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.

There are no stupid questions.

There are no stupid questions; only stupid answers.

To be a good teacher – and not just a successful educator – it is important to remember that the idea of being stupid (a horrible thing to think of someone, or to address someone as) could only be reserved for someone who lacks intelligence. And you know the only way to gain more knowledge, and to be more intellectual as person? Asking, questions.

Fundamentally, the sentence “They were asking stupid questions” or “that was a stupid question” is flawed – you’ll most likely either have said this in a moment of fury, or have overheard a disgruntled friend or colleague complaining. While it’s easy to understand why someone might say this, as they’re just frustrated, its equally not a helpful phrase for anyone.

Let’s suppose that you have never learned how to wash your clothes. You are a teenager, and have just moved out for the first time in your life. There is no washing machine in your apartment, so you head to the nearest laundromat with a couple of bags of dirty clothes, that you’ve no doubt put off washing. Nervous, you stumble your way towards a stranger, and in a moment of courage, you tap them on the shoulder and explain to them your predicament. “I’ve just never learned how to wash my clothes” You’ll say, “So… How DO you wash your clothes? Is there a system for putting it in the washing machine, or do you put anything in with it or… ?”

They laugh in your face. They sputter their words, and they repeat it, “You don’t know how to wash your clothes!? Are you stupid!?” They continue their merriment, maybe chuckle to themselves or turn to a friend. And you sit there wondering… “Am I stupid?”

What’s happened in that scenario, and in every other scenario where a variant of this has happened, is that someone asked for help to improve their own understanding, and was made to feel small in return. As though because they did not know something, that they know nothing. Which, ironically, is a stupid thing for someone to think. By acting that way, or by saying these things, you’re only conditioning someone not to ask questions, because when they do, they’re reprimanded. So they may stop asking questions. And without questions they don’t know answers. Now you’re hurtful comments have sustenance to them, but only because of what you did. And by doing that, you are far more stupid, and worst yet ignorant, than they could ever be.

You may not consider yourself a stupid person, and yet – do you know anything about botany? Or rocket science? Or fishing? Maybe even geology, sociology, psychology, phrenology? If you are not an expert in all these fields, it would be expected that at some point if you wanted to know more about the subject you would have to ask a question, no? So, does this make you stupid?

Fundamentally, we are all uneducated in some aspects of life. To call someone stupid, or make them feel small in any way, because you excel in an area they do not; is arrogant. It’s unkind, it’s unfair, and you are objectively helping to numb society to the pursuit of intelligence.

Curiosity IS intelligence. To wonder what lies beyond. To wonder about that which you do not know, and pursue it relentlessly. Do not stifle someone, and trip them up at the first hurdle of understanding. You are hurting someone’s potential more than you know.

Next time someone asks a question you feel they should know; that you feel is a stupid question – be patient. Take your time to think of the appropriate answer. For it is you who is on the ropes. Because there are no stupid questions; only stupid answers.

Don’t Do It Alone

You don’t have to do it alone.

No matter what it is; or how you feel; if you are right or wrong; or if you feel you are too far along. Whether the outcome will be a success or a failure; whether you will be forgiven or not; whether things can go back to the way they were or not; whatever you are going through – you do not have to do it alone.

Loneliness is such a hauntingly beautiful concept; because it’s so ironically universal. It’s something that unites us all together. We have all felt alone.

Sometimes in a dark room, with a beer or a glass of wine on something resembling a table in front of you, you will feel alone. As you monitor friends and family, who seem to be having fun. Perhaps you’re sitting and wondering who that person you think about, is thinking about. And maybe you’re wondering why they aren’t here beside you.

Sometimes, shoulder to shoulder, or on a busy street, you will feel so alone. As no one looks your way, or perhaps that they do and choose to stay at a distance. Perhaps it’s even one of those times, when people are talking to you; but the words they say and the ways they relate to their life and yours around them, you would be better off talking to a lion who has been taught your native tongue – for your two frames of reference are so far apart you no longer understand each other.

Sometimes it’s our own pride that brings about our true sadness. The thought that we should be able to shoulder the weight of the world, for this is what makes us strong and tough. This is a fallacy. A whisper that loneliness will repeat in your ear for hours on end. If you have convinced yourself this is true, then know this instead. It is not brave, to accept burden alone. It is not more dignified, or more humble, to pretend the world does not beat you down, and get the better of you on some days. Or perhaps for weeks or months on end.

This is the cruelty of life. It does this to everyone. If you believe you are the only person who asks for help, and are convinced that others you know to be calm and collected never ask for help; you are mistaken. What they really do, is share the load. They distribute the bombardment amongst those they trust, whom they hold dear. And in return, when they can, they offer kindness, love, and reciprocation. They offer an ear, and a shoulder, when it is their burden to do so.

This, I would wager, is not opinion, but fact. Four people carrying 100 kilograms of weight on their shoulders seems reasonable. But one person carrying the same weight, will injure or tire themselves after not too long at all. Remember this; it’s science.

Sometimes the hardest part, is that it seems as though there is no one to even accept your requests for help. It’s a friend, who knows you’re alone, and is unwilling to alter their behaviour to accommodate you. Which arguably is the only thing worse than being alone or being sad. Being alone, and someone else knowing you’re alone. Someone else being perfectly aware of it, and yet choosing not to act upon it. It feels as though no one would care.

But someone does care. People who contact you without a reason to do so. They care about your day, for the sake of hoping it was a happy one, and nothing else. Do not forget them, or their kindness, even if they are not the person you wish was bringing it to you. They can bring some light into your life, as long as you let them. Loneliness is only a darkness. People are not further away; you just cannot see very far in front of you. Or how far your sphere of connection stretches.

Put it does not matter if it is a trick – because it feels so real, to you. It feels empty. When you are scared of what you may find beyond your vision. And your fingers shake, and your arms wave all around you hoping to find someone there, to hold their hand and pull it closer. To feel their warmth against yours, even if they too are afraid.

Whatever makes you afraid; whatever in the future scares you – don’t do it alone. Don’t push those away whom you do find in reach. If they call to you, call back.

And if no one answers – call for me. I will follow you into the dark.

Shorts: Smiling for a reason.

You’re smiling. Why are you smiling?

A long time has passed, although for all you know, it could’ve been the passing of some moments. You don’t look at your phone, or to the windows, and the sound of the clock has disappeared. Minutes and hours flow past, like tiny brittle rock slipped into a gentle stream, the underbelly of the little rock coursing against the river floor. It too will travel with turbulence, to a place of rest, where it needs to be.

Light fills the room, although not so much as to cause you to look away from the source. Feet are intertwined hanging off the edge of the bed. The two bodies look merged into one from under cover.

By the pillows, her nose is tucked into your shoulder, under the warmth of the sheets. Her cheeks tingle at the softness against her face. The covers bring a comfort, surpassed only by the press of her body along the length of yours. She pulls herself close to you in small motions, like tide lines on the sand. Her skin warms yours, although she clings to you for the heat, and something more.

Her hand rests, fingers splayed out across your chest, lovingly scratching at your skin. She looks at you now and then, hoping to catch your eye; but her beauty is so stark, you cannot hold a gaze for long. When she does not catch your look, she smiles into your chest instead. Occasionally, she lets out a long satisfied sigh as she does it.

Her hair smells sublime. But of nothing you can identify. Your fingers scratch lightly against the small of her back, and your hand smooths out across her body, feeling every groove. You mark them in your memory. You focus on things to remember later; because you can think of no place where you’d find greater joy and comfort. Its your happy place, the place you’ll return to when you need it most. You pull her closer, or hypothetically you do, for there is no closer you could be now. As your fingers run through her hair, you lie and think how thankful you are, that she’s there.

Suddenly you realise the room was never that bright, you were tricked by the ethereal glow that seems to follow her. She has a habit of accidentally tricking you with that.

At some point, she pulls her body to you even more tightly; and as her breasts press against your side, you take a breath, and you sigh.

She looks up and you, with those amazing eyes, entirely piercing and completely vulnerable all at once. She asks you, in almost a whisper, “What’re you smiling at?” with a cheeky grin. She bites her lip and rolls her tongue over the front of her teeth, waiting for the response.

You return the pearly whites, “Nothing.”, you say. But you know fine well you’re smiling for a reason.

You’re happy. You’re so happy. You’re in love.

And that’s all there is to it.

Quote of the Day: Kindness

“You are never too important, to not be kind.”

Stochastic

adjective: stochastic
  1. having a random probability distribution or pattern that may be analysed statistically but may not be predicted precisely.

What this effectively means, is that while we can retroactively analyse that 70% of people who suffered from X succumbed to Y; we cannot say guarantee that 70% of people who suffer from X will succumb to Y.

This is why, mathematically, you should not let something with a small chance of success stop you just because of its likelihood to succeed.

“If something is important enough you should always do it. Even if the expected outcome; is failure.”

It scientifically, succinctly, with supporting evidence, suggests how important it is not to give up on something. How odds are important, only to the mass – not to the individual.

Equally, it humbles the self.

By the same logic, that which is overwhelming likely to work in your favour; may not. Not because you’re bad, or because you made a foolish decision – but because even if something has a 99.9% probability of happening, it still by definition requires 0.1% of people for it not to happen to, or for. And when it is you who finds themselves in the latter percentile, you will be acutely aware that percentage of probability offered you no benefits. You were tarred, by the fact that statistics mean nothing to the individual.

No matter how good a decision you make, or how bad a decision you make, it can go the other way. No because it was the right or wrong thing to do, but because an immeasurable number of other factors had an effect on that decision, which you could not possibly measure or account for. Differences that on their own are negligible, but together if they hit that sweet spot, it can just work out for you, or not.

It’s all chance.

The chance that you’ll fall madly in love. The chance you’ll get your dream job. The chance you’ll be hit by a car tomorrow morning, or that the world will be obliterated by some passing celestial body. The trivial decisions, and the grand. Use chance to share a little kindness, and compassion in a world that appears to grow more grey by the day. Be that one light, turning for all to see, in weathering storm.

So when you see someone on the street, shivering in the cold of the winter, or with chattering teeth from the damp of their sleeping bag that covers them on the ground – be kind. They could have made every possible good decision on the planet, and still been that 0.1% whom it did not work out for. In return, be the 0.1% who stops. Who shows a little compassion, care, and much needed unconditional love.

If you think you are affected by the anxiety of this world, if you fear the next day or if you cry when no one is around, imagine how they must feel. Heartbroken to not have the one they love have their arms around them, and the warmth that comes with it. To be affected by mental illness that comes with the trauma of living on unforgiving streets. To feel unwanted.

You, no matter how clever, how forward thinking, how prepared, or how entitled you believe yourself to be – are not so far separated from the man on the streets. Do not think yourself more important.

You are never too important, to not be kind.

These words may not hit you – they may not break your heart as intended. But if you fall into the 0.1% whom it does hit, I hope you fight with yourself in the night tonight, and decide to do something better. Stochastically, some of you should. But I hope more of you do.

I’ll have to leave it up to chance.

 

Shorts: The Small Details

In the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The small details, are by far the most important.”

The wrinkle at the edges of someone’s smile. The dimples on their cheeks, or the softness of their skin. Perhaps you like how you can trace the edges of your finger around their body, and imagine a perfect silhouette left behind on a canvas. Maybe you enjoy hearing them sigh, just because they are happy to be lying against your chest.

Maybe you enjoy watching steam roll off of a fresh cup of coffee, or how your fingers feel as you drag them against glass with condensation on one side. The squeaky sound that makes, and how your fingers jump a little. Perhaps its the other side of the pillow, on a warm night in July.

Whatever it is that you enjoy, no matter how trivial you imagine it to be – celebrate it. Hold it in reverence. Dance about it in your living room, when no one is about. These are little victories. Little times when the universe conspired to brighten your day, in some way that maybe only you find appealing.

The big victories do not come often. While you will have spells of doing well and achieving great things seemingly all at once; you must equally understand that a great portion of your time will also be spent where nothing big is particularly going right at all. But this does not mean for this length of time, you should not sing and cheer, and kick puddles in the street. Instead – learn to understand that a collection of small is worth just as much as the grand.

If you’re looking for something bigger – consider looking a little closer at what makes it whole.

Love someone, not for what they are, but what makes them what they are.

Treasure something, for the intricacies that make it, rather than some arbitrary value assigned to the fact of possessing it.

Most importantly; appreciate, and value that it is happening now; rather than missing it when it is no longer there. Adore them for what they are, and be grateful for their presence, when they could decide for whatever reason to be absent from your life. If you don’t, what you’ll find (and this can be guaranteed with confidence) is that when something goes away, or someone leaves your life; you will not miss them – you will miss the small details that made them.

For it is the small details, that are by far the most important. 

Memory Is The Key.

Your memory is the rationality, by which your reason is based upon.

Everything that you are; is a result of that which you have experienced up to this point in your life. Perhaps you are not a trusting person, because at no point have you ever been provided with a reason to trust someone. Perhaps that trust always been broken in heart-aching ways; unfaithful partners, unloving parents, gossiping friends – and so as a result, you have no reasonable discourse for attempting to form a bond of trust with anyone.

Equally, perhaps you are a very trusting person because of these things happening to you, and so you understand how important trust is to you in your life, and will only surround yourself with people whom you feel will share a similar passion for loyalty and integrity.

To say which of these you would become if similar things happened to you is trying; because these decisions too are based on some rationality from all your previous decisions and experiences, and so on.

No one, just is. There is no whole without the sum of the parts which form it.

You can use this as a way to empathise with others, whom you believe harbour difficult to understand or difficult to agree with opinions. Perhaps someone maintains particularly racist, or homophobic views – it may be because their entire childhood consisted of expression of opinions of an old generation, whom had opinions that were based on misconceptions, fear, ignorance, or a lack of education. Perhaps, instead, they wrongfully correlated a problem in society to a particular niche of people, just by simple human error, rather than maliciousness. Perhaps a misinterpretation of data, or a personal experience which skewed their thinking.

It does not necessarily mean the person who believes these things is bad, or wishes bad upon people who fall under one of these scopes, but just that they lack an education on why those thoughts and feelings are either objectively incorrect, or subjectively harmful to a larger, peace-driven society.

Perhaps if you take time to educate people, you will remove the aforementioned ignorance – rather than getting yourself hot and bothered and into a shouting match with someone, normally behind a keyboard. If someone shouts “Fatty!” to someone from a car, it has never convinced them to lose weight, it has only darkened their day. So don’t be that kind of person.

Remember, everything that has ever happened, has happened as a result of the events that came before it. The spark began the fire, the rock begat the mountain. Just do not assume that every rock you find, means that one day a mountain will form in its stead. Equally do not decide that it could not. memories can be difficult; keep them. Somewhere. In the back of your mind. From time to time revisit them. While there are memories that sometimes you may wish could disappear, they won’t. They did happen, and they brought about you that you are today. They will be in the you that you are tomorrow. So instead, think what effect a time passed might have had on you.

Maybe you snap too quickly at people, and you can find why that may be, and begin to deal with it. Perhaps you’re not as romantic to your partner as you once were, so remind yourself of why you fell in love with them, and reunite with romance.

Most importantly, begin making new memories. Positive ones. Experiences that help you to grow, to learn, to be passionate, and to love; so that in time, when you look reflectively at yourself, this will be your point of rationale. If we are what we do habitually, make it so. If you’re lucky, at some point on an idle Sunday, you will reflect on yourself and see that you have become that person you tried so hard to be, by doing.

That everything you did, in what will then be called your past, was positive – because you made a conscious effort to take the baby steps that would form you into the person you become.

Because if you’re trying to unlock who you really are; memory is the key.