reflecting on a group discussion on God’s existence

It was a group of seven of us, and I was one of the quietest ones in the discussion. It wasn’t until the last part of the discussion, where we opened up to the others in class who had watched the discussion, that I was able to speak. It was only because someone specifically wanted my opinion on a question I don’t remember anymore. My answer had something to do with rationalizing against a response to the problem of evil (an argument against the existence of God). I’m not going to raise my response here because I don’t remember the whole context of the moment, and it would be wrong to assume I could give it without any other given person not in the event being able to grasp what I’m saying.

But to be more clear, I’m an atheist. I was one of the two in the group, and the quieter one, so I guess it was expected that someone would be singling me out for an opinion, because one really didn’t come from me until then.

I can only reason my inability to participate equally in the discussion was due to a few reasons:

  • I have no, or rather little, value on my opinion on anything. I place more value on others’ opinions; I want to listen to the conversation, not exactly be a part of it.
  • I was raised to speak only when spoken to, as I did in this case of being singled out.
  • I’m not strong on coming up with any kind of quick reply. I don’t like having impulse opinions, I usually enjoy watching others go at it, especially when they’re good at responding.

Someone had a specific question to the theists: did the discussion change your views in any way. None were swayed much. I mean, my response that first time was well received (understood) and conceded. My favorite part was others outside of the group trying to grasp what I was saying.

One question within the group was “how to find morality without God,” and my response was the use of rationality, coming to some sort of code that would work with that little we knew we had: ourselves and this earth we seem to be alone in; I became a consequentialist, and argued that we should do our best to further humanity in a way that served the most possible people (utilitarianism) usually at my own expense (moral altruism). That is my specific moral code.

A response was an example of being completely alone in a place where no one could ever know I could do something immoral, but then the question used the specific example of finding a wallet on the floor with money and an address and phone number etc… The obvious thing for me is to simply ration “if that were my wallet I’d want it return, therefore I would do everything I can to return the wallet. Similarly I do what I can to not unjustly hurt people because I wouldn’t want to be hurt unjustly.” Something like that.. which led to a final discussion of the golden rule, something that was fairly acceptable for everyone. We ended on that positive note.

To add more context: Tat was about 5 minutes of my responses, in a one our session. The discussion started with the philosophers we had read about, what we agreed with from them and disagreed with, then talking about the validity of a holy scripture over time.

I wanted to bring a question into the discussion, but as I reasoned above why I couldn’t, I didn’t bring it up: can we separate God from religion? This question I am truly confused about. I try to answer it but I get confused quickly, because I don’t know what answer I’m looking for, but I guess one idea I can try is to pick a side and try to argue against it. I mean, that’s how most philosophers go about proving their ideas, right? I’ll try in a later post, eventually. And I’ll clean up any grammatical errors I made on here.. eventually.

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Happy Birthday Cris

So few people listen to my music, fewer give any feedback. Cris is one of the very few people who was as close to a fan of my music as I’ve ever had. Cris constantly was psyched each time I had something new (back when I often had something new), always brought it up each time we met, and even wanted to collaborate somehow, though I’m not sure how we were going to combine my piano with his voice. xP

His death is a heavy one for me, as it has been with previous friends. His memory is a reminder of praise from a friend, and it keeps me from giving up on my music.

As a musician and friend, I raise a glass to you Cris. Miss you dearly. We’re gonna meet once again in musician heaven. ūüėČ

cris on music

a couple scary moments

I need to distract myself for a thousand words or so. I’ll try to remember things that happened to me on my travels in the past couple years. I’m not sure anything too intense happened, like life threatening, but definitely interesting stuff. Before I start remembering, let me give a mental picture of what I typically wear out: Always wearing a t-shirt of a plain color, wearing thin running pants, and a little bag that goes over one shoulder where, during most of these adventures, I’d also have my camera. I’m usually wearing earphones on public transit, and a thin gray sweater I can easily fit into the bag in case I stay our long enough for the dark.

The first memory I can recall was a fast one, early in my lonely ventures, on a Green Line station, likely Lakewood, waiting for a train to Norwalk. I had gone to Lakewood Center to find a book store that sold books cheap. I had never ventured this south on Metro where is wasn’t towards Long Beach or San Pedro, mainly because there is a limited amount of buses down here. I searched for bookstores when I began my journeys, hoping to find a ¬†small book I could carry with me all the time. This time I didn’t find a book I really liked. On the station I remember it being dark already. I know the music was loud, because I didn’t hear the man screaming initially, not until he was right by me screaming into my ear. I must have seemed the most blissful on the platform, because I noticed no one was really near me after it happened, but as I said it was a fast moment. The man screamed around and walked towards me. When he came up to me he had screamed something to the effect of “I’m going to rape you.. up the ass,” loud enough so I could hear it. His face was facing right next to me, but I did not react. Not a single nerve moved while he made his claims at me and walked behind me further into the platform. I could smell the alcohol in his breath. After watching him go to I made my way to the other side and kept still again waiting for the train. That was the last time I stepped onto Lakewood Station, or gone to Lakewood Center.

This next moment is a long one. I had visited LACMA, La County Museum of Art, for the Nth time, being a member and this being one of the main places to visit when I had no real plan. I was on my way back to LA, it was dark, and I had left the 720 bus down to Wilshire Station. As I walked down on one end of the platform, I spotted a black man in a cool tan vest and suit with a number of books at his side, looking up at me. I meandered down to a seat, and next to me sat an old lady who worked at the museum. The man who was watching me came and sat beside me, lay his books own, and stared at me. Straight at me. Whispering things to himself. With eyes wide open, again, fixed towards my eyes. .. I removed my earphones and asked him if he said something to me, but it took another couple second of his voice to finally get him to speak up. He clearly said “You have the most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen.” I responded with a long okayyy. He asked me where I was from, if I was Portuguese or Moroccan.. I revealed neither, that I was Mexican with Spanish ancestors. He nodded and kept whispering to himself how beautiful I was. I was weirded out of course, but didn’t want to leave him alone with the old lady. He asked for my name, where I came from and where I was going. I gave him half-truths, things like my middle name, coming from a museum and going to the station to get picked up (even in this situation I found it difficult to tell a lie). I remember one of the books he was carrying was a bible. It felt like forever for the train to come, and I did my best not-a-power-walk-but-still-a-power-walk I could down a couple train cars into one that was very lonely, then sat at the middle. The man showed up and sat across from me. There were so many open seats but he was clearly wanting me. I knew I was the more paranoid of the two, he was just acting cool and composed, keeping our conversation going. We talked the whole time to Union Station. The last thing we talked about was piano. I told him I played piano and how I recorded and what it sounded like and of course he was mesmerized. Approaching the station he asked me for a pen and paper, but I had no paper. He ripped a page from his bible and wrote down his number and email, offering me private piano lessons. I was grateful for the offer but I haven’t contacted him. I still have the paper somewhere, for memory keeping. I didn’t see him after that. Made my way to the bus and called it a day.

Those two I’ll end with for now. Those are the most eventful stories anyways, at least that I could think of.

I came for the trees and the trees came for me

The first week at Sacramento was alright. There was a gradual getting used to of the little world that was the dorm and school. Walking through this heat but under cover of the trees was amazing! This is what I wanted to feel. This is the place that during the fall all these trees go fall colors. I think they’re maidenhair trees?

It didn’t take long before I went off on the bus to the heart of Sacramento. I was excited to go and figure out what was there, The Capitol does look amazing,

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oh wait…

IMG_1604it was when I took this photo that I noticed the camera lens was dusty, if you can tell from looking across the blue sky.IMG_1618

But I’ve also slowly grown depressed. And when I get depressed it’s so low. I lose so much willpower and confidence and whatnot. It’s mainly because of how quiet I am in this world where I haven’t found any friends or social setting. The only time I get to speak is during my government and philosophy courses, and you know how talkative those can be. I don’t go all out in there, but I don’t go quiet either. But it’s when I’m out of the classroom, ya know, most of the time, when I’m all alone. And I know I was always all alone when I hung out in LA after classes or work, but this time it feels much heavier. But when I walk throuhg the trees, I feel at bliss. They’re here for me.

I haven’t gone to work yet so maybe that will help, as it did last time I was this gloomy.

I’ve been wanting to post this photo on social media,

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but I’m reluctant to, for a few reasons:

I’m not one to post these kinds of photos. I only did it for one that stated When you feel like quitting, remember why you started, something like that. That message comes through me every day, always reminding me to stay on the tough path. This one sums up in one sentense what I’ve been trying to achieve in the past three years. And it comes from the father or Taoism, a philosophy I remeber adopting in my life back then. Now I’m not so intent on defining myself, but I just so happen to live the way of the Tao more than a different way.

Another reason is that posting this picture conveys how self aware I am, feels nothing more than self-agrandization. I don’t want to convey that message, but now as I think of it, I realize, who cares?? x)

Anyways yeah I’ll post it. Not a bid deal. It’s my life motto and hopefully others will appreciate it at best, unfriend me at worst.

Meaning

We ended up spending three more days at Yosemite. I didn’t enjoy the second half as much though because we didn’t have much planned as compared to the first half.

Some pictures from Yosemite taken on my camera before it died:

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Crossing the river through this tree was a little riskier than last time, given how the water was running up to the bottom of the trunk; last time the stream was calmer and not touching the trunk. The water isn’t deep though, maybe up to my waist, though ya know, depth perception..IMG_0775I don’t have many more to show, so I’ll hold on to them like I’ve held on to so many other pictures. Now I have three batteries and two chargers. I will try adding more pictures to these posts. Let’s say at least 5. Of course all being pictures I’ve taken.


Questions:

I’m moving way from the Book of Questions in favor of a different list of questions. These questions are less trivial, more philosophical. I’ll still put trivial questions on, and those will come from me, just to satisfy my own ego.. :F

A simple question asks: What is the meaning of life?

Life is what you make of it. All the things you do, experience, refine who you are. Note: Not Define – defining yourself puts you in a corner you’re expected to live by (The expectations coming from others and yourself). You don’t need to have a definition the way words do. That’s what separates you from just a word. The more you experience things, the harder it will be for you to be defined. Call yourself a lump of clay. Let yourself be picked up, let yourself be dropped. Picked up again. Punched into, sat on the shelf, kicked, caressed, lifted into the sky, forgotten and remembered, hated and loved. Do the same to the rest. The more the clay gets handled the more refined it becomes. Life doesn’t have to look like a perfect sphere, it can be just a lump of clay. Of course we want more though.

Some though will search for meaning, like if it’s something not inherent, something you gotta work to achieve, rather than the work itself. The pursuit of happiness is the same. We search for things that might make us happier; things that can be taken away from us. Babies don’t need much, or anything really, to be happy. Maybe they know that’s up…

Some will look to religion for help in meaning. Organised religion will claim to have the right answers and guidance for finding the worth in life. It will always go too far though. To me going too far would be a disregard for science or logic, an obligation to pay materials, or indoctrination of young. I wanted to find meaning on my own, so I rejected faiths, I rejected gods. Even if I came up with similar ethics like the golden rule of respect, at least I was able to come to it on my own using logic, not writing it down on paper over and over again.. that’s what it felt like before.

Meaning in life is not easy, it shouldn’t be. It should be a constant struggle to become more of who we are right now, to be more of who we were yesterday. We get there by having new experiences, of any kind, of any weight. The world is going and going and it it gets heavier, or it feels heavier, once we start slacking off, once we feel the pressure and it takes its toll on us. Losing something precious can challenge our meaning, and more our perspective. The world will suddenly get heavier. The world will seemingly slow down, but it never does. We’re simply falling behind. And that’s okay. Because we get to struggle, and then we keep up.

Reminds me of these messages I found a couple years ago:

I’m not sure where I’m going with this anymore. It would have been nice to work on this during the day and not the middle of the night. But I found out yesterday that I’m both a morning and night person now. I take naps throughout the day if I can, and I usually can.

You don’t give up on yourself, EVER. You find self-rules to live by an guide you to the next step, even if it all just for that literal next step. As long as what you do is doing right by the social contract, I’ll be fine with what you become. Okay future me?

We are judged by our actions. Others will judge us, help us find ourselves through their perspectives. You can say you’re a nice person all you want, but that takes away time being a nice person. If others call you a nice person, then there’s no need take time analyzing yourself.. unless you don’t wanna be a nice person, by which I’d say you’re breaking the social contract and being in the wrong. Because if someone were to call me a jerk, then I’d need time to analyze what I’ve done to get me there. And hopefully I can find a way to correct that wrong. This world doesn’t need more jerks. Being a jerk violates my standard of keeping the social contract healthy. And the point is to live in a way that maintains or can further benefit society.

Another question asks: Can food be art?

Gut reaction: Hell no! Food’s purpose in the world is to be eaten! How about make food in a way that I’m not distracted and hesitant to eat it just because of its beauty..

Yeah. Food can be art. Some food takes forever to make, and I value effort in art. So if that food can make its mark in my mouth, who am I to say it wasn’t art. Art is perceived. Food is perceived. Food can be art. Not brand cereal, because of the effort it takes to prepare. But if I were to pick a beautiful ripe posque off a posque tree (posque is my made up fruit/vegetable), and it looked so good, and tasted so good, then I guess it can be art. It takes time for these edibles to grow, and care from mother nature.

The last question asks: One million dollars you can only spend on yourself, GO..

Pianos. Upright pianos, grand pianos, not so grand pianos, and another piano

Oh yeah that reminds of a song I recorded a while back. I was bored and stressed that I hadn’t recorded anything yet at that point, so I worked this song and recorded it and it took the whole day. It’s supposed to be a response to entitled individualism, but it’s really just me poking fun at life. This is is how i have funnnn.

I thought it was already online, but it wasn’t, so I reuploaded it.

Here is the song: “They’re All Crazy”

Here are the lyrics:

For differences in views
I don’t wanna meet you
I just wanna choose
According to my own news
There goes everyone I met
They’re all crazy
It’s not the other way around
That’s just lazy

But get away from me
Or I’ll just look, so much dumb
Please go away
I don’t want to be upset

I could have spoken sooner
I didn’t wanna ruin her
She’s walking through the walls
The pretty one inside my mind
The animals we slaughter
To mainting our guts
Things don’t seem to matter
Until they happen to us

Stay away from me
Or I won’t stop, you don’t want that
Please go away
I don’t want to be upset


Effort, as in, apparent effort. Break a sweat getting things done. Have emotion in your reactions to others’ hard work, or in how you describe the work you went through. If it didn’t look like I went through hell and back to make an epic food art, a painting, or piano song, then it ain’t worth the praise it can get on display.

A¬†posque (pronounced posk, o as in Oh), as I can see it, is a fruit-vegetable that can be picked from trees. It ranges in size, from that of an apple to that of a mango. It has a skin thickness like that of a banana, so no as rough as an orange. BUT, as soon as you try to peel it (oh yeah it has a wobbly form, like that of another posque), the posque can spill out quickly. The insides of a posque is liquid form. No kind of soft body like a banana or slices like an orange.. it’s just liquid. The good part is it doesn’t stain, magically.

Yosemite

Day one: I was excited to take pictures with my new camera but it turned out the battery to the camera would no longer want to charge. I’m not sure if this is temporary, but to happen at this time is so unlucky for me. I’m so disappointed x(. I planned to take Thousands of shots to publish over time in this blog as time went by. But I’ve been limited to at least a half hour of going for it. I plan to save the battery for the hike through Vernal Falls. That’s my favorite hike.

At night I went with my cousins to meadow in front of the Half Dome Village parking lot, where there is a path that takes one through the meadows only deer are allowed through. There was a full or near-full moon in the sky, brightly illuminating the enormous walls of the valley and most of the meadow. That moment of basking in the nighttime view became one of my top favorite moments of all year. And because it was fairly dark still I wasn’t able to get any shot, so for another day.


Day Two: The first morning we spent I was able to go for a 4 mile run thru a beautiful trail going along the river. One mile in I unexpectedly found something I wanted to visit again. It was an enormous rock, maybe one and a half stories high.

We went to Yosemite Falls

After dinner I grabbed my camera by impulse and ran through a quarter mile of unpathed forest to find the rock. Also crossed the river to find it.

And then I found it!

I couldn’t cross the river from there to get to the rock. So here’s the short story: last time we visited, one morning I woke up early I made my way through the forest wandering; found the rock and climbed it; once at the tippy top realised where I was, got scared, slipped down the side, turned over, upside-down spider crawled my way inch by inch over 10 minutes to the bottom, jumped a way down, survived.
On the way back from this visit though, I felt scared, alone, vulnerable. I quickly made my way back to the campsite and called it a day.


Final Day: Vernal Falls!

And another view of my favorite spot, this time during the day to get a view:

I’m content woth the amount of pictures I took, but I know I could have been contenter


new year, starting from my birthday, not Jan01.

Excuse

My efforts to keep this blog active never work. This is a recurring issue since after the first few months of having this blog! x) So it’s been years. One major reason I can say is lack of a computer desk. I don’t have a desk. I don’t like typing blogs (what I consider a formal platform for me) on my phone or a laptop; I don’t enjoy typing with the keyboard on my lap. We never had enough space for a fully fledged out desk. One requirement I can never bargain for is having a window near the desk, and the lack of space is another problem.

I’ve tried the 1,000 words method of writing, where I would write 1,000 words exactly of anything that came to mind, similar to what I’m trying to achieve right now, but those attempts never made it as far as I ¬†wanted, and I didn’t feel right filling this blog with “filler” thoughts and aimless talk. I have a strong sense of quality over quantity, so I ended up not publishing those kinds of attempts at keeping this site alive. One method that does work more often is the series of questions. I take a few questions off The Book of Questions and answer them as thoroughly as I can. I never did them as frequently, but I haven’t stopped trying. Another thing I thought of last night was posting more of my pictures (I’m currently in my photography phase), at least once a week, and trying to go along with the saying “an image is worth a thousand words.”

I’ll try it right now:


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The message in the photo says “It’s that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second.” Immediately I thought of the golden rule, which is respect. I value this idea so much; putting yourself in front of others is part of what I consider the greatest sin: selfishness. It’s such a vile toxin that degenerates any relationship one has with any and everything around them. It’s always there in each person, in some degree. It is easily abusive of others and the immediate environment. And when money is thrown into the formula, you get corruption. With a selfish mindset you get corporate politicians, you get¬†garbage patches in the ocean,¬†you get polluted rivers and lakes, you get murder, rape, identity theft. Small acts build up. You don’t take advantage of others when you’re not being selfish. I put everyone above me, and that could have selfish motivation too. I don’t want to be raising red flags for anyone. I’ve always lived with this mindset. Most people do. I more or less think I have because it benefits everyone and everything more than if I were to be driven by selfishness. The process of life and the day-to-day world aren’t ruined by my acts. That is accepting and facilitating the social contract.

I feel like I went off a tangent there, but maybe you still get me. I love being the one that “comes second.” Is it related when I say this lets me be a listener better, an observer better? Does it relate when I say I don’t want to be the main character in “the grand story,” even for a second? I want to be the support for the main characters. Of course, in my own story I’m still the main character, and that story is filled with everlasting struggle; a struggle through the darkness looking for the light.

I don’t want to be the lily; I want to be the lilypad.

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Again, I feel like I approached this wrong. Let me be so objective instead: I found the mural in downtown LA at the corner of Winston and Los Angeles St. I see it every time I go to DTLA; I go about three times a week. Just to walk around. To wander and wander and find a new perspective. I won’t be walking through downtown for much longer, since I’ll be going to school in Sacramento in less ¬†than a month.


A questions asks: Does the fact that you have never done something before increase or decrease its appeal to you?

Increase; I’m a sucker for doing new things. When I enter an eatery I always look for different and interesting items. Or different flavors of a given item, since ya know there’s dozens of different flavors of any thing these days. I always look for a new place to travel to in LA; I’m not bored of visiting the same places because I space out those visits over time, and plan the order of places I visit differently. It’s part of the improvisation I like to add to my day-to-day life, though in the long-term I do have a more clear and straight path ahead of me. When I repeat a routine I get stressed, because I felt like I could have done something differently. Again though, this is only for day-to-day life, where regret is more quickly forgivable. A whole new dimension is added when I get to travel or eat or do anything with another person(s); I don’t mind repeating the exact same things I’ve done recently while with another person, because each person has their own unique perspective, and I always enjoy that. I welcome new experiences, even when there’s nothing significant to learn.

Another question asks: If you were at a friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner and you found a dead cockroach in your salad, what would you do?

I know exactly what; I would freeze and stare at it, assessing the overall scene in the few split seconds I have to react so no one finds it weird I paused for a second. I would search for a way to cover up the roach a bit and then get up and take the salad plate off the table. I would then call over to the host of the dinner and let them know in the calmest voice I know, whether or not I’m able to say it with others listening in. After giving them the place, I’ll let the host handle it from there, staying silent about it from then on. And then I would bring out a remote control from my pocket and point it upwards, where the ceiling would open up in four parts, and a bright light would shine on the table and the guests. We would all seemingly evaporate, and then reemerge in a new dimension. This new world would be full of tall grass, too tall so look over, though we would all be in a path that lead in two directions. We would split up due to conflicting leadership and eventually we would all be searching alone. A loud voice would be heard proclaiming that an ocean of people in bear costumes would be released into the dimension, now known as a maze. The bears would ‘eat’ whoever they met, and the last person standing and not ‘eaten’ would win.


If you’ve noticed my bolding¬†of phrases, those are keywords, standout information that is most relevant in who and how I am. I’ll spend more time explaining those boldings at the end of each post.

So, to start, quality over quantity¬†is a preference I’ve adopted more over time as a response to the glutton I was during high school. I was a glut for specific candies and cookies and chips and nothing better. I’ve paid the high price of dozens of dentists appointments (to little avail) and slowly swore off many of these foods. But the overall theme of quality has spread to other aspects, like the amount of time I spend on the internet, or the amount of posts I’ll publish..

My photography phase is the time I’ve been more focused on photography than other art like drawing with my markers or writing lyrics or playing piano I have had phases of those arts, and I know that I’m engulfed in photography. I recently bought a Canon Rebel T6 camera and am really impressed with what I have done with it. I always have an itch for doing other art, and it’s not like I don’t try other things in this ‘phase;’ all I’m saying is my effort goes more into the camera than the pen or keys.

The thought of improvisation enters my mind pretty often. I never want to plan out anything too much or too little. I always want flexibility in my ability to react and adapt to a detour, in a way I can still feel totally in control of myself. Don’t we all?

Apologies for any typos. I’ll be looking out for any.

-E