Archive for April, 2010

the hakuna matata way

04/29/2010

“Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase. Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze.

It means no worries for the rest of our days. It’s a problem-free philosophy.

Hakuna Matata!” ~The Lion King

For 2 years now, I have been waking up to that song from The Lion King. But since 1994, I’ve been living by that motto. That’s right, I got my life’s motto from a Disney movie that I saw when I was 8. Crazy? No. Genius? I think so.

But what exactly does it mean to me? Yeah, the song kind of explains it but doesn’t really get too in-depth into it, which is fair. It’s a movie for kids, but as I found, a movie with a damn good message too. One that I think can resonate with anyone.

get mad – then get on with your life

Just think about the last time you got really mad at something. Maybe someone cut you off on your drive to work. Your DVR didn’t record your favorite show. Someone broke into your car and stole your CDs. You get the idea. Instead of getting all pissed off though, try this. Say “Hakuna Matata” and move on.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to be mad. In fact, I think it’s unhealthy to not get mad. It’s an emotion and suppressing your emotions is never a good idea. But think about it this way. If you were on the Titanic when it hit the iceberg, would you spend 10-15 minutes yelling at the iceberg and/or the crew, or be figuring out a way to get on a lifeboat and save your life? Exactly. Instead, vent about it and move on.

You can’t control that guy who cuts you off, or your DVR from screwing up, or that douche who broke into your car. And you sure can’t ask that iceberg to move. Remember, shit happens. It’s what you do after it happens that really matters.

stress? what stress?

Another great way to employ the “Hakuna Matata” philosophy in daily life is when you feel overwhelmed or stressed. It’s a common feeling but one that is so incredibly unnecessary. I love reading the Facebook statuses of college students around exam time. They all seem so stressed as if their life is gonna end because they have 3 exams and 2 papers to write. I mean, really? Is it that bad? Two words for ya: Hakuna Matata.

Just make a to-do list. Focus on one thing on the list, finish it, and then move on to the next. Trying to tackle 3-4 things at the same time though is counter-productive. It’ll just frustrate you. And when you get frustrated, you just go slower. Asking for help isn’t bad either. No one is Superman or Wonder Woman. I work in TV, where everything is about deadlines. But you’ll never see me freak out. That’s because if you stay calm, things get done faster. And because you have a clear head, you know when to ask for help when you truly need it and not when it’s too late.

So if you have 3 tests and 2 papers, prepare for the tests but once you get tired, just stop. If you’re planning a big event and running out of time, get what you can done and then ask for help. Don’t succumb to that overwhelmed feeling. I’m pretty sure President Obama has much more to worry about than you do — and even he has time to play some basketball.

dying? fuhgeddaboudit

Oh, and here’s a big one. Why worry about dying? I know Jeff has touched on this many times but it really makes sense. Live each day like it’s your last. When you simply look at any problem, say Hakuna Matata, and then make a decision. It’s what cancer patients do all the time. They make the decision to fight the disease, promote awareness, and do things they always dreamed of. By doing that, it leaves more time for them to enjoy life to its fullest. Sitting around and saying “why me?” just wastes precious time. And none of us know when we’re going. So stop thinking about the bad in your life and focus in on the good you have and hope to get more of.

I complain a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean a ton. And about anything. Such as about people who wear jeans and sandals. Or how people misspell words. Or anything involving the Cleveland Indians. But I don’t let it consume me. Once it consumes you, you’re letting it affect your life, kind of like how Wile. E. Coyote was consumed with killing that damn Road Runner. That’s stupid. And as Forrest Gump wisely said, “stupid is as stupid does”.

Now, the “Hakuna Matata” way may not be for everyone. There are some people that just love to be miserable. They enjoy the roller coaster of emotions they go through every day. But those are people who are also more stressed, less happy and not making clear decisions. Not the best prescription for a great life.

So next time you’re feeling stressed, depressed, frustrated, pissed off, sad, overwhelmed, worried, etc…, remember the wise words of a meerkat and warthog named Timon and Pumbaa: “Hakuna Matata”. And then, move on.

Guest post courtesy of Matt Barnes

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shootin’ from the hip

04/24/2010

For the past six or seven months I’ve been feeling like I’m in limbo. Not necessarily going forward or backward – just living. But as I was thinking about it, I realized I didn’t really like the living in limbo analogy I’d applied to my life. Reminds me too much of stagnation – and I’m definitely not stagnating. Sometimes, yes, you have to be stagnant and reflect to regenerate, but I prefer to think of myself for now as “shooting from the hip.

the spread shot

I’ve never fired a gun. But, as with most of my blog posts, the title of this post is merely an analogy. When you shoot from the hip you’re not as accurate but you shoot faster – as opposed to taking the time to bring the gun up to your shoulder. I like to compare it to the spread shot in Contra – although you never miss with that baby.

I went to New York last week with a good friend. The best part about the trip was that we didn’t have an agenda. We knew a couple things we wanted to do, but really we just wanted to roll with it, which is exactly what we did. The only expectation we had was that we would have fun just living, putting a few more experiences under our belts for future reference. If something came up that gave us an opportunity to do something different, to experience something new, we did that thing. This is how we found the coolest bar in Manhattan.

This is also how I’ve been living my life. Looking to do as much as I can, rack up as many experiences as possible, create countless fond memories, have as much frickin’ fun I possible can, all before I kick the bucket. I’m free. I do what I want.

l-i-v-i-n (like a freebird)

I just want to free fall for a while.

Not necessarily looking to hit my target as accurately as I could, just doing as much as I can in as short of a time span as possible. I’m just looking to have a good time and enjoy what’s left of my life. Go as far as I can as fast as I can – without forgetting to enjoy the ride.

livin’ on impulse

I thrive on the unpredictable, on the impulsive, but there’s so much more I want to do regardless of consequences.

  • I want to say “I love you” and not mean it (and hear it said back in the same form)
  • I want to see more sunrises
  • I want to get so little sleep that I’m running on fumes
  • I want to go for more 70-mile drives
  • I want another $150 bar tab that was worth every memory (last night living in Columbus)

I’m not really considering the consequences of my actions, as they really only affect me, in a non-chaos-theory sort of way. Granted, I temper this impulsive free-for-all with logic and reason, but for the most part I go with my gut. After all, the instinct is right 90% of the time, so follow it!

If I see something I want, I’m gonna go for it:

  • I’ll buy Avatar the day after it comes out on DVD
  • I’ll get shut down three times by three different girls in one night at the same bar (90% of the time…?)
  • I’ll start running again to prep for my second marathon in October
  • I’ll stay up til 4 a.m. with a good friend on a work night and gladly pay the price the next day
  • I’ll put flowers on a desk and pray for a phone call

So I’m just going to keep shootin’ from the hip. Seems to be working for now.

Live wild. Live free.

the nuts and bolts

04/16/2010

What do you dream you could do with your life? Is there something you wish you could do that you think is probably not going to happen? If only you had the time, the patience or the money, right?

We all have a perception of what fulfilling our dreams should be like. But when we get down to the nuts and bolts of the operation, it’s not as glamorous as it always seemed it should be. The whole “grass is greener” thing.

For example: I love music. It’s one of the numerous cornerstones of my life. So I decided a while back that I wanted to learn to create it, as opposed to just reaping the benefits of other people’s creativity. I was so motivated my junior year of high school that I asked for an acoustic guitar for Christmas…and I got it! I expected to be hammering out a song or two within the month.

I lost my motivation within the week.

some assembly required

I let it sit in its case for a while – a while being a year. Because I learned something as I began to strum my chords and pluck my strings: learning to play the guitar was hard! Switching between chords and playing intro riffs to the simplest of songs wasn’t all cheese and crumpets! Stairway to Heaven doesn’t sound so cool when you mis-pluck every other string in the intro. And when a guy can’t get past the first riff in one of his favorite songs, it doesn’t take much to get demoralized. I’ve decided that every passion or skill set should come with a disclaimer on the box reading, “Some assembly required.”

I knew I had to practice a hell of a lot more if I was going to get as good as John Mayer – he looked lonely on that stage all by himself! But practicing can be frustrating enough, let alone not seeing a bit of improvement. The perception I had was that I was going to train hard and practice all the time until I got wicked good! By the time I was 22 I would know every song anyone could name – the cool ones anyway. I’d be able to stand on a stage with Phish and jam with them – matching ’em tit for tat. I would own six or seven guitars because, well, don’t all awesome guitarists own a bunch of guitars?

The experience was a bit different than I anticipated…

That’s how it is with anything in life, though. We all have this perception of where we want our destinies to lead and who we want to become. But when we actually try to walk that road, we realize it’s really more of a path than a road…there’s dips and crannies we get our feet caught in and trip ourselves up…and it’s a bit more uphill than what we thought it would be…and branches keep hitting us in the face…

You dream of getting in shape. You’ll have that coveted six-pack, buns of steel and those sweet lines on either side of your abs leading down to your crotchal region (thank you Ron Burgundy). But after a couple weeks or months at the gym, you start to take days off – just here and there! But watching Housewives of New York or going to happy hour becomes more important. One six-pack takes priority over the other, and the goal is lost.

the nuts and bolts…

You dream of quitting smoking. You want your clothes to stop smelling and your taste buds to regenerate. You want to be able to run a mile without coughing. You see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then you start to walk toward it. You do well the first few steps. But then you’re out for a few drinks and everybody’s outside the bar blackening their lungs without you. The desire grows and your steps start to slacken. You have one cigarette – just one! – and then you buy a pack again. Your last pack…then you buy another one, and the goal is lost.

the nuts and bolts…

Everybody always seems to see what’s in the distance rather than what’s right in front of us. We see the six-pack but not the 10,000 crunches and captain’s chairs. We see the song but not the chords and riffs that constitute it. We see the marathon but not the two pairs of shoes you go through to train for it. I see my book, but not the 500 pages that need to be written first.

perception vs. experience

We’ve all seen the battle. We’ve all experienced its effects. I don’t want to sound completely downtrodden, though, as many times the experiences do lead to a previously perceived goal. Dreams do come true. You hear about them all the time. These people (maybe you?) have braved the experience and gone on to what they initially perceived their life could be – albeit it never turns out how you think it will. Sometimes it meets expectations and sometimes it doesn’t. But before you find out if your dreams will measure up, you have to brave the nuts and bolts. You have to push yourself harder than you ever have.

Because what’s an accomplishment without effort? Sure, from an outsider’s perspective it looks like you’ve accomplished something noteworthy, but you know the truth of it. You know what went on behind closed doors. If you put “just enough” effort into it to get by, is that really fulfilling, or are you just playing the role assigned to you?

unreasonable happiness

We can’t just lie in wait, stagnant, tepid. We can’t wait on happiness – that’s not how the often-elusive emotion works. People always tell themselves they can be happy after they’ve climbed that hill or rounded that bend. They wait for milestones in life and decide that’s when they can become happy! Grass is always greener, right? After graduation, after you get that rock on your finger, after you get a job.

If you decide to live your life that way, half of it will be empty. You’ll be a walking shell, caught up in the whirlpool that is your mind’s fabrication of “life.” Do you really know what it’s like to live, to truly live, walking around like that? If you ask me (which you didn’t, but I’m telling you anyway), happiness is in the nuts and bolts of life. This blogger captures the essence of that message beautifully. It’s the stuff that normally may not register with your conscious mind until you realize in your old age what you missed.

You don’t need to bathe in money to be happy. You don’t need to be a hero to be respected. It’s the day-to-day living, it’s the mild memories, it’s the obstacles overcome, big and small – it’s the nuts and bolts. These all combine with millions of other facets of living that make up your life. Open your mind and don’t lose sight of what’s right in front of you. Some of us are too far-sighted for our own good. You never know, what’s right in front of you may be the secret to your happiness, whether that happiness lasts 60 seconds or 60 years. Don’t be afraid to taste those raindrops on your tongue. Don’t be afraid to open your eyes a bit more to the small wonders this life can hold.

You may be pleasantly surprised.

the culling

04/13/2010

Culling has a pretty negative connotation in the English language. We tend to think of animals or people being weeded out of existence in order to foster desirable traits…well, I do anyway. I want you to think of culling in terms of your personal “stuff.”

American society and TV shows like Cribs teach us that in order to be successful we should have lots of stuff. We should own a house. We should drive a car or two. We should have an infinity pool with a built-in deck. We should have the latest mobile app. We should have an iPad. More money = bigger and better things = a larger sense of accomplishment. And everybody wants that, right?

I know most of you are probably reading this and consciously thinking, “No, that’s not what’s important.” But in our subconscious, most of us do feel like that – even if we don’t “believe” it. So don’t post something akin to that in the comments if you’re thinking of doing that! It’s a very difficult mindset to tear yourself away from. I still haven’t quite yet. Hell, I just bought a PS3 a month ago that I didn’t and don’t need.

Materialism = trying to fill the void that is life with a bunch of shit we don’t need.

“The things you own end up owning you”

simplify yourself

We need to simplify ourselves, and a good way to do that is to begin with our materialistic “stuff.”

That’s easy enough to say and to believe in, but how exactly do we do this? What’s that first step?

Hence, we have the culling. Personally, I like to go room by room (I do this once a year). Clean out a closet. Check underneath your bed. Head up into your attic. Open the garage. Think of it in terms of reorganizing. For example, with the coming of the nice weather to Cleveland, I was pretty pumped to turn my attic (a second floor, really) into my office – minus the cubicle, phone and work e-mail. So the other day I spent a couple hours reorganizing my attic, making it more into an office/library. As I was reorganizing, I came across so much crap that I nearly filled up a garbage bag with what wasn’t recyclable. It was a fantastic feeling to get rid of things I don’t and will never use. Plus, if/when it ever comes time to move, you don’t have to worry about packing it up and moving it! Or if I get hit by a train or eaten by a black bear anytime soon, it’s less crap my family has to sift through.

One less thing, right?

So try culling your belongings. Become a little more minimalist. You may be surprised with your results.

Get your mind right.

70-mile drive

04/09/2010

Last night I stumbled upon some of my old journal entries from right around the time of my college graduation. I found myself fascinated by how much I’ve changed in a mere two years. Some of my goals back then are definitely not my goals now, and vice versa. My mindset and viewpoints have definitely moderated, which I’m not particularly happy about. I’ve moved more toward the middle, away from the extreme, away from the utter spontaneity I used to do my best to embody.

It’s been a while since I’ve been cognizant of a happy accident in my life. Most things tend to be carefully coordinated and planned out. Then again, maybe I’m just not realizing the happy accidents due to my reduced level of self-awareness (in comparison with my level two years ago, anyway) Much of the beauty of life is in coincidence, is in accidents. Yes, our lives may tend to have general direction, but the happenstance, the unexpected events are what really give meaning to our lives, I feel. Keeping us on our toes, so to speak.

I was so unbalanced by the changes I saw in myself that I decided to go for a little drive. I called a good friend and we made off down I-71 and through the back roads of Parma, shooting the shit, talking about who we used to be, who we are today, and why we’re so messed up in the best way possible.

Two years ago, I don’t think I would have seen myself wearing a shirt and tie to work every day. I wouldn’t have seen myself creating brochures, developing a social media campaign, looking for a second job and running marathons. But life is almost never what you plan. The rationale doesn’t seem to even make sense, at times. How the hell did I end up here?

it’s all about serendipity

There comes a point where you don’t ask anyone to explain the rationale of your life. The twists and turns show no sense of purpose, of direction, or even of meaning. The complexities of coincidence and happenstance are too deep, or maybe too shallow, to comprehend. So you let the accidents happen. You accept them for what they are: guiding lights, although you probably won’t realize it until it’s too late. You accept them and just be happy, admiring the beauty – and incomprehensibility – of life.

Life’s a crapshoot. And we just need to learn how to roll with it. To live wild and free.

Live wild, live free

For what has come, let it be

For what will come, will be

Live wild, live free

walking barefoot

04/01/2010

During fall and spring quarter at OU, it was a rare week that went by where I wasn’t called a hobbit or a neanderthal. My first weekend there freshman year  I  walked two miles around campus, down Union Street, Court Street, North Green, South Green, barefoot. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have shied away from that decision…

Regardless. I walked (and walk) barefoot as often as humanly possible. I just escaped from this storage closet I call an office for about 15 minutes to enjoy the nicest day yet this year. Took off my dress shoes, my black socks, and just went for a stroll in the grass.

Feeling the grass on my feet helps me to remember to feel the wind on my face. Feeling the wind on my face helps me to remember to breathe deeper and easier. There’s something about walking barefoot that is just so beautiful in its simplicity. It’s pure…it’s you and nature with nothing in between. No sports cars. No reality television. No societal norms to be abided. No drama. You just feel the blades of grass bend beneath the soles of your feet. You feel others sprout between your toes or simply brush the sides.

It’s simple.

It’s perfect.

It’s incorruptible.

To see it explained much better than I ever could, click here.

So keep your Housewives of New York and your designer heels. I’ll take being barefoot in the grass any day.