Two weeks ago, I spent a whole day walking in London (from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square to Tate Modern to Canada Water), thinking about just one question: what’s the purpose of it all? It was a very intense experience, so I wanted to give my insight a little bit of time before I share it more publicly. I have been journaling and reflecting on this new framework I established for myself in the last two weeks, and still really appreciate everything about it. So I am sharing now.
I started with reflecting on the “negative” feelings I experienced in November: how exactly did I start to experience them much more frequently? All the specific events that made me feel hurt, I reckoned, made me feel undervalued/unappreciated/misunderstood in different capacities. Though trivial independently, they happened together in a brief period of time, so the effect magnified.
So I thought, I just want to feel valued, accepted, and understood, preferably completely, and probably everyone shares this desire.
A parallel thought I had was that the only thing that we carry with us *all* the time is our self-narrative: how our life has been, who we are, where our life is leading, etc. People who love and support us are not with us 24/7 telling us how much they appreciate us. Their words and actions of love are communicated at points in time, and integrated into our self-narrative in the way we want to integrate them.
So, perhaps what really matters in the end is the self-narrative that we have been, are, and will be loved, supported, and understood.
Then how do I get that self narrative? There are two directions: inward and outward.
The inward direction concludes that I should love myself. An obvious thing to say but hard to do. When I love and accept myself, it is much easier to integrate the loving memories into my self-narrative as “I am loved and supported.”
The outward direction is about interacting with other humans. If I generally create more loving memories with other people, I just have more materials (ie. memories of experiences and words and actions carried out of love) to start with in developing or sustaining the “I am loved” self-narrative.
Assuming everyone shares the same desire to feel valued, loved, accepted, and understood, preferably completely, I want to facilitate moments of complete acceptance and understanding for others. Obviously I cannot commit myself to everyone I meet in full capacity. But I do believe that even short moments could still have a lasting/significant impact.
That desire to facilitate loving moments lead me to two thoughts:
1. I should strive to know myself better. Deep connection with others will be much easier when I experience and reflect a lot, and understand myself more.
2. I should strive to understand the human condition better. This could almost apply to studying anything. It is a mindset I want to use when I learn anything “academic” or do “work.”
There are two major paths for me to facilitate moments of connection: interpersonal interaction and art.
With people that I meet and interact with, whether they become long-term connections or not, I should approach everyone from a place of seeking to understand who they are and where (experience- & value-wise) they come from.
As I feel art to be where my talent mostly lies, I want to create art with the goal of building connections. There are two kinds of art I could and hope to create. One that is more centered on my perception of the world. Another is more based on designing experiences of connection for others. Either kind, if done well, could facilitate deep connections for others. The first one between me and the audience. The second one amongst the audience, or between the audience and humans as an imagined collective.
There are several things I love about this whole framework.
I love that everything I do now is for understanding how to receive and give love better. I am simply lead by a desire to love better -- it is a mindset and a process, rather than an end goal.
I am required to love myself and others.
I am required to balance work and life, because now life informs work and work serves life.
Pain could become meaningful with the new perspective that it moments of empathy because I’ve now “been there.”
Along with developing this new framework, I read Alan Watts’ Out of Your Mind and had several new revelations through more thinking and chatting with my friends.
1. I am appreciating the darker side of myself more now. When self-destructive thoughts arise in my mind, when thoughts that are not nice about other people appear in my self-narrative, I recognize them as just another part of me that tries to protect myself. They exist because I picked them up somewhere in the past because they seemed helpful back then. As soon as I recognize and accept this, I could free myself more from the destructive thought loops and empower myself to choose the brighter/loving way of thinking.
2. “Every one of us is an aperture through which the whole cosmos experiences life. Every one of us is a hole from which the fundamental light — existence itself — looks out, but we’re playing the game of forgetting this fact, and we pretend to only be this little hole, this little thing we call we, or the ego.”
3. “You’re a rhythm doing a rhythm”
4. [on self narrative]
“We must reverse our thinking and see that the past always flows back from the present — now is the creative point of life… The present is always changing the past.”
5. The power of the insight I gained from two weeks ago will fade, just like many other insights I’ve had in the past. But they won’t be completely forgotten — they will come at the right time, summoned just when I need them. Because, in reality, none of the things in my new framework was a new idea for me. I’d picked them up at different points in the past and firmly believed in all of them. All I did two weeks ago was, through intensely asking myself one question, summoning the answers I already knew, and fitting them together in a logical way and strengthen the whole framework. I was just trying to be a firmer believer in what I already believed in, this time with more clarity.
6. [on separation & unity]
“When we swim with the stream, the whole strength of the flow is ours.”
7. I’m seeing everything with less separation between “good” and “bad.” The “bad” things simply inform me better on what I would love and appreciate.
8. And I am seeing that life is all about cycles and transitions between states. We don’t stay at the same state always. At different points we pull out different states we want to dwell in, states that fit the time and situation the best. Maybe they could all be boiled down to expansion and contraction in essence.