Nemesis (Prose)

A mix of poetry and prose about a person or entity that seeks to limit the potential and happiness of another.

Written by Richard Thripp

I do not want you to think you are my sole focus
For you are but one of many
And this so weakens your resolve
For you see I am stretched so thin
Yet continuously destroy you

I am neither invincible nor omnipresent
It should be quite easy for you to defeat me
I would not crush you with overwhelming force
For hope is my greatest weapon

When you lose, I always want you to think it was by a tiny margin. That if only you would have tried a little harder, you would have succeeded as you desire. My goal is to make you despise yourself. To think that I am a part of you—your demon—your dark side. A part of you that should be suppressed or cut out. But in reality, we are quite separate. You are the gamemaster, but I must make you believe I am in control.

Your weakness is not that you are human. Not that you are flawed, hopeless, tragic, or star-crossed. Your weakness is that you have invited my interest, and it entertains me to torture your spirit, preferably over a long period of time and with many interludes. My greatest fear is that I would persecute you so much that you become extraordinary. I want you to have rest. My job is so much easier if you never see beyond the horizon.

How do I see you?
I see you as an individual of great potential
Of superior intellect and kindness
A person I would like to be
But I cannot have your soul
So I entice you to destroy it

My goal is not to make you think you are not special
But that you are special, yet nothing will come of it
I do not encourage you to forsake your ambitions
But to choose a path that would take 200 years to complete
Not because you have dreamed too big
But because you take a finite approach to an infinite world

New Photography Albums

I set up a new photo album page with 5 albums to start. Some are from 2008-2009 and newly edited in May 2014. There is also an album of the Smallville panel at Megacon 2014, and my nature photography portfolio with work from 2006 through 2008.

My plan is to continue editing older photos and working on new photos. I will be slowly adding albums with more photos and will also showcase my music and writing.

Check out these beautiful thumbnails:

Amour BSarah BSmallville Megacon 2014Taylor H2008 Nature Portfolio

In other news, I am pleased to report I have completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at University of Central Florida as of May 2014.

The Dark Side of Service to Others (Part 1)

Helping others is generally a good thing, but depending on the situation can be a bad thing for one or both parties involved. It can be a bad thing when it robs the other person of an opportunity for personal growth. For example, answering a question or telling a person how to do something can rob them of the opportunity to discover and learn themselves, or can reinforce them in a pattern of getting others to do their work for them.

For this post, I will define the dark side of service to others as actions of sacrifice for others that are worse than doing nothing. These are things that harm both parties (lose-lose situations), or things that benefit one party but come at an overly high cost to the other party (wasted potential).

An archetypical lose-lose act of service is giving money to a beggar who is an alcoholic or drug addict. It is a lose-lose situation because the giver has forfeited the opportunity to use the money for something else, and the receiver would be better off not having the money at all, given his or her addiction. The stereotypical solution to the situation is to offer the beggar food instead of money, to which the beggar will often decline.

While the above situation is well known, I want this post to be a starting point for evaluating acts of service you give or receive that are actually holding you back. Many of these services do not have to be abandoned, but can be modified to be beneficial to both parties. Others need to be discarded, because they cannot be reformed given their parameters. While choosing how to serve is a subjective, personal choice, there are some objective guidelines we can apply to judge others’ acts of service as being useful or useless.

There are a few other easy examples I will eliminate before proceeding to grayer areas. Service to strangers and fair-weather friends can be dark if it is pursued over service to family and close friends. Helping people who do not appreciate your help or chronically complain is ill-advised. Acts of service that are useful to others but take up too much of your time and energy may waste potential. Service that is done for narcissistic reasons may be a net loss.

Often, an act of service can be good or bad depending on how it is carried out. Helping a friend with math homework or an essay can easily be good or bad, depending on whether you are helping him or her think critically, or simply doing the work for him or her. This is similar to the parable about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish. There are several reasons why giving the fish (or answers) may seem more appealing. One is that it is easier and takes less time. Another is it fosters dependence on the helper, which can make him or her feel needed and useful. A third reason is the receiver may request or demand it, because he or she refuses or claims to be unable to learn how to fish. All of these reasons can encourage helplessness and discourage self-actualization. A far more useful tutor is one who facilitates the learning process, rather than eliminating it.

Service that is done with expectations, reservations, or resentment is poisoned from the start. If there are expectations, they should be outwardly articulated. It is not productive to volunteer to help someone, expect to be compensated, receive nothing, and then feel resent for not receiving something you specifically asked not to receive. Conversely, while you may feel pressure from your sense of conscientiousness, the person who has volunteered to help you should not pressure you to help him or her in return. If anything, the helper should encourage you to pay it forward by helping someone else, which can go on to create a chain of service and goodwill. While the first person in such a chain gives without receiving, he or she arguably benefits the most, if you subscribe to the belief that it is better to give than receive.

Service to others has a real opportunity cost. You could be using such time, money, mental, and physical effort to work on your own interests, or to develop your talents and goals. If the service you are providing is not helping you to grow, any surplus may be nullified, because the meager benefit to the recipient may pale in comparison to the losses you incur. Time is precious, and time now is more valuable than time in the future, because the degrees of freedom available to you inevitably decline as years pass by. If mastery of a subject or discipline takes 10 years, how many 10-year periods do you have left? Are you using your years to develop your talents or to serve as a butler for others?

Certainly, teaching is the best way to learn. Thus, service to others is a powerful tool for realizing your own potential. However, if such service is mundane, has no teaching opportunities, and does not come close to employing your full ability, you may be better off not doing it, particularly if you have more pressing interests to pursue.

In part 2, I will talk more about situations where serving others is undesirable. There is also the possibility that I will not write part 2 at all. Regardless, there is a lot more I could write about this.

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