Flow, space, history

4/16/17

Gosh, I begin so many projects when I haven’t even finished previous ones… I haven’t even finished that wonderful episode of Cosmos because now I’m thinking about flow.

“In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”

I’m about to watch a TED Talk about flow titled Flow, the secret to happiness. (How am I supposed to resist starting something else with that kind of title?) You can find it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow

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Hmm. A state of extreme focus. One music composer said he lost his sense of self, and he did because there’s only so much information we can process at one moment, and during this state of consciousness in psychology, our attention is elsewhere. We ignore hunger and other sensations, and time seems to pass. I know this feeling. This feeling of fully being one with a subject. Before I knew the word “flow,” I knew the feeling. I remember stumbling across this picture and bringing the feeling to mind:

I once felt this way for like a whole week. I spent it on debate.org, reading other commenters’ discussion before I could add my own thoughts. I analyzed their words, I thought it through. I came to the conclusion that free will doesn’t actually exist. It was beautiful… it was fun, exciting, passionate. But then the spark began to die as it became repetitive and monotonous.

Csikszentmihalyi shows a chart, which shows that flow is reached when the challenges are high and our skills are high. I know this feeling. It’s an enjoyable feeling. I don’t think it always feels the same way, but it’s the feeling of being engaged and interested. Some people may have more ecstatic experiences, if ecstasy is the feeling of being out of reality, but even the amount of flow I experience is very nice. I remember I experienced flow more often when I did what I wanted to do, what interested me. When I became interested in competing, and power, and learning just to know and have control and not to really love and enjoy the material, I didn’t experience flow as often.

I enjoy explaining things, understanding things, tackling difficult problems. Explaining how to tackle difficult problems. I can experience flow in math when solving difficult math problems. Something that depresses me about my math class is that the teacher breaks the math down until it’s extremely simple. He doesn’t show us the why so much, and he removes all of math’s elegant beauty. Then he has us do more problems than necessary which make it too repetitive and boring. Sigh. But math is still very beautiful. When you don’t visit something, it appears as a stranger does—but I remember how I used to think math was my greatest love. Now math seems distant because I’ve been doing other things. In the same way, my dad seemed distant until today.

I refuse to let happiness pass me by. I will continue to pursue my interests and do things out of enjoyment! I will find this state of flow and learn more about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOLAGYmUQV0

“Those are some of the things that molecules do

Given 4 billion years of evolution…”

4/17/17

This is the Orion Constellation:

Within the constellation is the Orion Nebula,  a huge, interstellar cloud of glowing gas in the Milky Way. It is 1500 light years from Earth.

4/18/17

Returning to that first episode of Cosmos, pulsars are found within supernova remnants. There are supernova remnants in our home galaxy (the Milky Way): debris of stellar explosions which sent out “star stuff” into space. The first pulsar discovered was thought to be a sign of alien intelligence because pulsars keep perfect time in their spinning.

Since yesterday, I’ve been reading from my U.S. history book’s chapter on the civil rights movement. It’s been interesting, but when I focus on one thing for too long without breaks, I get overwhelmed—and I have been forced to read almost the whole chapter to fill out a packet that was due today. I think the information I’ve learned is very interesting—some is very moving—and I want to share it. I was surprised to have received as many likes as I did on my last post. I tend to assume that me sharing personal information, or getting off topic in general or whatnot, is bothersome.

Rosa Parks was riding on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama—behind the white section—when she was asked to get up and move so a white man for whom there was no seat in the white section could sit down. (When public facilities were segregated, that meant that blacks and whites were separated.) I don’t understand why she had to move. The bus driver told all the blacks in Parks’ row to move, and they all did (there were 3 others) except for her: the white man could have sat down in one of the other, now-emptied seats without a problem. Maybe there’s something I’m missing, maybe there’s something I misunderstood, or maybe I shouldn’t expect rationality in an area (race) where these people have shown to be irrational. By that, I mean to say that the racist folk which agreed with segregation were irrational when it came to race equality, though that does not mean they were irrational in other fields/ subjects/ areas. (We all sometimes are irrational when it comes to certain things, but that temporary irrationality doesn’t mean we are always irrational.)

And to be objectively truthful… everything has a logical explanation. No matter how irrational it seems, it is not truly random. There is an explanation that makes sense. People operate in ways that make sense. The mystery is removed when the operating mechanisms are revealed—when all the reasons for why people act as they do are revealed. I don’t think racism was correct, but the truth is it’s perfectly understandable. I think that the idea of white supremacy is disgusting and shameful. But it’s not without reason. Just because something makes sense doesn’t mean it’s right—what I’m saying is that it makes sense, but it is still wrong.

Hate is not the answer. Not even for the people that have committed the worst atrocities, I suppose. Hate is not the answer because hate is destructive and blind. When you have hate, you get nothing from it. When you have love, you get everything from it. Love is what gives life meaning. Love is creative. I know that hate cannot be the answer because when I feel hate I want to destroy. I don’t care about others’ in that moment, and I feel compelled to destroy—inflicting damage brings satisfaction. Isn’t that so terrible? Yet when one feels love, that is not negative. One seeks to help somebody else.

I hated my brother for a time. I had no reason. When I decided to let go of that desire to harm him and allowed love to change me, I realized his importance, his beauty, his similarities, his positive attributes. And I never wanted anyone to hurt him, because that is what love is. Now when I get upset, I withdraw, as I said, because I understand that love is the answer. And anyone can be loved. We can feel empathy for people.

Sometimes I want to write a story in such a way as to make the reader feel regret and be moved. Slave narratives had such an effect on American society. These narratives were written by slaves that had escaped to the north, and the stories allowed people to place themselves in the slaves’ shoes and understand their struggles more deeply. Judging from the state the world is in, it seems that not enough people understand that hate is wrong, and so I sometimes want to write a story in which I can provide readers my perspective, but not just by telling them, but by showing them. I want to teach them that important lesson I have learned because it frustrates me that people are so quick to hate.

It frustrates me whenever I learn about oppression. The damage caused by hate makes me so sad. And it pisses me off that people keep hurting others because they just don’t get it.

The Freedom Riders were teams of blacks and whites sent south by the leader of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) to spread awareness of the refusal of southern interstate buses to become integrated. There was still segregation, even though such segregation was now illegal. Freedom Riders were viciously attacked in Alabama (more specifically Anniston, Birmingham and Montgomery).

Just because it’s in the past doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It did. And those peaceful protestors were violently beaten. It was so inhumane. I didn’t understand how this could occur—but then I realized that I knew the answer. It was anger—maybe fear also and some other emotions—which allowed for these disgusting atrocities to occur. And I understood it because, with sufficient anger, we can all take part in negative, destructive behaviors that hurt others and many of us might not care at the moment. This hatred is part of human nature. Doesn’t mean it’s right and should be kept.

As my book said:

{the riders emerged… to face a gang of young men armed with baseball bats, chains, and lead pipes. They beat the riders viciously. One witness later reported, “You couldn’t see their faces through the blood.”}

I read this yesterday, so the worst of the anger and outrage has passed. Now I’m addressing it in a more detached manner. It’s so disappointing and frustrating to think that things like this keep happening. And you have to face reality, and you have to consider how to stop the problem. Because the past is in the past, but we cannot allow this to continue. Hatred does things like this. In case the shock hasn’t hit you, in case you view it in a manner that is too detached, just imagine the same thing occurring to someone you love.

Because you could have loved those victims, and if you had known them enough, these news would not be so light.

I can understand why my parents never let me watch the news as a kid. They didn’t want me to be burdened down the way I am now. They didn’t want me to feel frustration, sadness, despair, and a lack of hope. They allowed optimism to exist within me. For the moment, I feel depressed and numb. Like the Anti-Transcendentalists, I am momentarily focused on the dark aspects of human nature.

I must have a balance because I can’t pretend others aren’t suffering just because it makes me feel better. I must be more considerate of others than that.

Yes, I can see how you can lose optimism and faith in humanity if you spend all your time focused on its dark aspects.

4/19/17

The topic of last night was very sad, though it was the reality. I feel the writing was ugly, heavy, and awkward—yet that is human nature. If I only posted content I was perfectly satisfied with, I’d never post anything. Understanding and accepting my imperfect humanity has allowed me to share content and ideas. The fear of being wrong and judged no longer prevents me from posting.

I would like to start over, but I’ll resist the urge.

In the Plessy v. Ferguson case, the Supreme Court declared segregation to be constitutional, establishing the “separate but equal” belief. Segregating laws were called Jim Crow laws. Rosa Parks felt the inequality of segregation on buses, while other blacks felt it when using other public facilities, such as public schools, restaurants, public swimming pools, and parks.

I told you about Parks’ arrest, but not that it got E.D. Nixon’s attention. Nixon was a former president of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and he received Parks’ permission to challenge bus segregation in court. This was typical of the NAACP, which  consistently used the court as a way to battle segregation. Another victory of the NAACP occurred in Morgan v. Virginia when the Supreme Court decided segregation on interstate buses was unconstitutional. Remember when I was telling you about the Freedom Riders? They were protesting the south’s refusal to cease segregation on interstate buses.

You know, I actually am enjoying this explanation. It started off a little shaky as I expected it would, but then I entered a more flow-like rhythm and began connecting ideas. Science is not the only thing that’s fun to explain. I especially enjoy connecting ideas (in general) like you do when you’re explaining a system. When you do that, you show how different things are related, and how they work together, and it all makes sense. I am not waiting for the desire to write to come to me—I am seeking flow and all its satisfaction by writing. Thanks to that memory of the chemistry post, I now don’t expect writing to start off perfectly.

Parks’ act of defiance launched the civil rights movement. Soon after her arrest, the boycott of Montgomery buses began, a protest which would last for over a year. The people who walked to work, or carpooled—or did whatever else they had to to participate in this protest—were in part motivated by Martin Luther King, Jr., a black activist who had been summoned from his duties as pastor

I told you briefly about CORE. Though it was not the first, the organization used sit-ins as a nonviolent method of protest in segregated restaurants and other public facilities, with success.

Linda Brown was an African American who wanted to attend a school in Topeka, Kansas but was told to attend an all-black school instead. Her parents worked with the NAACP to take the case to court. In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled public school segregation unconstitutional because it was unequal. This was a threat to segregated schools everywhere, many of which found ways to remain segregated.

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