Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

an assault on the spirit

11/08/2012

(sorry about poor video quality)

So many people feel this assault on the spirit and believe themselves incapable of doing anything about it. They say, “This is the age we live in. Who am I to change it?” or “I’m sorry, it’s just too big of a risk.” So they drive the half-hour to work every day. They sit in their chair, they pick up their tools, sigh, and carry on, deadening their emotions to lessen the pain of being somewhere they don’t want to be for 8 hours each day, 40 hours each week. Passion is subdued for practicality, and too much practicality has a way of chipping away at the human spirit. As Chris Guillebeau says, “Balanced people don’t change the world.”

I felt this assault keenly 16 months ago. I reached a breaking point and knew immediately what I had to do. And I did it. And these past 16 months have been some of the most revealing of my life thus far, full of crippling anxieties and probing self-discoveries.

When we find our spirits assaulted, we must take some sort of action. We must adopt a life of proactivity, not one of simple reactions to outward stimuli that assault our senses, that assault our spirit, that take us out of ourselves. The best defense is a good offense, as the aphorism goes, and to simply wait for our world to change or happiness to take the place of complacency is a waste of time. We are all accountable for our emotional state and the things that happen to us. So if we don’t like where we are or what we’re doing – well, I think you can finish that statement yourself.

stay tuned next week

Stay tuned next week for an important announcement!

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

on inspiration

03/04/2011

I’ve been blogging about the concept of hope for a couple months now (see previous posts). Now let’s take that concept and transform it into the active recognition of itself – inspiration.

3. the act

Simply put: inspiration stems from hope. The latter is a wonderful thing but implies no sense of action – that being its primary weakness. It’s a latent word. I can hope to write a best-selling novel, but, as I said in a post last month, this concept does not imply action. You  need a little bit something else to incite action.

Inspiration…now inspiration is coupled with action. You can’t be inspired to do something and then not even begin to formulate plans to attempt it. I feel like that’s an unofficial rule of the word.

2. a source

The only issue with inspiration is that it always needs a source – whether that source comes from something that wells up deep within us as a response to an emotional stimulus, or if it comes directly from someone else’s actions. It can be as simple as a poster you glimpsed to something as complex as a novel. But regardless, inspiration always results from something.

1. define it

I asked a few people how they would define inspiration. Here were their very scientific (and accurate) answers:

  • something that motivates me to move beyond what I may believe myself capable of
  • coffee
  • brainstorming
  • positive feedback
  • me (although I feel this was a sarcastic answer…)
  • whatever fuels your fire
  • vodka
  • guiding you to achieve a goal
  • the ability to focus one’s mind on a goal or project to the exclusion of anything else that would detract from the process
  • the mere thought of a bottle of wine and a pencil in hand

the process

Once you’ve defined what inspiration is to you (and this definition can and will vary WIDELY), you can then determine sources of inspiration.

Personally I don’t need much motivation to feel inspired – it doesn’t take much for me: one glimpse at my favorite pair of running shoes; one thought about how a character will develop in my novel; one scene from the end of the movie August Rush, or one conversation with a visionary.  This is the second part of the process – finding the source. I found at least three things that inspired me to some sort of action before 9 a.m. this morning. Think of what you can find if you take a closer look – or maybe you already know what inspires you, which leads us to our third and final step: act.

What’s inspired you today?

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 rained on her wedding day

10/05/2010

(This is kind of a follow-up post to a spring posting.)

It rained on her wedding day.

Photo by Mike Lotz

It poured, in fact. All weekend. Without repose. And it’s still going.

Wedding pictures needed umbrellas. Bridesmaids were covered in goosebumps as they shivered with the groomsmen’s jackets draped around their shoulders.

There’s a sort of ephemeral elegance in rain on a wedding day, an intangible sense of the intrinsic nature of love. The soft pattering of raindrops on your face as you’re racing from photo shoot to photo shoot. The water accumulating in your hair til you give it a good dog-like shake and splatter anyone within a ten-foot radius. It reminds you that marriage isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. It’s bickering. It’s burning dinner. It’s the mistakes made. It’s weathering storms.

lost in a moment

The wedding day should never be perfect. For it is in the imperfection that we find perfection. That one crystalline moment where all in the world is right as rain, pun very much intended. Ideally, we can make all of our moments like that, but that would require me delving into meditation and enlightenment, which is not the purpose of this blog post. So for now, for the unenlightened masses of which we are all a part, we have to feel that moment where we are present and everything is perfect in its imperfection.

Personally, I prefer rain on the wedding day. I’ve never been a huge fan of the white wedding. I think it’s superficial and overly extravagant, and opportunistic people who know they can profit from them capitalize without remorse. Twelve-year-old girls are taught to fantasize about their wedding and are looking at wedding dresses by the time they’re 18. They imagine this incredibly perfect day where everything goes right, everybody gets along and the sun is a shining starburst in a clear blue sky. And then they get married and those beautiful storm clouds roll in and the cold, fat raindrops start to fall. It’s a dose of reality right when the bride and groom probably need it most. After all, you have to have rain to have a rainbow.

my moment of (im)perfection

It was my sister’s wedding this past weekend, but here is my moment of (im)perfection. I say it’s imperfect because when it happened, my head went in between my brother and sister’s and the one thought that briefly went through my head was, “Jessie’s head should be in the middle.” 🙂

This took place after the three of us cleared the dance floor and danced to an Irish drinking song by Buck-O-Nine. And then, of course, this naturally followed:

Muscle beers! Yeah!

We keep it classy, folks.

embrace the chaos

08/10/2010

Life is suffering. Life is chaos.

If you don’t believe me, check the local headlines. Watch CNN. Drive through the bad part of town. Read a history book. Take a look at your 401k. You may currently be “happy” with your nuclear family, your pampered lifestyle or your 9-5 paycheck, but all it takes is one car accident, one phone call, one house fire or one person saying “I just want to be friends” to ruin all your best laid plans. And it all boils down to control.

just…let…go…

Everybody wants to control their environments. We feel this burning need to have a direct impact on all of our immediate surroundings. We feel that control of our lives equals a measure of success, of esteem, of prestige. We get comfortable when we control things, when things work out as planned.

This is a flawed line of thinking.

Attempting to control our environment is the source of much of what is wrong with we humans as a species, with us as a civilization. We just can’t let go – and I mean really let go – of what we want to control, which is everything. We’re obsessed with status, with perception, with titles, with money, with politics, with the acquisition of knowledge, with Biggest Loser, with Ryan Seacrest, with our own selfish dreams. We’ve gravitated away from the natural order of things and created our own superficial reality that is anything but reality.

Why do you think we’ve had so many counter-cultural movements since the 50’s? A great starting point could be the Beat Generation, moving forward with the Hippies and now it’s moved onto us, the Gen X-ers and Y-ers. I often hear older folks saying “It’s a different generation” about us 20-somethings. (this quote normally takes place after commiserating over the supposed degradation of our morals and inhibitions in direct regard to sex, drugs and living with our parents long after our welcome has worn out). We don’t have any term or symbol to wholly personify our counter-culture and disillusion, except maybe Fight Club and a wide variety of contraceptives.

A big part of this disillusionment is education. As more and more people acquire a quality education from kindergarten through college, and as the world population continues to increase, AND as more conveniences and amenities arise to make our lives easier and us lazier, more people will begin to question the status quo. More people will realize that the way things are aren’t the way they should be.

As much as we may try, controlling our environments will never fully work, and people are slowly beginning to understand this. And so long as we try to wrestle control from unforeseen circumstances and various inevitabilities, we will never be truly happy. Control creates a false sense of security and blinds us to the world beyond that control. By letting go of what we expect to be there every day, we get a nice wide angle perspective on our surroundings. We’ll see things we’ve never seen. Experience things we’ve never experienced.

the first law of motion

The best martial artists will teach that you should never try to muscle your opponent, but rather use their movements against them. If they push, you pull, always using their own momentum against them. You never try to control your opponent, you let them defeat themselves by taking advantage of their inertia. Same goes for life. Don’t try to muscle it to your will. Roll with it 🙂

I feel as if Western civilization is rising toward a crescendo in its evolutionary process. We’ve become so materialistic, so disillusioned, so obsessed with the white-wedding concept of Western culture that we’ve lost our way, and we’re finally starting to realize it. A new counter-culture is starting to emerge, and I’m very excited to see what form it will take as it evolves and gains momentum.

So for now, live wild, live free, and stay imperfect.

And embrace the beautiful chaos that is life.

we are cleveland

07/07/2010

I know for a fact that I’m one of many Clevelanders tired of the seemingly unending debate over LeBron’s soon-to-be home town. We’ve been hearing about it for months: on ESPN, on the front page of the PD and via Twitter, where every tweeter is his or her own sportscast. Conjectures on LeBron’s potential move have been made by respected sports authorities. Predictions have been put forth by nearly every season ticket holder. But ultimately, as we all know, there is only one man who will decide: The King, himself. So I say this: let him choose his own fate, and let us Clevelanders determine what really matters to us as a city. As a people. Because LeBron is not Cleveland.

We are Cleveland.

To state the obvious: what LeBron has done in a mere six seasons as a Cavalier is incredible. He is undoubtedly one of the best basketball players of all time and one of the most inspiring athletes of our generation. Hundreds of people will go watch his pre-game warm-up – at away games. He not only boosts the local economy, he drastically increases game attendance in cities across the country when he struts into their town with nothing but his uniform, sweatband and pair of sparklin’ Nike Zooms. His poise, his confidence, the camaraderie he shares with his teammates – it all comes together every game like a birthday magic show. All the kids are entertained by the feats whether they like the magician or not. This is all well and good, but it so easily lets one simple fact slip through the cracks.

We are Cleveland.

LeBron is not a permanent fixture, however much we would love to claim the opposite to be the case. If he leaves, he will be missed. No doubt about that. He’s done much for this city by his mere existence and raw talent, and both our wallets and our hearts will hurt at his loss. But I hate to break it to you LeBron: you are not Cleveland. Cleveland was a great city before you got here. Cleveland was a great city while you were here. And Cleveland will still be a great city after you leave. Why? Because

We are Cleveland.

We are the common folk commuting every day to work. We are the revelers on St. Patty’s day downtown. We are the laymen drinking Dortmunder on the patio of Great Lakes Brewing Company. We are the Westpark businesses trying to save St. Pat’s. We are the former frat boys and wishing-we-were-still Alpha Xi’s partying on West 6th. We are the speed demons getting pulled over in Linndale. We are the ones with tattoos of grilled-cheese sandwiches simply to get a 25% discount at our favorite restaurant. We are the mosh pitters at the Agora. We are the chicken and waffles at Southside in Tremont. We are the paths of the Metroparks. We are the exhibits at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. We are the opening acts at PlayHouse. We are the guitars at the Rock Hall.

We are Cleveland.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you leave LeBron, we’ll move on. We’re used to disappointment – that’s part of our DNA in Cleveland. We haven’t had a winning football team (and at one point even a team at all) for more than 40 years. We haven’t had a World Series title since ’48. And we’re currently being hit hard by one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history. But we’ve been loyal. We’ve been patient. We’ve been resilient, adapting to the ebb and flow like a fisherman on the lake. Those of us who were born Clevelanders and those of us who became Clevelanders via new employment or simply the fortuitous winds of Fate.

We are Cleveland.

We may not have a flag or a tattered banner waving romantically in the smoke-filled skies above a burning battlefield, but we are in a war that is currently raging around the central figure of LeBron James. A war that is not for land. Not for power. Not for love. But for our souls. No matter what happens, no matter who plays professional sports for us, no matter how many corrupt politicians infect our bureaucratic structure, no matter how many times our river catches fire, and no matter how many bullshit magazine articles tell us we’re the most miserable fucking city in the country:

We. Are. Cleveland.

And you best remember it.

“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 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

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.