February has faded. March has come.
This is Uman, a monthly newsletter of changes, now with a “logo-ish”—the tetragram for the word “change” (𝌡) from the Tài Xuán Jīng, chosen with no reason other than because it looks like a stout letter “U.”
And that is what this newsletter is about—funny symbols—no, I mean… changes.
I’m Vince Imbat, in case you have forgotten who is sending you these emails, and here are some changes I went through in my life this month.
Thay and self-actualization
This month, I finished reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s extended biography. One of my favorite insights from reading about his life is his formula for true happiness: Understanding → Compassion → Happiness. I realized through him that outer work enhances one’s inner work and that inner work is genuinely just preparation for serving the world (or a small chunk of it), which heightens one’s experience of self-fulfillment. No one has genuinely finished their inner work without fulfilling their outer work.
My contemplation on the relationship of compassion and individual happiness coincided with my re-reading of Scott Barry Kaufman’s book Transcend, which explains his modification of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in detail. The book argues that human beings can transcend pure self-preservation in pursuit of selfless acts, ironically making them truly happy.
Thinking about Thay and self-actualization, I can’t help but think about my purpose. This month, I reviewed and rewrote my purpose and updated my mission statement.
Defining my field
Perhaps, it is too late for me to do this. Still, as an independent creative, exploring my creative voice for so long already, mainly through writing and supporting myself as a freelance editor along the way, I only realized how important it was to articulate precisely the kind of work I want to do (or have been doing) just last year. I have been calling myself a writer for so long, but what kind and about what? With the Talahardin now fully working and some good writing habits under my belt, I started articulating who I was as a life worker last year. The process is not yet over, though.
As a sub-project to this more significant project of articulating my life work, I decided to spend some time this month researching what field of knowledge I see myself aligned with. I knew that I wanted to engage in some form of philosophy. I have dropped “spirituality” or “religion” as a field because I wanted to free myself from dogma as much as possible. I wanted to see things as they really are, independent of prior assumptions.
But I didn’t want to engage in pure academic philosophy. I wanted a philosophy that was practical and grounded in everyday life and individual experience. I wanted a philosophy that makes a human being better. So I searched for any field or area of work where contemplation and philosophizing are combined.
In my search this month, I ran into Ran Lahav’s article “Philosophical Practice as Contemplative Philosophy.” This article introduced me to the philosophical practice movement, which popularized the use of philosophy in counseling. It also introduced me to Deep Philosophy, which was Lahav’s reinvention of philosophical practice—a practice that proposes the use of philosophical text for contemplation.
I was intrigued. Here was someone who seemed to be already doing what I was thinking about doing. I bought Lahav’s book Deep Philosophy and started reading it. It wasn’t too long, though, before I realized his approach puts an uneven bias towards contemplation and an almost complete rejection of careful abstract reasoning. Although his work provides an excellent jump-off point, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.
This got me thinking more about this seemingly never-ending dichotomy between rationalism and empiricism as the ultimate source of knowledge. To help me better understand this distinction, I read more about it.
Learn web development
I continued learning Dr. Angela Yu’s course The Complete 2022 Web Development Bootcamp. Specifically, I deepened my familiarity with HTML. One of the biggest lessons I had about learning how to code is to know when to stop. It can be pretty overwhelming but addictive, so it is difficult to take a break or drop the project altogether. Coding (for me) is complex as it is not my natural way of thinking. So if I am going to do this more often, I have to learn how to be a more mindful coder.
I found and implemented a solution to use a custom domain name for my Talahardin (garden of notes). Previously, I only linked to https://www.craft.do/s/DNUP0iZyULDr15. Now, you can access my notes at https://notes.vinceimbat.com/. It is easier to access the notes now as the domain name is easier to remember. I followed a solution by the friendly developer Zuo Lan.
Kaliskis na Ulap
Using the exact solution I discovered in using a custom domain name for my Talahardin, I created a custom domain name for my collection of Thoreau translations. The main website is still in kaliskisnaulap.com. But the translation collections are now accessible in: salin.kaliskisnaulap.com.
Migrating vinceimbat.com from WordPress to Hugo
Since I am already confident with my basic website building skills using Hugo and I have found a way to use a custom domain URL for my Talahardin, I decided to start migrating my website vinceimbat.com from WordPress to Hugo. I successfully migrated everything using an exporter.
After migrating my site to Hugo, I included some new content. Lilim, my now archived newsletter, has its second season fully uploaded to the site. I also added a previously unpublished season 1 issue, Lilim 01(05) — Autonomy Makes a Long Life, a fully updated account about the free birth process of a couple I was privileged to meet last year.
I turned 30 this year. I feel sooooo old. But in a good way. I feel more confident about myself now—something I didn’t have when I was in my early 20s.
More good news: Provincial buses bound to Northern Luzon continue to open up, and travel seems to ease up even to unvaccinated passengers. I was able to go home to Pangasinan and spend time with my parents, who are getting older by the day. As I am writing this, my mom may just have gone through a procedure that might save her rapidly deteriorating vision. She has diabetes.
Also, I finally saw my nephew and niece for the first time since March 2019 and my other new niece for the first time ever.