An exercise in Absurdity

The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning.

-Albert Camus

There have always been a lot of things about the world, in my mind anyways, that didn’t make complete sense. Maybe it’s because I hated math at school and never really applied myself to learning until later at university, or that as a kid whenever my parents asked me what I wanted to I would say “Nothing.”.

I struggled to relate to my peers at university because so many of them had definitive meaning in their lives; they were going to be the scientists, dentists, doctors and lawyers of our generation. I felt inferior because I was essentially still trying to find something definitive to pin that meaning to.

It wasn’t until 2015 that I read Albert Camus’ work. An Existentialist Philosopher, Camus is credited with the development of the view of Absurdism. Essentially, Existentialists are concerned with the question “What is the meaning of existence?” Camus’ point of view was that life had no meaning, that nothing exists that could ever be a source of meaning and hence there is something deeply “absurd” about the human quest to find meaning. I guess this is an extension of what Friederich Nietzche’s meditations on Nihilism & what I had come to learn at university, but something about Camus’ perspective resounded with me. By that point in 2015 I had already re-committed myself to Jiu-jitsu after a 2 year hiatus  trying (unsuccessfully) to drink and eat myself into an early grave. On reflection, I think I had held a lot of resentment over the fact that I had no real goal or meaning; excusing myself from proactive pursuits to irrationally flail about and dabble in a bunch of destructive habits that dragged me deeper into depression and resentment.

Camus’ ideas were a breath of fresh air for me. Where a lot of people see Nietzche or Camus’ ideas as ‘depressing’ or ‘bleak’, I saw them as empowering. To me, it allows us to understand that it is okay not to have definitive meaning in our lives because it is simply not possible to prescribe any definitive meaning to existence. From there, we can start to establish our own meaning and purpose for being.  Continue reading “An exercise in Absurdity”

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Theory versus Practice.

It’s not about what you believe; but what you put into practice every day.

The uncomfortable truth about reality is that nobody (other than yourself) really cares about what you think.

Your opinions & beliefs about the world (and even the way you perceive yourself) does not make any impact on the world outside of your mind. Reality, and those around you, are only able to interact with the actions you manifest as a result of your thoughts. 

We can have the most elaborate, beautiful sounding theories about the world in our minds, but these mean nothing in the face of practicality. We still have to negotiate a world that presents us with real challenges on a daily basis; only your actions will dictate how the consequences play out.

A person may perceive themselves to be “the best”; a hard worker, a champion, a good person, but their perceptions are only matched up against their actions. Do they act as a hard worker does? Do they act as the champion does? Do they act as a good person might? Theory must be put into practice, otherwise it is only hollow and useless. If you hold certain things to be true but do not act as if they are, you are being dishonest with yourself and deny yourself a fulfilling life. 

The joy of the human condition lies in the fact that we all perceive the world differently. We all hold certain things to be true and perceive reality in our own way. Perception and belief alone does not an interaction with the world make however. We must align our theories with our actions if we are to honestly express ourselves in the world.

Thanks for reading.

Oss.

Thoughts on Having an Open Mind

“Oh, I don’t need to learn this. It doesn’t fit into my game plan.” or “I already know this, I don’t need to practice it.” are examples of what got me thinking about this next topic: Being Open-Minded. 

I think I’ve been very fortunate to have had teachers, friends and peers who have modeled open minded behavior throughout my learning. I think it is also because I have been surrounded by this positive behavior that it comes as a shock to me when I see people uttering statements such as the above.

It takes humility for a person to admit they don’t know something; many of us don’t want to risk looking stupid in the face of our colleagues, partners or friends whose opinions we value. Above humility, it also takes a lot of effort for us to be open-minded. In the gym, the work place or even in the company of friends, being open minded is an invaluable attribute. Continue reading “Thoughts on Having an Open Mind”

Learning Styles: Understanding how you learn.

All of us know what it’s like to start something new; to be a complete beginner and learn how to do something from scratch. Progress can be slow at times, even frustrating, but we must learn if we hope to become proficient in our chosen area. Martial Arts (Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in particular) has taught me a many great deal of things so far, including how I learn best.

When it comes to learning, the modern consensus is that no two people learn in the same way. We are all different people, so it stands to reason that we will learn differently too. Better understanding how you learn may be the edge you need to help fast track your improvement and progress.  Continue reading “Learning Styles: Understanding how you learn.”

Respect: The Two-Way Street

Showing and giving respect is something we do so regularly in our social interactions with others that it’s often forgotten, only dwelling beneath the surface of our conscious. We will all have experience with both being respected and being disrespected, giving respect to someone and disrespecting someone.

We, as human beings, are naturally wired for social interactions and who & what we respect is something that has been imprinted on us by life experience. The combination of these two things creates a complex filter which we use to interact with others throughout our lives. Sometimes people desire respect where it is not given and at times it is given where it is not deserved. Respect is a two-way street which will certainly pay to understand a little bit better.

Continue reading “Respect: The Two-Way Street”

The Devil is in the Detail: Paying attention to the small things and being detail oriented.

One of the most important aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the importance of details. When executing a technique, there a certain number of details you must incorporate to perform the move correctly and efficiently. Being detail oriented can make for slow progress at times, however later progression becomes accelerated as your execution of techniques (once learned) never hits a critical mass of errors that lead to the technique being applied failing.

The phrase: “The Devil is in the Detail” is profoundly true within BJJ for this reason. However, understanding and committing to a Detail Oriented approach can have major benefits for any other aspect of your life too.

Continue reading “The Devil is in the Detail: Paying attention to the small things and being detail oriented.”