Random Observation/Comment #120: I didn’t really grasp the concept of waiting for a specific date to turn a new leaf and break bad habits. We’re changing years, but what does that do except make me mess up writing the date for the month of January? These New Year Resolutions scream procrastination and a weak mind. If you want to do something, why do you need a special date to start? Just get off your lazy ass and do it. The convenience of setting a start date to the beginning of a month or any arbitrary day doesn’t make sense with something like getting in shape, quitting an addiction, or being a better person – some things should just start when you realize it being a problem. Well, since I thought about the resolutions today, I guess I’ll start it today like everyone else.
The passing of 2008 comes with many great memories. I think this was one of the best years of my life. I spent the first half as a senior at Cooper Union with minimal work and my own place in the city. With a relatively large amount of free time (compared to junior year), I began researching new and different pastimes. I reflected on how lucky I was to live in the best city in the world and also how stupid I had been to not indulge in this privilege earlier. My education had impeded much of my learning.
The experiences of racing to meet deadlines and sleeping for 4 hours per night was part of my college world, but my social life paid the price. I have no regrets regarding these deprived years because I left with a solid work ethic and a continual desire to learn. I had gone to college – not as a test of memorization or exam-taking skills, but to explore my optimal method of organization and learning. At this day and age, it is more important to know how to find the answer, than it is to recall it directly from your memory. Hands-on lab projects and technical skills are much more valuable than exams with matching definitions (not that any of our professors ever gave an exam that didn’t have trick questions).
Anyway, with my free time, I did anything and everything anyone would do if they had time in the city. I did some research by reading New York City guides and literally asking what people loved doing with their free time. I started by allotting myself a larger budget – I figured that an extra few dollars on food and entertainment would only increase my overall semester spending by $1000, which I could earn in a month’s salary when I got a job. Although this was very true and I did thoroughly enjoy my time, I “accidentally” forgot I was traveling over the summer and didn’t really want to work yet. Oh well, I’ll just dip it into my already large debt I owe to my parents.
By the end of May, I was excited beyond belief knowing that I would graduate with somewhat of a useful degree like engineering (no offense to the History majors). Even though I suffered through 4 years of hell to obtain it, I have maximized my options for my future, and this choice of different paths keeps me excited for tomorrow.
My trip to Japan was life changing. I discovered one of my passions in life – writing. I’ve always been a writer, but I never wrote coherently enough for other people to read. With every entry describing Japan and my train of thought through these culturally awkward situations, I have learned more about myself. I hope these reflections inspire others to see life in a different eye. I was talking to a close friend about relationships and it was somehow manipulated into the meaning of life. I don’t have a generic answer for you because I don’t think there is only one answer. Scientifically, we’re here to reproduce and protect our offspring so they can reproduce. Economically, we’re here to contribute to the golden arrow of consumerism so capitalism works. Spiritually, we’re here to ensure that our souls have eternal happiness by helping those in need. However, when I say there isn’t one answer, I don’t mean it for a category either – I mean that every individual should have their own answer. We are tied to many of our obligations, but how we find meaning is an internal struggle. Your ambitions and initiatives give you meaning. Someone that is occupied with achieving their goals shouldn’t even have time to ask the question. The meaning of life actually is quite simple – just live. Stop over-thinking it and enjoy all of those happy moments that comes in small doses. Life is what you make of it, which directly relates to how you spend your free time. I’m going to let that thought bubble a little bit more before I elaborate in another entry.
Anyway, when I returned from Japan, I spent the rest of the year writing about those experiences, working on my thesis, and weighing my options for careers and hobbies. Organization and planning flooded my mind on an hourly basis, and I really felt alive when I wrote my lists of aspirations and dreams. The goals that have been completed become my stepping stones to reach my ideal life. And with every experiment and observation, I come closer to identifying the qualities for my ideal life.
Since I was so enthusiastic about traveling, I made plans for my next adventure. After the Master’s, I’ll travel Europe. Studying in Germany is simply a resume stuffer to give more time to find myself. So what can I hope for in 2009? I hope I learn about myself as much as I’ve discovered in 2008. It will be difficult to quantify or qualify this self-knowledge, but hopefully I’ll come up with a measuring method as well. Whatever happens, I hope my friends and family health and happiness. Never stop learning and never stop loving. Cheers and Happy New Year.
~See Lemons in 2009