Experience and The Story

In this life, our greatest source of inspiration is experience. Thanks to it, we cling to happenstances and feelings that etch and embed themselves in our psyche, constituting a huge part of who we are as individuals. Experience is described as having things happen to you, as well as what things we see and do, associated more often than less with a realm outside of the individual’s range of influence and direction.

In stretching the definition of ‘experience’, however, it becomes clear that it is much more than retrospective impassivity at best. Think of experience as the sum of what you are feeling and thinking at times of being, decision-making, dreaming and creating. When experience becomes a palpable awareness of one’s presence, individuals wield immense power in the creation of the story they would like to live.

This is called story-building. In the process of building your story comes the freedom of also sharing it. When we truly seize the essence of what experience can be, the range of narratives at our disposal lean towards the infinite. These possibilities have always been ‘potentials’, but they are now a part of the dominion of the probable.

As we move away from a definition of experience established on notions of external validation and evaluation, we get closer to a portrait of the individual who is less a product of circumstance and more a creator of reality.

 

Why You Should Get into an Argument

You might not be keen on the idea of being torn apart in a debate, but challenging your belief system is intellectually expanding.

A few weeks ago, I got into two arguments simultaneously (bless the Internet) on the topic of racism. Surely, we can collectively agree that race-based violence and prejudices target ethnically marginalized groups in particular. Having said that, both of these friends decided to challenge a belief that I strongly hold: that racism cannot be directed towards a socio-economically dominant group, specifically white people.

As you can imagine, I became defensive and although I didn’t resort to finger-pointing and shaming, I did feel attacked in the most intimate way I could. My views were being challenged and I, as an individual, felt invalidated. I squirmed in the insecurity that surfaced and discomfort pervaded the atmosphere. I shut off my phone.

Later that night, I turned my phone back on. Both of these people had expressed views that I instantly disagreed with, but more importantly, views I hadn’t even considered before. One of the debates moved in the direction of semantics and I had yet to consider the significance of how the word “racism” was defined. More than anything, I felt defeat.

In retrospect, the both debates contributed to my knowledge base. When all was said and done, I had acquired new perspectives and my safely-guarded opinions were shaken up.

This is important and I cannot stress that enough.

Engaging in conversation is merely an exchange of information, with varying degrees of intimacy. Argumentation, however, has the added dimension of explicitly challenging the views and beliefs of the party with whom we are participating in an exchange with. In order to be a good argumentator, one must first demonstrate that the opinions they are defending are true. Then, they must study beforehand the arguments that their opponent might deploy.

Beyond argumentation, challenging your beliefs benefits you more than anyone else involved in the exchange. Often times debates are sparked when polar views are expressed.  Two individuals can carry very different truths and most of the time, they will mutually discredit the validity of the other’s opinion.

To disprove a belief, the naive debater will seek to impose their position without justification on an empirical basis; on the other hand, the weathered debater will state the opinion of the other and proceed to dismantle it with tools such as statistics, scientific data and literature, historical context, as well as other methods of analysis relevant to the context of the debate.

As you can see, the wise and weathered debater possesses the knowledge necessary for conversion, but the humility to question themselves.

When argumentation becomes an exercise for the Self, it allows you to see that there are many ways to believe and directions of thought to explore. As a society, we should be more wary of deceiving ourselves than of being challenged by the positions of others. You just might surprise yourself.

Purpose

Today, I stood in my driveway for half an hour staring at the sky.

As a kid, I would make a game out of chasing the moon with our car and disappointment ensued whenever the moon would leave my sight.

Today, I looked up there and hoped for the moon to look back at me once more. Instead, I found that stars lit up the sky. Slowly, but surely, the glinting spread across a deep blue canvas and the night shined on.

We are often running mindlessly in search of something we have yet to be acquainted with; a far-away thought captivates us and we are charmed forever.

As your run grows longer in duration, your breathing steadies and the pain in your knees becomes second-nature. You realize that you are pining after an undefined vision with a mechanical mind on a dark road in the middle of the night. You slow your pace, and soon enough, your feet come to a full stop.

You are alone and you are afraid of what you can’t see, but more importantly, you are afraid of what you don’t know. This fear is a dead-end with no options so you must resolve that it is unfounded.

The moon you were running after isn’t high up in the clouds today. Neither her face nor her backside are visible. You squint in frustration in an attempt to shut out the screaming judgement for having failed.

Your judgement for having failed.

Indeed, you have determined that you hold the rank of “Failure” before even setting a scale.

Your eyelids silence the ground till right under the heavy blue and you find yourself admiring a glimmering sheet above your head.

No more running. A stroll of appreciation for a small gesture by the universe.