solo travelin, good for the soul

Solo traveling is good for the soul. A little uncomfortable, a little scary, but ultimately, good for the soul. 

The displacement and discomfort are good for reminding you of what you value, what you enjoy, what you are like. Take away all the comforts of familiarity, and there you are, just you and some time and this new place, getting (re)acquainted with each other in the break from reality, mundanity. 

This elongated weekend in San Francisco has had me strolling unfamiliar streets, in unabashed admiration of the copycat-European architecture, walking quickly when I feel like it, walking slowly when I feel like that. Breathing deeply. 

I’ve memorized Google’s directions to ice cream places and famous landmarks — to be able to walk like a local, no smartphone glow lighting the way for me — taking my time to look into people’s faces and into stores where locals are bustling, to see what it’s all about.

I’ve been heartbroken by the people who sit in the pee-covered curbs finding privacy right there in the open, to sleep, to beg, to do drugs. 
Miles and miles of city blocks in all their upsy-downsy glory, two grapefruits bought at a Hispanic grocery store, one ride with “the best Uber conversation” ever. Which he confirmed. We high-fived on it.

I am reminded of me at my best self. My smiles-at-strangers self. My broad-comfort-zone self. My pondering-while-walking self. My asks-strangers-interesting-questions self. 

I’ve missed that self. 

Thank you, San Fran, for reminding me of her. Of me. 

normalcy, aka all those little Wednesday bricks

this weekend has been full of calm little moments that just feel very “normal” if we’re being optimistic and “boring” if pessimistic. but neither adjective in any bad way. I think it’s just these consistent and dependable little building blocks of normal life that eventually construct you a solid little house — of a friendship, of a relationship, of a life.

dates around town, normal. catch-up meals involving Netflix and jjajangmyun, …normal. I guess. I kept walking away from these things, head cocked to the left because my normal mode of human interaction is intense and full of mind-wracking for sparky connections and out-loud hm-ing and huh-ing.

“we meet up infrequently for long, long conversations,” is how I describe it.

but in all my head-cocking wonderment, I realized that THIS kind of stuff is the stuff of those boring, precious Wednesdays. (see here for the full explanation; here for just the first couple paras if tldr.) I’m just building my house here; it’s a normal-boring Wednesday.

nothing to see here. but also…everything worth seeing is here.

normal-boring is having Binky for the weekend, a creature camping out in my bedroom on which I must look in from time to time and not be so selfish with my gallivanting plans.

normal-boring is googling “things to do in ___ this weekend” and filling in that blank with all the leetle neighborhoods around where ya live because, well, you’re basically, like, a local now.

normal-boring is handing a friend a MUCH belated birthday gift at church, in a quiet little handoff, feeling grateful that you get to see her at least once a week at least.

normal-boring is running the dishwasher and emptying it. for the umpteenth time.

small details, these, but they are the activities that keep our families happy, keep our relationships going, keep our apartments tidy and functioning as they should. they are the normal-boring, precious-bland bits and pieces of life that all add up to something worthy of a look-back-upon when you’re an old, old person, feeling lucky to get to be that old, probably.

and the Wednesday effect works wonders for your goals, too, as the long post explains. so every little Wednesday (but really every other day, too; you know what I mean), read your Bible and pray and be kind to the people in your life. these little bricks will have built you a solid and comforting old house someday.

and, too,

say thank you for all those years to come, stretched out between the now-self and the old, old person self that you get to live now, this realization in mind. in pocket. okay, at least in this here blog post.

so without further ado: thank you, thank you for these Wednesdays.

layers

By the end of my life, I want to have experienced all the layers of love that my circumstances will have offered me.

Mads: All the layers of romantic love, yes, but like, all the layers of all the other kinds, too. Wow. Can you imagine what kind of life you would be able to lead if your goal, each day, was to experience more layers of loves? To give, to receive, to witness, to empower others to do…all kinds of layers, of all kinds of loves! Marriage love and parent love and acceptance love and covering love. And tucking-into-bed love and you-can-shower-first love and let-me-rub-your-tired-feet love and here’s-some-soup! love and dearly-beloved-we-are-here-to-say-our-goodbyes love.

Meesh: Yeah! I mean, the Bible is full of commandments to love one another, honor one another, mhmm!

It is a good thing you are here, Meesh, to tap my path straight and remind me of the purpose of it all. I can wander into lalalayerland far and wide, if left to my own devices. Thanks for remembrin’ us about the Bible. About our God. And of His plans and purposes and layers of love for us. Without that, it’s just indulgent philosophizing.

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100 bits of somethingamuhjig per 1 whateverabob

what makes a life worth living?

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truly delicious food (+cute table decor that demands to be the focus)?
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breathless documentation of a robot in the road?
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a HAHehhahHAh-fake jovial friend pics (with real jovial friends)?
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contemplations of art?
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momentary metro conversations?
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literary pursuits; love, life, letc.?
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brand-new moments in used-book stores?
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paw-tuck evenings on the couch with kindred spirits?

he says that creative “flow” of an artist, a scientist, any expert at any thing, with those ten thousand hours under their expertise belt… is translatable to the ordinary moments in any mundane life. of a factory worker. a sports enthusiast. of a fish filet-er. the trick is to be so absorbed by your activity (more than 100 bits of somethingamuhjig per 1 whateverabob) that your brain’s processing power is purely and fully employed by the workings of the thing you are doing/facing/making. your senses so fully zoned into the smell of that fish, the touch of its flesh, the angle of that cut, that there’s no more brain power left over for you to feel, to sense, yourself. your hunger; your meandering thoughts; all your discomforts and wants and lacks, physical and mental. undetected.

it is, apparently, individuals who achieve this level of focus on their work — focus to such a level that allows them to achieve the suspension experiencing existence itself — that consistently report to being truly, fully happy with their work. and thus, in their lives. blissful moments of self-forgetfulness. heaven-on-earth experiences, in five-minute intervals.

“happiness in ordinary moments where we lose ourselves in extraordinary ways”

there’s truth to this on more levels than just the sensory.

cause this, too, is “the freedom of self-forgetfulness,” isn’t it?

how tricky it is that life seems to bombard us, marketing for happiness, promising self-realization through methods of greater focus on ourselves — the inhumane magnification of your T-zone pores, all the better to tighten them to oblivion; the reflection of your worth as statistified in Followers and Likes on a profile all about the grand story of You — when apparently, the true key to happiness lies in moments of the very opposite activity of self-scrutiny.

God, would you help me to gaze so focusedly on you that I may learn this art of self-forgetfulness?

edit: 4/21/15 — hey hey podcast train:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/04/20/400408194/mellow-pastimes-can-be-good-for-your-health-too

whatislove: according to behavioral finance

a mini experiment:

you’re visiting a new restaurant in town, acclaimed for their beer selection (premise 1: you love beer).

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 [or cider]

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you sit down at the bar because the wait for a table is approximately forty-three and a half minutes, and ain’t nobody got time for that. at least not tonight, not on this occasion (premise 2: you are being good-natured and not cranky about this whole thing cause life is just too short). and here, the situation branches:

scenario 1. lo and behold! you sit down at the bar, perusing the menu, and the bartender comps you half a pint of their house beer, “on tap tonight, enjoy! thanks for being such a good-natured human!” (premise 3a: it is a normal, and not a weird, thing to be served beer in halves of pints.)

now, rate your level of happy/unhappyness about this turn of events:

<– -5 (extreme dejection) — -4 — -3 — -2 — -1 — 0 (neutral) — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 (super-elation) –>

scenario 2. lo and behold! you sit down at the bar, perusing the menu, and the bartender comps you whole a pint of their house beer, “on tap tonight, enjoy! thanks for being such a good-natured human!” and then all of a sudden, takes the pint back and dumps out half of it, leaving you with just half a pint. premise 3b: in the perfect, hypothetical world of blog experiments, somehow none of the beer is wasted but simply returns, sluuurp, back into its tap as if it never left. so basically, you don’t have to factor in “waste of beer” as you

rate your level of happy/unhappyness about this turn of events:

<– -5 (extreme dejection) — -4 — -3 — -2 — -1 — 0 (neutral) — 1 — 2 — 3 — 4 — 5 (super-elation) –>

according to the principle of loss aversion, though both scenarios leave you holding the same amount of beer, those two half-pints just don’t feel the same. it’s likely that in the second scenario, you feel the distinct, half-pint-of-beer-shaped hole in your heart, aching a bit more acutely than the half-pint-of-beer-shaped addition of happiness added. it’s the classic “glass half full vs. glass half empty” scenario. of beer.

apparently, loss aversion (like many other behavioral economics-related irrationalities) causes us to assess situations resulting in the same amount of gain/loss and perceive them differently because of the fact that we only feel half as much “happy” from gaining something than the amount of “unhappy” we feel from the loss of something we already owned. even if rationally, we know the two values of the things to be the same.

this is why  you’re compelled to sit through a movie you’re not enjoying, simply because you’re aching for those 9 bucks you dropped.

this is why people stay in bad relationships long after the good has run out, because of the fear of loss rather than the potential gain of a better love life.

this is why you’re gonna fall for that sneaky animal shelter ploy of letting you “foster” baby cats and dogs. because once you’ve experienced ownership, however brief, it’ll be harder to let go.

and because let’s face it:

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[who doesn’t want this daily reminder that you just wish you were a cat sometimes]

aaaand this is why I let myself carry items around a store until I’m all “oh no! I’m attached to this completely unnecessary but irresistibly adorable stuffed animal…guess I gotta buy it” and then blame “loss aversion” afterwards.

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[lamb the lamb, wears hipster glasses]

all this musing; thanks to a departmental project we’re all ideationing (which is a “real word”…), on behavioral finance, and all the interesting research I get to do on loss aversion. apparently, there’ve been studies on “students in a non-credit photography class at Harvard” in which one group was told to “pick your favorite; you won’t be able to change your mind later” and another group to “pick one; if you change your mind within four days, you can swap”.

and it was found that the change in “Like” with the pictures they respectively chose was +1.3 for the group that was told to pick your favorite, until death do you part and a shocking -1.8 (that’s NEGATIVE LIKE) for the group that was told that they’d be foreeevver free; okay fourdays-free to change their minds.

another similarly fascinating study: “students ranked 6 art posters” and were allowed to take home either 3rd or 4th ranked poster. 15 minutes later, they rated their chosen poster again, with group A being told that they could exchange their poster at any time within a month; group B being told that this was a final choice, no take-backs. this study, too, found that group A’s feelings about their poster choice, from before and after choosing to take it home, changed with a factor of NEGATIVE 0.07, while group B’s feelings changed with POSITIVE 0.71. and then, the students were asked which “choice” they preferred to be given — the choice to be group A (“returnable within a month! yay life, liberty, pursuit of free choices!” vs. the choice of group B (“final choice! you choose and that’s it! absolutely draconian!”), with the unsurprising result of about double the students saying that group A had it better—let us be freeeeeeee and uncommitteedddddddddddd.

essentially, this just demonstrates that loss aversion sorta works inversely, too. not only do you feel more amount of sad about losing something you’ve owned than the amount of happy you feel about gaining that same thing anew, but you also feel more warmly and fuzzily about things you already own and are committed to owning. so… not inversely, but actually exactly the same. and on top of it all, even though people think they prefer to have the opportunity to change their outcomes, these opportunities actually hinder ultimate satisfaction in their choices.

but somehow, this flipping of the coin just spoke a lot louder to me, in my researching and ideationing for this project.

it’s mind-blowing, and hopefully, empowering, and maybe it’s cause I’ve been thinking about love or something, but

this also means that, as a wise friend summarized for me:

“you choose the one you love,

but you also love the one you choose.”

there’s definitely no denying that whole “falling” piece in the mysterious equation of “falling in love,” as our movies and as our musics tell us all about. there’s magic in that stomach-bottoms-out-cause-your-face-is-so-pleasing-to-me feeling (…….or so I hear……….).

but there’s also something to say for the “in love” piece because you’ve chosen to fall for another human bean — with all his flawed and perfect bits, getting all integrated with your corresponding ones. there’s mess, and there’s complication, and there’s joy and sanctification and there’s falling cause you’re sorta letting go.

and thus concludes the story of how I ended up writing a blog post while thinking about love while thinking about behavioral finance.

mostly on a Wednesday lunch hour.

😉

[other LOVE-ly things]

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[tiny mousehole home at a not-so-tiny cidery]

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[the fullest my fridge has ever been. vday 2015]

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[my work desk, graced with one markling and two slices of birthday cake, the blue of Frozen blue]

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[oova friends who are now nova friends who remind me of how rull friendship feels]

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[klassic kollege. except 3/4 of us are no longer in college.]

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[goodwill cville on a snowy saturday morning]

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[yeah.]

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[BIG round tables, sturdy conversations, reassuring coffee around three good seesters]

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[“TEA TIME WITH MADISON YEHEAH!”]

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[“why you stop?!”

“oh I just wanted to take a picture!!”

“you scared me, I thought something was wrong!”

haha no, that’s okay mom! go back inside, it’s cold! I love you!”]

what is love — @51birchst.

51 Birch Street

“what a relief for someone to…really know us”

“we don’t regard this life or this marriage as a…finished product. it takes working on. anyway… it’s an adventure.”

“the best compliment I ever got from your mother was: ‘in many ways, you’re okay. you’re much better than most men I know.’ and that was the highest compliment I got. earlier in life, I would’ve died for her. but later in life it meant nothing… she had fantasy love in her head for a long time… I just feel very sorry that there weren’t more happy moments for her.”

link credit to bgooby

ecclesiastes in the morning: call and response

5:18 “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.”

work hard, play hard; enjoy the fruits of your labor; do what you do, and do it well.

6:3-5 “If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered. Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet if finds rest rather than he.”

stop and smell those roses; enjoy the sunshine on your face, and live every day in the attitude of gratitude that these gifts rightfully demand.

7:3 “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.”

there is pain in the growth, growth in the pain.

7:8 “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

…pride and prejudice?? beware of too much sassy, but also, staytrue staytrue.

7:14 “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”

God is always working — when he reveals the details of how he’s doing so, these are just the cherry-on-top moments of wonderful grace and un-helpable gratitude [a virtuous cycle].

8:14-15 “There is a vanity that takes place on earth, that there are righteous people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked people to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity. And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.”

all cliches are simple, obvious, WOAH-inspiring truths; take joy in the joyful, but learn joy from the sorrowful.

for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.

nothing better. than that which God has given him under the sun.

nothing!

amen!!

enjoy the roses; then enjoy their fallen petals everything enjoyed...ecclesiastically ;)
enjoy the roses; then enjoy their fallen petals
everything enjoyed…ecclesiastically 😉