Monday, December 24, 2012

Kitsune Santa

To commemorate the season, I've decided to post one of my early, hormone fueled, very Japan-o-phile-centric works. If you like it, let me know in the comments!

 On a blustery winter night, a young woman walked down Japan's paradise for the 1%, the Ginza, as she juggled the armful of dolls and electronics. Her breaths like smoker's puffs, she thought to herself "Wow, I got lucky today. I know the kids'll love the WiiU, but if my hubby can't be happy about the new Camera I got him, I swear I'll slap the taste out of his mouth" The sound of boots crushing the powdery snow approached from all around, a cocky voice calling out, "Yo, that's some nice stuff you got there, gook. Why don't you let the natives have it?"
"I might, if you know what the square root of 484 is." Stopped in their tracks for a moment, the young punks scratched their heads, with the spiky, green haired leader finally saying, "That doesn't matter! The only math that does matter is that there's 5 of us, one of you, and a lot of goodies to be gained..." As those behind her rushed headlong, a cane decked in white and spiraling red hooked their reaching hands away. A mighty blow sent the hoodlums flying and both the remaining kids, and the mother looked, to see a Santa suit clad woman standing before them, her silver mane flowing in the breeze, as she addled towards the group's lead. Her ember eyes peered at him, as she said, "Stealing from a mom on a Christmas shopping run? That's is l-o-w, low."
"So? You do what you gotta do, when you don't got nothing." Her fox tail swaying underneath her skirt, the girl brushed snow from her porcelain face.

"Nothing? What of your family, your friends, your cherished ones? Are they meaningless to you, as well? Is their love less valuable than that WiiU, in her bag?"

"Anyone ever told you, you talk too much, freak?" With a sneer, she glanced over at her handcuffed and underwear dressed companion beside her, and said, "Miki! Take the mom away from here. I'd hate to damage the goods, after all." The short haired girl took the mother by the hand, and lead her out of danger. Seeing this, the foxgirl held the cane half way with one hand and extended the other.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Passion and Profits

“Do what you love, and the money will follow,” a saying often repeated in mantra-like repetition by those who want to make what they love doing and what keeps the essentials taken care of coincide. The reality of that saying, however, is that the ability of having what you love to do pay the bills is connected to how easily others can do it, whether they're willing to fund it, and the amount of talent it takes to do it at a high level. This reality is something all of us face at least once in our lives, and is often what drives many to take the “safe” jobs, while their true ambitions are left on the back burner. For some, their loves become their off work hobbies, while others leave it to gather dust, both of them left to wonder what could be, if they ever summon the needed guts to risk it all. It's a cruel abstract, and to help clarify it, I'd like to tell the stories of the girl who loves Basketball, the boy who wants to help others heal their hearts, and the girl who wanted to run her own arcade, who, for simplicity sake, I'll refer to as Danni, Shannon and Alex.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Importance of Professionalism

As I grow my capabilities and expand my methods of refining my knowledge, one of the things I've focused on more is professional behavior, whether it's for a 9-5 grind or for my personal projects that few might ever see. I knew this became more important to me when a consultant I worked with did nearly nothing to help me gain insight on the project I picked them, personally, for, and eventually gave me nothing but silence, even after repeated efforts to understand their situation. That month and similar instances that came afterward, felt like one of the biggest wastes of potential I've ever experienced, and in time consumed me in how utterly that person failed me in even the basic aspects I outlined for them. After it was all said and done, and I moved on to search for more voices for the project, something came to form the more I saw similar things in both myself and people around me:

No matter how talented, experienced or pretty you are, you won't get a lot done if you aren't professional about what you want to get done.

In my past, I've also been rather unprofessional in my commitments, and because of that, many projects I started on stalled out and never grew into what they could and should have become. Those experiences have let me realize what can happen if one doesn't fully commit, and over time I've worked towards becoming the kind of man that can commit to something, no matter how hard it is, how long it goes on or how little assistance I have on it. In the long run, I know this will let be far more than I can currently imagine, just as I couldn't imagine being as knowledgeable as I am today back in my high school days, when my understanding of Japan was a mile wide and an inch deep. In the same respect, I know better that as this will benefit my personal projects, I know it will benefit me, personally, and raise me far above my current station.

I mean hell, if being an unfocused, lazy punk got me this knowledge, imagine how much my finances will jump when I get my focus on.

That said, I know that I can't let people's tendencies and broken promises throw me off and make me drop whatever I'm doing to sit there and pout, for that would be the ultimate in unprofessional-ism. No matter how they may act with me, or treat our transactions, or straight up brush off our commitments, I have to maintain my stride and press onwards, because I know that if I act a fool, even if I'm not a Twitter, facebook or whatever social media is the new hotness, the eyes around me will always be on me consuming everything I do and say; if I want to create the kind of product I know I can make, I always have to put my best foot forward, no matter how that may make me feel while I'm doing it.

I mean unless your career is built around being unprofessional, then it will do nothing but come back to bite you in the ass over, and over, and over, and over.

If they reach a milestone, I will congratulate them, if they need someone to talk to, I always offer a listening ear, if they need my counsel on various matters, I always offer what my wisdom will allow; just because they sucked at working with me doesn't put them beyond receiving such basic kindness and consideration, and never will. The moment that becomes a part of my mindset, I'll know a crucial part of who I choose to be has failed and will soon lead me down a downward spiral if I don't ship up and shape up damn soon. In my estimation, the consummate professional always gives those who work with them their absolute best and make sure the end product is of the highest quality to be delivered precisely when it was promised, no matter what emotional turmoil they may be going through at the time.

This is why doctors stay those long nights at the hospital to ensure patients get the best care, even if they're practically coughing up blood when they're on the job.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Accepting Reliable Unreliability

I'd like to think I'm a pretty patient guy who does everything possible to understand why people do what they do, and because of that, I've been able to gain insights and knowledge I never would've found if I kept flipped my lid at the drop of a hat; when it comes to working with people on projects and otherwise relying on them for something I need, however, that patience is immediately and constantly put through the ringer. If I'm waiting for a ride somewhere and they say they'll be there at 4PM, I expect them to be there at 4PM, not 4:01, not 4:10, not 4:30, and most certainly not 5PM; the later they are on their promise, the more my anger bubbles under the surface, more so when they altogether fail to deliver on their promise.

I can't really say I can get down with people who can't or won't deliver, no matter who they are.

In all honesty, though, I'm not exactly Mr. All Clutch All The Time, and if it isn't immediately pressing, it doesn't become that much of an issue, sometimes even slipping my mind completely and leading me to move on with my day. I imagine that those expecting me to deliver get as pissed off as I do when it doesn't happen, so whenever I'm counted on to, I do whatever my resources allow to ensure that it either happens or goes above and beyond what they asked, as I ask of those I work with. Admittedly, I have rather high standards for the people I work with and befriend, and as they've lead me to come upon quality people and craft quality products, so have they lead me to massive disappointment when they're not met.

In fact, many I've approached about the subject suggest that I'll lead a happier and less stressful life if I just lower the bar.

I can certainly see the validity behind that notion, but I have trouble with considering lowering the standards that've gotten me so much in my life and have brought so much richness to how I do things everyday. They do say that if ain't broke, don't fix it, but I know that I can do so much more and be so much more than what I am today if I'm willing to tinker with my routine and let uncertainty and potential failure become a greater part of my everyday life, as even the safest existence can be ended by one slip or one misfortune. Does that mean I must accept not hearing from people I work with for days at a time, though? Does that mean I must accept people being gravely late for an appointment or not showing up at all? Does that mean I must accept that things could be far from what I expect them to be, whether that's for worse or for better?

I guess that means I must accept that people aren't robots, but people, with their own lives, foibles and ways of doing things

I suspect that, even if my current perception deems it asinine, the more I accept this fact, the more I'll find success and friendship, no matter how long I must live on the edge of a knife to make it happen. I know I wouldn't want to work with someone to treated me like shit every time I didn't meet some vaguely defined mark, and going easier on the throttle will probably make me a better overall workmate, which in turn will produce a better end product. If nothing else, I'll probably have a few more years with my hair and youthful features the more I let the little stuff go and let people do as they do, only cracking the whip when there's something crucial on the line. That doesn't mean I won't get pissed off when aren't as timely in their responses or don't live up to their end of the bargain-I've got more than enough rage for everybody who does that, but it does mean that I'll be able to pick up the slack whenever they do drop the ball and get things done.

Just because they fail to do something doesn't mean the whole damn thing should fail because of it, and come hell or high water, I'll make sure it doesn't

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On the Endless Cycle of Creation

Creativity is one of the most subjective things in the world, always dynamic and always changing according to the context it's created in, used in and evaluated by; because of this, one man's wrong may be another's right, and vice versa. Those who think there's only one value system on which to fit something into are those who've yet to understand the diversity and depth out in the world beyond their circle of comfort, nor do they know of the two aspects of it which create this diversity and allow it to thrive to this day: the science and the art.

Even there's only one way to skin a cat, there are endless ways for people to determine how, when and why that cat is skinned.

Take, for example, the oft misunderstood style of Cubism. People who look upon it often hold it to the ability of art to render the human form and nature through the the understanding of shape, color and light and scoff at its apparent failure to do so. They see a work portraying the suffering incurred at Guernica and think “What the hell's with these faces? Where's the color? What the hell is this even saying? My 5 year old can do better than this crap” They only see the science of art creation, they do not see the art of questioning why there has to color, why it has to perfectly depict the forms or why it has to be easy to digest.

In asking those questions, their thoughts go towards “Why does it have to be that way? This way seems much more interesting and fun to do”

So goes the continual cycle of rebellion, innovation and establishment, Pollack making things that would make Van Gogh wretch and Slayer making music that Elvis would snap in half while he proclaims it to be trash. Really, when people say “Down with the establishment!” they mean “Up with ours!”, a cycle that will go on after the grandchildren of our grandchildren draw their final breath in the presence of their grandchildren. Because of all that, people will continue to enjoy tastier foods, more thought provoking art and better machinery for generations to come.

No one may know where the envelope is being pushed to, but we progress knowing that it is being pushed.

Whether one learns about the principles set by noted creatives of times long past or creates their own, once they have a science and system to work with, they can then work with it to see where it can be strengthened, where it can be enhanced, where it can be nurtured to the next level. Once they get there? Then they do it all over again and push their craft to places unknown, with the results and their future on about the same footing. It may seem like needless busywork, but it's because of that process that people go from the glider to the propeller plane, and from the propeller plane to the jumbo jet, and from the jumbo jet to Apollo 13, and with each sky high achievement, the results tickle down to the everyday person and make their lives that much easier and nifty.

It wasn't that long ago that having just a library in your pocket was considered on the same level as Cold Fusion.

To those who cannot see the world as you do, your new fangled ideas are a bunch of nonsense, because to them, all those things just don't add up, but how times has that been said of the telephone, the internet, the very idea that gravity exists? If it succeeds, then it'll shift the way things are done and the world will be that richer for the contribution; it if fails, then it was a way to flex your creative muscle, encourage you to go beyond your limits and become that better, so then really, aside from your shame and reputation, what do you have to lose?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Taking Control

There are times when you'll work towards a goal that takes many steps, lots of attention and much patience in order to do well, and sometimes, when you think you have everything in hand, external circumstances come along and throw it all out of alignment, even when you only take your eyes off the prize for a second. It's a highly frustrating experience, more so when it undoes all the blood, sweat and tears you've poured into it, but that's just how life can be. It's not a matter of if it happens, but when, and what you do then defines you'll become as time goes on.

In my case, I tend to throw a mini shit fit, then pick myself up and push ahead with what's left

As for why, I wasn't a generally expressive kid, and that allowed a lot of the emotions people tend to express in tiny puffs to build into a big head of steam ready to emerge at the worst possible opportunity.  Only now, after all the strides I've made to become something greater than who I am now, have I been able to put that energy in a positive direction(although I'm still quite susceptible to moments of inopportune rage). The more I come upon these less than ideal situations, the more I realize both how much I don't control and how much I do, the latter growing more and more apparent as my abilities become more crystallized.

Now that I now what I do control, I've grown a lot more pissed at people trying to take that away, especially when I know damn well what I'm doing.

“Why fight so hard, though?” you may be wondering. “You know that the best way to get things done is to ride the flow and let things resolve themselves, so what's the point?” I admit to thinking like this more than once in my life, and more than once have I thrown my hands up in frustration and felt like nothing I did worked, thinking that maybe the best choice would be to just give up and let the winds take me wherever they may. I mean, why should anyone work so hard to achieve a goal that may not even be all it's cracked up to be and take away more than it give to you?

Because, if all the things I've gained over the years have taught me anything, it's that the effort pays off, and will always pay off if you don't let it get away. 

It's easy to just take the easy way out of things and lead a fairly normal life, things such as not allowing yourself to get to close to other people after a heartbreak in order to avoid further heartbreak, doing just enough to keep whatever job you have and hate so you can keep the essentials in order and eating that apple a day to keep the doctor away, even if it's the only healthy thing you eat all day. Comfort is much easier to attain if you let yourself be content with what, who and where you are now, but I certainly can't remember the last time someone broke through and became something more from a place of comfort.

It's only natural that growth and comfort cannot co-exist, especially within the human spirit.

Had people been comfortable where they were centuries ago, we would never have the net, we would never have modern medicine, we would never have the ability to easily travel the world, the country or even 20 miles outside of where we were born. Growth can be painful and awkward, sometime agonizingly so, but the human heart, mind and body are some of the resilient things this world has to offer, able to patch itself up and grow even stronger more knowledgeable and more awake after each encounter, even as children still developing their conception of the world. Only when we embrace those inevitabilities can we understand how to best use them to help us grow and shape the course our lives take, knowing that, even if it's precisely what we envisioned, it will always come to be more than we ever imagined possible.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Importance of an Impression

While it's always a good thing to look beyond how someone looks, the truth is that how they look and act the first time we see them is often the only impression we ever get about them, which is the impression we carry with us when we meet someone new that somewhat resembles them; I am no different and readily admit to this kind of shallowness in my daily life. I'm certainly no prime catch myself, in terms of my overall physical fitness and the way I groom and dress myself, and for years have never even bothered to give those things more than a passing thought, because for all that time I thought that unless I was trying to create a positive first and start a relationship, that stuff didn't really matter.

Hell, sometimes I can go a solid week or more without taking a shower because I just plain forget.

Recently, though, I've began to pay more and more attention to the way I talk, look, smell and so on, wondering what kind of impression I was leaving with people who meet me for the first time. In my youth, I know that impression was somewhere between intelligent, awkward, understanding and creepy, based on how weak my grasp was who I wanted to be; these days, it's leaning more towards arrogant, loud, fun loving and quite frankly angry about the way people treat other like concepts to be analyzed like a painting hung up in a gallery for everyone to scrutinize. An upgrade, to be sure, but I'm still not sure if who I am is who people would wanna work with.

It's not like people are chomping at the bit for the loud mouthed braggart to join their team, after all.

Trying to improve yourself solely on what others want is, of course, naturally the fast ticket to stretching yourself thin and leaving yourself as hollow as a empty soda bottle, but on the same token, if you're not willing to be a team player in some capacity, it's gonna be much harder to get in where you fit in and create the sense of stability people need to take risks and grow beyond who they are now. For those entering the real world, this is one of the defining conflicts they go through as they establish themselves and come across those who think they need to fit a certain mold in order to take the next step up the ladder.

Makes me wonder what I need to revise, concerning how I sell myself to folks with my mode of behavior, dress and so on.

It's given that I need to enunciate more and slow the pace on how I talk(which is currently a mile minute) and that my overall level of dress has gotta be higher than rolling out of bed, slapping on shorts and shirts and heading right out everyday, yet part of me feels there's another aspect I need to work on, which my ego might be keeping just out of view. The more I find it tough to keep up a conversation flowing, the more I think about whether I'm letting the folks I chat with tell their side or just looking for a place to insert my 2 cents. I know well how valuable a listening ear is, and I don't want to alienate people just because there's something I want to say; I seek to relate to them as much as my skills will allow and help them get through whatever they're trying to manage.

The last kind of person folks wanna get to know is a self centered bum who makes everything they talk about revolve around them and their needs.

With time and effort, I'm sure this improvement will come natural and seep into the stuff I do everyday, but something tells me that every time I initiate a chat with someone I just met, somewhere in the back of my mind I'll be thinking “Man I hope I didn't stick my damn foot in my mouth.” Guess that's part of the dance we do in order to leave folks with a relatively positive image of who we are, so if they ever see us again, they think “Hey, it's that one person. It's been a while, so I should have a chat with them”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Can You Go Home Again?

When I first heard the phrase “You can't go home again,” I was quite confused about what that meant, as I did not hear any of the context that phrase came from-and didn't until many years later; after doing some research, though, I discovered that it started to hit home in more ways than I ever considered possible. The more I became a proper adult, the more I grew distant from much of what I held dear as a youth, and that became crystal clear when I went for a trip to the place I once called home and browsed some of the lit I enjoyed back then. I can't quite put my finger on why, but as I worked through them, I found the themes of insecurity and worry about the perceptions held by others just didn't grab me like they used to, and in fact were quite off putting, perhaps because I could no longer connect to them and could only see the quality of the storytelling.

It really made me wonder how much farther I've got to go to become the man I know I can be.

I know I'll have a proper job, my own place and all that jazz and I know I can handle the responsibilities that comes with, but once that comes to be, then what? One of the things I've working on is becoming more social and able to hold short form, light chats with people I've met for the the first time-skills I, admittedly, am not that great at yet-, but from everything I've seen from my friends traveling the path towards adulthood, it seems like they have even less energy and time to be social and chatty. The time thing will come with proper scheduling skills and discipline, but the energy thing is something I'm quite worried about, especially since being as lazy as I have with the energy I have(among other bad habits) has caused me to gain 40+ pounds after I stopped playing Dance Dance Revolution seriously.

What can I do to manage my energy between my 9-to-5, my life outside work and my personal time?

The last thing I want to happen is to develop a wake up-breakfast-work-lunch-work-home-dinner-sleep  only mentality because I don't have the fuel to do anything else afterward. Yes, building a box is key to living regular and building towards something more fulfilling, but when you cannot or will not let yourself think outside that box after it's built, then stagnation is bound to take place and produce a sense of resentment at the very box you built, but need to maintain in order to maintain an acceptable level of discomfort. I've seen it happen time and again, and in most cases the person was never able to break it and do something with all they've built for themselves, leaving behind the feeling of what could've been, had they found the courage to go beyond their own bounds.

As much as I despise not knowing if I'll make it from one moment to the next, I despise not growing even more.

This is why I always keep mementos of times long past in my life, so I can remember where I've been and what I took away from them. Surely I'll have to shed a few when it comes time to build the flow of my own place-don't wanna have to have to navigate a maze of crap just to get ready for the day, after all-, but as long as that wisdom and experience guides my steps, I'm sure I'll get to where I want to in life, even if it isn't in the way I expect. “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” as some like to say, and I know my history has taught me well about what to do and what not to, such as showing kindness towards others regardless of who they are and what they've done and not to tell a women that they smell pretty from behind them. They won't always be easy to accept, but I know they'll help me on my way to being the person I want to be, and if they do that for me, then I more than welcome the trials those lessons come with.

Perhaps I can no longer go home again, but that only means I have the chance to take what I've learned and build myself a new one. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reaching Higher

When it comes to how we grow, one of the most important factors isn't what happens on the way, but how we react to it and let it shape us as people; this is especially true when it comes to hardships and other times which change our situation dramatically, with the the most obvious choice being whether we adapt to it or rise to the level where we make it adapt to us. For most of my life, I've chose the latter, learning to live without the internet and computer when circumstances took those away and learning to live without my bike when it was taken from me in the dead of night, never to return. I can safely say each of these decisions have made me a much stronger person in the end and gave me much of the tools vital to becoming a proper adult and assessing what's truly important in this world, but as much I enjoy what I've fortunate enough to receive from these choices, the time has come in my life where I want something more than just the ability to survive and make it to the next day on a shoestring.

I don't wanna just survive anymore, I wanna thrive and enjoy things to their utmost, restrictions be damned.

I realize this more each time I get chucked off my scooter by some random rock or bump in the road, each time an external circumstance deprives me of something I planned well in advance, but eludes me by the slimmest of margins, each time I fire up my trusty work comp and can't do everything possible to research and develop my creative works, because I can't afford the means to them yet, and each time it drips a little rage into my perception and makes me wonder what I can do to counteract this condition. How I can generate income and build myself up to the point where I can attain the freedom of choices I desire to expand my horizons and see things I never could before?

What can I do to make things suck that much less?

I know well it starts with altering my current habits and building better ones so I can move and improve as naturally as I breathe, a process sure to be full of much sweat, blood and tears given to make each a reality. That said, I also know the more I commit to these choices, the more they can work within me to lay a better foundation and build a better box for me to to think outside of, something I've admittedly lacked for a lot of my development until fairly recently. I used to fear this commitment and did what was needed to put it off, but after experiencing how much sticking to my studies has allowed me to grow and gain the perspective I have now, the fear has began to weaken and I've become more willing to give myself to the grind and humility needed to make connections, build up resources and overcome the internal obstacles which convince to stay where I am and live life in moderate discomfort.

As important as it is to be happy as you are and with where you are, so is it to recognize where you can improve and do what's needed to make them reality.

For me, this means making and printing resumes, turning up job offers and networking my backside off so that the one connection I may need can come to me in my greatest hour of need and show me what I've searching for. I've already taken the baby steps towards these goals, now it's time for the big, scary leaps to reach the other side. Without them, I'll never be reunited with my beloved bike, explore and develop the way I know I can with the needed resources and realize the future I've desired for myself all this least not at the rate I would like to happen.*laughs* I mean, hell, if I got this far with what little I had back then, why can't I go even further? If anything, putting in the work and building myself up will help me better grasp that as pressing as my issues may seem now, they are nothing more than pebbles skipped across the pond, only to sink and become a part of the watery whole.

Just as retrospective lets us see that the things we thought were life and death in our younger days were really just little things viewed under the huge magnifying glass of our old perception. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Band of One

Writing is something I have a deeply rooted relationship, and whenever I see exceptional pieces, I want to share them with those around and give them they attention they deserve. This is how I feel about a short story a friend wrote for me a while back, and having finally found in in my personal archives, would like to give them a much wider audience. To get you up to speed, this is the primer which spurred its creation(the title of which is this post's):

When construction began on the grounds on an long forgotten peoples, a terrible presence had been awakened. Those who were trained in the ancient ways set out to put this new found foe back to rest, banding together to travel across their world and gather the needed components. As the crew felled each component's guardian they, too, were felled. Some by greed, while others sacrificed themselves to make their victories possible, including their leader and the one person she felt herself grow closer to. One long year later she stands at the door to the beast's lair, component on her person and sword and shield in hand. With the hopes of her comrades laid upon her she steps inside, ready to give anything and everything she has to restoring this world and the lives of those affected.

I should warn you that the contents are not for kids and have strong Lovecraft-ian influences, so if that sort of violence, blood and gore isn't your thing, turn back now.

Still here? Good. Here it is, in it's natural state. Enjoy!

When construction began on the grounds on an long forgotten peoples, a terrible presence had been awakened. Those who were trained in the ancient ways set out to put this new found foe back to rest, banding together to travel across their world to gather the needed components. As the crew felled each component's guardian they, too, were felled. Some by greed, while others sacrificed themselves to make their victories possible, including their leader and the one person she felt herself grow closer to. One long year later she stands at the door to the beast's lair, component on her person and sword and shield in hand. With the hopes of her comrades laid upon her she steps inside, ready to give anything and everything she has to restoring this world and the lives of those affected.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Breeding Better Habits

One of things we don't often give thought to is how our habits shape the things we choose, whether they breed success or failure. I, for example, have become quite a night owl, and anything involving involving early morning rising is something I need to steel myself into, however slow and painful the process may be. Even when I was earning a fairly regular paycheck, I felt like I lacked the needed back-spine to build proper habits and hone the whole of my being into something better than I can imagine it to be, but for years I could never put a finger to what. As close shaves came at me more often I did everything in my power to rise above it and ensure I wasn't on the losing side of the struggle once it was all said and done. No matter how early I had to rise or how much work I had to put it, I was going to make the cut.

Little did I realize that by priming myself merely to make the cut, I set up to eventually miss it by a country mile once my luck ran out.

Why is this the case? I recently heard someone say that their father instilled in them that if they were on time, they were already late, a sentiment that didn't make much sense until I looked back at all the times I busted my hump to get some place in time, with that effort sometimes resulting in less than desirable repercussions. I can still remember the time I forced myself to stay awake through the night in order to make an early morning meeting, which resulted in me quickly phasing in and out of sleep whenever my mind wasn't being stimulated, something that surely did not reflect well on me as a potential leader of the new breed.

Just as I screwed myself, however, I know I hold the power to change all that and make something positive out of what I can do.

If I so chose, I could be more well dressed, more well spoken and well on my way to turning in the needed paperwork to get done what I need to get done, but in order to do that, I first had to take the chaos in my thoughts and sort it out, so that all of my energy had a place to go and is put right to work for me, not against me. As I teach to others about learning Japanese, one cannot grow outside the box if they have no box to think outside of, and it's high time I started building my box, even if I do suck at it. Not everyone starts with top shelf skills at something, and if they let that hold them back from even giving the effort, they can never take that first step.

I am the same, and must throw caution to the wind so I can take more first steps when they matter most.

Had I not done so in my youth, I would surely be much less of the man I am today and much less able to give what I can to the world around me, whether it's insight into the culture and language of Japan, the finer points of English or any other wisdom my travels may give me. I have seen both the mountaintop and lowest valleys of where my choices can take me, and realize more with each passing day how far I can go if I just take the chance and risk failure or success. With seeking employ and figuring out ways to generate income, especially, is this vital for me to learn and let become part of my daily thought process.

No one became well off by waiting for the riches to come to them, even for trust fund babies and those with great inheritances in front of them.

I'm already making strides towards this end, and must continue on, because in the end, when it comes to whether I'm on time for something or not, I want to be able to arrive early and well prepared so I can relax, see this world with a clearer conception and help others reach a similar plateau, if not greater.