Posts Tagged ‘experience’

creating our universe

09/09/2012

We learn from an early age how to create the world around us. We learn labels, we learn definitions, we learn classifications, sub-classifications and distinctions. A toddler learns that a tree is called a tree, a cloud is called a cloud, and Mama and Dada are called Mom and Dad. An adolescent learns the difference between rich and poor, strong and weak, nice and mean. An adult learns what class warfare is, what God is, and what antidisestablishmentarianism could possibly mean.

But at what point does this really continue to benefit us?

the death of the senses

There is an economic principle called the law of diminishing returns. It means, in terms that I can understand, that the more we continue to invest in something, the less we get out of it (see Wikipedia for a MUCH more accurate definition). A marathoner plodding along an 18-week training regimen sees more marked improvement in the early stages of training than in the later stages. Early on, his average race pace may drop from nine-minute miles to eight-minute miles in the space of just a few determined weeks, while in the last few weeks of high-intensity training he will see much less of an improvement than that. Granted, it’s still marked improvement, but the point stands: the return isn’t as great.

So how does this apply to labels? To definitions? To distinctions? How do we measure returns on something like learning? The truth is, most people don’t even try. Learning is a wonderful thing – I believe lifelong learning should be a cornerstone of everyone’s daily experience. But after a point in the learning process – for most of us, in our teenage years – it becomes easy to lose sight of true value. So if we really tried measuring the returns on learning, we’d realize that there are things that are more important. Thus, we accrue knowledge for the sake of accruing knowledge. We learn what a tree is but then forget to experience the tree. Think about it: when was the last time you touched, and felt, a tree? Felt its bark, listened as its branches swayed in the wind, smelled its leaves? Go outside and touch a tree. Right now. I’ll wait . . .

Back already? Good. Carrying on. . . as one of my favorite books, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, says, “The birth of the mind is the death of the senses.”

p’u, the uncarved block

Moments in life can trigger the resurgence of this child-like appreciation for the world around us:

  • Having a child
  • A near-death experience
  • A religious experience
  • Emerging from an emotional depression

But it should be natural (shouldn’t it?), as human beings gifted with life on this wonderful earth, to consciously appreciate the universe around us during what we deem mundane experience. During the ordinary moments. To appreciate the universe, not necessarily in the form in which we initially created it, but rather through direct experience. To sense directly, without thought, opinion or interpretation. To simply be.

Much like Winnie the Pooh. Open to, but unburdened by, experience.

winnie the pooh, the tao of pooh

running and intuition

05/18/2012

Running is like sex. If it doesn’t happen at least once a week, we feel like something is missing. Sunday comes around, we look back on the week and think, “Shit, what did I forget to do…?”

There’s a certain mental calm that takes over in the latter half of a good session (now we’re onto running here, people). Fatigue takes over and it’s all you can do to maintain proper form. And when this happens, when your lungs feel ready to burst and your legs feel like they have ankle weights wrapped around them, something strange happens.

Bliss supersedes the misery.

no mind

How often do we find ourselves governed by the mental chatter abound in our brains? How often do we lose perspective because our emotional status is based upon the last imaginary scene we staged? Our minds have a terrible tendency to distract us from everything the world has to offer. It keeps us from doing our best work. And from fighting our best samurai sword fights.

How many times have you been reading a book and gotten halfway down the page, only to realize you have no idea what you  just read? Or driven a car some place and not remembered anything about the car ride?

This is sad. Running makes me less sad. Here’s why:

I did a four-miler last Monday. Not crazy high mileage, but for getting back onto the running scene I was content with it. But the last half mile I hit a wall (see second paragraph above).

When this happens, a meditative exercise I try to do is to eliminate thought. Because at this point my mind is my arch enemy. It will tell me that it’s not a big deal if I stop. I mean come on, you did 3.5 miles already! That’s pretty good, right? No one’s watching . . . no one will judge . . . you can walk the rest of the way as your cool down and save some time . . . better to start sweating like a beast now than right when you walk into your house . . . you’ll do better tomorrow . . . you already ran some miles this week! What’s the big deal?

Hence, the elimination of thought. And funny things happen when your mind stills and your body is worn out. When you hit what you imagine is rock bottom.

intuition

That last half mile gave me some of my best ideas for my current project. By focusing on not focusing on anything, I’m focusing on one thing. Silence. And silence is a beautiful thing.

Because what you hear in the silence, what crops up in the void, is unfettered and uncorrupted. It’s intuition.

Nobody talks about intuition in the real world. On the job, it’s hard to tell your boss you should do something based on a hunch. They want statistics. They want the ROI. They want to be reassured that they’re not paying you for just having fun. Great Scott! Never that!

The theory of intuition is not new. It’s been embodied in the third eye, in various forms of God, in a (supposed) small deposit of metal at the tip of a man’s nose. The only trouble is so few people spend time developing this intuition. Instead of getting down to the bare bones of what makes us human, we immerse ourselves in pleasant distractions, in browsing our Facebook feeds, in watching the Kardashians, in Modern Warfare 3. We set ourselves within walls of vinyl and atop finished wooden floorboards and think ourselves wise. We cease experiencing lives for ourselves, letting the mental chatter rage on unchecked.

Running, and many other forms of exercise, can help us re-establish that connection with our intuition. Can help us to slow our minds and take a look around.

And in a world gone so awry, the last thing we want to do is lose perspective.

the will to live

03/20/2012

“This business of being a writer is ultimately about asking yourself, ‘How alive am I willing to be?'”
– Anne Lamott

I had my first anxiety attack two months ago. It was not a good feeling. For those of you familiar with anxiety attacks, you’ll understand the understatement.

I fell to the floor. Overcome by fear. By doubt. By misgivings generated by my own fear of the unknown. Of questions unanswered.

And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

affirmation

That anxiety attack preceded a second attack two days later. I was at work when I felt it start to set upon me. There was no collapsing this time around. There was no giving in. So I did what came naturally.

I found a quiet space and I wrote.

Within 50 words the knot in my stomach had unraveled into something akin to utter contentment. Before I was halfway down the page of my little journal I was soothed. All was literally right with the world. Well, my world anyway.

It’s moments like these, moments of intense crisis and panic that can be a determining factor in our lives. I’m not one to degrade the day-to-day, the pleasures of breathing in and out, or the supposed banality of daily living. But sometimes there come moments in our lives where we are defined by crisis. Where we see what we’re truly made of and what it is that truly matters in our lives.

For me, that answer is writing. I knew it before. I know it now.

a life of action

A book rests on my shelf entitled Way of the Peaceful Warrior. (if you haven’t read it, I recommend it – the ending seems a farce but the messages within are invaluable) One of the quotes of that book spoken by the protagonist’s mentor, whom he’s sardonically dubbed “Socrates,” is, “A warrior’s life is that of action.”

Now don’t think warrior in the classical sense — the sword-wielding, armor-bearing, rebel-yelling warrior — but rather someone who consciously strives to live the most virtuous life possible. And in the above quote, much of the bare essence of that peaceful warrior is revealed.

In hindsight, my anxiety attack was brought upon by my own inaction. December was not a fruitful month for me in the way of the written word, and this came to a head in early January when I was unable to come to terms with my own idleness.

Now I’m not saying don’t stop to smell the roses. If anything, this “life of action” encourages you to do just that. To take in all that is around us as we move forward in our lives, not living a life of idle speculation. Take advantage of all that beating heart has to offer us. Experience anything. Everything.

For me, my primary course of action is writing, and getting unforgettable experiences under my belt to feed that continual need for something new, for something creative, for something adventurous (define adventurous in your own terms).

I write to live. I live to write.

Not everyone’s answers are so simple. I’m sure mine ultimately aren’t. But for now, it’ll do.

What’s your answer?

10,000 hours

02/09/2012

hard work ninjaI wrote a while back about mastering a craft. Any craft, as long as it is something for which we are passionate. The sense of accomplishment and the absolute thoroughness with which we understand something – so much that it becomes a part of us – has no equal.

I recently picked up the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The second chapter is one of the most simultaneously inspiring and terrifying parts of the book. The author makes the claim that in order to truly master an art or a craft, one must practice that specific task for 10,000 hours.

10,000 hours

Think about that. If you practice for eight hours a day, seven days a week, it will take you 1,250 days, which is 178.5 weeks, which is 3.4 years. 8 hours/day, 7 days/week. And don’t forget about social obligations – family, friends – and, oh yeah! You have to make money during this time. And did you want weekends off? You can do the math at this point because the lessons from Algebra 3 have abandoned me.

Gladwell asserts his claim through the examination of influential people throughout history, notably Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and The Beatles, and discusses how, through a combination of opportunity and drive, they achieved their 10,000 hours of practice before they achieved greatness. Even Mozart, he says, who started composing music at the age of six, didn’t truly become a master composer until he had been practicing for 10 years. And he didn’t produce his “greatest work” until he had been practicing for 20.

Yikes.

a master of one

Jeff Goins discusses this concept with one of his recent blog posts, Why Being a Jack of All Trades Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be. In the post, he references one of my favorite books, The 50th Law by Robert Greene, and its reference to the same principle:

The fools in life want things fast and easy – money, success, attention. Boredom is their great enemy and fear. Whatever they manage to get slips through their hands as fast as it comes in. You, on the other hand, want to outlast your rivals. You are building the foundation for something that can continue to expand.

To make this happen, you will have to serve an apprenticeship. You must learn early on to endure the hours of practice and drudgery, knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure – mastery of a craft and of yourself. Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level – an intuitive feel for what must come next.

That quote is amazing, and props to Goins for including it in his post. He then goes on to pose the question: Is it better to be a jack of all trades or pursue mastery? Eighty-three responses (as of now) flesh out the blog post with tons of interesting perspectives and ideas, all with their own merit for either side of the coin.

What are your thoughts? Do you want to put your 10,000 hours toward one goal, toward one task, or would you rather have a broader distribution of knowledge about many things? I think in part it depends on your profession and circumstance. But no matter what you do for a living, no matter your situation, I believe the readers of this blog (you) can find a way to get to 10,000 hours if you so choose. It just may take a bit longer than 10 years…

For myself, I choose mastery. I choose 10,000 hours. In a way I have to choose mastery. My craft demands no less and I would never think of under-delivering. People can see through crap. And my shit’s gonna be opaque.

experience it

01/05/2012

Think about your last disappointment. Was it a movie you saw? A book you read? A date you went on? Or maybe it was just this past New Year’s Eve? Now that you’ve brought it to mind, ask yourself: “Why was I disappointed with the experience?” Chances are we’ll say something like: “The movie wasn’t as good as the previews made it out to be,” or, “The girl was attractive but had no personality,” or, “I didn’t find someone to kiss when midnight struck.” All valid reasons for disappointment. All understandable. And all our own fault.

accepting the blame for disappointment

Disappointment has one strong inherent implication, and that is that we expected something out of the experience based on our subjective view of past experiences and stories. We expected it to be good or bad, exciting or nerve-wracking, awkward or blissful. Now imagine a life of no disappointment.

Having no expectations is a powerful place to be. It allows us to enter every situation with a blank slate, with Locke’s tabula rasa. Why is this powerful? Because we go into everything with an open mind, not allowing stress to invade our mind or tensing our shoulders. We’re always pleasantly surprised, being closer to understanding that there is no good, there is no bad, there just is what is.

Accepting blame for something like this also teaches us another invaluable lesson. And that is humility. According to nearly every religious and philosophical doctrine, pride, or the sense of self, is the basis for all wrong, or all sin. That’s because it makes us act out of selfishness and greed, in direct disregard to others in order to advance ourselves. Imagine humbling ourselves by accepting the blame of what we deemed a negative situation. Imagine the power, the self-control, that brings.

don’t judge

We create our own reality. If a situation was bad, it’s because we made it bad. A car accident isn’t a bad thing. It’s an opportunity. For what? That’s up to us to figure out.

So when the next “negative” situation arises, we should take a step back and examine:

  • Why is this a bad thing?
  • What was my immediate reaction?
  • Why did I react that way?
  • Am I alive?

Then look closely at our answers (although the last one shouldn’t require too much deep thought). If we still have trouble grasping the concept, it can be helpful to turn to this famous Zen story for help:

Once there was an old farmer whose horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer said.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” the farmer said.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” the farmer said.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well thins had turned out.

“Maybe,” the farmer said.

The neighbors viewed the events transpiring at the farmer’s home with judgment. Things were either good or bad, and their emotions were akin to a roller coaster in response. That’s exhausting and stress-inducing, which means it’s harmful to our health (literally) and takes years off our life. The farmer, however, kept an open mind, devoid of judgment, devoid of expectations. He was relaxed and in the flow, never allowing a circumstance to determine his emotional or mental state.

This philosophy is a mental attitude we adopt through consistent application, which will include its fair share of failure as well as success.

If you haven’t already, give it a shot – you may be pleasantly surprised.

twists and turns and imperfection

06/09/2011

A fascinating thing to me is to take a close examination of life in the context of the forces applied. Allow me to explain.

In relation to time, we’re on an allegorical one-way street. Moving inexorably forward, heedless of our own protestations. Closer to death. Further from youth and the accompanying exuberance. Learning more. Knowing less.

In relation to space, to personality, to behavior, to state of mind, we’re always shifting. Always changing. Never stagnant. We may feel like a glass of tepid water at times, but even within that glass a multitude of things are happening – bacteria is growing, dust is accumulating, temperatures are rising and falling. We may feel numbed. We may feel bored. But beneath that veneer of contextual emotions, our brains are developing (or degrading), we’re learning new things and our attitude is changing – a long history of personal experience is writing itself in the stacks of our chattering minds, building toward various crescendos that we may or may not recognize.

my change

I write this post in a time of larger transition – slightly physical, slightly mental, slightly emotional…a little bit of everything thrown into an imperfect mixing bowl comprised of my emotional well-being, my habits and my intellect (or lack thereof).

I was able to track down a few of the instigating factors behind this change, examining the twists, turns and “what-ifs”:

  1. A girl I met at pre-college seven years ago at Ohio University. If I hadn’t met her, the primary instigator of the ensuing change, I would not be in the place I am now.
  2. Deciding on a Journalism degree instead of History because I simply wanted to write more
  3. Picking OU over Miami because of their Journalism program. One of the unknowingly wisest decisions I’ve ever made. Still can’t get over the fact that I even considered Miami…
  4. The girl who inspired this very blog post with a single sentence and has no idea – and never will (not that it’s very direction-changing, but you never know)

In times of crisis, people seem to ask the question “How did I get here?” They search for some mysterious answer in their past that will illuminate the future. I ask the same question in times of prosperity, knowing that the smallest decisions I make now – the SMALLEST decisions – have boundless unrecognized consequences on the future. It’s chaos theory. It’s unpredictable. It’s imperfect. And it’s beautiful.

How many times have you remembered the tiniest details of an interaction only to recall it at a later date for some specific purpose? To prove a point, to reveal a flaw or inconsistency, to make a decision in which you’re vacillating – we all do it. Grandma does it. Your mailman does it. Barack does it. And the ripple effect of that small detail only escalates.

life is a beautiful, imperfect thing

Because it doesn’t last.

Awkward segue aside…life is beautiful because it will fade. Embrace death and you’ve embraced life. I don’t mean this in a dark, cryptic way, either. I wouldn’t have gotten the tattoo on my forearm if it was meant to be dark and cryptic – that just ain’t my style.

By realizing this fact we can recognize the random imperfections for what they are – they are perfect. We need to appreciate the inconsistencies, the ebbing and flowing of the space-time continuum, instead of waiting for that perfect moment that never comes.

I heard a story the other day about a guy who hadn’t kissed a girl after no less than 12 dates because he was “waiting for the perfect moment.” He finally kissed her while they were both highly intoxicated at a dance club with a group of friends. The perfect moment? Probably not. Hilarious? Yep. (which makes it the perfect moment…catching on yet?)

Challenge the very basic assumptions of your cognition of space and time by appreciating these simple facts…by making so many moments last for what I like to call a “baby eternity.”

OK, so I got a bit off topic from where I was initially going with this, but, as Ray Bradbury says, “Digression is the soul of wit.”

Now if only I was witty.

i wanna go crazy with you

10/15/2010

A friend told me this past summer that everybody is always looking for love. I thought it to be an interesting perspective, if a little bit simplistic. But then, most times the simplest way is the most sensible way.

Lately I’ve been listening to Tim McGraw’s new single “Felt Good on My Lips,” and it brings to mind again this concept of everybody always looking for love.

I want your thoughts on this, but allow me to offer my perspective first (I mean, it is my blog after all):

I wouldn’t say I’m looking for love, per se. I’m looking for someone I can go crazy with. Someone with whom I can cut loose, do things I wouldn’t normally do on my own, and enjoy the things more that I DO normally do on my own. Is that what love’s about?

I’m not sure. But this song isn’t about love, at least in its classical definition. It’s about living wild and free in the moment, enjoying life for the simple pleasures. Whether it be the sound of someone’s name, singing the lyrics of a song you don’t know, drinking an unfamiliar drink or kissing unfamiliar lips.

an unforgettable night

I did exactly that just this past weekend. I went to dinner with a girl to a place I never would have gone on my own (or even found, in all likelihood). We went to a hole-in-the-wall bar afterward where they let you smoke inside, and just lost ourselves in a couple games of pool, a few good songs and each other’s company. It’s an incredible feeling, just living for the night and flipping the bird to tomorrow. We swing danced, we sang, we smoked cigarettes as we lined up our shot on the pool table. It was raw, innocent and pure, untarnished by senses of self-worth, superficial misgivings and reality television.

We all need to cut loose and go crazy sometimes, losing ourselves in the lucid oblivion of present circumstance. While we’re young, be young and stupid. If we’re old, become young and stupid again, even if just for a moment.

WITH as opposed to a mere with

And sometimes…sometimes we understand that it’s nice to go crazy with someone else. And I don’t just mean with someone else, I mean WITH someone else. To feel the sun on your shoulders and the wind at your back with someone at your side. It reminds me of Bob Seger’s “Roll Me Away.” This guy takes his motorcycle for a ride, stops in at a bar and meets a girl who decides to ride with him for a time. They end up not lasting the duration of the song, but that’s not the point. The point is that they had that time together in the first place. They celebrated their lives WITH someone, as opposed to with someone.

There’s definitely a romanticism to being alone, rolling down the highway with your only concern being your personal Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. “Here I Go Again On My Own” has always resonated with me, but there comes a time when being a lone wolf just isn’t enough. There comes a time when going crazy WITH someone else is exactly what you need.

Your thoughts?

DISCLAIMER
I wrote this post in the dead of night and in less than 10 minutes. A famous writer once said you never have to change something you got up in the middle of the night to write, so I’m not changing anything. Straight from the heart right onto the computer screen. No hesitation (aside from a little editing, but I’m an OU PR kid – editing is in the marrow of my bones. And if some grammar nut reads this and noticed me ending the second sentence in the fourth paragraph with the word “with”, shove it). This shit’s authentic. Hah! Now go do something fucking stupid, like writing “fucking” in a blog that you know your boss reads.

“it’s just good music…

06/25/2010

…if you can feel it in your soul.”

One of the best quotes from a country song. Ever. (ten points to the person who can name the song/artist)

There’s something about music that enlivens us. That inspires us. That energizes us the way no Red Bull or 5-hour ever could. That takes us to a level unattainable by mere words. Granted, poetry can have that effect, but that’s a little different vein of thought with which fewer identify. But for music…

You take a few simple words, and you make the rhyme absurd. Then strum a few basic chords for the best results incurred.

The burning, the yearning, that swells up your soul. The churning, the turning, your heart losing control.

How’s that for poetry? Hot damn I should be the friggin’ poet laureate.

Whether your taste buds prefer heavy metal, classic rock, bluegrass, reggae, R & B or any other music genre one can only hope to classify, music inspires any number of emotions that change from one second to the next. It’s a roller coaster ride minus the metal and brawn needed to build it.

the best show…

…I’ve ever been to was at the Agora in Cleveland – headlined by New Found Glory, with Something Corporate and Finch. Finch was the second band to come on and they put on a live performance that will forever be burned into my brain. Not because of the awesome music blaring from the speakers; rather it was because you literally could not stand up straight during the performance. The pit in front of the stage was  overflowing. We were drenched in sweat – not just our own but each other’s, as well. We were black and blue from mosh pits. We were screaming the words at the top of our lungs, our voices joined in one collective uproar of emotion and spittle. And it. Was. Glorious.

One moment you were in a rage, engulfed in a mosh pit where some musclehead just shoved you across the circle, the next moment you’re trading smiles with the cute punk girl you’re pressed up against in the maddening chaos, and after that you’re screaming the lyrics and losing your voice amid hundreds of other faded t-shirts, studded belts and tight bluejeans.

the only way to find yourself…

…is to lose yourself. Music provides a way to do just that. No thoughts. Just action. Just your body moving with the rhythm of the beat. It’s an elevated state of existence where your mind just seems to be vibrating in ecstasy, operating outside of the terrestrial world surrounding it. You focus on nothing, while realizing everything – a form of meditation.

Live wild, live free.

And turn the radio up.

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.