The Martian Tales Trilogy

How did come across the book?

Well, I’m familiar with the series from a child… like, I read most of them in school and haven’t touched them… I’m up there so… since like, junior high. So, you know, 20 years later! I was in Barnes & Noble and I was just like, “You know what? I love the series I just haven’t gone there in a while… I haven’t read them in so long”. It’s my first summer read; I read a lot of books in the summer!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well, I really found it interesting… the author wrote it during a time period where there were so many different… I guess in terms of turn of the century here in America… he wrote in the perspective of a Virginian that grew up at the end of the Civil War, so then the conflicts that were going on were addressed… you know, people were still referred to as slaves at that time… like everyone… they were itemized into specific categories based on wealth and color and race and religion. But the character eventually travels to, which I’m familiar with, to Mars or the red planet, or whatever they’re calling it in the book, and the order of hierarchy of people is actually reversed; like the red skin person is, they’re the top because they are the top tier people… the darker skinned people are like the oldest living, or the black race is the oldest living race of people… and the white race is kind of referred to as like a monkey or like a third-level… like kind of in reverse order as it was set up at that time in our country. Yeah, it’s a very interesting perspective which I remembered from reading it before, and it’s like I wanted to re-read it and see where I’m at now and how I see it with, you know, a lot of the progress we have made and then watching a lot of the regression in the past election we’ve had, and I’m like, Some of these things I need to revisit Click To Tweet, and really just get in touch with my… I grew up in the south, so get in touch with my southern roots a little bit, so. I’ve found it interesting so far.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would definitely recommend it for… well, first of all, it’s a classic so… but it’s a classic that reads in a fast paced modern perspective, or a relate-able perspective… so, if you’re someone that  went to go see ‘Lord of the Rings’, or went to go see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, and enjoy reading… you would actually enjoy reading this because it still is relate-able and adaptable currently. It’s not just something that’s only for a specific time period; it’s very general and you can relate to most of the characters in it.

How To Spend Our Lives: In The Moments, Of Course.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. - Annie Dillard Click To Tweet

Are you there yet? Are you where you want to be? Or, better yet, are you where you believe you should be? Are you doing whatever it is you would like to do? With whom you intended to do it with? No? Well, perhaps then it is now that we change the way we view our experience here before our uncertain lot of time chooses to depart from us.

For years — and I would wager for many the same — I had been working towards a destination, an end point, a place that I felt I needed to reach before I could fully enjoy this life. I was wrong and I am here now to share with you why. If I had not stumbled upon the commencement quote of this piece, who knows how much longer I were to have fallen for the promise of tomorrow without ever having realized the offering of today; more appropriately, the offering of now. Please, before moving on any further into this read, do your best to comprehend and to truly welcome into this moment the power and the defiance of this quote’s meaning, in alliance with its subtle plea:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Click To Tweet

There is no place of reach, not one destination that will provide any of us with our ideal environment nor peace of mind to feel and to do and to create, to live rather, however it is we would like to. Along with this, there is no other time but now to realize that the actions we take at this very moment, the priorities that we set for our current engagement, the tasks that we deem as worthy of our attention at this junction of time and of opportunity, and the people that we surround ourselves with this instant, either by nearest allocation or of distant admiration, do in fact provide the context of our lives; the context contained in the raw sensations of now rather then of later. In complete accordance with this, waiting for certain things to come to fruition, or for certain events to occur, we must realize that we do not have choice, for they currently are not and they may never be, and that is OK. This is not to take away the importance of future, for the acts of planning, of envisioning and of progressing still serve as healthy exercises, as long as we remain indifferent to their presence and engaged in the moment we are given. Instead, what’s important to understand is exactly what this quote is telling us:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Click To Tweet

Our lives are now. They are not tomorrow and they are no longer yesterday. So, whatever it is we aspire to, however it is we would like to spend our days, wherever it is we would like for this occur, and whomever it is we would like for it to be surrounded by, realize your life is only now, and now is the only time it can happen. A string of consciously engaged moments make a life, not a longing for our tomorrows, or a holding onto of our yesterdays. But, of equal to or of greater importance to understand along with this is that you are not the only one this moment encapsulates. We all have a now and they may not always match; not in wants, not in needs, not in location, not in ideals, and not in other countless facets of our instant; accept this and carry on. This moment is more precious than you think, so this indifference should not take us away from ours. It should only provide us with greater opportunity towards becoming more attuned with ourselves in the time we are allotted, in which case we can learn to appreciate and to be more grateful for our contemporary. Therefore, right now, let us all remind ourselves:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Click To Tweet

Live accordingly.

**Updated 8/1/2017**

At this very moment, while going back and reading underlined content from my most recent completed read, ‘The Stress of Life’ by Hans Selye, M.D., I came across a vigorously highlighted section which further supports the needed and demanded attention from us all for this moment, the one right now, the one you are choosing to use to read this, and the subsequent moments we may be granted; enjoy:

So many people work hard and intelligently for some immediate objective which promises leisure to enjoy life tomorrow; but tomorrow never becomes today. There is always another objective which promises even more leisure in exchange for just a little more work. Hence, very few people in the usual walks of life retain the ability to really enjoy themselves: that wonderful gift which they all possessed as children. But it hurts to be conscious of this defect, so adults dope themselves with more work (or other things) to divert attention from their loss. Some people nowadays even speak of “workaholism” for the behavior of those who work merely as a means of escape from a life which became stale.

The inspired painter, poet, composer, astronomer, or biologist never grows up in this respect; he does not tend to get the feeling of aimlessly drifting, no matter how poor or old he may be. He retains the childlike ability to enjoy the impractical by-products of his activity. Pleasures are always impractical, they can lead us to no reward. They are the reward. It is common place to say that money is no ultimate aim, but few people seem to live as though they understood this. The labors of the artist who succeeds in expressing some hidden aspect of his soul in painting, or of the physician who learns how a hitherto inexplicable disease develops, may have practical advantages for him — benefits which can be expressed in dollars — but this is not the kind of reward that can make his life a real success. The great financier must also seek his final compensation elsewhere. To find it he must stop worrying about the success of his enterprises, at least long enough to think of his own success. He must first find a way of life which can assure him the equanimity necessary for enjoyment, and then he must learn to distinguish between what can give him pleasure and what are only means to buy pleasure.

The most acquisitive person is so busy reinvesting that he never learns how to cash in. “Realistic people” who pursue “practical aims” are rarely as realistic and practical, in the long run of life, as the dreamers who pursue only their dreams.

Again, live accordingly.

 



For other perspectives on our moment, pair this reading with What is a Prospector? , Janis Joplin on the Urgency for Love, and Neil Young on one’s Fervent, Unyielding Search for the Fabled ‘Heart of Gold’.

Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

How did you come across the book?

It was a book that has been on my list because I’m really interested in Stoic Philosophy; I really like reading Plato and Aristotle and all that… and so I hadn’t read this one… and so I put it on the list!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oh… that’s a tough one! A lot of… you know… practical ideas about the human condition are spoken about in this book and it’s really… well, one of the interesting perspectives is how universal it is, after thousands and thousands of years! You can pick up this book and realize, Wow! Things haven't really changed in the human psyche all that much! Click To TweetSo, that’s been my main take away and kind of using some of these lessons and concepts to inform my own life.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh… that’s a tough question… another one! These are good! Umm… I would recommend it if you’re looking into thinking deep and thinking about society… thinking about people… thinking about yourself… and examining it in a different lens, and kind of questioning the world around you. So, that’s who’d I recommend it to… anyone who’s looking for answers… or looking to ask more questions!

 

Reality’s Delusion: How Sure Are We?

“Reflect often on the speed with which all things in being, or coming into being, are carried past and swept away.”

Recently, in conversation with a new acquaintance, a perspective was shared with me, or rather towards me, depicting the substance of a situation in context of our exchange; “There is reality and there is delusion of situation, and this is an example of the latter”. It didn’t hit me then, but as I pondered his statement later on, a thought stirred about in my mind indicating error in his chosen insight, not in accordance with his intent but rather with the concepts entirety. Be it ignorance or ambition on my part, nonetheless, this narrow inclination is one far too often shared, justified, believed and cast onto others as definitive truth that the self-appointed arbitrator has deemed reality; be aware of this, but ignore it. However, for sake of digression, pressing on, though not spoken aloud for auditory consumption, thoughts of internal reserve contain the ability to produce a noise much louder, within the individual at first and potential for the greater good second, if expressed effectively and with collective intent. Now, in this text, I hope to give opportunity for its communicable understanding.

“Existence is like a river in ceaseless flow, its actions a constant succession of change, its causes innumerable  in their variety”

– Marcus Aurelius

This reality so often spoken about, one thrown around with such strong and confident conviction, remains in a constant state of change, for the concept of reality itself understands the weakness of its own stable and the dubious fluidity of its mere arguable grasp. This is not a new understanding, for it is truthfully the product of many great minds of before, and of our worlds observatory nature; thought of, understood and communicated through the ages by virtue of mediums of both presenter’s choice and of the times expressible permit. However, for sake of skeptics needed assurance of example, one relevant to our current moment of existence, ponder on the following:

Reality is negotiable. Scarcely anything stands still, even what is most immediate. - Tim Ferriss Click To Tweet

Far too often we are fed to belief against this, having been taught by others who have been fed the same. I am not ignorant enough to fail to realize that this is not the case with all, as there are numerous examples to look upon, expressing themselves no matter the field nor their pursuit. Artists, creators, musicians, innovators of business, trade, architecture, industry, fashion, scientists of all studies, writers, poets, inventors, and so on; the list remains unending. What do they have in common? What sets them apart apart from the rest? What grabs our attention of their pursuits fruition? They question one thing; reality! Then, they make the choice to ignore the commotion, to make their own noise in this world, to follow their own unique beat in line with their visions rhythm.

“We should not, like sheep, follow the herd of creatures in front of us, making our way where others go, not where we ought to go.”

– Seneca

Reality in this context represents a paradigm of nature; the two are the same, both in mystery and in question. But, for the majority conditioned to leave nature, and in accordance reality, left alone, how do we begin the revealing? In these moments, we shall turn to others, towards their examples and towards their work, and in this moment, as I struggle with this myself, I turn to none other than Hans Selye, MD, otherwise known as the Father of Stress. Without now taking the exploratory dive into his life’s impressive and profoundly progressive work, I instead want to share with you what lead him down his own road of unknown, towards the unraveling of his own questioning, shared in an excerpt from his famous classic ‘The Stress of Life’, a book about stress in the applicable sense and of our unique ability and innate quality to adapt. Though the language is relevant in regard to his particular question, the concept shared and practiced is appropriate no matter your contemplate:

How to Question Nature

What is disease – not one disease, just disease in general? This question lingered on in my mind, as it undoubtedly has in the minds of most physicians of all nations throughout history. But there was no hope for an early answer, for Nature – the source of all knowledge – rarely replies to questions unless they are put to her in the form of experiments to which she can say “yes” or “no.” She is not loquacious ; she merely nods in the affirmative or in the negative…

Occasionally, if we ask, “What would you do in these circumstances?” or, “What is in such and such a place?” she will silently show us a picture. But, she never explains. You have to work things out yourself first, aided only by instinct and the feeble powers of the human brain, until you can ask precise questions, to which Nature can answer in her precise but silent sign language of nods and pictures. Understanding grows out of a mosaic of such answers. It is up to the scientist to draw a blueprint of the questions he has to ask before the mosaic makes sense. It is curious how few laymen, or even physicians, understand this…

Only those blessed with the understanding that comes from a sincere and profound love of Nature will, by an intuitive feeling for her ways, succeed in constructing a blue print of the many questions that need to be asked to get even an approximate answer to such a question. Only those cursed with a consuming, uncontrollable curiosity for Nature’s secrets will be able to – because they will have to – spend their lives working out patiently, one by one, the innumerable technical problems involved in performing each of the countless experiments required.

What is disease? – What is stress?

I did not know how to ask the first of these questions; I did not even think of asking the second.

In closing, do not be afraid to question reality nor apprehensive in your questionings implement. Reality is largely, by its own nature, negotiable and plastic, and we as humans were meant to explore every facet of our enigmatic undergo. If you do not know where to start, in form with the ones who have found their paths continued questioning, start with an interest, and if that one doesn’t work, start again with another. You do not need to know much to begin, other than to begin is the only way. And, to keep equipped in mind, parallel with what’s to come:

Remember that all is opinion. - Marcus Aurelius Click To Tweet

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

How did you come across the book?

This was on one of my reading lists when I was in high school. I had like a hundred contemporary classics that I wanted to read through, and a hundred like “Classic Classics” that I wanted to get through… I don’t remember what my lists were titled… but this was on there! I had seen it in book stores, never bought it and then I went to my Godmothers place in Boston and she had a copy… long story short, she gave it to me with a nice little note in the back!  It says… Eyes changed after they looked at new things. Click To Tweet

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… to be honest with you, its kind of… well, the girls perspective is that she’s just really eager to learn and to gain education anyway she possibly can… which I guess is kind of nice for me to be reading while I’m in business school because I don’t really want to be in school. I like to learn things, but I like to learn them on my own and not forcibly in a classroom… but here’s a girl who can’t do that… and so she’s learning on her own, because she just doesn’t have the luxury to learn in a classroom. So… I think that’s kind of the perspective that I’ve gotten so far… and maybe it’s been a little motivating!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes, I’d recommend it. Umm… it is a little slower as I kind of mentioned… and I think it’s… I’ve been reading it for over a year… I mean I’ve read other books in between but, I’ve been reading it for about a year and I think I’d recommend it to people who are still in school or who are thinking about going to school. For me it’s kind of also… I miss New York… and it references a lot of old New York that I wasn’t even a part of but… it just kind of makes me nostalgic. So, anyone who wants to read about growing up in Brooklyn in the 19… I don’t know, I think it starts in 1910 or 1920 something… so, that would be… yeah… I also think it’s like a contemporary classic… Betty Smith I think published this around the 50s or so and it’s on those classic lists so… yeah, I think it’s more of a young adult into… like, I would say maybe early teens to late 20s would be a good group to read it… I’m not sure, honestly. It’s kind of a baseline book… like it’s not… there’s not much going on in it… but there’s also a lot going on in it… internally and externally. It’s just kind of more like seeing the perspective of living in poverty in Brooklyn during that era… and what you would have to do to sort of survive and get by. I don’t know what else to say about it… it’s just a great book.