Friday, October 30, 2009

darkness and light

I just read these two articles from the New York Times' "Happy Days" blog:

Number 1
Number 2

They both discuss despair as a vital aspect of happiness - the idea that without darkness we cannot experience light. I think this is a very interesting idea, but I believe that it's a philosophy more applicable to literature, art, and/or music than to life itself. It's true that we can appreciate happiness more when we have experienced despair or depression, but I don't believe that we need to cultivate suffering to heighten our experience of joy.

I think that what both these articles get at is this idea that a person has to go inward and discover their truest self, and accept that self, in order to be happy. The first article states that "despair is marked by a desire to get rid of the self, an unwillingness to become who you fundamentally are." In renaissance literature, if a character stated that they were in despair, it always meant that that character was going to commit suicide: the ultimate ridding of the self. What I conclude from the quoted statement above is that to end despair we must know and accept who we are. Only when we have taken this journey inward, really confronting our darkness and understanding it, can we come back into the light and experience compassion, sympathy, and empathy for our fellow humans.

The second author uses Coleridge rather than Kirkegaard to back up his point, which is that despair begets joy, and that experiencing intense longing is to be "suffused with love." I disagree, however. I think that to truly experience love and happiness is to be rid of longing. When we can let go and move through life with open hearts and open minds is when we can truly experience happiness. Although it is romantic to pine and be consumed with desire, it is not really the best way to live day-to-day. How exhausting to be constantly wanting! One of the noble truths of Buddhism is that to eliminate suffering, we have to let go of desires, and then we can experience peace. So, rather than cultivate or wallow in longing and despair, we can acknowledge those feelings, understand that they are transient, and move on. But once again there is this idea that we have to travel inward in order to experience happiness or peace: we're all going to experience despair, but rather than ignoring those feelings or identifying with them, we can accept them, release them, and move forward. It's this constant balance between darkness and light.

While reading and thinking about both of these articles, in the back of my mind is Karen Armstrong, whose work I've been reading and listening to on She talks a lot about compassion, and acknowledging that we humans are all connected. Also on my mind has been the writing of Rolf Gates, who says that in order to have compassion for our fellow man (an outward experience), we have to first travel inward. To truly love others, we first have to find love within.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

VegFest and Yoga

It's been a super long time since I've posted, and I apologize for that. I have been keeping busy with work, bands, yoga, friends, etc., and life is pretty good right now. This weekend was the Central Florida VegFest, and I went with my dad and friend Lindzee, and met up with some friends from the yoga studio as well.

VegFest brought forth the large and mysterious hipster population of Orlando. I have never seen so many plaid shirts and skinny jeans in one place on a day where the temperature was pushing 90. But there they were in all their glory, beards on the men and feathered headbands on the girls (disclaimer: I almost bought a feathered headband). All judgment aside though, I was happy to see so many peace-loving, like-minded people in Orlando. It was a relief to be surrounded by vegetarian food booths and guys playing acoustic guitars under trees. Even though we only stayed for 2 hours, I was really happy to be there.

I have been doing yoga 3-4 times a week at least for these past few weeks, and it has been one of the main things on my mind. I just really love it - it is helping me get in touch with God and spirituality in a new way. I keep surprising myself in class, whether it be by doing a full back-bend, a headstand without wall support, or just being able to breathe so deeply. I think it's really important to be reminded sometimes that we're all capable of more than we think.

Well that is all for now. Thanks for coming back even though I post so sporadically!

p & l

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

maybe it's the sugar talking...

I've been thinking a lot of deep thoughts lately: contemplative, confused, alliterative thoughts. And I've been trying to figure out what to write about in the old blog, and how to get all my thoughts out and worded correctly. But just now, I had a delicious snack, and decided to write about that instead.

Every day I eat yogurt - it was the hardest thing to give up during my brief foray into veganism. Lately I've been bringing a cup of Fage Greek yogurt to work, with honey and pecans to stir in. It's really good. I also always bring oatmeal to work, with a little baggie of fixins: brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins. WELL. Today, I didn't eat my breakfast, so when I was eating my yogurt, my little bag of sugar and raisins was sitting seductively on my desk, and I thought, "hey... that could work." So along with the honey and nuts I mixed in delicious brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon. I was hesitant at first - would it overpower the yogurt? Would I regret this decision to mar my healthy snack with extra sugar?

Turns out it was a whole lot of crap to put into a tiny cup of yogurt, but ultimately I'm glad I dove in and tried it. In short: carpe diem, my friends! Put too much stuff in your yogurt! It might be delicious.