate selves. If cultivating separateness sounds harsh, let's think of it instead as nurturing a sense of selfhood. The French psychologist Jacques Salome talks about the need to develop a personal intimacy with one's own self as a counterbalance to the couple. ---p.37, Mating in Captivity

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Routines [An unplanned 30-day experiment]

About a month ago, after my encounter with a retired U.S. army colonel [I wrote about it here: Recent Developments] I started two daily routines in the beginning (about two hours) and the end (about an hour) of the day, every day. They have evolved into steady routines in my life and I enjoy doing them. This is a new experience for me because I have not forced myself into doing them. Every day, once I start the routines, I simply do them and just occasionally have to dismiss intervening thoughts. Because I have chosen these routines realistically, it is quite easy to dismiss interfering thoughts. Over time, I may be able to add more to these routines, or maybe not, just keep them as they are.

This, like many of my recent observations/posts, probably seem very trivial and ordinary to most of you. For me, however, there is great amount of wisdom hidden in my new experiences: they are very personal. I am living more content and peaceful, and yet, I am -not- avoiding struggles and challenges. This is a good confirmation for me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Another Chapter ...

One year ago, on April 6, 2011, I wrote in this post [A Chapter is closing ...] that my struggles with "love" was over and then a few days later, on April 11, 2011, I announced in this post [Limits, Potentials,and Acceptance] the start of my journey into knowing what I wanted from my life. Well, the first statement (that my struggle with love was over) was somewhat premature. I continued the struggle but it went into the background and the new question (what I want from my life) became the focus of what I have been doing for the past year. (In fact, I realize now that the new question is closely related to the heart's quest and therefore to love.)

A few days ago, on Wednesday, April 11, 2012, I wrote a simple mundane post [TV and more], not realizing that it would mark the end of my last year's journey. An interesting coincidence, right?

But what was my answer? When I started the search I was looking for a passion in my life. Something that consumes me, attracts me to the extent that I become absorbed in it, become a master in it, and it defines my life. I realized that I had a false expectation, that my path in life does not involve a main passion, that I like many small things in life, and I need to keep a delicate balance between all of them. Even though the concept of "mastery" was, and to be honest still is, very seducing but unfortunately it does not apply to me. I like change and variation, and I have done exactly that all my life. Practiced and enjoyed many different things. Nothing is wrong with that, as it is who I am, and I have to live the way suits me best. I like doing many things, to name a few:
  • chatting with my friends (especially females)
  • playing tennis
  • watching TV and movies
  • playing computer games
  • playing guitar and setar
  • swimming
  • Kyudo
  • playing golf
  • reading novels
  • photography
  • dance
  • writing poems
  • drawing and painting
  • watching art works (painting, sculptures,...)
  • eating exotic, new cusines
  • adventures (sky diving, gliding, ...)
  • teaching
  • writing (articles)
None of these can dominate my life. I have to give proper time to each one of them.

A big thank you to all of my friends who helped me in my journey.

What is going to be my quest for the next year or so?

PS 1. Incidentally, I think I understand the Caroline Casey Talk [Looking past limits] differently, hopefully at a deeper level, now.

PS 2. I am not sure when I started my journey in love, possibly in May or June of 2010. The following two posts, [Winds of Change], [I am Ready] on June 25 and 26, 2010, clearly indicate that a change was under way at that time. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

TV and more

After a couple of incidents and observations in the past two weeks, last night I reached peace with "watching TV". I realized that it helps me: In some bad states of mind, lets me escape repetitive thoughts. So last night and tonight I watched TV for an hour or two, without any guilt :)
Tonight, I realized that I have deprived myself from things that I enjoy, and why? For "intellectual" reason! I like playing computer games and watching TV, for example. For many years, I condemned myself for engaging in such "pointless, stupid activities". I did not understand that I was imposing other people's values and judgment on myself, without paying attention to what "I" really like to do.
An important factor in this realization was observing some friends who do things the way they want without any shame or self-blame and self-punishment. Many thanks to all those friends.
This may seem a very small point to many of you, and yet, in my hopeless endeavor to know myself better, every little step counts.

Peace and Love :)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

What I Have Learned ...

Most people believe in magic, they expect something good to happen and take away their problems, but they do not hinge their lives on it. Those who rely heavily on magic in their lives are addicts of different sort.

Land of no magic is not a fun place to be either. Nevertheless, I have learned a couple of things from my journey there.
1- There are no perfections. Everything good has a bad side and the worst events and situations have a good side.
2- One can dismiss thoughts with practice. To control thought processes, one needs reasonable goals (reachable and measurable).


Land of no magic is another extreme. Good things can happen. There are patterns and schemes that our subconscious follows but we cannot see consciously.


If there are no perfections, then what is magic? David Blaine (at TEDMED 2009) says the following:
``As a magician I try to show things to people that seem impossible, and I think magic, whether I'm holding my breath or shuffling a deck of cards, is pretty simple: It's practice, it's training and experimenting while pushing through the pain to be the best that can be ..." 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdicPc_yyxE

Freedom, Religion

A couple of days ago I read a discussion between some friends regarding religion, worship, freedom, and slavery. In Farsi and Arabic, the t...