Being chill

Why is everyone in such a hurry?!  I thought about this as I was barefoot running the other day.  As I was enjoying the sunshine and just taking in the environment around me I noticed that everyone else on the trail, even those walking, seemed like they were in a race to get somewhere or something.  Chill out!

The past few weeks one of the biggest realizations I’ve come to is how important it is to be chill.  If you look at it from a health, social, psychological, physiological, and happiness standpoint, being calm and not worrying is one of the most important things you can do.

From a health standpoint, cortisol is a hormone secreted when we are in stress related situations.  It acts as the hormone which elevates our senses and sends adrenaline to decide whether to fight or fly from a given situation.  From a biological view, this is very important for those few dangerous situations humans can get themselves in.  The problem is in today’s overly stressed world most of us are swimming in cortisol 24/7 and the result is our body thinks we are fighting for our life all the time which has bad consequences (one of them being weight gain ahem ahem).

From a social standpoint, everyone knows how much easier it is to hang out with someone who is chill and is not uber uptight.  I used to be an ubertight one especially when around people I’m new to.  I think it was a confidence thing.  I’ve definitely worked on this and hopefully I’m atleast a little chiller in social situations although I know I can still be super awkward sometimes 🙂

From a psychological/physiological point of view, from my personal experience, I am way more productive/in control of my body when I’m not in some sort of panic mode.  I program better.  When I’m skiing on a super steep slope that seems a little bit too difficult for me, once I calm down I can go down so much easier than when I am all tense and nervous.  I’ve taken to practicing getting to this calm state in scary/uncomfortable positions.  In the morning I take an icy cold shower and try to stay relatively calm during the whole thing (no easy task!).  When bouldering I try and jump off the top of the boulder staying calm about the height I’m at.

From a happiness standpoint I cannot say how happy and at peace I am when I am chill about everything.  I think the trick is to live in the present, not in the past or in the future.  I used to be a past/future living person.  The change between that and living in the present is such a big difference in state of mind I think it’s taken me a while to get to this point where I am.  But holy shit, what a big difference!  I like to focus on this exact moment and how my body feels and the exact circumstances of my environment.  It is such an exhilirating feeling, like what it means to live.  Instead of focusing on what my future is going to be like, I begin to think of the utter endless possibilities of what could happen from this moment on depending on what I do.  Because life is not something that happens in the future, it’s what’s going on right this moment you are reading this blog.

This thing about living in the present has been written about so much but I think I’m only now starting to get it and actually apply it to my own life.  I’ll leave you with a couple of these writings:

A zen parable:

The monk raced to the edge of a cliff, glanced back, and saw the growling tiger about to spring. The monk spotted a vine dangling over the edge of the cliff. He grabbed it and began shinnying down the side of the cliff out of the clutches of the tiger.

Whew! Narrow escape.

The monk then looked down and saw a quarry of jagged rocks five hundred feet below. He looked up and saw the tiger poised atop the cliff with bared claws. Just then, two mice began to nibble at the vine.

What to do?

The monk saw a strawberry within arm’s reach, growing out of the face of the cliff.

He plucked it, ate it, and exclaimed, “Yum! That’s the best strawberry I’ve ever tasted in my entire life.”

Roger Waters:

I certainly realized then that year that life was already happening, I think it’s cause my mother was so obsessed with education and the idea that childhood and adolesence and…well, everything was about preparing for a life that was going to start later, and I suddenly realized that life wasn’t going to start later that it had…you know…it starts at dot…and it happens all the time, and at any point you can grasp the reigns and start guiding your own destiny, and that was a big revelation to me; i mean it came as quite a shock.

Lao Tzu:

 

My Motivation

So I’ve been talking to some people about what our main motivation in life is.  Some people say they want to change the world and leave it in a better place.  Others to help and serve others.  Others to find a girl and start a family.  All very legitimate things I think.

For me, I think I used to be in the change the world and leave it in a better place camp.  But I think I’ve changed or atleast I’ve come to realize that maybe this isn’t what most motivates me nowadays if I’m going to be honest with myself.  I mean I still believe and want to change the world but that is not the be all, end all for me.

In a previous blog I came to the conclusion that my main motivation was this yearning to be free.  I wrote about that here.  However, I’ve come to realize maybe this isn’t exactly correct so I’ll slightly modify my position.

I think my main motivation these days is for self-expression.  I believe that freedom is very related to this but it’s not exactly the same.  You can be free (say in the middle of a jungle) but never be able to express yourself.  I want to express myself through my work, art, music, movement, my ideas, and my life.  In the end I want to be able to fully express myself as who I am.

Yes, I want to change the world, help and serve others, and start a family but it would be an extension of the need to express myself, those things not necessarily being the main motivation in and of itself.

On Paleo

So just finished a three day convention on paleo and primal living here in Austin.  I’ve been following paleo for about 4 months now.  Here are some things I’ve come to learn and have taken away from my experience with the Paleo movement so far.

  1. Since going Paleo I’ve experienced some amazing things I never knew could happen.  I have so much energy nowadays to do so many different things.  There are times when I just feel so on top of this world with so much joy like I own this earth.  Kind of like I’m drunk but without the alcohol!  I’ve talked to some other people and they’ve felt the same way.  I find myself also smiling during a day more often than before.  Such a crazy feeling 🙂
  2. One of the most important things to do is to just listen to your body.  If you just listen to your body you will know what you need.  Sleep when you are tired.  Eat when you are hungry.  Don’t work out when you don’t feel like it.
  3. I am rather romantic when it comes to living naturally.  I find the scientific theory behind diet kind of interesting but in the end I will just use my instinct and feeling to figure out what I am going to do rather than overanalyzing.  Now that I think about it ever since I was young I’ve always abided by living instinctively and going with the flow.  I’m not interested at all in optimizing anything via artificial means.
  4. Moving naturally or like a kid gives me so much joy.  I begin to feel so young and vibrant.  It’s a shame that I’ve stopped since I was a kid but now I know I want to do a lot more.  Climbing, jumping, crawling, walking, running, squatting I remember it being so fun as a kid.  Hopefully I can rediscover this.
  5. The whole paleo movement has opened my thinking and my view of the world.  Even if all of paleo is shown to be dead wrong it has opened my mind to the idea that so much of conventional knowledge has limited my thinking of how things could be instead.   Nowadays I rethink everything I learned or taken for granted in the past.  The world and life itself feels like my playground now where I can explore and discover new things.  It feels so exciting and empowering!

The Most Beautiful Song I’ve Ever Heard

Today I heard the most beautiful song played in a live concert I’ve ever heard.  It was The Shin’s New Slang song.

It’s been an emotional two days for me for a couple of reasons and this song, with it’s message, the Shin’s perfect delivery, and the warm beautiful night in Austin right next to the river made it the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard and it hit me hard.  The song reflected all of my sadness, all of my doubts, and all of my insecurities.  But at the same, it also reflected my hopefulness and the fact that life moves on.  It’s such a sad and beautiful song.  Performed at the perfect time/place.  I know I won’t ever forget their performance.

One Of Those Days

For some reason, I’m having one of those days where I’m super emo about Jess again.  I think it might have to do with the fact that I’m going down to Austin in a few days and will most likely be seeing her.  I haven’t felt like this in a long time actually so it’s kind of surprising.  Last time was probably back in December when I last met up with her.  Past few months we haven’t really talked at all and I felt totally cool.

Now though, those anxious/nervous emo feelings are coming back and I don’t like it.  I’m hoping these feelings go away because it was so nice being free from it all the past few months.  Maybe I should think about just removing her from my life completely.  I don’t know.

I’ve been thinking about how much she hurt me back a year and a half ago and I get that sick feeling in the bottom of my stomach.  And then I sometimes see things from the past on like facebook and stuff and get kind of sad.

Anyway, I know problem is that I’m looking too much in the past and in the future.  I just get depressed and anxious that way.  I’m trying to more to just live in the present and be peaceful with everything.

Close call on the slopes

Aaahh, it’s been a month since my last blog.  Sorry!  I’ve just been super super busy.  I’ll have to write a post on all my recent shenanigans but not now.  I just went through a nearish death experience…

I was out skiing in Tahoe when I lost control and started skiing backwards.  I started going downhill until I fell back and my head hit a rock.  Thank god I was wearing a helmet!  The helmet absorbed the whole shock and the only thing I got was a bruised back and arm.

And I was this close to not wearing a helmet until my friend convinced me otherwise.  Thank goodness.  It felt good to be alive afterwards with only a few bruises.  Close call!

Lesson is clear.  Always wear a helmet, boys and girls.

Socal trip

So last weekend I went on a trip to socal on my own.  I was signed up for the socal super spartan race but I couldn’t find anyone to do it with so I said to heck with it I’m gonna try couchsurfing and ridesharing!  Get to meet new people and also make my trip as cheap as possible.  In the end it turned out to be one of the funnest weekends I’ve ever had and the fact that I went and did it all on my own made it that much more rewarding.

I went down to socal with this chinese dude who was visiting his girlfriend.  We had some interesting conversations about life, diet, and other stuff.  I dropped him off at anaheim and that was that.

I then met up with my host for couchsurfing in some no name city called Murietta.  One of the coolest/chillest guys I ever met.  I went with him and his friends to a bar that night and just chilled.  Made my first couchsurfing experience really comfortable and fun.  I then was able to sleep at his place for free.  What more can I ask for?  We had a bunch of conversations about music and also life in general, where we were and where we plan on going.

On my way back I carpooled with this girl going back to Santa Cruz for school.  It was so cool because we both had pretty much the same exact music taste so no arguments there!  I don’t think I’ve ever met a stranger who had such similar tastes.  Anyway had bunch of interesting convos too.  Made the ride back so much easier and fun.

Overall, it was one of the sickest and more memorable trips ever.  I’m definitely gonna do more ridesharing/couchsurfing and I’m so getting good at this travelling on my own thing.  Also, I’m so much more comfortable chilling with new people and open to meeting new peeps.  I like it 🙂

Spartan Race

Did the Spartan race today.  It was a good 12k with plenty of obstacles in between.  There were tons of hills which means a lot of uphill climbs and a lot of downhill sprints.  Supposedly Hobie Call called this the hardest Super Spartan by far from all the ones he’s done in the past.

I don’t think I did particularly bad.  Kept a good pace throughout.  Only problem was on some of the walls we had to climb I ended up cramping one or both calves a couple of times which meant that I was on the ground in pain for a couple of minutes losing precious time.

Overall, I’d say that it was physically more demanding than tough mudder.  But tough mudder was more mentally challenging due mainly to the freezing water I experience in tough mudder.

I will also say that I am so much stronger now since the time I did tough mudder.  In tough mudder I had a bunch of troubles with monkey bars and climbing ropes but now it was a piece of cake.  Upper body strength is definitely coming along!

Next event is possibly Tough Mudder in socal in February.  Let’s see if I can find people to do that one with…

RIP Dr. H

So today I found out that one of my father figures from growing up, Dr. H, died.  When I heard about it I was shocked.  He was pretty old but I had always thought that I would see him atleast one more time.  In fact I’m planning on going to Austin this March and was planning on meeting up with him.  I guess that won’t happen anymore.

For those who don’t know him he was the choirmaster at St. Thomas Choir School, a school I was in from 5th to 8th grade.  But he was way more than just a choirmaster to me.  He was the perfect role model for us kids back then.  The most incredibly kind person you would have ever meet.  How he did it in a job as stressful as his was I would never know.  He made each of us kids feel special with a different nickname and song for each of us.  Besides this, he was a musical genius no doubt about it, but he is so humble you would never ever know it.  His humbleness and kindness is something I see myself still trying to emulate today.

One memory sticks out to me from those choir school days.  At one point the choir was going to this European tour later in the year and I needed to know whether I was going or not.  I had to ask because I was a weird case in that I was kind of in the choir and kind of not (it’s a long story).  So I asked him after one of our rehearsals and he said that unfortunately I would not be able to go.  I was like ok and went to my next class.  During my next class though Dr. H came up to our classroom and asked to talk to me.  And this was weird because Dr. H NEVER goes up to the classrooms.  There’s just no reason for him to.  Anyway, he talked to me personally one on one in the library about the situation and why I wouldn’t be able to go.  Then right there I suddenly felt the huge disappointment I was keeping inside from not being able to go on tour.  How Dr. H so this and took the unbelievable step of coming up to my classroom and talking to me about something he understood was important to me still moves me today.  Long story short, somehow, I don’t know if it was through Dr. H’s influence or not I was able to go on the tour in the end.

So today when I heard of his death I am just so so sad and devastated.  The fact that I never got to see him again one more time may be something I regret for a long long time.  I was able to friend him and his wife a few months ago and I did express to them how much they have influenced my life for the better.  Thank you Dr. H and rest in peace.

New Year’s Resolutions

Before I get to this year’s resolutions let’s go through last year’s resolutions and see how I did…

  • Be more sociable.  I did this okay.  I will say that I have definitely gotten a lot more comfortable being around people and in social situations.  B.
  • Meet new people.  Meh, I didn’t do this one very good.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad but I think I would’ve liked to do much better.  B-.
  • Explore places.  I give myself a mediocre grade on this one.  I did explore amsterdam and also started exploring SF recently.  Otherwise, not else much.  B+.
  • Cook more.  Heh, okay so recently I’ve been doing this a little better since I started doing paleo.  But overall, C.
  • Work hard at NVIDIA.  So I changed teams and now I’m on a project where I feel like I’m doing much better and getting work done.  B.
  • Get in better shape.  Okay so this is one where I can confidently say I’ve improved on :).  A.

I guess overall that gives me GPA of 3.0.  Yuck!  But again new year’s resolutions are tricky since your goals change as you go through the year.  Let’s do this year’s resolutions…

  • Meet new people!  Yeah, I’m keeping this one as I think it’s very important.
  • Become more comfortable/confident with myself.  I feel like throughout the past year I’ve been slowly becoming more confident and independent with myself.  I’ve been trying to rid myself of my inhibitions and dumb “bullshitedness” and in the end just be myself for who I am.
  • Move to another country by the end of the year.  Yeah, I really really want to do this.  Hopefully I can make it happen.
  • Stop being so consumeristic.  I personally think we have a consumerism problem in this country.  But on a personal level I think in the end buying more shit in the end doesn’t make you anymore happy.  Actually, I feel like material possessions in the end can take over your life.  It’s not about money or possessions people…
  • Start learning new things again.  It’s easy after college and with a job to stop trying to learn new things.  I want to start reading a bunch and also take classes again.

Ok, that’s all I’ll write for now.  I can think of so much more but I think I’ll keep it to these five.  Gimme a year and we’ll see how I do 😛