Thursday 2 January 2014

Koan #1: The Start of New Year

(Please see the end of this post for the context of this new series.)

It's that time again! NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION TIME YAAAYYY!!! That time where we all come together to create generally random goals with air-pulled numerical metrics. Yes I WILL go out and eat ice-cream at least 40 days this year. Yes I WILL write 2 great Canadian novel...this year.

Though I joke, most goals have an underlying meaning or reason. Generally people want to be healthy, to be happier, maybe to be wealthier. So keeping that in mind, and understanding that most resolutions are typically broken (probably due to unrealistic metrics) I'd like to think of some themes to live by this year instead.

1. 'Patience' and 'Appreciation'
Underlying reason: to better understand others and to strengthen my relationships.
These are two general qualities I feel I need to up my game on, especially when it comes to family members. I think I've made some progress this year, but there's still a lot of work to do. You can't count patience and measuring appreciation seems suspect (especially if you're going to use money and reciprocal gift giving as a measure) so really there's no clear way to know how I will succeed except to feel it out as I go along.

2. I have everything I need
Underlying reason: spending less time thinking about and trying to accumulate what I want will actually make me happier (there may be a whole post on why that is, but for now, just trust me).
This one is specially focus on the blog. Man, I have bought so many things lately. I've started to witness how irrational some of my purchases are and how I use faulty logical as a crutch to justify some purchases. Thankfully the situation is not so dire that I'm going to have to forgo rent but I do cringe at how much covet-related spending I have done. I do have a somewhat unrealistic plan (yes..unrealistic) for how I will tackle this. It's pretty optimistic but I'm going to give it a trial run this month to see how it goes. 

3. There's a world outside the internet (A)
Underlying reason: staring at mindless drivel on a screen all day is not really living/reading (good writers) is good (again, potential whole post but for now, just trust me).
I've always been a reader and since I've started working I seem to be reading more regularly again. I hope to remember to look away from the computer and continue to do this. In general, I would like to read more award winners (primarily to see what all the fuss is about), and maybe re-read some of my favorites from childhood (I've already downloaded the His Dark Materials trilogy). To put some random metrics, I would also like to reading something from some of these authors (but won't force myself if it becomes a chores. I'm looking at you Margaret Atwood). 
- Paul Auster
- Salman Rushdie
- Roddy Doyle
- Robertson Davies
- Armistead Maupin
- Joyce Carol Oates
- Chuck Palahniuk
- a book of short stories, most likely by Gabriel Garcia Marquez because I don't like short stories but I like him...or maybe Neil Gaiman....or maybe Flannery O'Conner
- Kurt Vonnegut.....maybe...
- maybe one or two books I should have read in school but didn't for whatever reasons
- I'm also going to ask the bf for some suggestions which could end badly since he thinks "Godel, Escher, Bach" is a worthwhile read (which it is...just not for me).
I'm going to stop. Even though I'm already being so committal, this list is getting out of hand.
I'd also like to make a better practice of reading the news. Actual news. 

4. There's a world outside the internet (B)
Underlying reasons: above statement re: drivel, to improve on my cooking skills, skills are good.
I enjoy cooking but ever since I've started working I've been eating the same things all the time. Even though I think my roasted cabbage wedges, carrots and chicken are pretty awesome and really enjoy eating them, I do remember when I use to get excited about trying new recipes. I hope to make something different somewhat frequently. Let's put a random metric on it and say, once a month. That's hardly shooting for the star but still might get me somewhere.

5. All these 'resolutions' are void should something better come along.
Underlying reasons: Alan Watts said so, sort of. Alan Watts is a Zen as they come.
Much like Robert's Rules of Orders, these resolutions can be suspended if they do not work or something better comes along. As Mr Watt's says, if I'm missing out on living my life because I'm trying to pursue things I think will make my life better (but actually won't) then I'm not really living. This may be a useful out if I forget to read someone profound like Orhan Pamuk and settle for some random young adult series. (In general, I haven't gone for a random YA series in a long while. Last was The Hunger Games trilogy 2 years ago. Man, that was good.)

So there you go! Just some sort-of-resolutions I'm pulling together at the 11th hour before this post needs to go up. What are some of your themes this year?


Koans are typically sayings, short stories, quotes or statements which are used to help students deepen their understanding and practice of Zen Buddhism. Some Koans seems ridiculous. Take for example, "Two hands clap and there is a sound, what is the sound of one hand?" And sometimes they are meant to be ridiculous to interrupt a student's preconceptions and to challenge them to let go of what they know.

Zen Buddhism was something that I was momentarily interested in and I wouldn't even qualify as an amateur on the subject. However, I am going to borrow the term Koan and use it very loosely to start a new series of posts which will focus on some themes that I've been thinking about. Most will deal with how I hope to live my life/how I understand the world. Some may simply be nonsensical reactions to whatever. I haven't decided yet. 

Though this blog has so far focused on material and visible beauty, I think I would be remiss if I didn't include some other aspects of beauty that are important to me. And the end of the day, what makes us beautiful are the things that we do and the ways that we live. So I hope you will welcome these new posts. I don't know how frequent they will be and I don't make any promises that they will be good. But they will be, generally, more substantive, than what you have been use to seeing on this blog. 

Daily Zen: On a less serious note, have you seen this list of upcoming tv series and movies for 2014? I seriously can't wait for House of Cards and most of the superhero movies slated for next year. I'm a bit skeptical about few of the picks (I don't really need to see another Tom Cruise sci-fi hero space movie...or do I?) but this is still a good reference. AND the next cycle of Asians Next Top Model is going to start soon!


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