My Search for Meaning

I tried to write a post yesterday about this topic, but it became a rambly mess about how I want to start a photography project. I have changed a lot since 2020, and at points, I am still trying to decide if it is for the better or the worse. In one way, I have become more self-reliant and grown up a lot. In another way, I have become more cynical and mistrusting of those around me. My therapist would say that when people get hurt they adopt defense mechanisms to prevent it from happening again. Post-breakup with a certain girl I became very determined not to ever be in the position I was in again. That was a lost and depressed skin suit of a boy who had just been emotionally abused for close to six months. I changed a lot because of that, for the first time in my life I began to take responsibility for my happiness. For the first time in my life, I told people no. For the first time in my life, I moved away from larping “I don’t care what other people think of me” and lived it.

While I look back at that time with fond memories the reality of the situation is that I am looking back. My outlook has changed. I set myself a goal at the start of the year that I wanted to leave the year healthier than I entered it, and while I have made progress I don’t want to say all I did in 2023 was quit energy drinks and take out. I know that I expected more of myself, but why? It becomes the question of what is health.

The health triad

In my opinion, health is made of up three things, all of which need to exist in balance.

The first of which is physical health. If you have only ever read this blog and have never actually met me, I feel the need to inform you that I am a morbidly obese 25-year-old. I am not quite at the point of the people you see on “family by the tonne” but there was a point in my life where I was heading there very quickly. I have learnt a lot about weight loss as time has gone on, but one of the key aspects I have gathered is that someone does not get to my size without there being some form of mental or spiritual issue at play. The weight is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. When I say I want to be healthier I am typically talking about this, because it is the most poignant of the three. In some ways weight loss is as simple as “just eat less” and in other ways, it is infinitely more complex. I plan to make changes shortly to get to a healthier weight before the year is out.

The second is emotional health. I have read a lot about this over the years, and I have developed my philosophies around the subject. What needs to be understood to understand my outlook is the phrase “To be well-adjusted in a sick society is not a sign of health”. I have often described our current social climate as humanity sleepwalking into oblivion. For many years this fact plagued me and affected my mental health because to me the world is broken and I cannot fix it. Of course, then I went down the dark path of self-improvement and discovered the devil incarnate Dr Jordan Peterson who advised “clean your room”. This phrase is fundamentally misunderstood by a lot of people I feel, and it is that you have a fundamental responsibility to keep your corner of the earth tidy before you have any right to grandstand on others’ way of living. I realised that my responsibility as a man is to protect my family. Unfortunately, there is a dark path you begin to follow when you discover this world, and one of those dark paths is you eventually discover that when you are a man no one is coming to save you. I don’t share my concerns or fears with other people because at best they won’t care and at worst… I have friends who I believe would be there if I need help, but I also don’t know how they would be able to help. There are only so many times a person can be told “It is all going to be okay” before he begins to question it.

Spiritual health is the third. I am a Christian, and this surprises many people I know. According to many of my peers, I am intelligent, and intelligence and religion are not compatible. This is understandable because frankly the notion of a “magical sky daddy” is borderline ridiculous, which is why I found myself an adamant atheist for many years, I also went on to flirt with occultism for a short time. I am technically what is described as a Judeo-Christian (or also a Messianic Jew) as my family have Jewish heritage and I try to keep some of the customs which a lot of my family has forgone. There was a point in my life where my spiritual draw was so strong I was genuinely considering becoming a priest, and one day still might, but for now, this has been placed on the back burner. My relationship with Christ has become strained as time has gone on, this is in part because I have trouble making it to mass every Sunday. This is something I want to address shortly.

Now all of these need to exist in a balance in my opinion. This is not to say that three are mutually exclusive, giving to one does not necessarily mean that you are taking away from the others (at least not intrinsically). The most precious resource humans have is time, and to keep all of these healthy you need to dedicate a certain amount of time to them. For physical health this might be going to the gym, for emotional health this might be meditation, for spiritual health this might be prayer. I don’t dedicate any time to any of these at the moment (except when I am forced to go to church) and I think that needs to change.

The time triad

This is another triad of health that I think needs to be taken into consideration, and it was the one that has been rining about in my head for a fairly long time, but I have never actually taken the time to commit my thoughts to it to paper (or pixels in this case). It is the triad of professional life, social life, and mental health. It is similar to the previous triad in that there needs to be a balance. This is directly related to the time health triad because this directly deals with where you can allocate your time.

With professional life o course every job has a baseline amount of hours you are going to be expected to work per week, however, as anyone will tell you this is not always the case. Take into account early starts, late leaves, overtime, and training and that baseline can sometimes become insignificant. This is especially true with my line of work because a large part of my continuous professional development is to get certifications and pick up new skills. If I am dedicating time to this, then by definition I am not dedicating time to the other two. It is very tempting to over-stretch yourself and think “Yes I will get the Network + exam done in 1 month”, and this works in the short term but very quickly the system will once again demand balance. You need a healthy work-life balance, and this is something which I have had to integrate after a heavy burnout from studying.

The social life aspect is another one which I have had an interesting relationship with. I do not like most people, so for me to form lasting friendships is a very difficult task. I do however enter this year with the goal that I wanted to go out and do something with people my age for my birthday, and I did it. I have discovered that being friends with some time is not a prerequisite for you to hang around with them. In social scenarios, I like to describe people using the burger analogy. People fit into four groups: Burgers, Chips, Condiments, and Receipts. The Burger is the reason you show up, and the chips/fries complement the burger, they are not necessarily the reason you’re there but the experience is made better for them being there. The condiments add to the experience further, but realistically if you didn’t have them there you probably wouldn’t notice. The receipt is the price you have to pay for the night out, it is that guy who you do not like but put up with because it facilitates you having fun. I have grown my social life.

Then there is mental health, and this is your time. This is also where you cultivate your relationship with the items in the previous triad (you see, it’s all connected). So what lesson is there to take away from this? I think it is important to accept the most precious resources I have in this life are my time and my health, and I need to start to respect these two resources

Polaroids and Pixels

I have struggled for a long time to understand why life exists. I have some theoretical ideas but fundamentally im not 100% sure. In the book of Genesis when G-d created the garden of Eden he places the tree of knowledge of good and evil into the garden and tells Adam and Eve not to eat from it. I think to a degree G-d put it there with the intention that if Adam and Eve managed to go long enough without breaking the rule G-d would eventually permit them, at which point they will join him as fellow G-ds, which is the reason why he says √ĘThe man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil". I get asked a lot “If G-d is so good why does he allow us to suffer” and I think the suffering is to allow us to grow. Maybe god still wants us to join him, after all, one of the key doctrines of Christianity is all sins can be forgiven.

What does it all mean? I don’t know, but this is akin to where I used to worry about how society is sleepwalking into oblivion. It doesn’t matter how I view the meaning of life or the segregation of the world we live in. In both cases, I can do nothing. All I can practically do is keep my corner of the earth tidy and try and grow as a person in a healthy way. The key practical take from this is that I need to try and dedicate more time to myself, not just work and social. I want to develop a hobby that has nothing to do with technology, and this is where the photography project I mentioned at the start of the post was.

I have never been an artistic person, at least not in the sense of drawing. I write poetry but that is mainly just a pressure valve to deal with stress. I have however wanted to experiment for a while with taking on an art project. I have been saying to a friend of mine for a while that I want to make music but the reality is I don’t think I have the time or the “give a fuck”-ishness to learn how to do it using FOSS software. One thing I do have an affinity for however is Polaroid cameras. There is something oddly special about the fact you can go out with a pack of 20 shots, and capture 20 single moments in time in an inimitable and immutable frame. For all my love of the digital, it is the simplistic beauty of analogue that sets my poor little autistic heart a flutter. I am unsure what I want the project to be as of yet, I thought yesterday perhaps about buying a fancy camera that can do double exposure and take a picture of a cityscape with nature exposed over the top of it, this is theoretically possible but I need to look into it. In a way maybe it doesn’t have to mean anything at all, it could just be some shots of things I find cool.

I am going to the lake district next week, I’m sure that I will get some inspiration when I am there

whoami

A general purpose blog for me to braindump anything I might be thinking about. Please dont hesistate to reach out if you have any questions


2023-08-09