“We all have the tendency to struggle in our bodies and in our minds. We believe that happiness is possible only in the future. The realization that we have already arrived, that we don’t have to travel any further, that we are already here, can give us peace and joy. The conditions for our happiness are already sufficient. We only need to allow ourselves to be in the present moment, and we will be able to touch them. What are we looking for to be happy? Everything is already here. We do not need to put an object in front of us to run after, believing that until we get it, we cannot be happy. That object is always in the future, and we can never catch up to it. We are already in the Pure Land, the Kingdom of God. We are already a Buddha. We only need to wake up and realize we are already here.”—
The most beautiful things you have, you must either give them away or share them with the world. That is one of the few acts that bring me true happiness: giving somebody something. Something such as my writing, all I can do is share that with the world, and hope that everybody benefits as a result.
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
I fucking love this shit. Vonnegut is a genius. Another thing: if you can say something in less words, do so. No one has time to read all of your flowery bullshit. They can read so much more. Stop being selfish and making somebody spend time reading your 8,000 word novel about how much you love somebody.
Today, while I was falling in and out of sleep during the lecture on bridge design in Haiti, a thought entered my mind. Does anybody else find it odd that other people decide who they think we are so quickly? I remember not knowing a lot of the kids in this program at the start, and now we all suddenly know how the other ticks. We know their interests, their quirks, their crushes, their secrets, and we talk endlessly about each other. I guess that’s what happens in such a closed off social setting.
But this can be applied generally as well. It takes a lifetime to get to know someone, yet we assume things about people constantly. We constantly judge, we constantly try to figure out the other person’s motives, intentions, thoughts, and then we try to predict their acts. Is it human nature to act as such? Am I looking into this too deeply?
It means following the way of Islam as I was raised to do so. It means praying, observing the rituals of the religion, and using it as a model for how I live. That being said, I treat people as humans first, and that was how I was raised. I consider myself a moderate, open-minded Muslim.
He stepped out into the rain, his head sunk low and the hood of his coat covering his eyes. He was solemn, pondering his luck with his headphones fastened within his ears. The music successfully distorted the noise of the rain pelting the cobblestone. Why did he always listen to the same songs over and over again? They never provided any answers, they never made him feel any better, nor did they ever evoke a sense of safety. All they ever succeeded in doing was making the walk home less monotonous. The walk was always lonely, even with other people at your side. Fortunately, no one was at his side tonight. He passed several recognized landmarks, crossed the silent streets, and as he was about to round the corner to his street, his music failed. He frantically reached for his pockets but it was too late: his mind had already started to wander. His eyes were watering. He could not go home. He continued straight ahead instead of turning, looping around the block to eventually end up at his front door from the opposite end of the street. All the while, with his music gone, his thoughts spoke for themselves. He thought of where he just was, who lived there, and how much he loved her. He thought of her face, her hair, the coat she wore, the shoes she loved, the way she held things, and the way she stopped breathing when she laughed. Lastly, he thought about love itself. He thought about its existence, and how he bore witness to it on a daily basis. He thought about those who had it and those who didn’t. Then he thought about their faces, and if they showed their love or lack of love. He arrived at his front door. He punched the code in and walked up the dark, wet staircase. He thought of his own face and how it pained him to look in the mirror everyday. He then realized how much he hated being in love. It absolutely sickened him.
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.
The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.