July with August, Half
Where did the year go? We’re almost two thirds of the way there and it was just New Year’s.
Haven’t had an update in a while. I left Henan and returned to Zhejiang because it was getting way too hot in Henan. So hot, that my computer shut down by itself. I thought I had burned something but couldn’t smell any difference. Luckily, my computer started fine after I turned it on at night, when it was cooler. I guess Toshiba laptops have an automatic shut-down defense mechanism to keep it from exploding.
It didn’t really help though because I may have suffered a heat stroke. I found myself extremely irritable, snapping at the smallest comments and just unable to concentrate on anything. Heat, like from a convection oven, radiated everywhere. The only solace I had was knowing that the heat was dry and not humid and moist. I would have gone ape-shit under those conditions. The lack of air conditioning of course didn’t help. Even after showering, I remained irritable. Thoughts and images constantly played in my head. I don’t know if I have ADHD or ADD but if I guessed what it feels like, it would probably be like that day. A million incoherent thoughts jumping around a few milliseconds at a time. I wanted to find someone to fight and destroy. I just had to leave.
So I went to another temple in Henan that was shaded much better than where I originally was. Lots more trees, water and intense Fiber-optic online internet. But it was filthy. The bathrooms, the courtyard, everything. Other than the kitchen staff and the food, everything was very poorly organized. While I enjoyed the change from the singular diet of tofu, potatoes, string beans, it was difficult to keep myself from grossing out. Psychologically, I was also in a dark place – the feeling that everything that I’m doing is pointless and unsatisfactory. No motivation to do anything. Just passing the time by watching movies. Pretty much waiting for my VISA to expire so I could leave. Stagnating. Kind of like just withering away.
I had recovered from the mini-heat episode but my senses and thoughts were incredibly shaken. I tried to figure out how exactly I entered that state of confused frustration. I could have just blamed the heat but I knew it was something more. Looking back now, it was the monotony of the routine. Wake Up, Clean, Breakfast, etc, etc. For days on end. No breaks, no changes in rhythm, no interesting surprises. Most of all, I couldn’t see any ‘external’ application of what I was doing. Translating and reading texts is a lot of fun, intellectually. But I needed something to satisfy the more go-getting, initiative, almost animalistic side of me that deals with change. Its always been entrepreneurship for me but at a more basic level, I just needed something different. Something that I could build and see progress in.
Looking back now I learned a lot about myself – specifically that I’m not the type of person to be in quiet and reserved places with a routine schedule for hours at a time. As a side effect, my consistent meditation and Taiji has been shot, although I think it’s a small price to pay for the return of my sanity. My reading and writing habits were evidently shot as well. Picking it back up was more difficult than I thought but once I got started again, it was easy to keep up. I suppose that’s the case with most pre-nurtured habits. I’m actively reading about positive psychology and happiness now though. It’s a very fascinating topic and helps explain a lot of my thought processes and others as well.
I did find a product possibility so that was good. But progress is slow because the internet back here is not ideal and the environment isn’t conducive to building anything up. My calligraphy has improved considerably in the months that I was in Henan. I can feel the pressure of the brush and almost instinctively ‘know’ whether or not the water to ink ratio matches with the speed that my brush moves. I can control the depth of strength much better. It was a nice surprise for me, suddenly realizing and taking in the progress of a hobby/skill that is very difficult to measure. Returning to the same spot for calligraphy helped magnify that difference for me. I remember the feeling of looking at the finished characters during the winter months. Having that to compare against, the characters looked a lot better and realization that it was ‘different’ made progress much easier to spot.
I’m also getting through my trove of Typography books and lessons. I’ve finished Foundations of Typography  from Lynda.com. It was extremely well organized and I’ll post a review of it later as well. My project now is to master the themes on Wordpress to complement my HTML and CSS. That way I can start creating web design mock-ups to apply what I’ve learned instead of outsourcing them. The performance and learning goal is to do a finished website for free, for some intuition.
Perhaps the best habit that I’ve developed is exercising. I actually HATE exercise because of some bad memories in childhood. Fencing in high school was the best thing to ever happen to me. It kept me from becoming a Krispy Kreme Flubber-Tubby.
But ball sports in general and working out wasn’t really my thing. Oddly enough, I started doing P90X again. Again, as in for the 3 or 4th time. I tried a few times in college but I never really stuck with it. Either because I just felt insecure trying to compete with everyone else in college for muscularity or because I was always in a state of depression that I just couldn’t really stick with it. Looking back, college is really the best time to get in shape. Not only because you get to flaunt your stuff to hot girls, but because your schedule, facilities, and diet are all easily controlled and arguably free. I bought a pair of Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells to commit to it Senior year and while it remains one of my better financial decisions, I think I could have used it more. Now, instead of the luxury of working out in Claremont Hall (or Crown Hall), and using some high-tech weights, I have to use boulders and rocks. Alternate between tree-logs and water jugs. Improvise with string and stick for some other exercises. I was also considerably better shape in Claremont because I still fenced occasionally. Here, other than the hike up the mountain, which you only do once if you want to stay up here to live, there really isn’t much other stuff to exercise with. I’ve kept up with it for atleast two weeks now, finding myself incredibly inflexible. I suppose its replaced a majority of my meditation and Taiji time, though a lot of the principles in Taiji translate to working out as well.