Okay, so why is this post different from every other post about hating on Valentine’s Day? Believe me when I say that I am not venting on the day of love because I am missing that special-someone-who-has-yet-to-appear-in-my-life, I am lonely, or that a fear in weight gain prevents me from burying my face in chocolate.
I just recently watched the movie “Valentine’s Day” because it happened to be on television and quite frankly I was in the mood to sit in front of the television and kill some brain cells. I’m not going to waste lines here and write about the many things that were wrong with the movie and blah, blah, blah. All I want to say is that the film only increased my gag reflexes induced by Valentine’s Day.
I think it comes down to this: As I get “older,” I seem to be mistrusting and doubting more and more aspects of the society in which I live.
It’s not that I am pessimistic or paranoid of everything that surrounds me. I feel like I can see through most things. I do not consider myself more intelligent or more enlightened than others. But I do sometimes see myself as more rational. Where I see friends, co-workers, family, and strangers chasing things and believing in ideals I consider vain, I see myself as a passive observer sometimes afraid to convey the futility of certain behaviours and actions. The problem is that certain behaviours have become the norm and when something becomes the norm, it is hard for individuals to step out and look in. In this situation, we who should be subjects have become objects. We allow ourselves to be conditioned and have choices made for us rather than make self-assertive, intentional decisions ourselves.
Take Valentine’s Day for example.
If you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband, and you fail to by them a rose, a box of chocolates, a card, dinner, or a stuffed animal with big eyes and the words “I love you” written across its chest, you might be in trouble. Because in today’s day and age, the failure to buy something for your loved one on Valentine’s Day is tantamount to saying “I don’t love you.” This could lead to a few tears, a cold shoulder, a fight and possibly even a break-up if not just a “break” from your loved one. How, why and when did this become the cultural norm?
Valentine’s Day has a Roman origin with pagan traditions (like most holidays). In the words of Barbara Biziou, the most popular story for the origins of Valentine’s Day goes like this:
In the 3rd century, the Roman Emperor Claudius II thought marriage was not good for war since men wanted to stay home with their wives, so he outlawed marriage. At the time there was a Christian priest named Valentine who felt sorry for the couples and married people in secret. When Claudius found out, he threw Valentine in jail and executed him on Feb. 14. Before his death however, Valentine wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend and signed it from your Valentine.
The greatest irony of Valentine’s Day is this: the Christian priest Valentine tried to preserve the sanctity of marriage while today’s Valentine’s Day is all about “hooking up” and indulging in material goods as dictated by big corporations and advertisements (Show him/her that you love them. Buy a diamond ring today!). Marriage is not even an issue anymore. People date for ten years, have children and live together before they take on the “big leap” of marriage. Well, if you have kids, a house together, share expenses – hello, you’re doing it backwards! Why not secure the knot first before making other commitments. Don’t fill up a room with cherished possessions and leave the door unlocked. Make sure the door is locked before you fill a room with valuables.
It’s not hidden knowledge that every holiday marked on the calendar has become more consumerist rather than sacred. The whole year, we are expected to work around the clock for the whole year and devote – one day to appreciate your mother, one day to appreciate your father, one day to appreciate Jesus, one day to appreciate the love of your life, with a few other holidays also framed around a materialistic appreciation and thanks.
I guess all I’m really trying to say is – don’t let big corporations and businesses dictate your actions. Choose, for yourself, who you will love, when and how. Make everyday special for all your special people, your own special way!
When it comes to choosing between reading using an eReader or a paperback, I am definitely of the majority who prefers the good ol’ paperback. The most common reasons for preferring a paperback include:
“I love the smell of books!”
“It reminds me of a memory or my childhood – the good ol’ past!”
“Technology is wonderful but not always reliable. I know my paperback won’t run out of batteries!”
“I like to write in books!”
“I love libraries and bookstores. And they wouldn’t exist without books!”
I am not one of those who have enjoyed the fruits of the eReader. I have survived my two university degrees without purchasing one and am still surviving now. Maybe it’s more personal for me – I don’t like to let go of things I have known and got used to. But more than that, the actual feel, look, size, text, cover and weight of books is what I enjoy. For example, when I think of Chaucer, I can recall the feel of my 3rd year university English Literature Anthology: the thinness of the pages as if they used tissue paper instead of real paper, the way the ink leaked through as I underlined and highlighted like a madman, the weight of the book that forced me to lean to one side as I carried it in my shoulder bag and oh yes – don’t forget the smell, the ultimate paperback high. I actually associate all this with Chaucer; my experience of the book is just as important as the actual text I read.
Just like most people, I love bookshelves and I love bookstores. I dream of owning a house in which I can actually set up a library – old school style (fireplace, pipe, stone floor and all). In my bedroom right now, I have a small bookshelf (as big as my room would allow) that proudly houses my most favorite reads as well as books I actually read on a regular basis because they’re just-so-darn-good. But my bookshelf has evolved into something more than just a structure for my most prized books. It has now become almost a personal shrine for me. Around my favorite books (a collection of novels, non-fiction, biographies, scriptures, poetry, scientific and philosophical theories and oh yes, Harry Potter), are some significant pieces of my life: my graduation, degrees, photographs of friends and family, memories of important events, family history mementos etc. Could I have really framed all of this around an eReader? Even if I took the books out and kept the rest, it would feel completely incomplete to me. The books represent me – my thoughts, ideas, feelings, philosophies all penned down by different authors dating back centuries. Take out the books and I’ve lost the soul of my shrine. I’ve lost echoes of me.
While pondering over the question of paperbacks or eReaders, I had a horrible thought. What if paperbacks were to become extinct? Insert shock and horror. But I don’t think it is too far-fetched to assume so. Because of the many conveniences of the eReader, people are subtly replacing the book on their bedside table and the book in their handbag, with an eReader. But I have to say I am not one of the many who have purchased an eReader. I still believe in the hardcovers and paperbacks. I go so far as to change my bag according to the size of the book I am currently reading. And I am not ashamed to pull out a book while commuting to and from work rather than a snappy and shiny eReader like most of my fellow passengers.
We knew this was coming. It’s finally time to say adieu to the Canadian penny. As a Canadian, I personally feel sentimental when it comes to removing pennies from my grotesquely-bulging-with-coins wallet. Even though my overweight wallet will lose some pounds with the removal of pennies, I can’t say I’m thoroughly enjoying the new physique of my wallet. I like my cookies – I mean pennies.
Yes, I am one of those people who lives by the cheesy “old is gold” rule; not knowing what specific time the “old” refers to. The diffusion of pennies means that we are moving on to the future while letting go of pieces of the past. We can foresee the future as something void of physical currency but not entirely sure yet if it is to be replaced by a chip in our jaw, a bar code on our fingernail, or if our bank account will be diffused into the memories of our cell phone (which will become a physically attached fifth limb). Insert phobia of the future.
But this is sort of a déjà-vu. I am in my early twenties but I am old enough to recall the eradication of the $2 Canadian bills. Damn, the nostalgia whenever I see one that has been preserved by dwellers of the past, such as myself. That $2 bill has become a metaphor for my lost childhood. Gone forever. So in the future, what will the penny become for the future me? A metaphor for my lost youth? Wow, I already foresee myself telling the younger generations about the good ol’ penny days when life was much simpler. No need to remember security codes or pin numbers, figure out which piece of plastic to hand over to the cashier, worry if I’m spending my future earnings (credit) or current earnings (debit), cross my fingers and hold my breath as the cashier swipes my “future earnings” card, the pain in my jaw from the inserted chip – no, just count them pennies from your wallet and hand them over!
As we move on to an age of “freedom from physical currency,” we also move on to an age of “bondage of non-physical currency.” Implanted chip and barcode jokes aside, all I see is a future of secure enslavement. In a simple world with coins, paper bills, gold etc, there is no “borrowing” from the future. Credit has become mandatory. In order to buy a house, one needs credit. In order to buy a car, one needs credit. And with credit comes the deadly cycle of borrowing, spending and paying interest. I actually kind of feel sorry for the generations down the road who will have to visit a museum in order to see the archaic pennies and other physical currencies used by the ancients. I’m sure at least one of them will exclaim, “Ah! The Golden Penny Days!”
- A Soul Minding Age
After being blessed with a few weeks of bearable winter, my snow-storm attracting city was finally dealt some harsh wind and snow yesterday. As I struggled to squint through the endless white and staggered towards my front door after being almost knee-deep in snow, I noticed something. I stopped to stare and for a moment, forgetting how numb my extremities were, I rummaged through my purse to find my phone so that I could capture this:
I had taken a photo of this tree that lives on my front yard, last spring. At that time, the tree was bursting with life and it looked truly majestic, like out of a fairy-tale. Now, seeing it in a completely different light, it was hard to recognize this tree as being the same one from last spring. I knew this of course, because I’ve been living in the same house since last spring and am pretty sure that the tree on my front lawn did not uproot itself to be replaced by another or that my house magically drifted (‘Up’ style) to a new land while I was sleeping. Ruling out these possibilities, it’s safe to assume the tree itself changed.
It’s at this time that I realized that nature is probably the best support system we have; not just for our physical bodies but for the health of our psyche as well. Seeing the tree this way did not faze me because I knew, for a fact, that the tree would rebirth itself in a few months to assume its bursting-with-life-and-energy form. This feeling that we have – actually, the knowledge – that life renews itself is something that nature itself demonstrates for us. Change inspires hope. We live in a cycle, which means that good always returns.
Lately, I’ve been fearful of some changes that I know are coming my way. But the tree on my front yard tells me that change is the vacuum for something new, good and revived. With these thoughts in mind, even the dismal winter tree seems majestic in its own way. It’s telling me: keep yourself rooted, hold on, a new birth is just around the corner. And that is beautiful.
- A Soul Much Assured
tweet tweet tweet: https://twitter.com/Eclipsed_Mind
Even though the New Year brings an illusory fresh start, I can’t help to stay in the moody slump I have been in for the past couple of weeks. It’s just one of those times where it seems like everything is going wrong. And what has been annoying me a lot lately is when people assume that a New Year brings a new you. Wake up people – no it doesn’t! I’m not trying to be a Negative Nancy but I have decided that my philosophy is based on a shorter time frame; each DAY should be treated as a fresh start. I have come to realize that if I actually followed through with this philosophy (which has been really difficult lately), I wouldn’t still be in a grudgingly irritable state. Sure some things are out of one’s control but I am trying my best to inculcate patience and positivity when all I want to do is curl in bed and count my woes.
My greatest fear lately has been that I have felt hope slipping away from me. I recognize despair as my enemy but I lack strength to face it. I can’t say that anything is horribly bad right now so maybe (cross my fingers) it’s just the winter blues that has me down (among other things). But rather than swim in my own pool of self-pity, I have come to realize, thanks to my friend Plato, that things can always be worse. Everyone I face has their own issues to deal with.
As long as I remain grateful for what I do have, I can remain happy. So to conform to society for once in my life, I am going to draw up a New Year’s resolution: Wake up every day and believe that TODAY is a fresh start. As long as I remain attached to this philosophy, I can ensure that I make amends with past mistakes, wake up happy and grateful, see every day as the first of the rest of my life and SMILE. No matter what.
Anddd let’s be friends on twitter :D https://twitter.com/Eclipsed_Mind
The series finale of Gossip Girls aired last night and I must say it was sad to say goodbye to Chair, Dan’s self-sustaining hair, Serena’s glamorous ensembles, and the show’s expertly fabricated musical exposés where the perfect songs were pinpointed to the most perfect moments.
Even though it was high time for the show to end its 6 year run, I have to say that the finale lacked substance. I was looking forward to an episode of shock/horror/amazement/mental fireworks…but it never happened. So here I go philosophizing a show based on gossip, lust, wealth, fame, and killer good looks.
One of my favorite Chair scenes with the most perfect background song:
The revelation of Gossip Girl’s identity can only be described as anticlimactic. Okay so Dan is Gossip Girl. So what? The biggest secret of the show was revealed so subtly and passively that my only reaction was: “Oh.” Another factor for my lack of enthusiasm could have been that we were already fooled into thinking that Georgina held the high status of Gossip Girl last season. And then the weddings – Blair + Chuck, Serena + Dan – were so predictable that I was kind of glad the show was finally over (you know you’re out of story lines when…). It was a happy ending – I like happy endings and I’m not sadistic, I swear - but I just don’t like too much predictability, that’s all.
But I have to say that I actually liked how the whole show came together and what I understand to be the final message of the show. The Lonely Boy is an individual (yes, male or female) who is an outcast of society, mainly because of social stature. This individual wants to “fit in” but will always be a nobody – unless people start talking about them that is. Yes, the show proved that publicity, good or bad, is always good. It gets you noticed, which gets you talked about, which gets you popular. If you’re only goal in life is to be popular and can face multiple tsunamis of drama like the GG characters, then this is the way to go. If you look for something more meaningful in life, then exposing yourself in too many ways is obviously not the smartest move.
The show was highly relevant to today’s technological existence where social media has left us all without privacy. Even if you don’t use social media yourself, you run the risk of being exposed in ways you don’t want to be exposed. I personally find this to be more than just scary. It’s like Big Brother. You can be snapped, tweeted, facebooked, posted, blogged, status-ed, instagram-ed, googled – at anytime with a common weapon called the cellphone. Insert shock and horror. All one has to do is snap a quick photo of you picking your boogers, post it in the wonderful world of the Internet and that’s it, no more friends for you. Because the thing is, once it is online, it’s there FOREVER. It’s actually quite disturbing, the power that people walk around with these days. This is how the Lonely Boy transforms into the Deadly Boy.
Now that I have unleashed the dark side of the wonderful cyber world, I must shed some positive light to desist a total eclipse. Where we have the power to do bad, we have the greater power to do good. The Lonely Boy phenomenon also reveals the power of the pen. Here I am, typing away, and you reading. This is empowering me as I type the words you read (muhahaha). The Lonely Boy is also symbolic of the de-structuring of hierarchies and giving power to the common folk, through non-violent means (for the most part).
Let’s look at a real life example. It’s actually quite inspirational. A Deadly Boy with not-so-good intentions snapped and posted a photo of a Sikh girl with facial hair. However, it backfired when Balpreet Kaur found out about the post and decided to enlighten people through a positive message. Read her response:
In a world where the Lonely Boy wants to be lonely no more, all they have to do is get people talking. Fortunately (or unfortunately) that is not very difficult at present times and the Lonely Boy can turn into the Deadly Boy. There is nothing more empowering than the pen – it allows you do bend minds, not just bodies.
So there you go, I philosophised Gossip Girl, BAM.
Oh and the best part of the episode: Chuck Bass’s son. I died.
In other news, I have just created a twitter account which I will be using to empty out my mind. Feeling lonely there right now so… follow :D