Aging, Compassion, Existence, Philosophy, Time, Wisdom, Writing

Time – I wish I had more!

I wish I had more time in the day. As I get older, I feel that I have less and less time to do the things I want to do. Is this happening to you?

A part of me thinks this is because I’m making choices to do things that take up much more of my attention, such as my research in the lab, blogging, and trying to eat healthy (preparing your own food takes lots of time).

Ah, the joys of responsible living. Well, I guess the follow-up question would be what would I like to spend my time if I had more of it?

Well, for starters, I would like to read a novel. I haven’t read a fiction novel in months. That’s kind of sad for someone like me who is an avid reader. I love to read. If I had more time, I’d also love to get more exercise and be outside to enjoy the weather.

Maybe all of this lamenting these past few weeks are symptoms that I need to stop and smell the roses (i.e., go on vacation). Stop working for a bit.

I’ve been in a kind of information overload in the research. I’m spinning off in a new direction for my projects, and it requires so much energy to carry this thing off the ground, i.e., collecting data, running experiments, preparing for grants, that I’m feeling the need to relax, just a bit.

… I do sleep well, which is awesome!

There’s the sense that time is speeding up in my life. Going faster and faster, maybe like water down a drain, or air up into a tornado. I think for some people this would be frightening, very, but I’m simply fine with it. I guess it’s normal and I’m enjoying the journey! We know where it ends for the most part. 

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Prose, Thinking, Uncategorized, Writing

Adventurous Writing

Writing about naught. I’m sure I’ve got something inspring to say this afternoon on Saturday. It’s raining. A good time to sit back with a cup o’ joe and brain dump a blog post. I’m inspired to say the least by a lot of other bloggers. They have so much interesting content that I’m betting, with my limited financial prowess, that a lot of it comes from reading a lot.

There’s a whole lot of material out there…. like movie reviews, food tasting, current event news stories, and the like. I’m still trying to find my niche of what I like to write about here on my blog. 

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A stock photo...from somewhere out there

I guess it’s going to end up as a sort of a melange of many things. Some of my thoughts come out impulsively and I post a tad too quickly; in which I end up suffering the bit of grammatical pop-ups that appear when I re-read my already published material.

I suppose I’d rather just be myself and not be afraid to communicate at this moment (this absolute micro-second) what my brain is trying to congregate as a cohesive thought or idea. Really, in being really uninhibited, the real me comes out and I discover him, whilst also allowing others to see that person, too. Kinda scary.

I suppose I could keep this blog post in draft mode, but hey, it’s Saturday and I’m feeling adventurous (!) right now. 

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Coffee, Existence, Faith, Philosophy, Problems to Solve, Time, Wisdom, Writing

Hobbit wisdom in a coffee break

It’s a quiet afternoon in the lab today. On a coffee break, partaking in two of my favorite activities: consuming and spewing.

Here’s my afternoon spew….

This is a precious moment. A punctate lot of time in this short lifespan. In the words of the wise fictional character, Bilbo Baggins (the most famous of Hobbit-sss), I’m preemptively avoiding being “…butter scraped over too much bread.

I learned over the years that it is important for me to not jam up every single waking minute with work. Next month will be incredibly busy, if my calendar is correct. I have a slew of experimental projects that I want to complete by the next grant cycle. The schedule has little room for anything other than reading the scientific literature and performing experiments.

I will be a robot with purpose

I’m looking forward to the bench work. These past few months were filled with office work and administrative duties. I know it comes with the territory, but it would be nice one day if all I had to do was the fun part of my job. I don’t like being an automaton pushing papers.

Joy in repetition

There is a rhythm to work, no matter how tedious; I try to enjoy the mundane parts of working in a lab, as much as I do the exciting parts. I tend to think about how a little child plays with a helium-filled ballon. He’ll let it go; the balloon floats up. Then the child pulls it down again. It goes up; then down again.

By repetition, this child is filled with joy.

How a child can find joy in repetition is not lost to us. The tedium in a job can be fulfilling, if you grasp the bigger purpose of it. I think in our modern culture we have generally lost this mentality. The underlying purpose of repetition is good. In fact, repetition is what allows a scientist to gather trustworthy data.

What is the bigger purpose of repetition?

More wise words from Bilbo: “It’s a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Alas, the bigger purpose is to seek the Greatest Adventure of all, and it starts with a simple action done over and over–a step of faith.

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Aging, Faith, Neurological Disorders, Philosophy, Time

Not Meant to Age

ACCORDING to some definitions of what a “Pathology” is, aging, or getting old, is a pathology; where the natural progression of the event leads to abnormal functions, such as a loss of memory, loss of hair, muscle atrophy, baldness, and a tendency towards certain sports like golf.

Of course, this is all relative. You could consider aging the normal progression of natural events, uncontrollable events, inevitable circumstances.

And therefore I think a solution, of sorts, is in the question: “What’s your perspective?”

Since, if you are an optimist you lean toward aging and the effects that come with it as being natural, and inherently, purposeful.  And as an optimist you’d also think that scar tissue that forms in the spinal cord after injury (SCI) isn’t just the cause for paralysis, but rather the glial scar is what protects you from dying of nervous system failure. Because as we all know, the nervous system is very susceptible to small changes in chemical balances, and the quick formation of the scar maintains proper balance necessary for your survival.

The molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in the aging process are active. That is, as we age, our bodies purposefully break-down, degrade. This suggests a natural process. But, if aging is natural, why is there so much medical effort into preserving or retarding the aging process?

Well, just maybe, aging is unnatural. I’m using my imagination here, forgive me if go off the deep end for the sake of having some fun. What if somehow, our bodies were meant to go on functioning forever, and by some weird triggering-event we as a human species got knocked into a down-ticking clock toward our End.

What if the End, wasn’t mean to be?

The Merriam-Webster Definition of “Pathology“:

1: the study of the essential nature of diseases and especially of the structural and functional changes produced by them
2: something abnormal
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Faith, Philosophy, Time

Uncertain

THESE are times of uncertainty and fear. Nevertheless, are these times unique? No. In a sense, there is no such thing as a life without uncertainty and turmoil, as there is no such thing as job security, a stable paycheck, or constant food on the table–a truth even for the wealthy.

What is new to our modern society, I think, is the speed through which information and interpretation of that information travels. We have the speed-of-light transfer of world-to-you communication. There isn’t enough time to reflect on fact and fiction. What is true is not necessarily going to affect you until someone out there, an analyst, whatever, says it will. Really, if you had no television and only a sliver of access to the internet, the only rumors and bits of information you will get is through word of mouth or in a written letter.

Even then, would you be impulsive and believe it? But today, that grinding daily spew from the TV set feeds information but also the dissemination of that information, breaking it down into tidbits, into sentences only a few words long, containing a solid subject, a good old’ verb, and nasty adjectives like precipitous or catastrophic.

If I turn off the TV and stay away from the news websites, do I as a modern human being of relatively mature age lose a sense of whom I am? Can I stand alone without knowing the wrongs (and rights) that swirl around me without my actual interaction with those worldly events? Probably, yes.

But, there’s a price. There’s a price for every lifestyle. No lifestyle is without a loss. There are lifestyles that are entirely with loss, and without a gain. In this case, I believe that turning off the news for long periods may lead to a saner and slower paced lifestyle (maybe?). Still pondering.

I don’t think I can entirely shut off the news; don’t think I want to either. I rather enjoy listening and learning on how people think about events, such as the bad economy. As of right now, it does not affect me. I’m still marketable and have experiences that are useful to places. I do have sympathy for those who are much harder pressed and are responsible for more than themselves (read: kids) and need that job to keep stomachs satisfied.

As a caveat, I would say that we are a starving nation. We don’t know where we’re going. We are not familiar with uncertainty and we seek excessively to avoid uncertainty, relying too heavily on someone else to tell us it will be okay. Where have our minds gone, collectively?

I think people are impulsive in their quest to find security and avoid uncertainty. In a time of great discouragement, I think people have the opportunity to learn what they truly hold dear. If that time of discouragement is used unwisely, however, which I see many people falling prey toward (despair, anxiety, worry), then people will collapse and become these automatons listening to the most charismatic voice available, promising hopes that will never come. This is the danger: of trading your will for a false sense of security.

Know what is true and what is false. Discern between true hope and false hope. Great traps lay before us. Keep the lamps burning.

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Career, Philosophy

Academia is hard

I always need to be reminded given the fact that I have so many choices of what I can do with my career. I am an academic scientist. I’m a neuroscientist, a researcher in the biology of the brain and spinal cord. I study chronic pain.

What I do is a mystery for many of my family and friends. I’m not paid much compared to my friends in other careers. I don’t know what the next step is for my life. There’s uncertainty in academia.

I’m chasing shadows, and the shadows are chasing me. It’s like the feeling that you’re about to take a final exam and the exam never arrives. The feeling of that “test” never leaves you. Your days are filled with “hurry-up and wait”.

About me: I have my PhD in neuroscience, 3 years of postdoctoral training, and 1 year as a non-tenture track junior faculty member at a well-known University. But, like I said, it’s hard. I’m wrestling with my future and there’s always some failure waiting for me: a poor result in an experiment or a grant rejection, ugh.

So why do I stay?

As an academic, I go where no one has gone before. I search for treasure with no name. I’m free to govern my time. My ideas are valued until they are proven wrong by an experiment. If I have questions about a subject in the world, I have the tools or opportunities to seek an answer.

I’m surrounded by a diversity of people. Some are mean, cut-throat jerks; but the majority of my colleagues are great people to work alongside.

However, there are days when I really question why I endure such struggles with no promise of tangible reward.

Then I remember again and again….

I’m free to be me.

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Faith, Philosophy, Time

Memory and Time – Clockworks

TIME seems to speed up as we get older because our ability to remember things decreases.

Maybe it is true that the sense of time in our lives is linked to the memories we have and how vivid they are.  As more and more space in our memory capacity is taken up, perhaps there is less and less room to cram stuff in.  So to compensate, the brain lets fewer and fewer details in.

Resolution decreases with age.  Is it the high-definition memory that maintains our sense of youth and vitality.  I feel as though some things I have done have blurred a little.  Was I really wearing a sweater at that graduation ceremony? Probably not even an important memory or detail.  But it was in my head at one point or another.  Now it’s not relevant so I’ve forgotten.  I’ve forgotten because I’m older.

That sense of time passing is dependent on something inside that keeps our life experiences fresh. I am probably doing less hectic things like going to the hang out places much less often.  There are more business things to do on weekends than in college.

What an interesting concept to reflect on: time perception.

So what if we lived without time at all, lived in a place where we lived infinitely, then we would have no memories because they would have no orientation or tangible place.  The resolution would be so low, blurred, as to be absolutely irrelevant and nothing.

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