Friday Thoughts: The Journey

It is once more that time of year. The part of the year where social media feeds are filled with one of three things: engagement announcements, baby announcements, university enrollment announcements.

And of course, each post has likes, hearts, and comments posting love and best wishes. We join in and comment.

Some of us see the news with a great smile. Others may see these announcements as painful reminders. We’re not where we want to be or with who we want to be.

But that’s okay.

We just need a little patience. In May 2016 I graduated from college. I had hopes that I would have a job after a month. Half a year later and I may have my one love in my life. A year after that I would be making a sizable dent in my school debt. That was my hope.

A year later I was still jobless, no love interest, and had not even started on paying back my loans.

It was only in April that I finally landed a job. Life is still not going the way I would like it to go but that is okay. But I remember something a Baby Boomer told me: Everyone has to pay their dues.

What does that mean?

It means each and everyone else has to go through a trial. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we applied for, we have paths we must travel. Whether we are the reporter stuck with boring stories or the medical student going through residency. The art student working as a graphic designer or the writer being denied. We must bear our burden and walk this path.

Tolkien did not sit down one day and write a generation-spanning novel. Einstien did not solve the mysteries of the math world overnight. We may see it as an instant success but it is not.

True greatness comes not from glory but from hard work.

As much as I wish that I could just skip the pain and reach the perfect happy place, this trial of fire can be beneficial.

We gain a better appreciation for our job, empathy for what others are going through, and perspective on our own circumstances.

And as tempting as it is to take a short cut it is not worth it. You will always be found out. No matter how long it takes, the truth will come out. The longer it takes to find out, the greater the fall will be.

So be patient. Be diligent. Learn what you can at each stage.

Friday Thoughts: Heroes

In recent years, Marvel has produced movies and series of humans and beings with great powers and abilities. DC has done its best to keep up. Some were born. Others were given a choice. And some were forced.

It is interesting to think that Marvel and DC are merely the latest in the long line of hero worship. From the ancients and their demigods and humans blessed with powers. Great epics are based around individuals who are cursed with abilities or granted them. But why do we have such an interest in the heroes? And why do some of us have an interest in the villains?

And I wondered, why humans have such an obsession with heroes?

Than I heard the song Something Just Like This. If you haven’t heard the song, it is basically a man saying that he doesn’t feel like a hero. His girlfriend turns to him and basically says that she isn’t looking for a superhero.

Now granted a love song does not explain the whole hero-love we have.

But it does touch on a hidden desire. We all want to be the hero. That person who doesn’t need anyone else. That rushes in with powers. That person who is more than average. Special.

I know I have at times wanted to be the hero.

Two things though that proves to me that we don’t need powers to be the hero.

One

First. By being alive, you are impacting people’s lives. Regardless whether you want to impact others or not. You will influence them. Your actions and choices influence the path of the person next to you. Not just at the dinner table or at work. But on the train. In the grocery store. At the next gas pump. Most of the time our presence will have a very little impact. The results of just being strangers. However, your reaction to someone. The way you talk to the other person. Or a kind act versus a cruel act. Each person you meet might be on the brink of breaking. Of falling apart. But your choice can give them a little more hope. A little kindness to bring them hope.

Two

We can’t move through life by yourself. No one can. We need at least one other person to help us get through the rough spots. For my closest friends and I, we share our burdens. Some days I help them. Other days they help me. Heroes are also who give of themselves. A few years ago, a bomb was detonated at the end of the Boston Marathon. As the chaos ensued and the injured began crying out, what did the participants do? Did they run? Did they say, “No. I don’t have the energy”? Some probably did. But others did not. They stayed and helped. Other heroes are people who choose to put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. The police. The firemen. The father defending his family. The mother working long hours to put her children through college.

So I will leave you with this:

Heroism comes not from one’s abilities but by their choices.

Friday Thoughts: Things I’ve Noticed

Like many of you, I enjoy going to see a movie in the theater. Or binge watch a show on a weekend, or weeknight. But I have noticed something that disturbs me greatly. From trailers showing a man acting as a terrorist is the hero. Or how rebellion is herald as good while authority is both mocked and taught to be distrusted and disrespected.

Sexual acts, be it shown or hinted at, has become a mainstay. That any relationship must either include sex or they are objectified in some manner. Either as a scantily clad individual or a mountain of muscle. That to be in love means you must share your body and your bed. I have not seen a movie where there was not some innuendo about sex. In addition, the fact that people can hop from one relationship to another, from one bed to another, and not have some sort consequence shown disturbs me. What of the emotional harm from having such intimate relationships for a shallow a reason as sex? Or the number of STDs that come from those relationships? What happened to stories where people had to get to know each other before such intimacy? Where did the depth of relationship go in today’s world?

Likewise, humor has changed since the days of the Thin Man or I Love Lucy. Where Bob Hope and his generation used wit and cleverness to bring humor, this generation seems to rely on innuendo and crude humor to bring laughter. The jokes of today also make light of such subjects as porn or adoption. Today’s humor also shows fathers and authority as jokes. Either as fools or things to rebel against. In other things, people themselves laugh at strange things. For example, in the recent movie Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, Yondu kills a ship’s worth of people. Not defending himself or killing those who stand between him and freedom. No, he killed them because he wanted to. Because he could. And the people laughed at how he danced and smiled.

This brings me to my final point: blood.

Today’s shows and movies are violent things. Some more. Some less. Some for good reasons. Others, not so much. There are war movies where the battles of war need to be shown as gruesome. Other times though, it is sheer entertainment. Games and movies make light of these bloody battles. They walk among the bodies without comment. Or neglect to note the sheer loss of life. The series Transformers is a great example. Entire cities are laid to waste in the battles but no one mentions it. Even more disturbing is how today’s shows treat the “killers”.
Tweens Harry Potter, X-23, and Eleven all kill without much regret. Harry kills a teacher by touching him. X-23 kills quite a few, including decapping one fellow. And Eleven snaps the neck of several with her mind.

Granted each had a reason why they are murders but very little shown about how they kill others. Whether they show regret or remorse. Or even if they understand. Harry goes on with his education and his teachers are “yep, he killed a colleague his first year”.

The Storm

Great clouds rises
A mantle
A wall
Stretching as far as eye can see
Mountains and monsters
Great and terrible
Their forms reveal for moments
Their voices heard for miles
The children tremble
The dogs wail
The wind howls
And house shakes
Grass dance
And dust flies
The earth trembles
And the sky roars
Thunder crashes
Lightning falls
Slashes, and tears
Yet in his trail
Yet in his passing
A sweetness remains
Though tree be broken
Though leaf be torn
A cleanness to the air
And brightness to the sun
The ground is watered
And is renewed
Though the storm be great
The earth receives his rain

Friday Thoughts: Dreams and Longing

black and white photos of old, rusty rails disappearing into a forest.
It has been so long since I took photos for myself! So glad to start doing that again and improving it!

Good morning! Today is yet the start of the Weekend. Depending on where you work, I either offer my good wishes or good luck.

Today I want to talk about having a dream. Or a goal if you will.

If life is like a train on rails then stations are either life events or reaching goals.

In my short life span I have come to the conclusion that there are three kinds of dreams. The first is the most obvious. The Life Goal. A dream that will take your entire life to reach or will be a part of your life for as long as you life. Often times these are community-based or something that is personal but will impact society. In some cases these dreams are part of your very existence. Part of your soul.

The second kind, to me, are Milestone Goals. Something that we all have to one degree or another. Buy a house. Get a job. Get that degree or promotion.

The last kind is the Bucket List. These are just little “I want to do” but if it doesn’t happen, no biggie. For some it is sky diving. For others it may be swimming with dolphins. Who knows. These little dreams come and go. Some keep a list. Or you are me and just forget about it.

I am sure you know that one person who not only has a goal for their life but are well on their achieving it. Or already reached that goal. Or they know what they want to chase after or have a dream. Many times those dreams are lofty and a great boon for the community. Such as becoming a teacher or working with a non-profit organization.

But maybe you are more like me.

I don’t have a clue where I want to end up in ten years. Or that dream you’ve had since being a kid seems out of reach now.

For me, it was hard. When people ask what my goal or my dream was I would say “I don’t really have one”. Or if I was ashamed of this little fact I would say something typical and falls under the ‘Milestone Goal’. Get a job. Pay off loans. Stuff that are a goal but not my goal. Not my dream.

This morning I listen to one of my favorite CDs of Celtic/Irish/Scottish music. And I my heart was a thousand miles away on the shores of a distant isle that I have never seen with my own eyes. Or have walked its earth. But my heart still wanted to go there.

I realized in that moment as the song came to its close that I had this little desire for as long as I remember. Go to Ireland.

It may not seem like a big goal or one that is selfish but it is a dream that has stuck with me for many years. Sometimes it is louder. Other times it is a lot quieter. Some days it seems possible to do it. Other times it might as well be Pluto.

This morning I decided that I will chase after that dream.

And if I am going to chase this dream then I need to figure out the steps to take it. So far I have the following:

  • Research how to travel the world
  • Save money
  • Get passport
  • Find a place to stay in Ireland
  • Find a way to get to Ireland
  • Find a way to get back from Ireland

It may not seem much as a start but it is a start.

And maybe that is what you need. Just start working towards that goal.

Maybe you haven’t even walked up to the staring line. In that case, I say just go and do it.

Friday Thoughts: Tolkien and War

Good morning! We made it to another weekend! Unless you work on the weekend then I wish you much strength and courage.

On my commute, I have been reading Lord of the Rings. I am happy to say that in six hours worth of riding the train, I have finished The Fellowship of the Ring.

It has been many years since I last read these three books and I am disappointed in myself for this. However, the long wait is over and I am much better for it. I once again walked through the Shire, saw the beauty of Elrond’s home, and felt the terror of the Nine Riders. In the recent news of attacks in England, disappearances of children from around the city, and the poor representation of “heroes” in the world, it is good to have some wholesome things to read.

I have noticed that in the movies, no one quite puts enough weight on the numbers killed. Regardless whether the hero slew them or the villain. In DC’s Man of Steel, an entire city was destroyed but no one mentioned it. Going further back, every single Transformer movie. No one notes it. More recently, in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, Yondu is seen killing an entire crew of a ship and enjoying it.

And the audience laughed.

It was disturbing to hear people enjoying one man and a garbage panda kill hundreds of men. Without warning. Without mercy. Perhaps it was justice because they killed his entire crew. Perhaps it is because Yondu has a black soul*. But was it necessary? Was it needed?

In Tolkien’s story, either the characters note the number of dead. Or the narrator does. From the number of men killed in the defense of Gondor to the number of Urak-Hai slain for control of Helm’s Deep, you can see the cost of war. You can also see why the war was fought. Or why the hero had to fight.

I think that is something we are in danger of losing. That we forget just how horrible war is because of the gory movies we watch or how easy the “hero” takes to killing the enemy. Or why some battles must be fought or why some battles are not worth the fight.

But that is just me. Maybe I am a strange individual who believes in fighting but at the same time wishes to avoid it. Maybe I am strange for wanting to be like Faramir: a warrior and a scholar. But then again, these are my thoughts.

In light of this, I will leave you with this question:

If you fight all the time, are you able to know when you must fight?

*Disclaimer: when I use the word “black” I mean in relations to evil deeds.

Friday Thoughts: Becoming Great

Good morning! I hope your Friday will go well. This week, I have thought a lot about what makes a person “great” at something. What makes a basketball player talented or a gymnast a natural? What gives that person the “bend” for science or computer programming? Natural born gift? Or something that has to be worked on every day?

For me, it is both. Sometimes it is a natural bend. Most of the time it is practice and training that makes a skill natural for an individual.

As someone who thought that graphic design was out of my league, I find myself working as a designer. For a while, I knew what the answer was but I struggled with putting it into words. Then I came across a comic strip created by The Awkward Yeti (a fantastic artist and writer). Below is his comic:

Comic Strike from the Awkward Yeti
This comic was created by “The Awkward Yeti” All rights and usage belong to “The Awkward Yet”.
Please visit his website for more laughter:
http://theawkwardyeti.com/

As you can see, both “Heart” and “Gallbladder” started at the same point in time. A shapeless lump that looks like a yellow Ditto. But where Heart stared and wished that he was better, Gallbladder kept at it. He made some funny looking pieces and even found himself disappointed in the resulting work. But he kept practicing and researching by producing sculptures and looking things up.

The end result is Gallbladder has created a recognizable art piece.

 

And yes, some people are truly born with a natural gift. But that means nothing if one does not apply that skill every day. Refining it. Sharpening it.

It takes a desire to master the talent as well as investing hours of time. It takes determination to overcome obstacles and a willingness to try.

Whatever you want to do. Whatever your dream is. The only way to know if you can do it is to go for it.

P.S.: Special thanks to “The Awkward Yeti” for giving permission  to use his comic. Visit his website at http://theawkwardyeti.com/

Have a great weekend, folks!