December 13, 2012

Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety
Performance anxiety (Photo credit: Jen SFO-BCN)
I have performance anxiety since ever. I guess partially because how I was brought up, partially because of my "special" or "different" nature. I pretty much do anything better without supervision. One example is learning driving stick shift car. By all means I am a talented driver, but in the first lesson of stick shift driving given by my friend, in his new car (I had hitherto learned basic driving skills in automatic car with help of another friend) , I was so nervous, and stopped engine every time when I started it. But same day at night, when I was trying on my own car by myself, I "miracally" moved my car out of parking lot at the first attempt. And by that single move, I knew pretty much all the secret about gearshift. After couple of times practices by myself (yes, illegally), I felt I was an experienced driver already. So when another friend checked on me several days later, he was surprised by my performance and said: "you already know how to drive, let's go to highway".

Having such problem, as a teacher, I always try my best not to let my students feel nervous by not staring at their performance all the time, as I fully believe that they could do better if they have more chances to experience the process by themselves. Most students are doing well, no matter I look at them or not, but a few of them do have such "anxiety". One of them is so obvious that whenever she knew I was looking at her direction, she started drawing or painting "nonsense". What's worse is, she doesn't listen. And I know this is not because she can't, but because she could not focus her mind - instead of listening me, she was thinking of how others (especially her father) would think of her if she could understand what I said. Not only she has this problem, she also learned "smartly" to hide it. I don't know how many times she quickly responded my questions/suggestions before I even finished my sentences, or before my points were fully represented. I also notice, her anxiety went worse when his parents was present at classes, which always is the case.

Her father was overall happy with her works but as soon as she did works not so outstanding, he would show his concern, by occasionally standing in front of his daughter, worrying her mistakes. Obviously, more and more, Her father realized my teaching "philosophy" a "little" hard to understand, and implied in conversations that he didn't think it's a good idea to leave students alone. I tried my best to let him understand what I think, but I don't think he could get it.

This student is only 10. She already learned to pretend to be someone else. I know she is trying very hard to be smart and quick learning, as those qualities are what her parents encourage in all possible situations: schools and family or social gathering. That's why she always respond me instantly (or pretend not hearing me at all), regardless she understands or not. Yesterday, I finally told her, while her father sitting somewhere a few yards away: "if you didn't understand me, just ask me again. It's nothing to be ashamed of if you cannot understand your teacher, but it's not good for you to pretend you understand things you do not." I said a little loud, clearly, just to make sure her father heard every word.

Not sure how my straight forward style works, but I am sure these students could do better if their parents do not expect so much from them. I don't doubt these parents' love to their kids (though I do doubt the quality of their love), as I could see they indeed give lots of love to their kids, but sometime I feel, this love, like "tiger mother"'s, mix with high expectation, might do some different kind of damage (if not more) than those child abuses without love, because, with this "love", kids get even more confused.
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November 27, 2012


Hidden Tears Shed

The only way to get rid of tears is shedding them.

November 23, 2012

Why Don't We UNDERSTAND? - A Little Thoughts After Thanksgiving Party

reason, conclusion - emotion, action
reason, conclusion - emotion, action (Photo credit: Will Lion)
I had a nice Thanksgiving dinner party in one of my students' parents home. It was a nice house (a mansion, I should say), and the family is a three generations of Chinese Americans. The foods were extremely delicious homemade authentic Sichuan foods, and people were all friendly and relaxing. Generally speaking, I had very good time.

However, the first half hour there I had to spend on explaining my health condition, as "grandparents" were both concerned very much and it was almost the first issue they launched right after I sat down. The conversation started from their "kind" encouraging me to go out often, join people, because obviously they already had BELIEF that my lonely lifestyle was the only real cause for every trouble I had. Since they were so sincere, I reacted accordingly, saying that I was happy and content about myself and accepted everything and trying everything I could to get healthy. It was not enough, because they did not understand why I was still not completely recovered, as if as long as what I told them was true, I should be just as healthy as everybody else.

The conversation later on was pretty much just between grandma and me. I somehow could tell, she was not convinced and still believed what she believes. I had just let go, of course, but what I was bugged "a little" is, this kind of "discussion" has been happening since ever, being repeated almost every time when talking to "certain type" of people. I would say, albeit my condition is complicated, the fact is very simple and plain (such as: I had some chronic complicated health issue, doctors could not help me so it takes me some time to help myself), but why people still don't get it? I realized there is just one simple reason: they do not want to challenge their fundamental belief, such as as long as doctors don't find anything wrong with you, your problem is mental; or, as long as people are mentally happy, they should be physically healthy; or single lifestyle is unhealthy, etc.  I also realized, if they found themselves wrong, they seem to be very upset. That's why those conversations always ended somehow awkward: they ran out of counter arguments, still somehow disbelieved what they were told.

It seems to me, for many people, PREMISES - the foundation of our logic reasoning, is more important than FACTS (or worse, is more important than their life). As long as people found one reason can help them understanding something, they take it as ABSOLUTE. Many time when I heard people say, "I just don't get it", I always found the reason often was merely because their premise was wrong.

Taking our idea as "God", is this one of reasons how we humans get into so many troubles? I have very little doubt. The rest of questions is: WHY? Or, instead of trying to "understand", I should just toss this heavy reasoning burden into the air...

November 21, 2012

Let Life Flows By Itself

River flows
River flows (Photo credit: Manu gomi)
Letting life goes with its mysterious flow seems much more interesting than setting up some "life plans" and strictly following them. The reason is simple, mother nature is a much better designer than humans.
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November 14, 2012

Inspiration Vs. "Working Hard"

Hobby (Photo credit: Sergey Yeliseev)
I often don't understand why people complain about "working hard" on their hobbies, such as writing, painting, playing music, gardening, cooking, etc. For what I understand, "working hard" means we are forced to do something we don't enjoy, or something go beyond our energy limit, so it makes us feel more or less suffering, which is just opposite of the purpose of "hobby". I understand that people work hard for their jobs, to survive, because that's something they have to do, regardless they like it or not, but hobbies, if we feel suffering, why don't we just quit?

I grew up with the notion of "working hard". Trust me, the whole mainstream Chinese education to me is all about "working hard". As my father put it, "if you don't work hard, you would never be anything!" I still remember how he interpreted my quick interest shifting as "not capable of working hard". He was right. I am not able to do that, but what he may not know is, not only I am not capable of working hard, but also I dislike doing it, and furthermore, I even "despise" those works done by "hard working".

I think there is a giant difference between "working hard" and "working passionately". For me, the former is suffering, the latter is totally a enjoyment, even both can be sweating - about which many people confused. Maybe the most famous saying about "working hard" is Thomas Edison's quote: "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." I CANNOT DISAGREE more. I think it should be 50% and 50%. And among 50% perspiration, there is not a slight amount of suffering. For me, all true masterpieces were done by "inspiration", not by so call "hard working". I like to be a little more "specific" about the difference between these two: "inspiration" for me means a perfect LOVEMAKING between a humans mind and "God" (I am not a believer so "God" here means our "Nature"), and "hard working" means RAPE, committed by an empty human mind to an exhausted human body. So whereas "working hard" is unpleasant, suffering and often futile, the creative process under inspiration is always productive and full of pleasure. No doubt whoever gets inspiration do not mind "working hard!"

Inspiration is a gift. Not everybody has abundant amount of it. So, if we don't get inspired, what do we do? Nothing! I see so many people force themselves working on so call "creative works", but for me, what they were doing is nothing more than pretending to be "creative". I do think, pretending to know things we don't know, to do things we are not capable of, truly is one of the most foolish things humans "committed".

And the thing is, life is so much more than just "being creative", and sometime it does require our absolutely "doing nothing" to see this (probably the most) wonderful part. "Doing nothing and everything is done", lazy Lao Zi got it all.

November 12, 2012

Stunning Beauty - Johnny Weir

"Until I saw johnny I never knew a man could be so beautiful"
--- A comment from Youtube by "7827melody"
English: 2008 World Championships. Johnny Weir
2008 World Championships. Johnny Weir (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For me, to say every man should be like a man, every woman should be like a woman, is almost like to say every Chinese should be good at Kong Fu, every American should be rich. Truth is, the reality often is much more complicated than we humans can categorize it. There are always plenty of exceptions and surprises that break human rules, give this world some diversity, which make this world less boring. Here comes a man, who on ice acts as gracious as some of the most beautiful women. His name is Johnny Weir.

As a figure skater, Johnny Weir struck me first with his natural beauty of feminine. I've seen lots of "feminine" male figure skaters, many of them only appear to be too "soft" to me. Their "softness" seems to be a quality of "less masculine", or "less powerful" than "regular" male skaters' style. But Johnny Weir is different. He is not "less masculine", because that's simply NOT what he is. What he is is FEMININE. He doesn't care about "masculine", instead, he freely expresses his elegant nature without a slight confusion. When you watch his moves on ice, the elegance is totally natural. What's even better, is that Weir's "feminine" quality is rendered by some "muscle power", which means better control on ice, thus as an art form, it is even closer to perfection.

Secondly, Weir impresses me with his artistic style (just like Sasha Cohen!). Different from many skaters who just pose some jumps and required positions, and in between fill with "nothingness", Weir moves along with music, as if his body is charged by melody and rhythm, each move comes with a full "blossom" of life.

Last, probably most importantly to my "philosophical" view, is that all Weir's performance displayed a great confidence. Not only he is naturally feminine, but also he is fully aware of it, and he intends to exhibit it with a giant confidence. I personally do not take this for granted, because for me, it is easier to gain confidence for those popular celebrities who easily receive approval from majority, than for those who are different, especially different by "nature", different from social ideology or "common sense". For the latter, being confident dose take a totally different measure of courage. That's why I have to appreciate Johnny Weir with extra respect.

In 2010 Vancuver Winter Olympics, Johnny Weir finished in the Sixth place. It was a huge controversial. For me, he deserved a silver medal, or at least a bronze. According to some source I read online, the reason he was so underrated was because his "performance score" (aside from "technique score") was marked very low. This obviously shows that judges indeed disliked Weir's style.

I heard Johnny Weir has announced his coming back for 2014 Olympics. He also came out as an openly gay. I am glad, because all these actions showed that he was not discouraged by the mistreatment he received from last Olympics. I wholeheartedly hope he gets what he deserves next year.

Good luck Johnny!

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Johnny Weir 2010 winter Olympics FP
Johnny Weir "Dr. Zhivago"

November 9, 2012

Education, Knowledge and Wisdom

English: Wisdom in Cesare Ripa's Iconologia, 1611
English: Wisdom in Cesare Ripa's Iconologia, 1611 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Education is expensive, knowledge is cheap, wisdom is priceless.
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October 26, 2012

Cheap Treasures

I stopped by a second hand furniture store and bought this bamboo box for $1. Just cannot believe it!

$2 vase!

October 24, 2012


Japanese Reading.
Japanese Reading. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If we understand reading (books or any other reading materials) as reading other people's minds, writing is nothing more than reading our own minds.

Interesting thing is, as I am getting older, I found "reading" my own mind is more fun than reading others. That probably explains why I enjoy writing more than reading.
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The Art of Criticism

English: John Ruskin. Art criticism. from Cart...
English: John Ruskin. Art criticism. from Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I recently wrote a blog Art of Criticism in Chinese about my thoughts on criticism. The article is based on my unpleasant experience of participating Chinese forum discussion (see my previous post). I would not translate it into English (at least right now) because of my energy "shortage", but I would like to summarize it into a brief post here.

My point is, beside some purposely personal attacks by "mean-spirit" persons , I found the frequent unpleasant "fights" all over Chinese internet was due to the confusion of "suggestion" and "personal judgement". It seems to me, that because most Chinese people grew up by "personal judgement" - from parents to school education, many Chinese people simply do not have a clear understanding on what is "personal judgement", so they (we) easily throw it onto others, despite of their innocent motive (as matter of fact, "personal judgement" as a term is yet to be invented in Chinese). And because they grew up under severe criticism, they easily developed a perfectionist personality, which leads them to be over criticizing to themselves and others. Among Chinese intellectuals, it seems to be a "common sense" that no one can really speak out about anything unless he/she is an expert in the field to which his/her topic related. Thus if they heard anything unorthodox, they tend to use harsh words to scorn, even silent the speakers.

This, I believe, is one of major reasons why there is no freedom of speech in China, both politically or intellectually. Of course, the social system is "villain", but the system is just the "exterior" cause, the "interior" one is the rigid mindset of all population.

Back to my view on "criticism", I believe that first of all, any "criticism" or "suggestion" should be based on equal respect, represented in a "personal" fashion, such as "it's just my opinion", etc. And the art of criticism, I believe is not about "criticizing" at all, but about freedom of speech. In other words, when we bring up suggestions, the true motive is to presenting our own ideas about the subjects, to share our ideas with others, not about letting others accept our ideas. (I myself also need some improvement on this manner. I am still a Chinese by blood:-))

I also touched a little on debating. Speak to myself, I enjoy it only because I enjoy logic thinking, so the process of debating, usually is a process that I try to convince myself, not my opponents.

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October 23, 2012

Huge Disappointment

Recently I involved quite "heavily" in some discussions in a Chinese forum. The reason I participated was because those discussion were started over my articles published in that online Chinese magazine (Chinese News Digest). My experience there was almost completely negative: about 80 percent feedback I got were frequent personal attacks and (unaware or purposeful) serious personality judgement, despite the fact that I was one who wrote article in that place for about 8 years, and joined discussion often since my first article published there since 2004.
Beside the frequently occurred personal attack and personal judgement, those who took discussion seriously often were those who could not focus on topic, so the "marathon" exchange ideas went to nowhere. I decided that from now on, I should just focus on my writing on my own, take no or less participation in the Chinese forum. It just doesn't do much good for me, except frustration and disappointment.

October 2, 2012

Self-esteem & Self Acceptance

Self confidence, or self-esteem, is all about self acceptance, not self righteous.

September 10, 2012

I Am Lucky

I have recently "offended" (merely by talking rationally) some of my relatives, especially one of my aunts, who has been treated as the "head of clan", who "worship" Chinese "filial piety", who had been meddle all my business (my mother's legacy) because of her "responsibility" to me, her "love" me. After all of these troubles (not done yet!), I only feel that I am so lucky that I am living in a place that is so far away from China - a place that money and power (political/ideological) dominate all people's lives.

August 30, 2012

I Prefer Washing Dishes Than Producing "Masterpieces"

Restaurant dishwashing

Really, I mean it! For a simply reason: when washing dishes my mind is FREE, I think whatever I want, but when working on so-called "masterpieces" - like custom portraits I had done before, a kind of work that required my full concentration just for reproducing the likeness - my mind is simply a slave of repetitive yet meaningless (to me) labor.

When I just came to this country, my first job (illegal) was washing dish on Sunday, from 11am - 6pm, for $48 total ($6 per hour). Back then I was told by many people that I could do portraits on streets instead of working in restaurants. I didn't take advice, because I did think working in restaurant was more interesting than working on people's faces. Half year later I did go to streets to draw people's faces, not because I loved it, but because working in restaurant simply could not support my life (as an students of private art school). Had the job of washing dishes been able to bring enough money, I would never do portraits, even though it was a job that sounds way better to so many people.

I understand that working on repetitive technical work may not be so terrible to some people, but for me, it is. It occupies my mind, hinders my free thinking and imagination. It is indeed one of worst thing happened to life. The only worse thing I could think of would be living under indigence or slavery.

Yes, the admiration/compliments I received as a portraits artist was overabundant, but they did not complement my "suffering" of losing freedom. This shows how one (persons like me) cannot be happy just by others compliments. My happiness have to come from within - myself, when I feel like my interest has been satisfied.

Of course, I did not mean that washing dishes is the best job I could ever get, but it was a job that suited me better than producing repetitive "masterpieces". Now, after years of struggling with my career, I found a way out, and very happily, at middle age in my life, in a quiet corner of world which would be overlooked by most busy people, I can say to myself: "finally, I live like a human with free mind!"

Viola Freedom!

P.S. Majority of the portraits I "produced" are beautiful. I have no doubt on my skill and my artistic taste. But why I was not happy to do the job that i am so good at? Here is analogy: think about "rape" - just because a woman was raped, doesn't mean her babies are not pretty; on the other hand, just because those beautiful babies were born of rape, doesn't mean the woman would like to be raped again. :-)

Related post: The pain of a professional custom portrait artist

August 14, 2012

What Is Life About?

"Life is not about what we achieve or what we do, but HOW WE FEEL."

August 9, 2012

"Mental Illness"

Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat ill...
Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat illustrator Louis Wain near the beginning of his mental illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have seen some people (many of them are Chinese, might simply because I know more Chinese than Americans) with great mental disturbance, yet unconsciously keep living on with their daily life without any (professional or non professional) helps, creating harms to themselves and their families and friends; on the other hand, I've also seen/known many people diagnosed with mental illnesses (or worst, forced to stay in asylums) with (perfect or not so perfect) normal mental state.

What's going on?
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July 24, 2012

From "Anti-Chinese" to "Original Humanity" - 5 Reasons Why I Dislike Chinese Culture

Great chinese wall atSimatai

I am getting more and more indifferent about the situation of China, good or bad. I seldom read Chinese books, literature or history, almost never watch Chinese TV shows or movies. As matter of fact, I have been like this since I entered this country (USA). In Chinese forums where I participate discussions I have been often accused as "anti-Chinese" or "racist" (my recently short post of 10 favorite books also resented many Chinese fellow netizens simply because none of those books are "Chinese").

I might deserved this label, depend on some superficial understanding of "discrimination", but based on my own understanding, I am not. I am an individualist who is fully capable of differentiating individuals from population, treat each of them individually, regardless their races or nationality. My indifference about "Chinese" is not derived from "hatred", but solely from "personal interest": "Chinese" culture doesn't seem to interest me that much any more.

And there are reasons. It seems to me that thousands years of monotonous "culture" or "civilization", together with "communism" somehow changed, "tamed", even distorted Chinese culture. Among Chinese cultural heritage and contemporary lifestyle, I just don't have a taste of "original humanity".

What is "original humanity"? This is of course a serious subject which deserves a whole hundreds pages of book. But writing (or reading) such book is beyond my current capability (not even mention my back pain), so I would try to appreciate simplicity a little: original humanity can be as simple as "the quality that we possess by nature". Or in other words, it is the quality that has not been stained or "polished" (depend on you view) by so call "cultures", "civilizations", or even "human intelligence" (in a sense of “superior to nature”). Based on this understanding of mine, I found that Chinese culture has been overly “cultivated” so that it lost many natural traits.

Below are several major reasons that I found Chinese culture "anti-original-humanity" (by my own words):

1. Lifelessness: among most of Chinese traditional or contemporary intellectual works (art, literature, etc.), I seldom found any works that praise life for the sake of life itself.
There are many art or literature works praise "Chinese" as a nation, praise her over 4 thousands years of tradition, praise "empire" or communism, but we cannot see many works that show the beauty of human life (or of humanity). Sure there are many art or literature works praised the beauty of nature, expressed the harmony between human and nature, but instead of the direct appreciation of the nature and life, they were more serve as an escape from human world.
The direct reason for this is, by my opinion, that so many Chinese people have been deprived from being capable of enjoying life. Their lives always had/have some preset "purposes", such as serving for their country, their families, parents, their rulers (emperors or communism) , but never, ever for themselves. For lots of Chinese people, life has value only when it is sacrificed. Second, is the religion aspect of Confucianism: "ancestor worship". Such tradition made Chinese people take it for granted that "dead" is more important than "life", parents are entitled to have power over children. This, is the root reason (cultural wise) of why Chinese culture lacks "life".

2. The worship of man-made order: Confucius was fond of "man-made order", despised passion, inspiration or spontaneousness. This affection to "man-made order" was accepted and followed by most Chinese people, of both ancient or modern time, and it made Chinese culture too "patternized" to be interesting or adventurous. While this trait was already bad enough for art (as matter of fact, I love many type of Chinese art, for their "irrational" characters, but I do dislike its monotonous style), it was absolutely "lethal" in ideology field - it made Chinese people held same idea for thousands years. What can I say except "lazy brain"?

3. The "murder" of individualism: I personally believe that Chinese traditional and contemporary culture (Communism) together have successfully "murdered" "individualism". Or, be more specifically, individualism never existed since Chinese civilization (agricultural) began.
By my poor knowledge of history, I know that one of the major differences agricultural civilization made from the previous civilization (hunting and gathering) was hierarchy system, in which individualism had no room to grow. China, one of the oldest agricultural civilization that is still alive today, is certainly a perfect embodiment of this hierarchy system: from social to family, from art to “science” (the reason I put exclamation mark is I still don’t think Chinese culture has true scientific spirit), literally, you just don't see any clue of "individualism". Or if you saw any - such as Lu Xun, even the classic novel Dream in Red Mansion, those works would almost no exceptionally tottered into the fate of be misinterpreted (“rape” is a more accurate term here) by mainstream intellectuals, serve all different political or social purposes.
By my personal understanding, individualism truly is humanism in its most direct and personal term. However, among Chinese intellectuals (ancient or modern) it has been an issue of the least concern, or not concern at all. That’s why we absolutely found no sense of "self" in almost all intellectual fields. So you may think Chinese people are the most altruist people in the world? Well, ironically, you probably would find it's just opposite (if you have chance to live within Chinese culture long enough), and the reason for this is, (I think) when our decent personal needs are completely deprived, we tend to find some "indecent needs" through "indecent" way, as complementary to this "tremendous loss".

4. Poor intellectual creativity: Lack of individualism inevitably led to lack of creativity. If whole group of people "create" same style of art, state same kind of ideas, we better call these works "products", not "works".
Lu Xun once said, "we better read less Chinese books, or, just not to read them at all" (I cannot agree more!). As Lu Xun, Liu Xiaobo and many other (actually not "many") independent thinkers pointed out, Chinese intellectuals never has been an independent class through Chinese history. Their lack of courage made them always lined up with ruling class. This fact made Chinese intellectual heritage extremely monotonous and insipid.

5. Overwhelming/morbid sadness: There is widespread overwhelming (even morbid) sadness in Chinese art, music and literature, from ancient poetry to modern pop songs. I have been wondered why, but not anymore, because the answer is obvious: the deprivation of "life". Since they (or "we", because even though I am not a Chinese by nationality, nI am still a "Chinese" by "blood") were born, they were "trained" NOT to live for themselves, thus they/we never feel the ownership of their lives. Of course it is sad!

Above are the reasons why I dislike Chinese (main stream) culture. By my opinion, they are all too far away from our original nature, too tamed and "cultivated", not room for change, for freedom.
Of course, I understand any culture has its good and bad sides, and the traits listed above also exist in all cultures, not only in China. But the difference is, in Chinese culture, they are overwhelmingly dominating. And it is exactly this domination that made/makes Chinese culture extremely monotonous and lifeless.
I believe China as a country and political power will not only survive, but also persper due to its economic rising. However, it's mainstream culture - Confucianism, will not be so influential to the world as Chinese economy. As I understand, diversity is the key factor for any organisms to survive, it must be crucial to cultures' survival as well. For this reason, I don't think Confucianism would survive long. As matter of fact, to myself, it already died long time ago.

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June 29, 2012

"A Short History of The World"

I like history and always wanted to read a book that could give me a clear view of the world history in a relatively small scale. I had very difficult time to find one until I read this one (it is in kindle only). It was written in simply English - which I especially appreciate, and was definitely clear, with most crucial invents of history displayed distinctively, yet interactively. And the author's view points on each events are not only unbiased, but also touch very profound understanding on human nature. I have to say, it is this book (kindle) that gave me a holistic view on world history, and made me feel that I finally crossed the threshold of this knowledge.

I highly recommend. $7.99 price is much more than just well spent!
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June 27, 2012

10 Books That Inspired (First Half of) My Life

Victor Hugo, by Alphonse Legros.
Victor Hugo, by Alphonse Legros. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Reading, has been one of my biggest joy of life. However, books in this world are countless and no one seems to be able to read all books in just one life time. I believe, what books to read is decided both by influence of others, and one's own taste. As soon as one found his/her taste, he/she is able to find "gold" through book mountains by his/herself.
I read a lot when I was young. Since I came to this country (USA), immigration life did have tones of challenge, which made me had little time and mood for reading. Now, at middle age of my life, looking back, I found it's necessary to write down some books that influenced me the most. This also can be a brief summary of my thoughts of life. Below are 10 books I could think of, roughly chronological, with brief description of how they affected my thoughts (not a brief book - review):

1. John Christopher (Roman Rolland) - to appreciate the richness of one's inner universe. I was in my teenage time when I read this book. The inner waves of youth echoed with every page of this epic life story.

2. The Man Who Laughs (Victor Hugo) - love is blind. As a master of passion, Hugo's depiction of human desire is both powerful and exquisite. Had the female character (Dea) not been blind, would she still love Gwynplaine - a man whose face was disfigured? We don't know. However, Hugo's careful design, the love story between a girl with blind eyes and a man with hideous face really "explains" the blindness of human love.

3. Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky) - "God"'s mightiest love is his unconditional forgiveness toward human sin. I wouldn't understand this as lots of Christians believe, that the only way to get into "heaven" is to believe in Jesus Christ, instead, I understand this as such: we must forgive ourselves and others, do not let the mistakes (or sin) of our past to block the light of today and future.

4. Dear Theo (Van Gogh) - a solo narrative of a lonely soul. Within his long term correspondence with his brother, Van Gogh recorded his thoughts of daily life, which shows his intimacy with nature, and estranged relationship to human world. Again, this type of solitary lifestyle seemed to echo with something inside me, when I was in my late teenage time.

5. Beethoven (Roman Rolland) - the loneliness of a genius. Like Victor Hugo, Roman Rolland was also a master of passion. In this short biography of Beethoven, Rolland focused on the loneliness and valor of the music prodigy. This book, maybe together with John Christopher, made me realized (in a relatively early age of my life), that the loneliness of a few geniuses - contrary to the comfort of majority - seemed to be a natural phenomenon in human world.

6. Siddhartha (Hermann Hesse) - the ultimate enlightenment of humans is in the process of, and eventually accomplished by "conversation" between humans and the nature. I was once highly interested in Buddhism, however, none of Buddhism teaching books taught me the spirit of Buddha as much as this short story by Hesse. I also realized, that the communication between humans and the nature existed in all humans cultures, not only in oriental philosophy, such as Buddhism or Taoism.

7.  Escape from Freedom (Eric Fromm) - lost of humans crimes are stemmed from the weakness of human nature - not the physical weakness but the (mental) fear of being alone, or the isolation (of individuals) from groups. In terms of understanding human nature, I found none of other books influenced me as deep as this book. It seems, that after reading this book, all my life experience and observation became evidence to his theory (I hope this doesn't prove that my thought distorted my observation. No, I don't think so).

8. The Art of Love (Eric Fromm): true love is not an unconditional possess of another person, but an unconditional acceptance of another person. If Hugo displayed what is love in literature (art) form, Fromm analysed "love" by reason (sounds impossible!).

9. Les Miserable (Hugo) - forgiveness is the highest form of love. I loved Hugo's works since I was a teenager, however, this epic story came to me decades later, and still, it shocked my heart like his other works did to me when I was young. Regarding what is "forgiveness", I simply think Hugo did the best humans could.

10. Rebecca (Daphne Du Maurier) - life, is the ultimate mystery. The reason I put this book at the end is not because I read this book most recently (I read this book over 20 years ago), but simply because it truly is my favorite of favorites. By a simple story of love and death, the book takes readers into the psychological journey of protagonist, who from a "Cinderella" becomes a confident mistress of a grand estate. The beautiful & smooth writing style, wit and sense of humor, both natural developed story-line and "casual" swaying between present and past, all these "perfections" made this book becoming to my favorite literature work that I could read again and again, even thought it is not one of the best known works among English classical literature.

Reading is a way to gain knowledge, also a great pleasure to communicate vicariously with a broader world. Listing these books is not to say that I would not reach to the same understanding without reading them, because I believe, anyone can reaches his/her own wisdom with or without reading lots of books, because (needless to mention) the #1 best book for us to gain "knowledge" and enjoy life, is indeed life itself.

But still, I  am glad that I read these books, and many others, and will read more when life permits me to. 
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"Thanksgiving" in China

A social activities named as "bathing feet for parents" (or "bathing parents' feet?) seems to be quite active in China here and there, during recent years. The "spirit" of such activities is "thanksgiving to parents". This picture shows somewhere in China over 300 hundred middle school students washing (or bathing ) their parents' feet. Of course, such event would doubtlessly occupy the title page of major news media, such as "People's Daily News" in China, and gain wholehearted support of majority of Chinese population.  
The event in the picture happened sometime in May of this year, but I did heard such thing happened several years ago, when I wrote a critical post in my Chinese blog.

As I always understand that the only true "religion" in China is ancestor worship, to revere parents also can be one of such "religious" practice. Of course, Mao once destroyed such tradition, which led China went another "extreme", but now, such tradition revived, even though the political environment is still "communism" (I always believe it is ideologies, not politics decide collective behaviors or actions). 

I guess, China will have a long way to go before she understands that parents, the ones who produce kids  simply by having sex - an animalistic function, were not the revered one who gives us life. 

June 26, 2012

Mental Toughness

Maria Sharapova @ Roland Garros
Maria Sharapova @ Roland Garros (Photo credit: johanlb)
Mental "toughness" without physical support equals frustration.

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June 24, 2012

Superstition vs. Science

Lots of superstitions in the past have been turned out to be true (or "true" depend how we look at them) by scientific studies, lots of "scientific truth" in modern days are turning into superstitions by faith in "science".

June 23, 2012


Confidence, is something more to do with how much we enjoyed our life, than how much achievements we accomplished.

June 21, 2012

"One Child Policy" - The Worst Curse Happened to China?

(Just read an article "One child policy is the worst curse happen to China" in a Chinese forum. Haven't read the article but the title did ring the bell, triggered me writing down the following words):

For most outsiders, "1 child policy" might be one of most notorious human right violations made by Chinese government. I agree, the practice of this policy is inhumane. However, the other side of story is, the policy alone, really was pushed by the uncontrollable population explosion since new China was born 1949. It was a right move by my opinion, because otherwise, things would go beyond control.

Here is what happened earlier: In 1949, the demographic data shows Chinese population was less than 0.5 billion; in 1979, 30 years later, when "1 child policy" was made by government, the population increased to about 1 billion ( And I heard (also believe) that the factual number was over 1.2 billions. The reason the population increased this much was mainly due to the policy made by Mao himself which encouraged all mothers to be "heroine mother" - which means having as many children as possible. Echoing with Chinese tradition that focused on the continuation of family blood ties, Chinese people cooperated with the policy with great passion. Of course, there were other reasons too, such as political belief - more people makes China stronger, fighting with capitalism, etc. The overwhelmingly ignorance of none-educated Chinese people made government easier to manipulate them (of course, this doesn't say that "educated ones" knew better). So, during "heroine mother" time, many women were constantly under pregnancy, and some families had as many as more than 10 kids. That's how Chinese population increased nearly 3 times more during only 30 years, despite of the fact that "Great Forward Leap" killed over 30 millions people! 

This really is stunning. If situation continued, with same rate, another 30 years later, which was 2009, Chinese population would be over 3 billions (right now is 1.4 billions by official report). This number no doubt is something that none of the governments on this earth could handle.

And needless to mention the quality of lives under such density of population would be extremely poor:  children do not get basic care, child abuse would certainly gets worse than what it already is (child abuse in China has been extremely underestimated, by both Chinese people and government).

Many outsiders only see the inhumanity of practice of "1 child policy". Yes, it is, but the other side of story is, killing babies, dumping unwanted children have been long existed in a country like China (I am aware of such thing also happen elsewhere, but scale is what made difference here). Children, has been the number one victim of Chinese tradition (mostly Confucianism), and they have been living in a condition that is not only without "love", but also without mercy. Under such circumstance, I do not think "1 child policy" is totally faulty, because it is my understanding that lives without decent care would grow into the worst nightmares. So, I believe when parents are not ready, it is better not to have any children than to have many unwanted children, and to abuse them, to make their lives unbearably painful. 

It is true that the practice of "1 child policy" (not necessarily policy itself, bmo) is a crime that violets human right, but on the other hand, the huge population explosion would certainly have a much worse consequence. So, nevertheless, no matter which side to choose, the situation really is the worst curse ever happened to China - once the most beautiful and fertile land that nurtured the largest population on this earth. 

Yes, we human take mother nature for granted, here comes the consequence.

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June 19, 2012

Making Big Money

100 US Dollar bill Series 2001
Waking up this morning, I just realized that making BIG money never be a true life dream to me. It is not that I never thought about it - yes, I thought about making lots of money, many times, mainly during my earlier life when money was pretty much the only thing people talked about, but, (I realized now) whenever I thought about money, I thought about my parents, my sister - people who had high expectation on me. In other words, money as a "life dream", was never belong to my own, but to other people (my family members).

I remember for a very long time I had this "dream" carry on, felt my life was somehow unsuccessful. Even though I did not seriously engage in battles of making big money, but money was still an unconscious "measurement" of my life "success". It was the point that I unloaded my family from my shoulders, I started to feel differently: I can make little income and still be happy. 

Indeed I can, because my life dream is freedom, not money. And I succeeded.

June 9, 2012


Ricci during a dolphin show in Ocean Adventure

After all, there is only one thing in life deserves to be taken seriously: HAPPINESS.

June 7, 2012

Should We Believe What We See? - How Thoughts Distort Observation

"I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing. " --- Socrates

Observation can be considered as the first step of our understanding reality. We may trust our observation without thinking twice because we believe that what we see cannot be false. However, I found otherwise: our observation often is subjective, even far from true. This is because that so often we look at things with biased eyes. In other words, our observation is often controlled by our THOUGHTS, we see only what we want to see, or we unconsciously ignored those evidences that would disprove our thoughts.

Making example of art learning. During perspective practice, many people without previous training would draw the bottom of a cylinder as a straight line (or a curve that is not curved enough), even though what they see is actually a curve (the degree of the curve is depend on angles). Why? I found the answer is rather simply, because they THINK the bottom is flat. This fact demonstrates perfectly how we use our THOUGHTS control our observation: we think the bottom of cylinder is flat, so we should draw a straight line, regardless what we actually see is a curse. (see image on the right)

Another example is how we humans treat homosexuality. Until today, among most people in the world homosexuals are abnormal, which mean it is contradictory to our understanding of human nature, which is: we humans are all born heterosexual. Do we really understand human nature that well? Truth is, homosexuality has been existing along with human being. Scientists even found that homosexual behavior also exists in animal world. These facts are enough to prove that homosexuality is something natural. And what really is "unnatural" or "abnormal" is our thought, or understanding about human nature.

Not only "ordinary" people are often falling such observation - thoughts distortion, but also some geniuses would do the same. Einstein, the person who challenged Newton when he was only 25, refused to accept Quantum theory, a new field of study that Einstein himself helped to establish. The reason Einstein rejected this theory was because it was so obviously contradicts classical physics, also to "common sense". But both theoretical and experimental studies showed that Quantum theory was "neither wrong or incomplete" (Einstein Decoding Universe, Francoise Balibar, Discoveries, 2001). So despite Einstein's rejection, quantum theory had been developed quickly and contributed tremendously to modern technology.

My mentioning this part of Einstein does not mean to say that Einstein was not a genius, only to say that even a genius would have his/her "human limitation" (I know nothing about physics but I would still keep an open mind, that one day, maybe Einstein's doubt on quantum theory would be proven to be right). I also think, that this example also demonstrates that our human reasoning has its limitation: something doesn't fit our common sense, or logical reasoning, doesn't necessarily mean it is not true.

There are many more  examples in real life on this "subjective observation". We often hear people saying "I don't get this" or "I can't get that", this usually just means that what we see don't fit our existing understanding. Our "theorems" are highly limited, variation in real life is infinite, using limited "theorems" to measure infinite variation, of course we will often be in dead ends. Had we changed our bad "hobby", look at things not from "thoughts", but from reality itself, things would be much easier for us to understand.

Why we humans are so obsessed with out theories, or thoughts? This surely involves some complicated scientific study about how the "consciousness" evolved, and is certainly beyond my knowledge and capability (or we can simply blame "snake" of Eden, who brought us the "fruit of wisdom"). But what I am more and more convinced is, that we human since obtained consciousness, developed an obsession with it, feeling an extreme satisfaction when exaggerating its potential, and eventually became some sort of "bigotry". Our tradition, ideology, moral standards, all are just some "temporary logic" ("temporary" here can be "decades", "hundred", or more than "thousands" years), but they have been taken by many people, generation to generation, as "absolute", and used as standards to judge reality. In fact, I think it is exactly these "absolutes" that mostly need to be re-thought or re-examined.

If we look back history, it is not hard to realize that almost every step forward we made, was based on overthrowing some existing "absolute": heliocentric took over geocentric theory, evolution challenged divine creation, relative space-time refuted absolute space and time, democracy replace despotism, etc. So I think the most important "rule" we may follow is, whenever we hit the "dead end", instead of throwing judgments, we rethink our thoughts or beliefs. Only if we can doubt our belief, dare to overthrow the premise of our "logic", admit the limitation of human intelligence, we can be credited as "open minded". On the other hand, only if we take our thoughts as relative, as possible faults, we can have acute observation, be able to see some relative truth.

Of course, essentially speaking, our visions are all limited. That's why I believe that human wisdom is measured not by how much we know, but by how much we acknowledge the limitation of our intelligence.
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May 30, 2012

Understanding and Relationship

In order to building a HEALTHY relationship - love relationship or friendship, a complete understanding to each other is not necessary, nor possible (generally speaking), but an understanding (or recognition) of one of the most important human nature - individual differences, is required.  

May 28, 2012

History Quotes

"Europe, on the other hand was a collection of small and competing states with multiple cultures and languages and this unsuspectingly served as an advantage to its inventors and explorers; if one party failed to sponsor them, they could always turn to another. Either way, it was in a country's best interests to keep up with the latest technologies in order to keep the balance of power. As a result inventors were encouraged rather than discouraged.

'In the end it was precisely the instability which Europeans had been trying unsuccessfully to evade for so long which had turned out to be their greatest strength. Their wars, their incessant internal struggles, their religious quarrels, all these had been the unfortunate, but necessary condition, of the intellectual growth which had led them, unlike their Asiatic neighbours, to develop the metaphysical and inquiring attitudes towards nature which, in turn, had given them the power to transform and control the worlds in which they lived'" (Worlds at War, by Anthony Pagden)

---A short history of the world, by christopher Lascelles

May 27, 2012

Modern Myth - Mental Unwellness as the Cause of Physical Unwellness

Chronic Disease
Chronic Disease (Photo credit: tamahaji)
It seems to be many people's belief that mental wellness plays big role in our physical health, even functions as a cause of many physical illnesses. I doubt it. I do believe that our mental wellness play big role in the overall quality of our lives, but not necessarily (a big role) the physical part of it.

Studies show that many people who have mental problems such as depression or anxiety also have physical problems. This result seems to be very convincing about how mental wellness affect physical condition, but for me, it doesn't. I agree it does show the connection - our mental and physical parts of lives closely connect to each others, but, I do not see it shows mental condition IS THE CAUSE and physical illness IS THE CONSEQUENCE. For me, a reversed procedure is much more convincing - that very often mental unwellness is the consequence of our bad physical condition.

By my limited knowledge, the reasons that many people believe mental unwellenss is a cause of our physical health are: 1, modern psychology brought the importance of mental condition to our concern (which is good); 2, many studies show the connections between mental and physical health; 3, the "faith" to modern medicine (in other words, when doctors cannot diagnose a self-claimed physical illness, they blame to patients' mental conditions). But for me, none of these reasons show precisely that mental illness is the CAUSE of our physical illness - modern psychology just stressed the importance of our mental health, it does not necessarily make it as the cause of everything; the connection between mental and physical condition does not prove mental condition is the cause of latter (as I pointed out above), and doctors' failure on diagnosing physical diseases also cannot be a proof of patients' mental problems (rather, it is a proof of the ignorance of many so call "experts:). But why people still easily believe on our mental power? I am not entirely sure, and that's why I call it "modern myth".

One of examples of how people hold such belief is how doctors treat patients with unknown chronic illnesses. Whenever they failed diagnose some diseases by their knowledge and expensive equipment - which they (doctors and many people) believe as "omnipotent" on humans' physical function, they would confidently ask patients: "are you in depression?" And in most case, these patients are unfortunately in depression, at lease when they are very ill. But important fact is, their depression usually is caused by their physical condition, not the another way around:
"we should not confuse the fact that the vast majority of fatigue patients are depressed BECAUSE OF CHRONIC ILLNESS, not chronic ill because of they are depressed. this is a very important distinction and one that most doctors fail to draw... to treat depression as causing the whole illness is wrong" (i would add "is not only wrong but dangerous". ---Edward Conley, author of "america exhausted"

Of course, Conley was addressing those patients with physical chronic illness only. He did not say that all depressions are caused by chronic physical illness. I agree that there are also plenty of depressions are caused by mental issues, not physical ones. All I am trying to express here is, while our mental condition does affect our physical condition to some degree, it is not "scientific" nor "reasonable" to stretch this "some degree" to an exaggerated extent, like many people believe. I personally believe, that compare with our physical condition, mental condition is "secondary" in our overall life quality. This "belief" is based on a simple fact: our physical condition IS THE FOUNDATION of our whole life being. For those who believe our spiritual condition is more important, I would suggest that it is because sometime, or some of us, our physical condition allow us to be "spiritual", and we probably just take it for granted.

Again, I do agree that mental wellness is important to the overall quality of our lives (because it does affect our happiness tremendously), but not as crucial to our physical body function. Just imagining a person who is chronically tortured by physical pain, can he/she by so call "positive"? He/she might be tough enough to hold hope, certainly cannot be happy and cheerful all the time. On the contrary, I have seen plenty of people who have sever depression but still in decent (some are in excellent) physical health. For me, this is enough to show the dominance of our physical condition to our life existence.

And we all know, if our physical body died, we don't even have so call mental health exist, unless, of course, if you believe we have soul, which continues to act "positively" in heaven.
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May 11, 2012

Two Different Types of Ignorance

I am one of those who claim that "I cannot stand ignorance" quite often (more often I said it silently though:-)), yet I am fully aware of that our humans are all ignorant. So to clarify the difference, or (maybe) to distinguish myself from the ones that drive me crazy, I tried to draw a line between one kind of ignorance and another:

1, the ignorance of our nature, which I think can be defined as the limitation of our intelligence; 2, the unawareness of the existence of such nature, which is reflected most in our obsession of absolution, "god", "doctrine", "tradition", "text books", "expert opinions", etc.  And this type of ignorance can be simplified as "pretending to know" - which is also one of our human nature.

It is the latter that challenge my sanity...

May 2, 2012

Believe in Myself

Believe in myself, but not my opinions.


abused statue
abused statue (Photo credit: zoetnet)
In many cases, victims of abuses - especially family abuse - stay relationship with their offenders is not because they are capable of forgiving, but because they do not have courage (or not capable of?) to stand alone.
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April 11, 2012

Complex vs. Profound

International draughts board
International draughts board (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Once again I managed some energy trying to read Edgar Allen Poe's famous mystery "The Murders In The Rue Morgue", but (again) I failed to reach even the half of it. More and more, I found the books I tried to read were all boring (what's going on with a self-claimed book lover?). However, the unfinished short story stimulated my interest to checker game, and made me thinking a little about "complex and profound"(did I just decide to quit think?)

The stimuli was just a short paragraph of original story, where Allen Poe compared chess game with draughts game (checker in USA): "In this latter (chess), where the pieces have different and bizarre motions, with various and variable values, what is only complex is mistaken (a not unusual error) for what is profound." He believed that it was the games like draughts, who had only simplest rules, can exhibit the highest power of intelligence. (This is the exactly how I feel about Wei Qi).

I found this is indeed a genius thought. As matter of fact, all the modern life seems to become more and more "complex", yet mistaken as "profound" by modern people. A simple example of this is "technology". The computer technology produces more and more technicians, engineers and programmers, who spend most of life time to deal with "complex" of machine, or machine languages, yet end up being utterly puzzled by some basic ideas or language of life itself. Or, if they had ideas about life, they would simply have no time to enjoy it.

Nonetheless, I think this "complex" is unfortunately the direction led by modern life style -  we humans are going to that way. Maybe, in another several centuries (or millenniums), we humans would FEEL less, calculate more, and eventually nothing "profound" exist, only "complex", which handled perfectly by machines - a possible more powerful species by then. And whoever still know how to FEEL, would be the slaves of machines.
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April 7, 2012

Genius, Inspiration and Perspiration

Animal Genius
Animal Genius (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." Not sure who said this, but I disagree. I think genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent enjoyment.

Believing genius is 99% perspiration is just a "day dream" which make people believe that anyone can achieve the same as a genius does as long as she/he puts lots of effort . This is totally untrue. To me, such kind of achievement-driven philosophy is neither realistic nor necessary. I think, the only thing one could do to get close to a genius, is to enjoy life in maximum. In this case, one can be 99% same and only 1% difference from a genius (1% of different talent).

Needless to mention, I actually believe we all are genius if we can enjoy our life in maximum.
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February 26, 2012

Two Different Kinds of Moral Standards:

I understand that there are two type of moral standards: social and humanistic.
The social moral standards are set up for establishing social stability. This includes laws, religion doctrines and common social customs (based on traditional ideology). The humanistic standard is based on our conscience, which belong to our nature. The former favors more on social needs, latter more on individual rights.
History of ethics seems to involve from strict collective (social) rules that prohibited most individual desires or needs, to be more tolerant on individual rights. Examples such as marriage, patriotism, homosexuality, religious, etc. all demonstrated this route.

February 25, 2012

Insurmountable Beauty On Ice - My Completely "Biased" Account Of Sasha Cohen

Sasha Cohen
Image via Wikipedia
A very casual capturing figure skating competition last night on TV reminded me again my favorite skater Sasha Cohen. She no longer participate any competitions, but for me, she has pressed an immortal shinning marks on figure skating sport.

I was a huge "Sasha fan", and I still am. I always wonder, how could it be possible for those who really "understand" the beauty of her skating really stand to watch other skaters'? I could not! That's why I quit watch figure skating after Sasha retired.

Of course, my remark is subjective, and I meant to be, because for me, Cohen surpassed all those before her, and is unparalleled by any one after her. For me, not only she had reached the highest techniques (except her jumps), but also displayed the most beautiful form (on ice) of humanity. Like most people who care figure skating already know, Sasha Cohen moved with music, slow or fast, spin or jump, amazing footwork or perfect spiral, her performances expressed all the cherished quality of mankind - grace, love, relaxation, passion, even courage and valor.

I had not caught Cohen's golden time (what a pity!) - approximately 2001-2005. I knew her because I incidentally watched 2006 winter Olympic game and saw her performances. She fell during her free skate program (as "promised"), but her short program was simply stunning. This Olympic participation was proved a very late stage of Cohen's ice skating life, as she retired soon after, but the brilliance of this "sunset" made me searching on internet for all her previous performances (big thanks to youtube). And what I found absolutely made me "falling in love".

Her best performances by my opinion, were those programs during 2002-2004 (under her Russian Coach Titiana Tarasova), such as "Swan Lake", "Malaguena", or "Rachmaninoff" (all of them choreographed by Tarosova - this lady is remarkable!).  My personal favorite is Rachmaninoff. She performed this program in 2002 - 2003 season, include 2003 World Championship, which I personally think was her best performance ever, regardless that fact that her fell several time, include one of most impossible fall on ice skating - she fell during flying camel!.

Yes, Sasha Cohen was not perfect - she fell quite often (likely due to her mental barriers), but that doesn't hurt her perfection in my eyes. No doubt she is one of most beautiful female skaters, but she certainly had much more than good looking. She seems to possess a natural talent on positioning, and easily move harmonically with music. Yes, she made figure skating looks easy. And she "visualized" music.

Cohen won a great deal of medals. But unfortunately figure skating is more a sport than art, so she did not won as many as she deserves (of course the judges' biased view was one of reasons too). But this doesn't matter. For me, she elevated this sport onto an artistic level like no one else. As Peggy Flaming said during Cohen's performing "Romeo and Julie": other skaters skate Julie, Sasha is Julie!*

Romeo And Julie
Swan Lake
A tribute to Sasha Cohen

 *Sorry I could not find the original source of this comment.
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February 10, 2012

"If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out"

Cover of "Harold and Maude"
Cover of Harold and Maude
As I was impressed so much by Ruth Gordan's character in "Try and Catch me" (one of "Collumbo" episodes), and two friends of mine (Nothingprofound & Tom) recommended the movie "Harold And Maude", I finally watched it, with a great pleasure!

The movie did surprised me by its story - a young man falling in love with an 79 year-old woman. But my surprise was almost immediately replaced by a feeling of great "satisfaction": a boy falling love with an old lady, and he proposed to her! That's the whole point - we are free to love whoever we love! Needless to mention that Maude is absolutely irresistible.

This unorthodox movie is all about "life". For this purpose, it breaks "rules", smashes "common sense". How did Maude got away from "stealing" cars, violating traffic laws I don't know; how could a young man be so creepily obsessed with death? Is it possible for a man in such a young age (Harold appears to be a boy to me) to love a 79 year-old romantically? All these are not important and the movie didn't even care to explain, because (by my understanding) it only focuses on one thing: free ourselves from "unnecessary" bounds, thus we could feel the true joy of life.

And the joy of life is "love". At the end of movie we see more love continues, like Maude told Harold: "Then go and love some more." I think, all Maude  - an old lady that is about to die - brought to Harold's life - a young life that is so obsessed with death, is just this one simple gift: the joy of life.

"Life" is all Maude cares, as we heard from the conversation between them:
Harold: Maude, do you pray?
Maude: Pray? No, I communicate.
Harold: with God?
Maude: LIFE!

Another great thing of watching this movie is to listen again all those Cat Stevens' songs, with which I was obsessed during my college time. Gosh I did not know that all these songs were in such a wonderful movie! Interesting thing is back then, I hardly understand any lyrics but now, when I was watching movie, words came out almost crystal clearly. Also they are so simply written, just like the movie.

Yes, life is simple. If you want to sing out, sing out.

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
’cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low

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