Monday, January 23, 2006

Finding Your Purpose


You never know when a philosophical breakthrough will occur. For instance, this one came to me while I was sitting on the loo flipping through my handy second-hand copy of the Encyclop√¶dia of Dangerous Sexual Positions. I was reading about a particularly tricky technique called ‘The Norwegian Nuptial Nutcracker’ (trust me, you don’t want to know), which is just one of the many positions featured in my favourite chapter ‘Sex, Sensuality and Switchblades’. Then, in a sudden (and totally unrelated) burst of insight I became aware of the answer to a question that has haunted generations: ‘what is my purpose in life?’ This question has stumped seers, sages, and soothsayers (not to mention my parents) since time immemorial. Why all these great thinkers have sought to uncover the purpose of my life, I am not quite sure (but it may have something to do with my habit of aimlessly wondering around gift-shops without ever making a purchase). But whatever explanation lies behind the search, this much is clear: though the answer seems forever nearby, it continues to elude us, like a name we know but can’t recall. That is of course, until now.

But I’m not going to disclose the answer to the question ‘what is my purpose in life?’ here, because quite frankly it is none of your business. I will, however, offer you a recipe for finding the purpose of your own life. The answer can be summarised in two words: reverse engineering. Reverse engineering (RE) refers to the act of taking some unfamiliar device or piece of technology apart in order to figure out what it does and how it works (pretty much what Sony does every time Panasonic comes up with something new!) What I recommend is that you perform a little RE on yourself. Think of yourself like some new, unfamiliar piece of technology (though I would recommend against trying to stick batteries or power cables up any orifices). Instead, examine your penchants, passions and proficiencies (for example, I clearly have a thing for alliteration). Once you have identified what these are you should be able to infer what is your true purpose in life. It pretty much works like this: the fact that carburettors are good at mixing air and petrol (thereby facilitating combustion in your car’s engine) and bad at providing a home for a six-year-olds cute pet hamster (oops, sorry about that Muffy) tells you what carburettors are for. Likewise, figuring out what you enjoy and are good at (two things which hopefully go together) will tell you what you were made for—i.e., your raison d'√™tre.

Now everyone knows about my secular outlook on life, but this advice applies even if you’re part of the god-fearing majority of the human species. In fact, if you’re a believer, it seems natural to believe that God would design you in such a way that you optimally fulfil the purpose for which you were made. (That is unless God is Bill Gates, in which case you’ll probably be slow, experience lots of annoying pop-ups and crash every five minutes!) The key to figuring out your purpose, then, would be to figure out what you’re good at, since what you are good at suggests what you are designed for (whether you believe your designer is God, Bill Gates or a complex matrix of social, psychological and Darwinian forces).

Monday, January 16, 2006

Postpartum Depression: The Video Game!

Without doubt, the most coveted role-playing game presently on the market is ‘Perinatal Perils’ from PlayStation. You are Molly, a 25 year old suffering from schizoaffective disorder that has just given birth to twins. The object of the game is to steer Molly through 12 emotionally charged levels (each representing one month following parturition) in which you must cope with symptoms ranging from run-of-the-mil ‘baby blues’ and restlessness to full-blown postpartum psychosis and obsessive worrying about your children’s safety. In the fight against peripartum depression you wield several weapons, including Talk Therapy, Lithium and trying to take naps when the babies are napping. This game is rated M (Mature) for violence, excessive prescription drug use, and engendering feelings of guilt and utter worthlessness in the player.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The What and Who of Love (Part Deux)

The first instalment of ‘The What and Who of Love’, with its self-help feel-good tone, proved to be a big hit with my female readers. But, I figured I should throw a bone to all the guys by providing them with a brutal but honest recipe for genuine, enduring commitment and contentment:

Personally, I have often found myself torn between the “what” and “who” of love. On the one hand, I want to love someone who is deserving of my love (which rules out hookers, gold-diggers and the French Nation). On the other hand, true fulfilment and emotional commitment comes from loving someone for the singular individual that they are, not simply for the qualities they possess. Admittedly, no one wants to feel that they’re settling for less than what they want, or at least less than the best they can get (which, incidentally, may turn out to be vastly different things). The challenge is how to find that balance necessary for true fulfilment in our romantic relationships.

Fortunately, I have managed to find all the qualities I’m looking for in a mate, just not in the same person. Specifically, everything I’ve been searching for is embodied in three individuals: First, there is Diane McDougle, who overflows with the type of reality-warping originality and off-the-wall unexpectedness that always keeps things fresh and exciting. What’s more, her sense of excitement extends from the golf-course all the way to the bedroom (and I’m neither talking about sports nor sleep). Truth is, when it comes to sex, Diane takes experimentation to levels that Einstein, Rutherford or Sir Karl Popper never dreamed of! In fact, Diane would be perfect if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s completely nuts and I (and I know this is going to make me sound really shallow) have this basic need to be with someone sane every now and then.

Sanity is provided by Bertha vos Savant, who boasts an unsurpassed sense of style, refinement and class. Fluent in four languages, conversant in all facets of culture and the arts, and blessed with a level of intellectual curiosity that would slay half a dozen felines; Bertha is the stuff that Mensa wet-dreams are made of! In fact, every time she shares one of her bon mots I experience the cognitive equivalent of ten orgasms. On the downside, Bertha has (let’s see, how can I put this tastefully) a body that resembles the hind quarters of a bull walrus and a face round like the south-end of a north-bound gas-truck. In short, when it comes to her spirit, I’m so very willing, but the sight of her makes my flesh weak (…or is that limp?)

But this problem is easily remedied by the third object of my affections, the femme fatale Sophia Orgon. Admittedly, Sophia is about as bright as Alaska in December. However, with the constant distraction of a body like hers, no one would be able to pay attention to her mind anyway. (In fact, Sophia’s simmering sex-appeal makes her the single exception to my ‘No French People’ rule.) Sophia’s beauty is of the dangerous variety (think tiger rather than dove). Have you ever heard the expression ‘looks to kill’? Well, Sophia brims with enough libidinal electricity to kill a horse, bring it back from the dead, and then make the poor beast jump up, click its hooves together and neigh.

In sum, I have discovered that the true obstacle to fulfilling romantic relationships is monogamy. Now that I’ve dispatched with this outmoded nuisance, I’ve finally found my perfect match; a feminine trinity of balminess, brains and beauty. At long last enduring happiness and complete contentment is mine. Now, the only trick is to successfully keep each woman’s existence hidden from the others. [Shhhh… It’ll be our lil’ secret!]

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Diane’s Friend Chad

Today, Diane introduced me to her best friend Chad. He wore flip-flops, a pair of torn jeans, and a shirt with the words ‘The Department of Redundancy Department’. I couldn’t help but notice that he bore a striking resemblance to Ernest Hemingway, if Hemingway were Asian, clean-shaven, weighed less than 95 pounds and walked around strung out on marijuana. Chad was a man of impeccable logic. Every time he flew on an airplane he hid homemade explosives in his bag because he read that the probability of two random passengers sneaking a bomb unto the same plane was infinitely small.

Chad wowed Diane and I with his sailing adventures. During his most recent voyage he smashed his sailboat into a large rock in the middle of the English Channel, a feat that required great skill considering there aren’t any large rocks in the middle of the English Channel. Later, Diane asked me what I thought of Chad. I told her the truth; that he seemed quite clever, although I wasn’t sure I agreed with his claim that no painting could be considered art unless the painter wore polka-dot socks at the time of its composition.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year! (2006)

To my loved ones (and not-so-loved ones),
It has been said that if you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to settle for being a horrible warning. With this adage firmly in mind, I offer a brief word of admonition as we embark on the New Year.

Let’s face it, New Year resolutions aren’t the easiest things to keep. At the beginning of last year I vowed to exercise more. However, as the year came to a close I found myself sadly out of shape. Why, just this morning I walked up a single flight of stairs and my chest felt tighter than the economic conditions of blacks in America. Having learned from past mistakes my only New Year resolution this year is not to make any. (Though chances are, I’ll probably fail at that one too…bloody hell, I think I just did!)

Anyway, last year was definitely chuck full of novel experiences. My ex and I broke up (only to get back together, only to breakup again, only to get back together, only to breakup again), I finally became a full-fledged citizen of Trinidad and Tobago (wohoo!), and I relocated to Kilt-country; the land of bagpipes, bar-fights and beer-bongs.

But last year is now behind me and I stand, pen in hand, ready to make my mark on a brand new page of history. The single lesson I take with me into the New Year is always walk with an eraser. There are, Darwin willing, several mistakes I hope not repeat this year; like displaying the ‘I heart Saddam’ bumper sticker on the back of my car or telling distasteful dead-baby jokes.

But one mistake I’m actually glad I made this year was keeping you folks around (blame it on my deep-seated masochism). You all have been a constant source of inspiration and amusement (usually unintentional) and for that you’re forever in my gratitude. Some of you have also been an occasional source of pain and frustration, but as Nietzsche once said, what does not kill me…fills me with an overwhelming paranoia that something else will (or something along those lines).

Anyway, to one an all I say: Happy New Year!

P.S.: So there is this chubby-cheeked three-month-old sitting behind a parked fourteen-wheeler with a ‘I heart Saddam’ sign on its bumper…okay okay, I’ll stop!