Cognitive Cocoa

There was a time when all it took to cheer me up was to go to the 7-Eleven and get a 十字牌牛奶 chocolate milk from the Trappist monastery on Lantau Island, which I once stumbled upon on a walk from the Lantau Island pier to Discovery Bay: ending up walking through a fishing village which is where the trail seemed to end when it was already dark out, and hoping that I was not lost. I remember that I was listening to the Indigo Girls' "Up on the Watershed" on the hydrofoil back to Central, one of the lines being, "learn how to starve the emptiness and feed the hunger". All it takes is a few misunderstandings around one for a certain kind of person to feel empty, though it turns out this is a cognitive distortion, and interestingly, cognitive distortions seem to correspond with logical fallacies (though a wikipedia footnote disagrees): filtering is akin to the fallacy of exclusion; emotional reasoning, to non support; global labelling, to hasty generalization, etc. (I am trying to think of how to make a class exercise out of this: suggestions welcome.) By suggesting such things here, though, I am merely wondering why there is not more emphasis in our current English speaking culture on the complexities of managing one's inner situation and not merely focusing on the social situation. One is reminded of Socrates' repeated reference to the Delphic maxim of knowing thyself. Without this knowledge, one's knowledge of the world could be slanted. And there is not enough chocolate milk to fix that.
Ultimately, who would like to be treated exactly how they treat everyone they have ever met? We are blind and insensitive, we might even justify the times we were brusque with someone: even a polite person can sometimes through the over-zealousness of kindness say just the wrong and the hurtful thing to someone. Strangely, thinking about such things has become my chocolate milk.
If the picture becomes constricting and there is no place left to walk in the mind, not even a night-time fishing village, something is wrong; here is a man. He is an entertainer. He can entertain constructive thoughts or the list of doubts and suspicions and distortions. Which performance shall we choose? I choose the one with cocoa and cows.
The book I am translating has a wonderful phrase that I will twist so as not to spoil its English launch: the icing on the gunpowder keg, referring to humour at the outskirts but still within the border of the acceptable, making of a dire situation something that is at least sugar coated. It retains its severity, but not without a touch of the imagination, the sign that somebody is alive, and has made something even in the final hour. It is this I would like to teach, this saccharine laugh I would like to feed into the glass milk bottles I emptied yesteryear.



Tape brush: ewansiim at DeviantART.

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