Finger Food for Thought

Here are a few summaries on the things that I have discussed on this blog so far. I am trying to capture what I’ve been saying in my philosophy posts into less words, and to also roughly illustrate a new direction that the topics might be heading into. I’ve been trying to think of something Christmas-related to write about, but I’m struggling to come up with something.  (I feel kind of bad about that because Christmas is my favourite time of year 😦 ).  However, I have written a fable that I am planning on publishing here soon.  It will be extremely different from the Macaroni and Cheese story that I wrote for Canada day.  My family says that it’s pretty creepy and dark.  (For the record, I usually don’t write scary stories.  It’s just that I find it hard to stay within one genre).  As the motto says under my title, here are some ideas that I have tried to ‘contain, and secure in a knot’.  I hope that I have succeeded:three christmas themed glass snow globes–Intentions matter more than words.

–Chaos doesn’t exist outside of ourselves, but it does exist as an illusion that we can escape by trying to communicate, and looking for the truth. The unknown is order, but what appears to be a communication disorder needs to be acknowledged in order to break out of it. (This is two blog posts put together as one idea—the fourth post, and the thirteenth.)

–If there is anything that terrifies me to no end, it’s the possibility of remaining stuck with my own opinions about other people without any help to figure out if I’m wrong about my beliefs about them, and to learn about what I have in common with them.

–If people criticize others more than themselves, it’s best not to implement their advice into your own life. These people don’t seem to have enough self-awareness to understand you at a human level. You will know that you are around them if they dig their heels into you whenever you are trying to implement healthy self-critical skills. You will know that you are around them if their words grind you in the gut, and cut you off from ever questioning them, or even conversing. They might try to transform your self-criticism into a false sense of self-love, but it’s more likely that they will try to transform your self-criticism into self-hate.  They might make you believe that your best intentions, or efforts are never good enough.  Do not let them interfere with the balance that allows you to connect with others.

–Earlier this month, I believed that pride and shame is a rocking scale that we need to get away from. I also believed that If we looked at this scale from a bird’s-eye view, we would see that pride and shame are both the same thing, and that they are both bad. However, it was brought to my attention that there is another form of pride that I have neglected to mention—the pride we earn. When I first wrote about this, I was originally thinking about self-assigned pride. Self-assigned pride is most likely a self-made illusion to conceal shame, and earned pride is the sense of fulfillment that comes after personal success or doing a good deed. It’s a reward that keeps us from giving up on ourselves. Whenever people reach this form of pride, they provide a standard for other people to strive for. What are the prose and cons to earned pride? I don’t know yet.  All I know is that writing makes me feel more stable than I was before, so I suspect that I’ve been gradually earning this kind of pride.  I am still learning about the cons, so hopefully in the future I will have the experience I need to go into more depth about these two forms of pride.

13 thoughts on “Finger Food for Thought

  1. Your post in conjunction with it mentioning looking for something Christmas related to write about, gave me an idea I wanted to mention but I’m not sure I can put it in words and not get it jumbled up. But I will try.

    Its occurred to me that both writing and conventional music often incorporate the concept of the ancient Greek’s Golden Ratio “Phi” (not to be confused with Pi…). So what if a short story was developed around a well known Christmas song (with identifiable portions but with new story parts and details added)? I probably don’t need to mention that a story with the theme of Christmas would be an ideal setting for a philosophical contemplation on the concept of maturity, since it seems people are often a little less mature when it comes to the holiday.

    I’m not sure if that makes any sense or is even feasible, I’m not a writer, so if I attempted such a thing I’d end up with something ridiculous like the ghost of the ancient Greek Euclid helping Rudolf the reindeer lead the way…

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    1. Hi theemboldening,

      I’ve actually been thinking about your last comment in the discussion that we’ve been having on your blog about maturity. It’s such and interesting, yet challenging subject at the same time. I was meaning to tell you that one of the short stories I’m working on for a book is about this same subject, and it’s the one out of my whole collection of manuscripts that I’ve been struggling with the most. After I post this comment, I’m hoping to go back to it, and to narrow down the theme of maturity a little more so that it doesn’t drag, or feel forced. It isn’t a Christmas story, but it is about a cross country skiing trip, so it does take place in the winter.

      I think that one of the challenges that I have about writing something Christmas-related for my blog is that as a Christian I’d want to make it about the gift of forgiveness, and I struggle to narrow down this theme, and make it simple enough for one specific time of year. The theme of forgiveness is something that I’ve been trying to understand through this blog because at this point in my life forgiveness seems like the ultimate step towards maturity. It seems to be the ability to forgive others, and also to discern objectively, and patiently when others are treating us with forgiveness. I have failed with this plenty of times in the past. I have also found that other people don’t often want to be treated the way that I want to be treated, and that creates a definite division between myself and them resulting in struggles with my identity. I’ve noticed on your blog that you seem to have struggled with the same thing too. Whenever some people, even other Christians sometimes, resent my social confusion while I’m trying to treat them how I would have them treat me, I feel as though I’m squirming inside myself because it’s like I’m not being forgiven. It seems that whenever we feel as though we are squirming inside ourselves because we fail to reach other’s expectations, something is terribly wrong.

      Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I have a lot of things that I need to work out. Life is a journey. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to write a good Christmas story or post, but not quite yet.

      I liked your comment about a ghost helping Rudolf to lead the way. 🙂 Actually, the very first story that I wrote was pretty silly and full of puns, but writing it helped me to think of some better stories to write in the future.

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  2. At first, my reaction to the topic of forgiveness is simply my own personal opinion of it. It’s always seemed to me that forgiveness is as essential to one’s health as eating well and exercising because I have noticed that it really takes a physical toll on people who don’t forgive. (At the same time, I can understand the difficulty in letting things go.)

    But then, when I think about it, its much more confusing than it first seems. It is presumably a social interaction between two people. But really, it seems to be each contending with themselves. One decides if they will forgive and let go the error, after the other one formally apologizes. But for what ends do people apologize? So that they could forgive themselves as well? Or maybe to continue on in the situation unhindered? I probably think about it all wrong, but when I apologize I do so as a means of expressing that I actually feel bad for whatever mistake I made (or most often, wrong thing I said). I don’t consciously think about it to myself in terms of seeking to obtain forgiveness.

    I suddenly realize that may be because I’ve always thought too literally about it. I reasoned that if I’ve made a mistake I don’t deserve to be given anything. Suddenly the word forgive makes sense if it’s rewritten fore-give. Well, let me try to explain. It reminds me of the Hebrew word “Chesed”, from the original manuscripts of the bible, that has no exact translation into English. I actually spent a long time thinking about this word because it encompasses something that seems really important and good but I couldn’t quite grasp in English before. The word is often poorly translated as “loving-kindness” but it speaks of more than just that. It is used when the act of kindness occurs between two parties who have a covenant between them (often God and his people), when their kind act is related to their covenant somehow. So maybe to forgive (or fore-give, as in give before, or even fore-gift) is a similar sort of act indicating a similar sort of situation. I don’t think I’m explaining it well. There seems to be even more depth to the word but I think I might have ventured too far off topic here and have probably bored you.

    Anyway, I once worked with someone who kept droning on about their relationship and the importance of setting personal boundaries. I really didn’t pay much attention at the time, but maybe a true resolve of any error would extend beyond mere forgiveness and include defining boundaries or other expectations which would pave a way forward. In this way, things can be more readily let go.

    The squirming inside ourselves due to failing to reach other’s expectations, I understand. From what I’ve gathered faux pas are simply a source of embarrassment for most people. But some of us are overly conscious about our errors and I, at least, tend to also over-interpret my failures and extend their meaning well beyond the context of the event, even to the point of becoming part of the definition I have of myself. I don’t have a solution for it as I can’t stop my nature of overthinking nor can I ever possibly memorize all the different expectations different people have. Maybe its really a matter of learning how to elegantly or graciously stumble.

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  3. You seem to be right about how not forgiving others can take a physical toll on people, but also, not being forgiven can probably take a physical toll as well. I’m sure if that squirming feeling went on for longer than normal there would be some malnutrition, hair loss, or a number of other ailments. I don’t believe that we are ever meant to function like this–ever.

    If I understand correctly, you mentioned that you feel as though your challenge to reach other people’s expectations, or your ‘failures’, become how you define yourself. Now I don’t know if that’s the same thing, but there has been times during my internal crisis a few years ago when I’ve tried to be sincere, but I was failing to articulate what was going on with me. One time I tried to say something in a Bible study group, but it resulted in a shocked reaction from another person. After that happened, I couldn’t help but retreat into my worldly identity of being an autistic girl. That was soon after I realized that I’ve allowed this label to define myself too much. There’s nothing wrong with the ‘autism’ label itself, but it is an identity that our feelings can retreat into if we’re misunderstood. It has also caused me a great deal of ‘pride’, and shame before I realized that internalizing ‘autism’ was hurting me. The Christian belief is that every other Identity should become secondary to the label ‘forgiven through Christ’, so that’s why it was especially discouraging when my failure to articulate myself lead to a reaction from another Christian, which resulted in me unwillingly retreating into my old identity.

    I put the word ‘failure’ in quote marks because you seem like a well-intentioned person who thinks that she’s closed-minded, but in reality is, in fact, the exact opposite. It’s not fair to you if you are the one who’s always apologizing, and other people are expecting you to be more open-minded then you are while being closed-minded themselves, and not helping you to understand what’s going on. That’s hypocrisy. We all have our biases, and we can’t help having them. We don’t grow beyond our limited perspectives by being shamed for not understanding other people. This was on my mind while I wrote the second last thought in this blog post–the one about people who criticize others more than themselves.

    Sometimes I also wonder if there is a difference between moral rules and social rules, but the barrier between the two has been blurred. If so, that can certainty make people feel like they are not allowed to speak, move, or just function in the world, especially people like you and I.

    I briefly read some of an article about the Hebrew word ‘Chased’ because I haven’t thought about that myself. I’ll read through it after I’m done writing this comment. I also forgot to mention that I watched a few video’s on YouTube about the golden ratio ‘phi’, and it looked very interesting. It reminded me of the time that I tried to study the phibanachi numbers. I should confess that I’m not a math wiz. I couldn’t understand exactly how these numbers work, but I found it so fascinating that this series of numbers can be found within so many beautiful designs in nature.

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  4. It seems that might be the same process but with different results due to having different tools for use. With not having a label that could help me or anyone else to understand why I fail at some things, my failures have always been interpreted by others and (eventually also accepted wrongly by myself for lack of any other way to look at it at the time) as being intentionally defiant and/or indicative of a lack of intelligence among other negative things. In a way, such a result is understandable because its been very difficult for anyone to understand how someone can be extremely capable in brainy areas and not at all in the more fundamental aspects of life. Its probably obvious from my blog that I’m still trying to understand exactly how this happens with me and why.
    I expect that, maybe, a label would offer an essential excuse because in such situations an explanation is typically required in order to move forward with others. It greatly bothers me that I’ve often had to explain my failures and inabilities to smooth things over with others by resorting to language that is particularly inaccurate and disheartening because that’s the only way they can understand such bizarre things. I’ve more recently tried to mention the idea of autism but people have a very specific image of catatonia and, maybe echolalia, in mind representing that concept, so they still can’t believe or understand how that would apply. The only difference now, is that I can at least understand myself in less detrimental terms and abandon the negative descriptions of myself. Well, I try to abandon those things but after such a long time its proving difficult as they are quite ingrained.
    It seems the label Autistic gives an opportunity for positive growth as opposed to the negative process described above. But that may be an illusion due to my point of perspective. I’m sure that it brings its own set of problems as well. It is remarkable that something as simple as a single word can cause such great impact on experience and life itself.
    As for anyone helping with any understanding, I haven’t found people to be given to help with things they expect another to be able to do. As I mention above, they can’t understand that its possible to be smart but not understand rudimentary things so they treat the situation like defiance, insult or worse. But, again, its entirely understandable.

    I will think more today about the concept of the blurring between social and moral rules as that’s an interesting concept. At the moment, I haven’t had time to give it enough thought to speak on it.

    I don’t think of things like Phi and Fibonacci numbers as a matter of being a math whiz. The ideas represent a different sort of process. Where numbers can be used to create miniature models of real world ideas.

    Like with Fibonacci numbers, the simple sequence of adding the previous two numbers together to get the next number, gives a series of numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, etc. But the numbers become a visualization of whatever physical concept you wish to apply, like maybe a series of walls. The first two with a height of 1 (of whatever unit of measurement), the next a height of 2, then 3 and so forth. It defines the terms of, say, actual height but at the same time allows you to visualize and understand the height difference between each wall (1 between 1 and 2 as well as between 2 and 3, but then 2 between 3 and 5, etc.). So you are basically using numbers to create a model that can be measurably analyzed according to whatever terms you are using to define it. It also allows analyzing things according to uncommon principles that aren’t typically applied to such concepts. I wish I could explain it better because it is really fascinating.

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  5. This is going to sound contradictory, but I should clarify that I actually do agree with you that a diagnosis for autism can lead to positive growth. I wasn’t diagnosed myself until I was sixteen. It was extremely hard going without this label, and I have no way of knowing what it’s like to go even longer without it.

    I guess what I was trying to say is that the label ‘autism’ has caused me to grow in some areas, but to also stumble in others at the same time. I know that this probably sound weird and confusing. There are many nuances to this issue–you seem to recognize that.

    It’s really nice to be able to have a conversation like this one. A lot of people I know don’t seem to have the patience to keep conversations like this going. It can get pretty lonely whenever a topic like this one gets cut short since it can understandably tire other people out. I just naturally seem to thrive on conversations that are likely to exhaust most people.

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  6. I actually don’t find that confusing because its really a complicated topic. I know that autism itself is complex but, I imagine, that there are also so many opinions and misconceptions out there that also factor into the overall experience if you have the label. But I’m curious, though it might be rude to ask, but in what way does the label cause pride?

    I’m also wondering about the concept of internalizing it. Perhaps its like how I do my failures, when it becomes sort of an ends, a destination, as there isn’t any expected progress in that aspect? Given the finality of something deemed failed, especially repeatedly and without exception, it makes logical but not practical sense, though that is quite a literal interpretation. (In these recent discussions with you, I’m noticing more and more that I’m way too literal in thinking sometimes.) But it makes me wonder, can autism become as like a destination as well? Since I’m looking at it from my very limited perspective, I see the label, for lack of a better analogy, as more like the hiking boots rather than the trail or destination. (Sorry I can’t find the right words to otherwise convey what I mean.)

    I was thinking more about social rules and moral rules and made a few observations that seem to indicate that the two are independent of each other. The first, was reflecting on how different social groups have very different social rules as for what’s acceptable. I’ve worked around a group of rather blunt people who very rarely took offense at anything I said. I’ve also often been around Southern ladies who have a lot of strange social rules and obscure etiquette whom I quite often accidentally upset. So the rules definitely change, sometimes drastically, from small group to small group even.

    Also since I relocated to the bible belt of the south, I often run into confusing instances where what I perceive as immoral things (like prejudice and racism) are a common practice by many (but not all) of the devoutly religious people here. I’ve noticed that their immoral practices are due to their culture/heritage and those social rules seem to take precedence over their religious moral rules. I find it all very confusing myself, but maybe it shows how valued social rules are to people that they will go against their own moral rules. Although, it suddenly occurs to me that maybe the way I think of moral rules as being absolutes with no possibility of variation, might just be very different than how others actually think about such rules.

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  7. I think I worded a sentence in my last paragraph wrong and should clarify. I meant “I’ve noticed that (what I perceive as) their immoral practices are due to their culture/heritage and those social norms (that are somehow related to their social rules) seem to take precedence over their religious moral rules.” I don’t want to give the impression that I think what I think is absolutely correct. I also want to point out that those people, in most other aspects, I perceive to be good people so it’s all the more confusing, especially how to react in those situations.

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  8. Hi theemboldening,

    I’m sorry that I haven’t gotten back to you sooner. The past couple of days has been kind of crazy.

    I do see what you’re saying. The barrier between prejudice, and social rules has been blurred from multiple dimensions, and It’s truly devastating. Some people will say that prejudice doesn’t exist anymore. I can see how they might believe that holding onto this view can ease tension, but this belief can potentially cause what they originally didn’t want–tension. Other people will probably judge the little things, like the challenge to look another person in the eyes, or inability to understand how to act around them as ethically wrong.

    There are also people who don’t seem to be living by the morals that they claim to follow. Some people will say ‘don’t judge me’, and then go on to judge others. Some people will talk about forgiveness, but hold grudges. This problem will keep going on as us humans keep pushing into each other–I’m no acception.

    I will try my best to answer your question about the label ‘autism’ causing pride, but it might be kind of confusing since I’m still grappling with the question of what ‘pride’ is. I was sixteen when I was diagnosed with autism. After years of being confused about why I’m different, I held onto this label as something to be proud of. I believed that I had reached a destination, so in my eyes at the time, I could rest. You are right. I saw it as a destination, but seeing the label this way later backfired on me once I reached my early twenties when I fell into a deep, spiritual crisis. In my teens I didn’t have the maturity to view the diagnosis as hiking boots to help me move forward.

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  9. If I’m understanding correctly, by applying the idea that pride is the antithesis of shame, then that makes sense. Because pride would be the point of absence of shame regarding a matter and such a state would be a very logical (and natural) destination to aim for when immersed in the shame aspect.

    Though maybe stagnation at a destination isn’t always a bad thing. It could include a matter of cocooning (again, I don’t have the right words here) to make necessary repairs and undo whatever damage may have occurred before one could carry on. Depending on the extent of the damage, a shutting down type of state may even be required for restoration (or for damage control whilst making repairs). I don’t know how or if such a concept applies to your experience.

    (I’m not sure if it even applies to mine. I might be looking at it wrong, but there appears to be a common theme of not understanding what is. I can’t help but wonder if maybe everyone lacks such knowing, yet only few ever notice it.)

    Then there is also the reasonable notion that one doesn’t typically travel a great distance to a vacation destination to look at it and say “well, there it is.” then immediately turn around and travel home. (While I have done that before, it isn’t typical.)

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  10. You’re mostly right. I was actually referring to the scale that rocks between ‘pride’ and shame, and that reveals itself to be all the same when we look at it from a distance. When I used the word ‘pride’, I probably should have said the ‘illusion of pride’, or put the word in quote marks just like I did for one of the later replies so that it still applies to my new theory for two types of pride–the illusion of pride that we take onto ourselves, and earned pride that may actually exist outside of this scale, and can also be compatible with humility. My brain was kind of dopey while I was writing my last reply late at night. Not only that, but it’s a new addition to my theory, so I’m trying to apply ideas from the margins of my own understanding in order to take this into consideration. I’m hoping that things will reveal themselves to either solidify my theory if there’s something real there, or disconfirm it’s validity on the chance that I’m wrong.

    I was thinking of what you were saying about stagnation, and shutting down. I know that in some cases it’s natural for me to shut myself away, and to be stagnant around rare personalities that represent a discouraging view the outside world. However, It seems as though no effort from myself can prevent soul-searching from happening. It doesn’t appear that I’m doing the soul-searching myself, but rather, the soul-searching is happening to me. The spiritual crisis wasn’t something that I planned to come about–it just happened one day. I had no say in the matter.

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  11. I was trying for a bit to determine what would be the name of the state where there is an absence of pride and shame. Maybe apathy? That doesn’t seem like it’d be a very helpful state. The idea of earned pride seems (in my mind) to most often to apply to situations that are like competitions, with winners and losers. (And therefore, the proud and the shamed.) I’m not sure how it would apply to noncompetitive endeavors. Like I’ve never been proud I can just accomplish a typical task. For instance, I’ve never been proud that I can take the garbage to the road. But I’ve been thankful that I can. Maybe thankful is the absence of pride and shame?

    I think I understand what you mean around those rare personalities. There are certain types of negativity that I don’t know how to react to and are very draining, so I avoid them. But then there’s also other negativity that doesn’t really bother me. I really don’t know how to define the difference between the two negativities, though. Maybe the latter is open to resolve.

    My mom, who was a devout Christian, used to always tell me (about life in general) that “if you’re not meant to see something, then you won’t see it”. I’ve always found that an extremely interesting, and at the same time comforting, concept. Your mention of involuntary soul-searching (or growth endeavors) reminds me of that phrase.

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  12. Yes, you are definitely right. Earned pride does involve winners and losers. I forgot about that, although there is the saying “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Even if we lose, is it possible that something is earned by being allowed to play the game? Maybe it is thankfulness that I’m thinking about.

    You’re Mom sounds like a wise women. We have no control over the things we’ll see, or the growth we’ll experience, but when it comes right down to it God is in control.

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