Sunday Wisdoms #10

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 10 out of 52.


German philosopher Eugen Herrigel:

“The right shot at the right moment does not come because you do not let go of yourself. You do not wait for fulfillment but brace yourself for failure.”


Ram Dass:

“It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”


Author Robert Greene:

“Alive time: When you are in control, when you make every second count, when you are learning and improving and growing.

Dead time: When you sit around, when you wait things happen to you.”


Author William Irvine:

“Why is self-discipline worth possessing? Because those who possess it have the ability to determine what they do with their life. Those who lack, will have the path they take through life determined by someone or something else.”


Unknown:

“Are you going to create your own reality or are you going to complain about the reality you’ve been creating by default?”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

What if I chose the wrong degree?

This question was in my head after reading a newsletter from Srinivas Rao, author of Unmistakable Creative, entitled, “A Letter to An Aspiring Young Writer Struggling to Find Her Way in the World”

A young woman asked Srini, “What can I tell people when I have made the great mistake of choosing the wrong degree?

Srini wrote back, “We all make the best decisions we can with the information we have. Robert Greene once said to me, “no experience in life should be thought of as wasted.” You are not defined or limited by your degree or any other label society places on you.

The road ahead is much longer than you might think it is when you’re 20. You also don’t owe anyone any explanation for your choices, regardless of how they judge you.

…Throughout life, you collect data points or dots. And you probably don’t have a clue how those dots will connect in the future. As Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking backward. But you have to collect them going forward.

… You might choose the wrong degree, but it doesn’t prevent you from living the life you want to live.”

Their exchange made me reflect. I asked myself, “What if I chose a wrong degree?” Then, I remembered my parents.

My mom studied Nursing in college but thirty years later, she’s now working in Real Estate. My father studied engineering in college and now, he’s working as a delivery rider.

If in the future, I will not be practicing Architecture, the same way that my parents are not practicing their college degree, I don’t think I can say that “I chose a wrong degree.” Having been almost three years in college, I got to learn a lot of skills, learned tons of personal lessons that I might not have learned if I haven’t been in this path, and met tons of amazing people that I would not had met (or even crossed paths with) if I weren’t taking up architecture.

I can only understood life while looking backwards but I can only live it forward. While I look back on my college journey for the past two years, I can say that those things had to happened because they have to happen. I don’t think I am who I am today if it weren’t for those decisions and actions that I made in the past.

There are still things that doesn’t make sense to me. But now, I’m completely at peace with the fact that there are things that I have to go through first or I needed to grow more older to understand a few things.

I learned a lot of things because of my current degree and I am looking forward on how these things that I learned and the wisdoms of the people that I met will affect my life even outside of architecture. As Robert Greene said, no experience is ever wasted.

Sunday Wisdoms #9

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 9 out of 52.


Author Neil Gaiman:

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”


Author John Shedd:

“A ship is safe in a harbor, but that is not what ships are built for.”


Author Kurt Vonnegut:

“Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.”


Shane Parrish:

“Writing is the process by which you slowly realize that you do not understand what you are talking about.”


According to KQED.org’s Mindshift podcast:

“Researchers believe that practice helps build up the protective layer of myelin, the fatty substance that protects axons in the brain. Axons move electrical signals from the brain to our muscles and when they are better protected by thick myelin they move more efficiently, creating an ‘information superhighway’ between the brain and muscles.”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

Paying More Attention To Life

Artist and author Austin Keon wrote in his book, Keep Going, “Attention is the most basic form of love,” wrote John Tarrant. When you pay attention to your life, it not only provides you with the material for your art, it also helps you fall in love with your life.

This month, February, Claire’s Essays celebrates its first anniversary. For over a year, I published more than 150 posts and reached almost 150k views. From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful to you and to everyone who reads my essays or blog posts. Paraphrasing from the words of author Kurt Vonnegut, I hope through reading my posts, I used your time in such a way that you will feel that your time was not wasted.

If there’s one thing that changed throughout my year of blogging, its that I paid attention more.

Personally, I noticed subtle changes in my mood and my behaviour more often. I noticed the environment around me quite often too. Whenever sunlight hits me, I would take a moment to savor it. When I’m eating something that mom has prepared, I’ll make audible reactions that infers that the food is amaaazing. When I’m reading a good book, I’ll exclaim in my mind how grateful I am that I found again another great book. Everytime I wake up in the morning, I smile- excited for another day ahead.

These are the things that I feel that I do not savor much but as I blogged about my day or my life over the days, I feel like they are magic waiting for me to recognize and acknowledge them.

It was more than two years ago when I was roaming around Fully Booked in Cubao and then I stopped in my tracks as soon as my eyes landed on this quote from Ben Franklin, written on a notebook they were selling, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

I pondered on that quote althroughout my whole ride and I even wrote it on the first page of my journal because I do not want to forget it ever.

I think that quote straight up summarizes my life. I just write something that is worth reading for me (because I think of myself as an audience) or I will do something that I can write about after.

As weeks and months of blogging passed, I noticed how I read more, how I write more, and how I connected ideas because of my wide reading.

Whenever I am jotting down what happened to the day that passed, I took note of my mood and try to compare it with the other days. That’s how I became more aware of what activities should I do less, what activities do I have to do more, when should I write, when is the perfect time to start a book, and when is the time to halt academic work and do the activities that stimulate me.

Blogging aided me to become more aware of myself and the surroundings around me (paying attention). And by paying more attention, I fall in love with life more.

Author Rob Walker wrote in his newsletter, “[O]ne of my favorite responses to a willfully open-ended prompt I give my students — I order them to “practice paying attention” — came from a student who thought he did it wrong. He had made a planter, he explained, for a cactus. He’d done this, he said, on the theory that “by nurturing or caring for something, you pay more attention to it.” And of course he was right!”

I even applied this in my studies. I wasn’t a bit interested in Plumbing before, but I was reminded of Rob Walker’s words and so around last year, on our 3rd class meeting in Plumbing for the semester, I started paying attention. I listened attentively to our professor and taking notes diligently. I even replay class recordings when I missed something. Thankfully, even if I did not paid attention during the previous meetings, I can still understand the lessons that came. Soon enough, I found myself interested in plumbing and understanding the basic principles. I even made a post about it.

In short, the more I pay attention to myself, to the people, and the world around me, the more I love life.

An act of care first, then the love comes.

Sunday Wisdoms #8

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 8 out of 52.
Ryan Holiday: “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. 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 it’s 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.”
In Making Peace with the Road Not Taken, Jesse Browner wrote, “When we accept that our future is not ever what we envisioned it to be, but what we make of it upon arrival, we allow ourselves to move forward and accept that there is not one true future ahead of us, but multiple futures, just as there is not one past but multiple pasts behind us.”
Elizabeth Gilbert: Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”
Paul Graham wrote:

“For the young especially, much of this confusion is induced by the artificial situations they find themselves in. In middle school and high school, what the other kids think of you seems the most important thing in the world. But when you ask adults what they got wrong at that age, nearly all say they cared too much what other kids thought of them.

One heuristic for distinguishing stuff that matters is to ask yourself whether you’ll care about it in the future. Fake stuff that matters usually has a sharp peak of seeming to matter. That’s how it tricks you. The area under the curve is small, but its shape jabs into your consciousness like a pin.”
Idea from me:
I cannot go from Level 0 to Level 1000 like some time-travelling fella. I have to go through and experience every single level and be patient with the hope and awareness that the more work I do, the more I get better at doing it.


Till next week. Last 10 days of the longest semester of my university life.
Always grateful, Claire

It is with quantity that one leads to quality work.

In their book, Art & Fear, Ted Orland and David Bayles wrote, “The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work, they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality…. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. it seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work—and learning from their mistakes—the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and piles of dead clay.”

Ever since I took up BS Architecture two years ago (even without prior experience in coloring and drawing), one of the many realizations that I had is that my blocmates are skilled in rendering and drawing better than I am (not a surprise) not because they have talent and I don’t have it or God has favorites and unfortunately, I am not. But rather, it is because they have done it a thousand times or even more.

Our pastor shared a story from the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Jiro Ono, a Japanese chef who is considered around the world as the best sushi maker, had a new apprentice. Jiro told him to cook an egg. He cooked one and showed it to Jiro but after looking at it for only a few seconds, Jiro rejected it and told him to try again. This went on for two years. Until finally, Jiro said this is okay.

Jiro’s new apprentice wasn’t talented or even started out knowing how to cook a proper egg. In other words, he did not have any advantage. But by doing it for a hundred, probably even a thousand times, for two years, he finally mastered it.

In the same way, my blocmates are extremely great at rendering and drawing because they had put in a lot of work whereas I am just starting out. An article in DO Lectures blog states, “We have to understand doing our best work is a journey. We don’t start off being brilliant. We start off at ‘mediocre’. Then we go to ‘not too bad’. Then we go to ‘OK’. Then we go to ‘good’. Then eventually we arrive at ‘excellent’. And, occasionally we will go to ‘great’.”

Last January, I started learning how to watercolor. Honestly, it terrified me. I feel like I have to watch more YouTube tutorials on how to watercolor before I can finally start doing but it is through doing that I learn and so I started.

It feels frustrating. This gap between how I wanted my work to look like and how my current work looks like. But I become more patient. I cannot go from Level 0 to Level 100 right away. I had to go through each and every level.

Before, whenever I think of using watercolor, I started having anxious thoughts and soon I’ll find myself procrastinating because I’m avoiding this feeling of fear of creating a bad work. Right now, I am extremely comfortable using it that I just picked it up right away whenever I need to render.

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

There is no secret on how to be great at what you do. Its by doing and putting in a lot of work that we get better. No shortcuts. Just doing.

Whenever I am doing an academic work, there are times when I just blurt, “This is not nice.” but then I’ll remind myself that I am just starting out. I have to create bad work in order to know what’s better. It is by doing something a thousand or a million times that we can be better at it.

It is with quantity that one leads to quality work.

Sunday Wisdoms #7

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 7 out of 52.
Athlete Jackie Joyner-Korsee: “For me the joy of athletics has never resided in winning… I derive just as much happiness from the process as from the results. I don’tmind losing as long as I see improvement or I feel I’ve done as well as i possibly could. If I lose, I just go back to the travk and work some more.”
Writer Rebecca Solnit: “Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable. ”
Victor Frankl: “He who knows the why for his existence can bear almost any how.”
Marcus Aurelius: “It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character.”
Ryan Holiday: “Living is an active term. We must have the courageto get out and do, to make the first move to act and direct our course. A passive existence is one in which life happens to us, and often not for the better.”
Till next week. Always grateful, Claire

Sunday Wisdoms #6

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 6 out of 52.


Cleo Wade, Heart Talk:

“Oftentimes when the world feels chaotic, we begin to feel as if it is somehow inappropriate to have joy. Have your joy. Joy is a form of radical self-care. Joy energizes us to take on even the most difficult circumstances. When we have joy, especially in the midst of challenging times, we are saying to the world “I will define the current state of the world around me instead of allowing it to define me.” Today, regardless of what is happening, empower yourself by embracing your joy.”


Written on Farnam street blog:

“We learn from our mistakes when we screw up and fail, we learn how not to handle things. We learn what not to do.”


Author C.S. Lewis:

“You cannot go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”


Angela Duckworth, Grit:

“Do not let temporary setbacks become permanent excuses.”


Author and artist Austin Kleon:

“Now, it might seem like a stretch, but I really think the best thing you can do as an artist or a creative person is pretend you’re Phil Connors in Groundhog Day: there’s no tomorrow, there’s no chance of success, there’s no chance of failure, there’s just the day, and what you can do with it.”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire

Lessons from Soul (2020)

Joe, the main lead in the film, wants to become a jazz musician. He’s so focused on the goal that he missed out on living. He thought, “I’ll be happy when I will finally landed on this big break. My life will finally change forever.”

To make the story short, he finally landed on this “big break”. But after performing, he felt odd because nothing changed in how he perceived his life, he still is him.

On a post entitled, 10 lessons I Learned This Year (2020) I wrote,

When this blog reached 1,000 views, I feel grateful but things just went back to the way it was. I am still reading and writing. When this blog reached 80,000 views, I am still feeling grateful but that’s it. I’m still me. My mindset did not magically change. I am still reading, writing, doing homework, and doing household chores.

And this is why I am thankful that I do not depend my happiness on external outcomes such as “I will be happy once I reached 10k views.” or “I’ll be happy once I passed this project.” because once I achieved any of that, nothing really much changed. I still have more work to do. There are still things to check off in my to-do list.

So with that, I learned to do things just for the sake of doing it because depending my happiness on the things that I do not have control over will make me want “more.”

In other words, I will never be satisfied because I will keep chasing that feeling of “I made it” but the truth is, there never really is that feeling of “I made it.” There will always be another thing to do. So the enjoyment itself is not on the results but on the process of doing it.”

And this is why I love the very last scene of Soul the most, because it shows us a scene wherein Joe, the main character, taking account his environment—feeling the breeze, smelling the wind, and looking at the sky.

Soemtimes, when we rush through life we forgot to live. We missed out on the subtleties of life. Hence, even when there is so many academic works to do (hooray! finals month!), I make time to hangout under the sun, play games and watch movies with my family, reading a book, listening to music, and writing. Because, Now is the only moment I will ever get to have. I want it to be well-lived.

My main takeaway from the film is that your spark or what keeps you going in life doesn’t have to be this big dream of wanting to be a jazz musician or a scientist, or a CEO. Sometimes, it can be sky-watching, walking, talking to other people, teaching/coaching, or even eating.

Life doesn’t start after reaching a goal. Life is today. It is where we all are in right now. In the movie, someone asked Joe what he will do in his life right now and he said “I don’t know. But I’m gonna seize every moment.” (non-verbatim)

Sunday Wisdoms #5

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 5 out of 52.


Musician, artist, and songwriter Morgan Harper Nichols:

“You have not seen everything you were meant to see. You have not met everyone you were meant to meet. You have not done all the things you were meant to do. You have not traveled to all the places you were meant to travel to. You have seen a lot of the ocean, but there are still further depths. Take heart, breathe deep. You are far from finished yet.”


Content creator Dinara wrote:

“I think we have a lot of fear about the unknown which makes sense. but the unknown doesn’t have to be scary. I realized I can ask questions like: I wonder what will bring me happiness in the future? what pleasant surprises will I encounter? what beautiful places will life take me? instead of “what if I fail, what if I never find xyz, etc”. It’s been life-changing. I’m in an anticipation of something positive. I’m not in fear.”


Author James Clear:

“We often avoid taking action because we think “I need to learn more,” but the best way to learn is often by taking action.”


Author Marissa Orr

“After a particularly bad breakup many years ago, I read a line in a book that said something like: our sadness isn’t always about losing the person or relationship, but from losing the dream we had for our lives. That one hit me right in the gut. Day to day, this person and our relationship were making me miserable. Being free of that turmoil should have been an objective improvement in my life. So why was I so sad?

This line made me realize I was mourning the loss of a dream or the story I had for my life. While I couldn’t control the other person or how they acted towards me, I could always write a new story for my life. And that shift in perspective gave me a sense of control in a situation where I otherwise felt powerless. It didn’t cause an immediate or dramatic change in my day to day activity, but over the long term, it empowered me to gain control over the direction of my life.”


Esther Perel:

“Life will present you with unexpected opportunities, and you won’t always know in advance which are the important moments. Above all, its the quality of your relationships that will determine the quality of your life. Invest in your connections, even those that seem inconsequential.”


Till next week.

Always grateful,

Claire