Falling (In Love?)

Falling in Love, what a bizarre phrase

I romanticize the idea of romantic love. I have never felt it before, but I’ve watched The Notebook a handful of times already, which is essentially the equivalent of saying I have a LinkedIn certificate on love.

Falling in Love. I romanticize the “love” part, but in reality, the “falling” part has taken up much of my attention.

When I find something I enjoy – a passion project, an idea, a thought I want to ponder and explore – I am in suspension. Falling. I experience a dreadful uncertainty and I suspend in the air, yet so full of potential and freedom. Uncertain of where I will land. A certain destination that I hope will be a better place and make me a better person. I don’t finish every project I fall in love with – but I am often very good at jumping out of the plane – sometimes unsure if I remembered to pack a single parachute when you’re supposed to bring two. This year I’ve jumped out of a few planes. Notably, one plane where I hope to fall into an extremely fit and healthy body.

I am not in love. I am falling. I am constantly falling – towards a fabricated fantasy that I’ve created based on books, poems, movies, and Bruno Major songs that inspire me to continue falling.

What I’ve realized through the years is that the most important destination – the destination I am falling towards and one that I hope I land on – is self-love. As cliché as it sounds, you have to love yourself 100%, more than 100%, before you find more elsewhere.

And so I may be falling. I hope the destination I land on is kind and warm like I always dreamed of. But, meanwhile, as I suspend in the air, I will enjoy the view, and continue working on myself: mind, body, and soul. And I will work on getting to a point in my life where I always have two parachutes. And if I ever forget, thankfully, I have the power of philosophical fabrication, with a little magic, to create parachutes on the go.

Learning how to cry and time travel.

I was walking on the familiar uneven pavement streets which I called home for the past three months, with an oat milk latte in one hand and a banana loaf in the other, with Clare de Lune on my Airpods playing on repeat, as I made my way to my final 1-on-1 boxing session at Cambridge. I noticed I was crying…

It’s happening again. This is my fourth time studying abroad. I cried when I left Singapore, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. And now Cambridge.

The sudden realization that this might very well be my last time getting the latte + loaf combo at my go-to cafe, Espresso Lane, individually run by this very kind gentleman who taught me bits of British culture during my stay. He gave me my final order today for free, for being a good customer. He deserves all the happiness in the world.

In a weird and “totally not” psychopathic way, I enjoy crying. I often do it alone because of a deep-rooted childhood experience when I was told boys shouldn’t cry. Anyways, the experience makes me realize that I am alive, making me aware of my body and the bizarre concept of emotions, and tears are the product. Weird.

My tears are a result of nostalgia and sorrow for having to say goodbye, mixed with the happiness that I was able to go through these experiences.

At my boxing session, my coach made sure to give me a great final workout. I ended up doing 16 boxing rounds, and 200 burpees in total in between the rounds. He also made sure to get a good final head and body jab to remind me of this great quote:

“Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the face.” I might have a video of me getting hit – I will look to post that one day.

If you’re reading this, I want to thank you. I have always felt a weird ambivalence toward advertising my blog because frankly, this blog started as a personal diary of sorts and on most occasions can contain some of the most vulnerable parts of my life. That ambivalence is immediately expelled when I realize that the type of people who make the effort to read my mundane writing is also the type of people I care about and appreciate being in my circle.

I want to share with you a life philosophy I’ve been trying to apply to my life as I combat the dramatic emotions I have about saying goodbye to the past. Read on further and I will teach you how to time travel.

Well, not actual time travel. But let’s say you could time travel. And you are forced to use it every day. At the end of every day, you are forced to re-live that same day largely the same way. You do the same things, with a small nuance: the second time you re-live that day, you pause and notice the tiny, infinite beauties of life. The pavement you are walking on was made by someone potentially hundreds of years ago. Their work has impacted so many. Notice the beautiful architecture, and the little homes, and the people (overview effect). The clouds shifting. The hum of life. Feel your breath. Feel your heart. Talk to yourself. Tell yourself how powerful you are. With extra dramatic effect, listen to Claire de Lune. It is my favorite classical piece, by far, and I’ve never had the same experience as I do with this song. It makes me feel so much emotion, both anguish, and joy.

Unfortunately, we can’t do real-time travel. But I want you to just try this technique because I have felt it is so liberating. Pretend that the days that so quickly pass by us as it has in the recent years, pretend that you specifically time-traveled back to this day to re-live. Allow yourself to feel your emotions pour through. Your heartbeat. This is what it feels like to be alive, and to be in the moment.

I’m not sure if this off-brand time travel technique will cure my nostalgic depression, but I think it will help me live in the moment more and not be too sad about the past. Because, well, I specifically traveled back in time to re-live today. And I am so happy that I am here.

Thank you for coming to my Ted-Talk and for indulging my dramatic overthinking. There are over 7 billion people in this world, and it always feels good to be heard.

Setting Myself up for Failure, The Overview Effect, and Creating Memories

When you are on a fast-moving train and you pass another train at a station, there is no way for the human mind to cognize whether the other train is moving in the opposite direction or is sitting still.


Everything is a blur passing by.


It is often a brief moment in time where you are uncertain of your own place in the universe — and uncertain of what the external world is like. For a brief moment, you lose your spatial awareness.
A passing moment


Flying on an airplane is a surreal experience, being suspended up in the air, looking down at people, cars, houses on the ground, all so minuscule in comparison. It puts into perspective both how inconsequential we are to the grand scheme of the universe, but also a hauntingly realization that each spec, each dot, is an individual life — a person who is the unique sum of a permutation of experiences. I am one of those dots on the Earth. Do you ever look up when an airplane is flying across, and wonder how many people are looking back down at you?


The Overview Effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by astronauts when viewing the Earth from outer space. It is generally explained as the experience of seeing from a personal perspective the fragile reality of our world, hanging in the black void of space. I wonder how many people on Earth are looking back up towards those astronauts. I have to imagine that those astronauts viewing the world from outer space, who feel the overview effect, must come to some philosophical epiphany about their own life as well. I imagine that epiphany to be motivating, inspiring, and overwhelming.


To a lesser degree, I believe the overview effect can be applied to many aspects of one’s life – these passing moments, a blur in memory.


I am a gross overthinker and will dramatize the smallest things. My internal monologue won’t shut up. I replay 5, 10, 15 different scenarios before every event. Somehow I miss all of those scenarios despite having theoretically infinite guesses.


I’ve just submitted my econometrics exam and my philosophy dissertation which I spent 3 months working on. 8000 words, 20 pages. Sent. Am I satisfied with it? Likely not. But even if not, I need to learn to be. But even this soon will be a passing moment. I will still forever cherish my time here at Cambridge.


I have a tendency to set myself up for failure. Perhaps it is because I am afraid of what success might look like. Perhaps I am afraid of failure itself, so I never truly “shoot my shot.” I don’t want to regret not having done something in my life. I deeply cherish memories and relationships. I am so constantly depressed by my nostalgia for the past. Perhaps this just means I need to start looking forward more, rather than backward.


What a weird thing memories are. What a fascinating concept the overview effect has on understanding one’s own reality.

Don’t forget to breathe

I got my teeth cleaned today and throughout the ~45 minute procedure, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe.

For some reason, I always tense up my body.

I call it barber anxiety.

When I get my hair cut, I need to remind myself to relax.

When I get a massage, I also need to relax.

When I get my teeth cleaned, I need to remember to breathe.

It just feels inherently awkward to me: another person “operating” on me, while I sit there. I can look at their face and realize that they aren’t even really looking back, because, well, they need to make sure they don’t cut my ears off.

In reality, there is no reason for me to feel tense. Maybe I can feel awkward or slightly embarrassed. But tense? Why? I’m literally not doing anything. Feeling tense while getting massaged by someone who you are paying to massage you is perhaps the most paradoxical sentence I’ve written this year.

Barber anxiety sucks… But it also doesn’t make sense. So don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget to relax.

Pressing issues

I’m probably like most people around my age that live on the West Coast in Canada:

Liberal–at least socially.

Scorns at hate crimes and racial bias

Low-key panicking about global warming and the inevitable doom of our environment

Cares about charity and curing poverty

And probably have a few not-to-kind things to say about Trump

But a part of me realizes that I complain too much

The inner economist realizes that the world isn’t as black and white as we’d like it to be. And the world doesn’t care about opinions or complaints; the world cares about facts, data, statistics, and results.

“If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work.” – Freakonomics

The great thing about studying economics though, particularly if you also study politics and behavioral economics, is that you begin to understand the world a lot better. You begin to grasp the concept of incentives, of society, of the rationality (and irrationality) behind human decisions.

I think it would be a disservice to myself if I didn’t continue my passion for studying economics, as well as the “moral” aspect of the world. Maybe then, in the future, I won’t need to be talking about the pressing issues of the world; instead, I’ll be able to discuss the solutions we can apply to fix those issues.

Knowledge is power

How much do you value education? Books? The internet?

And how much do you value your knowledge?

Knowledge is power. It’s an overused aphorism that remains true.

The 21st century saw the world enter into the digital information age, propelled forward by the internet, the smart phone, and soon, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Those with access to this overload of information should be utilizing it as much as possible. Obtaining knowledge left and right.

IN a world where everyone is trying to connect the dots, sometimes it’s instead the time to collect some dots.

Superpowers

I have reoccurring dreams about having superpowers

Last night it was related to the ocean. I felt like Poseidon’s son. I could control the waves, communicate with giant whales, dive deep into the ocean, and fly and levitate.

Often times I have dreams about having psychic powers. I could move things and control the world with my mind.

I wonder why. Is there some deep-seated reason that these dreams are consistently reoccurring?

When I have these dreams, I actually feel like I am in control. Do you guys ever feel like you are literally living in that world, and you can control what you do?

Last night was New Year’s Eve and I hung out with some of my closest friends and a few new ones. I did magic like I often do at gatherings.

And I was reminded that superpowers isn’t just about making things float or being able to fly and lift heavy things.

Someones, superpowers can just be as simple as making someone smile.

And to many people, magic is pretty cool in that sense.

So I guess maybe I’ve had superpowers for a while now. I just haven’t noticed.

How do I define myself

How do you define yourself?

Do you talk about what you do?

Or who you are?

Do you use titles, labels? Do you start with your name? Do you mention your age? Ethnicity? Nationality? Parents? Friends? Family? Religion? Politics?

I’ve always considered myself a student.

A student of business. A student of life. A student of magic. A student of academia.

And I also will mention that I am a magician.

Magic is my medium for connection. So it makes sense.

And then it gets a bit blurry. Sometimes I’ll introduce myself as a writer. I’d like to define myself as one, because, well, I’ve written everyday for over a year. I enjoy writing and it has progressively become more important to me over the past year.

Athlete? Because I also play a lot of basketball. Some weeks, I’ll play more basketball then I perform magic. But I’m not sure if I’d define myself as a basketball player. It’s more of a hobby now than a passion. Magic is my passion. It’s something I plan to pursue and make something bigger outside of just magic. Basketball will always just be a hobby, whereas some basketball players want to continue it as a career or use it as their medium for influence and motivation.

Reader? I’ve read a book a week this year for 2018.

And I also love the violin. I just don’t have the time to play it as often as I’d like to.

Musician?

I think three labels are good.

Student. Magician. Writer.

But at the end of the day, I hope that if all my labels disappeared, if I can no longer call myself a magician, or musician, or athlete, that if you stripped me naked of my self-given definitions, at least I can still be just a good person.

Because that’s all we can really ask of ourselves.

Being a good person. That’s the best label. That’s how you should define yourself.

Hey

Hey Jeff

I’m sorry for the way I used to be

I’m sorry for the person I am

I’m sorry for putting you in awkward situations

But actually, I love my life right now

Not because it’s perfect.

No. My life is far from perfect.

But I love life because somehow, despite how broken I’ve felt, despite my failures and pains and rejections and tripups and awkward situations…

Despite my vulnerability

I’ve still managed to be happy.

There is beauty in my life and I just need to find it.

Once I do, I’ll never let go again

First three principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

I recently started the classic self-improvement book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Here are the first three principles discussed.

Principle 1: Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain

Sharp criticism of other people doesn’t work.

People will always try and justify their wrongdoings, and condemn you back for sharp criticism. Sharp criticism is more like a homing pigeon >>> will always come back to you

Principle 2: Give honest sincere appreciation 

Fear the friend who flatters you. This flattery can often be seen as manipulative or insincere/fake. Instead, look for people who offer genuine appreciation and praise, and do so yourself.

Principle 3: Arouse an eager want in people.

Bait the hook for what they want, not what YOU want.

The only sustainable way to get people to do things is to make them want to do it. Do not however create manipulation; create a mutual beneficial situation

Henry Ford once said:
“If there is any one secret to success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own”