Tesfaye Gebreab died

My blogging had been stale for a while so I thought to start things over by sharing my opinion over a recent news item.

When it comes to controversial legacies, I don’t think any contemporary Ethiopian writer comes close to that of Tesfaye Gebreab’s. This man, who was born and raised in Bishoftu (a small city 45 kms from Addis Ababa), spent the latter half of his life in exile between Kenya, South Africa, the Netherlands and finally in Eritrea. It was during his years in exile that he published most of his books. Before getting in the wrong with the then Ethiopian ruling clique and being forced to fled the country, he served as a journalist and head of the press agency.

During his tenure as a head of the press agency, he saw the publication of his first book “ye burka zimita” (silence of Burka). The book, which is a fiction based on an alleged historical injustice on the people of Oromo by the people of Amhara, was published in mid 90s. I read this book many years ago and I still remember how it repulsed me. It was also my first eye opening moment to the counterfactual Ethiopian history. Not much sooner after its publication, the book became popular among the Oromo youth (the group which it was initially catered for). As a result of “the newly uncovered historical facts” of the book, societal division deepened both at home and abroad (in the Ethiopian diaspora). The ill-described historical narratives of this book yet remain to be the source of controversy in the Ethiopian political discourse.

Prior to publishing his own book, Tesfaye was also the editor of a series of books named “Teraran Yanketekete Tewlid” (The generation that shook the mountains). These books mostly narrate the legends of TPLF fighters during the 17 year fight with the Dergue (the socialist regime of Ethiopia). I believe the majority of the stories, which I have no doubt are overly exaggerated (as most history written by winners of war is), contributed to TPLF’s invincibility fable. Unfortunately, such narcissism led to the siege of Nov 3rd by TPLF, that was followed by an indescribable amount of death and destruction.

After defecting the country, Tesfaye wrote a series of books (“ye gazetegnaw mastawosha”, ” ye derasiw mastawosha” and “ye sidetegnaw mastawosha” and other books). The first book of these series, “ye gazetegnaw mastawasha”, which was an expose of the then top leadership of Ethiopia, was widely read. The non-political sections of these series of books (the part about his childhood, his upbringing, the parts about the quotidian life of Ethiopian writers in the 90s whom Tesfaye befriended) were marvelous. These small non-political chapters in most of his books are perhaps where Tesfaye showed his potential to be a great story teller, with a great command of the Amharic language.

Tesfaye was a talented writer who nevertheless who wasted his opportunity to seal his name among the greatest Ethiopian writers. I am going to finish a paraphrased quote from the great Sebhat G/Egziabher (of whom Tesfaye was a good friend and a colleague) about Tesfaye: “Tesfaye has no equal when it comes to mixing some truth with a bag of lies

An Italian semifinal, a night to remember

Italy qualified for the finals of the Euro 2020 last night beating Spain in penalties, after an extra 30 minutes. In the city where I currently live in, the celebration of the victory afterwards was insane. Young people went into the center of the town lined up on the sides of the street. Then every time a car or a moto/vespa passed by, they stopped it, encircled it and cheered by drumming the body of the car and singing. Naturally some of the songs were insulting the Spanish team and the Spanish but in the typical Italian style France was also the subject of the insult (I have come to realize that there is a huge antagonism for France and French people from Italians, for reasons I am yet to come aware of). The post match celebration is something I will cherish forever and probably one of the most fun nights I had in Italy.

Next Sunday, Italy will play against the winners of England and Denmark.

Viva Italia

An ode to my mother

People who know me, know about my stern criticism and my, not so undisguised, rage against mainstream feminism. Nonetheless, my greatest hero is also a female: not just some random female but the same female that shot me out of her womb some decades ago. This young lady (despite she is in her late 50’s right now, she’s still a young lady to me), merited her greatness not just by her default biological attributes of being able to bare kids, but through by what she went through to raise me and my sister.

My mother had me when she was in her late 20’s, while she was some whippersnapper middle school teacher in Ethiopia. I was a happy accident, which according to her, brought fulfillment and purpose to her life (and also my dad’s). My parents never got married despite my conception cemented their relationship. Though she recounts so many stories about my early childhood, my first vivid memories about my mom are those of her taking me to the park and to playing with me.

Growing up, my mother made sure that me and my sister got the best education possible, though she barely afforded it. As a consequence, her self-care was totally sacrificed for our education and our well-being. Apart from her self-righteousness, mom is also greatly productive in how she handled her day. Growing up, here is how her typical day looked like: she wakes up at 5:30 am everyday and she cleans up the house, then she prepares our breakfast and lunch. After that she wakes us up at around 7 am and gets us ready for our day. She usually leaves for work at around 8 am and comes back home after a full day of work at around 5 pm. Up on her arrival, a house work usually eats the next 2 hours of her remaining day until she finally starts to make dinner for us in the early evening. Though we helped a bit in the house work (me cooking and my sister cleaning), the major chunk of the work was still done by her. When I think about it now, it really amazes me how she had the energy to do all of that everyday.

If I have to talk about one of the greatest thing about my mother, it should be about her resilience. I have seen this woman pass through the death of a spouse (my dad) at a young age. She then witnessed the crumbling of her vibrant family and her world with the death of her brothers, her sisters and her childhood friends. All of it tainted her heart, surely some more than the others, but it never broke her. She just kept going when there didn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. Despite all, she kept being the pillar for both her immediate and extended family. She is also a well trusted member of her community and had served various social leadership positions in the community.

My mother is my greatest hero, not because I am indebted to her for my 23 chromosomes ( 🙂 ) but mostly for her selflessness in raising me and my sister. I am also grateful to her for the resilience and the lightheartedness she bestowed upon me.

Dear mom (or as I call her Batiye ባቲዬ), I long understood that a single life time is not going to be enough to repay you back for everything, so in the greatest words of the one and only Mr. Tupac Shakur, I say to you:

There’s no way I can pay you back
But the plan is to show you that I understand
You are appreciated
, lady

Happy mothers day young lady and I love you so much.

Your favorite kid (sorry sis 🙂 )

The politics of my name

Here is my (micro) identity crisis…

Crisis I: My name is supposed to be pronounced “Brook” (ብሩክ) but for some weird reason it was always written in English as “biruk” (ቢሩክ) in all my official documents. This didn’t matter when I lived in ET but living abroad means that I have to explain this nuance to almost everyone I know (literally), when they get to see how my name is spelled 🙂

Crisis II: This hurdle began when I applied for my passport for the first time some years ago, when some pen pusher at the immigration office decided to put in the wrong birthday. Back in those days getting an ET passport was a hustle and deciding to change it was going to be a bureaucratic nightmare. So I went on and did all my collage application with the wrong birthday. From then on I am 10 days older in all my official documents and I get more “happy birthday” emails on my fake birthday than on the real one 🙂 ..

Crisis III: This is again caused by the policy of the immigration office. Since we don’t have the last name system in Ethiopia, when I applied for my passport, my grandfather’s name became my last name. But not only that, the same office deiced to join my name and my father’s name into a one long first name. Oh, how many times I had to correct people when they struggled to call me with this long ass name (In the wise words of Bill Burr, “It’s brutal ” 🙂 ). This last name thing also means that I have to be called after my grandfather whom I have never met and who really didn’t have to do anything with my upbringing. It has been many years and I still can’t get used to being called with this last name, it sort of feels like being identified with a token or something like a prison id 🙂

Crisis IV: This one is just a self inflicted. Inspired by the story of some engineer, who legally changed his name to small letters, I sign my name on emails as biRuk. So the other week I received an official email which started as Dear Mr biRuk 🙂…So I am this person whose name has been spelt wrong throughout my life, who also has the predicament of being called after my grandfather, whom I have never met and to put the icing on the cake, I also have to confuse between two birth dates…

Could this be labeled as a micro identity crisis ? 🙂

እንደዚህ አይነት ትግል ነው የገጠመን 🙂

It’s the quality of the question, stupid

It was in the early evening of one of those mid July Tuesdays, after roaming around for hours on end, that I finally decided to rest and reflect on my day while seeping a cold lager, at one of my favorite joints in one of my favorite corners of New York city: the famous McDougal street. This street, including the neighborhood, which is called Greenwich village, is one of the most fascinating and historically significant street I have ever been in my life and I will write about it in a different blog post, but now back to my story. Not long after I sat, the table next to me was occupied by four gentlemen, out of whom the three I immediately recognized. As it turns out, I was sitting a few feet from the famous standup comedians Dave Attell, Keith Robinson and Jim Norton. I consider myself a huge standup comedy buff and I watch quite a lot standup clips everyday and funnily enough, I was even watching a YouTube video featuring Norton and Attell just minutes before they came and sat next to me. Don’t you find these kinds of situations very weird ? This is probably why New York is the greatest city in the world. As much as I wanted to exchange a few words with these chaps and perhaps take a selfie with them, I couldn’t, due to the obvious covid scare. How many things can we lose due to this pandemic by the way ? Anyways, this post is not a rant about the pandemic or about the missed opportunities for a selfie with some comedians but it was born out of a reflection after very short conversation with the manager of the bar (this bar happened to be the famous NY comedy cellar) where I was at.

On my way out after paying, I met Liz, who manages the comedy cellar. As I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to ask her about the cellar, I blurted the first unfiltered thing on my mind:

me (geekishly): So when are you guys going to start comedy shows ?

Liz (detachedly and not even looking at me): Governor Cuomo hasn’t been telling me anything so I don’t know. (then walks away while grabbing some chairs)

As she didn’t seem keen for further engagement, I simply walked out. But while walking to the train station, I couldn’t but be bothered by her attitude in responding my question. My immediate thought sounded more like “after all, the X amount of $ I haven’t I spent in the establishment, though it might not get me an answer for my question, it should at least protect me from a cold shoulder treatment right ?”  Dear reader, I can imagine that you’re starting to feel a bit uneasy from the level of ego and sense of entitlement packed into my immediate reaction about the failed communication. At this point, I don’t even blame you if you might also have dropped a “who the f*** does this guy think he is “. So what was the problem that took our brief communication off the rails or better yet, what would have it taken to make our brief interaction a bit more satisfactory or at least didn’t end in resentment from one side ?  I argue that it all had to do with the quality of my question.

While waiting the D train, to go to uptown Manhattan, where I live, I couldn’t help but put myself in Liz’s shoes and reflect on the situation. How many times had she faced a similar question, everyday, in the past couple of weeks during the pandemic ? I would guess she had been asked this mindless question enough times to be frustrated enough into spewing a mindless automated reply. In fact, under such a time, where businesses are uncertain about their future and the continuance of their survival, my mindless question could have  added to her anxiety. Okay, before this starts to sound a prologue to communication seminar, I will get to my point. Splicing our brief interaction and wondering how our brief interaction could have been improved led me to one place: the quality of the question.

I could have asked a slightly better question or I could have simply framed my question in a different way such as:

  • Are you guys thinking of some outdoor shows somewhere in the city
  • Are you planning of partnering in anyone of those outdoor activities “
  • If indoor crowds are allowed tomorrow, how would you guys safely manage things

The quality of our lives can be correlated to the quality of the problems we try to solve everyday and daring to solve any problem starts with asking questions. Hence, by the transitive law, the quality of our lives is also correlated to the quality of questions we tend to pose in each day. In fact, out of the few things I learned in the first year of graduate school, the one that strikes me the most is how in research a good questions might even be more important than their answers. Sure, finding an answer for a mediocre question can get you publish a paper in a conference but a good question can have an enormous impact on your field of study or can just totally revolutionize it. As a matter of fact, in the entire human history, countless things have taken place as a result of good question but perhaps, one that stands out the most is a question following a falling apple in the garden of Isaac Newton. That question alone eventually led to the discovery of the theory of gravity, the three laws of motion and calculus (Isaac really knows how to take it easy huh 🙂 ).

But I must point out that, good questions don’t just come out of no where. It is highly unlikely that we wake up some day endowed with the astuteness to ask great questions. Like most things in life, asking good questions is a skill that is achieved by training the mind to be alert and developing keen observation skills. These are also mental qualities that are related to mindfulness.

So dear reader, if I managed to convince you that pursuing answers for good questions can improve your life, why don’t you start from now by carefully looking at your life, your surrounding and start asking one ? As for me, I have already found the great question for the day: “What am I doing still writing this blog and conversing with an imaginary reader this late into the night, when I have a conference call tomorrow at 9 am ” ?

Resolution for 2020: Salad, Situps and Scrupulousness

It was on the Christmas night of 2019 in Berlin, while having a chat over drinks with my best friend, in one of the Bars in Friedrichshain, that I came up with this resolution. This friend of mine and I met in our late teens at Uni and it didn’t last long before realizing the friendship was there to last. I don’t know about you dear reader of this blog post, but I tend to have good personal relationship with people with great and usually self-deprecating sense of humor. The amount of inside jokes between this friend and I is innumerable that we can spend hours and hours exchanging banters, roasting each other, make parody of past events etc… So it was in this same spirit of hilariousness that I came up with this resolution that night. The resolutions had to respect two simple rules: They needed to be composed of only one word (can also be a compounding of two or more words) and they must all start with the same letter.

I made a quick headcount of the things I have been meaning to do but was not able to. I have been pulling a lot of long nights (and sometimes even a couple of all nighters) in the lab lately and long night in the lab means ordering takeout food every time, which isn’t exactly healthy. Granted I live in the “good food capital of the world”, and there is a very good chance even the food you get from a modest takeout joint might not be worse by far from the food you get from a proper restaurant but however good, 3 Pizzas a week is too much. I haven’t been eating right and if I have to chose a single word to codify my desire to get over this terrible habit in the new year, it would be Salad. That’s right, no better word can represent eating right than a fucking “Salad” :). I have also not been working out lately (again all due to being in the lab even in the ungodly hours of the day) so a proper single word that means working out and starts with S would be Sit-ups (Granted I could have thought a better word but I told you I already had a couple of long-islands in me right ? so fuck off ? 🙂 ). 

Last but not least I have been meaning to improve the quality of my attention to some of the things I work on my spare time. I believe having a hobby is good for the mind and generally improves the quality of your life (plus if you happen to be good at something the ladies happen to like, it might get you laid often, what do you know 🙂 ). For example, I want to do my drumming as well as my weekend electronic design projects with an extra diligence and more organization. So what is that word which starts with S and which correctly represents this extra meticulousness that I am trying to bring to some of my crafts? Scrupulousness. (let me guess, right now, you’re thinking ” There is not way this fucking guy kept up with his Oxfordian level of vocabulary even after being this hammered? “. And you’re right, I had to google an S word to represent this resolution the next day, hangover on my friend’s couch 🙂 .) 

So this year I am aiming for Salad, Sit-ups and Scrupulousness. What are you shooting for this year ?

EDIT: The resolution is now updated with “staying-safe” due to the looming threat of the Corona virus 🙂

Bus missed: Lesson learned

I started my morning with an utter irritation caused due to missing an inter-city bus which was supposed to take me to an airport 300 KMs away. To go to the inter-city bus station I had to take another bus before. It was in the process of taking this first bus that things started to become murkier. I was delighted to take the first bus in time (delighted because knowing myself I am usually either on time or a bit late but not often in time). The horror started to creep in not long after the bus passed a few stops. Yes, you guessed it: I was on the right bus but it was going in a totally opposite direction to where I wanted to go. I would later discover, to my dismay, in the place where I took this bus, there were two different pick up points for this same bus. If you take the bus from one of the pickup points, you would go straight to the inter-city bus station while if you are an unlucky chap like me who picked the other one, you will end up 10s of KMs 180 degrees away from the inter-city bus station. Once I figured out I had erred I tried everything to get back en-route. Long story short I would later get on the right bus line but miss my second bus for minutes. It was exactly at this crucial moment that the real horror began. First of all, just like the stock market graph sharply rises or plunges following some incident, my travel suddenly became super expensive. It was hard to book something cheaper this last minute, besides booking something cheap to reach my destination also means compromising my flight which would lead to some more chaos. The travel options were bounded in time and that’s what makes them expensive.

It took a while but emotions settled and I booked a train to go to the airport. Then over a cup of coffee close to the train station I started to think Why I missed the bus. Is missing this bus just a coincidence or is there something behind my thinking which isn’t exactly allowing me to meet most of my timing requirements?

Now I do believe missing this bus was not entirely my fault (I arrived in time, and only due to lack of prior information that I took the right bus headed the wrong way. Had I taken the right bus heading the right way I would have had abundant time take the second bus) nevertheless I felt a burden of guilt. So naturally, I started questioning all my decisions in life as one does in situations like this. What wasn’t also helping was the fact that I under-slept the night before finishing up some work whose execution time I underestimated.

My relationship with time has become sort of distorted. I have fallen victim to the habit of doing things at the last minute. This is on top of usually being bent upon underestimating/overestimating how much time a task is going to take. The first is dependent on the second. The proper estimation of the duration for the completion of a task is perhaps an important skill to move forward in life efficiently. It allows to compartmentalize activities and protects against leakage of tasks into one another. Having this skill entails meticulously timing oneself over the course of a task while also being mindful of oneself.

To work on my negative habit of doing things at the last minute I am going to start thing backwards in time instead of thinking forward. For example if I have to take a bus at 10:45 I would start by constraining myself to arrive there 5 minutes before. Then I would estimate the time between my current location and the bus station using different means of getting there. This gives me the approximate time I should leave. This is how I would also reason to complete the work on my next paper. The deadline is on September 9. The paper should be ready 3 days before this deadline hence September 6 is the real deadline. The paper will have 6/7 sections and these can be broadly divided in to 3 categories. The introduction and literature survey part, the theoretical part and the experimental results part. The last two parts constitute the heart of the paper and deservedly require most of the effort involved in writing the paper. Today is the 8th of August and I would like to have the theoretical part nailed down by the 26th of September. This means I have to finish formulating the models I work on by the 22nd of September and write the theoretical part of the paper in the remaining 4 days. The experimental part is also going to take lots of days but most of the experiments can be automated and can concurrently be done with other work such as writing the theoretical part. By the 31st of August or 1st of September I would like to have all experimental results along with the plots and tables. The next two days are going to be used to refine and integrate the theoretical and experimental part of the paper while the next two days will be used to write the introduction and literature review sections.

Lessons from this morning: work on your approximate estimation of completion time of tasks and when it comes to arriving somewhere or achieving something start thinking back in time (from a deadline or arrival time of a bus) instead of thinking forward. But the most import lesson would be don’t hesitate to ask bus drivers where the bus is going if you are not entirely sure.

Curing Numbness

I am gonna come clean from the start, in the past couple of years life for me has mostly been very difficult, numbing and without much of excitement. In fact there are moments where it seemed too much to handle. Though, after a careful observation, ironically, I have traced the source of my own suffering, most of the time, to be myself . How am I the cause for my own misery you ask? Well this is a question whose answer might literally fill up a page but if I were to cherry pick, overwhelming myself with unrealistic expectations both from myself  and from the world, endless overthinking, obsession with the trivial, demanding immediate result from anything I try to do or teach myself (hence colossal disappointment when results take their natural due time to arrive) and most of all an incessant self judgement and validation based on a distorted past image of myself would be the top contenders for my self sabotage. I would say 50-60% of my daily thoughts are these exacts thoughts or a derivative of them.

I don’t mean to imply all my problems are mind related, in fact I do have many physical problems. Last summer I was hospitalized for a day due to kidney stones (Now I don’t consider myself extremely tough but I also have never expected a pebble with a less than 2mm diameter to totally shatter my endurance making me wish my own immediate death 🙂 ). A year and a half ago while playing football I twisted my ankle and broke some ligaments therefore abstaining from any physical activity (even walking 2kms) for 6 months and from football for one year.

The silver bullet for most of my psychological problems I believe is mindfulness. Mindfulness as a remedy can address this problem in different forms. One can be for example observing my troublesome thoughts as soon as they arise instead of passively plunging myself into the emotional roller-coaster which is triggered by these thoughts. This is activity, which actually is the essence of mindfulness, saves the mind from being taken as a hostage by any thought that arises. After breaking the spin the natural second step would be refuting the thesis of these negative thoughts with a logic. All negative thoughts start from untrue premises and end up making unsound logical arguments. Anyone who is aware of the fundamental tenets of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can eventually master the habit of logically disputing these thoughts.

When it comes to my case the nail that seals the coffin of mindfulness is writing. I have to admit I haven’t been writing for a long time. In fact even on this blog there are a handful blog posts which had been started but never completed. Writing, at least in my case, used to give me the ultimate clarity into whatever I was writing about. The reason for this is simple: Before writing one has to think about what is to be written. The thinking continues also during the writing leading to a further clarity and a fine-grained understanding/misunderstanding of the matter. Consider this a public pledge to write at least one blog post a week.


Contemplations on ageing

I turned 28 last week. I was born on a Monday morning, at 7:15 AM (my mother has made it a tradition of waking me up at 7:15AM on my birthday every year). I was born in Jimma, a historical city 350Km away from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My memory of Jimma is vague and doesn’t really constitute much more than bleak images of me playing football on the dusty streets in our neighborhood with my childhood friends Esrom and Aaron, the big compound we used to share with the 4 families, Asnaku who is the youngest daughter of our neighbor Ato Zekarias’ family and who loved and cared for me so much (she practically raised me, per my mom’s recount). I can’t also forget the shop of Bezabih where I used to be offered  candies everyday by the kind shopkeeper, Bezabih. Teka Pastry (my favorite place in the whole of Jimma as I still remember the sweet delicacies), the awetu river and the park where my mom used to take me every weekend. I only lived in Jimma until I was 6, as my family moved following my dad who already started a new job in Addis Ababa.

Addis would become the city of my living, my schooling and transformation into adulthood. When I was 14 going on 15, at the first year of high school, I met my 3 best friends, Melkam, Abel and Yared and life took a sharp turn to the better, to the utter joie de vivre. A more than 14 years of friendship never lost its flair, not even once.  I  sometimes wonder how my life would have turned out if my path hadn’t crossed with these wonderful gentlemen. Another grand change took place in my life once again when at the age of 24 I left Ethiopia and moved to the boot shaped southern European country (aka Italy) to pursue further education. A small norther Italian city named Trento became the place of my dwelling for the next two and half years. I then moved to the beautiful medieval city of Pisa. My reflections about life in Italy in general could simply take hundreds of pages, hence I prefer not to to get into it here except perhaps acknowledging the fact that some of the  most wonderful and meaningful friendships I have ever had were formed in this wonderful land. Having been for a long time in a small but extremely tight circle of friends close friends in the past, moving to Italy made me aware of the different levels of friendships, the value of good friendship and how much of an effort it takes to cultivate one. All in all Italy has been casa a lontana da casa. The intention of this small memo was not actually to narrate my upbringing but to examine my current life a little bit, where it is now (per my perception) and where it ought to have been or better yet where I wished it should have been.

Examining one’s life, though necessary, is an arduous endeavor. From the face of it, when one himself is the examiner, the defendant, the judge and the jury of ones own path through life, the whole process becomes dubious and the results that come out of it ought not be totally trusted.  However it must be done since it is the only practical way to obtain clarity about oneself. Though there might be so many ways of examining oneself my preferred method is engaging myself in a self-conducted Q&A over a few things which I think are important.

Question 1. Who am I ?

Besides serving as a title for one of Jackie Chan’s movies 🙂 this overly famous question had been and is being posed in an infinite places and ways in different scientific, philosophical or artistic works. By asking myself this overloaded question, my intention is not study my ancestry but to get a better clarity over the sense of myself. Has it never happened to you that after you thought you have a pretty accurate grasp of who you really are, sometimes (and usually under certain circumstances) you are completely taken over by another temporary “you” whose characters are diametrically different from what you had defined yourself to be? It is not uncommon for this new “you” to be more courageous, less bothered with uncertainties, more compassionate or the contrary to all these positive behavioral attributes. These are the moments where I pause and question where all my presumed sense of self came from in the first place.

I grew up with people. I work and live with people consequently a lot of my thinking has directly or indirectly been influenced by my surrounding. As I had not proved or carefully examined everything that was passed  down to me as truth or fact of life, my life is built upon assumptions which I take for granted. Relying on a external wisdom (that is gained from of other people through different ways) is important when it comes to saving time and effort to deal with complex reality but it is also very dangerous if this wisdom is used without bounds. For example without massive collaborations between different universities in the US in the 60’s and 70’s the Internet would not have existed. Collaboration implies trusting the veracity of the work of others (or the wisdom of others) and extending their work or making it part of some larger project. This does not mean the veracity of the work of others is blindly taken for granted and if need be (as it is always the case) it is open for scrutiny. The beauty of science relies in its openness for correction when err.  So getting back to my self-reflection, I understand that the basis for my sense of self is partly a composition of external and internal assumptions and “facts” I grew up being fed as the basis for how reality is or “facts” I used in order to construct a higher abstraction about everything I know.

Simply stated, the path to knowing who I am largely lies in the conscious observation of  the assumptions which I base each of my decision moment after moment.  The observation involves asking some very fundamental questions such as “Why do I want to do this”, “are these assumptions that I am justifying whatever it is I am trying to do correct or how do I know if they are correct”, “is there anyway my assumptions could be wrong or perhaps more interestingly, how will things play out if I choose a different set of assumptions” etc… Questions like these would eventually expose the system of thinking one has developed over many years and one uses to define oneself consciously or unconsciously. They also have the power to correct or at least identify a problematic way of thinking.

Over the past years I must admit I have made progress on questioning my own thoughts, external assumptions and suspending a verdict over the veracity of thought until I have enough evidence. As living an active life is demanding, I sometimes slip into old habits of taking things for granted.

Question 2: What are the natural forces which are against me

Through civilization, mankind was able to diminish the domain of the fatal natural forces from what they amounted thousands of years ago. Today, the natural forces which still remain in the high end of the fatal spectrum, though perilous, have at least been rendered predictable. An asteroid is as deadly as it was 10000 years ago but now it’s descent to the earth can be tracked way before its impact. To a certain degree it can be said that the major concern in modern life, with regards to natural forces, is more about meaningful existence than it is about survival. So what are the natural forces we are up against in our time ?

One of the most abundant natural force which is posing a threat to a meaningful existence is entropy. But first what do I mean by entropy? The second law of thermodynamics states that

[Part II] to be continued