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Grief

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

Sometimes grief sits in the body, like you’re carrying all of the guilt of every lost moment and lost opportunity as weight that manifests as fatigue, a burden, a fog that sits on your mind like a tightening rag.

Balance

An example of kintsugi, similar to or an expression of wabi-sabi. Photo by Riho Kitagawa on Unsplash

“Get rid of all that is unnecessary.

Wabi – sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered.

[…] In other words, wabi – sabi tells us to stop our preoccupation with success — wealth, status, power, and luxury—and enjoy the unencumbered life.

Obviously, leading the simple wabi – sabi life requires some effort and will and also some tough decisions.

Wabi – sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices: to let things be.

Even at the most austere level of material existence, we still live in a world of things.

Wabi – sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom of things.”

Leonard Koren

I wonder about that last line. Did he mean, “freedom from things”? As in too many things? Or freedom to have things without being burdened by them? I suppose they’re both similar concepts.

I often feel like I’m trying to do too much in too little time and I’m constantly working to pare down what I have and what I do. I think that if I focus more precisely on the things that are actually meaningful to me, I’ll get more enjoyment out of life.

And, importantly, the paring down process helps me to fully realize what actually is important to me, because it removes things that obviously didn’t make the cut from my life and my mind.

Things that we own, plans that we worry about making or keeping, items on our to-do lists, they all have weight and are a burden on our minds, even when we’re not actively thinking about them. I want to live a life where I’m not constantly worrying about stuff and things that I need to do because the stuff and things that I need to do are proportionate to my ability to manage them in a meaningful way.

As an aside, the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic is really wonderful and worth the time to learn about.

“…my captain’s agency…” – Matrix Resurrections

Matrix Resurrections was ok. It was quite a bit better than I expected and I appreciated the self-deprecating humor in the scenes discussing a possible fourth Matrix video game and the direction it should take. I kind of wonder if the dialogue about it moving forward with or without Keanu’s approval was something that actually happened. It was kind of high brow, but in the right way.

The movie really fleshes out the relationship between Neo and Trinity in a complicated, thought-provoking way that fits into the world of the Matrix and makes me hungry for more of the story. I’m definitely going to be re-watching the original series again. The fight scenes were well choreographed, though it felt like they were relying very heavily on ‘look this is just like how it happened in the first movie’ for quite a few things, like the first “bullet time” scene. Speaking of bullet time, it was interesting to see that certain programs in the Matrix were able to utilize that in new and interesting ways.

Where the script falls off the rails is when, instead of just showing women doing things and being things because that’s how it is, an explicit call to Liberal Social Justice is made by adding the buzzword “agency” in the scene where Naiobi tells Neo to not take “her captain’s agency away from her”.

Why not just say, “Don’t apologize for her Neo. She can speak for herself!”?

It would have been more powerful and more real. Have you ever heard people in the street yelling at each other about taking each other’s agency away from them? Who talks like that? No one except Far Left activists and people caught up in the Academia mindset.

Presenting women in positions of authority should be done without apology or comment, as the way it just is, that women doing those things is ordinary, normal, common, etc, exactly the same way that men doing things is presented. The moment you add a political qualifier to the dialogue, you pull viewers out of the fantasy of the movie and detract from the possible impact of the scene. For me, it left me critical of the scene and then I started being critical of everything else in the rest of the movie, which left me enjoying it quite a bit less than I could have. Movies are ultimately entertainment, not soap boxes for political agendas. When you blur the line, you risk losing your audience.

I was also a little disappointed in the replacement actor for Agent Smith. He wasn’t bad, but he didn’t live up to Hugo Weaving’s portrayal. I also could have done without the bootleg Morpheus. That character being called Morpheus didn’t add anything to the story other than a call to nostalgia, though there were quite a few calls to nostalgia in the movie, both verbally and with cut scenes of footage from the earlier films. It felt like the directors weren’t sure the film could survive on its own without being propped up by the first 3 movies, which is a little weird, considering it’s a sequel and the viewers would, presumably, already be familiar with the first three movies. It was like watching one of those previous episode recaps but mixed into the movie itself instead of at the beginning.

>>>>Spoilers ahead<<<<

The Spoilers. Just kidding, but really there are spoilers below this.

Finishing the movie out by placing Trinity on a level with Neo makes sense for the plot of this particular movie, but I’m not sure it makes sense when placed alongside the original story line. I’d have to re-watch the original movies to be sure, but I was under the impression that Neo was “The One” because there could only be one “The One”. Maybe he was just The One that would have enough ability to manipulate the Matrix to balance the scales of power between humans and the machines. That wouldn’t necessarily preclude other people from achieving that level of ability, and varying levels of ability were hinted at by the people at the Oracle’s apartment in the original trilogy, but why would Neo and Trinity together create overwhelming power or trigger Trinity’s ability to act on par with Neo? Are they really implying that love is the magic ingredient? I mean, it’s a beautiful idea, but it doesn’t seem to fit the themes of the original trilogy.

Finally, the story felt a little loose to me in terms of restrictions on the movements of average freed people in the Matrix. Obviously, they had to take into account modern wireless technology and mobile phones, but if a land line wasn’t required to get in or out of the Matrix, what was the point of the hacked doors and mirrors? Couldn’t they just use WiFi to appear in the Matrix anywhere they wanted?

Another movie is implied by Smith’s getaway at the end and, hopefully, if more movies are made, the above questions will be addressed in a way that doesn’t turn the logic if the story into soup. There are a lot of criticisms here, but it was still fun and I’d watch it again after re-watching the original 3.

Also, and this is on a tangent, maybe, but watching this movie really makes me want to play Grand Theft Auto V again.

The Revelation of Sonmi-451

“To be is to be perceived, and so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other. The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds, that go on apportioning themselves throughout all time. Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

Sonmi-451

That’s a very dark and simultaneously hopeful message about personal responsibility and duty to others. Our lives are not our own. We exist in relationship to other people and everything we do affects everyone and everything around us now and in the future. Those that came before us influenced us. What an interesting idea, that we’re like ripples in space and time that never end.

A conversation about COVID-19 vaccines and bodily autonomy

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

A conversation I had on Mastodon about COVID-19 vaccinations:

Covid: Huge protests across Europe over new restrictions, yikes

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-59363256

@stux@mstdn.social

At this point, vaccine mandates are just about control.

We don’t live in monarchies or dictatorships. People have a right to make their own choices about medical procedures. Let them make their choices and deal with the consequences.

COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere. The sooner we stop pretending it is, the sooner governments have to stop abusing their authority.

This is just the new PATRIOT act. Soon, they’ll want to track everyone’s movements 24/7. For safety.

We live in Europe and don’t have such a thing…

Like said, the government isn’t some monster or alien.. It’s people chosen by us.. Why is this an issue? It’s also the law you need to wear cloths in public right? Or is that also a first step to TOTAL control about every single aspect of your life..?

Sorry but I really don’t get this way of thinking. What do the vaccine and tracking people have to do with one and another? There’s microchips in the vaccine? Sats can track vacinated people? What?

@stux@mstdn.social

The issue at stake is bodily autonomy. The State shouldn’t be able to force you to undergo a medical procedure that you don’t want.

Even if nothing else is in your control, you at least should have rights to your own flesh and blood. That’s not the same as putting on pants before going outside.

And the tracking is in the Vaccine Pass apps that are mentioned in the article that you shared. I see this as a first step towards governments normalizing this level of surveillance.

And with this precedent, what’s next? It’s ok to jail people who don’t get an annual flu shot? The State gets to say who is allowed to have children? That sounds absurd, but in the US, we fought that fight already.

The only business the government should have in healthcare is in providing access, not in demanding compliance.

A little follow-up:

The conversation ended there, but just to clarify one thing, in the US it has previously been illegal for those considered mentally handicapped to have children. It has also been illegal for mixed race couples to have children at different points in the past here.

When you let the government start dictating what medical procedures you must undergo to take part in essential activities (work, shopping, being in public spaces), you open a door for the government to take further liberties with that power. It sets a precedent.

Every time the government says it just wants to do one thing related to one group of people for a specified time, that’s never the end of the overreach of power. The US was founded on the principle of limited Federal government. All powers not specifically set forth in the Constitution are reserved to the States that make up the Republic. The government is going to constantly look for ways to accumulate more power.

That’s why there are constant calls for more regulations, restrictions on gun ownership, and demands for backdoors into encrypted communications networks. It’s about control. Controlling citizens. Anyone that’s been paying attention should know by this point that no matter who gets into office, it’s always more of the same. That’s why nothing meaningful gets done even when one party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House. That’s why money keeps getting dumped into pet projects instead of programs that would actually improve quality of life for average citizens. There’s the government and then there’s the rest of us.

Demanding on pain of job loss, homelessness, and starvation that citizens get vaccinations is unconstitutional and illegal. It’s also immoral. Demanding that children get a vaccine that has a higher rate of harm than the virus it protects against is evil.

Viking War Songs

There’s obviously a lot of creative license going on here, but the idea and execution are both amazing. There’s a lot of this type of music available on YouTube and I feel like I could get a good work out in while listening to this. It’s a lot more motivating than the popular workout playlists on Spotify and YouTube Music, anyway.

Maintaining inner peace through right speech and action

When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.

The Dalai Lama
Photo by Sunilkumar Krishnamoorthy on Pexels.com

When I read this quote by the Dalai Lama, I thought about the times that I’ve lost my patience and said or done something that I immediately regretted. The embarrassment and guilt from those types of situations can sit with me for days while I rehash them in my mind and wonder about possible outcomes.

Obviously, there’s another problem there of living in the past instead of living in the present, which isn’t healthy on its own, but all actions have consequences. I think this is something the Buddha was aware of and is an important part of the idea of karma. The things we say and do that we might wish we could take back not only create guilt and bad feelings between us and other people, but, according to Buddhist teachings, they also add negative karma which can come back to visit us in this life or the next.

So, sure, live in the present, but it’s also important to help that along by not doing things that anchor us in the past. In other words, spending more time listening and thinking before speaking or doing so that we don’t get stuck in a cycle of worry and anxiety. I’m not saying that to preach to anyone. It’s more of a personal reflection and a reminder to myself to be vigilant as a means of improving my mental clarity, focus, and quality of sleep.

I’ve come to believe that simplicity is best, and the simplifying process doesn’t have to be restricted to discarding or giving away unused goods, it can also be a simplification of mental burdens by removing unnecessary worries and stresses by doing and saying the right things at all times. It’s like that old adage about not lying, so you don’t have to maintain the mental burden of remembering which lies you’ve told to which people.

As for what the right thing to do and say is, well, that’s more subjective and depends on context.

Childhood home in West Germany (1986)

I lived on the second floor of this building in Bell, West Germany as a kid in 1986/1987. It’s sort of an odd feeling, thinking that I lived in a country that no longer exists. This was during the Cold War and on the front lines of nuclear annihilation, but I was too young to know about that.

If you’re not familiar with what I mean, Germany was divided into East and West Germany after World War II. East Germany was controlled by the USSR and West Germany was controlled by the Allies, and later basically just the US. The US still has military bases in Germany today, actually, which is pretty unpopular with the Germans. When I lived there as a child, the Air Force base we lived on had to be fenced in because of large and violent protests by Germans.

Sky News coverage of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

In 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the United Soviet Socialist Republic, East and West Germany were reunited into one country again. Shortly after that, my family moved back to the United States, so I don’t really have any memories of living in Germany after reunification, but I do have a lot of wonderful childhood memories of living in Bell, which was (and is) a small town west of Frankfurt near the French border.

I remember playing with the sheep in a nearby pasture, climbing cherry trees, eating crab apples straight from trees, breaking and smelling fresh scallions in the field behind our home, building snow forts, and rhubarb growing in a garden across the street. I remember finding my first pet, a stray cat, in an alley down the street from our building. I remember a truck that came around regularly with fresh meats, fresh breads, candies, and desserts.

I remember playing with German children and starting to learn to speak German before we moved onto a US Air Force base and I, sadly, forgot it all. Now all I know how to say is, “Guten morgen” and “eine bier bitte”, but one of those I learned as an adult, because German beer is amazing! I’ve started using Drops to learn (and relearn) some German.

Germany was a really amazing place to spend a good chunk of my childhood. Living in a place where I could walk on dirt paths through the woods and daydream, where we went on field trips to thousand-year-old castles, where we could go hiking in the hills where knights and pilgrims traveled, had a big impact on my interests and outlook that persisted long after we moved away.

I’ve been back to Germany once since I was a kid, and it was just on a layover at the now closed down Air Force base that we moved to from Bell. Sometimes I think about going back to enjoy the country, but I wonder if it would be worth destroying my childhood memories with reality.

Fishing in MMOs

My favorite part of most of the MMOs that I’ve played was fishing. A lot of people would probably find it boring, but I thought it was a great way to relax. Later, I even listened to audiobooks while watching for the line to bob. It was a great way to remain focused on the present moment and what I was listening to. Or, sometimes I would just enjoy the ambient music in the game.

Somewhere, in Final Fantasy IX

I first fished in Final Fantasy XI. A Japanese player named Tsubakichi “adopted” me and gave me a fishing rod and bait and taught me to cook bait to use for fishing. My first fishing hole was a small pond in Ronfaure, I think it was called, outside Sandoria.

Something about the quietness of it is calming, especially if the zone you’re in has great ambient music, followed by a small thrill when you get a catch, wondering what RNG decided to put on your line.

Evening Star 08/06/2015 01:40:30

I also did a lot of fishing in FFXIV prior to Heavensward. I even had the special fishing rods and stuff from achievements. I think I lost track of fishing because I got caught up in the level grind that was part of the expansion. I think the fact that there were so many daily grinds in the game that there was no time to do anything fun was what caused me to stop wanting to play the game. Well, that and real life commitments. It’s harder to keep up with level and gear grinds when you have other responsibilities.

I suppose that’s the bigger issue, and I kind of wish there was an MMO where if you wanted to be a fisher main, or crafter main, you could actually do that without having to level up a combat job as well. With FFXIV, you have to level up a combat job and progress through certain parts of the main story so that you can do gathering or crafting jobs in relevant zones. It’s a bit of a drag if that’s not what you’re interested in.

It has been over a decade since I played Ultima Online, but from what I remember, the game didn’t have levels in the way that modern MMOs do, and it was entirely possible to just run around gathering stuff all the time. Maybe that’s looking back through rose colored glasses. I don’t know, but I just wish I could find a game that suited my interests again.

Dark Age of Camelot – The Trials of Atlantis, Bard Class character
I don’t even remember what that spell was, but I remember always thinking it was super cool.

Most combat jobs in MMOs are boring anyway. The last time I really enjoyed a combat class was in Dark Age of Camelot. I played a Bard. The implementation of the Bard as a mesmerizer, stunner, and stat regenerator, along with actual music being played was amazing. It just somehow really suited my tastes and capabilities.

I’m playing Fallout 76 now and there isn’t any fishing in the game. I’m not sure that I’d want to go fishing in Appalachia, though. Who knows what irradiated monstrosities I’d dredge up.

Somewhere in a post-nuclear holocaust, irradiated Appalachia