Misguided Advice: An Experience With Undergraduate Advising

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are”

-EE Cummings

I’ve recently read the novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Although it is a little long for my taste, it’s extremely well written, with several brilliant take away messages. There is only one brief observation Tartt made in her work that I wish to focus on. It is how she describes college from a young Theo Decker, who applies to the University early due to circumstance.

Tartt chose to write about Theo’s perspective of his college professors. All of a sudden, you see that every adult in his life is certain about his interests, and think they know him and what he needs. The Philosophy teacher sees that he is obviously a philosopher who should get involved in their events outside of class. The English professor sees a paper he has written, and believes he must be dedicated to the topic he wrote about, as does all his other professors, who urge him to come to their club meetings and be involved with their pursuits. It reminds me of the expression “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”.

These people take what they know best, and project it onto youth as if it should be their truth as well, the only truth, rather than taking themselves out of their limited perspective and placing it in other positions. With good intentions, its all they know how to do, as that is how they became the people they are in the first place, seeing it as the best method.

   Ive experienced this as well. Everyone thinks they know what you need, and who you are. So much so that they are comfortable with defining you without close inspection, asking broad questions that, at best, link your identity to how you want to make money rather than your character or integrity. It is a fad carried by a world that doesn’t think for themselves, and believes whatever they are told growing up and into adulthood from people in seemingly (and I stress the word seemingly) higher positions than their own. They follow blindly without really asking any questions and assuming their given role indifferently. There are little opportunities, all which mask individuality and demand that you look like everyone else.

At my University, I learned that advisors don’t like it when they ask you what your goals are, and you inform them that there is nothing quite specific in mind, but rather a desire to be involved in something that has a positive impact. That is the answer I gave my undergraduate advisor, that I wasn’t certain exactly where I wanted to end up after this last year of college and beyond that. As long as it felt constructive and that I was doing something meaningful, it didn’t matter to me.

This answer went over her head, and she supplied a response that completely missed the point, blatantly ignoring my expressed desires, with the simple advice to research what employers want, take actions to become exactly what that is (like I couldn’t come up with this obvious plan on my own at this point in my life), and that perhaps I should look into sales (mind you, I have an Environmental Studies major).

I have to admit this pained me quite a bit. I patiently listened to her rant, politely nodding my head in between sentences and quietly giving her a restrained approval at each point made. “Your help is not helpful” I wanted to say. I shook her hand, and left her office feeling alone with my thoughts, sadly without much surprise either, filled with the helplessness of not knowing if there was anyone in this world I could approach who saw things differently. I knew in my core that what she said was so inconsequential to myself and my purpose, so useless that it hurt to think I was expected to adhere to people like her. Certainly I was not the only person who felt this way, (although I don’t know where to find these kindred souls), but was there even any other options to begin with? Did she give this response because there really is no way to make a difference and support oneself simultaneously? Are there no openings for improving the environment despite everything thats wrong with the world?

Many thoughts came to me as I left south campus and drove home. How she was just doing her job, and her advice is a product of the corporate world that we live in, which wasn’t wrong, but not necessarily right either. Where people, as I just explained, only have what they’ve pursued. They’ve followed what they were told to do out of fear of not being able to have the success others defined for them, not driven by integrity, but by what everyone else is doing. It seems that anyone who strays slightly from this line will either be excluded, or take on the allegedly difficult task of creating a place for themselves out of nothing.

“What am I going to do when I know I don’t belong in this world?”, I thought.

I didn’t know, still don’t know a week deep into my last year of college, and probably never will until everything is said in done in the next chapter of my life.

Unlike most of my posts, I didn’t write about this to prove something or produce some kind of conclusion, but rather draw attention to this. The lack of integrity. The scorn for being unconventional. Schools that aren’t focused on preparing youth for our broken world, but rather for the promise of a paycheck. No one asking the true state of things, or challenging what they’re given. Has anyone else noticed?

Thanks University, and thanks society, but I think I’ll be much better off without your ill-advised guidance.

What Is Nothing?

The following excerpt is taken out of The Convoluted Universe by Dolores Cannon. As an investigative hypnotherapist, Cannon made it her life’s purpose to explore the unusual information she encountered regularly during her therapy sessions. This particular quote came from a section called “The Void”.  The woman who sought out her counseling wanted to know more about an experience she had during meditation, where she found herself in a dark, shapeless emptiness. From her account, it was not scary, but still left her with many questions. Amid the explanation she gave while in trance, the subconscious provided this:

“The real reality is the consciousness and is the base of the consciousness, the pure emptiness, the nothingness, from which all consciousness stems… It is the darkness from which the light comes. It is beyond the light … And from the light comes differentiation that we call the somethingness”

Quite a mind bender. Although it resonated as soon as I read it, I had to go over it a few times to let the meaning seep in.

Modern science tells us that everything came from nothing, but this leads me to suspect that we don’t truly understand what “nothing” is. My simple explanation for understanding the “nothing” they speak of has always been this: Nothing is actually something, and this “somethingness” can be anything.

Still, this is only a philosophical understanding. It seems that only spirituality has confidently filled in these blanks with the idea of consciousness, and with that, revealing it’s relationship to light. It is written (or verbalized, I should say) so plainly in this book, and I am always taken aback with its matter-of-fact assertions, considering the depth of whats being said. It is that from consciousness, and from darkness, there is light, and that light provides the medium we understand as ourselves, our lives, and our universe.

So, what is nothing?

According to these sources, nothing can be everything.

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The Landscape of Metanoia

I know the expression “old soul” gets thrown around a lot to explain those who seem wise beyond their years, but I don’t quite see it this way. For one thing, it has the connotation that these people are better than others, more advanced. This isn’t true and simply doesn’t feel right. Just as our human age is an illusion brought on by the sensation of time, I do not believe that our souls are any older or younger than one another, but that we are all in fact the same age.

In the same way that all the matter we see had a beginning, with its atoms taking shape and dissolving back into its rudimentary state, consciousness also had its spark of life that unleashed everything all at once. So what creates such a dichotomy between ignorance and wisdom amongst ourselves? How are the two able to exist simultaneously?

In order to explain this, I am brought to the landscape of Metanoia (for more information regarding this word, visit my About page). Just as the Earth has its peaks and valleys, there are highs and lows through this medium of experience that I am writing about.

As we began to travel, we all went separate ways. With different circumstances to face, ranging from troughs and valleys covered in vegetation, to mountain heights towering over all that is, a person is altered and conditioned. In some of these places, you might not be able to see the sky above, where your world is contained and dense. Like tunnel vision, all you can see is what’s immediately in front of you. In this sort of environment, the feeling that there is only what you see becomes very convincing. Naturally, the illusion begins to make more and more sense, and anything else a far off reality. When we no longer think that there is more, we get lost and prohibit ourselves from experiencing anything further. Generations upon generations of this can birth a sort of limitless ignorance that is almost impossible to escape. This is how false evils are created and perpetuated, delusions are free to run rampant, and people stumble farther and farther away from the truth they once knew.

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But with the landscape of Metanoia being as dynamic as it is, this is thankfully not how it is for every soul. Fields reveal a horizon that lead to somewhere, and a sky that offers the possibility of infinity. Those who find themselves in the ocean can see this sky as well, but must constantly tread water. Some struggle up onto hill tops and mountain treks, where the understanding of what everything is comes with complete clarity. There are brave souls, whom I admire the most and associate most heavily with, who are trapped under a dense vegetation, deciding to climb the tallest trees in order to get a better view, driven by the desire to orient themselves.

With the diversity of the landscape comes the diversity of experiences. What is gained is a unique mark, the fingerprint of the soul, and we are lucky for this. With diversity you can be sure that there’s an individual, or perspective unique to your situation, and thus has the means for you to get to where you need to go. It is as if you came upon a stranger who has traversed the section of land ahead, and can give you advice, or even a map. You can also do the same for others along your travels. This is why it is important to have such diversity and to understand that there is no one route, or one truth. This cannot be with the condition of the landscape. This is why we must embrace our differences, as long as it doesn’t hinder the journey of others, and encourages the trek we have ahead. It is both varying and unified, more connected than separate. While the paths intersect in some places, and diverge in others, they’re all headed towards the same thing.

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Photos credited to Daniel Ranger and Kathryn Beals 

I’m Back!

I have neglected this blog for the last few months as a chapter of my life was coming to a close, and a new one was opening. However, I have not been inactive during this time. Over the course of three months, I’ve managed to clean out my room in heaps (still an ongoing process) to make room for new changes. Of course, this warranted some redecorating.

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I’ve organized a writing meetup in my community, which is growing and evolving by the day. With this has come a new Facebook Page and personal writing goals.

   Ive taken upon myself to expand my knowledge of spiritual subjects and our reality through some carefully selected reading material:

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Lastly, even though this seems like its not the right time to start a new hobby with my overwhelming expanse of interests, I’ve taken up painting.

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All this while the beach beckons, and family members would like to see my face eventually.

I have neglected Metanoia in lieu of all these distractions, as well as finally being able to relax after a busy semester. Coming back to the routine of writing posts has been on my mind for the past few weeks, but I didn’t want to begin without a plan of action. I needed enough ideas and material to initiate another wave of thoughts worth sharing so that Metanoia wont fall into a pit of abandonment like many others in the wake of life’s obligations and distractions. I think much of it simply has to do with getting into the habit of pulling useful things out of apparent monotony. Like many bloggers, I am guilty of missing important ideas or messages that every day life has to offer. Why aren’t I mentioning the small breakthroughs I have during writing gatherings? Why aren’t I sharing insights from my reading or conversations with friends and family? I believe that adopting this awakened behavior is not only important for this forum, but for the sake of living. We’re constantly moving, only thinking about tomorrow, failing to reflect and allow lessons that come through – either big or small – to take form.

Some ideas that I’m planing on posting in the future include:

1. The Landscape of Metanoia

2. What is nothing?

3. Sweet Potato Egg Boat: A Review (a nice break from these sometimes intense topics)

4. Metanoia playlist

5. Must-haves for the spiritual pioneer

I urge anyone reading this to give me any suggestions on what they’d like to read on a blog like mine based on their interests, or things they wish they saw more of. I welcome you to comment below or send me an email:

numerologyfiend@gmx.com

I hope you all have a lovely week!

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Back to Me

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When I was 9, I would write stories about magical rings that washed ashore on beaches, unleashing unknown truths of magic onto the right person who found it. When I was 12, I wrote a story called Tetris, which was about how issues we come across in life sometimes do not fall in the most convenient way with their varying shapes and placements, creating a wall of clutter we thought could be avoided, but had little control over. When high school came there was no time for inspiration or creativity. The world of exams and applications meant there was one right answer and one wrong, and being wrong was the worst thing possible. I took to understanding the world instead, becoming very interested in sciences like biology, which satisfied my need to know how and why life is the way it is.

When I made it to 19, I was distraught from not ending up where I wanted to be despite my hard work and cooperation. School no longer satisfied my questions and tests brought more lies into my life. I began to retreat into my old self, which never really got turned off, but only turned down to a lower volume so that I could carry out what was asked of me.

I realized recently that my fourth-grade self was a lot braver than I am now, who used to read what she created to the class. I could never do anything like that today. Reluctantly, but self-willed, I would get up in front of the room after the encouragement from my beloved friend, Sam. I remember the rough illustrations of a far reaching imagination that littered the margins of my work. Even though I was uneasy, I knew my stories were interesting for a nine-year-old. They held the attention of a group of other nine-year-olds, which was an accomplishment worth noting. My teacher said something I never forgot, that everyone in the class should look for my name on books when we are adults, because I would probably publish some day. So despite my apprehensiveness, I felt good.

Now I am 21, and I want to feel good about the things that I do again. While I’m trying to focus on work and be productive, I find myself falling into random lapses of nostalgia in which I used to make jewelry and sell them at the beach. I fall back on pleasant memories of not just writing, but painting seashells, taking pictures, and fishing. I think this happens to everyone at some point in their life, but for someone who does not like to dwell on the past, it means something. It has been long enough that life’s obligations has pulled me away from this natural self, and I am making it a point to try and get back to it once this semester is over. I encourage anyone who has felt the same to make time for who we used to be before life told us what that was.

Lost

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“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” -Wendell Berry

This quote came to me at the right time of my life through a book I’m reading called “Small Victories” by Anne Lamott. Life is feeling strange, not that thats new. Its not because of my own inability to recognize my surroundings, or a lack of understanding of the world. Its not because I don’t know myself or who I am.

Its because I don’t know how to recognize myself in the context of my surroundings.

Ive determined that this is what it means to be lost. And I am writing about it now.

A girl is born on a different world, facing a unique societal structure that is different, but not so different, from our own.  Everyone born in this world has a one track existence that is determined by certain biological characteristics. In this way, each individual serves the greater good of the whole. They operate quite happily, and quite smoothly in this way and have done so for thousands of years. But like what happens to us, genetic mutations occur, and Xenia is one of the people born with an abnormality that makes her purpose unclear.

And so this girl goes about her life realizing that to be lost is not necessarily the inability to recognize your surroundings. Its to not know what it means to be you, or how to be you, when your environment is not giving you any clues, and seems to always go against the grain of your own instincts.

My particular problem is that I can’t do anything unless its genuine, but is that really a problem? Yes. Let me tell you why.

I refuse to listen to what I should want and what my interests should be. I don’t think people realize just how heavily their interests are influenced by the people they are around. Just living here can make you into something you’re not as the entire world is constantly trying to convince you that you need what they’re selling.

You need this education, with this means of transportation and this technology, these clothes, this appearance, this lifestyle, these things. All day every day since you were born, you are bombarded and become a product of the corporate world, and there is not much that can be done about it.  All that can be done is to go with the flow, and do the best you can with what you have (which is a lot, I am not being a glass half empty kind of person, I am merely pointing out what goes unnoticed most of the time).

Living in a world like this as a person that does not naturally go with the flow of his or her surroundings creates a sense of this lost feeling I’m talking about. There is constant questioning of how any part of the self can exist here successfully, and what parts of the self are the right ones to apply.

Making connections with others becomes increasingly difficult, as you drift away from the crowds that want and enjoy things that just aren’t fulfilling to you. There is a constant feeling that you’re not sure if you’re doing the right thing, and constant worry about making it look like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Where you are going and where you want to go becomes your identity by the time you get to your junior year of high school, and into college. It is like the world I created in my story, where your purpose is defined by the tasks you perform.

I don’t know how to end this thought, as this is an early point in my journey and haven’t had the time to digest these feelings. I suppose the best way to conclude this is with the quote I started with. I don’t know what I’m doing, but perhaps thats just a necessary part of the initiation.

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Milestones

Sometimes success is a milestone, and sometimes success is removing the word “possible” from the prospective notes of your future novel. For me, this was a note of a minor detail that is far off from what I am currently working on. But now I know that the plans I made for this part are solid, and no longer needed it. So “(possibly twice)” became “(twice)”. I make these adjustments in small increments over time, and they accumulate. This whole endeavor feels like its taking forever, or feel like it will take forever. So this is why I am saying this today, that success can be a milestone, or erasing a word from your drafts. Milestones are born out of these events anyway, aren’t they?

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Created to Create

“Imagination is more powerful than knowledge”

-Albert Einstein

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In my own personal quest of understanding, I am encountering more and more often the idea of how our thoughts manifest into physical reality, and how we were created to create. This is true, and not necessarily on some mystical level that lacks rationality. We see it every day with our technologies. Our entire civilization is built on a foundation of things that were once ideas. It all had to be conceived first. Imagination is more important than knowledge because imagination manifests knowledge.

Think of a brick layer, whose tools, bricks and cement would represent knowledge, the facts that are at hand. These materials mean nothing if you don’t know what to do with them, just as facts are meaningless without a way to postulate scenarios. (I like this analogy because it also hints at the importance of the materials to build what we conceive, the role that knowledge plays in this scheme). Imagination gives knowledge shape, and therefore meaning.

All this, and yet our public schools are keen on teaching children how to think, and that the facts listed on a lecture slide in college is what will determine whether you are a functioning citizen. Perhaps this approach does make you a functioning citizen, but not in the way that is unique to yourself, not in a way that incorporates your own full potential.

I am writing this as a frustrated participant of this system. As a junior in college, I’m tired of the perpetual quest of trying to emulate what my external environment wants out of me, rather than simply drawing upon what I already know, working with what comes naturally, and applying it to our society in the most constructive way possible. I am weary of the idea that nothing is more important than making yourself into something that someone else wants.

So while we live in a civilization of such impressive creations, how is creating not given more weight in our external and internal lives? I suppose there could be a few answers to this, one major reason being money and greed. Our creations have been centric to this facet, virtually becoming a God of sorts, as it seems to be the reason we do anything today. We have to. Some of us create to earn a living, so we can eat food, to live and make more money, and so on. And so it is not about creating to create, but creating something that fits the status quo. This methodology ultimately leaks into the education system and the vicious cycle continues.

I understand that there is a reason why things are the way they are. I understand there are ideals that are simply not ready for our way of life, and that we have a long way to go towards a system that is morally sound and embraces humanity, rather than one that oppresses and controls it. However, I think there is still something we can take from these ideals, and although I’m not certain of how, I believe there are small ways to effect change.

I think it starts with waking up and realizing the distinction between our life’s purpose and our means of survival, because as humans, these things are completely separate and unrelated. It surprises me every day just how many people have forgotten that we have free will, and that we have a choice despite the constraints of our environment (which ironically, could potentially be eliminated with the realization of this fact). In many ways, we are a cog in the wheel. But I don’t believe we were meant to be cogs for this particular wheel, which is of control and prohibition. You have a choice to be what you want to be. To live your life like a song, a painting, poem, or an interesting novel, whatever suites your soul. And when you do this, something beautiful happens. Not just for yourself, but for those witnessing the change around you, who can then begin to believe that they too have this power, and they too can live life with greater purpose.

Our creations will change us, and how this happens is solely dependent on what we think is worthy of creation, either that of money or that of who we truly are at the core. This translates to the choice to keep living like we are living, or to live as we naturally came: created to create.

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 “When I say be creative, I don’t mean that you should all go become great painters and great poets. I simply mean let your life be a painting, let your life be a poem”

 -Osho

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way” -E.L. Doctorow

Is this what writing a novel is like for everyone? I can’t imagine J.K. Rowling knowing every single detail of her glorious series as she sat down to write The Sorcerer’s Stone. No. It is exactly what the quote suggests. It is operating a dream space that can only be illuminated and seen once you begin the journey and go there yourself. She did not not where she was going, and yet she knew she had to do it. 

It is happening to me right now. I have been working on this project for a long time, and have finally entered the stage of execution. Plans are set. Countless days have been spent dreaming up ideas, asking the ether questions about what to make of my story.

Although everything isn’t entirely in its place, it is now demanded that the ideas be put on paper, to manifest out of the invisible atmosphere and into reality. It’s time to fill in the spaces I have not been able to ascertain, and although I know what direction I’m going in and a vague understanding of the destination, I have no idea what I’ll encounter on the way there, or what new insights I will come upon when I finally do get there.

What is interesting to me is that life also feels like this. We don’t know where we’re going, but we make a decision once we get to a certain check point, and so the story goes, as if we were the authors of our own lives. As if our life was a creation in it of itself.

Wish me good luck, and safe travels to you all.

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On A Personal Note…

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My recent posts have been directed away from myself and more towards a bigger picture, and will continue to do so for the most part. However, I wanted to add something more personal to try and illuminate my motives and where some of these thoughts have come from.

A little more than a year ago, I came up with an idea for a novel that has consumed my thoughts outside of my academic studies. While it is many things, its main focus is centered around the journey of the soul, ultimately taking my mind down many different avenues that I just now feel willing to share.

My story, which I am calling Metanoia, is the result of an intersection of a few interests. These are science, spirituality, and the study of numerology (how numbers effect ourselves and the world around us). The imaginary world I have created has sprung from these three things, and where my mind will be over the course of these next few years.

The novel consists of 9 parts, each being an entire lifetime. I recently finished the first life, and have been gearing up to write the next, hopefully finishing it by the end of this summer. With my current plan, I will be able to finish Metanoia in four years. Im looking forward to documenting this journey here, and am excited to see what becomes of it. As I wrote in the conclusion of my first journal dedicated towards Metanoia: “I am seeking with all my heart and mind, something that can be taken from the things I perceive every day. I am waiting for the needle and guidance behind the pattern of the stitches holding this fabric together to reveal itself”

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