Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You are what you....Think?

"Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit"


So during one of my idle moments I started to wonder, wonder a little too much, about the power of the mind. I decided to read "As Man Thinketh" by British philosopher James Allen to give me better insight into what I struggled to articulate to myself.


We have the power to control our thoughts and the direction our lives take. Only we can determine our reaction. No one else can dictate our thoughts. Therefore, the consequences that befall us are due, in part, to our thoughts (mind that I did not say circumstances, although that, too, is mostly true. Remember, there are always exceptions). In a more convoluted manner, Allen states this message as such, "Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry." Thoughts indeed are very much like a garden that we tend to, and it will flourish as we desire it to, or wilt when we neglect it. How many times have you tactlessly made a statement in the fury of anger? That, reader, is an example of neglecting one's garden.  


While your environment to great degrees influences your behavior, you are in possession of yourself and have the ability to inspire change. If you so choose to wallow in the abyss of depression or foster the traits of a degenerate, what can anyone do for you? They can advise you and guide you, but the change begins with YOU. No one can force you to be anything different than you aspire. In truth, "Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself." I mention this solely because some people are very quick to blame others for who they are, when, in reality, you can at any moment change. 


As the master and maker of yourself, as Allen states, it's up to you to utilize these roles of empowerment. That second chance, that glimpse at  the transformative power you harness, that forgiving glint reverberating within all of humanity, sits awaiting the moment you decide to use it.  Your environment, your destiny, your experience, is connected to you, and it's up to you what you contribute. What you give is what you shall reap. 


Indeed, your thoughts help develop your state of being. According to Allen:
Thought and character are one, and as character can only manifest and discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer conditions of a person's life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state. This does not mean that a man's circumstances at any given time are an indication of his entire character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some vital thought-element within himself that, for the time being, they are indispensable to his development.


What does all this mean? It means that your environment does not control you. There's a great freedom in gaining self-control of your thoughts and emotions. Until one learns that they are in control, and not all the pressures and temptations present on a daily basis, then one discovers true mastery. Circumstance is  not to be credited with making the man,  but with revealing man to himself. After all, "no such conditions can exist as descending into vice and its attendant sufferings apart from vicious inclinations, or ascending into virtue and its pure happiness without the continued cultivation of virtuous aspirations." In short, who you are, your actions, may be spurred on by external factors, but your inclinations belong to none other but yourself.  Once you  "cease to whine and revile, and commence to search for the hidden justice which regulates [your] life. And as you] adapt [your] mind to that regulating factor, [you cease] to accuse others as the cause of [your] condition, and [build yourself] up in strong and noble thoughts; [cease] to kick against circumstances, but [begin] to use them as aids to [your] more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within [yourself]."  Sadly, with all the distractions blockading progress, it seems many miss the opportunity to cultivate this truth.


In life, you "do not attract that which [you] want, but that which [you] are. [Your] whims, fancies, and ambitions are thwarted at every step, but [your] inmost thoughts and desires are fed with [your] own food, be it foul or clean. The "divinity that shapes [your] ends" is in [yourself]; it is [your] very self." You can choose to imprison yourself or free yourself This is common sense, right? You know you CAN do this. But why don't you? 


 Much happens in life that leaves us simply flabbergasted. We often wish and pray, but wishing and prayer is only facilitated through some effort on your part, because "UNTIL thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment."In agreement with Allen, "wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with [your] thoughts and actions." Moreover, nothing will improve for us if we refuse to improve yourself. So while it's okay to have visions of your house with the white picket fence, to become a head chef, a teacher, or president of the United States, those desires will never be realized unless we pursue it with a passionate ambition and relentless determination. Every time we fall and get back up means that we are one step closer to overcoming a weakness. Always, "Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all, heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built." That ideal, no matter the sacrifice, will be achieved if your heart is set on it. Nothing is without sacrifice.


In order to achieve great things, a great sacrifice must be made. The sacrifice of time, the sacrifice of a night out on the town, the sacrifice of not buying those really nice pairs of shoes, the sacrifice of not playing your favorite sport for how ever long, the sacrifice of living somewhere intolerable when you'd rather live on a raft in the middle of the ocean surrounded by hungry sharks, haha, at this point you get what I mean.  As Allen states, The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set... Even the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object." Sacrifice makes that journey worthwhile. Not everyone may realize all the tribulations you underwent to achieve all you possess.  These are your battles. The scars you bear, none will ever fully know the wound before the scar. Indeed,  "circumstances, however, are so complicated, thought is so deeply rooted, and the conditions of happiness vary so, vastly with individuals, that a man's entire soul-condition (although it may be known to himself) cannot be judged by another from the external aspect of his life alone." Your experience is yours and none, not even vicariously, can know it well. 


What many do not realize is the power of thoughts to manifest itself into habit. Take for instance certain fears. I often catch myself hoping that something doesn't fall, and while worrying so much, it happens, haha. That actually happened to my aunt the other day. She kept worrying that she would stain her shirt to the point that her shirt got stained with her food, haha. Remember, "Thoughts of doubt and fear never accomplished anything, and never can," at least nothing good. Now this won't always be the case, but without your realizing it, your thoughts can lead to both fortunate and unfortunate circumstances. A couple months ago, I was having a conversation with my boyfriend about the connection between your thoughts and your health. It began like this:


Me: baby, when will you rescue me from my tower?

Boyfriend: When pigs fly. I'll jump on a pig and rescue you. That would be sick, huh?


That conversation was a great segue way into how much our emotions impact our health. People commit suicide over a broken heart, experience extremely high stress levels and severe depression that cause their body to emotionally shut down, and, a  lot of the times, people get sick. Well, as much as the internal tends to be ignored, it's not out of sight, out of mind. The article below asserts that repressed anger and other negative emotions that remain unexpressed could potentially lead to cancer. Obviously there are exceptions. There always are. Even Allen stated that:

Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought. Sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly body. Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet, and they are continually killing thousands of people just as surely though less rapidly. The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it. Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, and lays it open to the entrance of disease; while impure thoughts, even if not physically indulged, will soon shatter the nervous system.Still, it's nevertheless an interesting concept to consider.
Emotions are part of the body. They're not as tangible as a body part, but they're just as important and should not be ignored. 
My point is, strive to live a healthier life, try to control your emotions, do the little things that make you happy. Don't let envy, anger, malice and other negative emotions control you and wear you out. If you need an excuse to tell your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/best friend/other significant person in your life, to  stop harassing you, now you can say, "Stop it, you're going to give me cancer...literally."  Alright, let's not guilt trip anyone and it's not something to joke about, but I think you get the gist of what I'm saying. Ultimately, one seeks serenity. When "[we become] calm in the measure that [we understand ourselves] as a thought evolved being... such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought, and as [we develop] a right understanding, and [see] more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect [we cease[ to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and [remain] poised, steadfast, serene.[We], having learned how to govern himself, [know] how to adapt [ourself] to others... The more tranquil a [we become], the greater is [our] success, [our] influence, [our] power" to achieve all we desire.
Your actions and the actions of others (at least those who matter to you) matter! You may not see it now, it may be a passing cloud, but think about what you say and do. There are repercussions for your actions, severe ones at times. It's important to find a balance and maintain poise of character. I'm all for more love and more compassion.

"Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep: wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, "Peace, be still!" -James Allen










Creative Commons License
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Secrets

Secrets lurk beneath the surface, hide in dimensions, lie awaiting discovery in the crevices of our soul, in the black holes of the universe. Sometimes secrets are necessary. At times they lend your character mystery, even if that secret isn't extraordinary. Sometimes secrets are kept that could harm a person you love, and, thus, they are stored away to protect both parties from an unnecessary circumstance.

 It is not always that secrets should be kept, especially if it goes so far as to breach the sanctity of a bond. In the realm of trust, the heart is given with the understanding that it shall be respected. While observing the nature of relationships from afar and near, I've noticed the insidious form secrets take when kept for selfish reasons. Countless scenarios stream pass my mind of those secrets that I've seen slowly lead to the atrophy of even the most seemingly beautiful relationship, be it platonic, romantic, or familial.

By selfish, I mean fostering the knowledge of a secret that would wholly disrespect the person for whom you care deeply. Such knowledge is damaging because you are  aware of certain boundaries that should not be crossed ( established earlier in the relationship through conversation or is understood through common sense), because, if crossed, it will cause that person pain that will never fully heal. Sometimes, in such a scenario, it is best to be forthright and honest, because such secrets, or withheld truths, can, at times, become lies. Such lies will cut far deeper than the truth and could thoroughly decimate the most precious of bonds.

If you truly love someone,  as a good friend, a lover, or blood relative, then let not falsehood adulterate the commitment you've made to that person. One of the most beautiful aspects unique to humanity is their ability to love. It is saddening, and almost frightening, how capable we are of hurting those we love, because they are at their most vulnerable. When we seek to hurt them, we strike far deeper, because we know exactly where and how to strike. I have the solemn hope that we would take better care in how we treat one another.

 When you love someone, be true.


Creative Commons License
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Star and Noir: Two Special Cats

Noir and Star. When Noir died, apparently he was missing an eye. In the picture I took a couple days before he died, the shadows make him look like he has only one eye...

What's a relationship without trust, right?  Trust takes time, patience, and care to build. Once built, it's sturdy and worth holding on to, and yet the slightest deception can lead to it's downfall. I simply want to share a rather intriguing story regarding two very special cats, Star and Noir, who allowed me more insight into the nature of trust.

Mother (Pregnen) with kitten (Halo)
In my temporary home, up in the hills, I've encountered numerous stray cats. At first I simply acknowledged their existence. That was the extent of our relationship. I already have a beautiful blue-point himalayan persian, 14 years old (or is he 15? He's just old), healthy as can be, and the reason for my allergies. Sterling has his own room that I rarely visited, until I started to become more than mere acquaintances with the stray cats. Over time as I fed and observed them, I learned their different personalities. Suddenly they just weren't flea-ridden cowards that scurried off the moment they heard a sound (mind you, I don't detest cats. I think they're cute. I just find their paranoia funny), they were uniquely fascinating.  Animals have stories, too.

During the rainy season all the cats huddled close to keep warm. Noir and his brother and sister, Oreo and Spry, snuggled, all curled up, on the wooden bench outside. They formed a furry bundle safe from the cold raindrops and sharp wind. As kittens, they played,  jumped about and ran around in a game that resembled tag, but with a twist. The musketeers ate, slept, and played together.

Noir was especially close to Spry. When I poured food into their bowls, he would walk out from his hiding place, look back, and meow. Spry upon hearing him would emerge and join him to eat, then they lay side by side. Their bond grew when a car knocked down Oreo.

But it wasn't long before Spry, the beautiful calico, too, was knocked down. Noir was left with no one to give him warmth. As I poured the food into the bowls, he would look at the spot where she usually came from,  and meow. Eventually he realized he was alone. He sought the affection of the other cats. He would rub against Gorda or Tuxedo, or meow to any cat near him. Many fluffled their tails, arched their backs, and slashed out at him. Others simply hissed at him and  ignored his meows, which strangely sounded more like cries. Soon Pretty Face, a gold cat with a tail striped with white, started harassinng him, not letting him near the food,and hissing at him.
Shy little Marshmallow

One rainy windy day when he looked up at Gorda and Tuxedo curled up on the bench, he meowed to them. They ignored him, and he went to a corner, where he stayed, all wet and alone. It wasn't long before he moved himself farther and farther away from our house and hid somewhere up the road in the bushes. As I walked the dogs, he would run down the road meowing to me. It's as if he knew he was safe when we were around. I remember calling my mother out of the house so she would greet him and take him to the food. All the while he meowed.

Seeing how he constantly surveyed his surroundings as he ate, I sat outside with him. He meowed to me and ate peacefully. I took pictures of him. In some of the pictures he appeared to have only one eye. Strange and sad, I thought.  Eventually I grew accustomed to sitting outside and watching him eat. Even after he finished, I still sat outside for a bit. His melodious meow never stopped. He seemed to enjoy my company. He would try to come near me, meow, and then move back again. He meowed a lot. His meow sounded desperate and sorrowful. I've never encountered a cat who meowed that frequently. 

One night my mother and I decided to take Koko for a walk. It was pitch black so we carried a flashlight.
Walking up the hill I jumped at a sudden noise, a meow, and at a flash of black. It was Noir. He had waited for us. I sat by him as he ate and stayed outside a little longer with him. As he ate, I tried to touch him, but he drew back. I tried again, and he didn't draw back nearly as much. Soon he ate unconcerned about whether or not I touched him, though sometimes he would look up.

He would make a good house cat. He needs someone to love him.

If only I could get him used to the human touch. Then he would never be alone.

Tiger
The next morning my mother told me she went to find Noir, knowing that he would be hiding in the bushes. Pretty Face had finally managed to force Noir far away from us. She told my step-father, "Look there he is." She pointed up the road. There he was. A shadow upon the gravel.

But he wasn't moving. The gravelled road was splattered with his blood. He was missing an eye. Just like my picture.

After my step-father buried Noir, I could not stop pondering over the tragic life Noir led. Furthermore, if I hadn't observed them I would never have cared about the relationships cats build with each other. They have their own society, though clearly not as intricate or evolved as human society. I couldn't get his meow out of my head. None of the other cats' demise affected me as much as his. I felt a strange bond with him that I had never felt with my own persian. I started spending more time with Sterling thanks to Noir, even if it means getting Benadryl wasted.

Then I met Star. Star has a dark gray stripped coat with patches  of orange. She grew up with Pengui, Tiger, and Patches. Pretty Face, the territorial monster, drove Pengui away, and eventually Tiger and Patches moved farther away, to the front of the house. We place bowls of cat food at the front of the house and in the back. Eventually Star, too, was left alone.

She didn't meow as much as Noir, actually she didn't quite know how to meow. Her meows sounded more like a choked back scream, and sometimes when she opened her mouth to meow, no sound came. She lounged around and preoccupied herself with exploring, sleeping, or eating. If Pretty Face came around, she hid, but was never fearful enough to desert the area. Sometimes she drank pool water. In time, she grew accustomed to me bringing out food and would greet me at the door.

Could I do for her what I failed to do for Noir?

I went back inside and got a piece of ham. I threw it her way. She ran, but not too far, before she turned around and smelled the honeyed-ham. It took a long time, days actually, before she eventually took it from my hand. But soon she knew I was not a threat. Now she's not afraid to be petted. She meows (yes, she meows now!) as if demanding her piece of ham. She's not even afraid of our yorkies (but who would be, really?) She'll jump on the lounge chair and sniff my hands for ham and start purring, her little paws kneading the soft cushion. She'll raise a paw almost as if to put it on my lap, but withdraw and continue kneading the cushions. Her claws remain withdrawn once near me. I think I've made a new friend. Maybe she's a ham-addict now, but at least she's not alone. She shows affection to all the cats, even if they show her none. I learned that if I train them to stay near, then they won't stray as far and will live longer. So far from all that have been trained, none have died. :)

Jedi, a striped cat, now follows in the steps of Star. He is far from affectionate, but he comes when called, will come near you, will eat from your hand, and so on. However, he has a habit of slashing out at times, but now he keeps his claws withdrawn. Gemini is not as shy either, and Marshmallow is coming out of her shell as well. They love the Temptation treats, except Marshmallow. Jedi sometimes gets moody and prefers ham, haha.

The Village of Cats:

Gorda: the obese and surprisingly atheltic cat. Absolutely no other cat can mess with her.
Spry: A beautiful calico who unforunately got hit by a car. A fate that befell her two brothers, Oreo and Noir (R.I.P.)
Oreo:  Black and white and a bit awkward looking. He got hit by a car (R.I.P.)
Tuxedo: my crackhead. He was always on the run and terrified of the other cats. He was very friendly and always meowing his lungs out for food. (R.I.P)
Negrito: A cat black as night. He would climb the palm tree next to the house and jump on the roof. There would be a loud clatter that's terrifying  if you're inside the house. It was a relief to know that all that noise wasn't someone trying to break  into the house  but Negrito. He, however, had a difficult time figuring out how to get back down. (R.I.P).
Mami: She's rather ugly and looks aged. She can be very aggressive. Loves treats.
Pregnen: She's the slut of all the cats. Always pregnant. A good mother to her kittens, though. Very pretty cat.
Jedi, the bad boy

Pengui- The penguin. Very friendly until Pretty Face-- the bully--ran him off. (R.I.P.)
Pretty Face- The village bully. Chased away almost all the cats. He's calmed down finally after getting a beating from Mustachio. He's also afraid of Gorda (she is fat enough to squash him)
Mustachio: Black and white, looks like he has a mustache. Don't know too much about him.
Sylvester: Weird looking cat. Hence the name. One eye is bigger than the other and his face looks like a cartoon.
Patches: Pretty paranoid calico. Another crackhead. She always hangs out with her brother, Tiger.
Tiger: Patches' brother. He's always arching his back and tries to act all fierce.. Tiger, I'm sorry to break it to you, but you're not a real tiger.
Gemini: Mostly white but his face is both black and white...split down the middle that way
Jedi: The next cat I'm training. He's brave and curious.
Star: A very smart cat. Gray fur. Tiger stripes. Hint of orange.
Marshmallow: Mostly white, but with more black patches than Gemini



Creative Commons License
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Earthquakes and Tsunamis 101

If you would like to assist Japan then click on the following link: http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/index.html

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Northern Japan on March 11, 2011 led me to enlighten myself on the nature of these natural disasters. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred near the island of Honshu and is known as the fifth largest ever recorded in Japan. The combined forces killed thousands, moved planes, trains, and cars, overtook homes, killed power sources, leaving Japan in a state of utter despair. To top it all off, as rescuers scurried about digging through rubble in the desperate and courageous attempt to help those buried beneath, the nuclear power reactor explodes, leaking high levels of radiation.


The reason Japan is earthquake and tsunami prone is due to their location, since it lies along the edge of four tectonic plates. Once the oceanic plates rub together it releases a tremendous amount of energy/force in the form of an earthquake. Being so near the water as well, a tsunami may quickly follow an earthquake, as was the case in this event. According to Kyodo News, about 151,000 are in shelters and 14,000 are missing.

Earthquake 101



 For the most part, an earthquake occurs when tectonic plates grind against each other.  Tectonic plates, or masses of rock that look like puzzle pieces, are constantly in motion due to the heat found in the earth's core. At times they rub together which impedes their motion. When this happens, it causes stress, and, thus, releases energy in the form of seismic waves.


Tsunami 101



Disturbances, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, lead to a deformation of the seafloor that upsets the equilibrium of the water. Once this happens, it produces powerful shockwaves that travel up to 600 miles per hour (about as fast as a jet). It's not as noticeable in the deep ocean, but as it nears shallow water, the waves can rise up to 100 feet.






Creative Commons License
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Vicissitudes of Life

How do you harness the many vicissitudes of life? Change is ever imminent and an expectation that leave many ill-equipped.Yet such knowledge is easily forgotten in moments of bliss. Then suddenly the change, whether for better or worse, approaches. Although in life we garner many lessons, the hardest is accepting that nothing lasts forever. That dark tangible truth lurks in the crevices of your mind. It  manifests itself in the tone of our voices, as agitation, frustration, anger, in deceit, in the deterioration of trust, in disbelief, in shock, and the list goes on and changes, fitting into the context of the situation.

Now comes the ultimate question, will love prevail? Because love conquers all, right? Love for your work, your spouse, family. Or is the question, will YOU prevail? For so long love has been perceived as unconquerable, and yet, at times it's almost intolerable. When obstacles come your way that seem insurmountable, if it's not love that wins, or you, what does? Is it your drive?Well, it's knowing what you want, and striving for it. After all, what is life if you have nothing to live for? If so, no matter what the change, fight for what you believe in, but only if it is good for you. No matter the dissension, the discord, the pain that seems perpetual, sleepless nights, the stress from piles of work ( throw in whatever scenario that suits your situation), the key is knowing when to let go and when to find your strength.

Now, I've been asked, "Why is letting go so hard?" It's strange because many apply this question to romantic relationships, and yet I see it so often encountered in all segments of society, of life. Letting go is usually hard because of all the time, energy, and heart you invested in that project, in that dream, in that belief of what you wanted, in that relationship, in that job, in that promise. It is hard because of memories that make the past seem present, almost alive, and tangible. Memories of a loved one who passed, memories of an ex-lover, memories of fun times, or memories of all the plans you dreamed up and suddenly can't be anymore. Sometimes you don't let go because you're afraid of the pain that letting go will bring. But if it isn't good for you, then you're hurting yourself in ways you can't imagine. Deep inside you know the answer. It's all a matter of making that final decision and sticking with it. Change is sometimes what you need. It's a learning experience, it's happiness, it's sadness, it's all part of the adventure. Learn to adapt to it. Sometimes we just need to learn to accept it, to believe more, to have a little more faith.

Note: My boyfriend wants an octopus and a chameleon. He also thinks I should rename my blog to "Memoirs of a Badass," haha. That's why I keep him around, he makes me laugh.

Creative Commons License
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.