Facing the departure of a loved one

My family and I are currently facing the potential passing of a loved one. He is my father in law and he has been in the hospital for a few days now. Families have been traveling to see him. Doctors are starting to talk about hospice.

Last week, we heard about a friend of the family who was involved in a serious freak accident and unfortunately lost his life as a result. It was a shock for all of us since he was a young man with four sons and a wife. He was very active in the community and in is church. He was a very kind and supportive husband. He helped my daughter find a job and took my son to practice basketball with his sons. He was an amazing man.

My own father passed away almost two years ago. I was not present when he was on his death bed because of the distance. But I was there for his funeral and burial. That was also heart breaking, not seeing my father for a long time and then losing him forever. And now we are facing another personal pain with another family member about to pass.

All these losses that we experience really take a big toll in our lives in a profound way. It reminds us of the mystery of this existence. It gives us a slap on our face about how finite this life really is. All the hopes and the goals they we have. All the challenges and shortcomings we endure. All the lessons that we receive. All the accomplishments and actualizations that we achieve. For us to then cease to exist at the end.

And then what?

This is why I have started to believe that this limited existence , as far as we can be aware of, is basically passing the torch to the next generation. And then to the next. And so on. We are collectively gaining knowledge and wisdom for our children to pass it on to their children so that we, human beings, can succeed and survive.

It is a “big picture” kind of mission and purpose. Our individual lives, if we are truly individuals , don’t have much of a purpose except to benefit humanity as a whole. In thousands and thousands of years. We just don’t see it like that , at least we don’t at the moment and don’t remember from previous generations, but we can maintain faith that that is the way this existence operates.

I could be completely off and be wrong about this. But I strongly believe this is the reason we are here. Otherwise , this is a big and chaotic mess.

So here we are, visiting my father in law for possibly the last time. Remembering his accomplishments and his contribution. Cherishing good memories. Passing on what he learned to us and our children.

Until the next time.

New Generation, New Language

“Send me the link. ”

“I will text you.”

“Attach it to the email.”

“Google it..”

“Download from the cloud.”

Do you know what these phrases mean? Of course you do. We use them everyday. But thirty years ago they had no meaning at all, at least for most of the population.

It is amazing how much our language has changed . It is impressive how fast we have evolved into a significantly different species.

We are currently using language that a generation ago was almost unheard of. And I don’t think I need to explain the reason for such a drastic change .

When I was a child back in the 80’s, the most common way of communicating in long distance was through regular mail or a telephone call. Now we can even see a live image of a person from the other side of the world on a miniature screen held in our hands and talk to that person. It is amazing!

We have become a new kind of people with a new language . It’s not English anymore. It’s something else. We may call it “Technologish” or “Cyberish.” Whatever we may call it, it’s a new way of referring to the various ways we currently operate and communicate.

Cyber space, computers, information technology, and virtual reality have become our norm. The internet is our new encyclopedia and newspaper. Ebooks are our new books. Spotify and Pandora are our new radio stations. Netflix and Hulu have become our new movie theaters. Amazon and EBay dominated our shopping days. The list goes on and on.

And the language and phrases we use are increasingly evolving. I am not sure if we would be able to communicate effectively with someone who time traveled from the past, even from the 1980’s, without confusing them with all of our terminology.

I am sure that in a not so distant future we may start talking about calling your vehicle to come and pick us up. Or teleporting to the other side of the world in minutes. Or experiencing a vacation through virtual reality. Or having personal relationship with an artificially intelligent humanoid.

What other terms will we use then?

The Box, the Dot, and the Circle

The box and the dot and the circle. What do they mean? This is a post that describes what my experience has been with these three symbols and the meaning they give to life.

The Box

You probably have heard about the saying “think outside the box. ” It is simply to think outside of what we have been taught to think most of the time. It is simply to consider other alternatives other than what has been drilled in our brains from an early age. The box may represent a specific doctrine, a custom, tradition, or way of thinking. It can be used to help structure our minds by classifying things and simplifying our minds. But it can also limit our resources and our growth .

Thinking outside the box allows us to look at alternative ways of thinking. It helps us to grow and to learn new ways of experiencing things. For example, not everyone would need to go to college to have some kind of meaningful and productive life. Not everyone has to have a strict diet and exercise in order to have a healthy lifestyle. Not everyone has to take medication to treat an illness. There’s always an alternative way to almost everything.

But it takes courage and determination to go against the popular journey and do things a little different. It takes willingness to be vulnerable to criticism and ridicule in order to be outside of the box.

Don’t be afraid. Be yourself. And grow.

The Dot

How about the dot? The dot is the unfortunate or undersized events that happen in our lives that we focus so much on.

What do you see here?:

Most people would say “a dot.” Few people actually pay attention to the white space around it. When we look at the dot on a piece of paper all of our attention is automatically driven to the dot. But when we expand our vision and look around the dot, we can begin to look at the Bigger Picture.

When we focus too much on small issues (by small I don’t mean unimportant ) we miss other things around us that are also happening . If I worry a lot about not having enough money to buy all the groceries I need, I can then look at the bigger picture and consider those families and whole communities who have absolutely nothing to eat. If I obsess about the cold that I’m suffering from, I can then look at the bigger picture and think about those who have terminal illnesses.

And this is not only about how other people are in worse situations than ours. It’s also about , instead of focusing so much about maintaining our personal agenda and keeping track of our goals, to also think about how precious life is as a whole even if we don’t have everything we want. It’s about appreciating the life as it is. It’s looking at our experiences in a more holistic way. And the more we look at the bigger picture , the smaller our problems will become. When I look at the picture of our planet earth, or even a small white dot in a picture of our galaxy, I am reminded of how huge our universe is, compared to our daily problems.

Another link that beautifully talks about the dot is found here .

The Circle

Now let’s talk about the circle. We usually think that life is linear and everything happens in a straight line. But that’s not really the case. I have learned in this life everything starts and ends pretty much in the same spot.

Life is not linear , like most of us think . We begin as dependent , fragile, weak humans, and we end up the same way. Everything in nature follows a pattern that cycles the same way. From spring , to summer, to autumn, to winter, and back to spring again. The earth revolves around the Sun in a big circle.

When we do certain things, there is always a consequence . Our actions brings consequences back to us. Cause and effect. Everything can be perceived as in a circle.

There are many disciplines that use the circle as its model to illustrate its components. There is the circle of life as illustrated below.

There is also the circular model of the whole person as shown below.

The circle represents the notions of totality, wholeness, original perfection, the Self, the infinite, eternity, timelessness, all cyclic movement, and God .

It is a perfect symbol. In Japan it is called “Enso.” It is used to express the present moment. It also symbolizes absolute enlightenment , strength, elegance, the universe and the void .

In summary , thinking outside the box, looking at the Big Picture instead of just the dot , and embracing the totality and perfection of the circle, will bring harmony to this existence. Keep that in mind.

Going to the ER (existential reflection )

Today I went to the ER at a local hospital. I was working and doing the usual thing when all of a sudden I started feeling pressure on my chest and shortness of breath. I asked a nurse that works with me to check my blood pressure and it was too low. I continued to feel light headedness and exhibited shallow breathing. I was starting to faint. They insisted on calling paramedics for me.

A thousand thoughts came through my mind. I really thought I was dying. So I asked the nurses to tell my wife I love her. Paramedics came quickly and took my vital signs and was still too low. I was about to faint. The world became darker and quieter. They transported me to the hospital in no time.

I then had a major existential moment, especially about dying. I reflected deeply about my state of existence. What will happen to my family if I die? Will they be ok in my absence? Will they have a different father in the future ? What about all the things I haven’t accomplished yet in life? Will I get a second chance?

And the greatest question of all: Will I face my creator or simply be in an empty state of eternal nothingness ?

Even during the time that I was riding in the ambulance I kept thinking about facing death. If this was a heart attack, it’s amazing how a small organ can determine if I live or die.

I have contemplated a lot about this subject for a long time. But this was like the culmination. This was like : “Alright, this is it!”

I have been moved to a room now. Heart rate and blood pressure are back to normal. Doctor wants me to do a stress test in the morning and go from there. I had one before, but not to this extent. I’ve met so many medical staff members since I’ve been here, including paramedics , doctors and nurses. And they have all been very nice. Not sure how the medical bill will be. Trying not to think about that so much .

So I’m still reflecting on this profound subject . And I don’t think it can get any deeper than this. What other profound topic can intrigue us and paralyze us and scare us more than what dying really means? But death itself is not the greatest mystery, but rather this existence we call “Life.”

I kept tearing up every time I thought of my family and loved ones. It was almost as if I was reminded about the fragility of life. About the importance of keeping loved ones together. About living one step at a time …and not letting small stuff get the best of me.

My family came to visit me. That was an emotional and precious moment for me. I had coworkers and friends text me. That was a good feeling.

This may have been a wake up call. A drastic reminder of this existence. It was definitely scary. It was a teaching moment. It taught me to let go. To not sweat the small stuff. And to live each moment.

As if it was the last.

Let’s be honest , let’s look at the Bigger picture

Think of one thing that troubles you.

Bills. Physical pain. Difficult marriage. Dirty dishes in the sink. A noisy neighbor.

Now think of it among other circumstances that surround it .

Bills of things you already enjoy. Physical pain with healthy mind . Difficult marriages with wonderful children/pets. Dirty dishes but the kitchen or house are cleaner (or it’s an indication you have food to eat) . Noisy neighbor but at least you are not alone in the universe.

When you consider other circumstances surrounding whatever bothers and troubles you, the pain itself becomes a little smaller .

If you look at the blank piece of white paper, with a black little dot close to one of its corner , what will you notice first?

The little dot.

No matter how small it is, your focus will be on the dot.

No matter if the dot is on one side or close to the corner of the paper, your focus will be on the dot .

Why is that?

We like to be pessimists. We tend to look at the negative . So we miss the bigger picture. We tend to obsess about what is perceived as a threat or a nuisance.

So stepping back and looking at the bigger picture will help to alleviate the frustration and the pain that comes when we only focus on the negative .

It’s (almost) all in our heads

Imagine living in a comic strip where every scene and character is in a separate box, with bubbles above everyone depicting and showing what everyone’s saying and thinking . What the reader would see in the pictures themselves is what is truly happening. What the reader reads inside each bubble above characters’ heads is what the character’s interpretation of what is happening . In other words, what’s inside their minds.

In their heads.

And this is exactly how we all live in our lives: inside of our heads.

Think about it. In your head. If you meet somebody and talk to them for a while and then walk away, you will still have the image of that person in your mind , but not the actual person. When you go to a restaurant and have the wrong plate served to you, you would have an unpleasant image of the restaurant in your mind for a while , but not the actual restaurant.

We fabricate what we decide to interpret in our heads, including people, places, things, and ideas. But we do it so automatically that we don’t notice it. So we live life constantly living and experiencing what our minds interpret, not what is truly out there.

We also create all these labels and ideas in our heads which helps us to identify with something. It could be gender , race, culture, religion, fashion, sports, or a combination of any of these .

It is the same as saying that we create our own realities. We assume that the ideas and images we have in our heads is really “out there.” But it’s not. It is in our minds. So we continue to live the delusions that our minds automatically create. And every time we encounter a new experience, either meeting a new friend, getting a new job, reading the news, or visiting another country , we process what we experience based on our delusions. We filter everything through our biased minds; through our preconceived notions.

It takes a large amount of courage and independent thinking to put our biased preconceived notions aside and experience life as it really is.

Mindfully.

When we meet someone with a different political or religious view, do we see them through our biased mind and delusion , and therefore, judge them as being wrong and delusional themselves? Or can we try to experience them with appreciation and unbiased acceptance ? We don’t have to agree, but we can certainly accept them as fellow human beings worth of respect.

I was seeing a video about a community that believes that the earth is not a globe, but rather a flat plane. My automatic preconceived respond would be to perceive them as ridiculous. But if I put my biased mind aside, I should be able to listen and accept their views even if they’re different than mine. And by doing so, I would be experiencing this moment in life outside of my mind; free from my own created delusions . Even though I still don’t agree with their views .

So stepping aside and experiencing every moment without biased is a difficult task; but it is essential

Is God love?

If God is love (1 John 4:8) , and Love is patient, kind, and does not keep record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), then why would God be impatient , unkind, and keep records of our sins to the point of punishing us eternally in hell?