Random Thoughts & Personal Column

Artemio UrbinaThanks for visiting my random thoughts section. It is a bit of a personal thing, and maybe you won't find it amusing or useful... but here it is anyway. I am sure it has some typos, and that it may not be a good read since I have not properly edited it for good pacing, but I needed to type it. I will eventually write stuff here, and I promise I will revise it when I get some time.

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01/10/2002 It is impressive how our compassion is affected by living in a big city. It is a shame that you cannot offer help when you see a parked car with the driver trying to figure out the problem, because you are afraid it might be dangerous.

The other day I was leaving home, just closing the garage, when a humble man approached me. He was about my age, and he was dressed as a mechanic, covered with a bit of grease from working hard. I was in a hurry, since it was late for me. The young man asked me if I wanted my car washed, or the garden trimmed. I told him I didn't, and prepared to continue closing the doors, but this man told me: "Please sir, lend me some money, I can come later and do any of these jobs for you. I am a honest man and will leave my ID so you know I will be back". This brought me back to reality, out of my routine and train of thought, as he noticed I paid more attention, he proceeded: "My daughter is ill, and I need to buy her some medicine. I only need 6 dollars. Please, help me". I took my wallet, and gave him approximately 10 USD. He covered his eyes and sobbed. I tried to comfort him, but a bit awkwardly since all had happened so fast. He told me he would pay back when he could.. with work or the money. I assured him it was not necessary, and he left.

When you live in a city like this, you doubt of any such individual. Of course I had some reasons to believe him, the way he acted and what he said. But who am I to judge if something like that is true or not? The only thing I know is that, in such a situation, I would like someone to believe me.

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"Human suffering has been caused because too many of us cannot grasp that words are only tools for our use, and that the mere presence in the dictionary of a word like 'living' does not mean it necessarily has to refer to something definite in the real world." -- Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

08/10/2002 I am here at my office not busy, but waiting for my friends and colleagues to finish some work. I have just finished my part, but the tension is high. And I am thinking, about what I want for myself and what I have done so far in my life. One of my main thoughts is around a fact that we rarely consider: that human beings only find out that something is important when it is not present. What I am talking about is an intangible asset, and I think that one of the most precious... I am talking about tranquility.

I have come to believe that what I want most in my life is living with little worries, little pressure... who wouldn't? Yes, it is a fact I have been living quite stressed these few months (or is it years?), it is only natural in the type of business I work. But, is it really worth all the trouble? Don't take me wrong, I am not referring to what has been accomplished so far or what is to come in the future. I am talking about the stuff we create, about how we invent our own new pressures and worries in this society. It is not an easy idea to transmit, so let me explain it in some other way.

I am alive, a human being that is a marvel of whatever you want to call it: nature, chaos, biology, chance, evolution, god, culture... I am conscious and aware of my surroundings, I take decisions. I feel and think. I can perceive my incredible environment, the world and other individuals with which I can interact... whom I can befriend, love and share the world with. So is everyone else. I can (could?) be so happy with so little indeed. And I believe everyone could.

I find it interesting and very amusing how we enter society every day. And how most of the times we forget we are just entering this big theatre in which we take our roles (that have been partially self-imposed and partially imposed by society). I mean, am I really a Computer Science Engineer? Of course I am not (although I have such title), that doesn't define me. Neither I need something to define me. I simply am.

What I found amusing is that we create all this. That we have defined a reality on top of reality. We have created new needs and worries on top of our lives. We have created society and culture. I don't mean that those are wrong, not at all. But just think how interesting it is, and somewhat funny that we have created all this but we are not satisfied, we grow tired of it and bored... so we create entertainment. What is entertainment? I think it is all about stories... all about some type of fantasy. Be it realistic fantasy, or fiction it is a story created so we can forget our situation for a moment. And, couldn't that be one of the reasons we created all this around us anyway? I sometimes think about how all this came to be. Of course there is no single reason, nor a single process... there are many reasons why society has evolved and roles have been assigned to individuals, it is necessary and thanks to that we have come to be what we are as a race in terms of civilization and technology.

What I am trying to express here is indeed very simple, that we should not let this everyday stuff burden us. We should take it as it is, and not let it interfere on how good our life quality is, in terms of being happy. It is not reason enough to be depressed, or to treat someone in a way that person doesn't deserve. Don't live without tranquility for the sake of something that - although it appears to be - is not that important in the end.

"There's no such thing in the world as absolute reality. Most of what they call real is actually fiction."

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13/10/2002 Today I was walking in another country for a while. I had longed some freedom and I got it, but it didn't feel quite right. Until then I realized that the freedom I wanted was not in the sense of going anywhere I wanted, but freedom of time. It is in fact quite simple, being able to plan your time as you wish without worrying about other things.

Although thinking about that when you have some time for yourself is not the best idea,you know. It is rather illogical to use that important time thinking you are not free to use your time, but after all we are made out of contradictions, ain't we?

A couple of days ago, I was talking with a friend about time, how relative it is. I was explaining to him my posture regarding that matter. "For me", I told him, "time is the most relative thing of them all. It is one thing that we completely created to keep track of the sequence of events in our lives. Just think about it, in the beginning we probably measured the time in days and moons. Since that didn't prove that useful - when we had the technology - we divided those in hours and seconds. Those units of time, were measured against natural events that were precise... like, say, the vibration of a crystal or the period of such atoms. But, isn't that relative too? Isn't there a temperature at which they react differently? And besides, what certainty do you have that time is the same for your cells, thoughts and the watch your are looking at?"

Coincidentally, today I read a very similar thought by Ray Kurzweil, in the book "The age of spiritual machines". It happens all the time, I am thinking about some specific matter, and talking about it with my friends, and it suddenly appears everywhere. It is that thing we call a coincidence, but I believe that coincidences happen all the time, it is just that we are more receptive sometimes. Anyway, in the book Kurzweil talks about a theory of "Time and chaos". According to it, time passes faster when the order is higher, and slower when chaos is the dominant part of a system. That means, that whilst things are more ordered, more patterns would emerge from them, thus rendering more events. And when the situation is chaotic, few things will happen, making time pass slower. I found that theory quite interesting, relating it directly with the perception we get when we are doing something or bored, and how we perceive time in such situations.

When I was walking by to the border line to return to my country, I was pondering about something that saddened me a bit. I am not easily amazed by the world. It is rather sad that I am not even amazed my how big my lack of capacity of amazement is. It is very few moments in my current situation that bring such type of joy to my life, being that amazement is an interior state. I will therefore work a bit on being more of a child and stop trying to categorize and classify every other thing I learn about, and be more amazed by them. I also thought about how stupid border lines between countries are, and how well we work on defining them. It is amazing how by walking past some point, you find different architecture, culture and language. We work on keeping those apart, trying not to mix them.

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Fan work by: Artemio Urbina 2001-2017