4 years, 8 months, and 23 days. Be real.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I watched the movie Surrogate the other day.  It’s about a future where people use robotic versions of themselves to do their bidding and live their lives.  The people through sensory downloads and digital connections, people see what their robot body-doubles see and feel what they feel.  Thus, the people, in essence, live vicariously through their “surrogates”.  They no longer shower or shave because they never venture outside anymore.  They stay locked up in their homes while the surrogates live their lives for them.

We are far from that state, but nevertheless, our lives are filled with the artificial and the false these days.  Most people don’t worry about eating their daily intake of fruits and other sources of natural vitamins and nutrients because they rely on multivitamins instead.  They sweeten their drinks with saccharin and other chemicals in order to avoid natural sugar.  They get nose jobs, breast enhancements, Botox, face lifts, and other cosmetic surgeries to create artificial versions of themselves.  They sign up to get their news from Facebook or other sources that narrowly tailor the news they receive so that it wouldn’t upset their world view or world order.  Then, they complain about fake news.

(Unlike blogs and yellow journalism, real journalists working for reputable news media work hard to fact check and protect their reputation.  That said, everyone makes mistakes.  Don’t use a few mistakes to discount the source altogether.  Thus, get your news from reputable sources like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, Financial Times, etc.   Read from multiple sources so that they balance each other out.  One source may be biased.)

People are so reticent to engage life these days.  Look at the self-help industry.  It’s a multi-billion dollar industry because everyone is wanting someone else to tell them what to do.  Why?  You want to plant a garden?  Do it.  Why do you need a book to tell you how to plant a garden?  You want to lose weight?  Eat healthier food, consume less calories, and exercise more.  Do you really need a book to tell you that?

[P]eople are good intuitive grammarians: at age four a child effortlessly conforms to the rules of grammar as she speaks, although she has no idea that such rules exists.

Khaneman, Daniel, Thinking Fast and Slow (2011), p. 5.

We in America are getting away from the business of just living, spending time with friends and loved ones, communing with nature, being in tune with ourselves.  Don’t buy into that model.  It sucks.  Look at how lonely and isolated Americans are.  Twenty five years ago, most people surveyed say they have three close friends.  Now, 29 percent were able to name more than two close friends, and 36 percent had no one to talk to.  https://www.livescience.com/16879-close-friends-decrease-today.html.  How sad is that?!!!

Be real.  Be you.  Be happy.

All my love, always,

Dad

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4 years, 8 months, and 19 days. Follow YOUR dreams, not others’

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Richard Cory

Edwin Arlington Robinson, 18691935

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked,
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich--yes, richer than a king--
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

My dearest Shosh ad Jaialai:

4 years, 8 months, and 19 days is an eternity.  I miss you greatly and hope you are well.

Today, let’s talk about living your dreams.  Dare to dream, and to follow your dreams.  Don’t worry about the opinions of others.  They have their lives to live, and you have yours.

This is not always easy.  For example, when I was younger, I wanted to become a medical doctor.  In college, I majored in the hard sciences and worked as a lab assistant, but I also volunteered to assist a professor with his social science research because I thought it interesting.  Over time, I realized that my love lies in social science, not in medicine — but, to this day, I remain interested and curious about matters related to medicine, and my professional duties ultimately took me back to that industry.

Eventually, I changed my major to one of the social sciences.  At first, family members protested and warned me of the difficulties of finding jobs as a social science major.  Clearly, medicine offered a clearer career path.  What they said concerned me, of course, but they presented no new information, yet I knew I would not be happy if I must spend my entire life working as a physician.  Thus, their warnings fell on deaf ears.  I pursued my dreams; won sizable scholarships that enabled me to attend top programs in the U.S.; got a doctorate in my field of interest; and, carved out a successful, interesting, and, generally, rewarding career.

Do what you love, my sons, and you never have to “work” a day in your life.  Follow your interests and dreams.

Also, don’t buy the hype about this or that person having it all.  You never know the burdens carried by others.  Hell is visited upon each of us in our own unique ways.  None can escape it.  We all have our insecurities, fears, doubts, and weaknesses.  As noted in “Richard Rory”, never believe that just because someone has the looks, the mannerism, and the trappings of wealth and royalty, his life is without difficulties.  He, too, has his own demons to fight. (As reminded by the recent anniversary of Princess Diana’s death, her marriage to Prince Charles brought her more misery than it was worth: thus, she eventually divorced him.  Even marrying the future king of England has its costs.)  MIND YOU, SUICIDE IS THE COWARD’S WAY OUT AND THAT IS NOT WHAT I’M ADVOCATING HERE.

I recall a radio talk show years ago, where a prominent and wealthy lawyer was a guest.  An individual called in to the show and said she wished she made as much money as he.  He responded, “You can have my money, but you will also have to take all my responsibilities along with it.”

I believe the Buddha is right when he said, “Life is suffering.”   But, you can overcome it by changing the way you think and how you approach life.

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We’re not Buddhist, but do you not see that I share many of the same philosophies espoused by the Buddha?  At his core, he is but a humanist, isn’t he?  Isn’t Jesus also a humanist?  Aren’t all the great ones in history and folklore humanists also?

Live right.  You will find that living right helps relieve the burdens of life.

Be well, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 8 months, and 16 days. Think critically for yourself, but check your critical weapons at home and with friends.

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I miss you!  I drank a Yakult today, and had to stop because it reminded me too much of you.  You used to love that stuff.  I wonder if you still drink it sometimes.

Boys, let’s talk a little today about how to interact with the world.  Much of the time, I urge you to be YOUR best, to think critically, to work hard, to be kind to others, etc.  But, I’m talking about you!  I’m not talking about other people.  As your dad, I have a responsibility to help and guide you to become a productive, successful, and contributing member of society.  That’s my job.

You, on the other hand, have control only over yourself.  You don’t have control over others.  Thus, other than your brother and your family, don’t worry about other people in the sense of helping them become better versions of themselves — unless that is your job, of course.  Let them be.  Worry about improving yourself.

Thus, be critical about your conduct, your achievements, your goals, etc.  However, don’t be critical about the conducts, achievements, goals, etc., of others.  That’s their business.  That’s on them.

If you stick your nose in their affairs, I promise you that the reaction will be harsh.  People won’t like it.  Focus on making you better.

Now, because I am a critical thinker, people have sometimes accused me of wanting to be right.  That is often more an expression of their insecurities than anything else.  But, be mindful of it.  It may be an academic exercise or a cerebral game for you, but others may not see it the same way.  They may vest too much of themselves in a position to be willing to explore its weaknesses.  Let them be.  That’s on them, not you.  Note the weakness for yourself and store that knowledge in your mind’s encyclopedia.  Use it to prune your knowledge tree.  If they choose to let a branch of their knowledge tree rot, that’s their problem.  Don’t make it yours.

In other words, hone your social skills.  Some people will like the intellectual exercise and enjoying the mental duels with you.  Others won’t.  It doesn’t matter if they won’t because they have failed to fashion and sharpen their intellectual tools, they are mentally fatigued, or what have you.  Respect their space and their choices.  That’s ultimately what freedom and America is all about.

All my love, always,

Dad

P.S., and don’t worry if, by your silence, they think you a fool.  You know you’re not.  Who cares what they think.  Anyway, sometimes it is better to be thought a fool than to prove them right.

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4 years, 8 months, and 15 days. Feed the right wolf.

 

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Acting with intention and awareness is the larger concept – and any of us can do that at any time. In a busy, distracting world where any disturbing event anywhere races towards us in a moment, we can proactively care for ourselves. Maybe set aside an urge to stare at repetitive news coverage, take note of whatever has happened with compassion, and then allow our mind to settle before resolving on a next step forward.

As Grandfather suggests in the folk tale, remain aware and feed the wolf of your choosing. Emphasize what is going well without candy-coating the rest. Take action when you can, while firmly making choices about where to give attention in life – and in your mind. Who knows, if enough of us focus on the healthier wolves more of the time, maybe we can even influence the tone and content of tomorrow’s headlines.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/child-development-central/201507/feed-the-right-wolf.

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Every day, the world pulls us in a million different directions.  Social media, friends, school, relatives, etc., are constantly telling us how they want us to be.  Wear this t-shirt or you won’t be popular.  Listen to this music and you may be accepted into the in-crowd.  Lash out at that kid who looked at you funny.

Ignore the noise.  Protect yourself if you’re in danger.  Take time to teach others how to treat you if it is necessary — “IF IT IS NECESSARY” is the operative concept.  But, otherwise, ignore the noise.

Too often, people are too busy dealing with their own insecurities to give much thought about you.  Their interactions with you are often an extension of their inner insecurities more than it is something about you.  Don’t let their problems become yours.  That is just wasted efforts.  You are not responsible for them.

You have control only over yourself.  Pay attention to what you are doing, what you are thinking, etc., and make sure the things you do will lead you down the right path towards your goals and dreams.

How you spend your moments is how you’ll spend your life.  Spend it well.

Feed the right wolf.  Only you can do that: no one can do that for you.

All my love, always,

Dad

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4 years, 8 months, and 8 days. Remember the virtue of discipline. Focus and be present.

 

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My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

The mind is an amazing thing, and controls so much more than we give it credit.  For example, haven’t you ever gotten really sleepy as you’re reading an assignment but perk up the minute a friend calls to talk about something fun?  Fatigue is “nothing more than a mental creation, a bad habit your mind cultivated to act as a crutch when you are performing a tedious task.”  Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.  When your mind is focused, it gives you energy.

For many years, I often forgot to eat lunch because I got so caught up in my work.  My friend Nicole once said that it must take a special kind of stupid to forget to eat lunch.  Yes, you can say being focused makes you “stupid” because it causes you to forget about or ignore nonessential things.  (I said I’d forget to eat LUNCH, not that I’d forget to eat altogether.  At some point, the hunger pangs made themselves known, and I’d stop to eat … often, this occurred long past the usual lunch hour.)

Focus on the task at hand, my sons, and you’ll be surprised at the results.  Not only will you enjoy what you do, but you will also get so much more about of the experience.  If you must do something, why not do your best and make the best of it?

All my love, always,

Dad

 

 

 

 

 

4 years, 8 months, and 3 days. Be wary of social media. It is unhealthy.

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I started the research for a book I am writing on how the external world affects our mental health. I wanted to acknowledge the downsides of social media, but to argue that far from being a force for ill,it offers a safe place where the insanities of life elsewhere can be processed and articulated.

But the deeper into the research I went, the harder it was to sustain this argument. Besides the Daily Mail screeching about the dangers, other people – scientists, psychologists, tech insiders and internet users themselves – were highlighting ways in which social media use was damaging health.

Even the internet activist and former Google employee Wael Ghonim – one of the initiators of the Arab spring and one-time poster boy for internet-inspired revolution – who once saw social media as a social cure – now saw it as a negative force. In his eyes it went from being a place for crowdsourcing and sharing, during the initial wave of demonstrations against the Egyptian regime, to a fractious battleground full of “echo chambers” and “hate speech”: “The same tool that united us to topple dictators eventually tore us apart.” Ghonim saw social media polarising people into angry opposing camps – army supporters and Islamists – leaving centrists such as himself stuck in the middle, powerless.

The evidence is growing that social media can be a health risk, particularly for young people who now have all the normal pressures of youth (fitting in, looking good, being popular) being exploited by the multibillion-dollar companies that own the platforms they spend much of their lives on.

Kurt Vonnegut said: “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful who we pretend to be.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/06/social-media-good-evidence-platforms-insecurities-health (emphasis added).

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I have always taught you to be your own man and to think for yourselves.  Unfortunately, America is becoming a country of sheep.  Everyone is busy keeping up with the Jones.  Everyone copies the latest fads being religiously followed by everyone else.  Each is afraid to be different from the others for fear of ridicule.

How ironic.  In a country where individualism is touted as the ideal, peer pressure, marketing, and social forces run counter to that ideal, and those who are different are ostracized and rejected.

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But, remember, “a tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.”  Ignore the small-minded. They are insecure and feel good about themselves only by putting others down.  They are nothing.  Give them pity, and no more.  They are not worth your time.

Instead, focus on what you love and on pursuing your dreams.  You will never have to work a day in your life if you do what you love.  I have been blessed in that sense.  I have enjoyed my work and, for the most part, the people with whom I work.  I wish the same for you.

Jonas Salk said, “I have had dreams and I have had nightmares.  I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.”  Dare to chase your dreams, my boys.  The world is full of timid people who live forgetful lives.  Be not like them.  Be like Hunter Thompson.

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!

Hunter S. Thompson

Get off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other junk.  Those “friends” and “followers” aren’t really your friends.  They won’t recognize you from Adam if you should ever bump into them on the streets.  They neither know your nor care about you and will never lose sleep over your everyday struggles.  Let them be.  Leave them to their virtual worlds.

Live life.  Go outside.  Meet people.  Make friends.  Give a hand to someone in need.  Live!  You’ll be glad you did.  Your life will mean something and will be worth retelling.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 8 months, and 2 days. You know that you shouldn’t be watching pornography and over-sexed TV shows at this age, so don’t.

[A] 2005 study by the London School of Economics found that more affluent children are more likely to have their own computers, and tend to navigate further and more skillfully around the internet. They also spend more time on the web, have better online skills — and are well-versed at evading parental monitoring.

The study of 1,297 children also found that while 57 per cent of the over-nines had seen porn online, only 16 per cent of parents knew. One can only imagine how much higher the number is today, six years later.

In fact, it’s become so widespread that it’s changing our children’s view of what sex is — and what is most worrying is that we don’t even realise it’s happening….

Straight consensual intercourse is almost non-existent because it is considered boring.

Instead, the first glimpse of sex your child is ever likely to see may well be sickening images where women are degraded in the most disturbing ways.

Because we rarely talk about porn with our children, they don’t know it’s fiction and naturally assume it’s what grown-ups actually do.

The sex our daughters hear so much about — and feel so much pressure to take part in — is shown as a brutal sport that men do to women. There’s no kissing, no expressions of love or moments of tenderness.

For children, who are born with an inbuilt sense of right and wrong, these images can be deeply disorientating.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1380257/Is-YOUR-child-watching-porn-The-effects-graphic-sex-images-young-minds.html#ixzz4sQvzg2KQ

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Children as young as 8 and 9 are coming across sexually explicit material on the Internet and in other media. Although research is just beginning to assess the potential damage, there is reason to believe that early exposure to sexual content may have the following undesirable effects:

Early Sex. Research has long established that teens who watch movies or listen to music that glamorizes drinking, drug use or violence tend to engage in those behaviors themselves. A 2012 study shows that movies influence teens’ sexual attitudes and behaviors as well. The study, published in Psychological Science, found that the more teens were exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they started having sex and the likelier they were to have casual, unprotected sex.

In another study, boys who were exposed to sexually explicit media were three times more likely to engage in oral sex and intercourse two years after exposure than non-exposed boys. Young girls exposed to sexual content in the media were twice as likely to engage in oral sex and one and a half times more likely to have intercourse. Research also shows that teens who listened to music with degrading sexual references were more likely to have sex than those who had less exposure.

Why are teens more likely to have sex after being exposed to sexual content in the media? Just as we read specific books and show educational movies to our children in hopes that they learn lessons from the characters, the media provides a type of sex education to young people. Media messages normalize early sexual experimentation and portray sex as casual, unprotected and consequence-free, encouraging sexual activity long before children are emotionally, socially or intellectually ready.

High-Risk Sex. The earlier a child is exposed to sexual content and begins having sex, the likelier they are to engage in high-risk sex. Research shows that children who have sex by age 13 are more likely to have multiple sexual partners, engage in frequent intercourse, have unprotected sex and use drugs or alcohol before sex. In a study by researcher Dr. Jennings Bryant, more than 66 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls reported wanting to try some of the sexual behaviors they saw in the media (and by high school, many had done so), which increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Sex, Love and Relationship Addictions. Not every child who is exposed to sexual content will struggle with a mental health disorder, but research shows that early exposure to pornography is a risk factor for sex addictions and other intimacy disorders. In one study of 932 sex addicts, 90 percent of men and 77 percent of women reported that pornography was a factor in their addiction. With the widespread availability of explicit material on the Internet, these problems are becoming more prevalent and are surfacing at younger ages.

Sexual Violence. According to some studies, early exposure (by age 14) to pornography and other explicit material may increase the risk of a child becoming a victim of sexual violence or acting out sexually against another child. For some people, habitual use of pornography may prompt a desire for more violent or deviant material, including depictions of rape, torture or humiliation. If people seek to act out what they see, they may be more likely to commit sexual assault, rape or child molestation.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/real-healing/201208/overexposed-and-under-prepared-the-effects-early-exposure-sexual-content

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Ok, let’s take this issue head on and deal with it.  Not being there and knowing how your mom is hands-off when it comes to your upbringing, I can only assume that you’ve seen porn on the internet and elsewhere.  (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if B, your older but low-minded cousin who used to steal your toys, has even purposefully introduced to you porn.)

You know that X-rated and R-rated movies are restricted to people of certain age (18 and 16, respectively).  Thus, you know that it’s wrong to secretly look for and look at pornographic images and videos when adults are not around.  If you know it’s wrong, don’t do it.  It’s that simple.  Have self control.

The reason porn is restrict to older individuals is because young kids are not mentally prepared to process the images they see.  Porn is like fast food.  It’s stimulates the senses, but is mostly unhealthy and bad for you.

For example, these days, most porn include anal sex as if it’s normal.  It is not.  In fact, the sphincter muscle — which prevents poop from dripping out of you when you are not pooping — can get over-stretched by anal sex and, over time, stop being able to clinch to stop poop from falling out whenever.  Yes, if this happens, the person will end up having to wear diaper to not shit her pants.

Full-thickness rectal prolapse.

If you love or even care about the girl, would you want this to happen to her?  Think about it.

And this is the least of the problems.  For example, the anus and intestine are not meant for sex; thus, they could tear during sex.  Yes, you could have cuts inside your butt.  Worse, the wall of the cavity inside your anus could come out and protrude outside of the anus.  Yes, in essence, the inside of your butt could come out.  Pleasant, eh?  Worst yet, there have been cases where the thin muscle that separates the vagina from the intestine gets torn.  Yes, in those cases, poop comes out of the vagina when the person goes to the bathroom.  It’s not a pleasant image, is it?  Now imagine all the germs and bacteria from one’s feces infecting the womb where babies come from. No, it’s not good.  Would you want the possibility of that happening to someone you love or care about?

Rectal prolapse

For now, I know you’re curious, but I ask that you refrain from watching porn and engaging in premarital sex.  One day, when you are old enough, you will find love that is amazing.  In that loving relationship, the sex will also be amazing because it would be about the expression of love for someone you care deeply about.  It’s worth the wait, my sons.

All my love, always,

Dad