Aram Harijan

Much ado about nothing

You must understand, Mr. Adamson, that to go to sleep is the single most profoundly fearful event for a child.

You cannot remember, Mr. Adamson, except by what you assume to be true by your observations of the world and of the human life that once you were an infant.

And when you were but an infant, and not Mr. Adamson, every day would come to an end and, in the evenings, you would feel the rein on your consciousness slip.

You couldn’t be certain, as little a baby boy, of what would happen if you let go of that leash, to let your mind slip, to let darkness take over your eyes – your daily visions because you did not understand that to go to sleep is to wake up in the morning continue. And not knowing, that sleep is just a natural part of the diurnal cycle to which we are subject having been products of Darwinian evolution on a planet – that which itself is regulated by 24 hour cycles with a single central star – you fell asleep every night with a fear of losing your consciousness that fear, not unlike, of death.

You were absolutely scared to go to sleep and you cried, but you cannot stop sleep just as you cannot stop time. So you fell asleep crying, and you dreamt only to awake suddenly, and miraculously, your life began all over again.

It’s only when you have spent thousands of nights of such tiny little mini-deaths, as an infant and a child, that you begin to recognize that it really is alright to go let go of your consciousness every night because, in the sum of your existence, you now have experienced those thousands of mornings in which you have experienced little tiny mini-rebirths.

You began to know and assume, you see, that tomorrow you would wake up and continue the narration of this thing called life. And when you did, you began to believe an implicit warranty given to you by an unknowable, unshakable force – a god of sorts.

And ten thousand nights have passed since those days, and you have forgotten what it was like to be a child fearful of this thing we simply call sleep because you have taken for granted those waking moments you first believed to be miracles given you by a higher power.

Today, you say you do not want to wake up, Mr. Adamson, because you drank last night and you are tired this morning. And you want to remain in a state of rest and sleep. And while you still lay in bed, hugging hangover between your arms like a pillow, you wish to remain in a state of limbo.

You must think, Mr. Adamson, there is a choice you must make. To wake or not to wake. You must remember what it is that you have forgotten. And invariably, you will come to the conclusions as I have, that we must find whatever it is that brought us here in the first place.

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Rosharon

Once – so the story goes – a wild flower bloomed in a nameless field. With promiscuous innocence of softness, it sang the brilliance of luminous time.

By happenchance, a vagabond visited this wilderness and rested from the tender distance. Amidst the early autumn grass turning brown and bending from age, he laid his soul bare. Unwitnessing the flower, he slept.

As the daylight fell and the evening glowed, the poet once came to. Over the head, his awakening eyes caught this modest flower hiding its secret shapes and colors into the folds of its petals.

In the sighing whisper of his breath the petals ruffled, and a glimpse of red embarrassment dripped life into the eyes of this traveller so far away from his forgotten homeland.

The youth of his days rushed back, and the face of a girl who once confided the secrets of her life returned to him as a waking dream. The twilight was azure in his eyes, and the vision was a rapture of this flower pressed between the forgotten memories bound with time drained of dear life.

Against the backdrop of the spinning heavens, the falling consciousness spent the night where home rested under the skirt of this girl-flower awaiting in the void and back.

In the gentle dawn, the flower wilted and dropped its petals one-by-one. They fell on his forehead and bid him conscious to this new day.

The dreams of past vanished with the receding night sky, and the man saw what had happened to the flower which had brought him so much love and joy. Somberly, he knelt and bowed his head next to the withered remains of the flower past and sang a foreign prayer to the west wind blowing onward his way home.

Standing, a wholesome warmth stirred in his heart, and taking the pregnant belly of the flower stem with him, he called his journey forth with the rose of Sharon.

Melancholy New Year

I just got off the phone with someone from my past.

It’s an elderly Chinese-American woman who lives with her husband out in the country in North Carolina. I met them during my medical school years when I would visit the town in which they lived and worked for the past thirty years or so. I would follow a family doctor there around and at a certain point, he introduced me to the lonely Chinese Americans who made a vibrant living running a Chinese restaurant. The husband used to take me go fishing early in the morning before both of us had to go to work – him to the restaurant and me to the hospital.

As I have been away from the States for months now, I haven’t talked to her a while, and today while I was checking my email, she had called me on my Google Voice number. So I answered the phone, and we talked.

I told her that I was in Korea.

It was hard to explain to her what it was that I was doing back in my homecountry. It wasn’t as if I had a lucrative job offer. It wasn’t as if I was a board certified doctor. She just assumed that, because I had a license to practice in Korea, I must be working at a hospital in Korea getting the foreign-doctor treatment. She was happy in her assumption, and I did not have the heart to tell the truth of my situation, which is vagabond-like at best and non-productive at worst.

When I asked her how her husband is doing, she gave me the bad news, which was that the man had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. And more than anything the cruelty of irony stung me.

He was a man, in whose youth, who swam across the Hong Kong channel in the cold winter waters to escape the communist China. In Hong Kong, he met his current wife. As refugees, they were granted asylum, and that’s how they ended up moving to United States.

They were not educated people, and all they knew to do was hard work. And they really worked hard. The husband, I watched many times in the back of the restaurant. I never saw his hands resting; he worked the woks so fast that I could never take a picture of him where his hands were not in a motion-blur, when I used to take pictures of everyone and everything back in those days. He was always moving around, wondering what it was that he needed to do in the next moment. A to-go order. Or a pan that’s near-empty among the buffet trays. He never sat down except to eat his meals in the quiet moments between lunch and dinner rush hours. And now that I remember him, there was something in his complaints about having heavy feet that was maybe the first clues as to his current health problems.

A hard-working man, did he loved to work. I never saw someone who looked so good doing something as simple as cooking the mundane Chinese food. He must have been in his late fifties, and his forearm was wreathed with strands of muscle from the years of labor he had burned in front of the kitchen fire.

And now… this man no longer worked but was retired, by the ailing body, early into the winter of life. And, too, he no longer goes fishing.

Getting off the phone, we both wished each other a happy new year.

So here I sit in front of my desk in a ski-condo up in the mountains. The new year has come and gone by, like Gangnam Style on the Billboard, and I look at the prospect for the time ahead and also for this transitioning point in which I am wondering what it is that I am trying to do with my life. I wonder… is that what life has in store for me? Some cruel irony behind the mystery of existence? To find the thing I enjoy the most and to have it taken away?

And I know the truth, which is that life does unto us a thing and we find ourselves in a prison of chrysalis. It is a transformation, and it is scary because we cannot know what happens after this and we do not have a choice in whether it happens to us or not. Time keeps flowing like the running river, and we are powerless against the changes brought about – both from within and without.

And another truth – a more personal one – is that already life has taken away from me just as it has taken away from the man. Narcolepsy had taken away the dreams of my twenties, and as I am entering the middle of my thirties, I am having to find myself anew in a state of waxing and waning consciousness. I am but living the life of a Chinese man with Parkinsons in another shade of blue.

Perhaps it is the song of life, the harsh winds of change, the winter-come against the summer-past, that stings us bitterly. I know already that 2013 is going to be a hard year. Because for all the want of life my soul bears, I am seeing stagnant spoils of time encroaching upon the self and on those I love.

F you, 2013.

The Night Before Creation

The Universe was created on a Thursday. It was 1:32 in the afternoon, some 14 billion years ago.

God woke up and, for a second, wondered how He had gotten there. Then it dawned on Him that night prior He had attended a weekly meeting at a local community center.

Of all things, it was an atheistic forum. The lot of nonbelievers, they gathered every Wednesday night to discuss either the impossibility or the improbability of God and other unrelated subjects such as Darwinism, Plumbing, etc.

Now, it does appear counterintuitive that God would attend an atheist meeting. After all, it would be as ridiculous as if a person frequented discussions among a group of Chimpanzees who constantly argued for the non-existence of Homo sapiens species. Such a context would be impossible to explain to the great apes. In the case of God and the atheists, however, there exists three perfect human reasons.

First and foremost, the atheists offered God a great deal of anonymity, which He seldom received among the theists. Among the nonbelievers, God felt free to show up without fear of someone walking up to Him and asking for miraculous favors such as lottery numbers or keeping alive some poor old body whose soul was entirely overdue somebody else.

The atheists never begged. They respected God’s free will. He found that whole “God save those who save themselves” affair refreshing.

Second of all, the atheists left God alone. Like all things non-existent, they paid little attention to defining God. As such, it was among the atheists that God felt really free to be Himself without the fear of having to stand up to some artificial standard of “God.” Truly, if there was one place where God felt least judged, it was in a room full of atheists.

Third of all, the atheists gave God an opportunity to learn about the things which had nothing to do with the contentious issue of the existence of Himself. Neither a sane person nor God would feel the burning desire to prove one’s own existence. Rather, He liked to listen to the secular philosophers, whose arguments were often so convincing that God Himself would have to pinch Himself when the thought “do I exist?” occurred to the Almighty. It was a strange trick that, as far as God knew, worked only on God himself.

That was a true mystery to God. The atheists have completely proved the implausibility of His existence. Yet, there He was – listening to atheists and jotting down notes. The whole situation – God convinced of His Nonexistence – was a paradox at the highest existential level. Strange, really.

At any measure of time, it was that night prior to the beginning God attended another weekly Wednesday atheist forum. The speaker of the day was a pedantic professor of sociology whose main message was the ridicule of creationism to the favor of evolution in public education. God Himself was in favor of evolution, too, but it did not please Him one bit that the young professor was so sure of everything.

It was God – and not the young professor – who had seen through time and saw the origin of species and the whole process of natural selection. Why should then the young professor be so sure about something that God Himself saw through? God thought briefly, but soon drifted off to that time before the asteroid when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Everyone at the atheist meeting had already read the Wikipedia article on creationism in public education, which was the article the young professor had used to prepare the PowerPoint slides. It was a redundant subject matter to the atheist audience perhaps except for God. And God had tuned out from the lecture to daydream about the dinosaurs.

The professor finished his lecture. The audience clapped out of formality, and God abruptly woke up from the daydream and joined the applaud with a slight sense of guilt for having lost interest in the lecture. The professor was oblivious to all that was going on in each audience’s mind. He was just glad it was done.

No one present had any questions except God, but God realized He would much rather look it up on Wikipedia when He got home that night.

After the talk, as was customary, coffee and tea were served. There God mingled and met a newcomer Mary, who was not an atheist but a devout Baptist and a virgin at the age of thirty-one. Of all people, it was Mary who recently came to the conclusion above – that God would most likely hang out with atheists – and made it a point to visit atheist groups.

Why was Mary looking for God?

Maybe she wanted something from God. Maybe she was in search of a question whose answers were hidden in God’s down pillows. Who knows? Mary was a believer. One cannot understand a believer. Not even God.

The point is that even God did not know who Mary was. If He knew, He would not have gone to that meeting that night. But that’s not what happened. God went there NOT looking for Mary to a place where Mary went looking for God.

So one thing led to another, and God ended up at Mary’s apartment that Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

At 3A.M., God finally realized that Mary was a prude and a stalker. Mary started crying about how hard her life had been and how her life was going to turn around now that she had found Him. Horrified, God excused himself to the bathroom on account of some nameless Indian dish he had eaten earlier and snuck out the window to freedom. God walked home barefoot and fell asleep in His bed. The same bed in which He found Himself that Thursday early afternoon.

God instantly freaked out because He realized it was the Day of Creation and had slept through the alarm. He was supposed to create the Universe at 1:32P.M. that day. God gazed at the clock. It said 1:31 P.M.

A minute left!

God inhaled in a rush and exhaled, “Let there be Light.” In that moment, the clock turned 1:32 P.M. and the Universe was born. A lot of crazy things were happening with light moving so fast that it was sowing subatomic particles into a rapidly expanding space. That was Big Bang.

So that Thursday at 1:33 P.M., God took another breath in relief. Having done all His chores for the day, He checked off a bunch of todo things off his list. Having found Himself free again, God got on his laptop and looked up the Wikipedia article on creationism in public education.

 

What is the Gra…

What is the Grace of God
if not the impossible and amazing,
one and only,
the mystery of our existence?

Not as if we paid
50 dollars or 2000 rupees
in exchange for a ticket
two admissions into life
on this blue planet
with majestic blue whales swimming
the blue Pacific ocean
rotating and revolving in a solar system
of the middle of Nowheres, Universe.

If that undeserved gift of life
isn’t Grace,
I am not a poet
and you not my beloved muse.

Oh Lord, my God!
To forever loving your gift
I humbly submit this feeble mind
and sing of your Grace
once more before I lay.

The Lesson of World War I against SkyNet.

It was really the internal combustion engine and crude oil that made World War I.

Internal combustion engine: 1700’s +/- 100 years.
Worldwide availability of crude oil: 1850s
First Flight: 1903
First Ford Model T: 1908
15 million young men that perished in World War I: 1914-1918

That is the role of technology.

Technology makes impossible things possible.

When we mixed dreams with technology, we flew like birds.

When we mixed desire with technology, we travelled faster than any animal could do.

But we mixed greed with technology then flew like birds and travelled across the globe to kill 15 million young men.

Apparently, we still haven’t learned our lesson as a species.

The latest technology to develop – internet, robotics and artificial intelligence – could help all of humanity out of poverty. Instead, we built these drone things that kill people. We’ve built an arm and a wing for SkyNet.

Why are we building robots that kill people? It’s almost like the status quo wants humanity to become enslaved by the coming of “hard” artificial intelligence.

We gotta stop making human-killing hands for the future of AI. Instead we need to build human-helping hands.

You can’t enslave people with Roomba.

It’s the truth.

Introspectionless vampire bullshit

I’ll tell you what human suffering is good for.

Human suffering is good for introspection and introspection is good for the mind and it’s good for the mouth.

The more one thinks the more one shuts up his mouth and the more a writer shuts his mouth the more he thinks before he write about the subject for which he has no idea how to begin describing the thing he doesn’t know how to discuss.

Two generations of absolutely original writers bled for their words and we don’t know anything about suffering and no amount of complaining is going to make us look like heroes. Here.

Lost generation: Hemingway, Fitzgerald

Beat generation: Kerouac, Ginsberg

So instead of Old Man and the Sea, we have some fantastical magical thinking vampire books void of style and content and Ernie would tell you that all that blood is a waste and better spent transfusing soldiers on the battlefield and that he hates the war but he hate even more the nothing-new way of the words of our generation and he will admit that his lost generation had found what they were looking for while he accuses us of being truly lost without a cause and without an excuse to divorce the consciousness that makes us human.

Yeah. Ernie would say something like that.

I tell you what those four guys are all rolling in their graves begging God for another world war but no it’s too crazy to say anything politically incorrect so I’m not going to say anything about it but just think about it in my lonely cottage in Cambria because this is the only sanctuary left for jive turkeys and wild ghosts of the disembodied poets.

Forgetabahit. I’m going down to Mozzi’s to find that crazy supernatural syntactic soup of thought crying inbetween the outer space and elephant seals.

No, you can’t come. 😛

The Mystery of the Flower Sermon

Love is the consequence of recognizing beauty.

Beauty is the consequence of recognizing the truth.

Recognition of the truth is the consequence of mindless observation.

Mindless observation is the consequence of openness to the moment.

Openness to the moment is the consequence of selflessness.

Thus, selflessness is the origin of love.

Mahakasyapa watched the flower. He was selfless in the moment. He saw the flower as from its origin to its death and saw the truth of its entire existence. This truth became an appreciation of its beauty – that which came not from the flower but from within Mahakasyapa’s inner self. The love of the flower was outwardly expressed by his gentle smile. Mahakasyapa was enlightened to the mystery of the flower in Sakyamuni’s hand.

This is how Sakyamuni recognized Mahakasyapa’s selfless inner state from the outward smile.

Cosmos the Magician and the Greatest Cosmological Trick EVER.

The fun of magic is in the mystery in the appearance of impossible.

It’s one thing to be awed at something we think should be impossible. It’s another thing altogether to figure out how the magician pulled it off.

To know how magic works doesn’t take the fun away! If we figure out another guy’s trick, then it allows us to perform “magic,” too.

All of applied science is this. Nature is a mysterious magic, but when you figure out its trick, then you get to mess with it and do awesome things.

Like building a fire, keep the saber tooth tigers away at night, surf the ocean seas, build the biggest depository of human knowledge, talk to someone over a thousand miles away like they are right next to you, fly like a bird, spin atoms in a giant magnetic tunnel and smash them together and giggle.

The Biggest Trick of Life, Cosmos, and Everything we have yet to figure out is the illusion of time.

The picture is from Hubble Deep Field North.

When we look into the infinity of space, we see the oldest of galaxies – the smallest, faintest, red dots – back when the Cosmos was not even billion years ago.

The paradox of light-time is that we never see the true essence the Cosmos. The smallest reddest dot, that’s what a galaxy looked like 13 billion years ago.

Those small red dots, they definitely don’t look like that NOW.

In fact, the only thing close to realtime are the things that we see on Earth, other objects in orbit around the Sun, and the surface of the Sun.

But the Sun, It lies, too.

The light that begins at its CORE takes AT LEAST 10,000 years to reach its SURFACE and flies for 8 minutes to reach Earth. If the core stops its nuclear fusion process today, the Sun’s still going to shine for another 10,000 years – more like 500,000 years.

The nearest stars we can see with bare eyes are Alpha Centauri, A/B and Proxima. That’s if we lived in the southern hemisphere.

Those stars are 4 light years away – and we are only seeing their surface conditions. We’ve no idea what’s going on inside. We think the Sun will go on for the next four billion years because that’s what stars appear to do. And we have been watching stars with scrutiny for only 400 years.

We’re just assuming that Comos works in a reasonable way, but sometimes it does some spooky things to prove Einstein wrong – like dark matter, dark energy, lack of observable black holes nearby, etc.

The nightsky, it’s a Cosmological Magic. Don’t believe anything you see.

Truth lies beyond its appearances.

Who knows, maybe there really is a Prankster God beyond Big Bang Horizon rolling on the Holy Floor laughing Its Belly Button off, outside of Time, while watching the telescope monkeys scratch their heads.

We’re going to find this Thing, and IT’s going to have a lot of explainin’-to-do.

Then again, it’s most likely gonna be this thing we figure out about space-time-matter and say, “Duh… of course it is!” and feel stupid for believing the whole damn trick.

The ramification of understanding gravitation is that human being will be able to do godlike-things. It’s not about traveling to another galaxy.

The reason we need to figure out gravitation is so we can build levitating hover boards!

A Bridge Street Stroll

A Bridge Street Stroll

My February night self
Lit a cigarette
stared into the darkness of the sky
seeing nothing except light
uh… and also love.

Oh, Mother, Father!
In the infinite wisdom of your soul
have you brought
kindly life breath
narcoleptic puff.

Oh, Saroyan!
Did you cry for me
or was I hearing coincident
grandfather mustache laughter
childhood escapades?

Ah, Mystery…
Free young how innocently curious the soul
Beat suspending consciousness
Light beneath the Big Shadow
Why am I here?