To Goal Or Not To Goal

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There is a great Robert Frost poem which is quoted above. Everyone views this poem at some point in their life, and being in the age of social media, it gets referenced all the time. The poem I’m esoterically referencing, is that ultra-famous poem called “The Road Not Taken”. Whatever you believe it to mean, it has some meaning to everyone who reads it. Thus is the beauty of the poem.

Some may consider it an affirmation that the road less travelled is perhaps the wiser road to take. They assert their individuality, and use this poem to do so. That’s a perfectly great way to interpret the poem. Relatable, and easy to understand, anyone can see how it’s an optimistic interpretation.

If you are an Orange Is The New Black fan, or just thought about the poem meanings more, then maybe you think differently. Not saying that any view is correct or anything, (In fact, that is the wonderful impossibility of the poem), just that this is another perspective to have. Not sure what the OITNB character’s name is, but she explains that the poem is more so about how everyone ends up in the same place no matter what they do. You can take the conventional route, or the less conventional route. Either way you will end up in the same job, and same life circumstance.

It’s hard to say whether or not one should aim for anything. Perhaps whether one aims the arrow or not is dependent on each individual. For me, the arrow is definitely aimed and hopefully precise. Then again, as they say, the unaimed arrow never misses. So are goals worth chasing, or do we get wherever we are supposed to anyway? Only father time will ever know.

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Your Motivation

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What is earnest motivation? Is it something that is truly easy, or difficult to find? Are the reasons we attempt our goals truly our reasons? Not to wax philosophical, but the human mind is quite fascinating in its ability to deceive.

Each of us sets up goals. or establishes reasons for doing anything. Everything needs a reason after all. The trickery lies in when we establish our reasons to attain whatever it is we seek. Thus we convince ourselves, for example, that money will buy happiness, or that love just happens overnight. Conversely, happiness comes way before the money, and love takes a bit longer.

Fame, more likely than not, is one of those goals that many people aspire to for few good reasons. Perhaps the only great reason for fame is that it usually generates more money. Any pop singer,  or actor has a motivation for fame. Public profile has much to do with their income. Though, what is it that everyone else seeks from fame? An easier life? Recognition?

Who knows. The point is that, in order to achieve anything we set out to achieve, we must all start with concrete reasons for achievement. Unfortunately our brain tricks us into believing false reasons. In the fame example, when you get famous for doing nothing, then your fame will go to waste. Actors often aim to become famous because there is a definite increase in their marketability, and an increased freedom in the roles they get to choose. If the motivation for fame is to gain a better life, then you will probably subconsciously start living that “better life”. It can manifest into spending more time watching television, or playing video games, but those two things won’t get you famous.

So how does anyone establish such clear cut motivation? Pen, and paper works. Hell, just pondering about why you want something works too. Whatever you do, it will be a battle against psychology. Thus thinking up the motivation, and reasons you want to achieve goals, or attain luxuries cannot be neglected. Otherwise, you might end up on the Internet all day after work, because you wanted more free time.

Gifted

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Talent is a word with a weird connotation. Often people define that word, in speech, as a natural entity. One is born with talent, and gains a skill. This thought is a common perception.

Malcolm Gladwell, though he certainly didn’t invent it, popularized the 10,000 hour rule. In his book Outliers,  he argued that natural talent is a myth. He also argued that IQ bears no weight in gaining skills, or societal status. Both of these ideas are opposed to conventional wisdom.

Some of his ideas, ironically, are debunked by his own examples. The Beatles being the main example, and debunkers. (Success took much less than 10,000 hours of them being a band. None of them had even practiced music for 10,000 hours by this time either.) Whatever you believe of Gladwell’s arguments, his book brought up great ideas to ponder on. Is there a such thing as natural talent. Is time all we need?

In my career flux, these are the fun topics to think about. If nature built us to have certain skills, then why do we struggle to get there? Why aren’t we sorted like pieces of mail, and thus freed of our supposed struggle to find that natural ability? Surely our methods leave many without discovering their “inherent” abilities before they die.

No, natural talent isn’t a part of my beliefs. But sometimes it’s just uncanny how talented some people become in shorts amount of time. Do those people just have high self-esteem, and believe in themselves? Do those people practice four hours on end? Who knows.

Outliers is a pretty sensational book, and an enjoyable read. One thing Malcolm Gladwell is right about, which I and many of my friends are finding out, is that opportunity is important. Bill Gates, The Beatles, and many others found, and gained the opportunities to learn in a way that few people in their time were able to emulate.

Recently, one of my friends expressed dismay at this notion because it begets something few people seem to like: nepotism. Famous people breed and create famous sons and daughters, and this goes on forever. Some might think nepotism is unfair, and many hate being labeled as a nepotist. Either way, is there really a better opportunity to take advantage of than one you were born into? Plus, it’s not as if people choose to be born.

Maybe everything just comes down to opportunity first, then talent second. Perhaps it’s the talent that creates the opportunity. Whichever way it goes, being gifted doesn’t seem to play a role in anything. The struggling light always manages to escape the dark room after all.

The Hunt For Meaning

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Based on every trip to a bookstore, and based on how popular spirituality is, it seems that many of us in the United Stated hunt for meaning. Growing up here, the endeavor to find meaning seems like a necessary rite of passage. Realistically, this is why numerous cults recruit their members at college campuses. So many young people are searching for something to believe, that college is perfectly fertile ground.

Relax, this isn’t about cults or anything. It’s more about our strange obesession with finding meaning. One has to wonder whether this exists as strongly elsewhere, as it does here in the United States, but it seems to me that it does. Every culture has a few prominent religions. In the United States however, there are mass quantities of  spirituality books, religious texts, and religions. Some people, it seems to me, are addicted to the hunt for meaning.

Maybe it’s a bit of irony as this blog can come across as a spiritual blog, but at some point the hunt for meaning has to stop, right? How can you try every belief that is out there and not stop eventually? Even if you couldn’t find one particular belief system, wouldn’t it be more productive at some point to create a collage? A bit of Buddhism, a touch of Christianity, maybe some Hindu.

Part of the problem with spirituality, is that it’s  often used to mask a hole in a person’s life. Maybe an ex-lover that you can’t quite get over. Maybe a career path that didn’t quite pan out. Who knows.

This isn’t to say that everyone should blindly pick a system and stick to it. Giving thought to one’s own beliefs are important. Just try not to end in a weird loop where you are switching out spiritualities like they’re worn out socks. We all have to live by some code after all. Maybe there won’t be much meaning to the code, but what’s important are the actions based off of the code.

Sanity

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Sometimes it’s difficult to see how similar we all are as people. Or more importantly, it’s difficult to take a leap of faith in believing that many of our differences are slight. Tony Robbins, though I’m not a huge fan, has a great analogy in some talk on Youtube about this concept. He explained that failure and success are not very far apart and used plastic surgery, and our perception of beauty as an example. Turns out that the difference between ugly, and beautiful ,as it pertains to the human face, is only two centimeters. This is what it feels like to have just as many Republicans as Democrats on your Facebook newsfeed.

Let me explain. It’s not that one side is pretty and the other is not. All of cable news can prove that dead wrong. What my point is, is that neither side is very different despite each side feeling truly unique. They argue exactly the same, and the emotions they use to belittle the other side, despite their beliefs being somewhat different, is exactly the same.

There is a concept where people grow their social network in a way that most if not all of their friends think similarly on ideological views. When many of my politically inclined friends post something, the comments section is typically a gigantic wall of agreement. Dissent is like this weird missing ingredient in progress. Everyone avoids dissenters, or usually dismisses them all together. Doesn’t progress need to be open-minded by the nature of its definition?

I’m not saying that you should go out and disagree with everyone, but maybe the truth is not necessarily the same as reyling on some piece of media to do all the work for you. If you truly care about an issue, maybe all angles should be considered. Maybe it’s a strange concept to try and see all the viewpoints. Maybe being the person who sorts out, and looks at all the viewpoints is lonely. People do tend to hate loneliness after all.

Hope

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Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” – Epicurus

If you ever have the opportunity to get swept up in an ambitious undertaking, there will be many moments where all hope seems lost. Thus is the nature of doing big things. You have everything to lose when you put yourself out there, but also have twice as much to gain. Being passionate means being vulnerable. This is just the way it goes.

Some say success is a ladder. Others say it’s a long curvy road. While success is definitively subjective, it seems to me from stories, and from experience, success is more like a giant set of stairs which you can only climb with your hands. If you fall down a ladder you are fucked. And the road analogy works, except that it doesn’t portray failure correctly.

Climbing stairs with your bare hands is difficult. And when you get tired, or falter, you’ll get stuck on those stairs. In that period of being stuck, you’re left to ruminate on your next course of action. What could be the problem? Money, random bouts of self-deprecation,  a familialcrisis, procrastination?

Problems are numerous and come in many different forms. In the problematic moments, you have to dig deep and find that initial spark of hope that got you going in the first place. Fuck if that is easy to do. Fortunately, it gets easier and easier every time. Then you end up crafting a method to finding that spark. It’s a horribly wonderful thing. But it only ever comes with refusing to give up. Hope is like that secret ingredient in a dish. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Goodbye, And Please Understand

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This post is going to be somewhat unconventional, but sometimes that’s good.

My video gaming days are over. Essentially my fork in the road has been chosen, and some things needed to go. Regardless of my choices. video games were the best part of growing up.

It’s one thing to lose a loved one. That’s sad to the point that it shakes your existence. But to lose a man who is largely responsible for helping you, and many others alleviate your pain and suffering? That’s difficult to accept on a global level. Not to mention that, people like Iwata are a rare breed in this world.

As we get older, politics, gender politics, work politics, bullshit about politics our college professors taught us, and other worthless things seem to take up space. We callously criticize everything. We spew bile and hatred when misunderstandings arise, and most importantly we condescend to younger people.

Over the recent years, it’s been a huge letdown to be someone who still has an ear to the gaming community. There have been fights over nothing, there have been left-wing, and right-wing loons arguing over nothing, and there have been people raising pitchforks against a perceived “nerd culture problem”. Iwata said that all video games were just meant to be fun. Fun for everyone.  One of the most brilliant CEO’s of a video game company, and that is his simple idea of a video games intent.

Some like to argue over video games validity as art. Others argue that they’re a complete waste of time. More topically, many argue that video games and their culture represents misogyny. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could all for once just agree with the greats? Are any of these arguments going to do anything to proliferate fun? Dividing ourselves and letting the manipulators conquer doesn’t sound like fun, and it certainly undermines our own ideas of individualism.

Stones

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” You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird

Once upon a time, a bunch of people were going to stone a whore to death. A dude named Jesus stopped this by saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone.” No stones were thrown.

Sure that is a very spark notes version of the whole story, but it serves its purpose. Also yes Jesus was just called “a dude” by me. Whether he existed or not It’s a great lesson that constantly appears in numerous works of media. Most notably, in To Kill A Mockingbird; a true classic of American literature.

For whatever reason, the portion of persons in the USA who subscribe to the religious-like twenty-four-hour news media are often portrayed as the majority by the news media. The news media’s job has been, and always will be, to incite their fans, get them talking, and get them to throw proverbial stones. In our current iteration of life, money is almost literally generated by the comment section of an article. The news viewing public, generally speaking, is the same as this comment section. Emotion always trumps rationality

Within the span of a few weeks, a famous transgendered person graced the cover of Vanity Fair, a noteworthy scientist said some offensive remarks toward women, and gay marriage became federally legal. Each had a spark of controversy, the only one where it really mattered was where, renowned scientist, Tim Hunt resigned because of offensive remarks he said. Immediately, in the domain of public opinion, his work became irrelevant, and he was forced to resign from a few positions. Certainly every event has had at least one person face such verbal abuse in the name of “tolerance”.

To preach tolerance, doesn’t one have to be tolerant? Shouldn’t we question those who think differently and seek understanding? How is building a resentful person, who can’t voice their own opinion productive to the idea of tolerance at all? Perhaps the U.S. is a bit ingrained in it’s, “Burn the witch, ask questions later approach”, but it’s as harmful today as it was in The Crucible.

Escaping The Past

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Running away and starting fresh often has a romantic connotation to it. Many forms of media including television, and novels express this idea. Some keep the romantic notion alive throughout the entirety of the piece. Others show how the past always catches up.

You can forget the past, and change as a person. Hopefully we all change for the better, but that is only up to us. However, when you run away from longstanding problems, or stuff them in a lockbox, they will come back when you least expect. Sometimes this works out in a great way since we mature…and stuff.

This got me thinking about one of my favorite pieces of media; Cowboy Bebop. If you haven’t watched it, it’s a great series. Also noteworthy is it’s short, and sweet length. (Hundred hour tv dramas be damned.). Oh yeah, there may be spoilers ahead.

One of the themes in Cowboy Bebop is existence. The series features a cast of characters who are all somehow divorced from their individual pasts. Slowly, layer by layer, each character simultaneously develops, and reveals their past. Consequently, they must deal with their issues and tie up the loose ends of the plot. Each character’s arc winds up feeling a bit different, but the real treat is watching the cast grow.

Why I bring up this series is that it captures our romantic fascination of starting over, and then deconstructs our romanticization. But the uncertainty of the past nags at each character similarly to how our own pasts nag at us . Viewers then watch characters who simply must deal with their stuff. Much like life, every character has a different set of results. What will happen when you are forced to deal with the past?

Just Keep Digging

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Perseverance is a weird subject. Everything from self-help, to cynical media has their rationale on perseverance. Furthermore, everyone has their own individual goals. Some people put in numerous, unpaid hours in industries they love in belief that the end goal will justify the means. What if that end goal can’t satisfy your life’s needs? This is something that occurs on almost every reality television show, and frequently occurs for plenty of interns.

Are you a poor schlub for doing an internship just to get a below-average-salary job, because you’re young? Not to say that money buys happiness, or fulfillment, but necessities are necessities. What happens when the goal is achieved and the results are unsatisfactory? There isn’t just one definable path from intern, to worker, to middle management. Also, there are plenty of people who are at the bottom rung of the ladder for their entire lifetimes. Just getting by is not a fun way to live. Whether that is making just enough money, or simply getting nowhere at work.

Sometimes we are told to chase our dreams. It’s a great sentiment, and one I believe everyone should try at least once, but no one has the master plan. Many people make a living telling your how to achieve. Depending on what you want to do, some of them may be correct. Hell, everyone in the United States could use a financial guru.

Maybe no one has the answers and those who found them just kept digging. They just kept doing what they did and life worked out. Some people find achievement easily. For others it’s a lifelong process. Which one will you be? We must all dig our own gardens so it seems.