Narrowing down my interests

I am no longer certain of what it is I should be doing. I have wide ranging interests, but a deep dissatisfaction with my present mastery (or complete lack of skill) in many many disciplines.

Ironically, the disciplines in which I am most adept (such as graphic design or marketing) are more of a means to an end, then an end unto themselves.

What is that end? What is it that I truly wish to pursue?

I want to grow my youtube channel, in fact, I started one, in secret. It was terrible, it focused on the arts, or at least, on the random things I create, but was very broad.

I have to really question whether documenting (vlogging) my hobbies and drawing practices really mean anything. Whether anyone really cared for that.

I don’t think they do.

When creating something, we need to ask whether that product serves a purpose. Whether my content serves anyone.

I was also nervous talking to the mic, being nervous when talking is uncharacteristic of me. Yet I was nervous nonetheless.

Regardless, I felt I needed to return to the drawing board and figure out what it was that I really wanted to do, and why.

Here are my interests. I need to cut some of these off as mere hobbies (because that’s what it is when you can’t muster the discipline to do them everyday), and which ones are what I really want to do. The things I actually need to make happen.

  • Humanities (Religion, Philosophy, History)
  • The Visual Arts (Drawing, Painting, Sculpting)
  • Board Game Design
  • Writing
  • Graphic Design
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Business
  • Dancing
  • Music
  • Film Studies and Literature
  • Education
  • Politics
  • Science.

Right away, we cut away the things I don’t actually know enough or would ever know enough to be able to master. Those would probably be hobbies at best. So that list now look something like:

  • Humanities (Religion, Philosophy, History)
  • The Visual Arts (Drawing, Painting, Sculpting)
  • Board Game Design
  • Writing
  • Graphic Design
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Business
  • Education

That’s still not good enough. Or rather at this point, I need to ask myself what I can combine together to make them into a single field I can practice with. I realized that Graphic Design, Marketing & Advertising, Business, and Education are all byproducts of the jobs I do, or supports for my own personal goals and projects. There’s no need to “master” them, until they become relevant to what it is I’m doing.

So now we’re left with the four things I probably truly want to do.

  • Humanities (Religion, Philosophy, History)
  • The Visual Arts (Drawing, Painting, Sculpting)
  • Board Game Design
  • Writing

But it is wise to focus on only one thing. So how do I make all of this relevant and practicable at the same time? And if not done together, what is it that is holding me back right now on each of these fields?

Humanities = I am always learning new things, through podcasts, books, other people, and personal spiritual cultivation.

Visual Arts = I am always learning about this. But I need to practice more, on a daily basis. Right now, I am trying to figure out anatomy. And I hope to get better at sculpting because of it, and making better art, fan-art, and even webcomics.

Boardgame Design = I am always working on one prototype or another. But I need to finish, instead of always second guessing myself.

Writing = I need to write everyday. I need to, as Seth Godin says, ship something everyday. Make something happen everyday. So this blog, I will try to post a blog post every single day, just as Seth Godin does. Now to be clear, I also write a lot on facebook and Discord. Perhaps I need cut down on what I write in those spaces, and focus on writing here on my blog. Perhaps I should consider whether I should migrate to Medium or some other platform to better serve my needs.

And of course, this hasn’t really helped me figure out what to do about my Youtube Channel. Perhaps I can combine my passion for the humanities with my art and storytelling. God knows it’s already part of my writing. Maybe it can become part of my boardgame designs too.

I need to think about it. But before I even know what I want to do, I need to start doing it. Start before you’re ready. Because you’ll never be ready. I am never ready, I never will be. So I just start.

The Goddess of Maritime China

Mazu Tomb
The Tomb of a Goddess in Nangan, on the Matsu Islands. Prince Roy [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons
There is an intricately sculpted tomb in South-East Asia. Few outside of the Chinese community knew that a goddess was buried here.

This here is Lin Moniang’s tomb in Nangan in the Matsu Islands, where her body washed ashore after she died at the age of 28 (Lunar Year).

She was a Fujianese shamaness from Meizhou island in the 10th Century who was later deified as the sea goddess Mazu. Moniang was said to wear a bright red dress to act as a beacon for ships approaching land.

She was herself apparently a devout Buddhist Scholar. In her role as shamaness she was also a rainmaker and diviner. She could apparently exercise psychic powers at great distances; her principal legend concerns her use of this power to rescue her family from a storm via trance.

In one record, she drowned attempting to find her missing father. After her death, she apotheosized into a goddess. Her small cult grew dramatically after one of the Song Emperor’s envoys was rescued at sea by her apparition in the 11th Century. Overtime, Her cult absorbed the cults of other deified shamanesses and local gods in the region, and became a major religion.

She is a goddess of the sea, travel, childbirth, motherhood and even contraception. Mazuism is considered a distinct but related religion to that of Shenism and Taoism, but she can be found in Buddhist temples as well (and some traditions regard her as an avatar of Guanyin). She is always depicted with her two subordinates, Qianliyan and Shunfeng’er, two redeemed demons with the powers of Clairvoyance and Clairaudience, respectively.

A statue of Mazu, with her two guardian generals.
A statue of Mazu in the Kinmen Islands, Republic of China, with her two guardian generals, the redeemed demons Qianliyan and Shunfeng’er. The original uploader was Koika at Chinese Wikipedia. [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

As the patron deity of Taiwan and of other Hokkien and Fujianese diaspora groups around the world, Her worship can be found on nearly every island and coast where the Chinese peoples have travelled (and therefore also in countries where Chinese peoples are a minority).

As a patron of sea travel, her temples was almost always the first to be erected. Even Admiral Zhang He (15th Century) began actively patronizing her temples after he credited the safe journey of one of his voyages to her intervention— despite being a Muslim; it is suggested that his primary religion is actually Mazuism.

In 1683 she was conferred the title of Tianhou (Queen of Heaven) by the Qing Dynasty after she allegedly helped Marquis Jinghai of the Qing conquer Taiwan from the Ming Loyalists (oddly enough, she was also said to have helped the Ming Loyalists conquer Taiwan and drove out the Dutch).

The Qing government also credited her intervention with their victory over the French at the battle of Tamsui during the Sino-French War in 1884. 

French warships bombarding Tamsui District, Taiwan.

In this way, she is a war goddess also.

She also makes spiffy art on the walls of my house.

A Pop Art screenprint of Mazu.
A screen printed poster of what I have identified as Mazu (uncertain). It’s up on our wall.

© 2019 JUSTIN C. HSU