Bliss

What is this notion of bliss, this most venerable of a concept? What is it about it that is so unattainable, so desirable, and so fulfilling all at once?

I would argue that the definition of the word is not necessarily the experience of the word; for to you and me, a standardised definition we may come to some agreement upon, but exactly what evokes this state of bliss in us, will undoubtably vary greatly.

So what exactly IS bliss?
Well it seems that bliss is a totality. It is a plenum of total joy, of ecstasy and happiness. It doesn’t have to be loud or abashed (although it can be), but it is not the same as being content – because content almost implies that you have everything you need, to be happy. In that moment, you are sure if you were to think about it, that you have everything you need. But perhaps bliss excels that. Perhaps bliss is an orgasm of what everything that makes you content brings you.

Contentment (as amazing a feeling and notion as it is) seems to come from an experience where you slowly come to realise you have everything you need. You may be aware of the experience or not; but you certainly are in it, for in the duration nothing bothers you.

Bliss; is more of an explosion. It has suddenly come upon me, that I am happy, as happy as I can conceivably imagine being in the moment, and I am overwhelmed by it. It is a cheering moment, a Eureka. It’s having all your desires met or surpassed in the moment, and having nothing else to replace them.

It’s one thing to be sat at home, reading a book, perfectly relaxed on some idle Sunday afternoon with someone you love; but it is quite another to have been trapped in a car in some snowstorm overnight on Saturday, and then walking in the door to the warmth and release of stuffy clothing you were absorbed by, on Sunday morning, realising you have a favourite hot meal waiting for you or ready to be easily prepared, and then suddenly checking your phone to find that you and the same person from before are off all of Monday also. Or perhaps you come to find, through some random monotonous chore, that some memorable item you thought to have lost a long time ago, in fact has been found again. Or perhaps the person of your greatest desires, seems to equally be befallen with you.

The two experiences of content and bliss are wonderful, and arguably the barometer for happiness you should aspire to; but it seems that one is a slow peaceful understanding, while the other is quite a violent event suddenly coming upon you.

And here, I believe is where the interesting part lies. We can agree on the definition of content. We can agree on some standardised understanding of bliss. But, we could rarely agree on the definition of bliss, because bliss is unique… to you, now. What you believe to be bliss, is defined utterly in the moment. It doesn’t have to be the happiest you’ve ever been, because you could find this experience of bliss when you have been made very unhappy by a colleague at work, and then find out simultaneously that this employee has been fired for bullying, and you have received a promotion. So while this moment may not quite compare to a wedding day, the birth of a child, or the realisation of some life long dream; relatively, it was the happiest you could conceivably imagine being at that moment. And you got it.

These unique, rare little moments, that seems to come too few and too far apart – you got one.

And so, by its nature, as fast as it arrives, it may dissipate. Just as some kind of detonation seems to cause its damage at its inception, and then seems to leave rather quickly. Fleeting as all things are, unfortunately this state of bliss will leave, because eventually you will conceive of new things, in a new moment, that could bring you new happiness. But if the moment is kind however, it will dissipate slowly and not all at once. And you will be left with this slow, after-climax, that you can enjoy. And if you find yourself very appreciative, and understanding, you may transition that moment of bliss, into content, and by its very definition, be perfectly happy with all that you have.

And that, is a most wonderful thought to think.

With all of the above in mind; I ask you specifically… What is bliss?

The Person Behind The Mirror

Life is just a series of  tiny moments. Unique little, fleeting “nows”… that happen in the moment, before we realise it happened. At an attempt to understand the now, to determine what the now even is, takes us away from it, and to a new experience. A new now, spent on analysing a now that has already passed. For to spend time analysing the moment, you cannot be in it.

Comparative to when you are in a stare, and as soon as you realise you are staring, no matter how hard you try to remain in that moment of bliss, contentment, or nothingness… It’s already gone. And you can only try to pretend you are still in a stare. But you aren’t. You’re just looking in a direction. 

What this leads us to understanding, should we spend enough time thinking on it – is that you should not necessarily spend time piecing together why you are feeling how you are in any given moment. You should not quantify it, or assign it a given arbitrary value. For if you are happy, you may wonder why, and by wondering why you are no longer feeling that experience of pure happiness.  
You may compare your assigned value of happiness, to a time when you thought you were happier, and suddenly this most recent moment becomes less valuable. But only by comparison. The moment itself has changed in no way. 

You may find yourself dancing in the living room, and in a state of content; and then by suddenly wondering WHY you are enjoying yourself at such a small moment, you may lose it. Your arms may fall to your side, and you will lose you buzz. But only because you chose to think about it. Instead, if you were happy, be happy. Equally if you are overcome with sadness, be sad. Don’t be more sad, or angry because you are sad. Just be sad. Be in whatever moment, you chose to be in. In whatever state of you, you choose to be.

These, fleeting little now’s, that change and dip and rise over time, leave us to grasping a fictitious concept of ourselves. Not only must be ponder the moment in the now, but also the person in the now. And these too, are troubled little changing chaotic beings. We can stand firm, and think, and be quite sure that we are a certain kind of person, but of course, that perception is as much affected by what we have done, as what we will do. For instance, I remember a time when a group of bullies started to harass a boy while I was at school. I wasn’t close to this boy, he wasn’t in my friend group, and in fact I know the boys who were bullying him. But I still stood up for the boy being bullied, despite the fact I lost face in the eyes of the other boys. I raised my voice and defences, and fought off the bullies, until they walked away with their tails between their legs. So this must mean I am brave…

And yet… I remember an identical time, on a bus, when another boy was being bullied. He was the same, in yet I did not know him very well, but it was clear he was uncomfortable, and was outnumbered. These bullies I did not recognised. I thought myself brave as before, yet when I went to raise my defences once more… I got scared. I was afraid in that moment, and so… I did nothing. I let them bully and torment that boy, and ultimately so did everyone else. And he went home, having a bad day, because absolutely no one stood up for him. And so by that moment… I am a coward.

So what am I? Am I brave, or a coward? Is the answer to that simply determined by counting how many times I was brave versus how many times I was a coward? Well… Then it comes more difficult. Because one might suggest that, actually fighting is in itself a cowardly act. That rising above violence is in fact the much braver act. That talking things over, and resilience are far better attributes that flaring brute power. In fact, any number of people could argue these things, and could change there points of view at different points in time. And so when they do… Do the bravery vs cowardly numbers flip? And who gets the final verdict? 

The answer, ultimately, is… you. You get to decide. You will manipulate any memories in a way such as they benefit your motives and agenda’s, given on your perceived state and morality. If you think lowly of yourself, you will manipulate memories into believing you acted as lowly as you are, and if you think highly of yourself you will paint over memories to convey yourself as a God.

The point being, that the now you’re thinking about in the past, ISN’T the now. It’s whatever you think the now is, or whatever you want to think it was. That memory of a now, is actually a new experience you’ve created, and dressed up as that now. And so, it doesn’t matter what any given moment WAS. In a way it matters what it IS. To you, now.

So it shows that once the moment is gone, unfortunately no matter how hard you try… it cannot come back. It is then within your best interest, not to begin analysing it so deeply, for all you will do, is cut it’s time short. Be happy when you are, and be sad when you feel like it. You can control your emotions, in a sense, because you can determine your reactions to the world – but if you’re already in an experience, just be in it. Accept it. Experience it. 

Do not stress. Do not stress that you are not good enough, or wonder if you ever will be. Do not worry and think of the future, and the chaotic nature of it. The what ifs and the hows. Do not compare yourself to another, whether that is another version of you or another person altogether. In fact, don’t even compare, period. It is the enemy of joy. Remember that your perception of the world and yourself can change on a flip of a coin. And it is entirely up to you when you flip the coin, and even the outcome of it. For you can call the coin at any time, and determine whether you want heads or tails to prevail. 

There is no contractual obligation by which you are held, to be the same person you were five minutes ago. You do not have to be something because of what you are now, or because of what you were.

I wish everyone reading this, the most wonderful festive season, and the happiest new year when it comes. It’s a time when for whatever reason we chose to change ourselves, and so by definition must judge and define ourselves. So if you chose to do that, remember:

You are who you chose to be. And ultimately, you need only answer, to the person behind the mirror.

What comes next…

The adventure doesn’t have to be good, to be worth having.

More often than not you pick up a book in order to see the protagonist brave adversity; to overcome obstacles corporeal or otherwise, endeavour against an antagonist mental or physical and reach a natural conclusion – rather than read how fantastic their lives are at all times, and how regardless of the black upon the white of the page it continues that way until the end. If we were to do that; if our characters were to stay static and for everything to remain unchanged regardless of what happened – then it would be as much use to us as if nothing happening at all. If life is a state of change, why would we endure an experience of nothing; of stubborn unchanging?

It makes sense for our character to change, evolve and develop from moment to moment, exponentially even from chapter to chapter; regardless of if that development is ultimately better for them, or worse.

What this tells us; is that what comes next, does not always have to be the time at which you were most happy, for it to be the time you most needed. It does not have to a time you were most proud of; in order for it to be a story you may later wish to tell.

In fact; a large number of stories you’ll recall from your youth, involve actions you would never take again. Or unintentional copious amounts of alcohol.

The age of anxiety is upon us; because we feel as though what we have now isn’t that great, and that it’s only going to get worse. Which seems terrifying.

In order to avoid it, we try to cling on to this exact moment, knowing all the while that inevitably it will be taken from us, whether we like it or not.

Rather, offer no resistance. Let it go.

Do not be afraid of what’s to come; relish in the experience, knowing that if what is to come is pain, pleasure will be put into perspective, and it will follow in time.

What comes next may not be the time of your life; but it will be yours. What you can decide, is your perspective upon it. And how you will tell the story, when its over.


 

This article is best paired; with the following:

Uncertainty

Stop The Possibility of Future Happiness, Determining Whether You Are Happy Now

Temporary

 

Shorts: How to be more forgiving, to children.

It would be fair to say that at some point, we have all been frustrated by a crying child. Perhaps it is a baby, who is uncomfortable because their ears are popping on a busy plane returning home from some holiday destination. Perhaps it is a toddler, who will not be getting an extra toy today, during their visit to the supermarket. Or maybe it is any other plethora of potentials, that is driving someone somewhere wild, and boiling their blood.

It can be irritating, and we may even feel like shouting and letting it all out, you may think the child or the parent is to blame. But simply; if you have found yourself in this situation, of being red faced and ready to erupt, it is you who is at fault. Because you are distinctly choosing not to be so kind and considerate.

Consider this; we have all been heartbroken one time or another. Perhaps a loved one passed away, or someone very dear to us moved on. And at the time, it is horrific. We feel empty. Lost. As though no amount of good remains in the world. As though this stabbing, heart-wrenching pain, is the new pinnacle of our existence. Of all the things that have happened to us at that point, this is the worst. People come and go, they stop for a moment and tell you, “Everything will be okay.” but you ignore them, because in the moment you genuinely do believe that it won’t be okay, or that you can’t bear the pain. At the time, it is the worst thing that has ever happened to you.

Well… What age were you when you remember that? Say you were in your teens or your twenties, perhaps you were the fortunate few who lasted until later in life to experience such heartache. Regardless, you will have already experienced an extensive line of events to make you strong, to build you up into who you are and ensure you can endure more and more that life throws at you.

But to a child; not getting a toy – might be the worst thing that has ever happened¬†to them. To you it’s nothing – you’ve not been given toys before, or maybe you know that your ears will pop on a long journey… but they haven’t experienced that yet. It’s easy for you because you are strong, and you have forgotten that. It’s easy because you have much more difficult memories you have faced, and you have overcome those, so by comparison losing out on a toy doesn’t seem so bad. It seems trivial.

But you must be more kind, because it is the worst thing they can compare anything else to. Imagine you thought you could have the world, and for free – and then one day someone told you “No.”? You would think, “Why? What have I done to deserve this? It isn’t fair.”

In fact, if you ever had a tantrum, even once, you did think this. It’s not because you were bad, or that this random child repeating the feat is bad; it’s because they’re new.

They have not learned. They’re new to the world, the good that she brings, and the bad she delivers.

So rather than losing your temper, and letting trivial inconveniences irk you more than they should – let it go. They are learning, so that they can be better. Be an adult; and do the same.

Discussion: Language, without barometer

Suppose that in ten million years, humanity has been long wiped off the face of the planet. Some life still remains, but it has regressed to a more primitive state, due to some cataclysmic event, caused by our own iniquity, or some element of chance.
No animal that could understand the basics of calculus has existed on the rock called Earth for a very long time.

When one day, entirely by chance, our no longer blue planet is discovered, by some nomadic civilisation, who managed to achieve travel into the stars without using that same technology to blow each themselves up. In the ruins alone, under the assumption that concrete has eroded into mere particles that blew in the wind, and pages from books lost their ink; this civilisation would be able to piece together very little of what we were. Even if somehow some homestead had managed to endure the withering of time – if it had been cocooned in a blanket of ice, for instance; where would you even begin to understand what objects were?

A slab of metal and glass filled with silicon lines, in the corner of a room, where every piece of furniture is pointed at it. Knives and forks on the dinner table, for fighting no doubt. Window frames on the second floor, because we could jump so high, and often used that for quick access. Cloth in wooden containers, powdered energy in glass jars, animal carcasses in large white frozen boxes. It would be a frightening world of guesswork without a basis by which to guess. Everyone has had that experience of trying to tell a story, that was funny at the time, but after telling it out loud you find the other person does not find it so. Think of this, except not only do you not speak the same language, but you share no history, no culture, no prospects, no allegiances, and perhaps not even the same galaxy.

Now let’s suggest that humanity as a collective decides that the idea of a future civilisation discovering our remains and not being able to fabricate who we were is just too harsh a thought to bare. So they decide to devise a solution to this, or at least to devise a means in which to help these future nomads. And as a collective, they have decided to accept applications from anyone on the planet, and accept any ideas anyone on the planet may have on how best to communicate with the future visitors.

The problem then becomes the focus of this article: How do you communicate with these visitors? How do you construct a language, without barometer? In our own world, translations of works are inherently different to the language in which they were originally written, mainly because there is no word which translates over 100% – but at least we have something by which we can vaguely relate it to. But with an alien visitor -you don’t even have a set of words, objects, animals, or plants, by which you could guarantee you share. Not only this, but you cannot even predict the senses this alien might use to perceive the world around them. It is not enough to suggest you could communicate in a language that is a concatenation of a number of languages that are most frequently used or most expressive; because you cannot guarantee this creature has ears. Or perhaps they do but do not hear in the same frequency as we do. Perhaps you wish to communicate in symbols? – Well it has taken us thousands of years to build up semiotics to the point we can look at something and register to which category it belongs to at a glance, and even now most humans struggle with all of them, they differ in time and they differ from culture to culture. Equally, as before, the visiting nomads may not have eyes. Or if they do, maybe they do not see colour in the same range that we do. Lets say that they do have eyes – well what do they even register as a note? Say they looked at English at a glance, they could interpret the white space between the letters as the symbols rather than the letters themselves.

The possibilities are near endless for interpretation. This would be fair to say of something that came from our planet, or even our galaxy. But this could be a visitor that we may not even recognise as intelligent life, and yet regardless, it is. So much so that it had travelled through the stars to find us.

Furthermore then, we have an obligation to protect intelligent life as best as we can. To avoid any kind of pain and anguish where we can. If something can intelligent understand the universe and perceive its own consciousness, it must be our responsibility to ensure it.
It is important then to have this discussion – say we are aware of what brought about our destruction. It is our obligation then, to warn these visitors of the dangers we could not avoid. Perhaps areas of contamination, physical or otherwise, should be left in the past and certain technologies either avoided or proceeded with caution. The question being, how do we do this?

How would you communicate to something that may not even perceive the world in the same way that you do? And on a more personal note… Would you? Would you personally make an application to share your thoughts on how best to do this?

Arguably our only efforts to communicate without language thus far, is music. For thousands of years, we have communicated celebration, happiness, fear and war to others through music. No lyrics required to communicate exactly how we feel. Perhaps this would be our best bet to begin. Perhaps the sound of children laughing, the rain forest, or the ocean reaching the shoreline. The times at which we as a species were most at peace.
But then, while this may provide an example of our environment – it doesn’t necessarily define who we were or are. When we were good or bad. When we loved, and when we hated.

If we continue on a scientific trend – would we leave behind a hologram of a child as an ark of information, to provide context to who we were? Would this be the most realistic option, to convey our messages of peace in as many images and as many words as we possibly could? Could this child hold out a hand, with the bumps on his hand spelling in braille, and his words echoed in every other language, and Morse code? Would what the child spoke even resonate on any parallel? Should we literally throw sounds and light in some form of pattern, and hope that something sticks? Data dump our history and languages in as many different patterns as possible? Perhaps an AI, that can use everything that we are currently to determine what COULD be encountered in the future? Statistically, this is probably necessary. As much as they would like to earn us, we may need to learn it first, in the form of some machine learning. To discuss topics not only do we not understand yet, but we may never even have encountered in our cosmically short lifespan.

What if we decided that we wanted to communicate, only that which we wanted to communicate. I.e. perhaps we would wish to leave out the horrid parts of our history, or tell much more embellished versions of it in myth, legend, and art rather than the much more hard to swallow science and objectivity. If we were to do that, how could we separate semantics from pragmatism? To say very clearly what is, and not what we meant to say. This applies to our language, and also our visualisation of our culture. Say we built, or painted, or sculpted a grand cathedral, and hid it in some frozen ark – we may try to convey how complex and grandiose we were in our architectural choice – only to find that our visitor friends interpret the use of space as inefficient. They may regard our distinct lack of compactness instead, as a sign we were not intelligent whatsoever. That we were too wasteful. Perhaps then, they would be right.

The questions are endless, and arguably you could discuss for the millions of years we are hypothetically wiped out discussing what we could and should do – if and when we should – why and where we should. In fact, this question, which its infinite possibilities seems to grand a task to bestow upon us, and too great a burden to endure.

But if something is important enough, you must always try. Even if the expected outcome, is failure.

However; the question remains: Would you? And if so, how? How would you begin to construct a language to speak beyond the stars, without barometer?

Go.