Sunday Wisdoms # 16

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 16 out of 52.


Matt Haig, The Midnight Library:

“It was as though she had reached some state of acceptance about life — that if there was a bad experience, there wouldn’t only be bad experiences. She realised that she hadn’t tried to end her life because she was miserable, but because she had managed to convince herself that there was no way out of her misery.”


Ishita Gupta:

“Facing your fears is worth it because of what’s on the other side.”


Writer and artist Rebekah Madrak:

“A simple but challenging [prompt/assignment]… is to notice when I’m about to make a judgment and to ask a question instead.”


Musician and composer David Foster:

“I believe that al the great stuff floats around out there and the great stuff comes through you and not from you.”


Writer David Perell:

“The paradox of reading: The books you read will profoundly change you even though you’ll forget the vast majority of what you read.”

Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire


Tilya-Kori Madrash: Communicating Non-verbally Through Architecture

In this essay, I’ll write about Tilya-Kori Madrasah and what I perceive as the ‘architectural thought’ conveyed in its design. Architectural Thought as defined by Michael Brawne in his bookArchitectural Thought: The Design Process and the Expectantis “… primarily non-verbal thought.” Architects, or designers in general, have the power to convey something non-verbally either through drawings, models, or the structure itself. Though that is not to say that they are the only ones who can communicate non-verbally, there are musicians, artists, filmmakers too. However, in this paper, I’ll be focusing on an architectural work.

Tilya-Kori Madrasah is a mosque and a school building in Uzbekistan. It is mostly known for its facade adorned with rich patterns. In general, Islamic Architecture is very much detailed and adorned with intricate designs and those designs are what I perceive as the architectural thought of Tilya-Kori Madrasah. Something that isn’t verbal to begin with, but it communicates and resonates with people.

Tilya-Kori Madrasah. Retrieved from https://www.orientalarchitecture.com/sid/1349/uzbekistan/samarkand/tilya-kori-madrasa

Islamic Architecture are mosques with the exception (or probably the only exception) of Taj Mahal, because it is a mausoleum. It’s highly important to point out that patterns, for them, are simply not just to make the structure appear more visually appealing. It’s deeper than that. The patterns are connected to the emotion ‘awe’ which then leads to transcendent, spiritual joy,

The emotion that we feel as we see large-scale structures or natural landforms like mountain ranges or cathedrals is called awe. It’s related to the feeling of “small”-ness and this feeling is one step closer to transcendence. Having this enormous thing in front of you can get you off your mind and instead focus on the now. Then, the mind goes for the patterns. 

In the book Architecture of Happiness, philosopher Alain de Botton explains why islamic architecture is adorned with patterns, “Muslim artisans covered the walls of houses and mosques with repeating sequences of delicate and complicated geometries, through which the infinite wisdom of God might be intimated. This ornamentation, so pleasingly intricate on a rug or a cup, was nothing less than hallucinatory when applied to an entire hall. Eyes accustomed to seeing only the practical and humdrum objects of daily life could, inside such a room, survey a world shorn of all associations with the everyday. They would sense a symmetry, without quite being able to grasp its underlying logic. Such works were like the products of a mind with none of our human limitations, of a higher power untainted by human coarseness and therefore worthy of unconditional reverence.” That is the architectural thought that I perceive in the mosque above.

The pattern in the facade has the ability to resonate with people even if it’s, in a sense, non-readable. Alongside with the huge-scale, the patterns can stop your mind from ruminating and get lost in the beauty of something that you do not usually see in the mundane of life, something that is Allah-like*. 

From their usual state, people will begin to feel awe, solely from its huge presence alone, and then the patterns will have transcended them and that this is a place of Allah. of someone holy and larger than the rest of us. 

To end, in general, the designers of every islamic architecture building wanted its people to feel the presence of Allah from the buildings itself and to have the buildings support them through their religious journey. This is my view on architectural thought of Tilya-Kori Madrasah and I dare say that it’s interesting how they can make people feel even without actually “saying” something and that is also what’s interesting about architecture- the ability to convey narratives through design.

*In context, I used the word “Allah” instead of “God” out of respect as I am discussing an example of Islamic Architecture

Sunday Wisdoms #15

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 15 out of 52.


Ryan Holiday:

“The key, he said, is to just focus on getting back on track. Don’t dwell. Don’t call yourself an idiot. Don’t smack your forehead in anger. 
No, “get back up when you fail,” he said, “celebrate behaving like a human.” “When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances,” he said, “revert at once to yourself, and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep on going back to it.”


Paul Graham:

“Don’t worry if a project doesn’t seem to be on the path to some goal you’re supposed to have. Paths can bend a lot more than you think. So let the path grow out the project. The most important thing is to be excited about it, because it’s by doing that you learn.”


Angela Duckworth:

“Without effort, your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. With effort, talent becomes skill and, at the very same time, effort makes skill productive.”


Shane A. Parrish:

“Rather than run from pain, we need to identify it, accept it, and learn how to use it to better ourselves. For us to adapt, we need to learn from the uncomfortable moments. We need to value a tough-love approach, where people show us what we’re missing and help us get better.”


James Clear:

Release the desire to define yourself as good or bad. Release the attachment to any individual outcome. If you haven’t reached a particular point yet, there is no need to judge yourself because of it. You can’t make time go faster and you can’t change the number of repetitions you have put in before today. The only thing you can control is the next repetition.


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

Learning A New Language (ft. Schema Theory)

Kids learn a new language (or, arguably, any skill) better than adult beginners.

In the book, Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning, author Tom Vanderbilt shared what he and his daughter’s chess coach’s answer to the question, what was difference between teaching child chess beginners and adult chess beginners,

He thought for a moment and said, “Adults need to explain to themselves why they play what they play.” Kids, he said, “don’t do that.” He compared it to languages. “Beginner adults learn the rules of grammar and pronunciation and use those to put sentences together. Little kids learn languages by talking.

His answer made Vanderbilt reflect on his and his daughter’s learning experience,

My daughter was, in effect, learning chess like a first language, whereas I was learning it like a second language. Even more important, she was learning it young...

By contrast, because I am an adult, expert speaker of English, my brain may be so “tuned” to the sounds of my native language that it is harder for me to take on new grammar. What I know already gets in the way of what I want to learn. Kids, by knowing less, can actually learn more.

While its easier to learn different languages as a kid as aforementioned, we, adults, can utilize our experiences (which is certainly much vast and broad compared to kids) to make up for our age. This is best described by Linguistic Schemata Theory.

According to The Evolllution (2018), “Linguistic schemata refer to a reader’s existing language proficiency in vocabulary, grammar and jargon. Without it, it may be impossible for the reader to decode and subsequently comprehend the text. “

For example, when I was first learning Hangul, I used my knowledge in English to memorize the alphabet better. In Hangul, ㄹ is pronounced like the letter ‘r’ in Roman Alphabet. To memorize it, I connected the letter ㄹ to the word ‘rattlesnake’ since the letter looked like it. Another example, I used to associate the letter ㅁ (which sounds like the letter ‘m’) to the word ‘map’ because of its rectangle shape.

I am having a hard time because the grammar and pronunciation of Hangul is extremely different from Filipino and English. But because of my experiences, I can make learning Hangul less harder than how it should be like.

All of these just boils down to: Learning can be hard as we grow older (take the boomers that struggle with new technology today as an example) but we cannot deny that our past experiences make learning less harder. Yet, even though learning something new makes my head ache (research has confirmed that learning something new really makes your head ache), learning and growing gives me so much joy.

My nights are filled with “I’m better than who I was yesterday.” and my mornings with excitement, “In which area will I improve today?”

Sunday Wisdoms #14

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 14 out of 52.


Neil Gaiman:

Note from American Gods:
“…he was no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring because yesterday had bought it.”

“This is something that I have discovered over the years to be peculiarly true. Sometimes when terrible things happen to you, it can actually be kind of a relief, because you’re no longer tensing yourself and wondering, “Well what would happen if this terrible thing happened? I hope this terrible thing doesn’t happen.” And then one day you wake up and you’ve lost a job or whatever, and you think, “Oh okay good. I’ve lost my job. I don’t need to worry about that anymore.”


Ryan Holiday states on the podcast, The Unmistakable Creative:

One of the hardest things to do is to separate your work and the effort that you put in from the results. An actor doesn’t control the movie around them. They don’t control what the other actors do. They don’t control the marketing budget. They don’t control the distribution. They could do the role of a lifetime, but the director or editor could mess it up in post-production. If your happiness with your job and your career is dependent on how the movie does at the box office or how the critics respond to your role, you have placed your happiness in the hands of other people, and that’s a recipe for profound disappointment.


Dean Karnazes:

We equate comfort with happiness. And now we’re so comfortable we’re miserable. There’s no struggle in our lives. No sense of adventure.


Henry Ford:

Life is a series of experience, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward.


Lori Gottlieb:

If you live your life with intention—What am I doing and why am I doing it? Am I really trapped doing what I don’t like or are there other options? Am I wasting time today on people or activities that don’t matter?—the happiness follows.


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

I Go Where I Look

When I’m doing school works, every after a few minutes, I will hear someone saying, “Pabili po! (Can I buy…?)”. Right then, I have to stop whatever I’m doing and attend to the customer immediately. This does not only happen when I’m doing school works, I’m expected to look after the store even while I’m in classes.

In context, our home has a small neighborhood store on its front, and my task is to attend to it while I’m doing school works. Also, there are times when my mom will call for me to do household chores.

I’m not complaining at all. I have long accepted that this is my life, for now. It’s no use to fight against it. It’s my responsibility. Though, the amount of interruptions that happen to me every day is extremely unhealthy. I’m almost worried about how my attention span will be like in the long-term.

Studies have shown that once you got interrupted by something that you are working on, it takes more or less 25 minutes to get your brain focused again on the task at hand. For instance, if I get interrupted while drawing, I have to attend to a customer for a minute, and it would take me 25 minutes to get back to focusing again. When that happens, I, sometimes, find myself doomscrolling.

While online classes have benefits (no need to travel, lesser time in classes, etc.), this is one thing that I struggle with: my attention span. I had a hard time focusing on something for a long time because it’s like my brain’s on alert mode most of the time like it’s saying, “I know that I’ll get interrupted at any minute now so I’m not gonna focus so much in this task.” This awareness keeps me away from flow

When I wanted to focus, I either go to my room to write or wake up before the sun rises, to get some peace. But still, I know that I waste a lot of time each day because of the constant interruption.

We go where we look

Grammy-Award winning music superstar and actor Tim McGraw says, “I go where I look.”

He explains further, “Look left-the TV’s reporting breaking news! Look right- that person is way fitter than you! Look down- I bet work has e-mailed you and they need an answer now! There’s nothing that will tempt you to change the channel on what you’re doing- or hit pause entirely- like asking your body to perform harder than normal… If you look down and get caught in distraction or comparison or endless bad news, that’s where you go- down and stuck. If you check your phone between sets or take sly selfies at the weight rack, it doesn’t just disrupt your personal effort, it sabotages any chance of achieving a sense of flow, it disconnects you from your body, and if you’re exercising in a gym, it also drags down everyone else in the room.”

I go where I look- a principle that I am practicing nowadays. Whenever it’s the rush hour (the hour when a lot of people come and buy stuff from our store), I stopped doing academic work and focused on the store. During classes, when I’m tempted to open my social media on a new tab, I repeat this mantra: I go where I look.

If I have a class, that’s where I go. If I’m reading a book, that’s where I go. When I have an immensely hard time focusing, I go for a timer. I set an hour to do the task and focused on it for an hour. So far, it works all of the time. The idea that “One hour. Only one hour of my 24 hours that I have to do this thing. Then, I could go back to being a wasteman or whatever.” is great.

On the contrary, when I’m done, I’m more determined to do another “one hour to accomplish something”. When I think of the things that I needed to do in “one-hour blocks”, I get more things done. It’s because this sense that ‘it’s going to take me a whole day to finish this certain task’ is gone. The task becomes much more bearable because it’s only an hour and not two or five hours. Just one hour of my twenty-four hours.

Going back, while my circumstances cannot be changed and my attention span might worsen, so far, the “I go where I look” mantra had been extremely helpful. It helped me eliminate a lot of things that I do not need to focus on, and instead, I follow my gaze and go where I am looking.

Sunday Wisdoms #13

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 13 out of 52.


Adedayo Olabamiji:

“Look forward, not behind. Your best days are still out in front of you. Be focused and keep your dreams alive.”


Tim McGraw:

“If something’s worth doing ang spending your precious time on, you might as well get the most out of it.”


Written in the book The House of the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune:

Linus shook his head. “I can’t be curious.”
Mr. Parnassus looked surprised. “Why is that?”
“It does me no good. Facts, Mr. Parnassus. I deal in facts. Curiousities lead to flights of fantasies and I can’t afford to be distracted.”
“I can’t imagine a life lived in such a way.” Mr. Parnassus said quietly. “It sounds like no life lived at all.”


James Clear:

The challenge for anyone interested in making progress is to simultaneously have (1) the confidence to go after what you want and (2) the humility to accept who you are right now and (3) the willingness to build skills that bridge the gap between 1 and 2.


Ruth Bager Ginsburg:

I’m dejected but only momentarily. Then you go on to the next challenge and give it your all.


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

As I Wake Up Every Day, I’m Always At The Bottom of the Mountain

Just like in every post that I wrote, I am struggling in writing this post. Hence, every after writing something, I’m washed with mixed emotions- joy that I get to create something and dread because it doesn’t end there; there are still more ideas waiting to be written.

I started journalling five years ago and yet, I still struggle with writing. Author Dani Shapiro perfectly captures this feeling as she wrote in her book, Still Writing,

“When writers who are starting out ask me when it gets easier, my answer is never. It never gets easier. I don’t want to scare them, so rarely say more than that, but the truth is that if anything, it gets harder. The writing life isn’t just filled with predictable uncertainties but with the awareness that we are always starting over again. That everything we ever write will be flawed. We may have written one book, or many, but all we know— if we know anything at all—is how to write the book we’re writing. All novels are failures. Perfection itself would be a failure. All we can hope is the we will fail better. That we won’t succumb to the fear of the unknown. That we will not fall prey to the easy enchantments of repeating what may have worker in the past. I try to remember that the job — as well as the plight, and the unexpected joy — of the artist is to embrace uncertainly, to be sharpened and honed by it. To be birthed by it. Each time we come to the end of a piece of work, we have failed as we have leapt—spectacularly, brazenly—into the unknown.”

But I know my younger self wrote diligently on her journal not because she believed it will be easier in the future, but because she just wanted to write.

Right now, I struggle in writing probably more than how I felt five years ago. However, just like what Dani Shapiro wrote, when I’m struggling, I try to remember the joy of creating something, the joy of having my thoughts realized, and the clarity that comes when I started to jot down what’s troubling me.

Write, write, write and read, read, read

The last few days are when I felt like my brain was a desert.

I had a hard time stringing sentences together. I have no idea on how to angle the article that I was working on. I tried to sleep on it but when I woke up, I felt guilty because I haven’t finished writing the article. I still have no idea on how I’ll present the narrative of the person that I was featuring and yet, here I was, sleeping.

Stephen King advised, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut… If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

I recently gave all my time in finishing requirements (end of the semester season) and this is the reason why my creative juices are frozen like a lake during winter; I stopped journaling and reading. My lack of input does not only affect how I write articles, it left me quite irritated, having trouble concentrating, and sleepy.

“Creativity reduces anxiety, depression, and stress… And it can also help you process trauma.” writes author and podcast host Ashley Stahl in Forbes, “Studies have found that writing helps people manage their negative emotions in a productive way, and painting or drawing helps people express trauma or experiences that they find too difficult to put in to words.”

My lack of activity in terms of my hobbies affected me psychologically and the people around me as well.

Fortunately, after hours of reading and writing, I’m more better. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a hard time writing like I wrote in the first paragraph. By reading and writing a lot, I had better flow of how the sentences in my article come tome together but that doesn’t mean that writing is not hard or that writing is labor.

Every day, no matter how many posts I’ve wrote in the past few days or months, when I face a blank piece of paper, I can feel that I am at the bottom of the mountain.

“Improvement is battle that must be fought anew each day.” writes James Clear in his 3-2-1 weekly newsletter, “You next workout doesn’t care how strong your last one was. Your next essay doesn’t care how popular your last one was… Your best effort, again.”

“So everything that I had worked before was useless, or irrelevant even?”

No. It wasn’t. I’ve written a lot in those five years and the fact that I still struggle with writing until now, doesn’t mean that what I did was all for nothing. As Jake Butcher puts it, “We all make forgettable things in the pursuit of making less forgettable things.”

To label which ones we make are forgettable or unforgettable is not up to us, because our job is to do the work. That’s it.

Austin Kleon wrote in his blog, “Bill Cunningham in Bill Cunningham New York, who gets up every day, gets on his bike, and takes pictures. Joan Rivers in Piece Of Work, who, right up until her death, was playing gig after gig. And Jiro, from Jiro Dreams of Sushi, who gets up everyday and makes the sushi.

These are the people I think we should be looking to for inspiration —
the people who every day of their lives, they get up do the work, regardless of success or failure.”

Whether what I create is a success or a failure, it is not within my hands anymore. I’ve done the work. I’m now going on to the next, which would take me again to the bottom of the mountain. Nevertheless, I enjoy the process of trekking up and down as much as I enjoy the feeling of being on the peak.

Sunday Wisdoms #12

Hello, this is Sunday Wisdoms! Every week for 52 weeks, I’ll share 5 ideas/quotes/passages from my commonplace book that resonated with me during the past week. Occasionally, there will be ideas from me too. Take what you can get. Your mileage may vary.

Check out the past issues of Sunday Wisdoms here.

This is Week 12 out of 52.


Author Srinivas Rao, The Art of Being Unmistakable:

“Nothing matters. That’s the key to unlocking the handcuffs that keep us imprisoned in worry, self-doubt, fear and disbelief. I’ve never gained anything from excessive concern about what matters in life. When we’re excessively concerned, we attach ourselves to outcomes, most of which are out of our control. As a result, our sense of who we are fluctuates based on the outcomes in our lives. “


Author James Clear:

“Your 1st blog post will be bad, but your 1000th will be great.
Your 1st workout will be weak, but your 1000th will be strong.
Your 1st meditation will be scattered, but your 100th will be focused.
Put in your reps.”


Author Madeleine L’Engle:

“Just write a little bit everyday.”


Mary H.K. Choi:

“It doesn’t get any less scary. All that happens is that you have less life left. It helps if you do your falling early, and it really helps if you do your reaching early.”


Psychologist and author Angela Duckworth:

“Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our efforts can improve our future. “I have a feeling tomorrow will be better.” is different from “I resolve to make tomorrow better.”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

Grateful For The Hard Things

The first semester for this academic year has ended. It was the longest semester (five months) and the semester where I struggled the most.

While it may be easier to be angry at how big the academic workload is, how a lot of our professors never actually teach us, etc., I wanted to relieve my experiences and be grateful for each and everything that happened. I wanted to honor what I had experienced because I am aware that no experience is a waste. Everything happens for a reason. Everything that happened had made my soul grow. For that, I cannot be grateful enough.

“Our experiences—both sweet and sour—are lessons. We honor those lessons by writing them down so we can study them and see what they have to teach us. This is how we learn, this is how we grow. If we forfeit the opportunity to learn from our experiences, as the saying goes, we condemn ourselves to repeat our mistakes.”

– Ryder Caroll

I am grateful for the heavy academic workload. This is a hard thing to admit, or even, to say. When there are so many things to do that it piles up like walls surrounding you, you tend to not see what’s out there—your loved ones, the environment around you, and other things that give you joy. Surprisingly, due to my heavy workload, I learned how to prioritize my health and my family. I learned how to set boundaries for myself. I learned how to deal with the voice in the back of my head that says, “You shouldn’t be sleeping or reading right now. You shouldn’t be playing with your family. You got plates to do.” even when I had worked already for almost 12 hours. I learned to not worry about the things that some people think are what’s important for me instead, give only a f*** on the things that are meaningful to me.

“Finding something important and meaningful in your life is the most productive use of your time and energy. This is true because every life has problems associated with it and finding meaning in your life will help you sustain the effort needed to overcome the particular problems you face. Thus, we can say that the key to living a good life is not giving a f*** about more thing, but rather, giving a f*** only about the things that align with your personal values.”

– James Clear’s 3-sentence summary of the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck

I am grateful for my org work. I enjoy my org work a lot but, it was a challenge to write articles for my org on top of my skyscraper academic work. However, the articles that I wrote for my org were one of the things that brought joy to my life. Throughout the first semester, it was heartwarming to meet new people, listen to their stories, and allow them to be heard. What a joy to connect with people even without being physically present.

I am grateful for my assignments in History of Architecture that requires us to render a lot of architecture from Asian countries. This one’s too specific but I was truly grateful for this academic work because I got to practice my skills. We grow a lot through quantity and I am grateful that it was a lot, because then I had a lot opportunities to practice.

I am grateful that some professors do not teach. This one was hard to say as well. But at most times this semester, their lack of teaching led me to take responsibility for my own education. However, I still need someone to guide me whether my understanding of the subject matter is correct or not. Though overall, the best thing that I could get from this experience is that instead of putting it in other people’s hands, I am the one holding the reins of my education.

I am grateful that I spent the semester in my home. There are a lot of things that I do not like in the online mode of studying but the silver lining in the situation is that I got to read more books, I had more time to spend with my family, I got to focus more on my personal growth, and I got to help around the house.

Being grateful for the hard things was inspired by Ryan Holiday’s practice.

“Now in the mornings, when I journal, I try to do this as often as I can. I try to find ways to express gratitude not for the things that are easy to be grateful for, but for what is hard.” writes Ryan Holiday in his blog, “Gratitude for that nagging pain in my leg, gratitude for that troublesome client, gratitude for that delayed flight, gratitude for that damage from the storm. Because it’s making me take things slow, because its helping me develop better boundaries, because some flights are going to be delayed and I’m glad it wasn’t a more important flight, because the damage could have been worse, because the damage exposed a more serious problem that now we’re solving. And on and on.”

While I cannot change what happened, this practice of being grateful for the hard things allows me to see that there a lot of things outside of my control. I can only control how I react to it. Also, it allows me to enjoy what happened.

“Instead of simply accepting what happens, they urge us to actually enjoy what has happened—whatever it is. Nietzsche coined the perfect expression to capture this idea: amor fati (a love of fate). It’s not just accepting, it’s loving everything that happens.” – Ryan Holiday

Its better to look back knowing that I did not take my experiences for granted. Whether they were hard or easy, they are important, because they taught me something.

Note: I am grateful for a lot of things for the past semester- people, books, music, the sun, etc. But as stated from the title, I am focusing on the hard things. The ones that are hard to be grateful for (at first glance).