5 Important Questions to Ask Yourself!

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Here are a few important questions to ask yourself about your purpose and meaning in life! For fun, I have provided my own answers to them as an example! If you do answer these, I would recommend taking the time to write them down, think about them carefully, and be as honest as you can!

  1. What is your life work? My Answer: Writing, sharing ideas and emotions, creating art, advocating for and comforting others with autism, mental illness, and chronic pain/illness.
  2. What is the meaning of your life? What gives you purpose? My Answer: Inspiring others (kids, fellow Aspies, those with disabilities, other outsiders). Loving family, friends, and animals (loyalty).
  3. What is your passion? My Answer: Writing, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, toys, books, animals, art, creativity.
  4. What does the world lose if I wasn’t here? My Answer: A child-like, loving heart and spirit. Loss of inspiration and creativity. The loss of a voice crying out for justice and harmony. Loss of a unique thinker.
  5. What would it take to begin fully living my dreams today? My Answer: Time, the willingness to fail or be ridiculed, the possibility of being proven wrong, unwavering belief in myself, trust in what is meant to be, hope.
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Dark Thoughts Inspired by Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Undergound”

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I’m currently reading Dostoevsky’s novel “Notes from Underground”, which is a somewhat satirical, but also brutally honest look at the shadow side that exists within us all, whether we would like to admit it or not. As I have been reading, I have found many ways that I can see a glimmer of myself within the neurotic narrator.

For example, like the character telling the story in the book, I too have often considered myself more intelligent and consciously aware than much of humanity. This sounds like pure narcissism, and perhaps it is in a sense, although I have often thought that at least the “awareness” part of it is not something we are born with (like IQ), but something that can be cultivated. However, not many take the time to truly question their own beliefs, motives, philosophies, and the nature of reality itself. To be fair, I often wonder if those people who are more shallow or less intelligent aren’t actually more happy. Attempting to take an unbiased, penetrating look into yourself, the world, and others isn’t exactly always comforting.

Another commonality I share with the storyteller is that I can relate to his feelings of underachievement and difficulty rising to the standards he believes he should. When all your life you have been praised for your IQ, your talents, or your “potential”, it can feel like you are letting yourself and the world down when you settle for a seemingly “mediocre” or “average” life. Perhaps that results from the naive child in us who is told that they can achieve “anything”, and therefore, dreams of fame, wealth, and adoration…and then is horribly disappointed to see none of it come to fruition.

I can also relate to the narrator’s sheer spite in wanting to annoy or derail other people (especially certain people who are annoying themselves) and in taking a strange sort of pleasure in suffering. At times, do I moan and groan for my own satisfaction?  Is there not a perverse side of me that likes to “play” with the nerves of another, much like a cat plays with a mouse? Is it not fun sometimes to watch another explode in childish frustration and throw an adult tantrum? Are we not all ornery instigators at times?

Lastly, like the narrator, I have to ask myself, deep down, do I genuinely care for and about others? Sure, I don’t wish anyone harm or suffering, nor do I go out of my way to taunt others normally, but do I truly want to sacrifice for others? Am I willing to disrupt my own comfort to improve another’s lot, or would I more truthfully rather keep others at a distance to avoid the inconvenience humans always bring?

Many humans seem to be rather shallow in thought and reflection, but they are no different in basic selfishness. Perhaps to my own detriment, I do dig for the selfish roots within myself and expose them to scrutiny, which may be unusual behavior, but I am convinced that others have the same roots, just hiding far down in the shade and often not brought to light. From that, perhaps, stems my reluctance to sacrifice too much of myself for others who have seemingly cultivated no better character than I.

*I hope you enjoyed this foray into the dark side of the human psyche 🙂 I truly believe that before any of us can understand the darkness in the world, we first need to understand the darkness within ourselves!

Identity Crisis

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Lately I’ve been feeling a little bit of an identity crisis. Mainly because I have two conditions (Aspergers and Bipolar Type 2) that color my world, outlook, and personality so much that it leaves me wondering what is left that is actually me if you took those two conditions away? Who actually is Maranda Russell without the neurological disorder and the mood disorder? I like to think that the heart of me is just me and not caused by some condition outside of my control, but I’m not sure if that is true. After all, the creativity, intelligence, thoughtfulness, child-like innocence, and sensitivity I am often known for and complimented on could all be well known traits from the Aspergers and Bipolar. So who am I beneath all that? I really don’t know.

Greedy By Nature

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Bird nest watercolors, Public Domain Photo

One night as I sat watching a nature documentary about some ugly species of bird (from God knows where), I grasped an interesting insight into animal nature. Between the expected images of birds diligently working to provide for themselves and their families, they suddenly cut to footage of a few immoral, yet cunning birds sneaking around, stealing materials from the nests the other birds had spent all day building.

A few small twigs, bits of dried brush, even the edge of a candy bar wrapper – all stolen and used to build their own homes by the sweat of their neighbors’ backs. Soon, these crafty avians sat by their new shelters smugly satisfied to have saved themselves a lot of hard work.

As the clueless working class birds continued to run to and fro, never suspecting the treason occurring every time they turned their back, I suddenly realized that greed isn’t exclusively a human vice…and that some birds can be real jerks.

The three points of view…in spirituality?

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You probably already know that in writing and narrating there are different points of view. You might have even studied the differences between first, second and third-person point of view. But I found it interesting when I came across a magazine article stating that these points of view apply to our religious or spiritual natures as well. I wanted to share this information in a condensed, easy-to-read format for others, so following is a brief explanation of each “spiritual style”. Hopefully you will have fun reading through and deciding how you personally view things. Most of us probably lean towards one point of view, but carry aspects of the others as well. Although I myself am Christian, I tried to present the information in a way that anyone could relate to, regardless of religious beliefs. If you wish to share your own viewpoint or opinion on the matter, feel free to leave a comment!

First-person POV: Just as in writing, first-person is by far the most personal point of view. As the name implies, with the first-person spiritual POV, you tend to see God or Spirit within yourself. Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism are big on the first-person POV of God, as are many followers of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, especially the more mystical folks. People who favor the first-person POV see God living within them, whether they believe that the Spirit of God is naturally inherent in all living beings or believe that the Holy Spirit physically resides inside believers after conversion. There is often a belief in an “inner Christ”, “inner Buddha” or other spiritual presence within. Some people are really wary of the first person spiritual POV because they fear it could be seen as a type of self-worship.

Second-person POV: This POV often uses the pronoun “you” in writing. Typically in this POV you are addressing someone else. So when you think about the second-person POV in regards to spirituality, this would be the common practice of talking to God as a separate entity who is entirely outside of yourself. People who favor this POV often refer to God as “Father”, “Thee”, “Thou”, “Lord”, etc. The basis of this POV is really all about personal relationships and the need to feel connected to someone or something greater than ourselves. This is definitely the POV most used in times of emergency or hardship, when people instinctively call out for help.

Third-person POV: As in writing, the third-person POV is referring to someone or something entirely outside of yourself and normally not very intimate either. It is looking at something from a distance and being able to analyze or logically study things. Some may think that people who favor this POV aren’t spiritual at all, because they don’t necessarily “sound” spiritual or religious, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t believe in anything. These are the people who look at nature and see God or spirituality present there. They also may look at science or the arts and marvel at the wonders of design and creativity present there. Many people who crave spiritual connection but have been turned off by traditional religions tend to favor the third-person POV. Of course, even those who follow a strict religious form may still see God reflected in creation or other amazing parts of life.

So…which type do you think you favor? Personally, I think I favor the second-person POV because I crave that personal relationship with someone greater than myself. I like having someone fair, loving and all-knowing to talk to at all times. However, I do think that at least a bit of God must exist within all living beings, otherwise, they couldn’t live. I truly do believe the “breath of God” is within all that lives and that the loving Spirit of God can reside within us if we allow it. I also do see the Spirit of God reflected in creation, science and art and marvel at the creativity that exists within the creator and the creation. So as you can see, many of us are a combination of all three styles, but I still find it interesting to think about. I hope you do too.