Seeing and Living

There’s been a lot of thought put into the idea of living, but not seeing. It already sounds very weird and like an attempt to be profound, but it makes a lot of sense if you’ve ever seen it in action.

I really like this quote for this reason.

We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.

TS Eliot

In the last couple of years, my perspective of the world has warped significantly – I’ve been forced to change how I view the world else be stuck in limbo. Maybe it was only just a matter of growing into adulthood and just due process for everyone. Maybe not. But through my growth I’ve been able to conquer some of the mountainous hurdles that I remember thinking about in first year, and some of the mental blockades I put on myself when I entered second year. Even after overcoming them, a new set of challenges have come, but that’s good.

A vivid memory I’ve had in first year was going to class with a good group of 4 friends (not so good anymore unfortunately), and going to one of my tutorials. Throughout the term, I was talking to an old friend and working up the courage to actually talk to this other group with a guy and two girls. I never managed to talk to them much except for asking the guy for help a couple times. I have to admit I didn’t try as hard as I could have so I could get a couple words in at the very least. A cowardly move, but I could never actually see how to talk to them properly. I still don’t have the greatest gift for this, but I try.

Two and a half years later, through no obvious reasons, I’ve actually become decent friends with them, which would blow my mind a couple years earlier. It’s just.. warming to know that I’ve been able to make progress, even if that progress was very slow. Seeing the progress is wonderfully happy.

I’ve managed to meet a lot more people as well, and made a bunch of friends and enemies. I’m not particularly proud of my enemies, but I’ve accepted that it’s going to happen. Throughout the last two years, I’ve met a bunch of people I really admire for their amazing ability to look past some people’s flaws. They seem to magically be unawares of the cockiness and self-centered-ness that I feel the person projects. I understand that the opinion is very highly related to perspective, but it irks me that some people are either accepting of the quality, or oblivious.

For the most part, I can understand when people turn a blind eye to it. When someone is acting like a jerk, the correct response is always to ignore them and let them continue on with their lives, understanding that you would rather not hang out with them. I really envy the people who have the ability to stand aside and let people do as they wish. I can’t, and this has earned me many enemies. When people do stupid things, I find my temper boiling as they continue to disrespect others without consequence, or establish their superiority, or spout drivel, or attempt to manipulate the conversation in such a way to center it on themselves. I find that I need to step back and cool off, else I risk erupting distastefully. Maybe it’s a product of trying to be fair as a kid and being punished for it, or a product of myself being one of those bullied and unable to take action. Regardless, I can’t seem to stand still when I feel a situation is unjust. Hopefully as I grow more and more, I will be able to not only temper myself better, but hopefully my perspective grows to better encapsulate the situation on a better level if I have been misreading them now, or to better accept things that I do not like.

That’s fine. But the real, actual problem brings us back to my first quote. Living, but not seeing. Being oblivious to your own actions and the actions of others.

A great advantage of being in my program (Software Engineering) is the cohort system, which means I see a lot of my classmates over our 5 years together as a class.

This system has also meant it’s easy for me to see how people have changed in my eyes over the years, since I see them daily every other term. I can’t remember much about what happened in 1A and 1B. I don’t think I answered questions much, and I don’t think I talked to others much. I had a small group of friends, I had a great girlfriend, I was content. I know there were a group of people who always sat in the front and seemed to know everything about the courses, but I never managed to actually get to know any of them. I didn’t join any clubs or meet any new people that whole year. My life was very one-dimensional and my world was very small.

I’ve made an attempt to get better at the last couple of years, and it’s gone well. Probably as a result of the class size shrinking, people at the very least know that I exist, which is nice.

I’ve realized that a lot of my first impressions have ended up wrong. A lot of the people I thought were amazing turned out to be regular people like you or I, except they’re a bit more tuned than me. People I used to look up to, just regular like you or me, which is very motivational. People that gave me a bad impression turned out to be really decent human beings.

Some people I thought were great ended up having horribly defining flaws that I can’t seem to overlook and overcome. Even some of my friends ended up being people that I didn’t want to associate with.

Hence the living without seeing.

I’ve been sad for a long time because everything I knew seemed to fall apart. Things that I once thought were true turned out to not be so nice. Things opened up to me that I never even knew were available. In many ways, I’m still sad, and I’m still growing, and I’m still opening my eyes and seeing what kind of possibilities open up to me.

I have 2 years left of university to open myself to more of the world before I’m thrown out there to fend for myself. This term was a bust due to the ridiculous workload, but I believe I definitely have enough time to grow even more before this part of my life is over.

Living without seeing is being unable to identify the consequences and results of your own actions. It’s being unable to take a look at the world for what it is, and not even having the opportunity to choose whether to accept conflict or attack it. It’s about not realizing that your own attitude, your own outlook on life and judgment is poisonous and clouded.

We should aim to live and see and react to our own actions, to read and understand our behavior, and not accept, but work hard to change and improve ourselves to ensure that we see reality as it should be, not as our flawed mind perceives it as. And we should try to do so as humanly as possible – we should do good, and only good, for not only people we’ve tunnel-visioned ourselves towards, but for everyone, since the people who need it the most appear like they deserve it the least. That’s a good way of thinking about it.

Thanks for reading.

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Contact me at lai.victor.vl@gmail.com.