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“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got…”

21 Oct

***

  • TIME: 11.15
  • PLACE: Mah bedroom! S. UK
  • MUSIC: 30 Seconds to Mars, Pendulum, P!nk, Hoobastank, etc (General mix to get me motivated… ^_^;;)
  • MOOD: Feeling reasonably boss.

***

I’ve noticed in life a certain very interesting and relatively common pattern of human behaviour – People, sick of an aspect of (if not all of) themselves and their lives, proclaim changes they have “put into motion” that (once fully established) will ultimately better their lives and change them into “new” people. They then fail to properly implement afore stipulated changes and just end up reverting to their old selves. Then, after a short interval they try to “get back on track” again. Rinse and repeat.

This pattern of behaviour can go on for years and years and is the equivalent to treading water – It just seems like nobody gets anywhere in life.

Most unfortunately I am also a chronic sufferer of this condition (s’probably the reason why I ended up doing A-levels for 4 years+…).

Every year is the same – “This year, things are going to change.”, “I’m going to make a plan and stick to it, then finally I can start winning at life!!”, “I’m going to achieve X, Y and Z before the end of this year and prove my full potential”, etc etc.

Now i’m at the stage where (when I make such plans) I recognise I have good intentions and that if I DO actually succeed and “pull it off” it WOULD be amazing, but at the same time I can’t help but have this awful sinking feeling. That feeling you have when that little person in the back of your mind is telling you quite succinctly (not to mention bluntly) “once a fuck up, always a fuck up”.

But rather than backing off and sinking into my own little dark corner of the world, defeated and deflated i’ve started to fight back. Because, to be honest, that little person is starting to get on my tits.

It’s like a small child clinging to your leg, rendering you immobile – except it clings to your heart, resides in your chest and squeezes out your motivation and drive rendering you feeling hopeless, useless and like you are unable to do anything constructive for your own sake, let alone that of anyone else’s.

I’d like to point out that I certainly DON’T advocate the abuse of children in the slightest when I say that: if this feeling really was a small child clinging to my leg, I would have no quarms about launching it (full power) the other side of yesterday.

And I am currently training to take that run up…

***

The selection weekend for the OTC was brilliant except for the fact that I “failed” the risk reduction run – I got 15 minutes when I needed to have got below 14. But still, it wasn’t bad for a first attempt at running – EVER!

The following weekend there was another training weekend scheduled and because I had failed the RRR, I wasn’t allowed to take part in a 3 mile PT exercise session. Although happy at the thought of not having to go through that, I was quite disappointed with my fitness failings having stopped me from being like everyone else – because after all, I don’t just want to be like everyone else, I want to be able to (in some cases because i’m not a total douche) exceed the majority.

Originally we (me and the other folks who had failed) were given the option to do some sort of treasure hunt task, but then we were told that we could retry the RRR – an official re-run (lol) was scheduled for the 4th-5th of Nov during our next trip, so if we failed the non-official one THAT day, we would still be able to wait until the official one to get fit and sorted.

I think I may have physically paled after this was suggested, and if it hadn’t been for my fellow platoon-mate encouraging me to join her in doing it, I would have passed up the offer straight away. Because of a chest infection caught during the week in-between weekends I hadn’t trained at all and so had absolutely no confidence whatsoever in completing the run in any less time than the previous attempt. But, I went along with it anyway, telling myself that it was all going to be ok and that it was an optional thing, that I could just break off and stop if it became too much; while at the same time telling myself to stop being such a wuss and to “man the f**k up” (a common phrase going around it seems).

I got changed, started running and immediately upon completing the first lap wanted to stop. My heart had sunk and my mind had already decided I didn’t have the capability. I just wasn’t good enough.

I spoke out breathlessly “I can’t do this..” and as soon as the words passed my lips and I immediately felt sickened – Sickened by my defeatist attitude; sickened by my lack of fitness; Sickened by my lack of will to succeed; Sickened that I was allowing myself to fail before I had even tried.

The guy running beside us, monitoring us and helping us along yelled back “Yes you can, let’s keep going. S’not that far! You can do this!!” and so I pushed on, more afraid of disappointing everyone ELSE and showing THEM how much of a failure I had already considered myself to be, than anything else.

At one point it was implied that we had got to the end of the run so I pushed really hard to get to where I thought it was… only to find out that actually we had another lap and a half left. I literally stopped dead in my tracks and let out a breathless “WHAAAA?” before starting up slowly again, shoulders slumped from feeling slightly depressed at having fallen behind again, and feet dragging from tiredness.

A little while later it was spotted by a Senior member (that I had been interviewed by during selection) that I was struggling so he jumped in beside us and shouted words of encouragement. Despite all this I DID have to keep stopping and walking a few pace before starting up again. This starting and stopping and overall inability to keep going frustrated me no end which no doubt showed when I came out with “FOR F**KS SAKE!!” rather loudly once or twice towards the end, but the effort made by the men encouraging us was inspiring enough for me to push on to the end.

Finally, I succeeded in completing the course – 30 seconds FASTER than my original time.

Completely exhausted, I lay down on the pavement, upon which time the senior member came over to tell me to get up, extended his hands down to help, and put my hands above my head while I cooled down.

Lobster-red-faced and dripping sweat, I breathlessly offered garbled words of thanks and attempted explanations on how it was just such a strange sensation, and that my mind wasn’t switching off to allow me just to get on with it – I think too much. To which he said  – ‘thinking too much’ out in the field may cost you your life.

***

I had always viewed running as something only done if necessary and if could be done in a short burst of time – like running for a bus so you are not late for work, or running after a football so nobody else gets it. There was always a specific goal in mind. Running long distances seemed goal-less. I had been blessed with good metabolism thus far and so hadn’t the need to ‘loose a few’, and I wasn’t intent on becoming an athlete or body builder – hell, I practically AVOIDED sports. So when it came to running the 1.5 mile stretch, I just couldn’t focus to DE-focus.

When I run for the bus usually it is kicked off by instinct. I don’t think it, but I FEEL the notion – “SH*T, LATE!! BUS!! MUST GET!!!”. Same with the football – “OMG BALL! GET! WEEEEEE!”. There is no real thought to it.

But running long distance – that results in my mind asking all sorts of stupid questions, like a kid in the back seat of the car going “ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?”. These questions fire off simultaneously – “Why am I doing this?”, “Are my legs supposed to hurt?”, “Is the blood supposed to pound around my head like this?”, “I feel dizzy”, “Why am I out of breath so much?”, “Why can I not keep up?”, “Are we nearly at the end yet?”, “How far left to go?”, “I don’t wanna do this!”.

***

I realized that the man was right. I HAD to find some way of shutting down my mind. To just DO.

Because it DOES count, and it DOES matter.

But above all else. I HATE loosing, and I HATE being a loser.

That kid in the back seat was going to have to learn to shut the f**k up.

***

Yesterday evening I briskly walked up the road to a large church near where I live. I had roughly calculated that 5-6 laps along the roads around the church would total 1.5 miles.

Stuck my earphones in, stuck on a running podcast I had downloaded to help get me motivated, and proceeded to jog around the church for 90 seconds as directed. Then 90 seconds brisk walking. Then 3 minutes jogging.

I had to stop half way through the latter as the questions had fired up again – I kept wondering when the 3 minutes was going to be up and this made things much harder. I needed to de-focus and just learn to enjoy the running – thinking that we are doing something we HAVE to do will usually result is less productivity than thinking that we are doing something that we ENJOY doing and WANT to do.

I remembered a good friend had told me earlier that day (after I asked him what sort of mindset I should get into when running) that I should just hate EVERYTHING. Hate myself, hate the world, hate anything and everything – this hate should then be used as fuel to keep going and to really push the self.

Another article I had read stated that you should imagine that you are on a rollercoaster when running – that feeling of lightness, fastness, like you are flying through the air, and the elation that accompanies it.

I had also noticed that jogging at a deliberately slow pace made me feel more heavy and tired.

So, I stuck on some of my favourite, angry yet melodic and inspiring songs full blast, and started again.

I pounded the pavement 3 sides around the church, then briskly walked the 4th before starting again, all along keeping my back straight, head up, and gaze focused up to the sky. I de-focused my eyes enough so I wasn’t aware of anything but my intended path and oncoming traffic/persons, and focused on the melodies, rhythms and lyrics being played into my ears.

It worked. I ran at my own pace and allowed myself to feel light – as if on that rollercoaster. I felt good and found myself smiling.

By the end of it I was so happy I ran the way home, bounding over curbs along the way with childish glee.

I got home, out of breath and red faced but happy, and I realized that I was beginning to learn to enjoy the sensations I had previously found uncomfortable and “odd”.

I was starting to win.

***

I recognise that it is such a small thing, and my bewilderment at this ‘task’ is comical to say the least. But isn’t that the case for everything we set out to do for the first time?

Things we have never done before will always be novel and new. They will always befuddle us and inevitably make us look like idiots.

This is one of those things for me. I feel a bit like a kid who has just touched snow for the very first time and doesn’t know what to make of the new sensations being felt as a result.

As adults, most people quit when they feel this way – it is a shock to the system and uncomfortable, like learning a new instrument, language or even trying a new sort of cuisine.

***

But I haven’t quit before when faced with something new and strange. I’ve always kept going, and so i’m not about to give up this time, because my philosophy in life is this:

“If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got…”

I don’t want what I always got.

I want better.

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Memi~!!!

30 Jul

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been finding it hard not to sweat like a pig everytime I move an inch – the humidity here is unreal and I don’t remember Tokyo having ever been this bad and Tokyo is supposed to be worse than Seoul!!! The humidity is also causing my whole body to itch like crazy. But just when I felt like I was going to go insane from the constant river of sweat my body seems to want to emit from it (making me look like some horrid sweaty foreign beast), the itchiness and the annoying red lumps caused by Mosquitos feasting on my flesh as it slow roasts like samgyupsal on a Friday night, I heard for the first time all summer the unmistakable shrill drone of a cicada from outside my window and smiled.
For me those little buggers (Known as ‘Semi’ in Japan and ‘Memi’ in Korea) are symbolic of the summer and since my year in Japan, no summer has been complete without being deafened by them everytime I walk out the front door. It makes me remember the time I asked a Japanese colleague of mine why people hated them so much:
“Why do people hate cicadas in Japan so much? Do they sting or bite?”
“nope”
“Then do they destroy crops or wood?”
“nah”
“…So what do they do that is so annoying (apart from the noise)?”
“They piss on you. They piss on you when you walk under them and then they run away.”

Good Memories.

How odd…

8 Jul

Most of the time we think we know ourselves pretty well, but the one day something happens and we end us amazing ourselves by doing something we didn’t know was possible.
Today, after 24 years, I discovered I am ambidextrous.
I always thought I was right handed so never really bothered to try but after acting on a hunch I realised I can not only write but use chopsticks!!! And I’m not just talking a little bit either – nearly as good as the right hand!!
How awesome!!! (^з^)-☆

Feeling a little overwhelmed… by myself…

10 May

***

Most people, when faced by the thought of  times to come and challenges that they may have to face can’t help but feel a little lost and a little out of their depth…


However, sometimes these worries may well be self inflicted, and as such you may discover that actually YOU are your own worst enemy: ambition mixed in with a hearty dose of perfectionism can be a lethal cocktail that can lead to one’s own undoing.

Thus begs the question – Am I doing this right, or have I got it all horribly wrong?

***

So, I made my module choices on Sunday evening.

At first I was flummoxed as what to do – For the Autumn semester I had the choice of Japanese Contemporary Society or something like Chinese Social Progression. Then, in the Spring semester I had the choice of Chinese business and management, Japanese History or Chinese Contemporary Society…

I figured learning about business and China would be beneficial to my future.. But then again if I plan to enter a Japanese university in order to do my masters then studying about Japan would also be very good given that one of the entrance exams is on “Japan and the World”…

So in the end I figured that taking Japanese History and Japanese Contemporary Society would be the best choices – if not for the reason stated above then for the pure and simple facts that 1) I love Japan and 2) Japan is something familiar to me and, due to my existing knowledge on the subject, is something I can possibly do well in.

I also chose Japanese Contemporary Literature – purely for enjoyment, plus it will serve as practice in reading which will help me maintain (if not enhance) my Japanese language ability.

All in all I am happy with the choices I made as I feel it will help take me to my goal – to become a Korean AND Japanese specialist, even if my degree is only technically Korean Studies.

However, upon making this choice I couldn’t help but think about the next two years to come: about how important they will be in determining my future. This also brought on thoughts about how little time I have left here in Korea; how fast it all has gone; how must I still have not yet done here; how I feel I have not yet made the most of my time here. Thus I have been feeling a little on the low side as of late.

***

Time is such an odd thing: It passes by so fast and leaves you with barely anytime to breath. I feel like the past two years have gone so quickly and already I am planning ahead the years to come with zealous enthusiasm, in neglect of (if not oblivious to) the here and now.

I remember that before I came here I had so many grand plans (as I always do in the beginning) and yet most have not yet come to fruition, leaving me feeling slightly hollow and unfulfilled…

***

It has come to my attention recently that I have a problem with ambition – I always start out with such high (sometimes unrealistic) expectations of myself, and yet I can never seem to recognize the achievements I have made, however big or small they may be. I’m just always looking to the next thing.

I want to get a high 2.1 or a 1st in my current degree; I want to study in Japan at a top university; I want to become fluent in AT LEAST Chinese on top of Japanese and Korean (maybe at some point other languages too, but i’m taking things one step at a time); I want to become knowledgable about law, economics, business, psychology, philosophy and many other subjects; I want to work a respectful and highly enjoyable job; I want to live and work abroad; I want this; I want that; blah blah blah…. It never seems to end.

This is a personality flaw that, no doubt, will carry on well into old age: I can see myself as one of those over enthusiastic, delusional-type grandmas – the type that refuses the aid of a walking stick and insists that they could climb Mount Everest if they wanted to despite barely being able to walk 3 meters on a flat, relatively smooth and obstacle-free terrain….

***

Perhaps it is a good thing – after all, ambition isn’t exactly in abundant supply for the majority.

Maybe I should savor my enthusiasm and drive to succeed…

But then again, what is more important in life: Working your butt off to MAYBE get somewhere, or taking life as it comes and taking everything in one’s stride – much like someone lay back in a deck chair on some white sandy beach; smoking a fat reefer; watching the tide roll in and out; bemused by life’s little complexities.

***

All I know is that, at this moment and time, I have this hunger to get somewhere in life – not to give up and not to back down. Just to keep going and keep upping the standard every single time…

Of course, only time will tell if this method of living will succeed or not. I just hope that this greed for knowledge and lack of satisfaction in life won’t lead me to being a lonely spinster with a house full of cats… ;p

The strangeness of how we learn…

3 May

***

Have you ever taken a step outside of how you think usually, to assess how your own thought processes or behaviorisms work? What about how you learn? Don’t you find it strange how we don’t know something at first sight, then suddenly we just do? For example: Remembering the lyrics to a song – once learned all we have to do is open our mouth and it seems to just appear, as if magically, in our brains and just tumble from our mouths…

Or even, have you ever wondered how the brain comes to order the information it receives into a neat, recognizable format: as if it pieces million piece puzzles together for us in a split moment so that we can see concepts – final, structured and organized.

I wonder these things (and more) on a regular basis and so have come to realize that the human brain is truly an odd, yet most amazing, contraption indeed.

***

Recently I have been reading a book called “Musicophilia” by Oliver Sacks: a book about “the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition“.

In chapter 8  “Things Fall Apart: Amusia and Dysharmonia.“, Sacks writes the following passage:

“We take our senses for granted. We feel we are given the visual world, for example, complete with depth, color, movement, form, and meaning all perfectly matched and synchronous. Given this seeming unity, it may not occur to us that there are many different elements composing a single visual scene, and that all of these have to be separately analyzed and then put together. This composite nature of visual perception may be more apparent to an artist or a photographer; or it may become apparent when, due to some damage or failure of development, one element or another is defective or lost. The perception of color has its own neural basis, and so, too, have the perception of depth, motion, form, and so on. But even if all these preliminary perceptions are working, there may be difficulty synthesizing them into a visual scene or object with meaning.”

He then went on, in the latter half of the chapter, to talk about a woman who could not hear music as a whole – she could hear each different “voice” (instrument) as a wholly separate entity and so any music piece she listened to was fragmented and totally unlike how it should be. In a letter her physician sent to Sacks, he described her:

“agonizing experience of hearing all music as discrete, contrapuntal lines, being unable to hold on to the harmonic sense of chordal passages. Thus, where listening was linear, vertical and horizontal at the same time, now it was horizontal only.”

***

Now, you are probably wondering where on earth I am going with this all.

To be honest, i’m not at all sure myself – I just have an odd hunch.

***

Even though I certainly do not possess absolute pitch, I have pretty much always been comfortable with and confident in my ability to hear and to distinguish tone, tempo and pitch. However, I don’t just hear it – I feel it.

The same goes for language. I don’t just listen to how it is said, I feel how it is said, how it is formed in the mouth. I imagine the feeling of what the tongue must be doing, what the jaw is doing, what the throat is doing, what the vocal chords are doing – I replay these feelings in my mind over and over again, feeling what it would be like to actually mimic how it is done, before actually doing it.

I can also connect new sounds; to concepts; to writing – easily. Like with Japanese: the language on paper connects perfectly in my mind to the language I hear and the language I speak. It is all interwoven and fits together perfectly like a completed puzzle. As such I can hear a word I don’t know and repeat it straight off the bat to ask what it means; or I can mimic the tone of how an old person speaks – purely because I can feel how the language works.

I have become so used to this sense and figured that it was solid, unchangeable and reliable.

Until now.

***

I am currently supposed to be studying for my mid-terms in Korean. I have memorized the vocabulary and grammar assigned and can read to a good standard. In fact, I have noticed that I have an odd ability to feel the context of a piece of grammar within a sentence after just having seen a couple of examples. To explain: the books we use in level 4 contain no English translations so we have to rely on reading the Korean description of what the words mean – I personally don’t find this of much help and so just read the examples and somehow can pick out exactly the feeling of the grammar and how it differs from other similar pieces of grammar. For example:

The grammar structure “-면서” (-myeon-seo) is added to the end of an action verb stem before another action is described, and means “whilst doing- “. This is mind the following sentence “공부하면서 음악을 들었어요” (Kongbu ha-myeon-seo, umak ul tuleo-sseo-yo) could be translated as : “While studying I listened to music” OR “At the same time as studying, I listened to music”.

There is another piece of grammar that is almost exactly the same – “-어 가면서” (AVST+ka-myeon-seo).

Now “가다” (kada) is the verb for “to go“, thus the “가면서” (ka-myeaon-seo) bit seems to me like “whilst going“. To get to the point – for me this grammar had the sense of something in motion.

Sure enough the meaning is generally that as something is going/progressing (through a period of time) something else is also done (at intervals?). For example: Whilst cooking ramen, I taste-tested it (at intervals). So – during the duration of the action that was ramen cookage, I did another action that was related – taste testing.

Fun no?

Actually, I love being able to pick up on these small little nuances – most of the time there isn’t a better way to express the same thing in my native language and so it feels like in learning them, I am adding to my understanding of the world and how to express it (and myself) better through language.

***

SO yeh. That is something I –can– do.

But what I can’t seem to do with Korean (so far), that I usually can do with other things, is connect the dots. Unlike with Japanese, I cannot seem to make a strong connection between the spoken by others, the spoken by self and the written.

I can read and write reasonably well (with only a couple of mistakes in spelling mostly).

However, I cannot establish a strict pattern of intonation in the spoken – I cannot figure a general pattern from the beginning to end of a sentence or heard a distinct difference between a question or of a statement.

I also cannot figure out how the tempo of the spoken works either – it seems to speed up suddenly as random points in words or phrases to make a strange sort of complex rhythm.

It is as if I am partially deaf, and this is most frustrating.

My sense of feeling is rendered useless because I cannot maintain a strong enough grip on the words being said.

Furthermore, if I read passages while listening to their tracks on the accompanying CD, it feels like my brain sometimes struggles to understand that the written word read and the spoken word heard is the same thing. I can read what is on the page fine, but the spoken version just feels blurred and indistinct. It just doesn’t match.

This means that I find it extremely difficult to mimic how Korean is spoken – if I cannot have a strong grip on the words spoken, hear how they are formed, dissect each sound made and then re-piece them together in my head and feel what parts of the mouth and throat are being used, then I cannot reproduce them accurately enough.

This is turn means I am more likely to forget a word – I am the kind of person who has to have a complete image of a concept in my brain to be able to retain information. If there is only a partial image, my brain gives up and focuses on the things it CAN visualize in entirety. It’s a bit like having a corrupted file – there is no point in keeping it if you can’t restore it.

All in all, it feels like my perception of Korean is fragmented – a bit like how that lady in Sack’s book felt about music. It feels like the different parts of Korean, (Reading, Listening, Writing and Speaking) are completely separate from each other and it is difficult to weave them together to make a whole.

***

SO there we have it.

My random self-analysis of the day.

I suppose the only thing I can do is to keep going at it (Come on – Me?? Give up??? Pffftttt don’t be silly!).

It could be just that I am still in the “baby stage” of learning the language – the stage in which the brain has to gradually absorb information over a period of time before all the pieces come together and click. I did start Japanese technically when I was around 15 (but not properly till I was 18) and so my “Japanese” age is far more than my “Korean” age.

If you were to calculate these ages “from first contact” my Japanese age would be about 9 and my Korean age would be just shy of 2. But if you calculate it from “total submission” (aka. being thrown into an environment where only that language is spoken over a long period of time – like me living for a year in Japan and a year in Korea) then my Japanese age would only be just shy of 4, and my Korean age just shy of 2. Of course, this depends entirely on where you place the importance of language learning – on structured contact (which teaches you the language in its strictly structured form – how it is used officially), or complete submission (which teaches you the colloquial form of language – how it is actually used in its natural environment).

Either which way this would make sense – my brain is years ahead in absorbing and figuring out Japanese in comparison to Korean…. But it ain’t half frustrating!!!

***

Anyways, back to the grindstone~! (Gonna rip apart that exam tomorrow if it’s the last thing I do!!!)

Peace.

I wonder…

30 Mar

***

最近、他の人たちは私のように鏡を見ると『私ってなんなの?』っと思った事あるかな〜?っと。。。笑

***