The irony of the pandemic

Farm companies giving away food.

People contacting each other more. Family spending more time together.

Wild Animals are seen roaming more freely.

Less air and water pollution. Fish can be seen more clearly and mountains are more visible.

People being more aware of the needs of others and the importance of essential workers.

More people are returning to their hobbies and developing new skills.

We are learning to appreciate nature and silence more.

We are all reminded that life is fragile and we need to live it slowly, with care and compassion.

We are more conscious about our hygiene.

Streets are safer and people are learning to be patient with grocery lines.

We are entering a new era in our evolutionary human history. Future generations will hopefully learn from us.

Uncertainty is the New Normal

Let us stop for a moment and ponder on this. Because we are all living a new reality.

Literally the whole world is on stand by. I continue to wish that this is a bad dream, but I haven’t woken up from it yet.

I have a full time job, but I haven’t seen my office half of the time. I work in a team setting, but I have only seen three coworkers at a time and from a distance.

I wash my hands for 20 seconds, and I still use hand sanitizer right after that. Try not to touch the door handles, and use wipes where ever I go.

I have friends and families, but I don’t see them in person. I cannot even get close to my mom to give her a kiss, because it may make her ill.

Streets are empty, and grocery stores have lines of people outside. It reminds me of pictures of a totalitarian society and a socialist government.

Masks and gloves are becoming a daily necessity. Toilet paper and sanitizers are almost like gold.

The news are full of negative reports about positive results. Death toll rises while congregations decrease.

We use Netflix and Hulu instead of going to the theatre. Social distancing is what dominates our daily lives.

It seems that this has no end. It appears as if we are trying to fight a losing battle against an invisible enemy.

This makes hurricane seasons more bearable. Earthquakes and wild fires are familiarities to us.

But this is different. And more scary.

Nobody knows how long this will last. There is a heavy sense of uncertainty that shatters our lives.

Will we ever go back to normal? We don’t know what normal is anymore.

The only thing normal now is the uncertainty itself.

What can we learn from this chaos?

So this is a follow up from the previous post. Today the answer to the question I was asking in my last post is that, No, we are not overreacting to the Coronavirus global situation. We might actually be under reacting . It is obvious and there is no question that the human race is currently experiencing a world wide epidemic.

Watching the news is more anxiety provoking than anything else. I have watched a lot of end of times and apocalyptic movies, but now I am actually experiencing these catastrophic events in real life. Sometimes I wish I am living a bad dream, but I haven’t woken up yet.

Schools are suspended until further notice , theme parks are closed, libraries are closed, beaches and parks are empty, and stores are running out of products. Not even the hurricane season tops this. September 11 did not affect airline companies as much as the Coronavirus. The news talk about this dangerous virus all the time. It seems that they don’t talk about anything else happening in the world.

Scientists are still studying this virus. There is no vaccine yet. Death toll keeps rising. What should we do then? Panic? Not really, but certainly keep ourselves isolated as much as possible. Use social media more and don’t visit the elderly. Do more online shopping and watch more Netflix at home.

This might be an opportunity to get closer to the loved ones we live with and give each other support. It is our chance to simplify our lives and do some self reflection. This might be the beginning of a new era where human beings can reflect more about the fragility of life and how important it is to live in the present moment. It is ironic that we may continue to interact more with each other through the use of technology. But it is also a blessing so that we can maintain contact without risking contracting the disease.

So go ahead, spend more time with your children, spouse , and loved ones at home. Interact with others away from you through virtual technology. Read more books, watch more movies, and engage in other simple hobbies. We might learn something new and beautiful from each other in the midst of the chaos.

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.

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.

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?

Note from a nihilist

Warning: the following note is a hypothetical sentiment about how I would feel as a true nihilist. This is Not a sign of a potential suicide.

My dear loved ones and acquaintances . I have come to conclude that this existence is no longer worth living .

I have struggled and questioned a lot and is worthless to continue to live. Everything we experience is based on our interpretation . Nothing seems to be objective . We create what is good and what is bad. Nothing that we do and prepare lasts forever.

Nothing.

Everybody does things to obtain some kind of self satisfaction and reward, including helping others with the real purpose of feeling good about themselves. Nothing is done with genuine selflessness. Every act of kindness is done based on self righteousness.

The only reason to make efforts to do good to others is with the hope that the good we do today will impact others in the future with favorable outcomes. But that is not guaranteed .

I have tried to do good. But I have realized that many times ( if not all the times ) I have acted out of selfishness . To relieve some guilt or alleviate a pain. And my mission, whatever it was, is over. I’ve done my part.

We fabricate meaning and purpose based on our own interpretation of reality.

It’s all subjective.

It really does not matter unless you give it importance. It has no meaning unless you give it meaning.

What is really out there except what is interpreted through my mind?

What is in my mind can be changed at any moment. There is nothing concrete and tangible out there.

So when I leave, I leave nothing behind except other people’s interpretations of my temporary existence. Memories .

Those who never met me will not care. Those who know me will eventually forget me.

And life will go on.

So don’t feel sad.

Because one day it will be your turn.

And we may (or may not ) meet again.