I’m in the “office” corner of my house- a corner that has gotten messier in recent memory. I’ll do some tidying after I finish writing this, I promise- right now, its staring me in the face, wondering how long I’m going to let those piles of books and random CDs just sit there, and if I’ll ever get rid of those old boxes of business cards and just buy new, correct ones that don’t have expired business names or abandoned web addresses on them.
In the other room, my wife and cat are watching a review video on YouTube. The single lamp in the room- besides our holiday decor- paints everything a pale gold as Em listens the review. It’s almost white noise as she boops at an iPhone game.
I’ve spent the evening relaxing, knitting, reading library books, and buying up Chanukah socks for my friends. Now it’s time to sip some scotch, and write my last blog post of 2019.
You may have noticed, but reality can suck. Quite often, really.
It feels like the world wants something from you every moment. Things go wrong, or they go right in the wrong way, and sometimes you don’t even know what the hell the point of everything IS.
I read somewhere that humans are the only intelligent creatures for whom our own existence poses a problem. Other creatures live in the moment, learning as the go, with the sole aim of “survive another day.” For us, at the pinnacle of the food chain as we are, existential threats to our lives aren’t nearly so frequent. We still have all those frustrating survival mechanisms- transformed into stress, anxiety, depression and all that- but mostly we have the time and leisure to say “Why am I here?”
Reality can be heavy… and fortunately, our intelligence has given us a whole bunch of ways to lighten the load, even for a moment. We came up with movies, video games, all sorts of activities- but it all started with stories.
Thanks to (yet more) sudden upheavals in my life, I have a new job and a new schedule.
Does it really still count as an “upheaval” when they stack up so quickly? One big wave is notable, but repeated ones just mean they are the tide- to be expected and counted on, albeit at a beach that’s great for surfing.
The new schedule has meant that, for the time being, I won’t be able to play D&D with my friends on Sunday nights anymore. Going in to work at 3am means waking up earlier- and that means a game night that runs till 9pm the night before is out of the question.
Sadly, Han Wu Zhi- my latest character that I’ve had so much fun playing- will be out of action for the time being.
At least, in-game he will be. Han has already left quite an impact.
Good evening, friends and neighbors. I hope everyone had/is having a splendid holiday season, and are getting everything out of this time of year that you hope to.
Since I’ve grown up, Chanukah has always been just a sort of… thing that was celebrated. Eight days long, and the special stuff really only happens at night. Otherwise, everyone just goes to work or school and life continues.
There aren’t any hilarious or tragicomic movies about trying to get home to light the menorah- that’s what I’m trying to say here. We got some awesome stories about religious freedom, tasty fried foods, and one of my favorite Herschel of Ostropol stories– we’re good with that.
(The less said about “Eight Crazy Nights” the better.)
I suppose that’s something that DOES make Christmas kind of an enjoyable time for me- it’s only one or two days.
This year, Christmas was fantastic.
Emily and I went out for Chinese, then stayed home and did absolutely NOTHING.
Not long ago, I decided I was going to go on a bit of an Eastern Philosophy bender and read all the texts I could get my hands on.
It may have been my state of mind at the time, or just a desire to spend more time reading interesting stuff and less time trawling social media.
In the past, I’d read and re-read several Buddhist texts- a couple sutras, the Dhammapada, and the Buddhacarita. I’ve also previously read (and love referring back to) the Tao Te Ching and Dogen’s “Tenzo Kyokun.”
In this latest push, however, I decided I was going to tackle some of the more well-known works: Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”, and Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s “Hagakure.”
It was… a lot, and it got me thinking-
“Why do we look to books on war for lessons on life?”