Saturday, December 31, 2011

The World Beyond The Screen

Often, around New Years time, many become prisoners of the moment and make resolutions their will can't maintain, myself included. In fact, I didn't find the clarity to even make a resolution until I grew more secure in who I was and what I wanted, something my travels have given to me, little by little. This year, with everything I've gone through and all the growing I've been blessed with, I'm certain I've find one I'll commit to long after the moment is over and the normal world stares me in the face.

If there's anything crucial I've discovered as I explored the world around me, it's that despite how easy technology has made it to keep in touch with others, the ability to convey our thoughts to the people we meet everyday is still vital to becoming more connected to our world and creating the desire to contribute positivity however we choose to do it. The fact that my in person skills still need much sharpening has shown me the resolution I want to keep with me as a new year begins and I grow older and more aware of what I want to leave behind: to refine my handling of small talk and become more deft at face-to-face communication.

As it is for many out there, there've been people who've made my life suck, sometimes to the point of emotional breakdown (e.g a fetus-position-on-the-floor, make-it-stop kind of breakdown), and in those times, I wanted nothing more than remove myself from them and never see their face again. Technology has made it easier than ever to do just that and tune out the people who would bring us to this point of mental stress, but the truth is that no amount of advancement will completely eliminate that from our lives; in fact, because we've tuned it out so often, many have grown less able to deal with the daily stress of the day, which means it has much more power to shake us down to our foundation when it starts to pile on.

When I started to interact with the world outside my computer screen, it was like relearning how to talk, more so because I had much less time to mull over my response to someone separated by 3 feet of air, compared to a few miles of fiber-optics. As I see things like smartphones, video conferencing and social networking become more common place, I can notice this effect growing more and more prevalent as people isolate themselves from the world of purely physical interaction, finding more of their voice, sense of friendship and power coming from using technology to communicate.

As a writer, it fascinates me to witness the very way we connect to other change so dramatically, but it concerns me how people are losing touch with the base skills we use to forge relationships and become connected with those we care for. Even before my hands touched a keyboard, I knew that communication is only complete when we can see the person in front of us, their every tendency, tick and odor there for us to take in and analyze as needed. Phones, chatting and so on were only meant to be supplements to face-to-face interaction, but the greater dependency on these things to keep us in touch as our lives grow 'busier' is making them the main method and face-to-face, the supplement.

In time, the abilities to read someone's body movements, separate genuine criticism from harmful language, keep things in perspective and build our self esteem through contributing to the world around us falls and falls fast, as it did for me when I made the net my main method. As contradictory as it may be to use a blog to say this, people have to balance themselves out and make the world beyond the screen a bigger part of their day to day routine; the more we do that, the more we can appreciate what technology does for us and use it to its maximum potential.

I certainly won't say the process is easy, but all the experiences and knowledge my time away from the net gave me have let me know it's a worth while effort. Awkward communication is better than no communication at all, isn't it? Beats going through life with the desires of your heart falling silent, leaving you to wonder 'what if?' as you think about all you could've done, had it been given a voice

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Unforgiving Minute

Recently, in one of my lazy days roaming the net, I came upon this question: Why are adults so lonely when they're so social as kids? This became far pertinent given that all the new tech meant to help us keep in touch isn't doing much to help the cause, even as it becomes more integrated into our daily life.

This isn't to say it's a whole new problem each of us struggle to grasp; I mean I was an awkward loner way before my first time on the net, and the only thing it did was connect me to other awkward loners. It certainly has done much to change the way people define a friend, a lover and a relationship, but really, the thing it made easier for people to do was the same thing they did when they grew up and got into their established 9 to 5's: keep perceived threats from laying a finger on the us that lies behind the mask made of carefully construed words, stories and grooming.

Even before color and sound, people knew the power of lighting, make up and training to transform a plain Jane into the next big image for people to adore, revere and throw their money at, like a Jane Fonda, Clark Gable or Beyonce. With the phone, folks had to work hard, if they wanted to keep the content of their words and the tone of their voice from revealing the hidden truth, the computer making that process even easier, since it's a lot tougher to read too deep into words on a screen without your mind leading you down twisty roads and dead ends. Naturally, this breeds questions like 'Why would people want to hide who they really are?' in the back of the mind, those thoughts growing stronger when a deception is uncovered and the desire to avoid the hurt increases.

Before, people simply learned to suck it up and hide their intent behind small, vaguely worded statements-or what my Damage Estimation teacher calls 'weasel words'; nowadays, the relative space and anonymity the net allows leads people to unleash how they feel in the heat of the moment without fear of repercussions, since few are knowledgeable enough to trace the origin of someone's statement (which is very possible, as is them using that info to impersonate you and get stuff from the people you've worked with). That, paired with cultural considerations reinforcing the behavior-like the lone maverick mindset valued in the States and the distaste for flow disruption linked to Japan-make it highly desirable to tune out the outside world and condense the nonsense. This keeps folks from getting too close and having a clean look at the real us, whether they want to help or hurt it.

To ensure people never have the time to get close, we do different things to look busy and show them we can't engage them in a meaningful way (See the guy who answers a call when someone says “Hi, how are you doing?' to them). All the while this creates the 'I don't wanna be alone, but I don't wanna risk being hurt again' cycle within us, which takes us on a long, winding road to the same spot we were at when we took our first step. Ultimately, we need to be a friend in order to find any, and that means opening ourselves to the chance of getting hurt and taking on what I call the unforgiving minute-or however long the moment of action lasts. For those who've dipped into the poet's realm, they'll know the phrase from Rudyard Kipling's If, and for me, the line that comes from is best viewed like so.

“If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of speaking without pretense,
Yours is the Earth and all that's in it”

In this case, the unforgiving minute is when we get to know someone in order to better understand them, a moment which easily veers towards false personae being brought out to leave a positive impression and maintain it, should we ever meet them again. It is a scary thing to chance that kind of hurt with anyone, but is the alternative of never connecting to those we speak with worth avoiding all the potential hurt? For those who bear deep emotional scars, the answer is often an emphatic yes, but having walked that path for many years-on top of feeling its ups and downs-I'd like to pose this question: is avoiding the unforgiving minute worth abandoning the chance to know life's riches? For me, the answer has been and is sure to stay: What're you, nuts? No! Life's too short for that crap

My question to you: how would you fill The Unforgiving Minute?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Could It Have Been an Echo

I saw this recently and thought a lot about what the person behind the original poem was trying to say. After a bit of work and editing, I created my own translation. Here it is, along with the original poem in it's original language, for those curious

こだまでしょうか[Kodama deshou ka]
(Could It Have Been an Echo?)

「遊ぼう」っていうと ['Asobou' tte iu to]
「遊ぼう」っていう。['Asobou' tte iu]
 (If you say 'Let's play'
  I say 'Let's Play')

「ばか」っていうと ['Baka' tte iu to]
「ばか」っていう。['Baka' tte iu]
 (If you say 'You're dumb'
  I say 'You're Dumb')

「もう遊ばない」っていうと ['Mou asobanai' tte iu to]
「遊ばない」っていう。 ['Asobanai' tte iu]
 (If you say 'I'm not playing no more'
  I say 'I'm not playing')

そうして、あとで [Soushite, Ato de]
さみしくなって、 [Samishikunatte,]
 (And then, after that
  I get all lonely)

「ごめんね」っていうと ['Gomen ne' tte iu to]
「ごめんね」っていう。['Gomen ne' tte iu]
 (Then, if I say 'I'm sorry'
  you say 'I'm sorry')

こだまでしょうか、[Kodama deshou ka]
いいえ、だれでも。[Iie, daredemo]
 (Could it have been an echo?
  Nuh-uh, it was all of us)
-Misuzu Kaneko

*language note:  さみしく[samishiku] is likely the author's intended mispronunciation of さびしい[sabishii], the word for being lonely

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cruising on the River

When I hear stories of people who own their own car and live in their own home before they even turn 20, I feel as if I should be moving much more rapidly with my growth than I am-especially when I still don't have those things at the age of 24. That said, I always try to keep in mind that life and all it's wonders only happens once and many of the experiences we wish to forgo in order to become something more are experiences we can't really get back. Think about all the pros who skipped their last years of college play to enter their sport's top ranks and the experiences they gave up and can never have again, left only to wonder what if as they deal with the cold, critical and contract-litigating world of being a pro; would you give up the money in those first pro years just to go back and live those last days of college and discovering who you really are?

It wasn't long after I graduated high school that I started to think about all the dances I skipped out, all the school functions I never went to because I thought them foolish, the graduation ceremony I skipped out on because I didn't think it worth my time. Those continue to haunt me and remind me to appreciate where I am in my stage of adulthood, which is surely part of why I've been going so slow in becoming a proper man.

Despite that, the years have let me see that my decision was the correct one, as the experiences my path has allowed me let me become a far better person than if I jumped head first into the world of college and the reality that waits beyond it (to be perfectly honest, I sucked pretty hardcore in high school and I if I went to college straight away, I know I would've stuck in that mindset for a long time). The clubs I've been apart of let me see how important it is to be connected in both the on and offline worlds, and my personal development has shown me how much I need to be the change I wish to see, especially in the professional capacity, or in other words, building the box I need to think outside of.

As I face the world of student loans and other forms of debt I'll spend my life repaying, I feel much more ready to jump into it and take it on than ever before, a thing I never would've conceived when I set foot outside Bellflower High School as a student for the last time. I'm grateful for all that's happened to me, for all of it has given me the tools and the mindset I need to be a proper man for both myself, those close to me and the generation that will come after I pass on.

Don't get the wrong idea, I definitely should've had a job, car and all that by now, but a crucial aspect of who I want to be is living with minimal regret, the way beloved did when she went drifting on those mountain roads. I can safely that I'm doing just that and know that if my time were to come right now, I would be happy with who I've become and what I've left behind. Should I be fortunate enough to live a number of years beyond this writing, I seek to keep building on this and enjoy my life as it is while I continue to build towards the lofty vision held in my mind's eye-which includes making $2K a week on average at whatever I do.

It's interesting to live a time like this, when the world seems to be on the edge of change and the standards of living are shifting as rapidly and unpredictably as the tides-especially concerning how the gov't lends a hand to those it governs-and illustrates what having clear eyes can do for navigating unclear times. I wonder how those who rushed into the world of adults feels about their decision and dealing with things that even well off people barely manage in their 30s and 40s.

Though I know I'll face many of the same troubles, I feel as if my time has laid a solid foundation for the path I must travel to reach my goals and given me the passion and memories I need to make my way through the hardships and toil I must confront. I certainly won't be thinking too hard about what could've been, had I just held off a bit and built myself up before entering the next phase of my life. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weening Myself Off the Safety Net

Recently, I've had 3 instances that caused to question how reliant I was on external circumstances to guide me where I want to go. The 1st came when I used my phone to help me find an out of the way PC repair place, only to find that it lead to a spot blocks before the actual location, which lead to a ½ hour of searching to determine where it was. The 2nd was heading to take the last bus home, but finding that the service's website said there were no more coming; after a few minutes of the bus not coming at the appropriate time, I was getting ready to ride my scooter 4 miles home when it finally came in. The 3rd came during a chat with one of my classmates, where I learned that at the age of 18, he left home with only his bike and a bag of clothes and built himself up to point where he, with a help of some roommates, got a  job, a car & a decent sized house they collectively pay $2K on a month by the age of 20.

Aside from feeling like I was going a bit too slow, I began to examine how much I put it on things I couldn't really control to get what I wanted, especially over the course of my life when I felt limited in how I could rise up in the world. It was thanks to some friends that I got to experience life changing events, events that I would've surely given up on if they didn't talk me into it. For example, if my artist friend didn't convince me to give Americorps a try, I would've convinced myself I wasn't cut out to be a tutor at that level(and before that, I almost did).

On the romantic side of life, I've always prided myself on taking risks and doing things I never would've done otherwise, like riding 8 miles over a hill, inches away from traffic and through narrow, craggy sidewalks to reach the murky green waters of Long Beach. On the practical side, however, I always thought I didn't have the right stuff to do whatever job was at hand and couldn't summon the courage to even try in most cases.

I know it's because of this my life isn't as rich and fulfilling as it could be (which is saying a lot, considering how much life I've lived and how much I gained over the years), and that if I could overcome it, so much was waiting out here for me. As I see it, a big step towards that is doing what my classmate did at the age of 18 and move forward regardless of if I have the means then and there to lead the kind of life I desire.

Personally, I hate to fail at anything, and this goes double for when it involves people relying on me to get things done, so I'm always weary of anything that sends me into situations far beyond what I  thought I could do-as I've done so before and fell just short of getting it finished.  Perhaps when I accept failure as another part of life, I'll be able to deal with it quickly and let it strengthen me for the road ahead, so I may help others do the same.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Learning to Rise by Letting Myself Fall

When life gets hard and the people around you only seem to make it harder, it's easy to let hatred seep in and steer you towards negativity-I should know, I've let it happen on multiple occasions, including when I couldn't do class work for a month because I waited for my sister to get the computer screen she promised me, which she never did. I can't even count how many times people have let me down by making a promise, then forgetting about it, nor have I forgot how much it pissed me off, but in all honesty, for all the stuff I can make happen on my own, I really should be mad at myself-and I am. For years I blamed the crap I went through on other or people and felt like life was out of my control, specifically when it went to crap, like when I rolled my ankle and was never taken to the hospital, instead dipping it in ice water and hoping it healed properly.

The bitterness from all that colored my perception in drastic ways and made me hesitant to ever fully take on the great unknown. I didn't think my heart could take that kind crushing disappointment and failure, so I never let myself be open to that even  being a possibility. However, as I work towards being a proper adult, I'm finding that to grow greatly, one must accept falling well short as one of many things there to help them grow how they wish. More and more I'm seeing that when I let this become part of my life, I'll unearth the thing I've been on the edge of for a long, long time.

I say edge because I've been a lazy, structureless slacker for quite some time, getting an intense amount of knowledge and growth in short bursts, and never with the will and stubbornness needed to set up and stick to a certain schedule. Despite all that, I've become knowledgeable in a bunch of different fields, the years bringing my focus to writing, English and the Japanese language. When I began teaching the language, I was how I imagine many beginning students are: an insufferable prick.

As I learned more about the language and the culture that powers it, I discovered that not only did it give me a place to direct my energy, but it, along with writing, became my savior-the thing that lifted me up when I fell deep into the emotional darkness. Because of that, I worked to use my skills to help others gain the knowledge I struggled and scratched for all these years in as relate-able a way as I can manage.

Now, I’ve reached the point where in order to take the next big step, I'll need to find the guts to form a routine and stick to it so I can learn to evolve from it, the box from which to think out of, so to speak. Will I become a another brick in the wall? At this point, with all the crap I've managed to get over, I'd just be happy living a fairly regular life that fulfills me where I need to be, with any success I hit on as result being a nice bonus. If I fail, so what? As long as I'm still kicking, I still have a chance to make something positive and leave something wonderful behind when my time comes.

Really, that's been at the heart of a lot of stuff I do, even something as small as giving someone a quarter so they can pay their bus fare. Yes, there's a ton of messed up stuff going on under our noses each day, but I don't like just moaning and groaning about it, I want to see some solutions, however flawed they may be. This is the standard I've held both myself and others to over the years, 'cause to me, there's plenty of hot air going around and not enough stuff to put that air to work, which I want to correct however possible.

Even now, where I've become significantly saltier about how the world works, I've never believed in solely spreading around negativity and sought to live a life of balance, both emotionally and financially. If one only lets themselves see what goes wrong, they can never see what goes right, a way of life I wish no one would willingly subject themselves to.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Behind the Pen: A Peek into my Younger Days

What were you like when you were young(er)?

In my elementary days I was quite a bookworm(and given I was tutored by Hooked on Phonics at a young age, that much should be expected), voraciously reading any and everything I could get my mitts on-a trait still strong within me to this day. I also had quite the acting bug, and did a few school plays, including one where I played a dim footballer not only for my school, but also for one who's own couldn't make it that night.

It was around the end of 6th grade that I entered what I like to call The Smartass phase of my personal growth. I was so irritating in my general 'Did you know (x)?' behavior and did very little to endear myself to my school's society, even getting into a few fights here and there(that didn't last very long, mind you, one only going to one punch before I wept *laughs*). As it is with many boys of that age, I was also very awkward around females and found myself incapable of speech around those I found strongly appealing, including when I was threading my way through a crowd during the school festival and emerged on the other side hands first, those same hands landing on the warm and firm backside of a female classmate-one I was very attracted to then, and thankfully had the where-with-all not to squeeze *laughs*

One thing I'll always remember about my time then, though, would definitely be how dependent and needy I was on others to get what I wanted and needed, growing quite volatile when those I turned to flaked and did not fulfill what I expected of them. That neediness made me quite unfit for many kinds of meaningful relationships, and in fact ended two of them when things went south(one I ended when the girl wanted a 3 way with her male companion, and the other she ended when she no could longer financially maintain it).

Had my most recent beloved not perished doing what she loved, that neediness would've placed great strain on her, as well, as it did when she was out of contact for months at a time and left me wondering what had happened to her and if she still thought me worth the effort-one incident I remember her telling me being her encounter with a fellow drifter who wanted her to give it up and be one with him instead, who she turned down and left on the roadside.

Her passion and burning intensity for her craft instilled a lot of new feelings within me, spurring me to become stronger and more strong on my own so that I, in a day that would never come, would meet her and show her the kind of man she deserved to have as her beloved. I've grown greatly since her passing and was able to realize that if I wanted to be a lover who would fortify the one my next beloved instead of weakening, I had to be strong and capable by my own hand with my own motivation.

I certainly can't say the process has been easy, as almost every woman I've held interest in- and even those I don't!- either had a beloved of their own or had their own issues and concerns to work out. I would love to say I've left all those flaws in the dust, but they're still a part of who I am today, a fact I've come to accept more and more with the passage of time as I grow into a proper man. Still a bit of a smartass, still a bookworm, still a bit more reliant on others for what I need than I should be, but those traits let me realize I'm still human and still have room to grow and improve, both for my sake and the sake of those I care for. I know I'll gain employ and know I'll make the future I desire regardless of obstacles, and I'm without doubt when someone is there beside me, we will make each other a better individual and a strong unit. I would only hope she can endure some of my more unusual traits and fancies, though *laughs*

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Different Approach

Becoming a proper adult is one of the most difficult things for those from both affluent and penny-pinching households, with the utmost humbling step being admission of our limitations. After all, who likes to admit they’re been in error with their approach, especially when they’re been doing it that way with considerable success? The human ego at once shields us from the sense of despair they create and prevent us from ever learning from them, in some instances to the detriment of both them and those around them. If and when that time comes, the courage must be summoned to face up to their shortcomings, so they may begin discovering the way out of this mire. For me, that time has been long coming, and I’ve become ever cognizant that despite the things, friends and experiences my methods have garnered me over the years, they are not yet the habits of someone worthy of being regarded as a man, and should I seek to walk the many rows a man must walk before they can call him a man, my habits must be taken up to the next level.

I freely admit to being a spoiled slacker in many aspects of life, confident that my way would let me create the kind of life I desire. Although I’m still building funds to move out on my own, my methods have lead me to many wonderful people and created experiences shaping me down to my core, including my time as a tutor for AmeriCorps. With those successes, however, have come failures and shortcomings which still burn in me to this day, reminders of how much I dropped the ball and allowed sure shots to slip through my grasp. Yes, incidents like failing tests, alienating myself from those I call friend and losing things vital to my way of life have taught me much the value of good habits and being more understanding towards others and the world around me, but I’m certain that I have what it takes to build grand and continued success, in both tangible terms and in terms of emotional growth. In order to tap into that, however, my priorities must be rearranged so that things building towards a better tomorrow become reality and the constructive habits I have now can go from being acts I enact in order to slip through to being as natural as breathing.

Of course, to become a proper adult, one must be able to define what a proper adult is, since they aren’t all people who snub their nose at cartoons and riding on the swings(as most tend to associate with adulthood). In my estimation, a proper adult is sure of who they are, knows the path they walk and go beyond what needs to be done for both themselves and those they serve, along with the obvious financial stability, circle of supportive friends willing to challenge them and ability to understand the wants and needs of others with minimal need to ask. I would be a fool if think I could ever make this world function as I see fit, even if I had all the world’s wealth and power in my grasp. No, to reach places otherwise unreachable, I must be able to understand and work within the flow of what’s around me, both by my hand and with the aid of those willing to travel beside me. To me, life will always like a river-sometimes gentle and others violent-and I know few who’ve made the most of their journey along it by trying to work against its current

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Video Game Plot Development

This is one of my old opinion pieces that I recently came upon, and thought it interesting enough to bring back to this blog. Please read and, if you feel the need to do so, comment.
I believe different mediums have different ways of telling stories, and with games, it should feel like your affecting how the story flows and goes; you shouldn't have to be placed on a set path that the writer has set up for a story. 'cause no matter how twisty it may be, no matter how realistic the dialogue may be, and no matter how complex and wrinkled the plot is, if you don't affect how it goes or how it progresses, its not gonna be a good game plot. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eternally Left Undone

When it comes to debilitating fear, few things generate more of it than death, one of them being speaking in public. Like speaking in public, death strips us down to our truth, bares it for all to see and leaves us uncertain of what will happen after the fact. Its inevitability only compounds the fear to the point of making avoiding it as long as we can highly desirable. Having lost someone close and seen its face far too often to count, the matter is never too far from my thoughts, never easy to face, no matter how I grow and mature. Naturally, the ‘I don’t wanna die!’ factor is present in this, but part of it comes from the fear of leaving things important to me forever undone, a fear I dread more than anything I could conceive.

     Even the healthiest and most well protected of us can be ended at any moment, leaving our creations and our legacy to those who will come after we depart. Perhaps I’m a fool for think these things at my age, but the thought of passing on without offering my experiences and knowledge to this world is all encompassing, leading me to lead a life of minimal regrets. Much of that is tied to my desire to bring clarity into the lives of others and making sure I communicate well and honestly, and to do that, I must make peace with not only death, but also the chance that I may not accomplish all I set out to before my time comes. As someone more studied than I once said, “When you die, your inbox will still be full”. I’m sure the more this dawns on me, the more I free myself to create things that endure the ages. 

     It’s true I won’t know what I’ll leave behind until I’m gone, but I would like my funeral to be filled with those I come across and helped bring clarity and understanding. Even if I could only do that for one person during my lifetime, I’d be able to leave this world in peace, knowing that one person was able to see the light enshrouded by darkness. Without this, we are prone to having the fear of death cripple us from leading a full life, a fate worse than death, itself. When I’m drawing into me my final breath, I don’t ever want my final words to be “I blew it”; I want to tell those beside me in my final hours that I gave my life to doing what I loved and did things I would be glad to have them pass on to the next generation. After all, it’s when we can live in peace with things left undone that we free ourselves to do the most our minds and bodies will allow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Plain to See

They say honesty is the best policy, and that maxim is what I’ve adhered to in dealing with the world around me. Part of that honesty, however, involves maintaining secrets entrusted to me by many I’ve come across, which has led to me honing the skills, layering and storytelling ability demanded of crafting a believable lie. Crucial to that are minimizing the tells which reveal the lie for what it is and risk assessment of both sticking to the lie and coming clean when the pressure’s on, since the ‘lesser’ evil is the more desirable evil in the long run. With enough practice, it’s possible to have the truth hidden in plain sight, even if it stares them in the eye as they pass it by each day.  Lately, though, I’ve pondered in depth if that kind of skill is what I want to let define my success and my growth as a human being, given how corrosive it is to the bonds we all share.

I will freely admit guilt to much dishonesty towards family and friends, much of which, as of this writing, I plan to take with me into my final days. This is mostly to minimize needless chaos, but part of me feels as if I lack the skill to concisely express the truth of my heart with voice alone. This is surely due to lack of practice and the fact that I haven’t deemed myself worthy of the truth, the whole truth or nothing but the truth. I’m truly fortunate to have friends willing to show this to me, and I know because of my actions I must do all I can to earn that right and keep earning it, even if it’s as trying to build and easy to level as a house of cards. I can think of few things weaker and easier to undo than a relationship based on mistrusts and lies, and that’s what I never want to subject those I care for to.

Although I’m an open book about much of my life, I always keep in mind the risks people take when they make themselves vulnerable, as well as the implied trust that kind of act involves. Only when there’s an atmosphere free of deceit can people feel safe opening the locks to their life’s classified files for others to scrutinize. I know that whether I seek to be a great psychologist or a great friend, this is what I must create when I speak with others, and that starts with demonstrating a lack of ulterior motives. How can anyone feel comfortable enough to share their most sensitive info if they think those they speak to will expose or blackmail them, if not worse? Those feelings are why I refuse to let deception and falsehoods become the core of my interactions, for those who live by fooling others are always left to wonder just who’s playing them for a fool.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Facing the Inevitable

At the turn of the new millennium, people were worried that the computer systems couldn’t handle the change in years and simultaneously crash, sending the world into chaos. In 2012, it’s feared the sun will emit EMPs (Electro-Magnetic Pulses, if you need a refresher)across the globe that knock out all electricity, sending the world into chaos, along with bringing the end of civilization as we know it. At the root of all this is the fear of being plunged into a situation we have little control of, a fear of being lead to death. No matter what form it may take, something is reminding us about the impending end of our lives, forcing the core of our character to surface for all to see. While we cannot control the fact we will die, we can control how we react to it and let it dictate the path our lives take, as well as who it affects.

Fear of these sorts of things has fueled an endless amount of bad decisions in people’s lives, all in order to stave off the fear of the Grim Reaper’s cold grip, and its ability to take all we love and care for away from us. To live a full life with minimal to no regrets, this is the kind of fear we must shed, for this is the kind of fear which will eternally cripple us from reaching higher and taking the risks needed to make it reality. I’ve traveled countless miles, broken both arms and lost someone close to my heart on the path to shedding such emotions, and all of it has helped strengthen my ability to walk forward and view this world for what it is. Though I’m not where I wish to be just yet, I’m more than happy with my life, and know that all that I do will be what I leave behind for those that come after me. Every day I seek to leave behind something wonderful, giving them the courage to push ahead in the face of uncertainty and live a life they would be proud of, regardless of what may come to pass.

Conspiracy theories run the gamut of logic and moral pushing ideas threaded by circumstantial evidence, but all of them link back to the idea that we are in control of nothing in our lives and that our every move and thought is planned ahead for us. Ever since my life changed, I’ve learned to view this concept as complete and utter garbage that no one should condemn themselves to. Even if one of these turns out to be true, that doesn’t stop the individual from picking themselves up and rising against the string being pulled, using their own strength to create their own destiny. In my eyes, nothing is viler than allowing your life to be diluted by events that may or may not come to pass, the beauty and wonder that life presents to you flying by all the while. When my time comes, it’s my desire to enjoy it from my back porch, finishing off my best work yet while falling into slumber in a reclining office chair.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Single Step

Part of being human is making mistakes, whether it’s stumbling as we learn how to walk or mixing up crucial dates and missing them altogether. That’s all a part of growing up, and anytime it happens, the stuff we’re made of is exposed for everyone to see, even that creepy guy in the corner no one talks to. After the fact, we always think about what we would’ve done differently if we had a little more sense or mentally whip ourselves for whatever it was we did. Until someone knows enough to bend the fabric of time to their will, we can’t undo the past, we can only learn from it and do what we can to make amends. Doing so involves developing the capacity to forgive, more specifically the capacity to forgive ourselves and allow ourselves to move forward.

My own life has been rife with errors in judgment, many of which I’ve found difficult to forgive myself for, like the day I allowed myself to miss a key test during my first semester at community college in order to help my mother’s friend. I know the best thing to do is seek the positive and laugh it off, but part of knows I should’ve been more firm, more aware and more certain of my aim. For countless years I placed the blame on my shoulders and did what I thought was needed to ensure it never repeated, even when it did. As much as I believe in making your own luck and taking hold of your own life, I’ve grown more cognizant of that which I cannot change, that which I must confront and demonstrate forgiveness. Naturally, something this important won’t come easy, but this act will surely shed some of the weight I bear so I can move further ahead to becoming a proper man.

As life has continued to show me, when you cannot or will not demonstrate forgiveness, it becomes a greater challenge to progress, as if you’re sticking your feet in detergent boxes and pouring more and more concrete in them as you walk. Yes, some things are hard to give that kind of leniency, more so when it removes something irreplaceable, but is carrying that kind of ire towards it worth rending ourselves unable to grow? To me, even with much of what I’ve poured my heart and soul into being ripped away, I don’t ever want the answer to be yes, nor should it be for anyone else. Harboring grudges only corrodes us from within and blinds us to the truth of a person’s being, only letting us see the person they were then, in their time of darkness. The humility and willing to understand others forgiveness demands is the rock that shatters the glass holding this image, falling away to reveal a path meant for us to walk; a path towards joy and inner peace, our joy and inner peace. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Behind the Pen: First Crush

Part of being a writer, in my view, is being able to take your life experiences and those of the people pass theirs on to you and craft them into prose, ideally the kind you'd want to see in the magazines and headlines. To keep a personal record of some of the events that shaped my skills, I'll post any responses to questions I receive which I consider to be something people would like to see about who I am, and perhaps help others realize that, although their experiences are unique, there are others out there who've went through something similar and are willing to lend their hand to you in aid. To begin, here's my response to this question:

 Who was your first crush and what was it like?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Through the Open Window: A Manifesto for Approaching Language Study with an Open Mind

(This is a cleaned up version of a Manifesto I wrote for one of my English classes, the previous which got me a 98/100 from my very tough grading teacher, hopefully a sign of the paper's overall polish. Though it may rub you the wrong way at some points, please enjoy it and let it reveal my take on language study)

The language were raised with is shaped by grammar, colored by vocabulary & powered by culture, a word strongly tied to the stuffy and snooze-inducing aspects of our world-for example, the guy who turns his nose at those not into musicals or fine wines.

However, as culture can be manifested by a tea ceremony, so can it manifest through Causal Fridays & riding the bike trail to Border's with your friends every Saturday, all 3 a way of doing things cultivated through shared values & beliefs. When grammar, vocabulary & culture work in sync, our thoughts gain life & let us interact with the world how we want to, even if we've never seen it before.

You may be wondering how this relates to learning a language, and to that I say this: In understanding this you not only uncover the key to learning a language, but the key to learning it as your language.