The Dignity of an Empty Space

•August 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

As a child, my father and I watched science documentaries as the rest of the country watched football. To this day, when I feel a deeper shade of indigo, I turn to space and my love for the pathetically insignificant. A documentary, a book, it doesn’t matter. So tonight I came across this scaled map of the solar system.

UE Designer and fellow Los Angeleno, Josh Worth, made the map possible through the use of horizontal scroll. And what a scroll it was! I didn’t expect to be so thoroughly enthralled or for all my toxic thoughts to dissipate into a seemingly endless scroll of…..NOTHINGNESS.

It got me thinking about how humanity interprets and copes with its own insignificance. Not many centuries ago, we thought we were the center of the universe. As new information persisted, it quickly became clear just how small we really are. Not just in relation to matter, but in relation to space. There is so much [“empty”] space.

Whether you more strongly feel the monumental significance of tiny things or the massive void between them depends on who you are, and how your brain chemistry is balanced at a particular moment. We walk around with miniature, emotional versions of the universe inside of us.

I’ve always felt grateful for being the speck of consciousness in a vast backdrop of void. Like a fervid memory in one’s life. Life isn’t all memories. It’s mainly just time. At least that’s what seems to be the case when a special moment lived in time sinks deeper into the past and the moments spent between then and now start to blur.  Space is sort of like that time between a fond memory and the present.

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It’s reassuring to know that no matter how depressingly bleak or ridiculously momentous we feel, the universe, judging by its current structure, seems well aware of both extremes.

As present day humans, we’re all a bit myopic when it comes to imagining what something so disparate as nothingness really is, or what it isn’t, rather. Much less are we capable of delineating it. The thought of nothing existing before or after the universe throws some people into panic mode. It’s hard enough to believe that we as individuals will cease to exist. When I was a child, my thoughts looped the void that came before my own existence. It may sound pompous, but I found history to be a respite from the anxiety I felt from the thought of having not existed, because it almost gave breath to the extreme of nothingness I was before being what I am now.

Because of thoughts such as these, some prefer to live a muffled existence as an escape from the extremes that are found in the universe. Perhaps we can’t avoid the vast voids such as the space between Jupiter and Mars, but we can avoid our worldly voids, such as the price of fulfillment by not fulfilling, the pain of loss by never having, or the stabbing pains of the heart by simply limiting what you feel for someone. We try to be constant in an inconstant universe, because looking at the vastness of the other extremes makes us feel powerless; it’s safer to pretend we are capable of living in between. The authentically human concept known as, “Limbo”.

We are not insignificant.

We are merely an extreme.





On Raising Thinkers

•September 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

syriacafeI was standing in line for my daily mocha, when I started eavesdropping on a father telling his three sons, (of about 7 to 13), about the war in Syria. I prepped my eyes for the inevitable eyeroll that was sure to ensue after hearing yet another American, suburban parent inflict their political beliefs on their children. I was pleasantly surprised to see this was not the case at all. He described the present Syrian situation as clearly, unbiasedly, and thoroughly as a man could in a short matter of time to 3 young boys. Then he asked for their opinions without interjecting. The three had varying comments from “it’s not our business” to “we need to help them NOW!! We need to fight for them!”. Without making any of his sons sound more correct than the other, he drew out their reasoning behind their answers and developed a little mini debate over sandwiches and fizzy drinks.

Parenting done right.

The Innovation of Loneliness

•August 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen

A word on celebrating “real bodies”.

•August 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

WeightBeautyWith the recent ads in magazines, campaigns for “real beauty”, and the emergence of “normal Barbie”…I want to say something on my humble, digital soapbox. I find it irritating when being overweight is celebrated. It’s understood that the celebration has good intentions and a victory over torture and the inability to identify with what society deems a “normal body”. However, going to the complete opposite of the spectrum is not the right approach. It’s no secret that being overweight entails health consequences. I wouldn’t say “get it, girl!” to a smoker refusing to quit. Refusing to applaud to the acceptance and celebration of being overweight should not be treated with horror and frowns. It perpetuates the problem of a host of health issues this country has without addressing the issue it is trying to fix, which is to put an end to the ridicule and the feelings of being ostracized anomalies in (what tries to appear) a world of runway models. I think it’s a good start to build awareness of the different (and unique) flaws we all possess. This however, must be done by celebrating the best each unique individual can be. Yes, it is important to show that being big is NOT abnormal. Stretch marks are NOT abnormal. Cellulite is NOT abnormal. The same way someone shouldn’t be ridiculed about their poverty or broken limbs, an overweight person should not be treated like an anomaly. It’s cruel and ignorant. No one is flawless. And there are a vast number of reasons for weight gain; not just “laziness”. We just need to put an emphasis on individuality and healthy choices. A small boned person will never have thick, killer thighs like Ciara or Beyonce. A big boned person will never have a teensy waist or long thin legs like Miranda Kerr. SO WHAT?! Celebrate whatever shape/size/height you are when you are at your best. Celebrate your freckles. Not your sun damage. Celebrate your body. Not your fat. There is a difference. Celebrate the features that make you YOU; not the features that hide them. Your fat is not a part of what makes you, you. And neither is that unhealthy, waif-like look you got from fasting or drugs. We need to teach our children about healthy choices, individuality, and above all, respect; so we can all stop worrying about what stage of the journey other people are at.

I write.

•June 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

kafka“I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.”
– Franz Kafka

Thoughts on security, ataraxia, and a homeland shooting.

•June 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

wireIt is in the young hours after the day of the Santa Monica shooting rampage that I find myself unable to sleep. My inability to sleep is for a multitude of reasons, but my thoughts of the day’s events not far do thus contribute.

Six people, not far from what I’ve called home had their lives cut short today. Their memories, potentials, and current endeavors eradicated from existence. A longtime question of psychologists and thoughtful minds alike, is, “what exactly goes on in a murderer’s mind?” I am not a human behaviourist, and I did not end up pursuing my original major of Psych. Therefore, my humble fascination with the mind can not give a scientifically backed answer. I can, however, give my take, and that is that these actions are based on a distorted interpretation of the individual’s background. This is not meant to sound completely nurture-based. The idea is that the given  interpretation is propagated from biological makeup. Adrian Raine, author of “The Anatomy of Violence” (worth a read!), explains that there is alarming evidence that killers possess an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Known as the CEO of the brain, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for emotion, temperament, problem solving, and complex thought. In the end, the concept of murder may not be as complex as it is made out to be. It may very well boil down to what that individual perceived to be acceptable.

This all can be a scary thought, as this would prove that murderous tendencies are expected amongst the vast array of populace. Risk is taken with the act of living. It is common to overlook this and try to identify relevant characteristics in a situation, so that one may learn to avoid them. The Stoics, who dominated the ancient school of thought, preached ataraxia in an unpredictable world. If emotions are governed, anxiety is limited. Nevertheless, even with a peaceful mind, tragedies will happen, especially with technological advancements.

It is a natural assumption that a left-leaning citizen would be absolutely opposed to any form of artillery, much less civilian owned guns. A gun is, in fact, an apparatus for obliterating a living organism. That is putting aside whether the shot was for murder or protection. The full make up of a gun is designed to end a life. Achieving this of course, depends on the shooter and his or her intentions. A gun can not achieve its purpose without a human pulling its trigger. However, it is with guns that an unarmed victim finds his life arbitrarily obliterated without chance of a winning fight. It is the frustration in this last statement that a somewhat-liberal such as I, can not fully deny sane, law-abiding citizens a chance to protect themselves, should they choose to do so.

This brings me to the idea of general security. With a largely populated country, comes larger security. I believe the problem is in the inability to distinguish security from safety and liberty. Safety is an impossible dream for a large country. Government responds to safety breaches by creating greater security through diminished liberty.

A current example is the fuss about phone companies providing the NSA with metadata about the duration of calls and to whom the calls were made. This, coupled with internet surveillance, is an invasion of privacy, especially if one  believes that knowing the duration of a phone call is a stepping stone to more wiretapping. Security is a complicated ground where officials may feel that sacrifices must be made in the name of safety. The history of under-achieving, overly-sanguine surveillance programs is a great one. The most recent being accepted as an erroneously temporary one. It is a sad state, to say the least. However, I’m sure the public will reach the even more elaborate consensus that this is all to stalk their mundane yahoo chat exchanges, their 30 minute conversations with their mothers, or the 90 minute breathing-into-the-phone exchanges with their significant others. It bears mention that corporations collect consensual data that can be sold and used against an individual, long before unwarranted non-egregious data can be used.

An Ostentatious Library

•February 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

bookescape“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote 

And then there were books.

I always saw reading as an activity best done in isolation. It’s not exactly an activity that requires much interaction with others. However, there is much interaction with text. Once thought to be unprecedented feelings and experiences quickly become strange connections to someone you have not met that gives eloquence to the very thought you were sure only you held.

I have enough books to fill up 3 and a half average sized bookshelves. I’ve realized most of my spending over the years has gone to this ever-growing collection and unfortunately my closet has suffered because of this. But the money spent is not the part that bothers me. Rather, it’s the fact that I have this nasty habit of bookmarking. I buy a book, obsess over it, read a few chapters, and insert a card that promises to hold my place for a more convenient time. That time never arrives, because I am quickly reminded of another subject I wish to explore and thus another card that promises to hold my place is created. I’m not sure when this habit was started, but it went on for years. I collected quite an eclectic library. One year I received a comment on this from someone that didn’t think much of my intellect. It drew attention to fact that these half-read books made my shelf seem pretentious, random, and flat out ostentatious. I am an individual who values her eclectic passions and feeling as if my passions were under attack made me vow to never buy another book until I read every single book I possess.

booksIt’s been a journey.  I read feverishly as a child and adolescent and somewhere along the way I got caught up in the simple world, forgetting all I am fascinated by. It’s been 2 years since I have started this project, and I still have a ways to go. (And I do, admit, I cracked and purchased 2 short books.)

But thanks to this project, I found a unifying passion that makes me feel less scattered and more focused. This is a subject I will discuss in more depth when the time comes to make an announcement. Until that time comes, for this alone, I am immensely thankful.