Aging, Career, Compassion, Humor, Kidults, Neurological Disorders, Philosophy, Problems to Solve, Relationships, Thinking, Time, Wisdom, Writing

Kid-ults: adults who need to grow up

The term “kidult” comes to mind, which is a hybrid of the words “kid” and “adult” and all the connotations involved. The kidult is your proverbial human (usually a male) who moves through life without care. Not the laid back, I’ve gathered enough of my material belongings around me so I can live well and take care of my loved ones. No. A kidult is a person who has reached maturity several years ago, but prefers to live as though they’ve still got a bedroom in their parent’s place, dinner on the table everyday (when they want it), and a select group of friends who think it’s cool to live this way for a lifetime.

I have a few relatives who lack so-called motivation and have probably earned the title of “kidult”. I also have friends who lack drive to do more than what they are currently doing.  Maybe this qualifies them as being kidults.

Sure, I may come off as sounding arrogant or that I’m sitting on some high horse, waving my finger in the air, nose pointed to the heavens, and declaring that I’m the antithesis of the kidult. But, allow me to elaborate: I firmly believe that kidults are the smartest people on the face of planet Earth!

They have made living easy (the kind of life that doesn’t require hard labor or mental effort) a form of martial art. This takes skill, intellect, and dare I say it, talent.

And this is why it bugs me! So much personal potential (power to impact the world and people) wasted. Thrown down the television tube or some other time-sucker, i.e., movies, video games, weed, or other powerful distractions.

And for some of you who wonder, what’s wrong with just living and doing things as long as you don’t hurt other people? Well, if everyone just ate their food and worked just enough for their self-survival then we’d all be in big trouble as a human race. Here’s why: Nobody, absolutely zero people who have this attitude are self-sufficient. There’s always somebody backing them up. There’s a safety net of other people ready to jump in and catch this person who lacks any drive in life to advance.

How do we get a kidult to grow up? How does one wake up a person from a slumber in which they are dreaming a pleasurable dream?

Pull the safety net away, I suppose. But, isn’t that mean, even rude. Kidults, ugh! Come on, friend, get a job. Go back to school. I know you can do it. If you can recite all the lines from The Matrix Movie by memory, you can certainly become a barista at Starbucks.

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Academia, Philosophy, Relationships, Thinking, Writing

Writing: A Scientific Instrument

Let’s bounce a ball. 

I write to get the concepts in my head into a single place. As such, I think writing is one of the most powerful tools I’ve employed in the years I’ve been a scientist. The physical and mental process of associating ideas together naturally and inevitably produces new concepts.

Free writing, as I’m trying now, engages the creative side; the imagination. And for the purpose of empirical research, at least for me, provides new avenues for me to explore.

There are relationships in the real world. Relationships from the top of the food pyramid chain-link all the way down to the microscopic level. Organisms, as complex as a human being or even a bacterium fail in isolation. Being alone does not compute in the mathematical formula for survival.

Here’s a twitch. Words fail in a vacuum. A single word has meaning, but it’s true appears only within the context of its usage. In my daily routine, I try to take notes, as random as they arrive through my thoughts. In a way, I hope through this “play” I will discover something new that my mind has buried within itself.

Within the imagination, sometimes and perhaps rarely, therein lies a gem of information that could not have been gathered in any other way, except through a heated discussion with your colleagues, or through quiet contemplation with pen and paper.

Writing is process for building valuable relationships. It is cliche to say writing is a journey. Writing is more complex than a simple journey, and paradoxically much simpler.

Let’s take this into the realm of science research. There are links between mechanisms that underlie disease. Cancer at some biological point is related to heart disease, for example. If such a putative link exists, then it follows that learning about one problem can teach us about other diseases.

Science is a big place. The knowledge accumulated over centuries, though piecemeal, actually amounts to an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to understanding how our physical world works.

A question exists. I write to discover it. Somehow, I feel (as corny as this sounds) that words and language holds a key unifying piece of knowledge. This key would solve all diseases because that singular meaningful knowledge would provide information to teach us about all the other diseases over and over again–like the shattering of glass that starts from a single impact. What is the first cause for the impact?

If we knew the first cause, then we could dissect all the other problems because they are built upon actual relationships. I suppose writing is a scientific instrument, because it is a process through examining, using, and expressing relationships–both within us and with our World.


The ball rolls off the table….

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Aging, Career, Compassion, Existence, Problems to Solve, Relationships, Thinking, Time, Wisdom, Writing

Friends – Not Just A Television Show

Friends, the people around you that are trustworthy and share a common bond with are, in my opinion, a great gift.

In times of suffering or trouble, this network of friends lend that support which makes life that much easier. I think I have many friends, but few that I would feel comfortable leaning on when times get rough.

Just thinking…. one day I may call upon these individuals for valuable advice or insight into something I’m experiencing. It’s nice to know that my friends come from such varied background.

Each one a piece of a puzzle to figuring out how to solve the “right” way to move through this Adventure.

I suppose a part of the journey is not only discovering what you’re supposed to do, but discovering friendship.

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Existence, Food, Humor, Problems to Solve, Relationships, Wisdom, Writing

Dude, that’s boring!

It’s that time of day again. Lunch break. I’ll just feed the blank page some litter before I head out.

I eat hospital food, nearly everyday; honestly though, it ain’t so bad. Only problem is that it doesn’t change.

The same! 

Oh, how ridiculous we are, humans! Yes, I’ll pose the question of why this is so; this tendency to avoid boredom and tedium we have. It is our desire for

–wait, no! It is more an unbridled, burning need for adventure. We need adventure so badly. If we can’t get it by traveling into outer space, climbing to the top of a mountain, then by any means necessary, we’ll get it–through our taste, smell, sight, and sound.

Adventure: this is the undiscovered country, or the story that has yet to begin and has no ending. We seek it and don’t even know what it is. It is an unnamed journey for things unseen. Why do we crave such intangibles in our lives, an infinite motivation that drives us to break routines. Adventure compels us to leave safety and security.

Maybe, I’m a bit melodramatic. But, we do love stories, fact or fiction, or somewhere in between. We’ll gobble it up and spit it out in favor of the next one. Actors and actresses appear on a screen, and live out a fallacious life, and we praise them as heros, worshipping with our limited attention.

The inner drive…. for something new. I’m about to head to the hospital cafeteria. Same old, same old. Time to find me some adventure in a bottle, Tabasco!

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Compassion, Philosophy, Relationships, Wisdom, Writing

A Change Within

I’ve changed.

I woke up and checked the news as I do every morning. There is so much bad news amidst the daily stories posted on CNN or FoxNews. Oddly enough, it has begun to affect me. In the past, I would glance through these stories and happen upon one that I thought was interesting. I’d read it, then walk away.

Now I’ll go through the stories and a feeling of disgust or revulsion would wash over me. I will consciously say to myself that there is so much bad news. Where’s the good stuff?

I don’t know what has happened within me. I’ve changed. I know it’s me and not the world. The content of the news hasn’t changed.

No such thing as new “…news, just old news to new people”, I recall someone saying.  Perhaps it has gotten worse, but not so much that the bad news would alone move me. No, I think something clicked on the inside not too long ago.

I’m now more sensitive to these stories of trauma and human suffering. The world is broken into small glass shards, and I’ve finally felt what it’s like to be cut and bloody.

Some may say this is a sign of maturity. I’ve identified with the world around me and I can see our reality, a flickering high-contrast picture, flesh and blood. I don’t like it, yet there is no escape. Try as I may, I’m here now. I suppose my job is to be still and know this is it, until a new day comes.

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Neurological Disorders, Pain, Philosophy, Relationships, Spinal Cord Injury, Wisdom, Writing

A Simple Word on Complexity

I have thought a lot about my approach to science. Simply, I’ve tried to have the mindset that underneath all the complexity we see in the biological world, especially in the field of neuroscience, there is simplicity.

Yes.

I believe the physical mechanics that govern how the World operates do seem to follow a simple set of rules. Simple rules layered upon each other, like an onion, creates the complexity in the world.

Legos are an example of how simple parts can create complex objects. Each Lego block is a simple shape. But when put together into a structure, Legos can form almost any shape and design.

SCI is complex

As a scientific researcher, (at first) we only see the complexity.

The spinal cord has many parts, which all work together in unison. After a spinal cord injury (SCI), many things go wrong. Suffice it to say, SCI often leads to a multitude of medical complications. For example, a person with SCI isn’t just paralyzed, they oftentimes experience chronic pain.

SCI is associated with a spectrum of neurological disorders.

It is my job to determine the underlying parts, the simple truths as it were, that underlie the complex problems associated with SCI. As a basic science researcher, we do this by reducing, simplifying.

Simplify. Through experimental design, we simplify the disease into its basic molecular, cellular, or other biological parts. Then, we perform experiments over and over, trying to reproduce the conditions or events we expect to see.

What next?

I take this simple information and share it with the world by publishing a report (usually in academic journals). That way, my small amount of data is added to the greater pool. Eventually, this will show us the big picture that will allow us to identify the pieces that have gone wrong after injury or disease.

The neat part is that along the way, each scientist, including myself have the opportunity to try and describe that complex picture (like guessing the phrase in a Wheel of Fortune game). So while the collective research community gains information that will help determine the core problems of SCI, which will lead to a cure; right now, through a process of simplification we can also discover the complexity underlying SCI (and related issues) and find ways to improve clinical treatments, immediately.

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Hobbies, Philosophy, Relationships

Gaming: Real Life Simplified

Gaming

It’s 11 PM and I feel like writing something. I think tonight I’ll talk about gaming. Gaming brings to my mind several things; board games, video games, or my favorite, tabletop wargaming. In the latter, miniature representations, or models, are used to simulate a battlefield. There are many rules that govern how the game is played. But, ultimately, all a tabletop game is, is a glorified chess game.

Two players go head-to-head to achieve victory by satisfying certain victory conditions. Victory can be achieved by removing key pieces from the board, or occupying specific zones of the table with game pieces.

Tonight, I’d like to just write down my thoughts about why I think the game is so fun. The actual name of the game isn’t necessary.

It has to do with interaction within a new world. And that’s what it is, a new world. In this fantastical place there is a war. There is a contest between 2 different forces and I’m projected into this conflict. And to continue with the chess metaphor, there is also the relationship between the 2 players.

Rules govern how we live and interact with each other as people. Sometimes these rules are complicated and vague. These rules of etiquette, of politeness, can cause stress and anxiety. People are irrational and do not behave in a predictable fashion. Sometimes I don’t enjoy trying to figure out what these rules are and instead will withdraw and prefer to be alone. I think this is normal for everyone.

If you agree, then you’ll understand why gaming is so cool. There are rules, obviously, but there are agreed-upon by all the players involved. The rules are the only constant. Everything else within the game is the unknown. So gaming is life, but reversed.

Instead of having unknown rules, the game forces the rules on both players. The rules do not change and instead make the players’s decisions simple. While the outcome of the game is unknown, at least all the rules were followed.

Life has no set rules; hence, the confusion (and often despair?)

Gaming uses rules, they are constant, and all parties know them. The excitement, the discovery part (click here for more about discovery), is that the outcome of a game is unknown. But, whatever the ending, it is safe. Safe, as you can go at it again and again.

I like to play games, because then real life feels simple.

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