Patience is a Virtue

Like many other traits losing grip in today’s society, patience is not something to be underestimated. Especially in a time where everything needs to go fast, efficient and to the point, it’s losing a lot of attention. People get interested in something and they want to exhaust it as much as they can in the shortest time avaiable. After some time they will lose their interest and move on to the next thing. This is usually the pattern I see in a lot of people’s behaviour nowadays. Sometimes I’m afraid the economy will affect our minds too much, as I catch myself thinking in the same way every now and then.

The act of being patient, letting time pass as you wait for something. It’s not something everyone can do at the same level, but it is definitely a thing we can learn. Instead of trying to save time by wrapping things up quickly, skip a few notes on a paper or try and take a shortcut, I find it often better to just take the normal route, take my time and do things at my own pace. “But why should we do things at a normal pace? Why not save some extra time so I can watch more television in the evening?” – Is one of the questions I usually get. Again, sometimes I’m afraid this economy has infected some of us a bit too much…

 

Military

I usually start with a military explanation, as it is easily comprehensible. As a military man you’ve recieved training in various aspects of combat. When you eventually enter a combat situation, you don’t have a lot of time to think. It’s act, or be acted upon, which isn’t good news if it happens. Ideally, you’d want to act as quickly as you can, but as you don’t have any time to think you will be limited by the timing of your reflexes. It is not hard to note that soldiers with decades of training will have a higher chance of survival than a rookie new to a gun. Even though they know that they have to act quickly, they will not try to take any shortcuts or speed things up. They rely purely on their reflexes and the training they have done.

They take their time and move at their own pace.

 

Philosophy

In philosophy, reading a book will give you a great number of new insights and thoughts, but to fully comprehend the total wisdom of the book in one run is impossible. It might even take me years to understand one simple concept only to find out that there are millions of other ways to look at it. After all, gathering wisdom, self-knowledge, practical wisdom,… It’s a lifelong journey, not something to be summarised in a couple of pages. It not only requires reading, but thinking about the plentiful subjects. It asks both time and patience. I’ve seen many young students being interested in philosophy, but giving up relatively quickly. It saddens me as it could have made their lives more bright.

 

Any exercise

Just like the previous topics, things take time to build up. If you’re someone who works out a lot, you will have noticed the progression of your strength. Nobody would be able to lift heavy weights without first building up muscle tissues with lower weights. You would not be able to perform those dance moves without practice, and you would not be able to break that brick with your hand if it wasn’t for that daily karate training.

It’s important to note that not only our physical strength / coordination increases, but also our mental capability. Especially on activities with a deeper focus on mental aspects such as martial arts, the many mental traits are being tested and trained as well.

 

Every day life

When doing the normal things I have to do (eat, sleep, transportation, presentations, studying,…), I try not to rush anything. We all have our deadlines we have to meet, but mostly I try to do things at my own pace. Rushing forward will have no benefit to me. I would lose (in)sight of what I’m doing, I would not be able to do it as good as I would have on my normal pace, and I would feel rushed. It might sound silly, but I feel less relaxed if I complete a task earlier due to skipping a few things. When I take the longer route but do it at my own pace I feel more relaxed, even if it took a much longer time to complete and I have no time left for anything else.

I’ll touch on the previous post and say, once again, rushing towards our goal at the end of our path might be an option, but you will miss out on the journey. Life is all about the journey, so there will be a lot of things left behind.

Do not rush your life. Do not chase the person you love as if it would be the last one. Complete your tasks at your own pace and learn about the world while doing so. Don’t give in to the seducing mind of the economy and keep your head clear. Let things come towards you.

To finish off with a quote a beautiful friend of mine showed me a couple of days ago:

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder…” (Thoreau).

It is more applicable in a future post about love, but I find it fitting in many topics such as this one. I will stop here and let you take your time to think about this quote.

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The Adventure of Life

I’ve talked before about the roads of life, the journey we take and the goals ahead of us. Each and every one of us chooses the paths (willingly or unwillingly) to walk on, giving us different views of our surroundings. I’ve also noted that for me, it’s not reaching the end of your goal that matters but the whole journey on its own. Focusing too much on your goal makes you blind for your current position, where you are at the moment and thus making the road you travelled a bit pointless, as you won’t be able to tell anyone about your journey. But if your wish is to reach a certain location and settle down, then you will be a happy man. After all, we all have different goals and choices, so it is hard to judge one’s path.

Some of us will get stuck behind obstacles, lose their determination or can’t find their way. They fall behind, stop moving forward or get lost and start walking the other way, which saddens me. Living in the past or not being able to continue your journey is like giving up on the story of your life.

It’s not just about our own journey either. Sure, I have a couple of goals I want to reach for myself. But if I’m not able to share my journey with other people, it would make me a lonely man. It would feel as if I’d be missing something. We all have our friends partially joining us in our journey. We have people trying to sabotage our roads, others helping us out and then there are our loved ones. After all, humans are social beings (generally speaking).

What would it be if our journeys were lonely? If they weren’t accompanied by our friends, enemies and lovers? Hearing about other people’s stories is important to me, be it their wisdom, intelligence or just the funny moments they encountered. It gives me new insights, new ways to think, new viewpoints on life, …  Without them, I would quickly lose my will to go forward as well.

Our roads are constantly intertwining with each other. It can be directly such as meeting new friends joining us, or it can be indirectly like global warming affecting all of us. Just like it is important to have an eye for the path we walked on, it’s important to watch out for the roads joining your own.

Cherish your journey. It is consisted of good and bad memories, but that’s what makes you who you are. If you forget that, we might as well give up on your journey.  Instead, keep on going. There are plenty of new adventures waiting for you in the future. Enjoy the refreshing feeling of different roads joining yours. In the end, you’ll also share your road with someone else, having found the (wo)man you love. But that’s a different adventure for a different post.

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Soundscape

Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve liked all kinds of music. It didn’t matter what type of music it was, I was always happy when I had music around me. I also switched hobbies a lot when I was a kid, but the ones I sticked with had something to do with music. The first one was breakdance, which I practiced for a couple of years together with gymnastics until I had an accident with my wrist. After a break of 1 year, I started music school (at the age of 15). As soon as I grabbed my guitar for the first time, I realised how stupid I was for not going to music school earlier. My music playing skills weren’t great at all, but I was surrounded with music all night long.

I’ve always had an insane imagination — the details, story plots, random events… I can dream away with ease during not-so-exciting moments, which can turn out somewhat distracting for me. However, when I have a real dream, I am amazed every time by the amount of details, character development, viewpoints, … However, as I have no artistic capabilities, I’ve never been able to reproduce any sort of dream. My writing skills aren’t good, I had to quit music school due to university and even a blind dog can make better drawings than I do.

A few years ago, I discovered that if I mix these two things together — music and imagination — that I get an unbelievable feeling. It’s as if music is acting as a power source, suddenly giving me a whole new stream of information, thoughts, feelings,… I could even call it a second heartbeat, a second brain for more processing power. With music on the background, I was able to think of worlds so detailed I want to get lost in them. Of course, this is impossible. I’m not someone who wishes of ending up in one of these fantasy worlds either, even though the adventure would be quite amazing.

Even if it is impossible to enter these ‘worlds’, the feeling I get when I think of them keep hanging around for quite a while. I started thinking about using this to my advantage, feeding my ears with some calm music before sleep or some more heavier, inspirational ones for karate training or a competitive sports tournament. It basically affects the way I see things, the way I percieve the real world. The reaction is sometimes so great that my whole mood changes.

It’s not only the music; turning on a song doesn’t do much by itself. I’ve got to sit down and let my imagination do the work. If I don’t start letting my mind go free and start seeing some things, I don’t get the true feeling that affects me in such a way. After doing this for numerous times, some songs started creating the same landscape they gave me before. I started calling them ‘Soundscapes‘ and each song had a different one, with a different story, setting and mood. It did not take long before I started building some sort of mental catalog of all these soundscapes.

With today’s technology, music is very accessible. The amount of songs we can buy is amazing, but even for me there is a limit to the amount of soundscapes I can remember. Due to my not-so-genius brain, I forget some soundscapes from time to time. It’s quite sad as I don’t remember the feeling, mood or story that I experienced before. On the other hand, I can listen to the song and rediscover my music, sometimes finding the same soundscape or creating a whole new one.

I find it quite shameful I can’t reproduce these soundscapes. I wish I was able to draw the images, derive my own musical inspiration for a song or develop a story to write down. However, I do not have any of these skills. I hope to continue music school after my graduation, I still play guitar a few nights a week but my progression is not what it used to be.

But for now, I’m happy with my music. I’ll float off in the soundscapes that are constantly changing, leaving me with an unexplainable feeling. I hope I never lose this ability, as it gives me great comfort.

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Honing your skills

This could be taken as an addition to my previous post about determination, as it talks about the same subject.

On a kendo / iaido seminar, one of the masters said one thing to me during the entire seminar, as I asked him a question about his philosophy.

“People are like swords. Their looks can be stunning and their edges sharp. However, when left alone, the sword will rust. It loses its finesse, it loses its shine, and most of all… It loses its heart.”

He left me with this message and went on with the seminar. I was ashamed that I had forgotten his words for a couple of months. For some reason, it popped into my head tonight and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. At first, I thought it was just a saying, but after some thinking I began to see new things, including some of the mistakes I have been making.

I’ll start with the beginning:
“People are like swords. Their looks can be stunning and their edges sharp.”
As spoken in the previous post, people can create their own path using their inner strength. When strong enough, they’ll even be an example for other humans to follow. They’ll live on in memories of others and become respected.
However…:
“…when left alone, the sword will rust. It loses its finesse, it lose its shine, and most of all… It lose its heart.”
You should never give up. You should never back down from your goals, desires, or what you are good at. You should keep practicing and improving your skills. For when one stops reaching for what he truly wants, he will lose his heart. He will become dull, he will become rusty.

 

I can keep talking about what was said to me, but it all comes down to the same thing, written above. Perhaps the fact that I didn’t take some opportunities granted to me, stopped writing on this blog and left my true desires away for a bit, triggered me to remember this quote.

Or, as always, it could just be a random event. Either way, as I kept thinking further and further about this quote, I realised more and more that I was becoming a dull blade, almost ready to be thrown away. I’ll have to work hard to improve myself again.

 

Do not let yourself become dull, keep your hopes, and make yourself shine. As I have proven myself over and over again (in a bad way), nothing is gained without hard work.

I know what I’ll be doing from now on. I hope I’ll never fall into a trap of becoming dull again.

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Determination

Not giving up, never lose sight of your goal, keep standing up when you get knocked down.

Determination is not something everyone has, at least not in the same amount. But it is an important characteristic if you want to achieve your goals. A lack of determination might end up with you giving up too soon when you’re in a pinch. A sad thing, happening to many people in this world. A long series of unfortunate events can bring one’s determination down to zero, where working for your goals just makes it feel like a burden instead of something to look forward to. The exciting futuristic vision becomes dulled with thoughts of the obstacles that lie ahead or that we might have to face. Unpleasant feelings start controlling our minds and we give up at times were we are supposed to shine.
Should you have fears for what lies ahead, let your fears guide you, but do not let them control you. It is a natural reaction to have fear — it warns us for the dangers that lie ahead, making us able to prepare ourselves for it. But do not let your fears control you, let them act as an intelligence feed going inside your brain, letting you make new decisions on how to handle the situation at its best. You should never stop moving forward towards your goals, if an obstacle pops up, think of  a new way to get passed it. It might take a longer route, but it sure beats standing in front of it for the rest of your life.

Obstacles occur to test our determination. No one will achieve their goals without doing anything, and if they do (luck is always a factor), they will not have the same wisdom as the person who travelled a long path. It’s not just the goal that matters — it is the entire journey that makes us who we are. Should you give up on your goals, then you give up on who you are. You might find a new path to walk on, but a part of you will be left behind. Sometimes it is necessary, but I politely ask you to keep on going. Why?

If one is in a pinch and it’s not looking good, they only have their determination to count on. Only the hard work they provide when engulfed in darkness will be able to pull them through. Having faced a lot of hardships on the way, you will have amassed an incredible amount of knowledge and wisdom. Even if it is a short, simple path with no tough obstacles, you will still have travelled down that path. On top of that, you have worked for your goal. You have given it your all, and you have recieved a reward. These do not come freely — hard work is paid off, slackiness will be left behind. The ones who have reached their goals will be a guidepost to others walking along the path. It may be that a road has a lot of obstacles, but seeing someone stand at the end shows the determination a human being can have, and is achievable.

Every possible step taken is one step closer to the impossible. If you get knocked down, let your true desires shine and stand back up. Get your fire burning and start going towards your goals. Never give up, never back down. The tougher the course, the better you will feel after you’ve completed it.

Even if the course cannot be completed over a single lifetime, that does not mean it is not worth it. It is, after all, about the whole journey.
“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.” (- The Last Samurai).

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Know yourself

Probably one of the most asked, yet hard to answer questions, is “Who am I?”.

Knowing yourself is not something that comes easy for most people. I’m still struggling with it after years and I only have part of the answer, although I believe knowing yourself comes throughout your life and there is no ‘finite’ answer, as you yourself grow in time too. Is it important? It certainly is. If you know who you are, you know what you are (not) capable of. To start out easy, we could enter military thoughts. Some people are better at handling certain guns than others — if you prefer long range encounters, you might be better than your average designated marksman after recieving the same training. You can try to use this to your advantage and avoid close ranged combat as this is not where you excel and has a higher risk of you making a mistake. However, to avoid it you must know how it works, and therefore you should recieve training in close ranged combat. Ideally, everyone should learn everything, but that is ofcourse impractical.

If we know who we truly are, we can put us in favorable positions and try to avoid the bad ones. If you know what your passion is, you’ll be able to put your time and effort fully into that area, making you progress at high rates. Knowing who you are allows you to focus on your good qualities so that you can achieve what you want, or you can even work on the bad qualities to make them less bad!

But once you know something, the next question arises. You like music? What instrument do you want to play? How do you want to play it? What type of tone do you want your instrument in?
This keeps getting deeper and deeper for any subject. It might seem like we are lost forever, but when we look back we notice that we have walked such a long way already. We mustn’t forget who we are and what path we have already travelled. Knowing what lies behind you partially makes you who you are. It’s important not to lose sight of it, instead we should cherish our past.

Talking with others helps a lot. Even though other people may never truly know who you are, it doesn’t hurt to get a different point of view on things. And that’s a general rule I advise on everything by the way!

Know yourself, know your capabilities. Enhance those and remove the edges of your bad ones. Know your limits and your goals, as you will be able to create new paths if your current one is impossible to walk.

The quest of knowing who you are is one of a lifetime and is present in all things. I wish you good luck finding your inner freedom!

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Finally returned

My apologies for the lack of my presence the past months.

I took quite a big break from everything and took a step back. It was time to slow down a bit, take things easy and examine the current situation. My quest for knowledge the past years has taught me more than I could imagine. I am only 20 years old, still a young student at the university, so I have nowhere near the amount of intelligence or wisdom that other humans have. I’m not even sure I’ll ever become as wise as them, but that does not matter to me. I am already amazed at the changes I went through since I took a step on the right path. Unfortunately, I had the feeling I was speeding up too much, running towards the goal instead of enjoying the surroundings.
I took some time off from everything to set things right — thousands of questions old and new, doubts coming and leaving every day, …  I was too busy searching for knowledge that I lost track of the rest, making it a bit of a useless journey. I have tons of stuff to talk about, which I shall do in a seperate post each time. I wish I could write them all down here, but one post a few pages long does not appeal to anyone, not even to me if its written by myself. Although I do like to categorise things, we mustn’t forget that everything is connected (more on that later, in a post!).

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