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The Irony of Love in Absence and Tolerance

July 16, 2018 Leave a comment

It’s ironic that in this day and age, sometimes you show you love someone by getting out of their way, or better, getting out of their life. It’s a strange thing to show how deeply you care about people by being absent to them. But sometimes that’s what’s best, if your presence only serves as an obstacle to their happiness.

The intention seems altruistic if you think about it. You stop disappointing someone by removing yourself from their world. You disappear from someone’s life if you know you can’t give her the love she deserves.

Many years ago I heard an opinion from a friend that love should also be quantifiable – measurable. The quality of love should have metrics. And extending that idea further, making decisions on how to love better can be data-driven.

Are we so into the digitized age that even the affairs of the heart are measured by the length of time you chat, the number of text or email messages sent, or the frequency by which you talk to each other? Do your feelings lose its value as these time, length, and frequency drop? This sounds so mathematical that it makes my spleen shoot out of my nostrils. – J.A.B.

If you can’t be absent in a person’s life, which anecdotally seems to be the case a lot of times, then also ironically the only other option to show that love is by tolerating him / her. The depth of your love is thus seen by how much you’re able to tolerate another. I find this heartbreaking. But there is some truth in that – fortunately, it’s not the whole or only truth in the matter.

True love isn’t merely being absent or tolerant. St. Paul gives us a reminder of what love really means:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7)

The test of your love is still choosing to be kind and patient to someone who is at a point that doesn’t deserve it. You can call that “tolerance,” if you want, and in a way it’s true. But you don’t run away from that person. You’re not perfect, but that’s fine because you don’t have to be perfect to love as much as you can. You just need to be there – you choose to be there, in the way the other person needs you to be there for him / her.

What’s ironic is that sometimes you best show your love for someone by being intolerant to them – specifically, by being intolerant to their faults, in the spirit of being charitable. You show that you care for someone if you want the best for him / her. And sometimes, this is seen by correcting their errors, as painful and awkward as that might be. After all, one easy way to see someone fail is to remain silent when they’re doing something that will get them in trouble later on; real friends are the ones who aren’t afraid to constructively criticize you for your crap.

If you assess that the best way to love someone is to be absent or tolerant, then fine – do that. Accept the reality of the situation for what it is. But do that as a last resort, only if you believe that it really can’t be more than just that.

Be present to the people in your world, and give them the compassion, empathy, and if necessary also the correction, that they need. This is more difficult to do, but at the end of the day, this is what’s truly meaningful, because this is what it means to love. This is how you love others the way God loves you.

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Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

The Call to Action

July 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Here is the ever-relevant, always urgent call to act: Exercise discipline in executing actions.

There’s an expression I’ve been hearing a lot lately: let’s put “irons in the fire.” As I understood it, it was meant to get tasks started – and immediately.

I looked up the expression: It’s to be involved in many ongoing activities at the same time, or to make certain that there are several possibilities available [source]. Such can also have two connotations: On a positive note, having many things ongoing means other options are available just in case one of them fails. However on a negative note, because one is involved in a number of things, he would just be overwhelmed [source]. Apparently the expression seems to mean something else than how I heard it being used.

That being said, I think the concept of getting things moving along rather than have such stagnate conceptually still sounds like a good idea.

No Time Like Right NOW

You might have all the time in the world. However, unless you make a plan and exert effort to follow through on it, nothing will happen.

Between two evils, one on taking too much time to get things moving along, and the other on always rushing things to the point of madness, the latter is the lesser evil. At least the latter gets something done. The former keeps you stagnant and, really, nothing is happening at all.

Having more time to do something won’t guarantee that you’ll get anything done. There will always be some new reason that will distract and use up any extra time you get. It’s just better to work with the time you have. Sometimes a strong time pressure to complete something is what’s needed to force the cadence required to complete something. Besides, any further delays would also mean denying yourself from enjoying whatever benefit is due to you when it’s due to you.

Inaction will only create unnecessary worry; there’s no time to do the important things that need to be done like right NOW.

Follow-Through Execution

Making plans is the relatively easy part. Seeing these plans through via daily execution is another thing altogether.

Once you’ve made a decision on how you want something to happen, you need to execute on that plan to make it happen. Your plans won’t happen by themselves; it’s up to you to carry it out and see it through to the end. It could be difficult to do, but anything and everything worth doing usually is.

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it. – Chinese Proverb

Ultimately you are responsible for the solution to all the challenges that you face. If logic or God’s will aren’t sufficient enough to motivate you, then how you feel about the situation should drive you to action. Thus, show up to be where you need to be, and do what you need to do.

Worrying about some important thing not happening is one of the most uncomfortable feelings you can ever experience. However, in my opinion, such is sometimes the necessary evil needed to spur one into action. This is especially true: It matters a lot more if and when the matter is personal – a personal matter will be treated urgently, for such things can’t and won’t wait.

If it needs to be done, then God-willing JUST DO IT!!!

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Time Can Be Your Friend

June 16, 2018 Leave a comment

Anecdotally, sometimes time can feel like it’s your enemy.

Time is seemingly an enemy because it doesn’t stop for anyone. Waste and burn it as much as you want. Fill your days with hopefully the important things, or simply do nothing and miss out on life, or something. The world will go on, pushed forward by time, and you can get left behind to rot where you are in your misery if such is your current state.

Time is seemingly an enemy because by its very nature it will always be a constraint. No matter how much you try to create more time for whatever purpose, so that you can rush to go here, there, and everywhere, sometimes it feels like there’s still no time. And whatever time you’re able to free up, such isn’t a guarantee that it’s ever enough.

Time is seemingly an enemy because there’s even no guarantee that you’ll have any more of it tomorrow.

Anecdotally, sometimes time can feel like it’s your friend.

Time can be your friend because, for the same reason that it won’t stop for you, it moves you forward whether you like it or not. Such can actually be a good thing. One day you realize that, after a lifetime of hard work, you’ve finally made it. You’ve lived the life you wanted to live, and now you can reap the benefits, and even relive and relish the experience by introspection of the past. It’ll literally feel like only yesterday when you were struggling, but now you’re in a much better place. And although what didn’t kill you might have kept on trying, nevertheless you’ve made it to where you are now – you’ve become wiser, better, and stronger.

Time can be your friend if you give it the respect it deserves. You give time the respect it deserves by making the most of the moments you have. You make the most of the moments you have by using such to do what you need to do. Hopefully what you need to do is also what you want to do, and it helps you to be who you want to be, to be where you want to be, to get what you want to get in life, and to live the life you want to live – but recognize that such won’t always be the case. However things turn out, hopefully using time wisely will ultimately make you happy, whether as part of the journey or upon reaching the destination, preferably both, of course.

Riker: I’m going to miss this ship; she went before her time.
Picard: Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe than time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important how we lived. After all, Number One, we’re only mortal.
Riker: [smiling] Speak for yourself, sir. I plan to live forever. – Star Trek Generations

At the end of the day, time is a gift. The value you get from it depends if you treat it as your enemy or as your friend. Make and live the life you want to have by making the most of the time that you have to do so. Time can be your friend, so treat it like one.

 

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Please, Tell Me Your Story

June 10, 2018 Leave a comment

Learning about someone can be an eye-opening experience. It’s certainly a good reason to speak less and listen more. You’ll learn to appreciate your differences, or at least understand them a little better. It wouldn’t be surprising to realize how similar things are between you and another person, too.

We all intrinsically have this interest in each other. Thus, it’s always good to give people a chance to show you who they are. On a personal note, I find my tendency to be self-absorbed quite incredulous when there’s a world out there of people substantially more interesting than I can ever be, with better stories to tell about their lives. I have only to shut up and give them the chance to speak.

I don’t just want the short story: Tell me the long version, for I genuinely want to know. Tell me the story of your life. I want to know what lies beneath; I want to see the depth of your person by hearing the history of your life. And as you tell me about your life, I’ll also pay attention to what you’re not telling me, for such silence speaks volumes, too. In the end, I want to know you better, I want to understand you to the best that I could.

Please, tell me your story. Speak your mind freely. I’ll attentively listen. I won’t judge or mock. I’ll be patient and kind. I want to learn. I’ll have time; I have plenty of time.

I’m truly and utterly amazed at how interesting and diverse people’s lives are if you just find the time to get to know them a little better. Give people the chance to share with you their story. See what you find out. Be astounded for yourself on what you discover about another person. For all you know, in the course of finding out more about another person, you find out more about who you are, too.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

How to Cease Disappointing People

June 3, 2018 1 comment

Sometimes the best way to cease disappointing people is to remove one’s self from their lives. Hopefully things will get better for them when you’re no longer around. And if by then they finally realize your value, only because you’re no longer around to contribute something they never noticed or appreciated, then that’s a nice bonus. (Never noticing or appreciating your contributions is a good reason to remove yourself from their lives.)

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Respect My Decision

May 27, 2018 Leave a comment

If you think I’m wrong, then don’t condemn me. Instead, educate me. Convince me. Try to change my mind with strong arguments and solid evidence. Cure my ignorance by giving me knowledge and sharing your wisdom. I promise to keep an open mind; I promise to give you the chance to hear you out.

I welcome healthy debates and dissenting opinions. It’s a chance for me to learn something new. If I’m wrong, then I’ll realize it and change course accordingly. It’s also possible that such discussions would help to further validate and solidify my stand on my decisions. I’m sure it wouldn’t kill you to try and understand the story behind my opinions and decisions, too; for all you know you might also learn something new from me.

That being said please realize that you can only go so far. Realize that I’m entitled to form my opinions, even if you don’t agree with it. Respect the decisions I make for my life, even if they seem to be the “wrong” decisions – at least according to you. I’m as free as you are to walk my own path after all, even if it might actually be the wrong one, even if it’s one that leads me to Hell.

What offends me is the thought that you’d be happy if I did something you wanted me to do, on the pretext that it’s “for my own good,” but such comes at my expense. You can’t force something, even if it’s objectively good, on someone who doesn’t want it, for such just wouldn’t be truly appreciated; doing so will only breed contempt.

I know what I want to do. And even if I don’t, this is still my mistake to make, if it really is a mistake; some lessons are still best learned the hard way.

I’m sure there’s some truth in that you could do without the additional accountability of being responsible for another person’s life, especially for another person’s happiness. I’m sure you don’t want me to blame you if you insist that I do something I don’t want to do because such is supposedly what will make me happy. You don’t need that additional burden; I’m sure you have enough problems to deal with in your own life as it is. And – this might sound surprising – I know what makes me happy; I know what I need to do to make me happy. At the end of the day, I’m responsible for my own happiness, not you. Besides, God, in His love for us, respects the gift of free will that He has given to us. And you aren’t God; this doesn’t give you an excuse to interfere, and is all the more reason why you shouldn’t.

I can understand it if my decisions will negatively impact others and yourself – go ahead and fight me because of it. But if that’s not the case, then, please, give me the basic courtesy of respecting the decisions I make for my life.

It’s fine if, in good conscience, you don’t want to support me. But unless I’m doing something evil, get out of my way if you don’t want to help. Please shut-up, don’t interrupt, and back-off as I go about doing what I have to do.

Finally, you can try to stop me, or you can try to understand me. Ideally you can try to do both. But sometimes you only have the time and energy to do one. At the end of the day, I just want you to respect my decision – it’s my life to live, after all.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy

Sour Grapes and Sweet Lemons

May 13, 2018 1 comment

Let’s have some working definitions, first:

  • Sour grapes: Pretending that one doesn’t want something, because one does not or cannot have it. The expression originated in “The Fox and the Grapes,” one of Aesop’s Fables.
  • Sweet lemons: An idiom that is roughly the inverse of “sour grapes,” though much rarer: insisting that something unpleasant is in fact desirable, especially if it was actively sought for earlier.

Sometimes I find it hard to enjoy something I finally get if I get it right after, and probably as a result of, ranting and complaining about not getting it. In such instances, the timing of finally getting what I want is just terrible: There’s that lingering, bitter after-taste of anger and stress that’s still very much in my mind. This, in a way, unfortunately negatively influences me to the point that I don’t fully enjoy finally getting what I want. The protracted animosity has a way of dampening the euphoric moment.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that experiences one of these moments.

In such cases, I think it best if there’s some time gap to help heal the wound of disappointment so that when I finally get what I want, I can enjoy it completely.

That being said, I also shouldn’t dismiss the possibility that, perhaps, not getting what I want could actually be what’s truly best for me. In this context, I shouldn’t feel that bad, or at least I could try not to feel bad anyway – instead I should just trust in God that what’s not meant for me isn’t. Never is sometimes better, even if it doesn’t feel that way, even if it isn’t immediately obvious.

Sometimes treating a situation like “sour grapes” and dealing with it as such is the lesser evil compared to dealing with it as a “sweet lemon.” Of course, like many things in life, this is easier said than done.

Categories: Ideas and Philosophy