Being Human

Human Being, Not Human DoingI found myself thinking over the last few days about how I’ve grown in different ways and what I need to continue growing. And, as luck would happen, a few people brought to my attention something I had written about how people categorize.

We’re all seen in different ways, and how we see ourselves evolves. How we see ourselves feeds how we are seen, how we are seen affects how we see ourselves, and so on and so forth.

tenorIf you were to ask my friends, you’d probably hear about my irreverent humor, my above average cooking (I’m no chef), or the parallels between myself and a certain Lannister of short stature.

Ask some people I deal with, and you’ll likely hear that I’m honest, straightforward and authentic. Ask others, and I have no idea what they’ll say. I have a close circle, I try to treat everyone as well as I would like to be treated and while I am critical I tend to be critical of actions instead of people. Just because someone does something dumb doesn’t mean that they are dumb.

Of course, after you tell them it’s dumb and they keep doing it…

So all of this made me think of how we classify people, how we classify ourselves, and how it may hold us back from being who we are. When I was growing up – some say I haven’t yet – the recipe was to do well in school in subjects (split up between arts, science and business), do things outside of school, and to not get caught doing things that are wrong and to be seen doing things that are right.

But isn’t it all simply about being human? Don’t we forget that somehow in all these different goals we set out? For a while, all I did was technology because it was my way out of a bad place and bad time – but then, I grew beyond that and despite the world’s culture of specialization. Why must I devote all my time and energy to one facet of my life?

That’s stupid. But I did it for a while, and it catapulted me into more than one glass ceiling. A few broke, not all, but it’s hard to remember the ones broken through – it’s easy to remember the ones that bruised us as we crashed against it.

So I’ve come to a new conclusion over the last few days; being human is about the discovery of what it takes to be whole, and being whole is a dynamic thing.

That’s my rationalization until I come up with a better one.

Beyond

VISIONS: Seeing the Aurora in a New LightThe world we accept tends to be the world we see and we assume that we see all there is – but what we see is never all there is.

How we see it, too, is a larger issue. We have two systems of thinking (see Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman for a more in depth look into this) that we know of so far. The first system gives us our feelings and inclinations – our ‘gut’, as it were – and the second system is how we decide whether they become our attitudes and intentions.

This simplification certainly doesn’t represent these systems and how they interact, but the example provides a firm enough basis to realize that our prejudices, which are not limited to those we consider bad (sexism, racism, et al), are decided at some point by system 2, our rational and conscious mind, and left untouched unless we decide to revisit these prejudices.

What we see is all there is, even when we know what we see is not all there is. We can only act on what we know, and as disturbing as that should be, it isn’t. And this is where mistakes come in to being valuable.

Mistakes, when recognized, teach us to look for more beyond what we knew. In the graveyard of these mistakes we find progress.

And every day, we should strive for beyond, if only to make more mistakes to bury.

Man On The Moon Afterglow

Men on the MoonI haven’t been writing as much as I would have liked. After completing one major project that took almost 2 decades, I’m decompressing even as I try to find the next thing to do.

No one thought I would do it; many thought I would fail and yet I didn’t. There were times when I thought I would fail. There are things I failed at, but in the end I did not fail. Every mistake was a lesson, every lesson was learned, all that was learned shaped the next parts of the project. It grew me in ways that I didn’t expect.

It’s akin to spending all that training, time and money to get to the moon. When you get back, what do you do? And that’s sort of where I am now; deciding what to do after going to the moon.

It’s an odd feeling – being able to have the time and energy to truly look around with eyes opened over the decades in ways that I have not used outside of that project.

I’ll figure it out. I always do.

The Loss of Roblimo

Robin MillerWhen news of Robin ‘Roblimo’ Miller’s death came to me through a tweet to a Linux Journal article, I sighed.

I felt a momentary sadness. And I laughed because it came to me even as I was fighting with Microsoft’s Windows 10 Update (1803, April 2018) that had bricked my Windows machine. I laughed because Robin would have laughed had he not been so unfortunately absent, and he would have been laughing at me.

We’d had the conversation more than once in 2003, and later in 2005, about the fact that I never went completely over to Linux for my systems. His argument – and it was only that, a way to get me on the defensive – was that without full commitment, Linux and Free Software/Open Source would always lag. My response was that in a world that had so many Microsoft machines, I had to stay relevant in Software Engineering and also in seeing differences in the systems, that I needed both experience sets to make sure that my stomach did not think to complain that my neck had been cut.

We were both right, and we both knew it. So, yes, I laughed, and even as I unborked Microsoft’s problematic patch, there was a part of me that recognized the stillness of loss. That silent understanding that little conversations like that would be lost.

You can read about Roblimo on Wikipedia, and it seems to me like examining a fly pinned to the wall (I had my own run-ins with Wikipedia). It hardly communicates who he was. People who had the pleasure of knowing him knew he stood for what he believed in, that he was uncompromising in his belief.

I met him at the FLOS Caribbean conference in 2003, here in Trinidad and Tobago, when a group of well intentioned people gathered from the larger Caribbean to try to build bridges to local government about how much sense FLOS made. Unfortunately, it didn’t have kickbacks or trade agreements, so local government wasn’t as interested in hearing about it – but it brought Robin down, as well as others.

He and I spent many a smoke break together during the conference. People underestimate how much can be spoken of during those periods when one shares a common vice if only for 10-15 minutes.

We would meet again in Boston in 2005 for another Linux event. And we would stay in touch over a period of 15 years, sporadically sharing things on social media, commenting, pushing our perspectives sometimes against each other. Later, while I was in Florida, I always planned to make it over to see him in Ft. Myers. It was the other side of the State, and… it just never happened, mainly because when I was working, I was working full tilt on something.

And now he’s gone. But what I learned from him echoes on, as it will with others, and that will simply have to do for us.

It’s a shame he’s not around for me to share this with.

The Stillness.

Heart Chakra EnergyThe greatest act of consciousness is to be still, and the greatest act of courage is to stay still, if only for a few moments. It at first takes a great effort, will, to get there.

Some say they find peace in such things, a calm, a serenity. They do not talk about clawing against the sides of your own consciousness, about the echoes of distraction clamoring. They do not speak of these things because no one wants these things, everyone wants to hide away from the world sometimes… only to find themselves with their self.  Yoga is trendy, as meditation once was, but this is not either one of those things.

In periods of great concentration, things fall away to the pinpoint of what matters, the goals, the challenges, and this is where most people live, what most people aspire to – the goal oriented world neglecting the context, incapable of understanding things as they are, only seeing things as hindrances or helps in the world toward whatever it is that they’re working for. They are all short term goals, anyway, in geological terms.

The bread you remember or forget at the store won’t matter in a thousand years. The meal you had that you took a picture of won’t matter in 10,000 years. That perfect sentence you wrote and are so proud of won’t matter in 100,000 years. It all comes down to the now, the repercussions, the causalities, the probabilities, and the flawed understanding of the world that we have been taught or have learned in less than a heartbeat of the Universe.

The silence is eery. Some run from it, afraid of what they might find, thinking it the deepest part of themselves when in fact it’s only where we start. Some stare into it, mesmerized, unable to do anything else. And others dive in and come back out, changed every time in ways others cannot understand, in ways sometimes they themselves cannot understand.

There is something there in that mess of neurons and cells that holds secrets we do not explore enough. A period of time where we see everything at once when we stare at nothing, a period of time when the future and the past mean nothing. It’s not even a goal, it’s a way of being.

A way of being different for everyone.

Reality Fragments

puzzleThere is a fluidity to reality we all need to take a break from now and then. We know this because it comes in fragments, the cavitations of the mind aerate this fluid and fill us with the noise of our own thoughts.

Within these bubbles, like a submarine, we can’t see what is going on around us, it’s all masked by our own noise, and the only way past that is to come to a dead stop and let reality be re-assembled in our minds. Reality continues even when we don’t perceive it.

Reality, after all, is what happens despite belief, despite hope, and despite intent.

Slide.

Surrounded by darkness an unfamiliar comfort is sensed – a primordial comfort, a disembodied comfort, a stasis.

The show is about to begin.

Lights of the spectrum shimmer in a quantum order – not linear, it all happens at the same time, and as confusing as it should be it isn’t. It is as it should be. Unfocused, slowly becoming focused, familiar places. Familiar faces. They do unfamiliar things in unfamiliar ways, pathways of possibilities unexplored, viewed through a disassociated lens.

There is comfort here in the discomfort of the unfamiliar, a board game beyond dimension. Things happen – things that some remember to write down, things some do not.

A flickering. It is gone.

I am awake, snatching at the lost fragments of dreams.