Running With Strings

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“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
– Søren Kierkegaard

When I was young, I used to watch my Dad run in the evenings around the track of the local high school. Others were always there, all with the same goal but never having to speak to one another.  Under the harsh stadium lights, that cast dark shadows onto the field were runners in the night. Under the darkened sky there was one such runner I can even now see so vividly.  Tied to his back, strings. Strings that attached to a parachute that would drag behind him and open up whenever he would pick up speed.  I couldn’t understand why someone would do such a thing,  running was hard enough, and this guy was making it harder on himself.  So in the long shadows of the night, I watched the man struggle perplexed.

As of now, I find myself in a strange place because like the runner with the chute, its as if I am holding myself back because of the past.  I look back on these memories and moments of mine and realize that I am tied up with strings that make me unable to move where I would like.  It’s the past I resist against that makes my present that much harder. The memories I have to dictate the path I take because of the fears and experiences I have been through. I look to fight back against it, but I feel slowed and tired from the weight.

I remember the runner again, I remember what he did after running against the parachute. After he removed the strings, I did finally understand. The chute made him stronger, and faster but its only works after he took it off.  He sprinted against the resistance, so when he let go of it, he was even faster than before. The weight had to be lifted off of him for progress to actually be shown. He needed to remove the strings to truly show how fast he can be.

I feel that way at the moment, at another crossroad where the strings of my past are starting to become a detriment in my everyday.  I need to work through my life and letting go of all the weights I’ve been using to move forward.  The resistance that I’ve been training up until this point have been great motivators that I can never forget but have to move on from. I can’t hold onto the past because it will slow down my progress for the future. I have to take off the strings if I ever really want to know how strong I really can be.

 

A Showdown and a Smile

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With new challenges come new obstacles and difficulties.  I find myself wanting to sleek back into the habit I had before of avoiding the problem hiding away until someone or something else takes care of it. It’s a habit I formed long ago to deal with all the fear and disappointment I felt from my lack of power in the world.  I secluded myself to reading stories about people who did more, tried more, and were more than I felt I could ever be.  I had dreams but now a plan to accomplish them. Each moment I spent with these heroes, I felt as if they were giving me something to carry within myself, a sense of spirit and power.

There is one thing that I feel is almost universal about them is that against extreme odds they do not let the despair of failure cloud their actions.  They press on against this seemingly unrelenting force to create change in the world.  Though not all of them may be the most reliable form the onset, they do what needs to be done because it needs to be done.  They find their purpose and pursue it, and it might be the naivety of my feeling about stories, but if that isn’t one of the more beautiful things life, I don’t really know what is.

What I feel might be one of the more cliche acts that I hold dear to my heart is when a new and unexpected challenge arises, a smile breaks loose from the heroes.  A smile that speaks volumes about how even though the world seems to be crashing down on them, and fate calling for the end, they embrace the chaos of the situation and for a moment are willing to collect the charges of taking on the entire world.

I know in a way its a bit of a silly trope, but a smile breaks down a situation and finds humor in the ridiculousness that our world offers us.  It moves us from being crushed by the weight of the world to feeling free of its burdens.  It gives life to those who feel like theirs is ending. A smile and a laugh are amazingly powerful things.

I am trying to emanate those heroes that are engrained in my heart.  Becoming strong in my own way and fighting my own battles, each successive victory giving me the knowledge that I can go a bit further than I was before.  I hope that when the cards are down, when the world seems to be crashing down around me, that instead of hiding away and hoping it all passes over, that I smile and accept the challenge the world has offered, fighting tooth and nail for victory. This knowing that only way out is forward and all of us are stronger than we believe.

A Community of Musketeers

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I’ve recently join now a collective referred to as a cohort which is something I have been working towards for a while. What it is, is a simple name for a group of graduate students which come into a department or program the same year you do. In essence, these people are people with whom you’ll be traveling with on the part of your journey to the ultimate goal of the degree.

I have, as always, been thinking a lot about that means.  One of the functions of higher learning is to find a place you both you fit, and that fits you. Though in doing masters, it’s the process is a bit simplified because of the supposed two-year time clock that is ticking away until the end.  Either way, the people I came in with will still be people who I share this experience with one way or another.

This is not to downplay everyone’s personal intentions for coming to this particular program, but it does beg the question. How do we want our relationship with each other to be and how will that shape the future of our time together? I feel this is extremely important because there are so few of us, that the decision we make individually will affect the group collectively.

My dearest hope is that in some way or another we ban together. As reminiscent of the title I chose, the musketeers,  it would be nice to form some sort of bond in which we can really help each other out in our times of need. All for one, and one for all.  I know this sounds a bit idealistic, but I think that’s the spirit needed to actually accomplish something great.  I’m not saying that we have to hang out with each other all the time or even really become close. What I am saying is that in our times of need or weakness someone is there to help and lend a hand.  We will act as both colleagues and rivals. We can set the obstacles and help people overcome them so when the actual danger comes, we will be ready.  Even though we go to the end on our own merit and alone, it doesn’t mean that our strength has to only come from within, you are always much stronger with others are helping you.

I think it all comes down to wanting to leave this place a lot better than where I found it.  The act of giving is one few things we can do where we end up with more than what we started out with.  I honestly believe that if we want this experience to be the most successful, it can be then we must give and not just take. We must utilize what we can and blaze a path for our future. This doesn’t have to be the worst experience of our lives, and even with the difficulties that come with grad school, we will be able to look back and remember something great. It is the beginning of our future.

Help And Aid All Day

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A world made up of heroes and villains, a world of fantasy that over lays itself on our own.  People far and wide look up to heroes and want to be like them. I think the world loves its heroes not because of the flashy way they go about their lives but the idea that someone of an almost mythical quality can come an take you away from the problems you have.  I’ve always wanted to be a hero in someway, someone who can save people, change their lived in an instant, and inspire other to carry on doing great things.  Its not exactly that straight forward though, it doesn’t just happen in a moment.

I just want to help others, lessen as much of their suffering as much as I can, but it doesn’t always work out the way I want.  I can’t save everyone on my own, but does that mean I should stop trying. Never. It’s a matter of understanding what I can and can’t do at the moment. The limitations that I have, and what powers I can use to lessen a problem not create new ones.

Situations may arise where it turns out I am simply not the right person to help, that in no small way am I the hero in their story, not the right person to be telling people advice or helping them along the way.  That there is someone more meaningful or impactful that in their heart of hearts they hope they see. Do I keep at it then, it’s a bit of a slog over time. Perhaps I should help find the person that would be most impactful for them, being an intermediary hero. Maybe I need to maximize my impact by excelling in my own way so that people can look up to me, perhaps they will listen then. Then maybe I can become this right person to help them along the way.

There is also the saying of “healthy neglect” the idea that people in some way have to struggle on their own through situations so they can learn the lessons and get stronger.  I have a hard time with this because I see somebody struggling and my first instinct is to extend my hand in aid.

Furthermore, I hate that the world has its own plans.  It’s the hard part about psychology, even if you know the problem and answer, it doesn’t mean it will happen or that you can do anything about it.  Each person had to make their own choices because they are the ones who have to deal with the feeling afterward.   Each step they take they have to take on their own.

Who really knows though, I will keep fighting because that is who I am.  I might get saddened by peoples sadness, hope to god that I can just make their life better even if it’s not by much. To create that positive impact that follows you like a trail blazed through a forest.

Linkin Park:​ Reanimated

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Originally there was going to be a different post here today but in light of the more recent events, I decided to postpone it to write about the recent tragedy of the death of Chester Bennington and the loss Linkin Park’s bandmate and singer.

You see, I’m sure like most of the people of my generation, Linkin Park’s music proliferated their childhood. Whether or not you were a fan, their notably different types of music stemming from many different genres made them unique and memorable. They continued to push the envelope and play the music that they wanted to play, even when there was a backlash from their fans.

My memory though stretches back to a Christmas where I received my first ever album for Christmas. It was a band that I really knew nothing about but would soon become intimately aware. My sistered received their first album ‘Hybrid Theory’ and I received their remix album ‘Reanimation’.  In putting it in the first time, it was my first taste of a   musical theme from an artist.  Up until then, most of the music I was aware of was either one of my parents or things I had heard off the radio.  Uploading it to my computer, I just remember playing the album over and over, discovering my taste for that type of music.

The music stuck with me, they were my favorite band for many years, taking me through the hardships of my youth, playing songs on loop until they felt part of my very soul. It was a type of music that I felt understood me. The different vibe it gave with rock, electronic, pop, and rap all squished together made me experience all sorts and different types of sound I didn’t know I liked hearing. I followed their albums and resonated with their songs. Watching for release dates and even downloading their app.

As I changed, so did they.  Their sound continued to evolve into a push into different avenues and for a while, I continued to follow. Eventually, our paths diverged, not out of dissatisfaction or distaste but the venturing into other avenues of music that they introduced me to. I no longer knew when their albums would drop, and I hadn’t listened to all of their songs anymore, and yeah that might make me not a very great fan anymore but I never saw their constantly changing sound as a bad thing. It is an exploration and evolution. Though it might not be what I want to listen to on repeat any more, it’s something I still respect.

With the death of Chester, is the death of part of their sound. I don’t know what the future holds for the rest of the band and I hope and pray for the best for his family.  I do know many people out there have experienced something similar to me in regards to their music. And with the help of their music, it helped save many peoples lives.

Linkin Park will always be my first favorite band, a band most of their albums I know by heart. They will be the band I first felt like understood me, the first one that pumped me up to start to change my life, the first one that helped me through rejection from a girl, the first one to make me feel less alone in the universe.  Their songs live in my memory and in my soul, etched there by many moments I spend listening to their sound.

I want to  Thank You Linkin Park, and Thank You, Chester, you changed my life for the better, I just wish I could have done for you the same. For now, with your death, it feels like that burning inside just got Reanimated.

Lessons On Adulthood

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I think I finally understand what it means to be an adult.  It’s that feeling of not knowing what you are doing, but having to do it anyways. The strange thing is, is that regardless of the training you get, and how much you might prepare for it when you are emersed in the situation it always feels a bit different than what we are told. It’s a matter of then embracing that feeling and doing our best to resolve this situation.  I think that’s the difficulty sometimes, there is no guidance to follow, and when people tell you that they can’t be decided for you that’s because it’s true, how are you suppose to be able to tell someone to live if there are so many different paths to take.  I think that the lessons are how to cope with this abundant change and lack of guidance are the ones we need for the future.

There also comes a time when it feels like the curtain is being pulled back like the whole show is demystified right before your eyes. The magic seems less like magic and more like years of hard work. This isn’t a negative thing because it means that with a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of time, anything is possible. It has a way of trying to destroy the idea of magic in the world, which magic is that can make life a lot more worthwhile and enjoyable.  The other part of that is that at the time when you pull back the curtain you find this everything is built makeshift and in all sorts of different directions. No one really understands why it was made the way it was, but we keep doing it because it always been done that way.

Point being there is some sort of arbitrariness to being an adult. The question as to why something is the way it is a lot of the time comes down to what time and resources you had at the time.  This revelation is something that confuses me a bit because, on one hand, it lends itself to the incredible nature of human ingenuity to come up with ideas and workarounds for our most complex problems. On the contrary, though.. it gives some insight as to what most of our institutions may actually be, a set of good intentions and effort stacked on what we may think we know at the time.  At times decisions are driven by a purely utilitarian nature, something is done that way because it was easiest, or it was done because it conveys a sense of style or familiarity like when decisions are made because someone thought that way is best. As with our minds, we travel and create roads and inpaths to make things more robust, more secure but making our decisions less fluid in the process. We live upon the shoulders of giants, but we are also cursed to live by their decisions.

Being an adult takes a lot of work, a lot of effort to do it successfully.  Even through all its really absurd nature, it’s a challenge that either drives us to grow or defeats us.  As I grow up, I can see that I am learning and growing along the way.  Hopefully, the world doesn’t feel so arbitrary by the end of it all and that one day I can help the next generation grow and learn just like I am.

The World In The Life of A Guy: Part 6 – The Nod

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There it is, a small gesture that goes on with only a moment. This is a part of being a guy that I really kind of enjoy. It’s this little thing we will do when two guys pass by each other. A slight nod to the other person. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the sidewalk, in a car, while running, sitting, or doing numerous other activities it comes quickly, and it’s gone. It’s just a gesture, but it says a thousand words.

I was never outwardly taught this, it didn’t come up for classes or lessons. It was just understood that this needed to happen.  To acknowledge each other’s existence, regardless if you know them or not.  A small sign of respect for a person you may never see again. It’s like saying, “You are here, and see you” It doesn’t really matter what I am doing, I can elicit a nod from another guy as long as we make eye contact.  Now, this doesn’t mean this is actually going to lead anywhere, it’s not any sort of invitation. No one expects people to act on the nod, the nod itself is a self-contained precept.  It just feels nice to be acknowledged, to be honest, and I’m happy to do it.  It’s the perfect way to end awkward looks.

A nod can happen between friends too. Pass one in the hallway but don’t really want to stop, just nod.  Find yourself in a situation where you see someone you know while with a different group of people, just nod.  It’s easy, and even though it seems like there is not much to it, there is a whole layer its complexity that just fills the gap in social relationships that would otherwise cause unneeded drama and harm.  Letting it go with a nod signifies that everything is okay, that there is nothing pressing, and its okay to just be on your way. Though things can change and a nod can turn into a conversation or a connection of some sort, it being there is a good place to start without having to worry about the stepping on people’s toes.

The last part of the nod is much less of a nod but fall under the same family of things. When I had my motorcycle and was learning to ride, there was a small norm I had to follow.  Every time you pass by another bike, you would throw up a peace sign or a wave depending on your preference. It was a nice sign of respect, and it just feels like your part of this wider community of people that are in some way connected through a shared experience and expression.

I don’t know where the nod came from, but as a practice, I find it an ultimately positive one.  I think the nod is something that helps create a society in which we feel as if we exist together. So if you have the opportunity, nod at someone, when you get one back you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Not Anymore

So I needed to watch a sexual assault awareness video to register for classes
It was called Not Anymore
A long interactive video that seemed to drag
This isn’t the first video I’ve had to watch of this type
It probably won’t be the last
Some of the antics are ridiculous
Some of the acting is crazy
But it makes me wonder
Will this help anyone
Will this stop an attack
I can’t help but to feel that most of the time
Assailants know what they are doing
They may not label it at the time
They may not refer to themselves as a rapist
Or a sexual predator
But there has to be something deep down that had already told them that it was wrong
That what they were doing is bad
But it keeps on happening

Maybe it’s an effect of people believing that they are the exception to the rule
Maybe it’s them being in denial
But I doubt most rapists think their rapists
So will this video help?

This video becomes clear toward the end
It’s not for them
It’s for us
The ones who know right from wrong
The ones who see it happening and decide to look away
The ones who don’t want to have that awkward conversation with a friend
It’s telling us to do something
To act
And potentially be the hero somebody needs
or
To stop this violent act from happening again

So perhaps the video shouldn’t be called Not Anymore
But Now More Than Ever

Mind Melt

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There it is again.
That nagging voice telling me that I am not doing enough, that I’m not good enough, that I will amount to nothing.  I am so tired of it constantly whispering into my ear these insecurities that I can’t seem to part with at the moment.  I know I’m not alone but I think it’s the consequence of feeling like time is running out, and in the life lottery I might not be a winner. I keep buying these tickets, tickets to hope or future, betting on both chance and my unique abilities to show out at the end of the day but I can’t tell the future, and my numbers don’t feel like they are coming up.  I see the world moving and look myself up and down in the mirror and see stagnation and hesitation. It’s aggravating, but all I can blame is myself.

I know I am lucky, I have the opportunity given to me by the sacrifices of others and myself but each story I come across make me feel like everything I do is merely a half measure.  The desire to pour myself solely into one flask to capture my wide away of interests is missing and all I am left with as many unfilled glasses that are unappealing. The idea of a jack of all trade just seems out of place in the world of specialists.

I want to rise up to the top, make a difference and yet these small voices in my mind seem determined to win this war not by combat but by attrition.  I am tired, each day I awake.  Half energy for a full day doesn’t make for a productive time as I try to navigate my surroundings and make the most of my life.  Maybe I need sleep, and I don’t have time. Maybe I need variety, but I don’t have money. Maybe I need… no, what I need is more discipline, more spirit, more determination.

I am worried I am not made up of the stuff that would make me one of the greats. I am afraid I am not cut out for making a difference. But I can not worry any longer I need to act and act and act.  To do rather than sit, to decide rather than hesitate.  I will find what I need, and if it’s not there, then I will create it. I will have trouble, I will fall, but I will get back up again. I can do it because you know what I am just human and that’s enough. I might not be made of any special stuff, but the stuff I got is good enough. Anyone can be great with enough practice. Excellence is what we do, as so our life prospects do not come from out ability but our actions and our habits.  I will make this world a better place. I will leave my mark. I will find and help everyone I can, and if that goal seems too big for one person then I will grow as strong as two and if that’s not enough then I will look to my neighbor and ask for his help because we live in a world of infinite possibilities and I don’t have enough time to listen to the little voice that keeps telling me that I am not good enough.

Kiznaiver : A Clash To Empathize

I was talking with my dad recently, talking about life and the feeling of being able to go back to school.   The part that I am started to get excited about the most is the fact that I will be surrounded by people who I might be able to connect with in some way. The conversation changed in tone when he told me that life is about finding your people. The people that understand you in some way and that get you.  This phenomenon is kind of a strange concept. A group of people that will understand me in my entirety seems kind of like a funny thought. I had talked about this before, in a way that used an analogy as a tree and its branches signifying how my life stratifies as time goes on reaching out in all sorts of directions. It about that connection, the empathy between two people that really matter.

Now I wanted to write about this for a while, this show I had watched many months ago, it’s called Kiznaiver. This show happened to resonate with me because of the topic that it covered.  The ability to connect people through empathy, now since it was a sci-fi anime its premise was that a group of people had their pain was connected, and through various events, they were forced to come together and understand one another.  Each participant out there struggling to connect with another person in some way but a lot of the time fighting to keep themselves from exposing too much.

It made me think about all of us nowadays.  We are throwing ourselves out into the world using social media and yet the way that the research goes, that it doesn’t make people any happier to do so.  It’s like a shout to be seen but only in a way that there is so little of us is showing at a time.  It’s troublesome because I think it’s these pain nuances that we tend to manicure out of our lives that really allow us to connect.  Though it seems strange, it’s our pain a lot of the time is a glimpse into this part of ourselves that doesn’t see the light of day. It’s touching of the core of who were are so people seek pain to feel real.  The question is if we keep acting this way on our social media, are we hoping our lives will follow the illusion or is it that illusion that sustains our lives. Will we finally be able to connect to one another if we make ourselves like all the celebrities we see or is the good ole’ fashioned way of being present and real with one another the key to living a happy life?

The reason I was talking about finding my people, was because I want to have a chance to connect with people. Sometimes in my day to day, I feel like it’s always I am a fish out of the water, gasping for air, expecting to break. The question is if I act as I do, will I gain the ability to breathe, or perhaps I should find other fish of the sea who might just be a lot more like me. I know when I have found these people in my life, I feel at ease and the suffering for air seems to slip away.  Who knows where all of the people who will impact my life will come from, but I can honestly say, I hope when I find them, I feel at peace because we will know we finally found a kindred soul to connect to.