Two one-way streets


To know and be known
To forgive and be forgiven
To love and be loved

When music is played but not heard
When music is heard but not played
Music (and colour, and sound and more) are mere perceptions;
They take place only in your head?
When a tree falls but no one is around
You know that one.

Can you forgive, if none wants to be forgiven?
Can you love, if none receives your love?
Can you be forgiven, if no one forgives?
Can you be loved, if no one loves?

What if; lost in translation? miscommunication? lack of a medium?
One loves but the disgruntled husband does not feel it.
A love-struck teenager interprets love when no such love exists.

Three parts to every communication: the source (the production), the transmission (the medium) and the recipient (the perceiver). What’s one without the others? Sufficient but not necessary? Necessary but not sufficient  Two out of three?

Blogging can be like shouting into an abyss. Sometimes you pretend there’s a receiver, and that’s enough to satisfy. Other times you yearn for a connection that’s more real…

We think of many things as two way streets.
It takes two hands to clap, we take turns to give and receive and we meet each other half way.
In truth perhaps they are merely two one way streets
With an illusion of connection.

We are necessarily alone in our own heads. Nothing we know or can know that doesn’t pass through the murky filter of perception and our limited understanding.

Consensus. We agree that they meet, so we can act like they meet, and for all purposes they do. Until your perspective changes (and all the misunderstandings crawl out of the woodwork) and you realize it was an illusion all along.

Previous posts where similar ideas were explored that possibly led to this post:
Forgiveness
Sending and Receiving the Message of Love

Sending and receiving the message of love


One of the last smses that my ex sent me before the break up had a part which said, “I just want to say that I love you, and Jesus loves you much much much more.”

Remembering that got me thinking about love; how it’s shown and given, and how it’s received and felt.

If Jesus loves me so much, why can’t I feel it? What can it possibly mean for someone like Jesus to love me, someone I can neither see, hear nor touch? Of what value is such a love, that cannot catch a movie with me on a whim, or call me up at night to share the joys and sorrows of the day, nor give me a hug when I’m down?

Just like communication and perception, love is half-half, isn’t it? I mean, when communicating, the words are only half the message. The other half lies in someone’s head: their interpretation and understanding of your words. Similarly, when we see events around us, what happens physically holds only half the meaning of what happened; our perception and understanding of the event gives the other half. Isn’t love like this too, perhaps even more so?

My ex likes reading about things like the five love languages. The concept is pretty straightforward: people express their love in different ways, and there are five main ways in which they do so: quality time, words of affirmation, gift giving/receiving, acts of service and physical touch. Knowing your partner’s love language is helpful because you won’t miss it when they express their love, and you’d have a better idea of how to make them feel loved.

I scored highest for ‘quality time’, which made sense when I thought about it. I enjoy spending time with friends and family, to the extent that it rarely matters to me what the activity is. I could have zero interest in an activity but gladly participate to spend time with friends.

So. A love language. How we communicate our love. How something intangible, abstract and nigh indescribable in our heads (or hearts, if you like) is converted into the real world. And how that is subsequently picked up on and converted back into something intangible in the mind (or heart) of someone else.

It’s easy to see how that can break down.

Miscommunication.
When a child being disciplined doesn’t see the love behind the actions. When you focus on what someone fails to do and miss out on all the things they do for you. When a husband works because he loves his wife, but the wife, left alone, feels unloved. When a bad tempered relative seems on the surface to ignore or pick on you, but has actually made great sacrifices for your sake.

Un-received. One sided love.
When you crush on someone you can’t reach, like a celebrity. When your love is received as annoyance instead. When someone is oblivious to your love.

Unsent.
When you keep your crush a secret. When you don’t act on what’s in your head. No action, no interaction.

‘Sent, but unreceived’ is unrequited love. A delusion, obsession, infatuation… is it still love?
‘Unsent, but received’ is slightly bizarre but not unimaginable: an orphan who convinces himself that his parents love him although he doesn’t know who or where they are, and feels loved when he thinks of them. Or someone who mistakenly interprets ambiguous actions as love. Surely this constitutes delusion, not love?

In my entry Unconditional Love, I wrote, “I love you, even if you don’t want to receive it.” and “My love is mine to give, and you can’t take that away from me.” But maybe that’s incoherent. Maybe that’s not love.

If I love you without sending it, and without you receiving it, is that love at all? If I love you without you caring, knowing or being affected by it in anyway, is there any value in such ‘love’?

After all, love is more than a feeling, right?

Even if it begins with a feeling, even if it’s rooted in emotion… love, ideally, should be more than that, because feelings and emotions are fleeting and transient. Love, to me, is a feeling cemented by commitment. Love is a feeling that drives you to action. Love changes you, and changes the one you give it to.

Love without action; love that never leaves your own head; love that doesn’t affect anyone else; love that exists only in your head. Can any of these be genuine love? Or just an insubstantial feeling. Just delusion.

What do you think?

One man’s meat, another man’s poison


I remember once, in the earlier part of our relationship, we had a relatively bad fight. I don’t remember what the fight was about (who ever does?) but it was probably one of the worst ones, because unpleasant and hurtful words were exchanged.

Later on, she called me up crying and apologizing. It must have been the devil, she said. The devil trying to drive us apart, the devil that made her say those horrible things which she didn’t mean.

Strange how now it has become the devil that brought us together in the first place, and God who gave a ‘sign’ that we should be apart.
~

In Julia Sweeney’s ‘Letting go of God’ show (which I shared two entries back), she tells of how she was upset when her mother revealed to her that her birthday was not on September 10th as she had thought all along, but on October 10th. This made her (then a young teenage girl) upset mainly because she had a huge virgo poster on her wall, and read her horoscope every week (which was so totally her!!) and now this meant she wasn’t a virgo but a libra?! So she went into town to buy the libra poster and started reading the libra horoscope… which, to her amazement, was ALSO soooo totallllyyy her!!
~

I have this group of good friends and most of us are Terry Pratchett fans. We don’t see each other that often (because half of us are always overseas and half of the other half are always uncontactably busy) and we do pretty different things in terms of study, work and how we spend our leisure time. But we’re good friends nonetheless, and enjoy each other’s company when we do get together. Somehow, we’re mostly on similar wavelengths, similar intellectual levels (alternating between talking about medical terms and rainbows, yes.) and have s similar sense of humour.

Yet we found out recently that one within our midst didn’t like Terry Pratchett! What was there not to like, we wondered? His writing is funny, witty, smart and has all kinds of references to real world events and realities… it seems exactly like something she’d like too!

Well, it’s just one of those things I suppose.

It’s like when you hear a song, or watch a movie, or see a painting and you think OMG THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER!!!!! and other people are just, ‘…meh.’ and you really for the life of you can’t understand HOW THEY CAN NOT THINK IT’S AWESOME.

Well, it’s just one of those things.
People are different. They see things differently.
And we’ve learnt to accept that, even if we still think, at the back of our head, “HOW IN THE WORLD CAN ANYONE NOT LOVE THIS?”
~

I’ve blogged about this before, the subjectivity of words, the subjectivity of perception. The thing out there in the world only holds half the meaning. The other half happens inside your own head.

There are subjective truths, and objective truths.

Subjective truths may be true for you, but not for other people. It may be true at certain times, under certain circumstances but not others. It may be true depending on your mood, on your interpretation, on your perceptions. And while we can all champion our subjective truths, we should not have problems when people disagree with them. It’s different for them, then. It’s just one of those things. The song speaks to me in one way, speaks to you in another, and doesn’t speak to someone else at all. And there’s no conflict. Neither me, you, him nor the writer of the song should be upset at these differences. There IS no ‘right’ interpretation. That’s art, your input and participation is half the process.

Objective truth on the other hand, should deal with something that is more out in the world than in your head. Objective truth should be something verifiable– anyone and everyone who goes to check should come away with the same answer. They should agree. And if you don’t agree on the objective truth, then that’s where we have a problem because it means someone is right, and sone one is wrong. The views are mutually exclusive.

Actually, the real problems come about when people mistake subjective truth for objective truth. When they insist that people who don’t agree with their subjective truths are wrong. When they think that because it feels true for them, it must be true for all and anyone who doesn’t think so is wrong.

Based on how religion is experienced, based on how there are so many kinds of religion, based on how there are so many different interpretations and understandings… don’t all arrows point to religion being more of a subjective truth than an objective one? How else can you explain the incredibly varied responses to the same journey (search for meaning and god), to the same activities (prayer, meditation, going to places of worship) to the same religion (Christianity and it’s many branches, cults and denominations), to the same books (sacred texts), to the same words, even? How can you claim your own answer as objective truth when it’s plain that so many have come away with so many different answers, over and over and over again?

Words are meaningless


Sometimes I wonder what’s the point of writing anything; it seems like anything I would have to say would have been said better, more succinctly, more poignantly, by someone else. And when you see it you just feel like pointing to it and going ‘Yes! that! exactly that!’ and there’s absolutely no need for you to add anything else.

Have you ever been in a mood where every song you listen to seems to be speaking directly to your heart? Every line you read seems directed specifically to you? Every wave, smile, wink or comment from a person seems to answer something you have been muling over? It’s a sign. A message. From god, or otherwise.

Words are so limiting, words are so meaningless. Words only mean as much as we let them mean. We give meanings to words, we give them power. And we tend to give them LOTS of power, so I guess words, in the practical sense, aren’t meaningless after all.

To someone who can’t read, they’re utterly meaningless, just squiggles. To someone who has a good command of the language, they could probably ‘read’ any piece of text in any number of ways. Different interpretations, so many possible nuances in between the lines. In certain cases it’s probably more than possible to read in it something that runs completely counter to what the original author intended.

No matter how good you are with words, can you really communicate your innermost experiences to another reader in a way that perfectly reflects your private reality?

We are only individuals, and are always necessarily alone in our own heads.

Whatever our output, it has to necessarily go through someone else’s perception — all of their knowledge, understanding, language skills, life experiences, personality and mood– before if arrives at them. Whenever we see, hear, read something it necessarily goes through the same process. We can’t help but see things through our own eyes, and our own eyes are coloured and tinted. We can’t help that, but once aware of it we can be on our guard to acknowledge its effects and don’t presume to know or understand more than we do.

When you read a text, it can say different things to different people. A simple song can resonate deeply with so many people.

This says less about there being omens, signs and messages form god in the world, and more about the way humans perceive, and how we are all more alike than we are different.

The most meaningful words are the most meaningless, for that can’t be quantified, qualified or proven and yet can be said by anyone at all.

I saw a picture of you hanging in an empty hallway. I heard a voice that I knew and I couldn’t walk away. It took me back to the end of everything; I taste it all, I taste it all…the tears. again.

Outside the rain’s falling down–there’s not a drop that hits me. Scream at the sky but no sound is leaving my lips. It’s like I can’t even feel after the way you touched me. I’m not asleep but I’m not awake after the way you loved me.

I can’t turn this around; I keep running into walls that I can’t break down. I said I jut wander around with my eyes wide shut because of you. I’m a sleepwalker. 

Let me out of this dream. 

Everywhere that I go, I see another memory. And all the places we used to know, they’re always there to haunt me. I walk around and I feel so lost and lonely. You’re everything that I want. But you don’t want me. 

I’m a sleepwalker. Let me out of this dream.

A similar feeling to my Limbo.

It’s all in your mind


The world keeps flip-flopping.
From complete certainty to completely lost,
yet the world hasn’t changed.

The world keeps flip-flopping.
From brightness to darkness, from love to hate,
and yet the world hasn’t changed.

The world keeps flop-flipping.
From being crystal clear, to murky black,
from all pieces in place to a jumble of parts.
and yet the world hasn’t changed.

The world hardly changes,
yet its only constant is change.
The world is vast, and possibilities endless
yet we hold the entire world in our heads.

The only truth lies in paradoxes
The truth will set you free;
yet you know it and you don’t
So freedom is yours as well as just beyond reach.

Remy Ong and Social Media


If you’re Singaporean, you’ve probably come across this post on facebook (or online forums), or else read about it in the news.

Personally, I came across the facebook post first before reading about it in the news, and I couldn’t help musing about how much the way information (especially more sensational information) is disseminated has changed.

You could use this to champion citizen journalism, an example of how the internet can get information out faster, and without the white washing or censorship of traditional media. The truth gets out before the lies have time to form a coherent official statement.

Maybe, maybe not.

Social media can be a double-edged sword. What IF the person had a vendetta against Remy Ong (or whatever person involved in whatever incident) or simply didn’t like him very much? He puts his post, his false version of the story, out into the internet, and it spreads like wildfire. Regardless of what the official outcome turns out to be, the person’s reputation has taken a hit. Fans have lost their respect for him. At the end of the day, it’s still one person’s word against another, isn’t it? How do you know what you’re reading is the true account?

Ps. In this case though, the internet-first-hand-account version sounds more credible to me; I’m sure the sound of your car hitting a dog and the sound of it brushing the dog (if there’s even a sound?!) is quite different!