Day 157 - Revelation

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
163 AQI

Mandarin Morning

Roll out of bed. Purple Smoothie. Coffee. Tutor Scott is showing up in 10 minutes. Hard to go from grog to bilingual.

Less funny translations today. Only one I’ve go for you is “to make drinks,” (zuò hē de dōngxī) which is literally “make drink things.” I did learn a couple things about Chinese culture, thought.

Some Culture

In the west we sometimes comment on the weather. Small talk. In China, they tend to talk about food, and eating. Why such an emphasis on eating and food? We had a great depression in the 30’s. Here, however, they had “The Great Famine” in the 60’s - estimated death is 15-45 million. That means that the current generation didn’t live through it, but their parents and grandparents did. They’re one generation closer than we are from similar events, which means the concern with food and eating is still echoing. Will grandparents of the future be as obsessed with feeding their grandkids, or is it just the current representation because of their experience with famines.

Some Regulation

If you have a vehicle that runs on gasoline, then you need a license to drive it. If you have one that uses electricity, no worries. Not strictly, but generally. For instance, if you have a motorized bicycle that has a gasoline engine, that’s illegal. But if you have an electric motor on it, not to worry! Blue skies. Seems like scooters don’t need license plates or drivers licenses, either.

The New Neighbourhood

While at the gym, I’m in the middle of working out when I feel a battering ram on the door of depression. Why? It doesn’t make any sense. The situations is good. It’s so much improved that I catch myself thinking "I should be happy, but.." then it clicks.

It’s funny when revelations can hit you. In this case, during weighted incline situps, struggling to breath and finish the set. 

This is it. This is exactly what so many celebrities and high-performers meant when they say that the end goal won't make you happy. This is exactly what I'll be going through if I reach all of my goals. It's not the situation or the achievements. It's me. It's always me. It's always us. As they say: wherever you are, there you are.

In fact, when the situation is bad and you’re feeling depressed, it's easy to explain. It feels justified. You will think “I would be happy if it weren’t for the situation; the people; the lack of money; the shitty job; this relationship.” But then the clouds disperse, sun shines through, and you may catch yourself feeling the same as you did before. Now there’s no explanation. So, what’s wrong with you? 

Chinese Medicine Hospital
This is a Treacherous Cliff

A common anthem I’ve heard from my clinically depressed friends is the vicious cycle of thoughts: “things are good, but I'm depressed. I’m such a piece of shit for feeling bad despite how good things are. God, I’m worthless. I should be grateful, not sad” and on and on and on. It’s difficult to break, since there’s no external explanation. This is existential angst. This, in a strange way, is both a curse and a luxury of the modern age.


I jump from that line of thought to Manorexia. Also known as bigorexia. In some ways, it's the opposite of anorexia and almost exclusively the plight of men. Getting past the bad naming, it’s when the person is working out a lot and thinks they’re small. They can never be big enough, they always see themselves as a 98lbs weakling. Thanks, Charles Atlas. 

The extremely fit are often doing it out of a place of insecurity, not for performance, health, or the enjoyment of it. Not everyone, mind you. And I’m no different. I still don’t particularly like what I see in the mirror, and part of me wonders if any level of fitness will change that. I had made a lot of strides at one point in my life and it felt great. Maybe it will improve the situation. 

My thoughts are two-fold:

1) Maybe the high from the improvement will fade and I’ll become like a junky, constantly regressing to feeling bad about myself.
2) I feel generally pretty good when moving about in the world now. Most of the insecurity has cleared up because I’m making strides toward my goals. The progress, of course, helps. 

Let’s refer back to that old gem: 
"There are two ways to make a person truly miserable: give them everything they want, or stop them from achieving any of it."

Don’t “Get to the Future”*

In the meantime, there's still progress to be made. The important thing is to enjoy the daily, the doing, the work - not the results. Though those are also nice, they shouldn't be the main focus. Framework shifts are hard, yo. 

*”Getting to the Future” is something I’ve heard from Ekhart Tolle, where people are always rushing to get to the future - the now is not good enough. The future is the promised land where things will be better, and the now is some sort of squalor.

George Bernard Shaw “There are two great tragedies in life, one is to lose your hearts desire, the other is to gain it.”

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
[poo tohng]
Supposed to / Planned to
dǎ suàn
[dah soo-ahn]

Editing Music 
The Struggle

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