Helping the slacker along

This post was written 4 years ago.
Fri, 22 Apr 2016
Three random things I've been thinking about during the last two weeks, possibly loosely connected.

Help versus support

I heard about this distinction first in an Osho video about bringing up children. I watched it last year after a friend had told me about her times as a sannyasin. It immediately made an impact, and I found I agreed. When parents help their children, it often means helping them along the way that the parents think is right. While the kinder thing to do would be to let the child find it's own way, and simply be there for them when they struggle. Listening to them, not giving directions. Support them when they need you, not help them when no help is asked for. This is an ideal, of course.

For me, there's a parallel with charity. Traditionally, the way charity is dispensed, is all on the terms of the giver, and while this way good things can be achieved, charity can lead to dependence, and damaging interference. And even when our intentions are good, do we always know what we are doing? I once read an interview with German theatre director Christoph Schlingensief where he said: "Why do we always want to help Africa, if we can't even help ourselves?"

I also just found this quote by George Sand: "Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it."

Slackerdom

The other day I found myself reading the Wikipedia entry about the term slacker and I was struck by how much I identified. And yes, I remembered right, it was my generation, 'generation X' that was called the 'slacker generation'. Not surprising we turned out that way. Spending our childhood at the tail end of flower power and anti-authoritarian education, who would have been there to drum any discipline into us? Except of course some parents or other figures of authority still did that, but not in my case.

It seems I was a somewhat gifted child. Not highly, but gifted enough to sail through school without so much as lifting a finger (leaving much space for, in turns, daydreaming and contemplating in depth my social inadequacies). Did anybody push me to make the most of my talents? Did I push myself? Nope. And thus a perfect slacker was made.

It is quite curious to be a slacker these days. It's unusual and totally counter the spirit of the times. Of course, I am not really a slacker anymore. But equally I cannot completely get it out of my system. Also - and here I honestly don't know if this is a good thing or bad - I might have already passed on a good portion of slackerdom to my children. But I must be careful not to label them here. Let's put it that way, if they ended up spending 5 hours a day training for the Olympics, they will not have got that from me. (I used to dream of being in the Olympics but somehow didn't make the connection that you'd actually have to work for it.)

As for me, I am trying to unslack myself a bit these days. I have already 'worked hard' many times previously, but the difficulty is knowing what a constructive working hard looks like, as opposed to just working long hours. But I am getting there.

On the other hand, I believe when enthusiasm finds the slacker, they can develop an enormous creativity, joy and tenacity, to a degree that a busy bee might not.

The thing is, as I've said before, I am very happy with where I am now. And though not an achievement in numbers, I can finally see it as an achievement no less. It is partly my inner slacker who's brought me here, so I've definitely made my peace with her.

Marathon training progress report

Good: I recently ran 17 km and did not feel very exhausted, I could have gone on. (But I did feel my legs the next day!) Bad: My speed is not improving. Also, I don't run as frequently as I should and as was the plan. I was meaning to run a half-marathon distance today. Instead I made a cake.

Tags: slacker / marathon /

Starting the diary again

This post was written 4 years ago.
Sun, 10 Apr 2016
With this post, I will finally give up any ambition to turn this into a technical blog. - I do write about technical things, but elsewhere; currently mostly in form of discussion posts on github

I will pick up from where I left it, just before the end of 2015, and simply write about what occupies my mind. Mostly in the form of observations, ideas and questions. It won't be anything refined, more a scrapbook of ideas, and well, a diary.

I feel very ambivalent about the news, or rather newspapers and their websites. There is so much manipulation going on. I'd never claim I'm immune to it because I see through it. I know they will manipulate me and that's why I hesitate to expose myself to the news. I'd still like to know what is going on though. At the moment I learn about most news through Twitter. But there's of course a lot of filtering going on. I read this book 'The information diet' which points out ways how to counteract the bias, I think I should have a look at it again. It involves effort though to have a balanced intake, of course - just as with food.

So when I mention headlines, it will often be with some kind of irony and sense of absurdness.

For today, I'll just summarise our Easter holidays. They seemed very long somehow, and pretty active compared to other holidays. The kids spent loads of time outside playing with their friends. And I, I finally picked up my running again and I registered for the Rock'n Roll Liverpool marathon on 29 May.

My mum and sister were here for 5 days. We went to the Cheddar Gorge one day which was great. I also during that visit managed to see "Anomalisa" (with my sister) at the Watershed and, in the Bristol Old Vic theatre, "A long day's journey into Night" (with mum, sister and Matin). Both were strikingly little cheerful, but also brilliant, while I felt Anomalisa had some sexist overtones.

Especially Long day's journey made a huge impression on me. So much to relate to, so well observed. It also gave you some insight into American society in the early 20th century.

It seems like I have become vegetarian. My daughter had suggested going veggie for lent, and we both did, but I want to keep it up. I was astounded that I don't miss meat at all, and I really see no reason why I should go back then (I might still eat meat on occasions though, for example when invited somewhere, but will otherwise completely avoid it).

Also, I've set myself some challenges, which I might write more about some other time. Especially becoming a bit more organised. We will see how that goes..

I just wrote this whole post on my phone with the Jota text editor, then saved it to Dropbox. It worked so well. Regular posts might really be a possibility then!

Tags: diary /