Book Review: Fresh Off The Boat by Eddie Huang

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“I promised that I would be the trouble in my life. I wouldn’t wait for people to pick on me or back me into a corner. Whether it was race, height, weight, or my personality that people didn’t like, it was now their fucking problem.”

The children of first generation immigrants have to conduct a cultural reconciliation and perform an additional identity search that others do not. I grew up without any other Indian people at school or in my neighborhood, and so it took me leaving my hometown to be exposed to aspects of my cultural heritage that I appreciated and desired to understand. Understanding yourself within the context of others during childhood is difficult enough without being asked to integrate a heritage that seems strange and irrelevant. A certain amount of self-assurance and maturity must be developed before one is able to look at different perspectives objectively, and decide what ideas, thoughts, and beliefs they’d like to integrate into their identity, regardless of the source of these principles. In a lot of ways, Eddie Huang’s “Fresh Off The Boat” is about his search and development of a life-approach that works for him as the child of first-generation immigrants, and the interesting people and situations along his path. Continue reading

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

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“But folks always underestimate what the promise of a lifetime of starvation, powerlessness, and humiliation can provoke in a young person’s character.”

Oscar is a hopeless romantic loser who couldn’t get laid if he was the last guy on earth. If you met him in real life you’d immediately try to forget him because acknowledging his existence is excessively depressing. But he’s the central character of this book so you root for him, you pity him, you get frustrated with him, and you try to understand him. And we learn about him by learning about his sister, his mother, his grandparents, and the family’s history under dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. We learn about the family’s hardships, their deep scars, their resilience, and the possible curse that they carry. As we learn more and more our hearts soften, and Oscar goes from receiving our pity, to receiving our encouragement, to receiving our admiration. Continue reading

Spending the minutes of your life

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Lately I’ve been thinking about how life is simply an equation. Inputs result in outputs. What are the inputs of your life? What are the factors, if added all together, shape your destiny? Can someone who has spent countless minutes in front of the TV complain when his or her career has not progressed? Can someone who has not spent their time eating healthy and getting exercise complain when their body begins to fall apart? Can someone who has not put in the effort to foster relationships complain when they are lonely?

How do you spend your time? If you added up all the minutes of your life and compared them to the minutes of someone whom you deeply admire – what would be the differences? Does the person you admire work more or less? Does the person you admire spend more time with their loved ones or less? Does the person you admire eat more healthily or less healthily? Does the person you admire watch more or less TV? What are the habits that they will not compromise on, and what are yours? Continue reading

Life is but a dream

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Don Miguel Ruiz has a book, “The Four Agreements”; if I recall correctly the four agreements are four commitments one can make to help improve their life experience. One of the four agreements is “Don’t take anything personally”. The reason you do not take anything personally is because everyone is living their own dream – their own reality. Each person is operating under a different program, and because you cannot understand or change the program that other people are operating under, you realize their actions are not a reflection of who you really are, nor are their actions your responsibility. Our only responsibility is to observe and watch our own dream – the way that we operate in the world – and to form and mold our dream so that it maximizes our life experience.

Our dream consists of our thoughts, our interpretations, our beliefs, and our emotions. We do not live in reality; our brain and nervous systems perceives the sensory world and interprets reality. This interpretation is our dream. We live in a dream that we largely did not choose. We were born into this world and a dream was imposed onto us in order to teach us how to survive in the society/civilization we were born into. But non-helpful things were also taught to us. We were taught by our parents, the media, and the general population on how to operate and what to believe in this life. We were taught beliefs both about the external world and beliefs about ourselves. And our dream is always changing based on new sensory inputs, ideas, thoughts, and experiences we are exposed to. If we would like and are willing to put forth the effort, we may choose the way our dream changes. Continue reading