A re-re-introduction

My name is Amanda. I’m a writer, a student, a tutor, an intern, and someone who’s constantly trying to find a place in the world.

When someone asks me to talk about myself or whatever I’m going through, I usually feel at a loss. It’s only through writing and constant revising that things start to become clear to me–I’m able to penetrate the depths of my mind and see what’s really there.

My approach to living is much the same as my approach to writing. I’m constantly in editing mode.

I try to expose myself to a new situation each and every day, and I’m always striving to see how far my limits can be pushed. This helps me figure out what works and what doesn’t. I begin to understand what I enjoy and don’t enjoy, and I change my actions and goals accordingly. I look at this as a sort of revision process.

This process has been helpful in showing me what I don’t want to do, in terms of jobs and career paths: I don’t want to scoop ice cream for a living. I don’t want to be a perpetual cashier. I don’t want to wake up in the morning dreading what lies ahead. (I’ve lived through all of these experiences and many more which have left a bad taste in my mouth for one reason or another.)

So I know what I don’t want. That’s okay–it’s half the battle, right? But in terms what career path I would actually like to pursue, I have no idea. All I know is that I want to write. I want to inspire. I want to be the best person that I can possibly be; to live up to all of my self-imposed standards, even those that seem nearly impossible to uphold; to practice what I preach each and every day, or at least try my best to do so. I want to wake up in the morning looking forward to the work that I do.

These are sort of vague ideals, but do I really need anything else to guide me?

I may not know whether I want to pursue X or Y career path, each of which has a number of milestones and goalposts to pass along the way in order to experience success. But the uncertain and often tumultuous nature of life leads me to believe that planning anything to a T and expecting it to play out a certain way sometimes turns out to be a waste of energy anyway.

As long as I constantly live up to my own values and continue to grow, I think this life is bound to be a good one.

Ramblings #1823

All of this academia has got me thinking…

It’s so hard for me to write something finished these days, to carry an idea to its natural conclusion. Everything I do seems forced and rife with tension, like I’m trying to squeeze art out of my nose.

Is true art forced? Or does it come naturally? I’m not just talking about visual art; I’m also talking about writing as an art form.

Really, though, I don’t feel like I have anything to write about. There are no pressing issues that I need to address at this time, perhaps because I’m trying to stop seeing things as so pressing.

I guess i can talk about the fact that I am becoming increasingly aware of and, at the same time, ashamed of my actions and thought patterns.

I started off the day nicely. When I sat down on the bus this afternoon, I caught myself thinking the same thing I always think whenever i sit down on a rather crowded bus: I hope an old person doesn’t come on and guilt-trip me into giving up my seat. This thought is always accompanied by a nightmarish mental image of a small, elderly black woman with grocery bags boarding the bus and hobbling down the aisle, finding no empty seats along the way, and finally she settling next to mine. She puts her bags down and stands in the aisle, inches away from my comfortably resting body, unsteadily gripping the metal pole.

In this mental image, I always give up my seat to her, even if that means bearing the unpleasant burden of standing in a crowded aisle of a lurching bus bouncing over potholes down the entire length of Hillside Avenue. Otherwise, I pretend to not notice her and continue reading my book, or looking out the window, or fiddling with my thumbs. I feel an agonizing sense of guilt for the rest of the trip.

I would rather deal with the former scenario.

So, today, I sat on the bus reading an assignment for my Journalism as Literature class. I noticed all of the seats surrounding me gradually becoming filled up, and I tensed up, knowing that an old person was bound to board any minute.

Sure enough, it happened, sort of. A woman boarded and, finding no seats available, stood in the aisle next to me. Staring out the driver’s window at the front of the bus, he gripped the greasy metal pole in front of my seat with one hand and held a black shopping bag in the other.

I looked up from my book several times, furtively, in order to deduce whether she was elderly enough to warrant giving up my seat. I eventually concluded that she was late-middle aged. Probably around fifty-two years old.

After turning the situation over in my mind for what seemed like an eternity, I decided that I didn’t need my seat more than anyone else on that bus. I was completely capable of standing until 179th Street, and we weren’t too far away anyway.

I put my book in my bookbag and stood up quickly, stepping back from the seat, not saying a word, silently rescinding my sitting space to this woman. Out of my peripheral vision I saw her glance curiously between me and the seat. And then she sat down.

Mission accomplished, I thought. If not for the sake of this woman’s legs, for the sake of my own sanity. I had spared myself one guilt trip for the day.

But, as luck would have it, the rest of the day provided me with ample opportunities to do and say things that I would later regret.

- Turning down an opportunity to meet with people involved in an online publication I would like to collaborate with.

- Stomping my foot angrily, which my professor saw, when I realized that I had left my water bottle in a lab that had been locked (something that was semi-easily remedied.)

- Visibly losing my cool when I missed the E train by mere seconds, and the next one took forever to arrive.

But, I forgive myself, or at least try to.

I am not a perfect being, nor am I striving to be perfect. While I may not acted the way I would have liked to in every situation,  I shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that life is a big learning process. I should only concern myself with recognizing my mistakes when they arise, making sure that my intentions are always pure, and picking myself up when I get knocked down.

The rest, I think, will figure itself out naturally.

This post also appears on my other page, Anicca Blog.

Journal entry: Living an Inspired Life

Just now I decided to read my personal journal from the very beginning, which I have never done. The following is my first entry. I hope that reading it will make you as happy as it made me.

~

7/31/12

I’ve expressed the idea lately that I would like to write more, so tonight I took this book’s status as a “bargain-priced” item at Barnes & Noble as a sign that I should buy it to encourage, and hopefully facilitate, my efforts.

Recently I’ve decided that I want to live an inspired life. People often use that phrase without any follow-up descriptions. They make it as sort of a stand-alone statement. But who or what do they want their life to be inspired by? What do they mean?

I would like my life to be inspired by a few things. Namely, love, a thirst for wisdom, adventure, and understanding (they all go hand-in-hand); and the willingness to do and go.

My recent trip to Poland sparked this inspiration within me. i don’t think it was really the culture, the people, or the beauty of the country that did this to me. Rather, it was the recognition that I was able to enjoy such a great and amazing experience simply as a result of my own volition and desire to do so.

And if I am able to travel nearly halfway around the world on my own at the age of 19, using my own money–simply because I want to, where do my limits stop? Do I really have any limits?

A wise man or woman would answer that question with a resounding “no.” The human being has no limits. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience, to quote various great thinkers. We should not feel restricted by physical or mental constraints because, most of the time, they are self-imposed.

This is something I have come to understand in theory. Now it’s time for me to realize it through experience, and to help others do the same.

Formula for inner peace #1

Be awake.

Be aware.

Be fully present in the moment.

Mind stops wandering.

It no longer drifts.

Like the surface of a calm body of water,

it is still.

There is a time for ebb and there is a time for flow.

A time for crashing waves and a time for placidness.

Calm your mind once a day.

Direct it back to the present as often as possible.

Try to return to the calm whenever you catch

your thoughts wandering to an area of tumult.

But only if you wish to fully appreciate every moment.

Doubt, guilt, and other silly things that impede development

I believe that every single individual has the full potential to achieve anything. Unfortunately, most do not have access to enough stability and/or resources to fully realize this. Others do have access to adequate stability and resources, but they do not believe that they have such incredible power over their lives.

And, of course, it is entirely possible to triumph over terrible conditions and lack of resources to fulfill one’s desires. Many a success story exists. Perhaps it takes more mental than physical effort triumph over a debilitating environment.

We can create. We can manifest reality. We do this already, all of the time, but normally we do it unconsciously. It is difficult to realize this fact. Really. But once you begin opening your mind up to the possibility that we are, to a very large extent, responsible for everything that comes into our lives, it becomes easier to believe that this may, in fact, be true. I speak from personal experience here.

Doubt is the downfall of everyone who dreams of becoming the next Michelangelo. He believed in himself; don’t you know that every genius does?

You can become one too. If you are reading this right now, you really can do anything. But doubt is normally what prevents you from enjoying the benefits of this idea.

When you doubt yourself, you don’t go up to bat in the first place, so to speak. This is the first step to preventing yourself from ever hitting a home run.

When you doubt your amazing abilities, you prevent yourself from writing that novel you’ve been wanting to write for the past five years. (If not now, when?)

Let’s examine Walter, an artist living in Manhattan who peddles his art on the streets every day. He has been trying to sell his paintings every day for the past ten years, yet not a single person has ever stopped to purchase one. No one seems interested. Should he be so gullible as to continue on this way, believing that he will sell a work of art one day?

My answer: Yes.

It is entirely possible that Walter may finally sell a painting at some point in the future. If he doubts himself to the point where he gives up on his art altogether, then the chance of that sale ever happening drops down to zero percent. So, mathematically, it would make sense for him to continue peddling his art, if  selling one of his works to a passerby is truly his dream.

By doubting yourself, you condemn your future to your past. You assume that the way things have always been is exactly how things will continue on forever. Yeah, it sucks that Walter has been trying to sell his paintings for ten years yet he still has not gotten what he wants. But this doesn’t mean that the future will be the same.

Perhaps one day–maybe even tomorrow–some dude from Philadelphia will come across Walter’s art and think that it’s the bees’ knees. What prevents something like that from happening?Nothing, except for Walter, if he decides to give up on his hopes and dreams.

Guilt is another silly thing that holds us back from achieving what we want. Don’t get me wrong–sometimes we should certainly feel guilty for things that we have done, especially if we have wronged someone (without getting hung up on feeling guilty.) But unless we have done something horrendously wrong, this is a useless emotion. It limits us and prevents us from taking risks and adventures in life.

On creation

Earlier, I told my friend that i want to create. I have this newly incited desire to create through words, art, and music. I’ve been drawing more and writing more, observing more and recording my thoughts and feelings through these mediums. The power is within. A few nights ago i sat down in front of a blank page with 36 colored pencils and decided to create something. I didn’t have the intention to create a masterpiece. I just wanted to do. I decided to actively fight against whatever negative judgments popped up on the surface of my brain. I suspended the act of thinking and just became one with the moment, watching my hand guide the pencil and allowing the pencil to guide me.

I spent a whole hour on that drawing, which is more than I’ve spent on a creation of mine in a while. I felt a spark within me and went with it. I didn’t allow fear and negativity to take hold of my mind while creating what I was creating that night. And that made all the difference. I have created a piece of visual art that I am very proud of for the first time in many years. Though the content is not phenomenal, I value this work greatly because of the epiphany I had and the personal transformation that it represents.

Don’t be a driver

In life, we often act like drivers sitting at a stoplight: we rely on external circumstances to tell us when to stop and go, and what to do in general, rather than relying on our innate desires and intuition to give us direction. We must de-robotize ourselves by searching for deeper meanings in our lives and for our selves, examining our beliefs through a critical lens, and seeking to connect to, love, and understand our fellow human beings.

As for our beliefs, we should take each ideology we have, examine it carefully, and ask ourselves why we believe that particular thing. We should reject those thoughts which constrain us or do not serve us, and research and apply those beliefs which make more sense to us — irrespective of what others may think of them — observing whether or not these new ideas make us feel happier and more whole. If not, reject them at once and research or create new ideas that are more beneficial to us.

It’s your life, after all; take hold of it! Don’t live for anyone or anything other than yourself. If you are worried about the selfishness of this idea, you should find comfort in the fact that by helping yourself, you help others. You cannot give love unless you first feel it for yourself and your life.

Make a list of all the things that you love to do. Hang that list up somewhere that you visit often, perhaps on your bathroom mirror or on a wall near your desk. Resolve to do several of those things on your list each day — perhaps even set a specific number depending on the size of your list. If you think you don’t have enough time to do that, ask yourself what you spend most of your time doing, and whether or not it brings joy to you and the people you love. If work is something you don’t enjoy and gets in the way of your passions, why not try to find work in something that you love?

Take small steps. Don’t stand still. Resolve to become someone who can’t get enough of life. Don’t be a driver.