Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rumination about my tension headache problem and on suffering

My doctor says that I should avoid thinking about my tension headache, and I concur with that statement to a large extent. Yet, I believe that I need some space to ruminate about the significance of this sensation so that I might garner some perspective to this uncomfortable condition that has been affecting me for a long time now. I just wish for some perspective onto the matter, in the hope that it shall give me some measure of reprief from this malady, which has caused no shortage of trouble to my life.

The condition, which has been called a tension headache by professionals in the medical field, remains a rather enigmatic character, despite my having its acquaintance for about slightly more than one and half year now. It feels like a constriction of nerves, veins, or muscles, within the head. Sometimes it feels like the pressure is from the outer layers of the head compressing inwards, and at other times, like a pressure originating from within the recesses of the brain exerting outwards. It hasn't been too severe in recent months, but nonetheless, discomforting. Just this afternoon, it felt like a rather strong pressure concentrated atop my head, which was moderately painful. The sensation now feels like it has dissipated, and is stretching along a strip running middle across the vertical direction of my head. The outermost muscle within the head feels rather taut, and if I shall move my neck, I can feel the stretch exerted by the tautness within the head. It feels like the muscles within the head are so strained all the time, as if they had just completed a workout at the gym and are sore from the lactic acid build-up. From time to time, I get this strange muscle spasm sensation in the head, which feels like a wave of tingling sensation coursing through the head muscle.

This condition remains as mysterious to me as it ever was when it first began. I had gone for an MRI brain scan a few months after this sensation started, but the results revealed no abnormalities. The measures that I have resorted to so far includes going for massages, trying out meditation, and consuming the anti-depressant Prozac. Painkillers don’t work, and furthermore, are not safe for consumption over a long-term as they can cause liver failure. I am hoping that that there is some natural way that the body can heal itself.

This condition has made me think quite a lot about the subject of suffering. I don’t think I can ever exempt myself from being troubled from personal pain or suffering. The tenets of Buddhism with its notion of the denial of the self in order to renounce suffering strikes me as not relating to the reality of human physical existence. I think that people should take steps in preventing the occurrence of suffering, either to themselves or to others

Yet, I do think that it is good for one to learn how to cope with various problems or suffering in as best a manner as possible. It is not practically possible to totally take all sort of precautions to prevent suffering to oneself. Despite one’s best efforts, one can still encounter the woes of uncontrollable forces that has repercussions on one’ quality of life. There are indeed many forms of suffering that occurs to various people without any fault that can be ascribed to them for their afflictions.

It would be good to be able to put things in perspective, and not let one’s perception of one’s suffering be more than what it actually is. I don’t discount the possibility that a person’s suffering can still indeed be very grave, and that ‘putting things in perspective’ might not necessary be helpful because such suffering may indeed be very troubling if you indeed appraise it for what it is. If it is possible to be alleviated, I think steps should be made to alleviate it. But if there truly isn’t, then it may be necessary for the sufferer to try to cope despite his suffering as best as possible. I won’t say that this is easy. Sometimes, it might be good to put away even the attempt to try to understand or appraise the suffering, and simply take it as it is and live on, because any attempts to understand it is futile. The presence of pain, in my opinion, is like the existence of material objects, an objective fact. It might be artificial to try to impute a rationale for it, as much as it would be artificial to try to impute the rationale of the existence of objective matters. Thus, I think that such questions such as “Why am I suffering?” or “What can I hope to gain from suffering?” can be somewhat quite artificial if one presuppose that necessarily an answer.

I am hoping to recover from this condition, and will try to take as best a measure as possible to facilitate my recovery from it. But I figure that I must learn to cope with it, even if this condition does not go away. I must ‘put some perspective’ about this problem in my life and not let it be more than what it actually is.

Monday, January 20, 2014

An account of school life, and a brief description of equity and trust

I have been sitting in for lectures at law school for this semester, even though I am officially on medical leave of absence still for the semester. The modules which I have been sitting in so far are the year 2 core modules like public law, and equity and trust; modules which I did not take the exam for as I exempted myself in the middle of the semester last year. I just sat in for a family law lecture today as well which is an elective as it was coincidentally after the public law lecture in the morning. It was the second lecture for the semester and the class was going through the topic of domicile and the conflict of law in governing marriage status and divorces. Truth be told, I do enjoy sitting in for lectures and simply listening to whatever is being taught without having the pressure on me to study the subject in a exam-competitive manner. The cohort people are those of the following year, few of whom I recognize from the varsity Christian fellowship. The majority are unfamiliar to me.
So we were just going through a lecture on equity and trust, over the really basic concepts on defining a trust. For the unacquainted, a trust is a legal concept in law whereby certain proprietary objects like money or houses are held by a group of people called trustees appointed by a class of people called the settlers for a class of people called the beneficiaries. A common example of a trust in action is the will that is drawn up by a person to pass his estate over to his descendents as inheritance.
I felt that the lecturer who was teaching the subject was much clearer than the lecturer I had when I sat in for the class last year. He explains the basic concept whereas I feel that the previous lecturer I had came into the class expecting that every student had already read the materials and understood it and thus spoke in terms that rides roughshod over the basic principles. But to each student his preference. I have heard of other students saying that they learn much more from the other lecturer.

If there was any module which appears most unfamiliar to me when I first encountered it, it is equity and trust. I wasn’t able to determine simply based on the name of the module itself what the purpose of that area of law was about. But I don’t think that I should think myself as an exception in my puzzlement. After all, the trust concept is one that is only prevalent amongst common law countries like the UK, whilst civil law countries like France have only recently begun to adopt trust concepts, albeit in a ameliorated form of the conventional contractual arrangement. Why are these civil law countries so suspicious of adopting the trust concept? As I hear from my lecturer today, it is because of the complexities that the trust concept engender for the tax system. I am not exactly too sure how this is done, but the trust system can be used to circumvent taxation and other proprietary acquisition mechanisms such as requisition by creditors for bankruptcy. The lecturer was telling an anecdote where at an international conference convened with the purpose of increasing recognition of the trust concept, the British representative was asking the French representative why France was so leery of the trust concept in its legal system. The French representative curtly replied, “How many books do you guys have on tax law?” Indeed, common law jurisdictions spot voluminous tomes on tax law that can take up multiple shelves on a law library. This is so because there needs to be many exceptions to the operation of the trust system so as to prevent people from avoiding taxes. The French seeks to avoid complicating their taxation law in such a manner.
There are many functions apart from intestacy and wills which the trust system helps to administrate. Others, like setting up of welfare funds for employees, or the setting up of charities, also relies on the concept of the trust system for resources pooled to be used in a manner directed towards the objectives of the trust and be capable of being supervised by the legal system. A question that I have on my mind that I haven’t yet explored is how a trust concept in the legal system is superior to the contract concept is administrating such transfer of property. Perhaps it isn’t, or at least some people don’t think it is, which is why the trust concept is not prevalent in all jurisdictions.

Visiting other church services

I attended a different church last week, and a different church service at my church today. Last week, I went to a Presbyterian church because a friend invited me over to witness her baptism. Today, I attended the Anglican service at my church which is held in the morning, just before the Lutheran service. I have recently been thinking of exploring different churches and services to interact with young adults my age in the Christian community. A church mate of mine had also been doing that, because he is intending on settling down and wishes to find a Christian soulmate. I don’t feel such pressure just yet to get a girlfriend, but I would like to interact with more girls from the Christian community.

The most conspicuous observation regarding the difference between the Presbyterian service and the Anglican service from the Lutheran service that I regularly attend, is the liturgy. The Lutherans do sing more hymnal kinds of songs and have more processional creeds that they recite during service. Another noticeable difference, though I am not sure whether this is necessarily due to the denomination, is that at the Anglican service, the wafer thin bread is supposed to be dipped into a grail filled with wine, whereas in the Lutheran service, the  wine is poured into communion cups.

I had actually attended the youth service for the Anglican service instead of the main service two weeks earlier. I felt quite out of place there since the people who attend their youth service are mainly teenagers in their secondary school years. It was nonetheless, a pleasant experience, and an eye-opener to the different communities of Christian that worship on Sunday at the same church as me whom I have never interacted with. Listening to the testimony shared by one girl regarding her academic struggles with her first year of junior college reminds me of my own junior college years. Although I did relatively well academically in my junior college years, I can identify with the girl’s academic struggle given that I am now struggling academically myself at law school. I asked the girl after service what subjects she took at junior college. She said that she was in the science stream and took subjects like physics, chemistry, mathematics, and economics. Those were the subjects I had taken as well when I was in junior college, and I did well in them. I asked her whether she had considered that she might be more suited towards the humanities instead of the sciences. She replied that she don’t think it would be convenient for her to change her subjects given that she has already been taking those subjects for a year at junior college. It is the sentiments I have regarding my law studies as well. I don’t think it is convenient to change course given that I have already undergone two years of legal education. During her testimony, she was talking about how she managed to just pass her subjects for the first year and promote to the following year when she had been flunking those subjects throughout the year, and she believes that this is a sign of God’s graciousness to her. As for me, I have encountered too many instances of unanswered prayers that I am really skeptical that there is such a thing as God’s will for me in life, or that he is concerned with any details regarding how my life goes.

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