"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - From Shakespere's Hamlet
That quote has been a fantastic driver of good feelings for me.
There's a pretty large category of things that are aggravating if you let them aggravate you, but not bothersome if not.
I've left Mongolia now, but my last week in town, there was some pretty serious construction going on right next to my building.
I'd be trying to grab a nap or concentrate and the BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG would continue from next door.
At first, that was really bothersome. But I sat and thought on it for a while.
Hey, this is the sound of a civilization getting built up more. People are immigrating away from nomadic life out in the countryside gers and moving into apartment blocks. Construction is the sound of that process underway.
The noise still wasn't *enjoyable* after that, but it became certainly a lot better. Rather than just noise, it was a civilization building and modernizing more. Sure, it's noisy, but it's a good thing.
I've had a jackhammer right outside my window for the past two days, so perfect time to put this one to the test. I think they're repairing pipes. Now I imagine what would happen if pipes never got repaired... OK, it's working a little.
This is great.
There is constant pounding in Saigon too, all seemingly around my house. Great way to change the "meaning" of a thing in a positive way.
Perception is all in one's own interpretation of a situation.
It isn't good. It isn't bad. It merely is.
Geez man, where were you when I needed a new way of looking at things like this?
I had some awful construction going on outside my place from 2am-4am. It was terrible, but yes, it's the sound of progress, right?
Anyways, I like that perspective. Nothing good or bad til we think it so.
If I ate the finest cuisine every meal, every day, for 10 years straight - it still wouldn't be as satisfying as the joy that comes from creating something worthwhile.
Building things that matter. Doing things that matter. This is so much more satisfying than consuming.
I eat plain oatmeal, brown rice with tunafish on it, drink black coffee, eat some fruits and vegetables, and try to eat light. Nutrition, not pleasure. But still - there is quite a lot of pleasure in a simple bit of tuna on rice or pasta. That right there is pretty enjoyable - it gives me fuel, keeps me going, gives me life.
How much better is the finest chef's meal than plain tuna on brown rice? Somewhat better, I guess. I've eaten really, really nice food. My favorite is chutoro nigiri, the slightly fatty part of the tuna. It's a delicacy. I had a $15 piece of chutoro once. It was great.
But was it much better than plain tuna on brown rice? Not so much. Creating, producing, building - that gives so much more satisfaction.
I'm always baffled by our fascination with sound. White noise, music, news, or even silence. Most people get dressed for work in the morning (or whenever you happen to work) and they instinctively turn on the TV or the radio and put on the morning news, weather, cartoon or what not. It's just on to be on. There is no focus on it - the focus is on preparing for the responsibilities ahead. But we turn it on anyway - myself included. It's become our daily need for white noise to fill that seemingly uncomfortable silence.
I always keep my box fan on inside my bedroom. The temperature gets high and low and the air sometimes doesn't circulate well, so the fan helps to regulate the room a bit. I pulled the plug by accident and suddenly the fan shuts down. I stopped my assignment to listen. I was puzzled by the lack of noise. Silence. Silence. Silence. At first I didn't realize it was the fan exactly - just that something wasn't right.
Sometimes I am irked by silence. Perhaps it is because I am a music major - I am constantly surrounded by sound and pitch and always I am listening. Music surrounds my life, and even in my brain I am uncomfortable thinking nothing. I always hum or sing a tune to keep my mind from dwelling on the silence.
== (Music Moment Below)
That's what I find so intriguing about John Cages, "4'33". He sits musicians down and they rest for 4:33. The audience is the one creating the music. Through their fidgets, coughing, adjusting their zippers, sighs, stiffled sneezes they create the piece.