New Year’s Resolution 2015

This post is perhaps a little bit sentimental, but I think I have a valid point to make, coming from a recent realization. Some realizations are terrible because they are often things that you only understand superficially and assent to, yet you don’t understand them deeply until you’ve had some mildly traumatic experience that forces you to understand. This realization is of that nature, something I thought I understood but later experience shows that I really didn’t. Even now, I am sure there are aspects of this that I do not yet understand and probably won’t for many years yet.

I have decided that my New Year’s Resolution is going to be this: stop trying to achieve my Platonic conception of myself; it is fundamentally deceitful and also impossible. I am simply going to be who I actually am, despite all my mistakes, weirdness, and the painful things that will inevitably happen. This may sound like a trite version of “be yourself,” but there is a lot more to it than simply that. I’ve only just begun to realize that even trite phrases like “be yourself” and “love yourself for you who are” can be rooted in genuine wisdom. What they lack is proper development.

So, essentially my resolution is some version of “be yourself.” But it must be qualified. This does not mean that I cease striving to be a better person, because that is not at all what I mean. It simply means that I need to change my focus, and spend less time on the petty deceits of my existence and more time in what is realistically achievable.
I tend to focus more on whether I appear a certain way, or whether I do things that are consistent with my (occasionally) Quixotic notion of who I want to be. (For instance, I may want to be Sherlock, which is of course impossible, but I still find myself wishing to achieve some aspect of Sherlock-ness and actually trying to achieve it, and then being disappointed when I inevitably fail). That takes attention away from where it is most needed: determining whether am I living well and uprightly, and affecting other people in a positive way…etc.
One of the things that 2014 taught me is the value of “being real.” And also how rare and difficult it is to find someone who is actually relatively comfortable with who they are. In some sense, everybody is striving to achieve their Platonic conception of themselves, which involves a lot of pretending and self-deception, often for a completely unrealistic goal. The more I think about it, the more deceitful it seems, and the more I realize that I have been trying for years to deceive others. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have necessarily seen it that way, but again, experience has forced me to see it for what it really is. We are like actors on another’s stage, acting out another’s story, but constantly trying to rewrite the script after how we think it should go. The irony is that we can’t change the script we have been given, we can’t act parts other than those we have been given, but we expend so much effort trying to do exactly that.

I will probably fail to succeed even marginally for a long time, but it is worth striving for, I think. It’s easier to live by realizations rather than mere resolutions, because realizations enlighten the road ahead in a way that pure resolutions cannot.
In light of that, I believe my first step is to quit caring so much about how I appear to others, especially by realizing that I do and will continue to do a lot of silly/stupid things, and that no resolution is going to change inborn awkwardness. As human beings, we tend to fall into more awkwardness in our attempt to avoid awkwardness, and cause ourselves a lot of needless pain. Whereas if we expect the awkwardness, we are not as angry and disappointed with ourselves when it happens. Making peace with that concept is difficult, but I envision life being slightly less disappointing if I operate on that premise. Even if I only partly succeed, not only will it decrease the amount of unnecessary pain I put myself through, but it will benefit others as well, which is a lot more important in the long run.

On Shameless Punning

I do not like Them. It’s no good asking me why, though I have plenty of reasons. I do not like Them. And I do not refer to cats. Then, to whom do I refer? You will soon find out, but first I must explain the concatenation of events that inspired this post, after which all shall become clear.

It is 3:38 am. I am still awake. I should be sound asleep dreaming of pleasant things but instead I am awake because my anger has been aroused. Why? Because of the terrible crime of shameless punning. And the very worst kind of low, shameless punning: of a sort that shall not be named, which at last is beginning to drive me insane.
I am the poor victim of another’s puniness at my expense, which is no small offense. The incidence was hours ago, and yet I only begin to dream up good responses at 3 am. I find this endlessly annoying. This madness must cease!
Punning ought to be outlawed, and the perpetrators punished! And I will NOT rest until they are!

But puns are everywhere and the dark forces of the pundits are arrayed against us all the time. And what’s worse is that even the most conscientious user of the English language cannot avoid tripping over a pun; puns hide in our vocabulary like booby-traps for the unsuspecting and innocent.
So how can we overcome this great, omnipresent evil? Have no fear; I believe we can!
I appeal to victims everywhere, do not stoop down to Their level, do not sink to the depths of Their depravity by participating in Their base practices! Do not sacrifice at Their altars with pealing laughter and snorts of mirth! They’ll tell you that it’s just innocent fun; don’t believe Their lies! It is because of Them that victims like me lie awake at night, feeling miserable and benighted.

If you should be so unfortunate as to stumble upon a pun, do not exploit it for cheap laughter, but avoid it at all costs. Should you ever fall into the foul clutches of a pun, do not surrender to it like fowl in a net. If you see another run afoul of a pun, rescue the poor fool before they slip into the nether darkness of pundom and become wraiths like Them. And above all, DO NOT laugh at Their puns! Laughter only increases Their power.

These are a few of the measures we can take against Them. But despite all my best efforts, I have a feeling my struggle has only just begun…

(You see, it’s funny because I say that shameless punning ought to be outlawed, but I am shamelessly punning in order to make my point that shameless punning ought to be outlawed  because I’m being ironic, and irony is funny).

December 27, 2014

Merry Post-Christmas to all! I hope everyone’s holiday season has been (insert adjective here). I’m sure it was.

I am currently on winter break, with only two weeks left until my return, and it has not been as inspiring as I was hoping, at least, not with regard to my creative pursuits. I’ve been working on an odd collection of stories here and there, and vaguely contemplated writing a poem, but other than that, I haven’t been very creative.

Instead, I somehow managed to dedicate a considerable amount of time to reading and translating. My crowning achievement of this break is rereading the entire Iliad in translation and parts of the Odyssey in Greek, all the while envying The Bard and his inspired words, all 30,000+ lines of them. Clearly my own invocations of the Muse have gone unheard. Either that, or perhaps I shouldn’t ignore this weird urge I have to write a poem called “The True Confessions of a Homeretic.” I am still unrepentant.

Here’s the way inspiration has been working for me lately: I must be up against some really pressing deadline before I feel inspired to do anything; and I must be procrastinating something else first, like a colossal English paper, or studying for a midterm. Self-imposed deadlines accomplish nothing; I’ve already tried that.

Wait until school starts again, then my literary brilliance will explode forth with unprecedented splendor (*sarcasm*).

Cheers,

Achillea

December 13, 2014

Total hours of sleep gained this week: by my estimate, probably about 12 total.
Finals taken: 4.
Victory is complete and unconditional.

I am currently sitting in an airport with my laptop and a borrowed copy of The Great Gatsby, which I have only just finished. I have just finished one of the most stressful weeks of my life, of which barely-studied-for finals were but a small piece of the misery pie I was handed by fate. My soul is greatly disordered after all the turbulence of these last few weeks, but somehow, my brain hasn’t completely stopped functioning like I thought it would, even after having three difficult finals all stacked on top of one another. So, having reached the end of another semester, I’m merely going to say that I’ve learned a lot, improved a lot and been thoroughly humbled, beaten-down, and reshaped by my experiences. I’m not going to go on a sentimental binge, at least, not now when my words are so artlessly strung together and blurring the fine-line between high art and overwrought emotional drivel. I won’t pollute the world anymore than is absolutely necessary. Hopefully, more will be forthcoming from my metaphorical pen, once I’ve got my brain back.

Abruptly,

Achillea