Stoic Wellness

Mindfulness is Truthfulness

Dearest Burpee

Dear Burpee, 

        I’m writing you today because Facebook has informed me that we’ve been friends for ten years now—all of which I am extremely grateful for. I’ll never forget the first day I walked into my new gym and read your name on the whiteboard. Since then, we have come a long way, you and I. 

        As you may recall, our first encounter was a bit awkward. “Never again,” I remember saying to myself, “just not my cup of tea.” We are told you can only make one first impression. Thankfully, we gave each other a second chance. Thankfully, we didn’t give up on each other. 

        One of the first lessons you taught me—one that I will never lose—is how to breathe. 

        “When the going gets tough,” you said, “the tough breathe harder, and then get going.” 

        Like all your lessons, I did not come to its meaning my first attempt. I might have died three times fighting against myself, running from the uncomfortable instead of leaning into the pain; dealing with struggles through the power of breath and focus. You taught me this! 

        I bet you’re really blushing now, but I’m not quite done my good friend Burpee. Your friendship means a lot to me see, so I have to explain. A second lesson you shared with me is as important as the first.

       “Above all else, no matter what the case, no matter how tired, weak, or down you are, get back up.” As I’ve found out first hand, the more I get knocked down, the more practice I get at jumping back to my feet. With this practice comes proficiency, and the recession of fear from falling again . 

        You see! You have been the best friend. This is why I write you today; to lift your spirits. People may not understand you my dear friend, but I do. 

        One last thing before I go. I want to thank you for your final lesson. You may not realize how important it has been for me, so I should mention it here to you now. It seemed silly at first, but it’s a habit I’ll probably never break. 

        You said, “Applaud yourself for your hard work! Jump and clap for what you have completed, because if you don’t finish well, why finish at all?” 

        Burpee, it has been ten years since we met and this letter, if nothing else, is my applause for you. You are much more than what meets the eye; you are a blessing in disguise. Breathe through discomfort, pick yourself back up, and finish well are the things you’ve taught me. Like all healthy relationships, every time we meet I learn something new about you, and also about myself. 

       Ah! I almost forgot, I have some good news for! I’ve decided to move closer. We can be neighbors, and see each other every day if we want! Burpee, you and I have grown close over the years, but you can never learn enough from a true friend. I look forward to seeing you more often, as I hope you feel the same. Until then, take care. 


Express Yourself

The purpose of life is self-expression. Expressing your essence entirely is what we live for.

-Oscar Wilde

It’s easy today, to find a medium for self expression. In grade school it was a point taught by our teachers and reinforced by our parents. Be yourself. Be creative. Be different. The purpose was clear and made sense. An egocentric society is bland, dull, and narrow, but a diverse altruistic one bleeds progression, acceptance, and individuality. Through this philosophy, generation after generation has found new ways to express themselves; through music, art, science, social norms, and much more.

Nothing I have said should come as a surprise to you, nor was it my intention. I would however, like to shed light on a point hidden inside this point.

This ideology, while applied to the previous stated mediums, flourishes, yet holds value only through external means. A pianist cannot play music without his piano, nor a painter without his brush. Just as the writer can only write with the help of paper, the fashion designer or model cannot be understood without clothes. By all means, through these secondary mediums people have created brilliant new ways for anyone to express their inherent sense of self. In the same way, many have also neglected the most accessible canvas, the primary clay of peculiarity—the human body.

Cells—molded, adapted, divided, congealed, dying and reproducing—make up your physical existence in the place and time that we share together. You are a physical representation of your past, and current choices. A combination of inherited traits, and daily decisions, the mass that is you, whatever shape or size, speaks to me and the world around you. I’m not preaching about “losing weight,” or “looking your best,” but rather, being your best for the sake of your being. This doesn’t mean start a diet or run three hours a day. My point can be understood, in that:

Your words may misrepresent your mind, but your physical body cannot lie. Health cannot be expressed in any other way than by smart choices.

Expression is how we want others to see us as individuals. It only makes sense to start with one’s self. Represent who you are through your physical being. Express yourself. 

Andrew T. Ramirez

Truthful Lies

A lie is a pact that is made between one’s conscience and one’s reality. For it to be effectively appropriated, applied, and accepted by others, it first has to be believed by one’s self. This belief can only happen when the conscience agrees to the terms of this pact, and one’s perceived reality does the same.

Lying is an interesting phenomenon, metaphysically, because it lies alongside fiction, in that they are both conceptual descriptions of reality—opposing truthful reality—derived from a purpose; one to fool someone to acquire an advantageous position, and the other for entertainment.

The significance of this all lies within the lies themselves.

When a statement is made, truthful or not, it is now engulfed in the nature of reality, either lying among what is actual, or in juxtaposition. Without one, there is not the other. Lies are what bring significance to truth, and vice versa.

Truth and lies are the space and time of rhetoric. Their relationship can only be determined by their concepts and counterparts, and the difference in their being can only be defined by the beliefs of which one holds them accountable to.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Power of Choice

There is an equation for power. I’d reiterate it now, but you’re probably reading this on the internet, or in proximity to a device which you can look it up. I’ll give you a moment to refresh your memory on the 3 variables that figure into power, unless you’re a physics geek (no offense) and have it memorized.

The point is, power requires a force of some sufficient significance. Without it, there is no reason for the equation for power, and no result to be measured.

There’s the physics-defined concept of power, but like most words there are deeper conceptual pools and descriptions, waiting to be dipped into. Power is related to strength, physically and mentally. It’s also related to size, usually because of this association. We quantify the force production of our vehicles with the same word we describe our world’s influential leaders. The power of knowledge is equal to the power of persuasion, and the power of deception is a worthy opponent to the power of truth. But of all these, one type of power stands alone as the common denominator—the roots and trunk of the oldest and most sturdy tree to have ever grown, branches flexing and reaching in every direction, and that is the power of choice.

Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself “… no man can do me a real injury, because no man can force me to misbehave myself.”

I think it is only fitting that the Roman Emperor refrained from using the word “choice” in this note, because in life often our choices are being made without deliberate thought. Choices are  not just our actions but also their opposites. Equally, choices are not just our thoughts, but the possibilities that have yet to be thought of, and because of this, choices are the most powerful force a human may utilize, knowingly or not.

Currently I am choosing to write these thoughts down. If I hadn’t, their existence is only an idea. The same can be said of the men who drafted the Declaration of Independence, or da Vinci and his Mona Lisa. Even you, the reader, are the result of a choice that someone had made; to bring you into the world.

Lest not forget that though choosing to take action may bring wonderful things to life, their infinite oppositions—the choices that fill the void of action— are equal in weight. The route not taken still exists to a hiker, just as a choice not made exists to an inquirer. The powerful tree of choice has branches that have not been climbed, and it is equally importance to consider their existence, even if the shadows they cast do not throw shade for your current position in life.

The power of choice lies within every human. We know power requires force, and that force requires action, but choice may live in inaction, and thus the opposing forces exist in our minds, as the power to choose pushes back on our conscience. I feel it’s presence, and I hope you do too.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Artfully Meditated Purposfully Stated

Marcus Aurelius states clearly in Meditations that he himself did not partake in any more poetry or rhetoric than was required of him to write, read, and proficiently understand. His writing has the intent of being anything but ostentatious, but rather stoic, concise, and purposeful. Through language—written in this instance—the Emperor forwent with formalities, reputed excessive rhetoric, and presumed intrinsically contentious the poetic language, only to ensure his diction was pure and honest to purpose.

Being a fan of art and all of its mediums, my first attempt to capture the Roman’s meaning was no more than a grasp at a sand rope. Overtime, with more reading, I eventually realized the beautify in his veracity. Aurelius’ attempt; no, his ability to speak and write with absolute command over emotion and directness of thought was in itself poetic. Akin to nature’s auspicious scenic viewpoints or a child’s smile, purity is conveyed and felt without embellishment or illusion.

Art in the absence of art, might be the most beautiful picture never painted. His Meditations were for himself a manuscript, and to the world a masterpiece. Lessons for one man’s life breathed life into another man’s lessons.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Fan-blade Clarity

After spending countless hours reading and re-reading text from Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (this time spent just to comprehend the preface to its Transcendental Doctrine), I decided it would be helpful to listen to lectures online that have been given with the intent of deciphering the Critique. Knowing what the book is about, yet knowing little of its content beyond the introduction, I couldn’t help but wonder what would lead a person to consider the ideas that would eventually surmount to the text at hand, and what kind of life someone could live with such demanding ponderances constantly blurring the lines that separate reality, actuality, and their concepts—as it has already done to me. In wake of another hour long grapple over a single paragraph of text, I decided to lay back on my bed with my fan humming above me, and close my eyes for a bit. Moments later I opened them to an epiphanic sight that loomed directly above me, which I now call Fan-bade clarity.

The idea begins with the knowledge of Immanuel Kant’s daily life (also given in the introduction) in relation to his academic and philosophical merits. At first, I found it to be ironic that Kant, world renown expert in the field of metaphysics and ambassador of the modern understanding of universal knowledge, was a man who had never left the place in which he was born, raised, and eventually died. Königsberg, Prussia was the theatre where Kant battled relentlessly over the nature of being. Not only was Königsber the town where Kant was born, he also attended University there, tutored there afterwards, and as mentioned previously, died there. In fact, it is rumored that Kant had not traveled more than 150 km away from his home town. That said, there is more to the seemingly absurd nature that makes up the philosophers reported life. It is also known that Kant was extremely meticulous in his daily routines, so much, that his daily walks could be measured almost to the exact second. Meaning that if one were an observer, one might notice that every single day Kant would walk by–whatever point of reference–at the same time as the day before, down to the second. So here we have a man who is arguably structured to the point of clockwork, has never left the comfort of his home town, and possesses the ability to think critically beyond the boundaries of anyone before him, which subsequently allows him to reason equally as objectively.

Ironic? I don’t think so anymore, and here is why:

To me, being completely new to the metaphysical world of concepts and theories, it is strangely difficult to grasp on to a concept such as time, space, or existence. Sometimes I can hold onto a line of thought or reasoning for an hour, but eventually the line is blurred and my thoughts spin astray, arousing a whirlwind of incoherent and fragmented ideas in its trail. Over time I’ve realized that certain daily variables, when accounted for and equated, determine the level of brain power I can muster and sustain. A simple example would be rest. Physiologically I am able to think with more clarity and precision when I am well rested. Knowing the relationship of physiology and its cognitive causalities, one might deduct that controlling these physiological variances might subsequently yield a more managed mental focus. Treating one’s body like a science experiment and calculating nutrition, rest, exercise, stress, and all other daily activities, will eventually show a trend in regards to sharpness of mind—if diligently and appropriately measured. This idea is exactly the approach I think Kant took with his lifestyle.

The best way I can describe his incredible level of persistent focus is to explain the metaphor, which hangs right above me. As described earlier, in metaphysics it is easy to get lost in the blur of a concept simply from thinking critically about it too long. When I look up at my ceiling fan—without focus—there appears a similar blur of spinning blades, each as indistinguishable as they are difficult to count, but if I look to the blade’s ends and focus my eyes in the same circular pattern, eventually I am able to catch up and focus on a blade and peripherally able to account for the others. Just like my focus with metaphysics, I can not sustain that level of focus long. Here is how this relates to Kant: Essentially Kant systematically turned the dials—so to speak— which synced his eyes with the ceiling fan. By controlling every aspect of his life through structure and calculation (turning the fan speed down) and never leaving the place which he found the most focus (training his eyes), he mindfully allowed himself to sustain and retain very powerful levels of thought. Keeping up with the metaphor, while I am only able to periodically see flashes of a single blade, Kant was able to maintain clarity throughout his entire adult life.

This is the premise of fan-blade clarity, and its reciprocal principles are self-defining. Managing the body will lead to more control over the mind, and control over the mind will allow better management of the body.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Time to Tackle

The attempt to tackle the concept of time is as formidable an undertaking as it is to understand that the concept itself cannot be tackled, yet that the attempt must still be made–just assuredly as time will never stop.

Time is a concept that engulfs all physical representations in the universe, yet only provides significance to those representations that are sentient, or at least realize its relevance. Through this phenomenon, my learned observations have led me to grapple with many physical and metaphysical interpretations of time. Recently, the most entertaining idea that has been under consideration is that there are no single moments in life. No snap shots or stills that can be pin pointed or marked truthfully. The idea that there is no real present moment is a paradox in itself. I’ll try to explain why:

One way to examine time is to consider the purpose behind its understanding. The obvious answer, is to record events throughout human history. Knowing that events can be observed by our senses–sight in particular–then one may assume that the occurrence of an event is the succession of movement at the location of the the instance under examination. This means that because it is known that nothing can be in two places at the same exact moment, then the object which is in motion is actually creating the concept of time. Without movement, the concept would have no meaning. These understood principles align with the idea that there is no present moment, and for this to be true it would mean everything in the physical universe would have to completely and utterly stop. This hypothetical situation proves itself accurate; in that, without movement there is no life, without life there are no humans, without humans no concept of time, and without a concept… no time.

Now that is an idea worth trying to tackle.

Andrew T. Ramirez

Victory Paradox

Victory can only be derived from the beliefs of those who have relinquished it. 

That said, if no one loses, or feels like they have lost, or that the “victor” has nothing which they wish to have, then victory has not been acquired by those who tried to claim it. Knowing this one might consider that battles, games, and competitions are determined by the losers who give the winners the right to say they have won—because without that recognition, then nothing has been gained by the opposition. 

The glaring argument against this is the understanding that sometimes in war freedom is taken by force, and usually not given without a fight. Yet the victory paradox remains: in the event that victory is taken from an opponent, then the victory was not taken at all, but given from the minds of those who relinquished it. 

In this instance of war, regardless of what physical objects have been “lost,” when the mind states that no victorious recognition has gone with it, then nothing has been lost. When it comes to the the physical world, items may leave one’s possession, yet in observance of freedom the same can not be said, because freedom does not live inside inanimate objects, rather, in the breadth and depth of minds of those who wish to keep it. 

Living in Freedom is to never allow anyone to feel like they’ve defeated you. Without that, the opposition is just another person who wants what you have, which means you are now the victor, and with it goes the spoils. 

Andrew T. Ramirez 

On the Milian Dialogue:

Throughout history we see a reciprocal theme unwinding itself to present day: 

Wherever there are two parties in disagreement, both are right, and both are wrong.

There is no precedent for the present moment. Hope can not win the battle for you, and righteousness cannot defend your claim. 

-Andrew T. Ramirez

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