Tag Archives: reflections

A Year of Becoming An Socially Ascetic Hermit – A Retrospective

I am not the most socially apt man… I confess that I am actually more introverted than I seem, because I have to actively force myself to talk to people that I do not know. It may not seem like it to some folks who know me, but I actually struggle on the inside to just try to make an introduction.

For many who do know me… You know that I have always felt that my home city has been the home where my heart feels I belong. Last year due to family reasons, I had to move to a city nearly an hour away. From that, it brought a lot of changes like having to learn a new city and become more familiar with it. Unlike original my home city, my heart doesn’t feel an affinity with my new city… While I have memorized most of the roads and shop locations where I go to buy supplies, I don’t feel like I am home. The new city even after one year of residence feels “alien” for lack of a better word.

Adding to that… I made a transition to working more from home, because doing a 1 hour commute (during non-rush hour times) one-way to work can be brutal and in worse cases… being stuck in rush hour can mean a 3+ hour commute home. As a result, I don’t get much social interactions in-person with my co-workers at my base office. Additionally, my beloved has needed me to become a caretaker for her which also has me staying at home more often because she has been going through her own struggles.

The ultimate culmination is that my new home has become a bit of a personal sanctuary and hermitage. I end up reading, studying, playing video games, and trying to improve on myself at home. As a result… I have become a hermit that has become comfortably numb within my own home. Going out to the market feels like a mentally agonizing chore, but if it’s a situation where my home is out of sundry goods or food… I sack up and just head out. Interestingly enough, becoming a socially recluse hermit has been like a spiritual quest in social asceticism. It has brought about many thoughts…

Adult life can epitomize the Buddhist “life of strife and suffering” mantra to a sense, because adult responsibilities end up being mentally taxing. Not all suffering is physical and sometimes adults write off mental suffering because it doesn’t cause visible harm sometimes. As children, we don’t have to worry about the electricity bill being $350, the credit card for pet medications being a bit high, or being consumed with uncertainty in the future that it causes insomnia. As children, we take our nativity to the world for granted and it is much like the story of the young prince (before he became the Buddha) being in the walled palace who is ignorant to the suffering of the world outside of the palace. It’s something that has come to my attention when I take time for meditations.

Adult life and friendships can take odd turns… I remember my life in Dallas that nearly every weekend, I had some sort of grand plan with my friends there. A board game night every weekend. Going to a Korean taco shop for dinner and drinks. Having a family style dinner at my apartment… Once all of us started growing into our 30’s and our professional lives started coming into being, things changed be they in or out of our control. Some of my friends ended up working odd evening or graveyard overnight hours. Other friends may have ended up dating romantic partners who may have had a child from a previous marriage. Some friends went from being 2 minutes from my Dallas home to nearly 30 minutes away. Some may have had to become caretakers to their spouses. This would end up cutting into those sublime moments where the weekend were the time we had in common to come together, celebrate life’s joys, and commiserate in life’s challenges. Little did I know that my move would exacerbate things…

As a result of my move, I am now up to 1.5 hours away from some friends which can make for a brutal drive in busy weekender traffic on the roads. I generally don’t have the luxury of staying over at the homes of friends as most of my friends either live in small apartments, can’t take overnight guests, or have constraints that don’t make an overnight stay ideal. I haven’t seen some friends ranging from a few months to nearly 2 years. Some of my good friends may not have the time or luxury to see me with respect to a commute that could be 1+ hour long which I understand as well. I have one good friend who has definitely made a serious effort to come out, but he is blessed with a wife who’s generally lenient and provides him a lot of freedom to pursue his social interactions. Being “deprived” of seeing my friends in person has also made moments like being able to see them in person being so much more meaningful… but that’s not without its dark side.

Being socially isolated by my home situation in addition with my adult responsibilities has come with some downsides.

I have had moments where I go weeks without in-person social interactions and end up in a state that I feel almost socially starved for interaction. In those moments, I feel like I have had a thirst for water that has gone on for too long. It makes me savor the moments I get to spend with my friends who come to visit me, but when they have to go home… I get a bit sad like a feral cat who may not know when they may find their next meal. Equally, if I am able to make a day of seeing a friend at their home, it feels like making a grand pilgrimage to satiate my appetite for social interactions after fasting for many days.

In the same right… It has also shown me who my true friends are. Those who truly care about me and my beloved versus who just see our friendship as a convenience. Not only for just local friends… but also with friends online. Social asceticism has also given me more time to think about my own personal values and re-evaluate some friends who in recent years I have began to question my friendships with. Some folks I have just cut out of my life completely due to just simply seeing that their values no longer respect my own values to the point that civility or peaceable political discourse is simply not possible (“You’re an idiot to think that way and if you refuse to change… you’re nothing short of human trash!”). The depressing thing is that some of these people were people I used to respect or hold in high esteem… It’s been a bit of a social wake-up call to me for a sense.

It’s been interesting just seeing the fractures in the facade because that has lead into another event that has come to be most recently: Social media has become poison and I want nothing to do with it.

As a younger man, I thought social media was a great blessing as a communications tool. Being able to share information with “friends” or pitch questions to a crowd if you couldn’t trust the wild west that was (and in some cases still is) the Internet as a whole. Since the last US election, that has opened my eyes to the fact that social media has become a poisoned well mated to an echo chamber. Social media has made it easier to spread lies as fact and if those comforting lies coincidentally fall in line with a social groups beliefs and values… No one on social media seems to question it.

It’s almost like a regression to the day of the early internet where email forwards had questionable things like “Satan is coming and this email with the love of Christ can save the world… Forward this to 12 of your friends and God will protect you from the End of Times” but yet were debunked easily because those emails would make ridiculous claims such as “There’s no attachment on this email because God’s love can track who has or hasn’t completed his wish of having this email sent to 12 friends”.

News media companies who have only recently embraced the internet since the last US election have seem to lost their moral fiber and ethics of reporting the facts to instead resorting to yellow journalism, tabloid reporting, and sensationalizing events to an editorial bent in hopes of advertiser dollars. This is a frightening trend, because a lot of older folks rely on the news via TV and radio for their view of the world… but at the same right, a lot of folks in the 20’s and 30’s have come to rely on the news being posted to social media to shape and form their views. The result of sensationalized news being reported with yellow, tabloid-style reporting is that news organizations can spread misinformation (whether deliberately or not, depends on their political leanings) and rely on viral style distribution. In some cases, misinformation may be quietly corrected… but by the time a correction has been issued, the news company makes a quiet push with no fanfare. This potentially means some people may not realize their world view may potentially be compromised by erroneous information or worse yet… because the information may call their values and beliefs into question, they suppress the correction because their social circle on social media may burn them at the stake for going against their status quo.

I personally have learned this first hand… Some folks would get mad at me trying to correct information by accusing me of over-explaining a topic even if it may be a subject I have expertise in all because maybe the information politely asks “Are you considering every angle of the argument and trying to be humane to your friend who is trying to provide an equal view to a topic to open up your preconceived opinion?” I have found that sometimes challenging a person’s world view may end up with them resorting to name calling or ad hominem attacks on my character when I have not done the same to them. It’s been quite hard keeping a cool head in those situations, but at the same time… I feel like I am wearing my patience thin which saddens me a great deal.

As the days pass and the number of “friends” I know grows fewer… I feel the specter of loneliness creep closer. Some days I have fear that my social asceticism and self-isolation may eventually rob me of any companions in this lifetime. I have found myself diving more and more into gaming and intellectual pursuits that have been more enjoyable than intellectual fighting because I feel like the divisiveness of the world has burned out my soul. It makes me wonder if I can even find a voice for myself because the passing days make me feel like my voice is quickly disappearing.

Reconnecting to My Roots and Thanking My Dearest Friends

Holy hell, it’s been almost a whole year since I have written anything in this space. As an man of Asian descent, I have been trying to reconnect with my roots culturally as I have been dying to reconnect with culture.  As a geek, I have been making a slow return to intellectually stimulating hobbies such as Magic The Gathering and Munchkin to get my brain exercising again. With phones, I grew bored of the iOS universe and found an eventual movement to Android because the inner gadget hacker in me craved a new challenge. This phase of my life has been a rebirth of sorts as a lot of these things were sadly repressed for a while. I will confess and say it feels great to be a geek again without harassment on being proud of my intellect. As a preface, this is a dedication to all of my close, dear, and most loyal friends. Continue reading Reconnecting to My Roots and Thanking My Dearest Friends

A Tribute of Thanks and Finding Forgiveness

I would like to thank the following few folks for keeping me from doing something stupid or kicking the bucket. You all may have done something small, but to me… It means a whole lot. It’s good to know that help is not far with you all around to give me an inspiring set of words or just a simple “Are you ok?” This one goes out to all of you all who just kept messaging me and trying to keep me sane and from picking myself apart.

Bonny, you have my thanks for hearing me out and having me hang out with Hai and the gang. It helped me end things on a good note, so I am very grateful for the reality check.

Linda, thanks for all the consoling on the last few days. It means a lot to me when you shoot a simple message just to make sure that I am alright.

Merinda, thanks for shooting me inspiring messages all day to keep me going. It made surviving work a little easier.

Amanda, thanks for at least letting me know that I should need not worry about myself. I know you have mentioned that I should be seeking my own merits rather than fracturing them.

She, my thanks for shooting a message to make sure I am ok. Hopefully, you got my message about what all happened.

Rei, thanks for the phone call… It was probably like the IV line I needed that was full of reason. I know I have been tearing myself to shreds but the reason made it all hit home.

Cousin Sol, you sir… you went above and beyond. Your urgency to my situation was like that of a combat medic. Thanks for being there for me and hearing me out on my phone call.

Desiree, you have my appreciation for checking to make sure I was alright.

Jan, even though you’re my assistant manager… You’re like a mother and a close friend to me. Thank you for your encouraging words, they mean the most to me.

Lastly… Twitch, thanks for your insight on things and giving me advice that was almost like the quelling dose of IV Dilaudid. It wasn’t quite what I hoped for, but in the end, it was like the best course of therapy.

From the 9 folks of the above… They all had one theme in common in their kind advice:

Forgive yourself, because above all things… you’re human.

I realize I have forsaken myself many times all because I couldn’t realize that I had my own merits. All I can do is be driven by my own hopes and dreams in search of strength. I need to fuel myself harder on tearing more new adipose tissue. I will have to fight hard with Commerce on the way to get my degree. The most important quest of all is to realize myself, my potential, and that I am ultimately a good person.

The most important pearl of advice is from Merinda:

Never lose your dreams and honor, that’s what separates you from others in this world.

Inject, Infuse, and Fight.

It’s almost the end of the year and what a rocky road it has been. I confronted my debts, almost paid the toll of my life a few times, embraced open source software, and went a spiritual journey. There were a few times where I almost lost my soul from everything muddling the water, but with a few good friends they had pulled me through. I am thankful for meeting my friends because I know that fate brought me to them for a good reason.

My friends helped me find solace in myself. I had to change who my friends were to ones who could give me a new view of life. A stale view from friends stagnating in their fallacy of foolish living just seemed to constantly put me in the wrong. Once I realized I knew what I had to do, the only thing I lacked were mentors. When I found my mentors, I knew that I could finally begin the path to the way of perfection.

With my job and the positive changes, I found that my new boss and my assistant manager would become somewhat like a brother and sister of mine, albeit older. They wanted to be a little involved with my life, because they knew the pain of struggling and suffering without anyone to offer a listening ear. With their concern, I felt like I had a second home to speak my mind. That second home being a fusion of a hall of learning and a hall of healing. My clients and their happiness also served as another pillar of strength as that was the “fuel” I used to keep on fighting. When things looked absolutely dismal, just to see one of my clients smile and say something as simple as “Thank you Zero, your persistence is very much appreciated!” makes me feel great that I could positively impact their lives.

As far as myself is concerned, I am in a unique predicament due to my sketchy finances. With owing my family on a loan that pulled me out of debt, they are seeking restitution at a faster rate. I have 2 more minor debts that I must polish off and after that… I will be clean from those. I also have a few vital things that must be taken care of on my car Devil which will run me a few hundred there. I am prohibited from accepting any more loans from my family and any banking establishments until I have repaid 85% of their initial loan as part of their agreement. This leaves me in a bind as I am paying for my classes out of my own pocket. From the matter of fact, I may just spend the next 5 months working to death to amass a sum of money and get all of my financial work straightened out. After all sides are square, then the money will go into savings and be nested up. The IRS should be giving back cash, rather than demanding it from me for once. Lastly, I have a wild gamble that may pay off but I must bide my time until summer but that requires some capital. To be honest, I could care less if my family wants to offer to reduce my car note to nothing, because the term is almost over and it’s pointless. If my gamble pays off… then my efforts to reduce my debts to nothing on my own will demonstrate my abilities to control my own financial destiny again.

If I haven’t made mention already… Family is making a ruckus about Christmas gifts and all. For me, I know I deserve no gift from them and that’s perfectly fine. As long as I can hang with my cousin Sol, work out like a maniac, and write for this holiday, I could care less about being told that I need to hurry with repayment or have a Christmas where I am being yelled to death with my family. I do wish for some better things, but I won’t fight it.

I would like to close this post with a challenge to myself: If I can burn off 15 lbs (from 155 lbs) by February 11th of 2008, I will buy myself a media player of some sort with an armband strap to take with me to my gym sessions.