Archive for the Personal Category

A Letter to Myself

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2008 by Joe

(The idea for this post was entirely ripped from this guy.)

You grew frustrated today — frustrated with people, school, work, and yourself. You snapped at people, offering sarcastic responses to legitimate questions and inquires. You let yourself grow unjustifiably pompous. And you let your anger bottle up.

It started in the morning. You woke up late, and started your day with a bad attitude. When you got to school and saw people standing in front of your locker, you should have asked them to move politely. But instead, you asked them to have some “f*cking courtesy”. How were they to know you wanted to access your locker? In what context could they have foreseen your irregularly late arrival?

At band class, a friend of yours wanted to speak to you, and this made you even angrier. You threw at him more expletives, forcing him to leave you with your self-pity. You did this because you consider his discussions to be meaningless — trivial even — but you must consider, too, how he perceives your conversations. He misinterprets your smiles, thinking that you actually enjoy his sexually obscene and assaultive humor. You should explain to him how you do not enjoy his humor, and tell him your feelings toward his general discussion topics.

Later at band class, the director asked to speak to you privately. Just yesterday, you wrote a sappy letter explaining why you could not perform at a church service you promised you could perform at. This discussion exemplified the misinterpretation you lead people off to; for he believed that you were afraid of him, that you wrote the letter in that fluffy sort-of-way not because you were deeply sorry (which you were), but because you were genuinely afraid of what he might do in response. Confused and bewildered, you offered a five-word response and ran off. Next time, clearly explain what your intended meaning is, and perhaps his perception of your character may become more accurate. You fail to realize how important your reputation is — how vital is their perception of you.

After school, you ran to the nearby Elementary School to tutor. You knew you were going to tutor a new kid, James, and this excited you. So at the school, you found your new student, and began to instruct. But you instructed him poorly. You saw that he did not understand the basic concepts even after much repetition; and in response, you started speaking quicker and started using more advanced vocabulary, subsequently confusing your new student even further. You grew frustrated, you increased the volume to your voice, and you may have very well frightened him.

Joe: The main problems in your life are social. They regard the way you carry yourself, and the way you respond and act towards other people. You must be more open, and you must believe in the value of perception. Ask yourself: “If the words I speak were spoken to me by someone else, would I be hurt by them, or possibly misdirected”?

You live under a cloud, as if your pleasure is all that matters. But if you really wanted to be objective about it all, you would realize that closing yourself into the egotistical, self-loathing box you’ve gotten yourself into prevents the very pleasure you so seek.

It is time for you to change your personality, your essence. Do it now.

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A Passionate Music Director

Posted in Music, Personal with tags , on November 19, 2008 by Joe

His hands waved around frantically as he sang vociferously at us. Most of us laughed, but I kept a solid, straight face. ‘This ardent little man truly loves what he does’, I remember thinking. ‘He is a man who found what made him happy in life — a passion — and he stuck with it.’

And I remember envying him, because he knew what he was good at, whereas I don’t. As high school graduation creeps closer into view, I fear not knowing what I want to do for the rest of my life. What will I be? What will I do? Will I be happy? They are all questions that consume my mind routinely.

So I watched him fine tune our music; and I watched our band’s sound grow brighter, deeper, and more beautiful. ‘Not only is he happy,’ I thought, ‘but he is good at what he does. And that is what makes a man great.’

Afterward, I criticized a friend who I saw laughing. I told him, “I want to be just like him.” He continued to laughed. So I pushed further, “I want to enjoy what I do for a living. I want to be great at what I do. I want to do something that has depth and meaning. I want to help the world through my work. I want to be great.”

My friend laughed some more.

What makes a man great is not necessarily his accomplishments or achievements or the size of the mark he leaves behind in the world. People who believe so are petty and arrogant. No, I believe there is something more to life than mere contribution. And that is passion — to be passionate about one’s work; to love doing it every second you are doing it; to have fun, laugh, and enjoy — that is what I want.

Because the future scares me. I take comfort in the presence of my parents, and in the knowledge that they will take care of me if I falter. I look ahead and realize that they will be gone in three years. I realize I must very quickly find what I am simultaneously good at and passionate about. And what haunts me is the knowledge that I don’t know.

Thinking About This Blog in Retrospect

Posted in Internet, Personal with tags on October 28, 2008 by Joe

I appreciate the comments I have been receiving for the entries posted in this blog. Some of these comments have made me smile; some have educated me; some have been profoundly insightful; but most of all, the comments I receive have inspired me in ways I can not describe.

Though, I guess it doesn’t hurt to try.

I wrote a previous blog, “Political Joe”, which, in the span of one and a half years, received less than two thousand hits. I saw this unpopularity, and tried desperately for any way to promote the site. I spammed other sites, linked myself in any Internet profile I could find, and told all my friends to visit. I worked harder promoting the site than actually writing! My struggle, however, led to subpar writing, and added an obsessive overtone to my articles.

The lack of reader feedback made my strife worse. One and a half years past, and I had only received two comments. I appreciated both, but having had a taste enraged my starvation for more. This starvation led me to friends, colleagues, and, at one point, even teachers, all of whom turned my offer down.

To think that now, with the help of WordPress, I have received more than three thousand hits, in a very limited amount of time, bewilders me.

The comments are the best. They have intrigued me to study fields of philosophy I have never heard of before. They have taught me theories and ideas that perplex and consume my mind. They have taught me how profoundly intellectually witty some can be.

But more than that, I now know I have an audience. And knowing so inspires me to write more than ever before. And that alone is the greatest gift you can give a learning writer.

Thank you for giving me that gift.

Flirting with Nihilism

Posted in Personal with tags , , on October 22, 2008 by Joe

I once held a very pessimistic view on the world. I was a nihilist, because I believed there was no purpose to life. I was a determinist, because I believed the future was predetermined, and that no human action could change the subsequent outcome to any action yet to have taken place. I was an antitheist, because I believed religion was a perverted manifestation of a mass neurological disease.

I have since grown up, of course, but the dark ideology I once held as true remains in my past. And it reminds me that I can be wrong — gravely wrong — about everything I see, think, touch and feel. And it haunts me.

It was then I saw my grades slowly dropping, and it was then my friends began to grow sick of my narcissistic thinking. I remember wondering something had gone gravely wrong, and that I desperately needed to change my outlook on life.

So in the comfort of my home, I thought and considered my perception of the world carefully, drawing maps and charts to organize my ideas. I sat staring at my musings attempting to find any focus, any pattern that could locate the errancy in my logic. The clock continued clicking for hours, and the sound of crickets penetrated my home walls. Where had I gone wrong, I remember asking myself. And then it hit me.

I still believe there is no God, just as I still believe there is no afterlife. I have, however, come to the realization that if this is our only chance we’ve got at living, then we must make the best of it. There is no one to forgive our sins, so we must do good for ourselves. There is no other pleasure outside this world, and so we must enjoy every moment we have. We must cherish our time here on Earth, and hope dearly we have many more days to cherish. Because when it ends, it ends.

Magic Moments Manifested in Music

Posted in Music, Personal with tags , , , on October 11, 2008 by Joe

[Drawing of a Bear Playing a Trumpet]

“I wanna be the very best / Like no one ever was / To catch them is my real test / To train them is my cause / I will travel across the land / Searching far and wide / Teach Pokémon to understand / The power that’s inside / Pokémon! / Gotta catch ’em all / It’s you and me / I know it’s my destiny / Pokémon!” – Original Pokémon Theme Song

The precedent ameliorated our joy. Our football team sucks, and the band, having to watch defeat after defeat, began to detect a pattern. As we sat in the stands trying to amuse the crowd with our music, we felt a bit shamed in our hearts. They just didn’t win, and after a devastating three-loss-streak, we feared becoming apathetic.

As could be imagined, when we finally won, even against a pansy private school, we were content. We desperately needed an excuse to be proud, and this win was the very catalyst we needed. It didn’t matter, really; we needed something, and in hindsight, I can see no difference between any other happiness, contrived as it may be.

On the ride back home, Jay brought out his iPod-speaker set, and played, very loudly, “We Are the Champions” by Queen. The entire bus fumed with glee. We sang vociferously, “We are the champions. No time for losers, ‘cuz we are the champions of the world,” and it made us proud. Some of us sang out of tune, and most did not know the lyrics to the verses, but it did not matter.

And that is the reason that makes band the best drug. It is social, but it is accepting. We understand that we all love music, and we avoid judging each other because of it. So we sang, proudly, without any worry at all.

“Hey There Delilah”, “I’m Yours”, “Yellow Submarine”, and a few other pop standards continued the sing-along. What culminated our excitement, though, was the final song of the day: The Original Pokémon Theme Song. The band’s strong bond was exemplified in our knowing of the song, in our complete knowledge of all the lyrics.

There are moments of magic. It is when the world stops, and fixation on the joy of life overwhelms. It is when existence conveys pure color and blind happiness. It is when everything is perfect, and perfect encompasses all that is perceptible. It is when the daunting struggles of life fade, and the ecstasy of excitement illuminates the air. It is the momentary stopping of the world when pure happiness becomes the solitary perspective, and when joy and existence fuse.

These were magic moments — moments I will forever remember band for.

Politics as Religion

Posted in Personal, Politics, Society with tags , , on October 9, 2008 by Joe

My dad would normally be in a jovial mood when he picked me up from school, but that day was different; his irate demeanor replaced the happy-go-lucky dad I knew. There was no “What did you learn in school today?”, nor was there a “Hey kiddo.” His face was tense, completely unmoved. And his knuckles were easily seen through his firm grip of the wheel. Something was wrong, and I felt compelled to ask him what.

“They didn’t attack us,” he passionately told me. “They don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have proof that they have weapons of mass destruction. They had nothing to do with 9/11. We should not be going into Iraq! Why are we invading Iraq today?” His tirade went on, but most of it flew over my nine year old head.

I often wonder if my liberalism comes from my dad. When arguing the validity of human-invented religion for instance, I often bring up the point that the overwhelming majority of adults follow the religion of their parents. So could it be that my political beliefs are just a reincarnation of my dad’s?

I don’t like to think so. I bring up capital punishment and gun rights, both issues I heavily disagree on with my father, in an attempt to persuade myself of otherwise. But I realize that I will never know. If indeed I have a mask blinding me of political truth, I will be far too ignorant to recognize my mask. And if indeed I am ignorant, and this ignorance is common, I must conclude my children, and their children, and their children will be ignorant as well.

And if all this is true, then could politics be as pointless and fallacious and meaningless and unconvincing and trivial as arguing atheism verses religion? I am petrified to think about the question, and so I don’t.

I just wanted to bring up the thought.

I Am a Bad Writer

Posted in Internet, Personal with tags , on October 5, 2008 by Joe

It’s hard to blog. It really is.

I can write great five paragraph essays almost as well as I can write business letters. Writing a narrative, persuasive essay, response to literature, or comparison and contrast is a breeze. And don’t get me started on essays for the SAT. I know how to do all of these things because my school teaches me how. I’ve mastered these forms of writing.

But there is a problem with how schools teach writing. They teach students a very limited scope of the broad spectrum writing really is. When I am an adult, I will not need to recall my comparison and contrast skills I learned from third grade, nor will I have to call my mom for notes taken on persuasion. I won’t need to respond to literature, nor will I have to quickly write twenty-five minute drafts on cliché topics.

I say, the best way to learn to write is to just write. That’s why I started this blog. I told myself, ‘No more strict guidelines; no more formulas; no more formalities. I just want to write for the sake of writing, and nothing more.’

I’ve learned how to write formally. But I don’t know how to write informal blogs that are focused and coherent. Give me a chance. I’m learning.