On Solitude & Loneliness 

This one shall be on my pet subject of many years now, and it is on solitude and loneliness (critically, their differences). I have written quite a bit on this topic over the years, and I have somehow become decently acquainted with these two words over the many times I have penned my thoughts down on them.

Perhaps you would disagree with me, but I see solitude as a state and loneliness as an emotion. Why do I say that? Well you can do things and live your life in solitude, and it is solitude rather than loneliness if you do not feel the void or the emptiness as you go about your every day. 

You can certainly say loneliness is a state too, but it is not so if it is not cemented by the intensity of the aloneness that you feel. Fundamentally, loneliness can be referred to as a state induced by the feeling of emptiness or a deep desire for affection and interaction; if simplified, it can also be viewed in its naked light as that very feeling itself. 

On the other hand, solitude is more of a choice that you make with regards to your lifestyle and the way you conduct your life. You may like to do things alone, be alone, live alone, and go about your every day (largely) alone; this is a decision you make and has no resultant or accompanying emotion (yes of course emotions are always present, but you get what I mean). 

As such we can see solitude as a behavioural pattern, while loneliness is a feeling that may or may not accompany this solitude. Given the innate nature of humans as social creatures, it is not wrong to say that all who live in solitude will experience bouts of loneliness once in awhile (with the duration and intensity varying from individual to individual and from circumstance to circumstance), but it is not however true to say that those who are lonely experience states of solitude since loneliness itself is not a choice. 

Solitude is a good thing: we all need time alone with ourselves to better acquaint us with who we are as persons, to better know our natures. The same cannot be said for excesses of it as it most likely would leave a person starved of interaction and affection. Loneliness on the flip side, in any amounts of it, is not ideal as it is firstly a very painful experience, and it could also lead an individual to do things which may have adverse effects on himself or those around him. 

It is good to know the differences between solitude and loneliness. You can then assess for yourself if you are actually in a state of solitude, or if you are using it as a disguise to mask the loneliness that is lurking deep within yourself. Kudos to you if solitude is your preferred way of life, though it is also prudent to acknowledge it if you find that what lies behind it is just a wardrobe of lonely bones and hidden woes.  

Are you enjoying your solitude, or are you unbeknownst to others drowning in loneliness? Take a moment to find out for yourself. 

Moral Courage

Before I proceed with today’s post, I would like to take a moment and do a little advertising for the WordPress App that is available on the Apple App Store. It’s neat, easy to use, and makes blogging and posting a very simple process. Definitely something to get if you’re keen on reading WordPress articles or writing a post on the move. 

To begin proper, I would like to just briefly talk about Moral Courage. I don’t have a very long window to write today, so I’ll keep it short and simple.

All of us (sort of) know what moral courage is; it is simply understood as having the courage to do what is right, in the face of inconvenience or possible consequences and repercussions. It takes moral courage to speak the truth, and it takes moral courage to ensure that justice is preserved against tyranny. 

How do we apply moral courage to our daily lives? We can do so by allowing our moral compass to guide us in our thoughts, speech and actions, so that we do what is right when people watch.. and when people don’t. While it may seem like an abstract notion, it could just be as simple as defending a victim in the face of a bully. It is the right thing to do, hence moral, and it requires a degree of boldness and strength in face of a possible consequence, therefore c0urage. 

Just to highlight, to settle for a peaceful settlement sometimes can be a lack of moral courage. (We assume this example happens in a vacuum theoretical setting where there is no larger picture involved, or larger peace to preserve.)  For an authority to call for mutual apologies and a peaceful resolution without punishment when an injustice has occurred and victimisation is involved, is a lack of moral courage on the side of the authority. For the injustice to go uncorrected because the authority lacks the courage or ability to discern the truth and right the wrong in the situation is a failure on the moral plane of the authority. 

We thus see that the moral courage of individual(s) have an impact not just on themselves, but on other people involved as well. It is thus important that we know what is right, that we do what we can to preserve what is right, and correct that which may be wrong. You can be a person of moral authority or otherwise, but morality should always apply to everyone and anyone. To have moral courage is to be true to ourselves and to what is right and just. 

Not easy definitely, but to have moral courage is something we certain can aspire towards. It is a weighty topic, but our conscience is a good guide to knowing what should be done when faced with a situation or dilemma. 

Have a good evening everyone! 

The Art (and Science) of Decision Making 

I picked up a couple of books on philosophy and psychology awhile back from the local library and I came across a chapter on decision making. While we do know vaguely how decisions are made (or at least, how we make them), I don’t think the majority of us would delve into the technicalities of how we reach certain choices or how we make up our minds. I didn’t manage to read a single sentence from that chapter the night I chanced upon it; just the chapter heading (“How We Make Our Decisions”) itself got me thinking already.

When faced with two or more options, we are likely forced to, or would instinctively, make a choice or decision between the various options. Whether it be between a pair of Adidas and Nike sports shoes, or choosing between different political viewpoints, or even between two tomatoes to pick up at the supermarket.. We all have to make decisions every single day. (Just staying alive is a decision in itself.) It is possibly the most important thing we do everyday, and we sure do a lot of it.

There are many levels in this seemingly simple process. The first level that we consciously or subconsciously make our decisions on is called instinct, or better known as intuition. Something inside us tells us that A makes more sense than B, and choosing A is definitely a better idea than B. It is something that operates on a subconscious level and it makes the decision something that is not deliberated by a conscious thought process. This level is usually the determinant in urgent situations where the decision to act (just to act, or act in a certain way) is made within a spilt second that offers little time for thought, such as whether to dive and push someone out of danger, or whether to pull the trigger or not. 

In less pressing situations with more space and time to think, our rational minds become a larger factor in the decision-making process. We tend to consider various external factors such as the circumstances surrounding the decision, as well as the possible short and long term repurcussions that could result from making the choice. Depending on your personality, you may either consider first the short or long run. Spontaneous and outgoing personalities tend to consider the short run as more crucial, while individuals who prefer planning and are generally more systematic and meticulous (and likely more reserved) would see the long term as more important. 

It’s something like voting for Party A because they dangle a carrot of cash incentives and rebates (short run) over Party B which offers long term solutions to possible problems (long run) which could occur in the future (maybe like providing an alternate voice in government), and vice versa depending which you consider more important. This example shows it the short and long runs form the bedrock of whether you choose instant gratification, or delayed gratification. Of course, this is very general because most of the time the short run interest and long run interest coincide, where the short run benefit over time leads to the long run (economically, we live in the short run and I quote, ‘in the long run we are all dead’ (Keynes)). Economic theory aside, deciding and planning for the future is still inevitably important.

That being said, there are definitely many other factors that contribute to the process of decision making. Our emotions make up a huge chunk of this process, as how an angry person loses most of his rationality while a sad person tends to make a random decision given his emotional state. The process is also influenced by the words of others, whether it be by friendly advice or political directives or so many other possibilities. Circumstances certainly play a critical role as well.

As we have discussed, there are so many factors that affect our decisions (whether directly or indirectly) that we have to know which factor is most important to that decision. Now that we know a few of these factors, we can thus consider if one of these factors (say, emotions) is overbearing on our ability to make a sound decision. We thus have to balance all these factors out before we put our finger and mind on one of the various options facing us. 

Now that we have done some thinking, I think it is time for me to start reading the chapter on Decisions. I guess we pretty much have control over how we decide and what choices we make.. Unless we believe in predestination and fate, which would effectively remove us of our free will and our ability to choose. That however, is a story for another day. 

Til next time, have fun with making decisions!

No Comfort Nor Warmth

She was a keeper in every sense of the word and he thought
He could dominate her and possess every bit of her as if
She belonged wholly to him – every single inch of her all under
His control and all for his manipulation and order;

He never would have thought that one day even this faithful of a girl
Could get tired enough to turn around and walk away from him – forever
Never to ever return a call or a text or to even see him once ever again:
Gone like the autumn breeze which never again would drift by for a moment in time;

It was when the autumn breeze no longer caressed the back of his hair
That he realised he should have enjoyed the magic in the air a little more
And cherish the lightness in his spirits and steps which she brought him –
A spark which only she and she alone could ignite and make blossom;

With her and autumn gone there only was
The coldness of winter left to comfort him:

That which is of no comfort nor warmth.

(Very loose writing inspired by three lines describing a relationship; a relationship which has past and is likely a forgotten memory. It’s a five minutes job in a cafe while chatting with a friend, but I still hope it is worth a read.)

Space and Shoe Box

(Just 5 minutes before bed)

I don’t want to even imagine how you
Just severed ties with him when the relationship ended
Leaving him without a final message or a last letter
Choosing to just disappear totally from his life entirely;

It did appear like he chose to move on and push you aside
So you did likewise to move on and leave the memories behind
Like a locked away space somewhere in the depths of your heart
You chose to put that affair away and take it like it happened – never;

A blank space on your side and a shoe box on his:
What happened between you two became nothing more (to you) than an emptiness
While what took place between the two hearts became little more (to him) than
A shoe box of little messages and cards that contains a paleness of yesterday;

I am not sure what is filling the blank space of your heart right now,
Neither am I sure what is filling the shoe box of his memories there now;

His last attempt to fill up the space once again and add to the shoe box once more.

Between Two Realities

calm, cool night

Sometimes we look at the reality around us and we look at the alternate reality that we play out in our minds and we wonder, which is the better form of reality that we prefer? (For the sake of this post, I’ll use the term ‘alternate reality’ loosely, non-scientifically and define it as the life in which we imagine ourselves having in our minds that may or may not overlap and layer over reality)

The moment we consider our alternate reality to be better than what is in existence is the point when reality starts getting really unattractive, whether perceived or real. Yes it is of course true that both can run concurrently and not interfere with each other, but the key link here is which is considered the distraction from which. In the alternate reality, everything is possible; we can make anything and everything happen according to our fancies and wishes and nothing is truly too difficult to achieve or obtain in this alternate world. In contrast, there are many limitations in the real world we live in, and many a time many things do not go according to the way we might like them to.

This sets up a contrast between the ease of the alternative against the difficulties of the actual; it lays the opposition of ‘in control’ against ‘out of control’ in the two different yet possibly similar worlds.

Fluffy as these all may sound, it is actually quite simple: how developed your alternate reality is depends on how your reality is. As a start, the alternate reality is probably a manifestation of reality, or more specifically, what is desired and/or not obtainable in reality. The degree of control we have over our lives determines how advanced our alternate reality is; if we have much control over our lives, there is no need for a created sense of control that comes with the alternate reality. If we have most of what we desire in reality, there is no need to create the existence and possession of certain things and people in our alternate reality simply because we already have them to begin with and thus need not supplant or replicate what is real and substantial to be unreal and make-believe.

Two ways to look at this. First, you can consider the alternative as a detraction from the real since it distracts you from achieving whatever you desire because you choose to falsely believe you possess what you desire by planting it into the alternative rather than actively pursuing it in real life. The other manner of looking at it is that if there are certain things in which you lack in real life, there is no harm in indulging in the created reality that you actually have it and just enjoy it in a daydream; this potentially can make you happier because the lack/void is filled up artificially.

Now you’ve spotted the keyword. Artificially. Sad to acknowledge, but the alternate reality will always be an artificial creation that is unlikely to spill over into reality (much as we might wish for it to). It is definitely healthy for us to indulge a little in a world in which we have control over everything, but the point when it starts getting unhealthy is when it causes us to be delusional and leads us to be unable to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. That is a sign of excess and is an indication that the alternative has a hold over reality.

Perhaps the important first question to ask yourself is:

would you give up reality as it is and choose instead to live out the one in your head?