Friday, April 20, 2007

The First Noble Truth.

A while ago, a good friend of mine, Justin, told me,

"Once you've fought depression, you're always fighting it. You'll have your good days, your good weeks, your good years... but without warning it'll come back, it'll strike again."

That statement really struck me when I read it; it was a simple statement-- perhaps not even revolutionary to others to to me, it was. It did not hit me with a tide of despair, however ...

In fact, it was ... relief.

The first thing I felt was not despair, but relief. Even positivity. I've always gotten so angry at myself for getting depressed. I would always feel like I had finally overcome it, but it would always come back somehow and I would get so frustrated.

But that comment ... it illuminated a core fact about life that many forget: in life, there will always be suffering. It's the first Noble Truth of Buddhism, even. Pessimistic? Yes. Nihilisitic? Perhaps ...

But it also means that it's just a part of life. It is unrealistic to expect that once you overcome a bad time in your life, there will be no more after that. It is unrealistic to expect that life ends "happily ever after." Life goes on and as it continues, as it changes, as your change, there will be come sort of conflict, be it external or internal. Even if things do stay good, it will eventually stagnate; it might leave you bored or irritable or apathetic. It's okay to be sad, to be angry, to be frustrated or confused. There is no right or wrong, only consequences. And another part of life is that suffering can be overcome. Whether it is through personal endeavor or time, suffering can be overcome.

I do not beat myself up anymore when I get depressed. I do keep telling myself that it's perfectly fine to feel this way and that I do have the power to overcome it. Thinking this way has made me more capable of handling my problems and depression ends up becoming less severe and easier to deal with.

It took me a long time to get to where I am ... but nonetheless, here I am.

Friday, February 16, 2007

2007 Report Card.

Report Card from

  1. For these first seven weeks of 2007, what’s something you give yourself an A for? Becoming more motivated, getting things done, finding a job, and staying consistent with yoga.
  2. What’s something you give yourself a B for? Keeping up with school. ;)
  3. What’s something you give yourself a C for? Being more social and getting more involved on campus.
  4. What’s something you give yourself a D for? Working out and keeping up with my artistic interests.
  5. What’s something you give yourself an F for? Not studying to retake the SAT. XD
I am proud to announce that I managed to acquire a new job this week as a photo coordinator! :D Well, actually, I'm that, a photo packager, and a Photoshop Tech. :x I am really excited, especially since my weekday schedule will be flexible. I'll have time to study and keep up with school and friends and things. I've also attended a Circle K meeting. Circle K is a serivce-based organization and I am taking Saturday to help clean up North Cobb High and then I will be training for volunteer positions for various community orchestra concerts. ^_^

My brother's been sick all week, poor thing. I bought him some chicken noodle soup; I hope that'll help ... We've been watching old Pokemon episodes at night together. Brings back a lot of memories.

I think I'm finished with my Hanu Murals Myspace; I've even done flyers. Now, I just have to find places that will be willing to put them up ... I don't really anticipate any problems, but I hope I can find a few. Josh said he's hang them up at work, so that least that's a given. ^_^ I really hope I get commissioned for a project. I miss mural work so dearly ...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Belated Valentine's Day Post.

Happy Belated Valentine's Day. :)

Found this in a LJ entry that I made almost two years ago when I first started going out with my darling Shef:

"He came over today, and I got to give him the gift I bought yesterday for him. ^_^ It's so weird ... I HATE spending money, especially spending money on other people, but I drove BACK home to get the money for the plushie and then back to Media Play with no hesitation. I love so much to see him smile, to see him happy. It fills me with great joy to see him so happy, because he's been so unhappy before. I'm so flattered and honored to know that I give his life meaning, as he does mine. The thought of him brings a smile to my face when I wake up. My hands feel so naked when I can't hold his hands. It sort of irks me that I did not realize how happy he could make me ... I could have saved a lot of unhappiness throughout the schoolyear. I remember seeing him in the hallway after 2nd period and how my heart would jump when I saw him. I remember sitting in Philosophy Club, my eyes never moving away from him as he talked to Heath and the rest of them. I remember blushing and looking away quickly whenever he glanced at me. I remember when I first told someone of my crush on him. I was sick and had to stay home, as did Tiara. We spoke on AIM forever and suddenly, I just told her. It felt so nice to get it off of my chest. And I always loved skipping to lunch with him. I still laugh like crazy, remembering that INCREDIBLY lewd conversation that Josh, Shef, and I sustained throughout those three hours. I remember him telling us of his suicide attempt, and my overpowering urge to hug him and to kiss that dark scar slashed across his wrist. I remember being ashamed the morning after my house burned down, and I was crying in the courtyard. I didn't want him to see me like that. I didn't want anyone to see me like that, but especially not him. And that day when we left school early and piled into Josh's car ... oh my God, that was such a fun day. That was the day I got to witness the magnitude of his insanity, and he made me laugh so much. I liked how uninhibited he was and it oddly resuscitated my infatuation for him again. I like the strangest people. ^_~ I'm so happy to have him now. I can never stay sad for too long with him in my mind. "

My relationship with Shef has taught me so much about relationships. When I was single, I used to beat myself up a lot about it. I was afraid that I wasn't pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough; it's painful, this holiday, when you are single. And I can out and will not preach to people against feeling that way. How can you avoid feeling a bit dismayed when you see happy couples all around you?

Relationships, however, do not solve problems unless you work at them. Having a relationship means committing to another person to some extent and commitments of ANY kind means having to make adjustments.

Not that it isn't worth it. :)

I've learned so much from mine, and I continue learning. When it all boils down to it, relationships are easy, yet many people lack the common sense to LET it be easy for them. When it all boils down to it, the success of relationships just depend on communication. Practical, simple, and commonsense, yet it can be extremely difficult. Both of us have had our communication blocks and no matter how severe, no matter how dismal it seemed at the time, our problems could be solved through talking.

Top Five Things I've Learned Being In A Relationship

1. Be assertive about feelings.
If I want a problem to be addressed, if I want him to do more of something for me ( Listening to me, taking me out, etc), I have to inform him of it, directly, but nonthreateningly. By expecting someone to mind read your thoughts and feelings, you just create more havoc for your partner and your self. Many people fall under the impression that "If so-and-so truly loved me, s/he'd be able to KNOW what I'm feeling/why I'm feeling this way!" By falling under this impression, you discredit your partner's efforts and concern for you and convince yourself of innumerable misconceptions. Your partner IS your lover, your soul mate, yes, but they are also only human.

2. Be honest and open.
Honesty is so important not only in your romantic relationships but ANY social connection, really. You save yourself a lot of trouble by being honest. As a slightly far-fetched example, look at it this way: would you rather have your partner, an aspiring writer, build up so much hope and excitement because, let's say, you said that you had such deep connections that you knew someone could possibly get her a contract at a publishing company and then completely crush her excitement and plans in the end or would you rather tell her that while you do not know anyone, you will most definitely help her to the best of your ability? Lying builds unnecessary complications and they make more hassle than it's worth.

3. Being right is the "booby prize."
You've thoroughly dissected the issue. All reasoning leads to you being right and your partner being wrong, wrong, wrong. "She's being difficult because she's pushy--she's overbearing," "He's not listening enough--he's a bad lover," "She's not doing enough around the house--she's irresponsible"-- and maybe you ARE right. But what does that do? Susan Page gives such great relationship advice in her books and I think the best piece of advice is to not focus so much on being right. it only creates a power struggle between you and your partner, whether the struffle is internal or external. Being right is meaningless because the problems will still be there; in fact, your partner may even put up some resistance if you persist that s/he's wrong and you're right. It will make them feel attacked and it will only exacerbate problems. Don't try to point out what is wrong with them, point out what you want.

4. Know what you want.
To know exactly what you want will drive away complications. To understand who you are, why you are, how you are is to do your partner and yourself a great favor. To be assertive about your feelings, you have to know HOW you feel and why. Don't use this understanding to one-up your partner and prove your point-- rather, explain to them your actions in addition to what you want from them.

5. Shower them with compassion.
At times, this will be difficult. You're frustrated, you're angry, you feel ignored ... if you feel this way, most likely, your partner does too. If you've ever read "How One of You Can Bring the Two Of You Together" and "Why Talking Isn't Enough" (Both by Susan Page), you'll find that sometimes, the best way to get to the solution isn't through talking it out, but rather, just detaching yourself of your negative feelings and shower them with compassion. Genuine compassion. It's a spiritual shift from being self-focused and not to be mistakened as a bite-your-lip-and-get-it-over-with method of manipulation. Do this without expecting anything in return; otherwise, it WILL be manipulative. It's counterintuitive, it's nonsensical, it's unconventional, but it really works. The best way to understand this piece of advice is by reading one of those books, trust me, if there's one relationship book I ever recommended, it's one of those two! :)

Also, Psychology Today has an article similar tot he list I've just made: Five Ways To Transform Your Partner

All the troubles we've ever been through is worth it. He's been everything to me and I want to be everything to him. When I'm around him, I feel loved and protected and I feel like even if I fail at something, I'll always have him to clutch onto my hand. :) Happy Valentine's Day, babe. ^_^

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Breaking Down Goals Into Achievable Tasks.

It hasn't been that too long since the New Year started ... so are you keeping up with your resolutions? :)
It's okay, I really don't know anyone who does, including myself. I think I've been getting closer to my goals a lot faster than normal, though, upon my sudden interets in the GTD meme. The reason why my goals have been getting more attainable?

I break them down into the tiniest tasks. I'll provide an example of one of my biggest goals: transferring to GA Tech.

It's daunting, especially for a math-phobic liek myself but I want to attend there for architecture and they have the best program around.

But getting into GA Tech, I imagine, is no easy feat. How do I go from where I am now to transferring to a school like that?

I break it into the smallest tasks possible-- and by smallest, I means tasks you can do perhaps in the next week or even tomorrow.

I write mine in the standard outline format:

I. Get accepted to GA Tech
A. Research the field--I have to make SURE architecture will be worth all of this, first off. This is the only reason why I'd attend the school. (They don't have many majors I want to grab. ;x)
  • 1. Go onto websites, such as the ones Kevin provided, and list down every pro/con. Compare to other fields of interest.
  • 2. Visit architecture firms; Jon said he could possibly help with this. If not, I'll have to find some way to contact one ...
  • 3. Find out courses I need and find out what I can branch off into if arch. isn't what I want after all.

B. Study for SAT
  • 1. Review math
  • i. Buy books on SAT math, look online to review.
  • ii. Sheffuu~ teehee. In addition to boosting my math skills for the test, this could help him sharpen his tutoring skills; it's win-win!
  • iii. Read "Up Your Score: The Underground Guide tot he SAT." LOTS of unconventional tips for the test.
  • iv. Do a couple of SAT math problems everyday to keep my mind fresh.
  • 2. Review english.
  • i. In addition to the above, read some articles every day, AT LEAST.
  • ii. Write more, whether it's for school or for this blog, etc.

C. Go that extra mile-- I am going to be realistic about my expectations; I am optimistic about getting better at math but I also have to consider the possibility that my math skills will not end up amazing. ;x However, I can also show off my academic commitment by doing more than what is required of me.
  • 1. Join a group.
  • i. Right now, I have 2 in mind: Circle K and UNICEF.
  • 2. Establish contact with GA Tech counselors. Especially the arch. department
  • i.Explore their website, try to contact them
  • ii. Set up appointments, and keep in touch with them.
  • 3. Scholarships
  • i. Find out potential scholarships.
  • ii. Map out essay topics
  • iii. Outline essay.
  • iv. Write essays.
  • v. Submit.

That is basically what I have so far. I can do most of these probably tomorrow if I could. In fact, I want to shoot for some of these this week. By the way, I have to take a moment to pat myself on the back for my progress last week. :) I completed all of my goals with the exception of furnishing my murals Myspace and applying to 2 scholarships. However, I DID look up scholarships and scholarship resources and am ready to work on my essays this week. :)

But anyway, breaking them into very small tasks makes a big goal more approachable. As you see each task being scratched out, you get more confident and you feel more in control of your life.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Networking Surprises by Matthew Cornell
"[...]two recent experiences surprised me, and made me realize that there are many directions networking with someone can go. In one case I talked with an established professional organizer in the area, who started the call with the very emotional speech 'What makes you think I'd be willing to talk to you?' The outcome? No I didn't (politely) hang up (I did seriously consider it). Instead I stayed with her, asking if there was a way we could talk that wouldn't be threatening. We ended up talking for well over an hour, and discovered mutual friends and compatible ideas. "

A Geek Gets Networking By Matthew Cornell
"[...]I know I absolutely must stay open to unexpected opportunities, especially ones that I literally can't imagine. My hope is that, by meeting others, being generous to them, and listening, I'll gain insight into (and help with) defining my path, rather than simply following possibly limited ones I dream up myself. [...]

I've discovered a world that, as a programmer, I had no clue existed. I've been living in a 20 year technical cocoon, starting with my first job with NASA, in which I've focused solely on my immediate social environment - my fellow workers, my boss, etc. This has been possible due to the focused nature of the work, and my willingness to be happy with that (frankly) impoverished level of connection with people. However, it is definitely time to change."

And finally, a refreshing, more productive and less "bloodthirsty" definition of networking: "Is Networking a Dirty Word?"

Hm, I wonder what the theme is for this blog. ;)

One of my goals this year is to reach the level of social competence that I had achieved in high school senior year. In a previous post, I wrote about how openness and compassion led me to automatic intimacy and friendship. Since I've graduated, however, I have started to withdraw more and more into the social ineptitude I suffered from during the majority of high school and middle school. To give you an idea of how severe my social anxiety was, I always took an hour to debate with myself whether or not I should ask the man four feet away from me for the time. No joke. I hated making eye contact, I felt uncomfortable being near people, and in the course of an 8-hour school day, I literally spoke about 5 words. (Ask John Kim, he even brought this up to me. Lol.)

When I became more social, I found it easier to deal with problems, to talk to people, to initiate conversations with strangers, to ask for help, to give and receive generosity-- being more social made me stronger, more resilient, and more productive. While I do not have personal tips and advice for networking (it's become a new subject of interest to me, honestly), I do have advice for those who find it extremely difficult to approach people:

1. Use surroundings.
If I'm in a classroom, I'll discuss about the professor, the coursework, the subject, the school, the campus. This gives you an idea of their attitude, whether they are slackers, go-getters, critics, optimists, etc.

2. Use other people.
This does not imply gossip or criticism, by the way. It's important to stay positive, no matter what. Ask, for example, how they know so-and-so (i.e. if you are at a party or at a friend's house).

3. Use visuals!
This, personally, has proved to be the easiest way for me to make friends and make new people. By visuals, I mean hair, clothes, shoes, jewelry, anything. Give a genuine, honest compliment and build on it. Ask where it came from. Make comments about the store (i.e. you like the store, you shop there occasionally, you've never been there, you've never heard of it...). From there, you can go in a multitude of directions.

I personally love taking to other otakus. :) I feel so connected and so extroverted in a convention because I know that I have at least ONE thing in common with them: anime! And it's a safe assumption that if you live in Georgia and you are an otaku, you've heard of/visited/frequent/volunteered at/anticipate/love AWA. If they are adorning some otakuwear ( be it a shirt, a beanie, a keychain ..), I bring it up. I've gotten into the most elaborate conversations with people I've never seen before and it's amazing how long it goes on for. Most of the time, I even expand the conversation to other areas, like whether they live around the area, or whether they know of so-and-so, where they go to school at, what their major is-- I love talking to new people. :)

So especially if you're a total nerd like me, you can connect to people just like that. ::g::

I also think that this is a reason why it's also useful to wear printed t-shirts on them. :3 They make great conversation starters, which brings me to my next point ...

4. Do not be afraid of small talk.
Small talk is almost always inevitable, so why waste time and potential avoiding it? And small talk always leads up to bigger talk. I used to feel really awkward making small talk. My mind was constantly being bogged down with thoughts like, "Jeez, she must think I'm so lame" or "This is not going well; this is so awkward!" or "He must think I'm so shallow." I wanted to impress people, but talking about yourself up front tends to seem arrogant or braggy. Also, I picked up somewhere that it is never a good idea to talk about something that makes you passionate, which makes a great deal of sense. Otherwise, people will avoid you, assume that that's all you are interested in talking about, or people just mark you down as crazy or bad-eccentric.

If I approached a stranger, "Hey, how are you? I'm Havana. God, aren't you so angry that Disney isn't making any more traditional animaion films?!*" Passion is admirable, but not when it's slapped in people's faces. I prefer it to be a quirk than to be my identity. :)

That's all I can really offer for now. If you have more tips/advice/articles, please a comment! :D I always love hearing from others!

Breaking Perfectionism.

"Double Your Income ... By Reading?!" by Matthew Cornell

Very interesting post ... which leads me to admit something awfully embarrassing:

I honestly have no finished a book in over a

Can you believe that?
Over a year! Schoolwork has been piling up on me, social obligations (Well, not obligations, I love my friends~ :3 But keeping up with them does take up a chunk of time.), various concerns, and resulting slackerdom and mental fatigue has come between me and reading. The books I have been finishing are mangas (NANA, go read it!) and even then, I have trouble reading them (i.e. Deathnote).

I used to be a pretty avid reader-- a moderate fast reader, as well. Now I find myself struggling with speed-reading techniques and chastising myself for back-reading and reading too slow. it has desaturated me of a hobby I used to enjoy very much. Sure, I read blogs and articles and things like that but I really miss immersing myself in fiction. The last fiction book I've finished was Jodi Piccoult's
My Sister's Keeper and even though it took me half a year ( I came back to it, off and on), it felt great to reach that final page. It was a beautiful, thought-provoking story and whether it takes two days to read it, two weeks to read it, or even (in my case) 4 months to read it, the story's splendor remained the same. I think I criticize myself too much when I'm doing something that either others (or myself) do not perceive as "efficient" or normal. Often, I feel that this is why people deny themselves from doing some things. I can't do that, because it's not professional. I can't do this, because I'm not athletic. I can't do that, because I'm not artistic. Even if I don't become a speed-reading demon, I'll still enjoy a good work on fiction.

So instead of feeling, pardon me for this, retarded for not being able to read a novel in two days anymore, I'm just going to stay at a pace where I can enjoy it and still get work done. My pace. And hye, the more I stick with it, the more efficient I WILL be at it.

And expanding on that mindset, I also want to just go ahead and try other things that I've never really allowed myself to try because of some perfectionist excuse.

1. Overcome math-phobia and become decent in it.
2. Try out tennis.
3. Try rock-climbing.
4. Bungee-swing @ Six Flags.
5. Play strategy games.
6. Get better at Halo.
7. Learn to play an instrument. ( Preferably piano, guitar, violin, or flute. )
8. Re-learn HTML and go beyond basics.
9. Take a public speaking course.
10. Approach a stranger every day.
11. Archery.
12. Fencing/swordfighting.
13. Cooking.
14. Take business courses.
15. Make a business of selling art on the side.

And of course, read more.

I've also established a little habit this week that I'm really proud of: scheduling slacker time. Right now, I am using my slacker time before I continue with my GTD list. I KNOW I will slack off during the day. I know I WILL procrastinate if I feel overloaded with things to do. So I find that it is important to schedule in slack time (Not to be mistaken as lunch time or lunch break) in addition to scheduling your daily tasks. I'm blogging, checking out Myspace, checking out blogs, thinking of what to download next ... and until that clock hits 9:50a, this time is mine. :)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Contemplations on interconnectedness.


Jeez, do I miss these old days. ^_^ And looking back on episodes, there are SO many underlying jokes I never even caught at all when I was younger. I miss cartoons when they were actually funny. And it's also kind of interesting how unisexual this show ( amongst others, like Tiny Toons) was compared to the majority of cartoons now. God, they don't make them like this anymore.

Also, I can totally see where my personality came from now. ::g::

Here's one for you, babe. XD The ending is horrendously creative~

I was reading the Dalai Lama and I've decided that I will try everything I can to meet him before I pass away. Or rather, before he does. ^_^;;

Anyways, last night, I was reading a chapter on relationships-- not romantic relationships, but relationships in general. The more I read and thought about it, the more I understood how interconnected we are. It's almost impossible to live without other people. It's futile to even try. I used to be very foolish, wanting to face and deal with things on my own. I didn't want to bother anyone and if I needed someone's help, I would have been weak. The strong, independent archetype is just that: independent.

I only found myself in further disrepair. As rational I was trying to be, I found myself in circles. I was overly suspicious of people's intentions and assumptions. This made me curl up inside myself, away from everyone. It made me terrified of trying new things and meeting new people. I became so skeptical of my friends' outstretched hands taht I am so utterly surprised that they have remained my friends for this long. The more I retreated into myself, the more psychological instable I'd become.

"My basic belief is that you first need to realize the usefulness of compassion,"he said with a tone of conviction. "That's the key factor. Once you accept the fact that compassion is not something childish or sentimental, once you realize that compassion is something really worthwhile, realize its deeper value, than you immediately develop an attraction towards it, a willingness to cultivate it.

"And once you encourage the thought of compassion in you mind, once that thought becomes active, then your attitude towards others changes automatically. If you approach others with the thought of compassion, that will automatically reduce fear and allow an openness with other people. It creates a positive, friendly atmosphere. With that attitude, even if the other person is unfriendly or doesn't respond to you in a positive way, then at least you've approached the person with a feeling of openness that give you a certain flexibility and freedom to change your approach as needed. That kind of openness at least allows the possibility of having a meaningful conversation with them. But
without the attitude of compassion, if you are feeling closed, irritated, or indifferent, then you can even be approached by your best friend and you just feel uncomfortable.

"The Art of Happiness," p. 69

Late junior year, I started talking to Josh. Neither of us expected it at all, I don't think, but we became the best of friends. I do not think I've ever been so close to a friend before. I spilled a lot to him; things I had always been ashamed of, embarrassed about, I told him so casually and so openly.

And whereas I could not help but be skeptical about people's concern for me, I could feel it in Josh. He held the same trust in me; I remember when we spent 5 hours on the phone, unraveling our life story. Though Josh was the only one I confided in, I felt more intimate with everyone I knew. There was no need to feel so closed up anymore; I mean, I didn't even have to exert any effort to be open with people, I just WAS. As long as I knew that there was at least ONE person out there whom I could genuinely trust and whom I could be open with, everything seemed okay. Not that I continued keeping everything inside. I DID become more open to people ... automatically. And the more I shared, the less these problems seemed to bother me. Suddenly, I could take my problems more lightly and I could face them without much trouble.

In fact, if it wasn't for me finally opening up to Josh, I wouldn't have been able to develop my social skills the way I did in senior year. I was moderately extroverted, I confided in a small circle of friends, I felt more myself, less of a fraud. Though I hardly outright lied about anything about myself, I never told anyone anything, and that can be a degree of falsehood. I didn't feel the need to fabricate my life anecdotes, as I admittedly did in 8th-9th grade. I can't say I was super-optimistic or happy, since there WERE many problems back in senior year. However, it felt supported by my friends. I really felt stronger because of my friends. They gave me courage.

And if it wasn't for me able to open myself up, I wouldn't have reached the pinnacle of intimacy with Shef. :3 I told him absolutely everything. I showed him every side of myself. Good and bad, he's seen it all. My peppy, bouncy side, my despairing side, my nagging (unintentionally!) side, my insecure side, my stubborn side, my hopeful side, my fearful side, my longing side-- there is this resilient, durable, everlasting trust in him and though I admit that we have had our share of pain in this relationship, I personally feel that he's made me so much stronger. I bounce back from depression pretty quickly most of the time, I am more able to handle my stresses, I am more productive-- hell, I've jumped onto the GTD bandwagon for chrissake. XD

I realize that lately, I've been too stubborn and harsh and strident, especially to Shef. Reading that chapter last night really inspired me to adopt a sense of compassion. However, that compassion will also include being able to be open-minded about Jered. I also have a history with Daniel, a guy who has caused me a LOT of trouble back in high school, that I will have to forgive. However, I think that keeping my distance from him would be a better choice, since just being around him creates a buildup of negative emotions in me. In my productive and gung-ho fervor, I've been utterly inconsiderate about others. I jump to the assumption that what works for me will work for others and it doesn't. It hardly ever does. To be there for people, to be a shoulder for them to cry on is enough.

As [the Dalai Lama] spoke, I felt an instinctive resistance. Although I've always valued and enjoyed my friends and family, I've considered myself to be an independent person. Self-reliant. Prided myself on this quality in fact. Secretly, I've tended to regard overly dependent people with a kind of contempt-- a sign of weakness.

Yet that afternoon, as I listened to the Dalai Lama, something happened. As "Our Dependence on Others" as not my favorite topic, my mind started to wander again, and I found myself absently removing a loose thread from my shirt sleeve . Tuning in for a moment, I listened as he mentioned the many people who are involved in the making of all our material possessions. As he said this, I began to think about how many people were involved int he making of my shirt. I started by imaging the farmer who grew the cotton. Next, the salesperson who sold the farmer the tractor to plow the field. Then, for that matter, the hundreds or even thousands of people involved in manufacturing that tractor, including the people who mined the ore to make the metal for each part of the tractor. And all the designer of the tractor. Then, of course, the people who processed the cotton, the people who wove the cloth, and the people who cut, dyed, and sewed that cloth. The cargo workers and truck drivers who delivered the shirt to the store and the salesperson who sold the shirt to me. It occurred to me that virtually every aspect of my life came about as the results of others' efforts. My precious self-reliance was a complete illusion, a fantasy. As this realization dawned on me, I was overcome with a profound sense of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all beings. I felt a softening. Something. I don't know. it made me want to cry.

"The Art of Happiness," p. 74

I want to continue sustaining an open relationship with the world. We really are all interconnected and in addition to the fact highlighted above that we are all connected to people through material goods, we are also all connected through ideas. I draw and create art in a style that has been invented and developed by innumerable artists before me. I include symbolism that is built from symbols and archetypes from the past that have been passed down for centuries. Even new styles that I feel I have created on my own, I have built up from other people's work. Nothing in art is entirely, completely original, e.g. without Michelangelo, mannerism wouldn't have developed. Or at least, it wouldn't have developed as much as it did. A lot of literature is built on ideas built on webs of other ideas. All stories somehow lead to the Bible or plays of antiquity or Shakespeare, I've read. Even scientists and mathematicians have to build up from somewhere.

It's almost sort of ... beautiful.