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Record of Progress

At the suggestion of my good friend Liza Persson, I have opted to make a record of progress as far as my psycho-social and spiritual development is concerned in relation to the medium through which such development is most comprehensively recorded: Writing. Since the very beginning of my journey as a writer, I have used writing as a means of energy to self-analyze, define my reality, creatively express myself, intellectually challenge myself, and convert excess energy into a productive form. The following record defines the different stages of that writing, along with their respective purposes, themes, and the general focuses thereof. Each of these stages corresponds to a blog that is dedicated to the fulfillment of that purpose, with the character and content focus of each of these blogs being optimized for the stage they are both representative of and a comprehensive record of: Jbcandid, Th3g1vr, EgoEngineering, Nspyraishn, EpiphanyProject.

In regards to my psycho-social and spiritual development, I created a quote to describe the different kinds of “knowing”, and their relation to me: “Knowledge is The Outside Looking In, Understanding is The Inside Looking Out, and Wisdom is the ability to Know and Understand simultaneously.” This quote may seem a bit confusing and unclear from the surface, but keep these three things in mind because they play a huge role in what my three main blogs, Th3g1vr, NspyraishN, and the Epiphany Project, are concerned with.

Stage 1: Jbcandid: “those who cannot trust cannot be trusted, and those who lack in honesty are also lacking in trust.” The basic principle of Jbcandid was complete candidness with myself and others. I would explore, understand, and express who I am, what I feel, what my perspective is, my understanding of reality, and everything else I could think of relevant to myself that I found important– all in a single blog– and post everything online about myself the candid, raw, unfiltered Me. Purpose: I hoped that by being completely transparent and candid about myself, I could better know and understand myself, and that by conveying everything about myself to the world, that the world would know and understand me.

Stage 2:Th3g1vr:“a collection of independently-derived speculations, cornerstoned in self-analysis.” Th3g1vr, the name of which was inspired by Lois Lowry’s “The Giver“, was created with the intention of expanding my self-knowledge to philosophical speculation and robust, obsessive self-analysis. I wanted to develop a complete and concrete understand of myself, the ideas and beliefs that drive me, my religious beliefs, my personality structure, my motivations, my needs and wants, and my purpose. To illustrate the intended purpose of “Th3g1vr”, the following is an email I sent to Lois Lowry, and her response:

____________________

My email to her:

Since It’s important to me that my screen name is self descriptive, I’ve spent the last couple days pondering what name I would choose to better feel this need. After the internet having been made public all these years, it’s very difficult to find a screen name that hasn’t been used already, but finally I thought of your book and- with the creative use of Leetspeak, I manage to find the perfect one not yet in any search results. After thinking about it, I realized that my life, especially the past couple years, parallels with the life of “The Giver”- or should I say “The Receiver Of Memory” in several subtle but profound ways.

Not too long ago I valued that same type of utopia, but fairly recently I realized that it was actually a dystopia, and for the same reasons you expressed in the book- that is- emotions are irreplaceable necessities to make life meaningful, and pain and suffering are vital components for ensuring love, joy, and all the true pleasures of life. I recognized this after considering that we cannot truly appreciate anything until we have lived without it, and/or after having experienced its opposite. If we lived in perpetual “Sameness” we would never get any joy out of life- after all, what’s so exciting about “normal”?

Until recently I have also lived life on the basis that truth can only be found in that which is logical. Although I have gained insights that I probably could not have acquired otherwise, it has become clear to me that “logic” is just one of many different types of truths. To truly understand the nature of things, the other types of truth much be taken into account- including emotions. Due to a lean towards emphasizing an exclusively logical approach to life, I have little emotion left- but I look forward to using this newfound knowledge for ensuring a balance between the variables of logic and emotion, and instilling those virtues I have attained in the lives of others.

I myself have been doing a lot of writing, and- given the overall focus of my content (journalistic, autobiographical, inspirational, controversial, and saturated with opinions loosely written in essay format) I have had much difficulty organizing what I have written (and am writing) into a book. I’d say if I included that which I have written and what I plan to write, it would be surplus of 350 pages (in book format, size 10)- but, despite it clearly falling under the same general plot (which I believe there to be- it would best fall under the category of a Nonfiction Novel) I still am having difficulty getting around to editing it.

The problem is that, any time I tell myself to wrap up all the loose ends so that I can finally get to the editing, I think of several new ideas to incorporate, and end up working out these new details that add 10 or so new pages to it. I get so excited at the new ideas that I cannot bear to ignore them- I just have to write them down and add them to the already overwhelming mass. Although perhaps it would be easier for you (since most of your [published] works are fiction, and thus organized around a relatively predefined plot) Could you relate to this dilemma (?) as well?

Due to a series of extraordinary events (which some might consider traumatic, although I beg to differ) I have failed to enjoy the luxury of engrossing myself in your literature in a few years, having only gotten a glimpse of it reading “The Giver” while in school. You may flatter yourself, however, with the fact that despite having only read your novel in the form of installments, and collectively only once for a brief time- and some years ago, the book has engraved itself in my heart as one of my favorites. You have indeed succeeded in having a clear influence in my life, even if only indirectly.

Her response:

Dear Justin, It sounds as if you are one of those people for whom writing is a very important tool of self-discovery. It will serve you well throughout your life. My very best wishes to you.

______________________

Purpose: “The Outside Looking In” (Knowledge)

The purpose of Th3g1vr is to know, analyze, and define the world through my own eyes. The development focus of th3g1vr is self-originated philosophy and self-analysis, and the goal is the acquisition of knowledge through developing a solid understanding of myperception of reality and of truth.

Focus: Perception. Throughout my writing in th3g1vr, the vast majority of my writing is focused on my perception of myself, of reality, of the world, and of people. The writing therein is thus concerned with knowledge defined and reinforced by perception, and almost exclusively self-perception. In regards to spiritual development, Th3g1vr utilizes a knowledge model based on Separateness and Identification.

Stage 2.5: Job Corps

In 2009, I became dissatisfied with the life of self-analysis and emotional invulnerability I was living, having deteriorated to a state of continual emotional angst and nihilism. I had prepared a fallback plan to spend a year or two in the Job Corps job training program, and did so. Some of the more interesting things I did there are documented here. The primary goals of going to Job Corps (other than to escape my emotional angst) were to socially interact as much as possible, and to experience as much socially-appreciable phenomena as possible. I succeeded in doing so, and along the way I began to realize an element of myself I was crucially lacking: Empathy.

While at Job Corps, ironically as it might seem, I began to first explore my empathetic needs by doing something I had been unable to do for a long time (since 2003): trust people. Once I realized that I needed to trust people to truly experience and appreciate the beauty of the world, I began focusing my attention on letting down my psychological walls and opening up to the world around me, to the people around me, and especially to my friends and those I loved. My resolve to acquire such a trust as experience these things was best expressed in my letter All Apologies.

Soon after writing that letter, I began to focus my attention on the development of my emotional and social capacities, which I noticed were severely lacking, and made changed my primary objective to Communication, with the building of my trust and empathy of both myself and others as prerequisite to obtaining this goal.

I also wrote this article on the subject, which to this day I don’t fully understand, and it has remained incomplete. But the important part of that article, the one that really I am working on right now, is Immersion. That part, which when I wrote the article seemed so fresh in my mind, remained unwritten; instead of writing it I became tired and fell asleep, and now even if I were to complete the article, my thoughts would be at best abstract and idealistic, with no definitive conclusion. However, the post I wrote a little later on entitled Immersion provides a far more conclusive (albeit much less analytical!) understanding of these things.

As I continued to self-analyze and philosophize, I realized that I was only understanding reality from a limited and ultimately distorted point-of-view. I was analyzing, but not appreciating, rationalizing, but not empathizing, knowing, but not understanding. I had realized this early on, but not committed to it….not until I realized that despite all my efforts at Job Corps to befriend and socialize people, that while I could make friends easily, I lost them just as easily, in no small part due to my inability to empathize (feel for) them.

I further realized that this lack of empathy was due to a lack of self-love, that I could not love my friends because love for others starts in love for oneself, and while I did not hate myself, neither did I love myself. So in commitment to developing my empathy through self-love, I wrote the first post of NspyraishN, Valentines Day.

Stage 3:NspyraishN:“that that I might inspire the world, and that the world through me might be inspired.”

I started NspyraishN with the goal of inspiration- that is, to appreciate the world and have the world appreciate me back. It was here that I began to seriously focus on people appreciating my writing, instead of writing for the sheer purpose of self-analysis and what essentially amounted to “thinking out loud”. Over time I also came to develop a secondary goal dealing specifically with emotions: to emotionally understand others and myself, instead of just analyzing everything and coming to my own conclusions, as I had done before.

____________________

Purpose: “The Inside Looking Out” (Understanding)

It was with NspyraishN that I developed the following epistemological axiom: “Knowledge is the outside looking in, Understanding is the inside looking out, Wisdom is being able to look at both sides of the proverbial coin simultaneously.”

I wanted to rationally know and to intuitively understand. NspyraishN was specifically concerned with the understanding aspect; while Th3g1vr was a philosophical blog, NspyraishN became a psychological journal. I wanted to truly understand reality– both the world and myself– not just be knowledgeable about it.

Focus: Inspiration. I figured that with Th3g1vr I spent so much time and effort figuring all these important things out, that if I could actually understand my own thoughts, I would truly become wise; out of that wisdom I could emanate inspiration, and simultaneously inspire and be inspired by the world.

Stage 4: the Epiphany Project: “so life will become a never-ending series of epiphanies.” With the Epiphany Project I found now that I had the knowledge (through self-analysis) and understanding (through appreciation of reality as distinct from myself) I had acquired sufficient wisdom to begin imparting my inspiration in a more appreciable format. the Epiphany Project was formed with the intention of sharing wisdom that I knew was universally applicable, and out of this universality I began my journey of realizing Oneness.

Admittedly, the Epiphany Project is the most dynamic and evolutionary of all my blogs, having changed its direction and focus several times since I started it. At first it was a somewhat political counter-cultural blog, with the first post controversially calling for a “Rage Against the Status Quo“. The fourth post shifts to advice on ” “Manifesting Literary Genius“. After that I talk about being homeless, and…well you get the picture, it’s all over the place.

But one thing all these posts have in common, is that they’re all epiphanies- all sudden realizations where everything I’ve learned about something comes together, and Eureka! It all makes sense. Once through Th3g1vr I knew, and Nspyraishn I understood, the Epiphany Project was about putting all the pieces of everything, continually realizing the truth of everything, and conveying that truth to the world in a way that everyone could appreciate!

_________________

Purpose: “Looking at Both Sides of the Proverbial Coin Simultaneously” (Wisdom)

Stage 5: Oneness

The concept of realizing the truth of everything led me to Oneness, a concept that I had written about before but until fairly recently all but forgotten. My friend Alyssa inspired me to revisit Oneness, and much of my posts about Oneness were preoccupied with that pursuit as a result. I wanted to become One with God, with reality, with the energy of the world and all that is in it. I wanted to transcend myself and my human perception, and appreciate everything as much as possible, and that knew that this god-like cosmic appreciation of reality could be realized through Oneness.

As a worked towards realizing Oneness, I found there was an obstacle to my journey, a problem which I had encountered during the NspyraishN stage, but still remained unresolved: that I lack empathy. Because communication requires emotion (emotion are the filters through which thoughts are interpreted), I need empathy to appreciate, and thus to realize the ultimate form of communication, Oneness. To become One with God, I need to first empathize with him. To begin with, for anything to be meaningful there must be an emotional connection, and empathy is prerequisite to the making of such a connection. Before I can even think about realizing Oneness, I need to restore my empathy; walk before you run, as the saying goes.

Purpose: “To realize Oneness with the world, with reality, with God” (Transcendence)

(This log is in progress, but for the most part is a complete record of my emotional-social and spiritual journey in literary form).

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