[Day 1] Got inspiration

After a long time not writing anything, I believe today is a good time to get back to this habit. The 50 days writing that I tried before has stopped at Day 23, but it really has died much earlier than that. Looking back, I realize my mistake was trying so much to make a deep and meaningful essay everyday without taking account of how hard and long it is to write one. To overcome that difficulties, I’ve reused the essay that I’ve written in the past and that practice has created few problems:

  • The supply of those essays are not limited.
  • It creates a inertia of not writing, which goes directly against the purpose of the challenge.
  • Basically, I’m lying. Both to readers and myself.

Thus, I think the challenge of writing everyday does not work really well on me. Habit needs time to catch on. Now I believe the challenge should be kept inside and the rules would grow organically. Tomorrow me should not be tied by the promise of its less intelligent version.

Ok, enough for that, here’s 2 people that have inspired me today:

1) Ha Vu  – a software engineer sharing about his plan to master Machine Learning and got a github respitory that has over 16K star.

https://github.com/ZuzooVn/machine-learning-for-software-engineers

2)  Huyen Chip – an adventurer, writer, Stanford undergraduate and master student (at the same time) – humble and totally amazing. Her 365blog inspires me a lot.

https://github.com/chiphuyen

https://learn365project.com/

I also got inspired by the book  Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead (MIT Press) . I have wanted to work towards an driverless car before, and this book explains to me exactly how complex the problem was and how we have step by step work out the solution. I used to think the problem lies between computer science and philosophy. I’m much more informed now.

On a different topic, I’m thinking about making videos to teach Programming in Vietnamese, in particular “Data Structures and Algorithm” concepts. Despite of its importance and student’s struggle in the topic, I have not found a good source to explain those terms in Vietnamese. I will definitely take a deeper look in this idea.

[Day 15] Top 10 books I enjoy in 2016

Even though the year has not ended yet, but here some of the books I did enjoy in 2016.

Review:

  1. 1984 (in Vietnamese)
  2. Homage to Catalonia (in Vietnamese)
  3. Atlas Shrugged
  4. How reading Adam Smith can change your life  
  5. Mình và họ
  6. Daring to touch Radha
  7. Antifragile
  8. How not to be wrong
  9. Deschooling Society
  10. The Art of Loving

[Day 13] The distance between lost and found – A story of the past me. ( 5 min read)

 

          the-distance-between-lost-and-found

“The distance between lost and found” is a story about three youngsters getting lost for five days in their hiking trip. While fighting for their survival, they discover themselves and form a bond as their stories start unfolding. By showing the audiences the mental and physical struggles that each of these youngsters had gone through, the book depicts how miscommunication, assumptions and social pressures can destroy a person.

Hallelujah used to sing a lot. Holmes writes “singing used to be her life…Music used to burst from her. She couldn’t contain it” (4). However, “she doesn’t sing anymore. She can barely stand to listen” (4). All it takes for Hallelujah to polarize completely is a moment when she got caught with Luke, a popular boy, and people start to believe his side of the story. By not speaking about what happened on that night, Hallelujah has missed every opportunity she was afforded to make things right. The author has done a marvelous job building Hallelujah’s character. The self-pity cycle of being too shy to speak, starting blaming others for not understanding, seeing things getting worse, realizing it is too late and then deciding to shut herself even more, keeps repeating within Hallelujah. She is vulnerable. She is scared. The further things are out of Hallelujah’s control, the sturdier the wall she made to distance herself with others.

I used to be Hallelujah. I used to blame others for not understanding me without giving them a chance to do so. I have cried a lot, asking why this world is being unfair to me, not realizing I was the one who was unfair to others. Similar to what Hallelujah has done with Sarah and Rachel, I was rude to the people that only want to help. All I thought about is how miserable I was, and how insensitive they were to my pain. I did not want it to be easy. I wanted it to be hard. I wanted to see me suffered, to show the world that how bad they were. Like Hallelujah, I started doubting my identity and went off-course to punish myself. After beating myself times to times, I start regaining my sanity by realizing that I should not handle everything alone, and I should ask for help without feeling shameful about it.

In the book, Hallelujah does not have any chance to reach that self-realization. Everyone continuously attacks her, including whom she considers her dearest. Hallelujah’s character represents a group of adolescents in our society who are introvert, vulnerable, inexperienced, and socially anxious. Like Hallelujah, they need help, but they are too shy and unwilling to accept it. Once they arrive at the self-pity cycle, everything is getting worse and worse “Out of control. I didn’t know how to defend myself. What to say” (161). Hallelujah’s story also represents how rude and cruel people can be with ignorance. None of her friends realize the toll the group isolation takes on her, how much she has changed over the year, and especially the magnitude of cruelty in their act. Intentionally or not, they push Hallelujah deeper into her throes and deny all of her efforts trying to escape “I can’t stand to have people looking at me. Laughing at me. That’s why I quit” (201).

Jonah, one of Hallelujah’s best childhood friend, is one of the major reasons that Hallelujah’s life was extremely miserable. He not only remains silent about what happened but also distance himself from Hallelujah since that incident. He thinks she is a slut and “by ignoring you, by staying mad at you, I could make it go away” (167). Because of Jonah’s assumption about Hallelujah’s character, both suffer a lot. Jonah’s actions illustrate how a good person can hurt who he loves by making his assumptions without confirmation. Like Hallelujah, Jonah is too afraid. He is too scared to hear the truth. He does not want to confront Hallelujah, to learn what happened. Thus, Jonah chooses to believe in his theory and distances himself about the cause of his pain. Jonah, in a way, is Hallelujah. Both do not have the courage to confront the truth. Both are insecure. To Hallelujah, it is about the fact that she brought herself to Luke. To Jonah, it is about the fact that Hallelujah chose Luke over him. Silence is what they choose, and it is what tear their lives apart.

I used to be Hallelujah. I used to be Jonah. I used to choose silence. It does not work. It is futile. However, people like me do not have to go through hell like what Hallelujah, Jonah and myself have experienced. I believe by emphasizing the importance of listening and sympathizing, we could reduce the suffering that people are causing to each other.

Reference:

Holmes, Kathryn. The distance between lost and found. Harper Collins Publishers, 2015

[Day 6] The art of loving – The harmony with self and others (quick read)

14142

Is love an art instead of a mere sensation? Is love something that you can “fall into”, and does not require knowledge and effort? Erich Fromm has started his book,“The art loving” with these questions. In the following chapters, he tries to establish the former premise, to present love as an art with its theories and practices. The book is a great dedication for those who want to understand more about the nature of love, the nature of human, how a man can escape of his fear of separation, and how a man can resonate his mind and body with another person by accepting himself.

It seems to Erich Fromm that most people are more concerned about how to “being love, rather than that of loving, one’s capacity to loved” (1). People read Dale Carnegie, read self-help books, see romance movies to learn romantic acts and manners in order to make themselves more attractive, more “lovable”. Instead of practicing the act of loving, what he sees in the contemporary culture is people trying to have more popularity and sex appeal. He also see that people do not talk about love as an faculty, but as objects; “people think that to love is simple, but that to find the right object to love – or to loved by – is difficult”(2). He compares the two persons falling in love as a deal for exchanging objects which contain a lot of hidden values. Those secret attributes are the main causes for their conflicts later in life. If you find in your shiny, marvelous shoes that you just bought yesterday to have its pedestal broken, all you have to do is returning the shoes. With a person, the suffering is much more severe. Returning a person is a much more painstaking task, simply because you’re dealing with your peers. Breaking up alone is hard, not to mention divorce. The final point Erich Fromm made is that love is an art, and it requires both knowledge and effort. There is the clear difference between “falling in love” and permanently “being in love”, with the former usually die off easily. The crazier you are falling in ” love at the first sight”, the more likely you have been lonely before that love and possibly after will be after the foreseeable break-up. Without enough knowledge and practices in the art of loving, even a couple who know each other for a long time can sometimes experience isolation without the awareness of the other half. As hard as we try, we cannot physically be beside our partners all the time, nor understand what is running within their heads. However, love should bring joy and unification, not suffering and sophistication. To reach that state, you must master love. To master an art, one must understand its theories and practices, which Erich Fromm later explains carefully.

 

 

 

**

I hope this introduction is enough to make you feel interested in reading the book. I do not have the intention of writing about the whole one, since I would need more time to find a concrete theme to talk about. Thus, what I’m going to write below are lessons I’ve found reading “The Art of loving”. You may not want to read it as it contains many spoilers:

****

 

 

 

 

 

*Spoiler alert*

Hopefully at this time you have read the book. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Theory: 

  • Because of his unique ability of awareness and reasoning, man always seeks to overcome his separateness, to leave the prison of lonesomeness. He can reach it through orgiastic states ( ritual sex in the tribe, drugs, alcohol..) , conformity, creative activity and in love.
  • Love is an activity, not passion. Love is active, not passive.
  • Love is giving, not receiving. The act of giving lies the expression of the giver’s aliveness.
  • Mature love requires care (which is effort/scarification/action),  responsibility, respect and knowledge.
  • Different type of loves.
  • If you only love a “special person”, you do not love anyone. You too are not in unity, you are a separation of two against the world.
  • Selfish is different from self-love. If a person can love others the right way, he can love himself, too. If a person only love others, he cannot love at all.

Practice:

  • Like any art, mastering love requires 4 factors: discipline, concentration, patience, and supreme concern with the mastery of the art.
  • I’ve had a conversation with my roommate about discipline while reading the book. I quite agree with him about discipline as not a concrete routine but the will to do what you are not wanting to do but you know you should do it.
  • Concentration:  Learning to be with oneself, with no activity whatsoever. Mediation every morning after waking up and evening before going to sleep. Being sensitive about yourself. Living the present.
  • Overcoming of one’s narcissism. Try to develop objectivity, humility, and reasons.
  • Having faith, not in God, but your partner. Believe in his/her fundamental values, and the core of his personality. Have faith in yourself as well.

I guess what the author is promoting is not unification with your partner but also with yourselves and everybody revolves you. With that, you will never lose “the love of your life”, since it cannot be taken.