Blog · Random Thoughts · Review

The Jolly Ride through Subjective Truth and Objective Opinions

About a month ago, I guilted a friend of mine into watching እያዩ ፈንገስ ፌስታሌን with me. While watching the show, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I have never seen anything that made me feel like that ever in my life. It was honesty; it was comedy; it was tragedy. It was amazing. It was a little hypocritical at one point where Eyayu would condemn a journalist for owning a large TV in his tiny rented house implying that the guy has fucked up priorities and yet later he still goes on to ask the audience if they dare judge the value he gives his plastic bag full of what we would think is garbage but to him represents the life he lost. You know, maybe that large TV has some value we do not understand to the stupidly portrayed journalist character.

I think in their obsessive attempt to tell the truth and make the audience question its life with comedy, writer Bereket and Actor Girum missed a few things. Or maybe they put the little defects in there on purpose to see if the audience would completely miss the message and keep on laughing. If it was in fact intentional, this would be the most brilliant thing I have seen done in Ethiopia.

Eyayu Fungus deserves his own blog entry but I won’t do that. I would ruin it. What I want to keep from that show is the last part where Eyayu says something about finding and living a truth; his Truth. The audience went crazy for a little while when he said this. I sat there trying to remember where I had heard that before. And it is weeks later that I remembered that I had read about Subjective Truth in Thomas Flynn’s book about Existentialism.

Before I explain what Subjective truth is, let me take you to Socratic Greece. The great philosopher had been teaching about the immortality of the soul among other things and he’d been sentenced to death by poisoning on the charges of disrespecting the gods and corrupting the youth. He had the option of living in exile but Socrates chose death to prove his point that death was not to be feared because there was an afterlife. So, he metaphorically flipped the court by fearlessly taking the hemlock and bottoms up….

This was Socrates’s way of standing for his truth. What we today call living by what he preaches or putting his money where his mouth is or in this case, his life where his mouth is. Socrates is one of the biggest examples to raise when talking about the sacrifices one may pay for what one believes. This was what father of existentialism Soren Kierkegaard called Subjective Truth; “A personal conviction on which one is willing to risk one’s life”

The speech from Eyayu Fungus’s last words in the show are kind of almost a direct quote from Soren Kierkegaard’s own words from one of his journals where he wrote, “The thing is to find a truth which is true for me. To find the idea for which I can live and die.”

The whole thing seems like such a good idea, doesn’t it? I mean finding a truth you believe so wholeheartedly that you would give your life for it? It definitely gives the implication that this life that would be given to prove a true point, would have a certain value. It would also make you feel less useless when you are living it.

Let me tell you another story.

In 12th grade we had this insanely inappropriate teacher who barely taught anything that I can’t even remember what subject he was supposed to be teaching. Anyways, this man started a discussion on religion one time in our class of like 24 diversely religious students. It was very weird for us. But he kept talking and he said that one of his parents was Ethiopian Orthodox but the other one was a Muslim but he himself was a Protestant because, he said, he had weighted both religions and chosen one that he believed was true.

It seemed like he had done this speech many times because he went on to compare religions to us. Some kids took the bait and they started debating but oddly enough I didn’t say anything which is seriously out of character for me. I love me a good debate but the thing is, I didn’t know what the teacher was trying to do. I didn’t know if he was trying to turn us on each other or if he was trying to convert us. I was a little annoyed.

Then the bell rang and one kid that I have always admired and respected in spite of our differences, and whose name I will never include in an entry because I fear him a little too, who had been sitting quietly listening to the fool, finally spoke up and said, “There is one truth. There can’t be a scenario where my religion is a truth but yours is too if we believe two completely opposite things.” And with that he just walked out of class. What he said would go on to be my argument for many things, and not just religion, for the years that followed.

This was added to when my PHD in philosophy wielding professor friend from Mekelle, John, said in one speech, “The Truth is Simple. If you complicate it, you do not understand it.”

So, the concept of truth has sort of been like a slippery soap for me for a while. Yes, I said soap and not slope because I mean that it has been very hard to grasp.

I have come to dislike many people because of the things they do with complete disregard to their surrounding while they throw their truth around like it has to be everyone’s truth and I have also seen the intensity with which they protect their truth. Which should impress philosophers like Soren Kierkegaard. But that is not the case. Soren Kierkegaard’s argument was not that one should believe whatever they want to believe and then be willing to die for it. That kind of shit is what results in religious extremism or the type of stubbornly annoying loud mouth that I used to be.

Soren Kierkegaard says that there should be different criteria that one should probably use before choosing to believe something as one’s own truth. He doesn’t deny that personal want and feelings go into the choices that we make. In fact, he calls this Passion. But he says that one should weigh all possible outcomes and not fall face-flat into just any truth you choose or your truth is just bad faith and you’re an idiot.

I like Kierkegaard’s ideas and all this remind of all those opinions that we throw around because they are our truths even though they aren’t supported by any fact. The dictionary definition of the word “Opinion” according to the Advanced English Dictionary as is relevant to this article are,

1. a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty.

2. a message expressing a belief about something; the expression of a belief that is held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof

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6. a vague idea in which some confidence is placed.

Which now brings me to my favorite kind of truth. Objective truth. There are certain truths that you can’t argue like that fact that the socks I am wearing right now are red. If you could see them, you and I will see the same thing. As opposed to Subjective Truth which depends in the existence of the believer to be true, Objective truth doesn’t. Regardless of my existence or yours, the socks remain red.

But when it comes to knowledge and more abstract ideas like religious beliefs or other ideologies and “opinions” that are turning the world over today, Objective Truth doesn’t exist.

According to Nietzsche (whose name I butchered a few times writing this because what the fuck is that spelling?!), all knowledge has been interpreted and every knowledge or truth, when written or taught, had been personalized by the writer or the teacher. So, every text/ knowledge has a personal subjective footprint of someone else. This excuses mathematics and history which have a certain characteristic of staying the static through time and people (although I think one can make a case that history has the teller’s truth in it and it changes)

So basically, what I am saying here is, Objective Truth or the more likely Objective Opinion can’t exist because taking a leaf from Edmund Husserl’s idea on phenomenology that there is no outside or inside when it comes to the world, we are not capable of having a completely detached and unbiased, third party observer’s opinion about something because we are of the same world with our lived experiences and our personalities be it physical or mental. Everything we know as true always comes from somewhere else. And in order to have such opinions, we need to exist first with our experiences and our hormones or whatever. Am I making sense? ]

People who are responsible for the transfer of knowledge through time are people like artists and writers and if you were an artist of some sort, your life would mainly be driven by Soren’s idea of passion. It’s amazing how long I have gone using that word not even really knowing what it means. But this other guy Jean-Paul Sartre says that people involved in literature have a certain responsibility. And I don’t know if he and I are thinking the same thing but I also think people responsible for the transfer of knowledge and art do have a responsibility to tell the truth but also to not trigger violence among people.

A lot of people don’t know if that is possible. That includes me. This is kind of like when you wanna say nigga because it’s in the song but it’s gonna offend a Black American or when that one Teddy Afro song came out and there was his artistic truth in it and he was using his Right to Freedom of Expression but it ended up inciting violence completely out of his control and he was blamed even though it likely wasn’t his intention. So my point here would be if you know that you work, your expression, your art, your way of preserving knowledge would turn men against men, should you suppress the truth or is it a fuck society, let them all die kind of thing? Is this a paradox? Did I just come across a paradox by accident while free writing?!!

Anyways thank you for reading all this mind fuck through. Sorry I might have bullied some of you into it by adding you without your will into the telegram page but the rest of you need a life.

Oh and P.S if anyone feels like this entry was about them, I fucking triple dare you to confront me.

P.P.S I have come to realize that there’s nothing I genuinely love like being proved wrong so you’re welcome to do that and I’ll be nice about it. I promise.

P.P.P.S I’m never going to get better at titles. At this point I’m doing it on purpose.

Blog · Random Thoughts

This might be about love and it might be about jazz. But there’s definitely a hate message in there

There is a certain type of people I meet every day that are dead set on making my life a bit more difficult -the type that blindly tries to direct my writing with complete disregard towards the idea that maybe this person and I might want different things out of life. I don’t know if they think they are actually being helpful because I feel like there is a certain way to be critical with reason but there is also a way to be a total douchebag who just says stuff to feel smarter and this person might be legitimately smart but there has to be a way to be smart without having to be a douchebag. If you know who you are, you my dear, are an ass.

Let me just say this blog is not here to make you happy, dear reader. It’s here to help me think without fear and maybe if you’re ስራፈት, you get to think too.

***

Sorry that’s the end of my hate rant but I think it was necessary. If I had ten readers I might have just lost two of you. Goodbye.

Now on to the love part.

Earlier this evening, I joined my family out for drinks and some live Jazz and because I have to work on something tonight, I settled for coffee instead of beer which means I started thinking about stuff like how people claim to “understand” jazz music. I mean is it like mathematics because there’s a lot I don’t get there either. And I’m ቀላዋጭ when it comes to music. I can listen to a wide variety and be carried away. Instrumental jazz sets a certain mood for me. It takes me to places and eras I’m nostalgic for even though I’ve never been. Jazz with lyrics makes me want to fall in love.

The place we went to was packed with older people. As I rushed into the place shaking off the evening cold, I was preceded by a well-dressed couple maybe in their late fifties. I followed them with my eyes for a while. While the band was playing, the two didn’t talk with each other too much but they sat with their bodies tilted towards one another. They watched the band silently still but the man kept time with fingers on his arm rest. There was a ring there. She had one too. When the band was taking a break, they ate their dinner and drank their beer and wine smiling and talking in low voices. I couldn’t hear what they were saying; they could be brother and sister, they could be two people having some scandalous affair, they could be two broken people planning a murder for all I know but my society has conditioned me to see this and think cute old married couple out on date night. And while I have never liked the idea of marriage for myself, this made me a little envious. Like it’s the stuff of professionally happy people (as opposed to the other crowd I belong to, the professionally pissed off)

When my peers talk about love, they always make it seem like there’s some far-off time where we’re all married to someone because they’re dead sure there will be someone but for now they say we’re just looking. I never want the idea of being in a “real relationship” to be something you find after casting a net hoping people fall in so you catch several fish at once and throw each one by one back into the river before you find that One. This is the case for a lot of people I know and it’s also what most people try to convince me it should be like and no shit, I’m afraid to be near these people for some reason.

I don’t like to talk about love (or even write about it much) because if I talk about what I think about it, there could be some nodding heads. I’d be right in theory and I think everyone just wants to be like that old couple I saw tonight; sharing something beautiful and not actually having to be doing much to convince other people of just how much they love each other. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve misunderstood these two people and ended up drawing some image in my head because I’m angry about people making a big deal about valentine’s day which is a solid week away and I’ve let what someone said get to me. Or maybe I’m serious.

There’s so much that goes into this and it hurts to think of how so many of us are way off just because we think have to be cool. Or perhaps because we are busy protecting ourselves. And rightly so.

***

P.S. I lied about the ten readers thing. WordPress is a big fat liar most of the time but I’m pushing at close to 4k views. So yay?

P.P.S. There will be that one well-wisher who will try to tell me I can do better. Please don’t.

Blog · Random Thoughts

Random Sandwich of Ordinary Heroes and Language.

I’m the queen of random. I know.

***

I’m not a big fan of self declared motivational speeches. Because I find that the speakers make everything look so simple and things are usually very far from simple. Like Prairie from The OA said to her therapist, “where do you find the confidence to tell people how to live their lives?” But also I’m the type of person that might find life motivation in a most generic soap commercial so perhaps something is off there.

Nonetheless I paid too much to attend one of these things the other day and one speaker noted something that isn’t really new information and should be obvious but I guess sometimes me going to these things isn’t a total waste because we-me-I need to be told the obvious again and again for immediate response. I think it’s totally unfair to be charged that much money for it but yeah. So what this guy said was how some of the people making extraordinary things happen every day, are people very much ordinary such as those sitting in the room with us and I looked around the room where this speech was being held and I saw people I’ve come to know (either through my mad stalking skills or through other circumstances) and I felt very much better about myself and I felt….I think the word is able.

****

The idea of language and culture was a trendy controversial issue a while back….or maybe I was just one of the few on the alleged “wrong side” and down below is a link of the article I wrote for my old blog. Right now I’m here to add to that because I have learned of a few new things.

I’m the type of person who gets annoyed when people say “egg-zender” to say Xender or “peace-phone” to say psiphon. These apps do not want to be pronounced correctly here in Ethiopia. In the same manner, Amharic speaking people who say እስራስ to say እርሳስ are some times the people to go around being annoyed by people mispronouncing English words.

I won’t lie. I get a certain high over pronouncing words correctly, be it Amharic or English. My love for words and order is no lie. But I heard somewhere, I think it might be a vlogbrothers video but I can’t be sure and I don’t wanna check, that language has no obligation to be beautiful. It just is what it is. It’s a way to communicate and even though the mispronunciation or misuse might be very, VERY, annoying to the likes of me, unless it has created certain fracture in the communication, it shouldn’t be.

When my toddler cousin uses body language and certain gurgles to ask for what he wants, I understand him and I don’t go around complaining about how he should be wording in sonnets when asking for his water bottle. I had a friend back in Mekelle who spoke English, Amharic and Tigrigna very fluently and yet when she talked to me she did this thing where she mixed and modified all three. I understood her perfectly all the time and I didn’t find it annoying. But when she mispronounces እክርቢቶ as እስክሪቢቶ,even though I knew what she meant I tended to get violent.

I’m still struggling to understand why this is because I have reached a personal understanding that when communicating, you could straight up be doing a rain dance type thing and if I understand what you mean, we good. Maybe it’s the illusion of an interrelation of proper grammar with elitism and good manners. I don’t know.

Certain rules for language are there to help the communication. When writers break them just to be special and not to make a point, this writer immediately becomes someone I dislike. Certain rules for language are not ribbons to make it pretty. They’re a part of the communication to avoid misinterpretation. Like that story about how the difference between “Kill him not. Let him live.” and “Kill him. Not let him live.” got a man killed. If you break these rules, you risk ambiguity and being misunderstood.

***

I remember learning in my Amharic class back in high school that language by it’s nature is born, it grows and evolves and it dies; also it transfers. Many get frustrated by the replacement of certain phrases for words that don’t sound or appear Amharic because there is a certain feel of entitlement. These people think they own the language.

Hmm.

I think this is wrong on more levels than one. Because some words that we use with entitlement thinking they are ours, aren’t ours at all. And because here in Ethiopia, Amharic might be the state language but we have more 82 local languages that have been enter-woven and transferred throughout the years. When you speak Amharic, how much confidence do you have to say, “I am speaking pure Amharic.”?

I learned from a Hank Green video the other day about loan words that are words one culture takes from another and modifies because the speakers of the borrowing culture can’t pronounce it right and there is a lot of that in our languages and perhaps in languages everywhere because like I said above, language by its nature is transferable and fluid.

Words like ዶሴ (French word Dossier meaning record), ካልሲ (Italian source word calzini meaning socks) or አስኳላ (also Italian word Scuola for school) and many more that I can’t think of right now have their sources somewhere outside of what is considered the mother of Amharic, Ge’ez. I also remember learning of words that we use as Amharic but actually came from other Ethiopian languages like Sega which came from somewhere south and I’m embarrassed to say I can’t recall exactly where and sadly that’s the only one I can remember but I know for a fact that if I think harder I could come up with more.

So I guess the sense of entitlement that most of us feel over our language is heavily misplace and a little unnecessary.

I work with language right now and I have found myself improving greatly with using English and Amharic separately yet interchangeably and I have learned to appreciate the fluidity and all of the above. It’s also made me a little crazy because I sometimes find myself contemplating it’s nature.

***

They say don’t meet your heroes. They were onto something.

I used to have this tendency to stick myself onto people who do things, people who create and people I like and admire. That was not only because I get to show off about how I “know” them but because I always think that I can learn from them. Sadly, there hasn’t been a person I admired that hasn’t disappointed me.

This is because people who do something only appear to the public with whatever they have done in a clean and marketable manner. When they appear to the public, their hair is done, their collars are straight, their pictures cleaned and filtered and their pleasantries practiced. During the creating process of their great works however, these heroes are a mess. They’re insecure and they can be mean. For the most part they’re very ordinary.

I had to think about whether I should decide to know the ordinary mess of a person in his/her everyday chaos close up so I could learn or if I should keep my distance to keep worshiping the filtered image of my hero. *shrug* I don’t know.

P.S Thanks for reading. Here’s the promised link for my old blog.
Let’s Play the Blame Game

P.P.S  I like legitimate feedback.

Blog · Random Thoughts

Hypocrisy: Generally

I’ve been scolding myself to not talk about social issues that touch various people because I want people to read my blog, but I also don’t want anyone to read it. It’s because I am a coward. Why lie?

***

I really like learning through conversation and I do that by holding serious conversation with opinionated, knowledgeable, interesting people. I ask questions and I listen. Sometimes these conversations turn into a competition to appear smarter than one another and other times ideas clash so much, and disagreements occur. It might become difficult to separate a person’s idea from the person and I personally start to dislike that person heavily. I read somewhere in Dan Brown’s new book Origin (which I recommend by the way) that conversation is better than consensus. We learn so much just by talking to each other and it is not necessary that we agree to learn. The quote rings tremendously true to me. Still I can’t help but feel very badly about people and the way they carry their ideas.

Hypocrisy is a thing I feel strongly about. I have been on the internet a long time. Facebook does a very good job of reminding us just how many things we have been wrong about or how many things we once argued for with such shoulder shaking confidence and feel differently about now.

Hypocrisy technically means being that thing you are telling people not to be or it might also mean thinking you are superior to others when you really, really aren’t. Technically it means being a total contradiction of something you claim to stand for.

I wonder if that sometimes happens because one doesn’t really know what one believes or because one does not understand what that one claims to believe.

I’m writing about this now because when asked at some point I wasn’t able to pin point properly what I disliked about people. Upon deeper contemplation however, I have learned that this is one reason. And I have a crippling fear of becoming that which I dislike.

It is said that understanding people and the reason behind what they do will make you less likely to hate them because you know they usually don’t mean harm. Understanding the motives to the most minute details justifies it somehow. Because you are human, you empathize. I found in the book I am reading now titled, Existentialism: A very short Introduction a quote by some French novelist Madame de Stael that goes, “To understand all is to forgive all.”

Trying to understand the motives of other people worked for a little while for me. I try to be practical as much as I can so I tried it. It made me realize that people aren’t really evil. They can be selfish sometimes. They can super sadistic sometimes. But weirdly enough, I don’t hate that about them as much as I thought I did. I mean I really really hate selfishness, but I can tolerate it. What I really do not like, I realized, is when people cover it up with something else and when people lie about their intentions. What I’m trying to say I guess is that if you’re a jerk who can admit that you are a jerk, I can live with that.

I was talking about Charles Bukowski yesterday and the old man is reputed as being “a real author” because he “writes his truth”. I personally think Charles Bukowski writes brilliant poems with the mere intention of offending people, but I’ve never known the man so that’s wrong of me to say. When approached by people to be less of an asshole in his writing, he openly talks about how he will not change his ways to be accepted but it’s obvious that he knows his ways are a bit vulgar and doesn’t hide it. There’s also this poet whose name I didn’t bother to grasp. He writes in Amharic and he performs at the Poetic Saturday thing sometimes and his poetry almost all the time cleverly starts off with words that instantaneously appear dirty and end up meaning something mundane. Like for example one poem was titled ‘ንፋ”. The poem continues pretending to describe sexual acts instructed by the woman but then turns out to have been about a woman telling him to sieve flour (ዱቄት መንፋት in the most literal sense). The first day I heard this guy I was like, “why the hell is he being a dick on purpose?” but then I heard more of his poetry and later dubbed him the king of puns. He does it on purpose and it offends people; it made me feel stupid and super dirty minded that first time. But then I learned that it’s actually his intention and he is unapologetic about it. I don’t like him, but I’ve learned to respect him just like I don’t like Bukowski, but I have deep respect for him too.

I wanted to think that people should always try to be good and I had convinced myself that I can only like people if they know that they are bad and if they try to be better. When I was younger I was an advocate of embracing who you are and being unapologetic about it. It was probably the result of being impressionable to the famous teenage dramas of that time with their teaching to ‘be yourself’.  I practiced what I preached too but I was also crying myself to sleep thinking about how I deserved better from people. Now, I’ve learned that your life and everything you do almost always touches someone else, so you have to be cautious of how you want to affect people while you are “being yourself.” or just pretending to be.  If you don’t care how what you do affects other people, then you must also be ready to accept the back lash you receive from it. If you aren’t trying to be better for them you shouldn’t expect to “deserve” what you want from them.

It’s something I see everywhere from the way people dress to the way social media is utilized and I’ll even admit that I was once part of this hypocrisy. We’re always talking about how our body is ours to dress and that we do it for ourselves and not because we want to affect other people, but it stands true that we might still draw attention to ourselves with it whether we intended to or not. And we were always claiming that our social media is our private personal space to do as we please with when we share information that enrages and triggers other people. Other people do get to unfollow you and remove your bullshit from their feed which is mostly advisable but they won’t do that. People are drawn towards bullshit and other shit they disagree with to feel better about themselves by putting it down. (See the most recent internet fiasco featuring non other than genuinely stupid youtuber Logan Paul. I will not post a link. Google it if you want.)

If we’re talking about living together in tolerance, I think we should be putting other people into account when we do anything . If we really do not care and out intention is to trigger and offend,  I can learn to live with that. At least don’t lie about your intentions and be prepared to take the back lash.

 

P.S I am not immune to hypocrisy. In fact as a growing confrontational writer, I am a number one candidate. I will not hate you for pointing mine out to me. In fact, I’ll be indebted to you….and then maybe I’ll go out of my way to find something on you too.

P.P.S I am reading “Existentialism: A very short Introduction” very, VERY slowly even though it is a really slim book. However, there will be an entry about it.

Blog · Random Thoughts

I’m a Little Worried.

I miss my two blog posts a week rule. I was writing a lot of shit but at least I was writing. I consider just giving up on my blog on a regular basis because I would remember it at random times of the day and feel guilty by the way it's going. I always think I can do better than I am doing. Billy Joel sang, "..don't you know that only fools are satisfied…" Well, I'm no fool.

Sometimes I forget why I keep this blog.

I usually come up with ideas for my blog getting inspired by things that I observe and experience but sometimes writing about how messed up the world is gets old and when I think about it, no matter where I am, I just want to curl up under a blanket and fall asleep.

I am keeping busy because I've been doing a full-time internship the past month and I haven't been reading much which feels like it's own separate version of writers' block. I'm struggling through Sylvia Plath's book. I always feel like I would rather be doing other things and I love reading more than I like a lot of things in life so I don't really know what is happening to me. Maybe I'm just tired.

I shouldn't be tired though. I'm too young to be tired. I should be doing stuff and I should be feeling much more inspired. I think it's unfair that we get to feel tired in a sense like this is all life has to offer us. People would tell me that I have to be "realistic" and that I have to be prepared to mould myself into the world because that's the only way to do well for myself and it seems like that is the point to everything. Doing well for yourself and being able to afford things and attracting valuable friends.

There seems to be a problem with this for me as I am failing at all of the above.

Like many of my peers, I was raised to think I had the potential to change the world and I'm awesome and everything but I fall just a tad short from world changing. Someone told me that this way of thinking is a very good way to become unhappy. So I wonder if it's better to be "realistic" and be someone that "makes babies and dies." or if it's better believing and trying to change the world until it kills you but you'd be in the Valhalla of dreams so it won't really matter. You've tried.

image:

charleskinbote.tumblr.com

Blog · Random Thoughts

Escapes

I joined Facebook in eighth grade when my best friend told me that this guy that my group of friends and I collectively had a crush on was on Facebook. I thought, I should get on this and I joined. Now about eight years later Facebook feels like a husband I can’t bring myself to divorce.

The other day I read this article where the writer said that we go on Facebook to feel good and to feel better when we are having a bad time and we almost always end up feeling worse when we see the things that our friends are posting because we don’t feel that our life is as glamorous. I think he even implied that that Facebook is a big cause for unhappiness and to cure some unhappiness one would just need to get off social media.

I think this writer might be right because I saw an interview with Ed Sheeran where he said that he’d been taking a break from social media for the past year and he’s ultimately better now away from all that negativity. I salute Ed Sheeran.

For some people, social media and cyber friends act as a sort of escape. It would be unfair to totally discredit all the good social media has done for shy people who can’t bear to make friends face to face or generally can’t stand people. I’ve gone through a phase where my entire life revolved around social media and I can honestly say that I felt a little less alone because of it at a time when I was in fact alone.

Because of the favor that social media did for me at that time, I’d been thinking that perhaps escapes can’t be a bad thing. Escapes in general are a grand and welcome idea in my book. I grew up escaping you might say. I escaped into Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire until my copy became so frayed now I am afraid to pick it up because it might just fall apart. I escaped into Disney because yes, I am a Disney freak and may or may not know all the songs from several of the classics. Escaping is just fantastic when the real world becomes difficult and many would tell you that is the sole reason things like fiction and video games and whatever exist. To escape reality.

This morning I had a thought.

In the movie Men, Women and Children, Jennifer Garner’s character is a paranoid mom that would stalk every movement her daughter makes to a point where she would print her daughter’s messages to read over tea. So, this woman tries to convince this other dad that his son playing video games is a bad thing. She tells him that when his son is plugged in, our world, the real world doesn’t exist anymore and the kid’s reality becomes the video game. I saw this movie a few years ago and have seen it a few times too but I just realized today how true that psychopathic woman’s statement is.

My aunt was freaking out about something this morning and her son, plugged in watching Star Wars, did not pay her single ounce of attention. He is ten. When I get into a fight with someone or am having a hard day, I get home, grab something to eat and binge watch New Girl or something instead of confronting my problems because when there’s a certain emotional over load that I do not want to deal with or think about, I just want to escape.

Watching my little cousin play dumb to his mother’s distress made me think if perhaps escapes are making us insensitive.

I remember a line from Thirteen Reasons Why where Hanna says that social media has made us into a society of stalkers. She was right. I am a master stalker (on and offline but that’s a story for another time). I am sure as hell not the only one. Lately I’ve met people who like to pretend that they are better than you because they’re “so over Facebook” when they manage to stay offline for 24 hours straight. They are better than me but you know, why be an ass about it. Anyways personal rage aside, I scroll through my feed in the mornings usually and I see a lot of cries for help. I have taken an initiative for my mental health where I unfollowed a lot of people but even still every day, with every post or with every poem or with every quote I read, I feel like I’m passing through a line of so many people hurting and wanting to be heard and needing help but wanting to be cryptic because asking for help is not cool, you know. You do what Wolfgang from sense 8 did when he needed help. He had so much pride that he couldn’t bring himself to ask so he paid the other sensates a visit where he didn’t say much and they magically knew that he needed help.

I know that some of my cyber friends do need help but I don’t do anything about it because I think that it’s not my place or that that particular post must be meant for someone specific or some other excuse with in the same lines to get me out of helping. I know a few people who always step in to help in these situations. They don’t really let it affect them whether they get shut down or become considered uncool. I wonder how many other people, like me, are becoming un-phased or uneager to help.

Blog · Random Thoughts

Introvert Problems!….But I Don’t Know That I am an Introvert.

Don’t be Weird! Don’t be Weird! Don’t be Weird! Don’t be Weird! Don’t be Weird!

I have days sometimes where I am so content and everything seems to make sense but even if it doesn’t, I find a way to be okay with the not making sense because I’m too busy being content and satisfied by small moments that feel larger than life like the perfect song coming through on my playlist without me having to shuffle through it for several minutes or being outside at a time when the clouds are pregnant as hell and Zeus is just roaring. People would be running around to escape the rain and I would stand there getting drenched looking at how beautiful colors become at times when the sun isn’t around to ruin everything with all her chrome. I would be tucked in my bed later, coughing thick bile, freezing my toes off and saying to myself, “Totally worth it!”

My aunt doesn’t like me drinking coffee in the house so to avoid her confrontation I have to go out for coffee. Today I got up very early and just walked in one direction to remember that long walks in keremt where your nose freezes on your face work very well as a caffeine substitute. I am still kind of frozen as I type this but I ate a breakfast I certainly couldn’t afford and I held a relatively acceptable phone conversation with a stranger where I remembered to say hello and goodbye. I am very proud of myself.

Then I ran into someone I knew back when I was a monster of introverts and she said that I’d changed…in a good way…. but she couldn’t put her finger on what the change was…. did I smile more…?

She was being polite. I knew what she meant and I know that I have changed into this weird creature that’s learned to be sociable and empathetic…. relatively. Everything I say here is to be considered relative because I know I’m still little awkward, I’m still bipolar and can randomly become passive aggressive out of nowhere. Like one moment I’m happy and we’re having a great time then BAM! I don’t want to talk anymore. I’ve gotten better now. I’ll ask how you’re doing to be polite even if I don’t care. Old Qal wouldn’t do that. Old Qal wouldn’t talk to you if she didn’t care for you. She was so bitter and angry but damn do I miss her!

I had to sit through several lectures lately where I was told by formidable adults that I need to be more sociable and interactive with people if I’m to make it through life and I’m just like, “I’m trying! They just don’t get it!” I think this is because me and people like the girl I ran into today, who knew me in a worse state, are the only people who can see how far I’ve come.

It came to my attention that my awkwardness could be what I think is referred to as “Introvert Problems!” I used the exclamation point in there because that’s the way I imagine most people say it. Also, I’ve been watching too many Odd1sOut videos on YouTube, I just want to declare everything the way he does. It’s really catchy.

Well anyways the only problem with “Introvert Problems!” is that I don’t really know if I am an introvert. I’m obviously not an extrovert either but I imagine that becomes obvious if you ever met me. I like large gatherings but find them very easy to disappear into and I like group works although I can’t really recall a group work that didn’t make me cry or stomp out. If I have something I need to say, I will climb a table. I mostly like to do things by myself and I spend a lot of my time in my head or on Facebook. I usually like to have a clear idea of my destination whenever I go anywhere and in group hangouts, I’m more likely to be sitting quietly listening to what everyone is saying. Or sometimes not listening at all. But I have my caffeine high moments where I am a total chatter box. You might need to hit me to shut me up. I have to give myself an hour-long pep talk before I to go meet someone for the first time and half of that hour is the chanting of my mantra, “Don’t be weird. Don’t be weird. Don’t be weird.” I then go ahead and say stuff with no filter and end up getting the usual polite insult of, “You’re so weird.” I still like meeting new people though and I don't mind talking to a large group of people.

The point is, I read through a lot of lists of traits and if this is a continuum, I’m somewhere out of range. I actually know what I am like. I just don’t know how to help it.

I went on Wikipedia like any 21st century blogger with the need to appear knowledgeable and I came across this term called Ambivert which is like a compromise between introvert and extrovert. Funny thing, I don’t think I’m that either. Actually, I should maybe stop even trying to find out the type of person I am this way because I think I believe more the idea of Free Trait Theory where an individual’s introversion or extroversion is dependent on what works for the individual’s momentary state of being to make that person survive or progress to success.

When I was small, I was a very happy, annoying kid; lively, loud, pretty much like Alvin the Chipmunk on caffeine for the first time. Then later, dealing with a certain change in lifestyle, I became grimmer, closed off, solitary and “scary” like every cliché high school goth. That was most of my teenage life and I think my detached state of existence kept me safe and alive. I understand it. That was the Qal the girl I ran into earlier was talking about. But now I don’t need to be closed off and emo to be safe and I don’t have the extroverted energy to be happy all the time. You could say I’m at a point of reckoning to decide what kind of person I want to become because according to Donald Glover, the person I decide on now is going to be who I'll be forever.

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I’m Writing About Purpose and Shit Again

*Note: I’ve had like eight large cups of coffee in the last three hours. 

I feel like picking up heavy stuff and running.

It’s a miracle I’m not dead. 

Feel free not to take me seriously.  

Let’s begin.

I don’t understand the point of wrapping gifts. Like what the hell is the point? Why the secrecy until the receiver gets to rip it open and be amazed? Why can’t he/she just look in to a plastic bag it came in and still be amazed without having to rip stuff? I’d decided not to wrap the gifts I was giving my graduating friends. I did however enjoy getting to rip open the presents they received from other people. I guess I’m just a hypocrite who hates wrapping gifts.

I’ve actually contemplated this gift thing a while. Like why do we give gifts on occasions? Birthdays. Weddings. Why is a gift necessary when those people are already happy or whatever? Why don’t we give gifts to sad people to make them feel better? Why aren’t gifts given on like normal Tuesdays because you felt like your good buddy deserved it? Why are you a weirdo if you do that? Why will your very, very platonic friend suddenly think that you want to marry him…

…..
I might be a serious target of the Peter Pan syndrome. Getting old scares the hell outta me. When I realized that some of my friends were graduating, it made think of the boxes. You know the boxes like you’re born, you’re potty trained, you go to school, you graduate and now the next box that many of my friends are looking at is marriage. I mentioned this to some of them and they laughed at me because they want me to think that marriage is the last thing on their minds but their parents agree with me and I just know that the invitations are going to start coming in soon.

That’s another thing that I’ve noticed lately. How now invitations are lettered to me directly. Before, the lettering on an invitation would have the family name. My overthinking theme this past week has been how freaking old I’m getting. I’d be reading something for teenagers and feel like I’m a part of that demographic. Then suddenly I’d realize that I’m actually in my early twenties and that I’m supposedly more mature. I’d see actual teenagers and notice how freaking young they look. I’d look at my peers and notice receding hairlines and that look of established fearlessness like they’re sitting with their sleeves rolled to take on life and responsibilities. While seriously immature, their humor is profound sometimes and they know how to talk to the older generation and impress. When caught at the right time, they are capable of holding serious, reflective conversations about real things that matter and make a difference.

Growing up entails certain freedoms. Now I can refuse to eat or attend events. If I insisted on walking from Mekelle to Addis, my family probably won’t get to protest too much as long as they don’t have to pay for anything. One would think that the freedom I’m looking down right now is something awesome. It’s definitely something I was looking forward to at 15 or something but now that I’m here, I’m hella confused. It’s a scary thing to realize that at this point I am completely accountable for all the decisions I make and that soon I might have to start to worry about things like bills and saving. I could be turning off lights so I won’t run up the electricity bill or checking several times if the doors are locked so I won’t get murdered in my sleep. I’ve seen adults do that. How will we be so different?

I might be crazy but it bothers me how much people around me are so comfortable with the boxes. Where is the individuality? I visualize a long line of people just walking to that ultimate demise, checking boxes on their way there, moving rhythmically to that Gorrilaz song “It’s comin’ on. It’s comin’ on.” I’d be standing in a taxi line and I’d get a tiny and visible anxiety fit.

A search for purpose is probably the central quest of my youth. I doubt I’m the only one. I don’t think I’d be surprised if I find that we have none but I think it would still kill me.
Photograph: Abrish Hailemariam 

Blog · Random Thoughts

Religion

I learned today that most of us think of ourselves as good people and it made me wonder what the hell gave us such an idea. After much spacing out during conversations and looking out windows, I thought that it might be because each of us have different ideas of what it means to be a good person.

I asked. A pious answer was given to me. I did not like it.

I’ve been watching Master of None. I think it’s one of my most favorite series right now. It has a lot of very good ideas, it’s funny and filled with some really cool cinematography though also some weird, questionable acting. But I’m no expert. I find that the main character Dev, a New yorker of Indian descent, is a very relatable character to us Ethiopians raised in a conservative culture because we are under heavy influence wanting to make our surrounding evolve into something highly resembling the western world while still rooted to own traditional values.

You’ll understand what I mean if you watch the series. I highly recommend it.

I saw season two sometime ago and the third episode’s idea stayed with me because it touched on an important point that I’d been thinking about myself. The episode was titled “Religion.”

Religion is a very sensitive topic that I have lately been trying to avoid. Unsuccessfully of course I mean watch me write a whole blog entry.

In the aforementioned episode of Master of None, Dev concludes his own religious philosophy by saying that it should be enough that one is a good person and that religion must be open to one’s own interpretation. So, he eats pork and doesn’t pray salat or fast during Ramadan because he calls himself “not that religious”. His mother becomes really disappointed by him and ends up not speaking to him. Then his father says to him,

“It’s not about eating pork, it’s not about the religion, it’s about you ignoring us not realizing who you are. You see, our parents raised us to be a good Muslim. When you went to school, we gave you a Quran. I don’t think you ever read it. When you act like this we feel like we failed you. Look man, you can drink, you can eat pork, you can smoke Mary Jane, that’s your business. But when you do it in front of mom, it hurts her feelings.”

Hurting other people’s feelings in the name of staying true to one’s own beliefs is something of a self-righteous excuse many present to being total pricks. The idea of being stubborn about one’s religious views also makes many feel somewhat superior to others which is ironic because many religions claim to preach unconditional love and being humble. I was raised in a very orthodox household. I know how important tradition is. It is very beautiful but I wonder if the smugness that follows from being good at following a certain rule is all that necessary.

In this age of massive diversity, a probable three out of four will have all different religious views and even in the same religion, different interpretations which tend to create divisions. And division is the last thing we want, isn’t it? It amazes me how some children have been so brainwashed to hate people of other religions.

I read a Wiccan bible once and I found this insanely interesting idea. The only real sin in the Wicca religion is hurting another being. While Wiccans generally respect nature and the circle of life, they are mostly vegetarians and live their lives worshiping nature and being grateful to it. Wicca is an ancient religion of nature commonly known as witchcraft. This is a very hated practice and deemed fraudulent. At this point, I am not interested in whether it is real or fake or if Jesus is lord or not or if there is a God or not. Belief, in my opinion whatever it maybe, should come by one’s own choice and be personal.

Being a good person is not about not drinking or smoking. It’s not about believing in God or not. It’s not being intelligent.

It’s entirely about compassion and empathy irregardless of whatever religion one follows.

Not being a good person is always an option too if one is willing to face the consequences.

P.S. The Shack by William P. Young is also a book I’d recommend. It changed my life to say the least.

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The “I don’t care” problem

Caring hurts.

Things are more often than not, going to go sideways for us. Dulling out the feeling of concern and interest tends to provide a certain insulation to being hurt but we are not vampires in the sense that Damon and Stephen Salvatore are. We can’t just turn it off.

I might have mentioned how being careless has grown into a very tasteless trend I generally do not approve of a few hundred times. It’s actually because I don’t think it’s usually genuine. I think people actually do care about things and people but don’t want to be called out on it. There’s that issue of pride.

What I have come to learn is that every time someone does something messed up, instead of admitting to it and acknowledging that to a certain level it has fucked them up too, they resort to the customary response of ‘I don’t care.’

I also know that sometimes we take too many hits and develop that shell that twists up our caring parts(?) which is to say that yes, sometimes we genuinely don’t care. That seems like an enviable quality because these numb people are rarely phased and offended by things that other people say and do. Neither are they likely to hold back on saying things that might hurt other people so having a little less to stress about.

Caring wasn’t a quality I wanted to lack because I was under the impression that it is the right stuff to have to change things and people. I don’t know if I am technically wrong. I have seen it work for other people and while it often just made me an angry person, it also made me a bit more approachable I think. I am afraid of the type of person people become when they don’t care.

You might notice how open I have made the interpretation of the term “care” in this article. Make it mean whatever you want.

It should be okay that we let the caring go once in a while and take a selfish breath. Other people’s approval is a bottomless pit. But when we say to people that we don’t care what they think about us, we’re very often telling them that we don’t value them enough to care. “I don’t care” can get really personal, yo.