Determined.

Recently, I’ve begun studying two great works of literature stemming from the Indian subcontinent - The Upanisads and the Bhagavad Gita. These two stores of knowledge are generally associated with the Hindu tradition, though I think the religion itself is far more complicated than most assume - which I had no idea of, until a few months ago. 

The Bhagavad Gita, is, like most older texts, a story. It is an excerpt of the larger epic, the Mahabarata, in which a dialogue between the main character, Arjuna, and the lord Krishna share knowledge. The story is woven with deep, contemplative, and meaningful passages that transcend the everyday thought process. The story is pretty simple. Arjuna, the protagonist, is a Prince, in the midst of conflict with his royal relatives. Although he understands his duty as a ruler is to go to battle with the other side, the men are also his kin. He feels he cannot make a correct decision, because either way, he will be diminishing his dharma - his worldly duties. 

Because of his internal torment, he calls out to Krishna for counsel. Krishna provides him with answers to his questions and more. At one point in the story, Arjuna falls to the ground in a feeling of being powerless. With Krishna’s wise words, Arjuna begins to understand his worth in the world and the meaning of death. 

Regardless of religious practices, the messages given in the Gita provide a wealth of knowledge and enlightenment that can offer some insight during confusion. All of the things Krishna tells Arjuna could easily have been just written down, but the story makes it mean more. Arjuna is at the bottom of the pit - he feels morally corrupt and completely lost. When he is at his lowest point, he is finally able to see. 

Most of us can relate to Arjuna. We’ve been in his position, caught between two sides to a problem - the pros and cons are confusing. Krishna doesn’t offer Arjuna a direct answer to his problem. Rather, he gives him the ultimate truth, and from there, Arjuna has been freed of the consequences of his actions. He learns that his choices only matter in that they are disciplined. 

Krishna offers insight into the realm of the universal. He tells Arjuna that he is Supreme, he is ultimate, and he is the path to attaining peace. Some see Krishna’s words as significant as a deity, in that he is most important and all encompassing as an avatar of Vishnu. With open eyes, however, I feel that Krishna is only acting as the voice of Brahman - the ultimate reality - speaking to Arjuna. Krishna is everything, and Arjuna is also everything. Krishna here, is not demanding love and respect for his physical form, but rather to everything, using himself as an example to show Arjuna that he is just as powerful. 

Reading the Gita, I am reminded of a certain truth: The consequences of my actions should not determine my choice to act. As long as my actions are done selflessly - this takes some work - I cannot make a bad one. Krishna is not encouraging warfare, but rather encouraging discipline. 

I am re-set each time I read the Gita. Each time I read a passage of Krishna’s words, I realize the truth over and over. The truth is already there, and the modern life we live is terribly distracting from what is important. I am so thankful and grateful for such a liberating ability to read the beautiful and enlightening words of Krishna and his student Arjuna. 

One Small Drop in an Enormous Ocean.

I’ll be the first to say I haven’t gotten to visit too many places. I’m fascinated by the cultures, languages, and religions of other countries. Of the few places I have been, New York City is my absolute favorite. Now, let me explain why. 

New York is, in every sense of the word, the melting pot. It is the place where culture and tradition meet modernity and universalism. While it is located in America, there are so many different ethnicities and personalities in coexistence that it seems ridiculous to call it America. It is unique, not representative. On a small island and the surrounding areas, people from all over the world and speaking all kinds of languages interact, learn together, work together, eat together, and honk their car horns at each other. Its beautiful. 

New York is a tragic beauty. In some places, it is clean and upscale. In others, trash and dirt dominate the landscape. A fashion model rides the same subway train as the homeless man. And because, despite the greatly planned out grid system, the order, there is bursting personality. I’ll use one of my favorite examples.

The grid system is just a great idea. It creates an order and makes directions so much easier. But there are certain times when the grid system finds itself corrupted, because of history and people. Doyers St, in the heart of Chinatown, is short and full of tiny shops. It also has a large bend in the middle - a unique characteristic.

It is the home of art, music, science, food, and even laughter. All of the things you could ever need, even want, are within a few minutes walk or ride on the train. Most places are open late, and anything you are interested in you can find a group of people to share it with. New York embraces all sorts.

One of the great things about the city is that it is a collective made of individuals. Yes, there are a lot of people who reside in New York. But each one of these people are wonderfully and gorgeously different - a fact that also makes them the same. The city is like the ultimate un-labelable. It is the world encapsulated in a small radius, but its also even better than that.

While some terrible things happen in New York, there is an incredible amount of things that surpass this. For instance, people are making food everywhere. Everywhere you turn, you can find some delicious food made by a master of their craft - someone who will smile wholeheartedly when you deservedly compliment them. As humans, we love food, and we love to share it with other people. It’s a powerful unifying agent. I have no Asian background that I know of, but I can talk about Chicken Rama with a Thai person and instantly we have something in common. Instantly, we’re friends. 

As well as food, music and art reigns supreme. Throughout the city you can find all sorts of people playing all sorts of genres. New instruments and new rhythms fill the air, and there is so much to learn. From the symphony to the beatboxers in the 14th St Station, the sounds of New York bellow shamelessly. These beautiful sounds are heard in over 800 languages - 49 percent of New Yorkers speak a second language, at least.  There are hundreds of museums with amazing art by beloved artists, but there are also artists on street corners throughout the city. 

Theres a wonderful thing about the fact that such a small place can offer a welcoming home to both modernity and innovation but also to tradition and the classic. The very history of our country is rooted in New York, the place where so many started their American journey.. but it is hardly definitive of the typical American town. The all encompassing and embracing nature is what motions me towards one of the only places in the world that is alive twenty four hours a day, all year long. 

You can make just about any dream come true in New York. That thought alone is freeing. You are but one small drop in an enormous ocean, but you are the ocean nonetheless. As does each drop when it joins with the ocean, we join together and you can no longer distinguish that one drop. That one drop became everything. 

Awesome song. I appreciate the message - be that room without a roof. 

“The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don’t look in your neighbor’s bowl to see if you have as much as them.”
— Louis C.K.

Infinite.

Many times before, I’ve made decisions that I later regretted. My regret may have been brought on by shame, internal and/or external. I regret because I allow myself that pain. The pain of wanting to change something that already is. It’s not about wanting to change something thats “written in stone,” its about wanting to change something that does not even exist in the current moment. 

One of the most important realizations I’ve come into through my journey is that regret is a wall. A wall I put between myself and my now. It is a wall that is truly only a hologram, but from the looks, I can’t climb it. The truth is that I can just pass right through it. 

This hologram of a wall is created through my assumptions of what is acceptable or appropriate and what isn’t so much. The problem with living on the other side of the wall, is that I don’t get to experience the beauty that is living in the current moment. If I base my decisions on what I might regret, I’m preventing my own happiness and my own opportunity to radiate love. If I assume to know what is appropriate or acceptable to other people, happiness will forever be a far off notion and I will never be worthy. 

I’m not talking about the results of actions. The results and the action itself are two completely different things, and not necessarily causal or ever correlated. Often, the results of actions are emotions that we attach to the act, turning a once neutral occasion into something we wish we hadn’t have done. The past does not exist anymore. Your future does not exist yet. Why are you spending your present carrying around your baggage searching for the ticket to your future?

When you make decisions based in love, regret can never occupy. Your own wants and needs are minuscule in comparison to the foundation you can create. When you make a decision in which you examine only your own wants and needs, you will probably regret it. The nature of the human being is to reason. We like to see cause and effect. We want to know what the results will be. 

I’ve decided that the most important option in making decisions is to make them with love. If I put aside my own needs and focus on someone else’s needs, I can choose to love them instead of trying to make them love me. In doing what is best for someone else, I am doing what is also best for me. 

All I have to give anyone that means anything, is adoration and love. The greatest part of using your choices to love someone else is how completing the very thought of that is. But also, points you further down your path.

I think of it this way: Everyone has a path to their destination. Some are short, some are long, some go through water and over mountains. They’re treacherous. We can look over and see other people traversing their path. The destination is simple: happiness. At some point, you realize that the path is neverending. The more you trample the land, the longer the path gets. In the moment you realize you can teleport to the destination immediately, you experience true happiness. The destination is here. You’re already there. Now that you’ve gotten there, you could sit and enjoy it. Relax in it. Breathe it all in. Or, you could teleport to the others who are crawling through the mud. You could reach out a hand and show them to their feet. You can provide them with a smile and an embrace. They have to realize how to teleport for themselves, but you can help them come to that realization. 

Helping them teleport to their destination does not make yours more grand. It does not make it more special, or any better, because its already perfect. That’s how selfless real love is. You are using your time and energy to help someone else, and expect nothing in return - thats okay. Could you ever regret helping someone along the way to discover their destination? Thats a negative, Ghost Rider. You had no expectations to begin with, so you can’t possibly be disappointed in something that did not exist. 

Throughout my day, I make innumerable decisions. Why would I bog down my mind and my body with the .01%? Because the reality is, that no decision is more important than another, my mind just likes to categorize them. When I’m alone, I make the decisions that are based in loving myself - what I eat, when I sleep, etc. When I’m around others, though, I make the decisions that are based in loving them. It seems overwhelming, but the truth is, when you love others with no expectation of return, it’s as extremely simple as it is beautiful. You don’t even have to make a decision anymore because you know the only option. People will love you in return and reflect your own passion back at you. And the people that don’t? You won’t even notice because you had no goal to begin with! 

Stop imagining destinations in your mind. Happiness isn’t over there - its not for next year or for a certain location or next to a certain person. You’re already there, all you have to do is open your eyes and see it. 

Doing Just Fine Without.

I’ve noticed a recent rash of “I need feminism because…” postings, and because of this I felt the need to share my feelings on the subject. I don’t need feminism. At least not the kind that current feminists perpetuate. 

I’m all for some first wave feminism. Of course I know that women and men are both members of society and both parties deserve the right to vote, go out on their own and engage in social activities, speak their mind, wear what they want. Feminism has done a great deal for women and education, and I will never knock that. I’m happy to live in the time period I do, full of great opportunities, even though I am a member of the more fragile species. 

With that being said, I don’t think women and men are equal. We just aren’t. We have different bodies, we function differently, we process differently, our life cycles are different. Current feminism tells me that these differences are bad and that they should not exist. These differences are beautiful. Men can do plenty of things that I cannot, and I can do things men cannot. Sharing the weight of abilities is a wonderful thing. 

Do I believe women should get an education? Yes. Do I believe women should be paid the same as men to do the same job? Of course. Do I look back at history and see the pain and struggle women have been through? Sure. But I also see that men have been through all of these things too, at different times, and have been through their own share of pain and struggle. Expecting reparations for past injustices based on how you were born (genetic lottery) is a ridiculous notion. 

I accept myself as a woman, and all of the beautiful, wonderful things that are inherent in being so. I mean, think of it this way. A woman can turn a tall, strong, bearded, masculine, grown man into a puddle with a smile and a hair toss. How could we have forgotten we have this power? I wouldn’t give that up for anything. 

Feminism is incredibly contradictory. I agree wholeheartedly with the first thought: I can be and do anything I want. The second, implied notion is what bothers me. The same people who tell me I can be and do anything I want, are the same that would get offended if I told them I wanted to be a housewife and mother. There is absolutely nothing limiting about being a housewife and mother if that is what a woman desires in life. Limits, however, occur when other women assume the housewife should be ashamed for wanting that. A feminist should realize the irony in telling me that men can’t control my life, while trying to control my life. Being a woman does not make it any more acceptable to tell me what I can and cannot do. 

What feminists do not realize, is that while they are opening up one world, they are closing off another. Women have immeasurable intelligence, grace, love, and determination. If a woman’s passion in life is to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, that’s amazing. If a woman decides to have four children, spend time with them, raise them and teach them, that is equally as rewarding and amazing. 

Feminism has brought about important changes in society that I am grateful for. I have the ability to influence society because I can vote, I can write, I can go to college, and I can contribute to the workforce. Hell, I can’t even tell you how glad I am that I can wear pants instead of dresses every day.  I would never say that discrimination against women is over. But at this point, I don’t need feminism. I don’t need it because I don’t need a leg up. I don’t need help.  I am a woman with my own power and abilities that I can employ to find the place that I desire in society. I want to create my own path based on my talents, skills, abilities, and intelligence, which are rooted in my very own decisions and choices.

“If a man considers you dirtier for having been touched by him, perhaps he should examine his own hands.”

Keeping my Heart and Eyes Open.

Do you know why its dangerous to compare yourself to other people?

Because you’re seeing the person you compare yourself to for a relatively very short period of time. You see yourself all day, every day, 24/7. All of the great things, all of the late night chocolate bars, all of the periods of sickness, all of the bad hair days, all of the sweatpants days. When you see people you compare yourself to, you’re probably seeing them in their good times. Quite possibly even their best. 

You’re a beautiful human being, because you just are. You’re not beautiful because you have this haircut, or blue eyes, or great boots. You’re beautiful because you’re practically a miracle. Just the fact that you’re alive is the most insane thing ever. 

You are beautiful in that you are. As long as you’re radiating positive energy out into the sphere, you couldn’t be any better looking. Rather than look at someone else to decide what you aren’t, look at yourself to decide what you are - and use that to help and love other people. 

Hoping.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to be a teacher. I’ve had some pretty great teachers throughout my school career, and I’ve had terrible ones. I’ve learned the best ways to teach people, and the worst. Lets just say, there are a lot of bad ways, but the best way is to let students figure out how they learn best, and work with that. 

I’m just hoping that after studying some things for a very long time, years even, I can share my knowledge with others and discuss them. I’d like to be a teacher because after being taught by others my whole life, its only fair. I’ve been given a wealth of knowledge. More than I could have possibly allowed to enter my brain. I’ve tried my best to retain as much as possible. 

Inspiration is a fickle thing. Most of the time, I’m too proud to be inspired. What I mean by that is: Being inspired by something automatically requires homage to the thing you are inspired by, therefore it isn’t totally original. But is anything really? Is anything completely original? No. 

I’d love to teach because I like working with people. As difficult as it is for me, its a challenge I do enjoy when I allow myself the chance. I like to discuss and discover new views on subjects. As a teacher, I only hope I can provide some exploration of thoughts and feelings that my students may have never thought of before. 

History, specifically, I cannot wait to teach. I’m lucky in that I found in History a beautiful and often forgotten thing. History is the only subject I know of that is the study of stories. I get to go to class, hear stories, and go home and read some more. Its awesome, really, that I have the opportunity. I only hope that I can convey the same to my future students, the beauty and tragedy, the humor that is human life.