Life is a Grocery Store

I’ve been having some life dilemmas recently

Regarding my education, career path, vocation, existentialism…

and I talked to a professor at Villanova today who is the head of the Honors department and he gave me this great analogy:

A lot of people think of life as a sprint. But life isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.

And then after you realize life is a marathon, you then realize again that life is actually a grocery store.

A lot of people can see the finish line in a marathon. They know where to go. They know that it will take a long time. But the path is predestined. I want this job. I’ll get married at 28. I’ll have kids by 30. Be a millionaire by 35 and retire early at 50. I’ll travel the world, go volunteer, do work for the government, or a bank, or a non-profit.

Life isn’t a sprint. And it’s not a marathon.

Actually, life is more like a grocery store.

There are many aisles. And you are perusing, checking out items, meticulously (and sometimes non-meticulously) putting items into your cart. And sometimes you’ll get random items in your basket and you’ll have no idea how it got there. Maybe a kid put it in. Maybe YOUR kid put it in. Maybe it just fell in from a shelf. All the different items at the grocery store are unique and sometimes your cart will be full of items that you weren’t planning on getting.

Even more so, you might end up at the checkout and decide you didn’t want that pasta or cereal anymore.

Sometimes you’ll be 20 years into your career and realize you want to be a Buddhist monk instead of a banker.

I think the most important thing this professor told me though, was that I should call myself a seeker.

Life isn’t black and white. There is no right or wrong. No simple Yes or No answer to the dilemmas of vocation and purpose that I’ve been having.

Because yes, some of us will be Buddhist monks, and some of us will work for a big bank, and maybe I’ll be the one in the middle ground and be a Buddhist Banker.

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am I the idiot?

I’ve recently been wondering how I can battle the question of telling someone they are wrong.

This is very pretentious, but here I go:

As an economist, I’ve learned a lot about how the world works, both in the social human behavioral aspect (behavioral economics) and also in the way the world works in terms of products, supply, goods, money, people, countries, firms, etc. (micro and macro).

As someone who studies philosophy and humanities, I’ve also learned a lot about how humans work. There is no answer, but I’ve contemplated this probably more than the average 19-year-old. I meditate, I read every day, and I’ve studied great philosophers and theologians.

Needless to say, I feel like the past year, I’ve become way more immersed in the world than I ever thought I’d be. I’ve collected more knowledge, more information, more books.

And so when I hear people giving their “opinions” on a topic of debate, I can respect it. But at the same time, I also often hear “opinions” which are just flat out wrong. Full stop. No debate here. There is just no evidence to support the opinion.

We are all entitled to our own opinions. But we also must be open minded and subject to new information or evidence to help shape our opinions. Only with the willingness to be skeptical about the world can we learn and adapt.

Yet, I also think I need to take a step back and not be the one to tell people they are wrong. Especially if the person isn’t willing to be corrected–people don’t like to be wrong. I also have to be skeptical about my own knowledge.

And so if I choose to argue with someone who isn’t willing to have an insightful debate–people who are fixated on their opinions regardless of the evidence–then perhaps am the idiot here.

The true idiot is someone who tries to argue with someone clouded in ignorance.

I know I sound super pretentious in this post.

But I have to be blunt.

Because if you have conversations with me, I hope you’ll understand: I don’t really care about being right or wrong. I care about understanding the world a little bit better than before we have our conversation. I love insightful debate. I love learning from other people. But I hope you’ll come into the conversation with me with an equal open-mindedness to learn from my perspectives, prior knowledge, facts and info from readings, and yes, opinions too. And I will also respect your opinion. But let’s get to a better understanding of the world–that’s the true objective. And isn’t that all we are trying to do in this world?

 

Living expenses

Personal finance is a topic I’ve always enjoyed studying.

How can people, individuals, manage their finances in the most efficient way while also satisfying the economical unlimited wants and desires of being human?

How about we do some incredibly rudimentary examples of personal finance:

$1000 apartment or $800 shared with your college friends

$15 UBER ride or walking OR $2 subway train

$15 lunch at Pret a Manger OR making your own lunch for $5

$5 Starbucks coffee vs. no coffee

And the biggest one that I’ve been trying to cut out for my living expenses:

Haircuts.

Yes.

I get a haircut quite regularly, around every 3-weeks.

Nothing fancy. I’ve been trying to grow out the top of my hair so I’ve just been asking for my sides and back to be shaved and cleaned up. It takes less than 10-minutes, really, and it’s really not worth my money.

The opportunity cost of getting my sides fixed is roughly $30. $20 for the haircut, $10 for my time spent commuting to and from.

Now, because of how simple of a haircut I need every 3 weeks, I can very much do it myself.

$30 shaver on Amazon and learn how to be self-sufficient.

That’s 17 fewer haircuts I’d need every year, 17*25=$425 minus the initial $30 for the shaver = I’d save $395 in the first year, and then $425 every year after.

It doesn’t seem like much at first, but it adds up.

Invest that $395 into the stock market, and expect even just an average of 7% annual interest compounded over 20 years, I’d have $16,193

Do it for 40 years and I’d have $78,855.

Just by cutting my own hair.

How’s that for self-sufficient?

Read more finance stuff on my Down to Finance website:

www.downtofinancedtf.com

 

 

 

Being forgetful

Isn’t being forgetful one of the worst feelings in the world?

Forgetting that word…It’s on the tip of my tongue, we say

Forgetting to do homework, that you told yourself you’d remember to do…

Forgetting that one small fact for that important test…

Forgetting how it feels to hug your dog

Forgetting a phone number

Forgetting the feeling of love from a friend, or partner that you used to feel daily

We fear forgetting things because it means that time has passed. Change is the only thing that is certain, and that certainty is beautifully frightening.

Time scares us. Time is changing. Time moves forward, while we live in the past, forgetting how much better life used to be.

But if we look forward, instead, we can realize how much more potential we can have in this life, not in forgetting things, but in remembering to take care of ourselves, remembering to love one another, remembering to be the best version you can be.

Because just as we can forget the important things in life, we can also forget the pain.

And move on. And move forward. And live.

 

Philosophical Skepticism

Philosophical skepticism is a basis of skepticism that asserts the rationale behind proving the existence of an all-powerful God is beyond human comprehension.

Because an all-powerful, all-good God, is a deity that lives beyond the confines of humanity, then the natural world cannot sufficiently provide evidence or reason to prove God’s existence.

My question is this:

Will God, as a concept or religion or deity, always remain incomprehensible to humanity?

I agree that in today’s world, given the evidence and logic available, it is beyond doubt that we cannot certainly say God exists. Moreso, the belief aspect is just that: a belief.

Now, I am a skeptic myself. But I do believe that there is a greater power that exists. I simply cannot prove it, and therefore I simply cannot comprehend it either.

But I am quite certain that before modern sciences, humanity could not comprehend the basics of physics, chemistry, or biology.

Gravity existed but was not proved or reasonably explained until an apple fell upon Newton’s head.

Dark matter exists; yet, can we see it?

Just as string theory and parallel universes are simply just that: incomprehensible theories–can we not also lump in the discussion of religion within this realm?

We cannot comprehend God, but I don’t believe that is sufficient enough to prove his non-existence.

Not all existence is comprehended. Existence may exist passively.

 

Don’t forget to breathe

I got my teeth cleaned today and throughout the ~45 minute procedure, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe.

For some reason, I always tense up my body.

I call it barber anxiety.

When I get my hair cut, I need to remind myself to relax.

When I get a massage, I also need to relax.

When I get my teeth cleaned, I need to remember to breathe.

It just feels inherently awkward to me: another person “operating” on me, while I sit there. I can look at their face and realize that they aren’t even really looking back, because, well, they need to make sure they don’t cut my ears off.

In reality, there is no reason for me to feel tense. Maybe I can feel awkward or slightly embarrassed. But tense? Why? I’m literally not doing anything. Feeling tense while getting massaged by someone who you are paying to massage you is perhaps the most paradoxical sentence I’ve written this year.

Barber anxiety sucks… But it also doesn’t make sense. So don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget to relax.

How vulnerable am I?

Daily Blog post 400

How vulnerable am I?

I believe that premeditated vulnerability is paradoxically the most powerful state you can put yourself in.

We all have insecurities. Baggage that holds us down. Some heavier than others. Some are different colors, different shapes. Some look big but inside there’s nothing but empty space. Some are compact. But each to our own.

Last year I found out how difficult it can be to travel alone with three large suitcases. I needed some help. I was vulnerable, but I was too embarrassed to ask for help when I clearly needed it.

Vulnerability is scary. Can you deliberately place yourself in a vulnerable situation?

We do it every day in subtle ways. When we walk past a friend, we look up, expecting them to make eye contact back, hoping that they acknowledge you. You place yourself in a vulnerable situation because they now have the power to simply ignore you, or look down at their phone. You might end up smiling at empty space.

Or maybe a random Asian kid approaches you on campus and asks if you want to see a magic trick. You have the power to decline. You have the power to say “no”. I’m vulnerable, because I have no control of your response. And wow, does it feel extremely awkward to get rejected. 

Or you’re free falling from the sky. Skydiving. You have nothing to hold on to but yourself and the air. You are not grounded. Yet, at the point of highest fear and vulnerability, instead, you feel bliss.

Vulnerability is scary. But when you cross that threshold of vulnerability and fear, you can see on the other side which is pleasure. There is no pleasure without risk. There is no bliss without vulnerability. There is no acceptance without insecurities.

Acceptance of self is not a lack of insecurity; rather, acceptance is the acknowledgement of your vulnerability. Acceptance is seeing the baggage and picking it up.

Image result for baggage ted mosby