Back from a long break, but with a new blog!

Wow… It’s been about 8 months since I last blogged! Unbelievable! And it’s amazing how many things have happened in my life in just 8 months!

Please forgive me, dear readers, for not posting anything for the last 8 months. (At the bottom of this post, I’ll give you an exciting summary of my life over the past 8 months! Wait for it!)

I had to undergo the biggest lifestyle change in my life that has made it very difficult for me to blog.

What was it that kept me away from the keyboard? WORK!

At the end of the day, when you’re just so dead and tired from a long day, the last thing you want to do is think!

During my first month of work, I would come back home exhausted and do nothing but watch mindless cartoons like Spongebob Squarepants and laugh like a madman. The last thing I wanted to do was to watch a show that was intellectually stimulating. Seriously… Who in the right mind has the energy for that after a long tiring day?

I have new found respect for parents: they spend the entire day working like crazy, they come back – probably as exhausted as me, if not worse – and then, they still have children to look after. How do they do it? Where do they get the energy for that?!

I’ve gotten the hang of things, and so my evening activities are not simply about watching mindless cartoons. But I’m still usually too tired to do very much.

Well, it’s been 8 months! But I guess I have enough guilt festering within me to want to make a change and do something about my blog.

So here it is! My attempt to jump start my blog! You’ve probably noticed that I bought a domain but changed the name of my blog. Why?

The Story Behind Autumn Floods

Well, to begin with, I’ve actually not been very happy with the previous blog name (“The Myriad Thoughts”). The problem? No one really knows how to pronounce “myriad”! Seriously… Some people think it’s pronounced as “mee-riad”, others thinks that it’s pronounced as “mai-riad.” So it’s actually quite difficult trying to tell people about my blog. I usually have to attempt both pronunciations before the other person gets it. So that’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

The other problem is pretty annoying: some random person bought the domain (myriadthoughts.com)! What really annoys me is that the blog doesn’t live true to its name of being about all kinds of stuff, or a collection of a myriad of thoughts.

No… Unfortunately, it’s a blog where some guy writes poems for God. OH COME ON! If it’s about poetry, call it something else! Personally, I don’t think the poems are that good. But hey, whatever rocks his/her world… *shrugs*

So, these two reasons put together were enough to make me say: ok, time for a new blog name!

And besides, I’ve always wanted to host my own blog! I get quite a bit of freedom to customise it too!

So, what’s with the name, “Autumn Floods”?

Well, “Autumn Floods” is the name of Chapter 17 of the Book of Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu 莊子), which happens to be a chapter which is so profound and worded in a very moving way that just reading it in the original Classical Chinese is enough to move you sooooooo deeply within! But of course, what’s more important is the content – a constant reminder of how we should have the intellectual humility to remember always that we never know enough and should never be certain about stuff even if we had a lot of related experiences or heard something repeated over and over again as if it were dogmatically true.

Here is an excerpt (read it and be moved! I guarantee it!):

You can’t discuss the ocean with a well frog – he’s limited by the space he lives in. You can’t discuss ice with a summer insect – he’s bound to a single season. You can’t discuss the Way with a cramped scholar – he’s shackled by his doctrines. Now you have come out beyond your banks and borders and have seen the great sea – so you realize your own pettiness. From now on it will be possible to talk to you about the Great Principle.

Of all the waters of the world, none is as great as the sea. Ten thousand streams flow into it – I have never heard of a time when they stopped – and yet it is never full. The water leaks away at [the river] Wei-lu – I have never heard of a time when it didn’t – and yet the sea is never empty. Spring or autumn, it never changes. Flood or drought, it takes no notice. It is so much greater than the streams of the Yangtze or the Yellow River that it is impossible to measure the difference. But I have never for this reason prided myself on it. I take my place with heaven and earth and receive breath from the yin and yang. I sit here between heaven and earth as a little stone or a little tree sits on a huge mountain. Since I can see my own smallness, what reason would I have to pride myself?

(Chuang Tzu, Chapter 17, trans. Burton Watson)

And just a little later in the passage:

There is no end to the weighing of things, no stop to time, no constancy to the division of lots, no fixed rule to beginning and end. Therefore great wisdom observes both far and near, and for that reason recognizes small without considering it paltry, recognizes large without considering it unwieldy, for it knows that there is no end to the weighing of things. It has a clear understanding of past and present, and for that reason it spends a long time without finding it tedious, a short time without fretting at its shortness, for it knows that time has no stop. It perceives the nature of fullness and emptiness, and for that reason it does not delight if it acquires something nor worry if it loses it, for it knows that there is no constancy to the division of lots. It comprehends the Level Road, and for that reason it does not rejoice in life nor look on death as a calamity, for it knows that no fixed rule can be assigned to beginning and end.

Calculate what man knows and it cannot compare to what he does not know. Calculate the time he is alive and it cannot compare to the time before he was born. Yet man takes something so small and tries to exhaust the dimensions of something so large! Hence he is muddled and confused and can never get anywhere. Looking at it this way, how do we know that the tip of a hair can be singled out as the measure of the smallest thing possible? Or how do we know that heaven and earth can fully encompass the dimensions of the largest thing possible?”

(Chuang Tzu, Chapter 17, trans. Burton Watson)

Beautiful, isn’t it?

We can never know enough, nor should we ever pride ourselves for whatever knowledge or richness of experience we may have.

A wonderful lesson and a reminder, especially important for me as I dwell deeply in academia. I’ve seen too many people go into ridiculous extremes (in religion, politics, and even in the decisions affecting everyday life) simply because of this lack of intellectual humility to acknowledge that our knowledge and experiences are finite and constantly prone to error.

A Quick Summary of My Life in the Past 8 Months

Well, here’s the quick summary of my life over the past 8 months that you’ve been waiting for!

In Sep 2013, I got a job as a Marketing Communications Specialist for an electronics company! Haha yes! A philosopher decided to go into electronics. Well, if anything, it was to prove (on my CV at least) that as a philosopher, I’m capable of many things. And at least, to have a try at electronics (something I gave up in university in favour of Philosophy). It was pretty fun. I got to meet many inspiring people along the way, and I got to design a lot of things! Oh, I even got featured on CNET! It was good fun!

In Jan 2014, I proposed to The Girlfriend, and she said… YES! So The Girlfriend has now become… THE FIANCEE! We plan to get married some time in 2015. (So exciting!)

In Feb 2014, I got a job offer to work as a full-time researcher in classical Chinese philosophy at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). It’s a very rare opportunity! An offer that I couldn’t miss! In fact, working in an electronics company, though electronics was something of a hobby for me, made me realise that I had a huge thirst for philosophy and I needed something with an intellectual challenge. So that strengthened my resolution all the more to make the switch back to philosophy.

So here I am! I won’t exactly say that life has been a bed of roses, but it’s been interesting and certainly most exciting trying out all kinds of stuff.

Of course, I’ll do my best to blog about all the wonderful things in my life – hopefully on a once in two days, or at least once a week basis.

Till then, thanks for reading, dear reader! :)