Friday, July 20

Funny, Dark, Iconoclastic

Coparck is a Dutch rock band from Amsterdam. I don't know if you can get a hold of their music, but it's worth the try. The lyrics sound like poetry. The following is an excerpt from one of my favorites, a song called 'Funny, Dark, Iconoclastic.' Also check out the official website here - it contains some soundclips, too, and superb videoclips.

Funny, dark, iconoclastic / Gain the world but loose the soul / Accurate forecasts, he wore a shirt with / Nostradamus says, hell / I told you / ... / so/

Glowing, gleaming, awesome splendour/I guess it's time to let things go/In former years I used to be quite indecisive but now/I'm not so/.../sure/

Saturday, July 14

Needs and wants

Needs are simple. Fulfill them and you're alright. Fail in doing so, and you're toast. Either it's good or it isn't.

Dreams, wishes, desires - funny things. It's funny how we need them to give us meaning, goals, motivation, hope, something to be obsessed with. It's funny how we keep believing that achieving them brings satisfaction. We can't help ourselves, even though life proves us wrong time and again. And again. And again. Think of everything you wanted, and got eventually - wether it involved hard work, luck, or a bit of both. The exams you passed. The iPod you bought. Attention. Everything that has been a step in the right direction, the direction you want. With every achievement and every stroke of luck, we should be feeling happier. If only just a little bit. But do you really feel the difference?

People who win millions of dollars in the lottery do not get happier. They experience what we all experience when we get what we want - joy. The funny thing about joy is that it doesn't last. People who win the lottery may feel great for a week or two, but in the long term they become less happy than they were before they won their prize - in spite of all the iPods, cars and private islands they buy. You want it, you get it, you have it. There's no challenge.

It's funny how we need desires, to want what we don't have, or can't get. Because if there's nothing left to wish for anymore, we might as well give up. That's why we keep fooling ourselves, I guess. We need to be able to strive for more, however unhappy it makes us.

Friday, July 6

Something, anything

A riddle. You could settle for something good, and get it right now, guaranteed. Or you could wait for something that might be better, although there is a very real possibility you might not get it at all. You can't look into the future, and you don't experience any gut feeling whatsoever. Which is the better option?

People and making decisions, it seems to be a love-hate relationship. Choice isn't just about freedom and getting what you want; by making a decision you always miss out on something. You gain, you lose. Your money or your life.You enjoy the apple pie, but don't get to taste the blueberry cake. Regret may accompany every choice, if only because you can't help but wondering how the other option might have turned out. On the other hand, not deciding gets you nothing. And if every option is an improvement, shouldn't you be glad for having a choice in the first place? No, of course not. We don't just want something better, we want the best we can get.

Decisions are vital in life. To change it, to grow in it, to make it yours. This is what I do know. Choose something, anything. You might choose wrongly, but at least you made a choice.

Here comes the long shot.

Sunday, July 1

Input, output

'Black box' is technical jargon for a device or system or object when it is viewed primarily in terms of its input and output characteristics. -

In biology classes I took some years ago, one of the most important ideas of ethology - the study of animal behavior - was to think of an animal as a black box. The stimuli that go in and the responses that come out are the only things you can observe directly; what happens inside the 'box' has to be deduced from that. In psychology, the idea is the same. You can't see into someone's head, but you can usually get a pretty good picture anyway, just by observing someone's reaction. If I'd ask someone out to dinner, I can at least think of a number of reasons for any reaction given to that question. If he says yes, I may assume he likes my company. If he says no, maybe he doesn't like me. I wouldn't be sure, but I wouldn't be completely in the dark either.

I don't think anybody is able to show their true character to others. It's just impossible to get everything that's in, out, without being influenced by the people you're with. We want them to have certain ideas about who we are, what we are like, and as a result we show only the thoughts and feelings that agree with those ideas. At least, we try. But at the same time I think many people value expressing themselves the way they are, without holding back in fear of being disliked. It's also much easier not to pretend. To be much different from your true personality all the time wears us out quickly, I suspect.

When I think of the people I know, they don't seem to be keeping up appearances to any great extent. Undoubtedly they all have their secrets and thoughts they do not express, but I don't believe there is a gaping abyss or a towering wall between what's on the inside and what they show to others. Though there is one person I know that does appear to be very different from what he pretends to be. He perfected his act with such skill that its shallowness is hardly noticed. Believing that I'd witnessed a few rare moments in which he dropped his guard, I was both irritated and fascinated by him. I wanted to know what was behind it all.

The people around me are black boxes. Usually I can imagine what their motivations must be. But sometimes, someone can turn out to be a mystery, and I have found this makes it nearly impossible to communicate in any normal way. I cannot interpret his reactions, I cannot see why things have changed so much. I've stopped trying, and I tell myself I might have only been mistaken in those few moments.

Most people are not that much like black boxes at all, really. I want to be anything but a black box. I want to have the courage to be honest at moments in which it is least expected. I asked someone out to dinner, and as we were sitting in front of the café, enjoying the last warm breezes of a long Spanish day, I was absolutely truthful about my motives. In return, I got trust and sincerity, and all the answers I was looking for.