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.

Why

Why?
Why is the question we often ask
Why?
Why is the sky blue
Why does the world turn
Why does the stars shine
And why does the grass grow
These things we ask
As children seeing the world

Why?
Why is the question we often ask
Why?
Why do we seek to impress others
Why do we compare ourselves
Why do we want another’s talent
And why do we fall in love
these things we ask
As adults going forward in this world

Why?
Why is the question we ask
In the dark of night
Or at the end of the day
Why move forward
Why try again
Why why why
Is it the life we live
Or is it the life we want
Why should we live ourselves
Why should we live for others

Why?

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!

Friday Thoughts: Memorial Day

Memorial Day has finally arrived! With it the thoughts of discounts abound. With Christmas coming up, this is the time for those big, expensive gifts. Even I will be taking advantage of the sales.

But that is not Memorial Day.

As someone once pointed out to me, this day is not a day of celebration but of remembrance.

Men and women have spent their lives serving and protecting us.

Whether they gave their life in a single moment or spent decades, they have made sacrifices. They have marched through miles of sand while their son or daughter celebrated their third birthday without them. They have faced ambushes, snipers, and roadside bombs in distant lands. Not knowing if they will see the next sunrise.

On the home front, who have husbands and wives who hear the news and their painful words. Hear the reports of conflicts where their spouse is deployed. Dreading to see a man in uniform knocking on their door.

Think of the daughter who will never have her daddy walk her down the aisle. Or the son who will never be able to introduce their own child to “grandpa”.

Think of the father who waited months to see his new born girl. Or the mother hoping to get leave so she can see her son walk at graduation.

So this weekend, get your shopping down ahead of time. Take advantage of the deals.

But on Memorial Day, stop and remember those who stand as a living wall, a living shield, to defend us.

Friday Thoughts: Moments

Good morning! It is Friday and we have made it through another week. Unless you are in a different time zone that results in a different day. Then I’ll just say good morning.

This past week, my coworker reminded me that I need to take each day one at a time. Not to plan out far into the future. My own devotions have stated that God has given me so much time to work with.

Despite whether you believe in God or you like to plan ahead, everyone has a limit to what they are able to handle. Some can handle more. Others are only able to handle less.

But here is the question that I encountered: is there a difference between “living in the moment” and “living for the moment”?

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any difference. However, I think there is a difference. A big one that can shape how one’s life unfolds.

Living in the Moment

I believe this means to focus on what is current. Whether that is living day by day or hour by hour, just work with what is immediate. It could mean working on a project that is due next week for work or school. Or it could mean focusing on your child’s dance recital instead of the tomorrow morning’s work meeting.

Instead of trying to figure out what is going to happen for Christmas or where I am going to be in five years, I focus on what I need to do now. I need to eat today. I need to check in on my friends. I also need to get a design done today.

Living in the Moment does not mean I am ignoring planning for the future. Just not taking on tomorrow’s worry.

I find living day by day helps reduce how much stress I have on my shoulders. This also helps me find the little things that make life enjoyable. A joke by a coworker or watching the sunrise as I commute. For me, these things is what makes life living.

Living for the Moment

It reminds me of the phrase “you only live once”. A phrase that implies just do whatever comes to mind because life is short and you only have one. This life plan strikes me as short term and short sighted. From my understanding, the idea is that you are looking for the thrill from one moment to the next. What gets you excited and that every day you are making it an adventure.

While that does sound fun and a joy, life doesn’t not unpack itself like that. Each day is full of responsibilities that need to be attended to. If you are always looking for just the fun, then you’ll forget to get your work done and life becomes difficult.

It also makes it hard to enjoy life.

If every day is an adventure, then you’ll need to find a bigger high every moment. Life has it dull moments and that’s okay.

Take Away

Enjoy your life and have your adventures. But not at the cost of your responsibilities or your sanity.