Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vulcan Thought for the day

OK, so I'm a Trekkie, so sue me! I love the iconic extremes that Trek has given us with the Vulcan and Klingon stereotypes to mention only two

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Vulcan's are not unaware of the disdain with which most species look upon our desire to master our emotions but to us it is simple: to master the mind is to master reality.

You who are reading these words right now, how do you experience reality? Through your senses, of course. Some species have more highly attuned senses than others, for example a wolf has an acute sense of smell and a dolphin can hear sounds in different frequencies just as some animals can see into the infrared or ultraviolet. However all of these senses render your reality and its amazing array of colours, scents and harmonies, that can range from the repulsive to the sublime, into simple binary code signals flashed along nerves to the physical brain that sits, in all humanoid species, atop your spinal column.

What is the objective difference between the nerve impulses that signify beauty and those that tell us the opposite? Are they positive and negative? Is it a matter of degree, frequency or other biochemical parameter? It is none of these. The difference is in the interpretation that your mind puts to the signals.

To put it in the words of one of your Earth homilies, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Vulcans are not immune to the aesthetics that define beauty, justice and love. In fact it is because we understand these abstract values far better than you who wallow in them, that we control them so rigorously.

You say that we are the poorer because we do not 'experience' the extremes of reality yet it is precisely because we do know the depths and heights of despair and euphoria that we severely limit them. Vulcan history is a garish panorama of the very best that we can be and the very worst and whilst, on the one extreme, our art and culture is so good as to be almost painful in it's appreciation, on the other extreme the horrors of the terror and depravity that we reached is such as to be almost unbearable.

What you, who say that you experience reality, do not realise is that you make your own reality. A man and woman might look on the same child and experience polar opposite emotions, the one seeing the beauty of procreation, the other seeing evidence of their mortality. Who is right and who is wrong? Neither? Both! Two men with identical jobs can see it as an over-burdening responsibility and a challenging opportunity. Which is it? The importance of the question lies in the way that they react to their perception of reality. Because of his positive attitude, one man might do his job far better than the other. For love, a mother might run into a burning building giving her life in the hope of saving her child.

The Vulcan Academy of Science theorises that it is because of our innate telepathic abilities that, historically, we Vulcans have been vulnerable to the extremes of emotions and must be ever on our guard against both extremes which is why we must react to them objectively and logically.

For humans it is different. Your society is based on choice, the idea that for each situation that you face, you can choose how you react to it. You can choose to be positive or negative. Ultimately, you can choose to be good or evil.

But ask yourself this when you need to make such a choice next, what am I basing this on? Is my perception of the facts objective and thus statistically most likely to be correct? Is it tinged by fatigue or despair?

Or can I manipulate my reality and work onwards with an optimistic view of the data? Humans can use their minds to control their bodies just as we Vulcans do – it is called psychoneuroimmunology. Two people can be given the same course of medication, one told that it has a 70% chance of success the other that it has a 30% chance of failure. It is statistically proven that the former will have a greater success rate than the latter.

Sometimes all that is needed to tip the scales in favour of a desired outcome is that we are actively working, consciously and subconsciously, towards success rather then resigned to failure.

To quote one of your 20th century icons, "There are always alternatives."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Ton of Bricks

Week four and, "This is where the story really starts!" The Interferon / Ribararin has hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks!

Sleep is an adventure - I never know what I'm going to get! I've been getting to bed earlier, but I still have to get up at 03:15 so the best I've had in one session has been six and a half hours last night when I went to bed at 20:30. And what a sleep I have! Sometimes I'm out cold from hitting the sheets to the alarm going off and other nights I can be working all night in technicolor dreams! Trekking through green jungle headlands swept by tidal waves, labouring on the tracks - one night I seemed to spend all night trying to email my dreams to myself to so that I could file them like mp4 videos! Another morning I woke up after missing the train because I had to help my wife to bring the washing in... and I mean we got off the train to bring the washing in the off clothesline (which was right next to the station) and we were stranded on the platform holding baskets of washing whilst the train went off with my daughter on it. One second I'm fumbling for my mobile phone to phone her to arrange for us to meet at the next station and the next my wife wakes me getting out of bed.

That was weird! There's years of therapy in studying my dreams! I think I've been a husband and Dad so long that its a core part of my personality.

I can joke about this but the tiredness is a major part of the challenge of this treatment. Not just the physical tiredness, I think that is a seperate aspect, but the washed-out lack of drive. After a reasonable amount of sleep last night, I can at least countenance actually accomplishing something today. It forces home the physiological need we have for sleep and dreaming - I wonder if this side-effect is caused by the drugs affecting my sleep patterns so that I'm not getting enough of the right *kind* of sleep?

These psychological side-effects are one of the most unsettling parts of the treatment, it feels as if it is messing with my perception of myself. I have to just show a bit of moral fibre: is my self image, my self esteem, so fragile that I doubt my own worth because of the external effects of a drug? I know who I was, I know what I have done, what I am capable of. I know that, after this course of treatment is over, I will continue to do extraordinary things because the external influence will be gone.

For now I just need to weather the storm, resist the negative aspects and learn from the experience.
posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

On The Road of Life

Driving up to the mountains on holidays I was on the freeway and I got cut off by a driver who was speeding in the right hand lane. Contrary to expectation, when he glided past, I could see that he was a well-dressed man in his fifties with a neatly clipped grey beard and office shirt and tie on.  So much for the stereotype of bad drivers being young, lower class and female.

It made me think of driving as a metaphor for life, There are those of us who follow the rules, give way, smile and wave as we cruise though life and then there are... the vexations to the spirit. I could describe them in more colourful terms but out of respect for the more sensative amongst you, I'll keep this blog PGR.

Nobody is perfect, least of all me, but when I break a road rule, it is more likely to be through inattention or by mistake than on purpose. Why? Rules are the agreement we make with society that makes it possible for us all to compete on a level playing field. It makes it possible for the meek and the mad to share the road (or their local community) without fear for their lives or their self-esteem.

I say self-esteem because you have to respect your fellow road users. It's not a competition. I passed the vexation about fifteen minutes later because he was caught in a left hand lane which was going slower. It didn't make me feel any superior to him, although it did reinforce my belief that speeding had very little effect on overall time saved in a journey.

Yet I can imagine his grinding teeth at being 'boxed-in'. His journey was of much more importance than mine and for him to be inconvenienced in such a way... Well, maybe I'm projecting a little here but you can see my point.

You can be a member of society and accomplish your goals without treading on others. We are not a wolf pack where the alpha male is the strongest and fiercest and makes his way to the head of the pack over the bodies of his enemies. The best CEO's are those who can lead their manpower resources with respect and efficiency.

You can get further, faster by making the right decisions than by recklessly "putting your foot down".