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.

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.

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 .

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.

We are owned

We think we are free entities.

We believe we have the freedom to choose what we want. We think we have free will and can make our own decisions.

But, we are wrong .

Think about this.

You believe you are an individual, unique person? In the United States (can’t speak for other countries) we are assigned a number when we are born. It is called the “social security number.”

You think you can independently identify yourself? We are also assigned to have a label, it is called “first and last name.”

You think you have freedom to choose your way of life ? Most families raise their children in a religious or cultural organized system and tell them what to believe. They are also taught how to view the world , and it becomes their reality.

You believe you can do whatever you want without restrictions in this society? In reality, we cannot do most things without the government’s permission.

We are not allowed to drive a car unless we have a government appointed license, which we physically have to carry with us every time we drive.

We cannot get an education unless we are assigned a school or a private certified teacher and a student number.

We obtain a job only if we have a government given identification card and ( you guessed it) a social security card.

We cannot get officially married unless the government gives us a marriage certificate. Or have and adopt children without the government forcing us to appoint them a birth certificate or permission ( and a fee) to adopt.

We cannot buy groceries unless we have a currency or food stamp card fabricated only by the government . Even if you go to a food bank, you have to present a government given identification.

We cannot even travel to other countries unless this government gives us the ok to do so through a passport .

Your fingerprints serve as further evidence that the government knows who you are.

We cannot vote for whoever runs in government without being registered by the government itself to vote.

We cannot fish, hunt, carry a weapon, own a farm , or climb a mountain without some sort of government intervention.

We have to dress up a certain way and refrain from being completely naked in public if we don’t want someone to report us to authorities .

We cannot even be homeless without worrying about a government official telling us where we cannot sleep or obtain food, which are basic needs.

Sounds extreme? I agree , but that’s the way it actually is in today’s society.

In summary , we are not free human beings after all.

We are basically owned by the government .

Mind Trap

Once we put a label on something , we’re cursed and destined to suffer its consequences.

As soon as we put a name on something , it automatically becomes a trap. It develops into an entity we feel obligated to defend and protect. Whatever it is, either a person’s name, race, nationality, profession, or the name of an event, a place, or situation.

It automatically owns us . It can consume us. It can dictate our thoughts and behaviors. Whatever it is. It can become a reality , but only in our heads, which we will assume to be true until the end .

But do we have to? Are we truly destined to continue to believe the delusions we create in our heads? Is there an escape to this madness?

Our identities are an illusion. Our family names and traditions are also illusions. Patriotism, professionalism, morality, beauty , social classes, religion… they are all labels we put in our heads to try to make sense of this existence.

Truth. Faith . Right versus wrong. Order. Hierarchies. Freedom. Happiness. Meaning.

Everything can be questioned , as far as they are created in our heads. Everything can be changed and altered in our minds.

What is the purpose of our existence then? Purpose is yet another illusion.

What are we to do then?

The concept of “we” is also an illusion . “We” could mean a group of people , a crowd, a town, a country, human beings. Even different entities within one person. They are illusions .

If we get rid of all these illusions and start from zero, what do we have left?

Are we capable of denying ourselves at this level ?

The Reason We Fear Death

Why do we fear death ?

Death is the only certain thing that brings up the ultimate uncertainty .

It is the ultimate mystery of this existence .

Death is the only experience we cannot control or prevent .

Maybe that is why we fear it so much… because we cannot control it. And because we don’t understand or know for sure what it will bring afterwards.

We merely comprehend it as the final stage in this limited awareness we call Life.

It seems as if it’s the end of our identity.

And the identity we were told we have from the beginning and we constantly defend during our lives is what is always threatened by the inevitable death.

What and who will we become upon death?

What kind of awareness, if any, will we experience when death arrives?

It is this and other similar questions that make us ponder and fear the only experience we have no choice but to accept.

We can deny it, fight it, ignore it, hope it never comes. But at the end it always wins.

We can choose our careers, our friends , our hobbies , our political and philosophical views . But we cannot chose wether to die or not . It is the end of all experiences.

Or is it?