A Challenge for the Mind

It happened like a spark, a metaphorical slap to my face, another thing that has always been right in front of me and yet, I’ve somehow, yet again, managed to not see it until now. The Manly Switch that was in the OFF position, that desire to move forward with my life and yet unable to shake that ‘stuck’ feeling. It’s all because of one thing: Challenge.

My Mental health was completely ill, and that’s because I have nothing to think about. And then it happened.

Earlier tonight, my mom was feeling ill and my sister and I went to check on her, and her mind ran rapidly, she knew exactly what to do and how to do it. I stood there like a child at the experience and knowledge of my sister, and she doesn’t have a formal education, didn’t spend hours reading textbooks until her eyes bled, and didn’t put herself into debt just for that.

I thought to myself, “What have I been doing with myself?” Knowledge that would bring people to envy is right at my fingertips, and I could become an expert at the entire human anatomy, if I but just reached out and grabbed one of my books that’s literally within arm’s reach of me. I’ve been working my body, trying to become stronger, and yet, I’ve neglected my mind, everything I’ve worked towards, for the last couple of years is slipping from my grasp and when I try to put myself back into it, I’m going to stare at the information and look like a complete fool!

It’s really because I want to be someone that I’m not currently. I wanted to be a reader, so I started reading, and I’m really enjoying it, but now I want to be that kind of person who would throw seemingly unnecessary information at a simple question, I want to apply knowledge that I’ve learned into real life situations, what I’ve defined as true intellect. Seeing my sister do what I’ve wanted to do with my knowledge has opened my eyes to the fact that in order to be that kind of person, I need to remember what I’ve lost and to always strive to excel at what I should know.

So now, I’m going to start studying my books again. I’m going to return to my nerdy passions of learning and knowing things that the people around me would scratch their heads at. I will learn and re-learn and integrate it into my mind the human anatomy, until I can’t speak without throwing some random science fact in nearly every sentence! Not so that I can show off my knowledge, but so that I can challenge myself mentally and get rid of the feeling that I’m wasting my time, which I really was doing, mentally, at least.

My drive to learn will know no bounds!

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Three Days Forward, Two Days Back

Alright, so I’ve been a bit ill lately, so now I’ve gotta catch up on my AoM challenge!

Day 13: Perform a mind dump of everything you’re worried about. From the leaky dishwasher to your family member’s poor health — get it all out. Dwight D. Eisenhower did it, and it significantly helped him manage his stress. Just as your body needs to…cleanse itself of waste, so does your mind every once in a while. Getting all your stressors on paper may alleviate some of that pressure. Use David Allen’s GTD trigger list to help you out.

OK Worries! They are: Loans, Finding a Job, being rejected from Med school, going back to regular school, finding ways to pay for it, that “presence” coming back, making a permanent mistake with Marlena, making a permanent mistake with ANY girl, utterly failing at Life, dividing my family, losing the girls, giving into temptation, wasting my time and money on useless things, wasting my family’s time and money on useless things.

Day 14: Write a review of some form of entertainment you recently took in. Whether book or movie or TV show or Broadway play, write out what you liked and didn’t like about it. Was the acting/writing good? Could you follow the story? Is there anything you can take from it about life, or was it purely entertainment? This is often one of the most enjoyable entries to write, as it’s especially fun (and quite nostalgic) to go back and read these in the future. I can imagine that 10 years from now I will thoroughly appreciate my thoughts from this week on Roy Baumeister’sIs There Anything Good About Men?.

Ninja Warrior has returned! I’m so glad that it has! Nothing motivates me more to exercise than seeing someone put their body to the test! Although all of the contestants hardly ever make it to the finish, it’s inspiring seeing them try! And every time you see one of them fall, they always say the same thing, “I’m going to do better next time.” These athletes who’s levels I don’t think I’ll ever reach, fall and rise again and again. I always say to myself, ‘One day I’ll do that too’ And I still have that in the back of my mind, to become the grand Ninja master and achieve Total Victory!

Day 15: Come up with your own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors. There are innumerable great men from history who we can learn from today. When thinking about your life or pondering some question or problem, yes, go to actual mentors and friends, but also take in the advice of men of yore. Write out who you would have on your list and what you admire about them. Having trouble coming up with a list? The comments in the post should offer plenty of ideas.

Hmm… I suppose my Cabinet would consist of:

  • Jesus – The Son of God, what better moral teacher than that?
  • Goku – A man who trained for the sake of improving himself, not for bettering others
  • Bahamut – Another Motivator, King of Dragons with an ancient Wisdom
  • My Father – My par for what I think it takes to be a Good Man
  • Sun Tzu – Master Strategist of Life and War
  • Theodore Roosevelt – Took a bullet and didn’t leave until his speech was finished, another Good Man
  • Giuseppe Moscati – Italian Doctor and patron Saint of the Catholic church, my par for being a Good Doctor
  • Albert Einstein – A slow learner who changed the world
  • Robert Frost – To remind me to take the Road less traveled
  • My Mother – To remind me to be kind to others
  • My Sister – To remind me that nothing is impossible
  • Aristotle – Philosophy is where I treasure this guy
  • Marcus Aurelius – Roman Emperor who believed that we are all connected by one singular energy
  • My Brother-in-law – Another strong man who fills the room with laughter, he bears traits that I admire
  • Balian of Ibelin – “What man is a man who does not try to make the world better?”

“In Order To Fulfill Your Life”

“That which is full can never be filled… and in LIFE in order to feel fulfilled one must first empty oneself of all selfish wants and needs in order to feel accomplished…”

This was spoken to me by my sister, she was voicing her concerns about my thinking about going to the Caribbean med school, I told her some fears that I had as time progress, how I was feeling scared that my efforts would eventually be for naught, but she told me that so long as I keep going, even repeating classes, or volunteering more, I’m still making progress, Maliha came to mind, as she’s older than me but is still trying to get into medical school, herself.

It’s a rather strange sentiment, but my sister is right when she tells me that life can be humbling at times, because I know I’m thinking from the perspective of, “OK, I’ve graduated and got my Bachelor’s so I’m going to medical school now!” when the actually process isn’t as certain, nor as straightforward. I think they’re not aware of that, despite my attempts at explaining it to them, but oh well…

So now I’m going to try to get into UCR, and since classes don’t start until mid-Sept, it looks like I’m going to have to make a few payments on the grand loan that I’ve been so concerned about, sigh… I hate spending money that isn’t mine. I need to try to remember that each step of my journey, however regretful, painful, or draining is a step closer, after all, going back to school can help my application and further my goals in the future, and wishful thinking is nothing more than a waste of time, I need to be assertive and take action!

Heh, I need to empty whatever thoughts and expections I already have in mind in order to truly fulfill my goals, that way I can be complete at the end, with all of the experiences that it entails. It’s a rather strange sentiment, I need to humble myself and let go of what I thought was going to happen, and really accept Life as it comes, I guess I was too busy worrying about things that aren’t in my control that I had forgotten what I could do. In the end, when one really puts the effort into it, one can do many great things, I can have 3 Bachelor’s with hundreds of Minors before I even apply to med school. So now, I need to focus my efforts on, not necessarily starting over, but on keeping focus on the idea that I need to have an insatiable desire to keep learning, to keep moving, a state of unsettled, a constant thirst for knowledge. After all, I really do like learning about new things, and I like to apply my knowledge to everything around me, heh despite the jeering from some of my other brothers, but I’ve always accepted the role of the guy with the scientific info, mostly because I want to see how I can simplify it for others. A strange accomplishment I feel each time I take something complex and simplify it for someone, just for the sake of it, most of the time, I doubt if they’ll ever remember my explanation but I always smile when I’m able do this.

So I guess I need to start making some calls in the morning for some appointments to get registered at UCR, this ought to be interesting.

Reviewing what lies within

I’ve come to the point where my mind is starting to get restless, despite the distractions with everything else, I find myself coming back to a point, where all I want to do is read and review my notes.It’s kinda funny, actually,  I want to remember the terms, the equations, the concepts.

Well, lately there hasn’t been anything that’s been too mentally challenging, save for that one level in Fall of Cybertron, but the intellectual aspect of my mind is hungry for something more. I wonder if I can relearn all of the skeletal structure and the muscle systems on my own… I need to make my mind take this reviewing thing seriously, because I tried studying for the MCAT on my own, and that turned out to be a bust.

I need a goal, something that’ll put my mind in a particular state of mind that will cause me to focus like how I did when I was in school. These are things that I need to retain in my mind, almost permanently, because I will need to retain this for both, professional and personal reasons.

In Professional terms, being able to recall particular bone structures, allows me to help people on the fly with some basic First-aid thrown in. I’ll be able to make slings, braces, even watch out for chemical reactions if they happen. This also reassures my Parent/Guardian abilities to be prepared for anything that happens, should I be responsible for someone, like my nieces who will now be living with us come early-June. Not to mention, the student part of me, that constantly thrives on knowledge and facts will be sated.

In Personal terms, whenever an opportunity comes up to define how damaging someone’s mangled body is on TV, or whether someone has been skewered in a horror movie and died, I take this opportunity to explain why said person should/shouldn’t live, or how ridiculous the display of gore is anatomically. Sometimes at the expense of my brothers’ sanity, but they usually let me know when I’ve lost their interest… or never had it. Not to mention, I also use it to keep my title of “the Smart Uncle” when my nieces try to trick me by asking me lots of questions.

But in all seriousness, I’m glad I have this, a desire to constantly learn and improve, to remember and to recite, a true thirst for knowledge, both relevant and not.

But thanks to my mind, I could never thinking chronologically, which is why I always did horrible in History, not to mention also explains my weirdness, but this is why I was able to excel in Science and Math, because the formulas and equations that was required didn’t need to come at a specific point or date, so they, as I have imagined, are floating around in my head, like snowflakes or fireflies, all I have to do is simply reach out and grab it and the information comes straight to mind.

But time has passed and now all those fireflies and snowflakes have fallen into the sea of the Forgotten. I need to rekindle the flames that burned with knowledge, and I need to do it soon, otherwise, I’ll forget everything I’ve spend years trying to learn! Not to mention, this would be one of the most productive ways to spend my time, instead of playing video games or watching TV or randomly surfing the web. Besides, all of the great people of History have always been constant seekers of Knowledge, constantly learning new things, remembering and applying old things, and never ceasing their quest, regardless of age, situation, or even difficulty of information. The idea is to keep learning, there is always something new to learn, something old to remember, some new world to discover. And here I am not exploring the worlds that I’ve once traversed in. I’ve let the bridges rust and get old, I need to rebuild them and dwell in the Universe once again!

Wake me up when September Ends

… It was one year ago today… at 6:43 AM… The phone call woke me up, but I went back to sleep, thinking, “Who’d call at this hour?“… And then John came into my room and all he said was…

“Dad fell……”

There was a light that was extinguished then… And I know that if he was here, he’d hit me over the head and call me Taras for being so sad and missing him… I’m only glad that I didn’t show it outwardly, I remained normal, and my usual self, yet, I’ve been dreading this post since July…

Has it really been a year already?…

I haven’t visited him since we placed him into the ground…

… Siiigh… I need to get my mind off of this… I want to write about him, about what I’ve learned from him, not about that day again… OK, here we go…

What I’ve learned from my Father…

“Keep at it. If there’s a problem keep working on it until a solution is found.”

When we would work on the cars, my Dad always seemed to know what the problem was, it was borderline instinctive! ‘Hey, Car’s shaking, it must be the Air Filter.’ or ‘The way this thing idles means that the fuel pump needs to be changed.’

… Whaaa?! How could you possibly know that?! The way it idles?!

He was completely confident in his diagnosis, and when we’d do what he thought — or knew, for that matter — was the solution, sure enough, the vehicle was running as if brought from the lot. It baffled me how deep his knowledge was when it came to how to fix things, not only for cars and vehicles, but for anything! With my Father, I did construction jobs such as putting drywall, painting, pipework, plumbing, even cementing, tilling and advanced gardening, far advanced than the average DIY handyman. When I asked him how he knew all this information, he simply told me, “Oh, I learned it from ______, and then I learned.”

Upon reflecting on it, I realized now that he didn’t simply just knew these things, like my childish mind had originally thought, someone taught it to him, then he practiced them, and then he mastered them, which means that the first few trust couldn’t have been perfect because he was learning, and learning is trial and error, reviewing, making mistakes and learning from them. Like exercising, you only get improvements if you do sets, repeating the same exercises over again, rather than one simple run through. The mind starts learning and growing, improving, all because of sticking to the problem at hand, until a solution is found.

A fight isn’t over in a single punch, no, fights are determined by who has trained themselves properly with the right equipment and techniques, and followed by the correct motivation. The fight is merely the results of one person pitted against the results of another. But I digress…

Every problem has a solution, sometimes it’s easy to find, others it’s hard, sometimes it’s simple, others it’s complex and difficult to understand, the point is that Every problem has a solution, if one is willing to stay with it and find it. This is what I’ve learned from my Father, and I learned this without words, without instruction, only through observation, through example, and eventually, through practice.

Hmm… I think I’ll dedicate September to my Father and everything he’s taught me… and everything he meant to me.

Red’s Journey

I was walking along a path. This path was new to me, and yet so familiar at the same time… along the path I saw a house. As I got closer the house became a small green hut. It wasn’t anything special, a really old-fashioned straw hut with a window and wooden door…. I walked inside the hut and I saw exactly what was expected, a single bed, a blank picture, a chair, a table and what not. yet there was another door. I walked inside the door and entered in a hallway with white walls and 5 dark red doors an each side. At the end of the hallway there was another door, when I opened it, I saw white clouds surrounding a grand castle, as if the clouds were part of the castle, I saw beings made of light floating about and I saw people walking about the castle, I only glimpse the palace for a sec, and then I left the hut…. As I was walking on the dirt path, it suddenly began to become hilly, with ups and downs each one higher and lower than the last…. I, oddly enough, passed a paper cup on the road. I looked at it and crumpled it up and tossed it in the garbage…. Suddenly, I came across a canyon in the middle of the way; I climbed it down a little and jumped to the other side…. As I came up, I saw a Rattlesnake waiting for me at the top. I remained still and stared the snake down. His yellow eyes staring straight into mines. Then he simply slithered away…. I got to the top and continued along my path…. I reached another end except this was a cliff. I looked down only to see a large lake at the bottom. At the end of the lake there was a Mother with her Child, and a Fisherman to the left side. My side of the lake was filled with rocks and there were rapids and high tides. Moments afterwards, the lake got clear and was zooming in towards me, the rocks were submerged and I saw my reflection… I left the lake and continued along my path… I came across a small key, observing it; it was a simple skeleton key, so I decided to keep it… Suddenly I came across a brick wall; it was just there red-bricks like the ones in a cartoon or something. It was in my way so I decided to climb it…. I looked at the other side, and I saw a vast and barren wasteland, filled with spires and stalagmites all over the land. It was dark and life only was in the form of vultures flying away in the distance, one would feel an evil and dark presence at the end of this wasteland, yet I felt a noble reason for going through it. It was as if I was meant to travel through this wasteland…….

“What is this path that Red is taking?” you ask. Well then let me explain it to you…

The hut is what you see when you look at me. How you see me is a simple and plain, old fashioned house, I am too old for these new times, heh heh….

Inside the hut is what you see inside. First of all it is what you expected, simple, plain and boring, nothing special at all. Yet if you travel deeper within me, you find that there is a way to Heaven, so to speak. My deepest core is that within this plain hut is the Kingdom of Heaven… a Kingdom of Conscious….

This path that I walk upon is what my future is. At first it’s pretty simple and flat, and then it becomes more difficult to walk upon. As you keep going you start to see hills and valleys and a canyon…

The paper cup is how I treat people. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t treat people like garbage, I take care of them. I did not leave the cup where it was, I placed it where it belongs, so you see, I took care of it….

The Rattlesnake is how I react to danger. I do not freeze nor, hesitate but I know what needs to be done. I know what to do in the face of danger and I know how to beat it….

The body of water is my emotional side. Granted, I was distant from my emotions for a very long time, even scared. But as time passed, I got much closer and my emotions began to become clear to me, allowing me to understand it. As for the Mother and Child, my emotions I must admit I learned from my mother, yet the Fisherman is beyond me, perhaps it is someone who knows more about my emotions than I do…

The key is the key to my knowledge. My knowledge is simple yet, like a skeleton key is universal. Some of you say I’m smart and wonder why I know so much, well it’s just like a key that can open any door, it’s just that simple….

The wall is my death. Oddly enough, my Death will be shocking and surprising. It will be a little irritating, I don’t know how. But it will be as if I hit a wall….

The last part of the journey is the other side of the wall; this is where I will be going after I die. Simply enough, I will be going to Hell, whatever I have done in my life, I will remember it as I walk through the wasteland that belongs to the Prince of Darkness. Although I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going there with Noble purposes….

Well now you have it, what you see here is Red, My Soul. Red is who I am while I was walking this path and Red knows where he will end up. I may not know why I’m walking this way, but I know it’s for the best… Heh heh…. see you around.

Some time ago, I wrote this, and being reminded of it a while ago, made me decide to post it here. It’s not exactly the reason why, I’ve made this journal, despite the same title… Heh, if anything, this is simply the ‘layout’ of this colorful life of mine.