October 31, 2008

Dave Matthews on "Speeking" One's Mind

(Yes. That's the real Dave. Follow him on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/DaveJMatthews.)

October 29, 2008

Apparently this picture day is the new "in" thing

So I've been frequenting a lot of blogs recently, and a common theme I've found is that many bloggers have a day of the week they choose to take a picture of themselves and they post it that same day every week. SO, I'm going to start that same trend for two reasons:

  1. It'll force me to more frequently update my blog. When I post more pictures, I'm forced to think about more significant things to write about.
  2. It's cool to kind of observe my growth and see trends in my shaving patterns or when I wear glasses and when I don't or when I have bags under my eyes and when I don't. It'd simply be cool to look back and be like, "Oh yeah, I remember that week because of those bags," or "Oh yeah, that stupid pimple that got all pus-filled and wouldn't freaking rid itself from its comfortable home on my forehead was so frustrating."
  3. I got the new MacBook, which is gorgeous and fast and sleek and light and everything beautiful ever. BASICALLY, I have a webcam and photobooth to take pictures and quickly upload them.
Simply put, this is my happiness or my weirdness of the week:
Now tell me Photo Booth isn't cool. This reminds me of the Brady Bunch (and of how much of a loser I am).

I think I'll call this Gratuitous Self-Image Wednesdays.

October 26, 2008

You can vote however you like!

Or you could just vote Obama, but these kids are the best.

October 20, 2008

The Magic of Perspective

Autumn is beautiful
"I doubt myself a lot." It almost hurts me to hear someone say that. Something I've learned in the last year is that life is all about the lens you look through when enjoying it.

You could doubt yourself, or you could question yourself. Kanye West, in his short but insightful book, Thank You and You're Welcome, says something like this:
I question anyone who questions me, but I question myself all the time!
Doubting yourself is acknowledging your flaws to an extent and telling yourself there's nothing you can do. Questioning yourself opens the doors to "What can I do about it? How can I improve? Where do I go from here?"

You could struggle, or you could welcome new challenges. When you view something as a struggle, there's very little opportunity to move forward. It's hard to march on with a smile. I can't stand struggles, but I lovingly welcome challenges. They give me something to look forward to, something to live for, really. Dhrumil phrases it well in his essay, "Struggle vs. Challenge: My Road to Completion":

A challenge may not be easy, but it can be joyful. A challenge is something that can be embraced even from the begin of the journey. A challenge, while it can be difficult, does not include the added dimension of resistance.

A struggle is being in once place and needing to be in another. A struggle is not only difficult, but it is a burden. A struggle is a challenge that is filled with resistance. A struggle is no fun at all.

How do you know where your journey stands? All you need to do is simply ask yourself, "Am I complete where I am?"

One of the greatest gifts that I've been given is the gift of completion. It didn't start that way and I've had many bumps in the road, but now that I discovered it, I want to help others discover it too.

Challenges are beautiful things.

I'm pumpkin carving this week! Haven't done it since elementary school =)

You could have bad experiences, or you could have learning experiences. So often I witness complainers talking about how terrible a night, a relationship, an experience of any sort was. I hate using this word, but I can't help but pity them. Something I love doing is finding the light in the darkest of situations. There are some occasions when it's harder than others, but when it clicks, it's a lot more gratifying than incessantly complaining. I can't really think of any essay or book that cites something completely relevant, but I know Kanye wrote something like,
Never complain without offering a solution! You rarely see positive results from people who do nothing but complain. The majority of the time, complainers seek only to be heard with no solution in mind. Once heard, they're off to find something else to complain about.
It's all about perspective. Open your eyes a bit to see the learning experiences, to welcome challenges, to question yourself! You'll see nothing but self-growth, and there's nothing like the sense of achievement you get from seeing yourself grow.

Be fresh(-minded),

P.S. A way I've tracked my self-growth has been through this blog. Occasionally I track back by checking out my archives, and the change in mindset and the increase openness to new ideas and points-of-view are totally evident. Try blogging and see if it works for you.

October 17, 2008

The Purpose of Lying (or lack thereof)

How often do we tell people things that we follow up with, "Keep it on the DL though," or "...but don't tell anyone"? Ever thought of why that happens so often? How about what those things are -- those that we follow up with the disclaimer?

This post was supposed to go up in August when I had a long conversation with a friend about a relevant topic, but because I can't say that the insight is 100% relevant at this point in my life, I'll briefly touch upon what he and I discussed. We had a conversation that almost ended in the fashion described above, but just when we thought it was over, it had just begun. That disclaimer sparked a conversation all about why one would ever want to hide something.

Something I've deduced (don't want to say concluded because it's still open to change) is that we hide the things we're least proud of. We hide the things we'd like no one to know, but most of the time, another person is involved so unfortunately, they have to know. Sometimes we even wish that person didn't have to know. I'm sure a lot of us have even realized this, but I've found, in myself and a lot of individuals I speak to, that very rarely do we actually make the conscious decision to change. Very rarely do we put our feet down and tell ourselves that the only things we want to be doing are the things we'd be happy other people knowing about.

I'm not saying to live your life to achieve the highest regard by others, but if you really think about it, if we can't have someone know what we're doing, there's a reason for hiding these things. In my short past, there are several things I don't like to talk about:

  • arguments I've had with people about utterly stupid things (but, of course, I realize this AFTER the argument and not during)
  • girls I've taken interest in/been involved with for absurd or superficial reasons (or no reason at all)
  • decisions I've made that go against things I typically stand for
  • the fact that I was gifted with a leather wallet that I currently use despite the material
  • the fact that I bought a leather belt after going vegan because I was too lazy to go out and find a mock leather one
  • what I think of myself, whether positive or otherwise
I'm sure there are more, but those are what I could come up with off the top of my head. The common theme among these things, however, is the fact that it's simply embarrassing, sometimes shameful.

Then I look back, and I wonder, why did I do it? Why'd I do something I'd be embarrassed to talk about? There's little to no logical reason, but there is a change to be made. That change is to be conscious of the things you do with a semi-mentality (if that even makes sense) that someone's watching what you do. Your peers know what you're doing. Then, act and be proud of what you do. (Please PLEASE note, however, that I don't encourage doing things that your friends want you to do. Do what you would do, what falls in line with your values and perspectives. Just pick the best decisions based on that rather than what other people may want you to do.)

As wild as this might sound, I challenge you to start talking about the things in your life you don't feel comfortable talking about, things you'd typically avoid discussing. Spilling your flawed actions is the most effective way of reminding yourself WHY you should do things you'd be proud of -- no matter who you're talking to. If I hooked up with girl X, I shouldn't feel bad about it. I shouldn't pretend like I didn't do it. That's not to say I should run around announcing it, but there should just be no shame. As I type this, I'm hesitant to reveal that I had a few leather goods. I'm hesitant because this post is confirming that there are relationships I've had that I don't talk about. I'm hesitant because this post is announcing that I don't live by 100% of the values I discuss in this blog 100% of the time. It's all about taking baby steps, though.

If you're going to eventually lie about it, fuck it. Don't waste your time resenting something you don't have to do.

Stay true to the world (but most importantly, to yourself),

P.S. If you have any nice pictures that are aimless but are just nice to look at, send them my way. I'd love to throw other people's material on this thing (and I'm starting to run out of random pictures. I haven't went out much recently to actually take pictures.) Thanks :)

Living Beauty

World Animal Day was observed earlier this month - on October 4th. Started in Florence Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists, World Animal Day has since expanded its focus from its original intent, which was to bring attention to endangered or threatened species. The day is now set aside as a time to reflect on all of the animals we share this world with, and our involvement with them - and to spur action to commemorate that respectful relationship. Half the world's mammals are declining in population and more than a third are probably threatened with extinction, according to an update of of the Red List (an inventory of biodiversity issued by the IUCN), released on October 6, 2008
- Alan Taylor of "The Big Picture"; blog post dated October 17, 2008

A white lion. Who knew those existed?

Beautiful. There's definitely a reason I couldn't eat anything that came from another living being. They're all way too precious. Who wants to go to the zoo with me?

October 9, 2008

Happiness is Infectious

My happiness.

It's been too long, and it always upsets me to have people come to me telling me that they've checked this thing numerous times to see NOTHING new, so I'll throw in a quick word to maintain at least a little bit of interest.

I'm writing my college essay as I type (well, I was 5 seconds ago until I got distracted by this heavenly demon (talk about oxymorons lmfao) called the "Internet"), and it's on this line a really grounded brother shared with me: "True happiness is only real when shared."

Think about that line for a second. I'm not saying you have to split your veggie burger and give up half your smoothie for another person (though that would work), but rather, share your indispensable joy. Something I see WAY too often is really purposeful individuals, who have so many things that make their life great, not share their moments. Don't get me wrong: this isn't because they're greedy. Most of the time, it's just that it never crossed their minds.

Why I blog, why I twitter, why I campaign for various things, why I make an ass of myself in school to get people involved in things like Homecoming and Model Congress is all because of this line.

The things I blog about are things that (1) make my life a little more enjoyable, purposeful, (2) make me a little more positive, or (3) make me a little more spiritually grounded -- all things that I think everyone could use (no matter how happy or enlightened they may be).

The things I twitter about are things I'm present to at the given moment that might just be happening OR things that have caught my interest and might catch yours too (i.e. the sun rising, the quality food I may be enjoying, the general environment I'm in).

The sunset from the top of Pier 17 @ South Street Seaport.

The things I fight for -- animal rights via the vegan diet, AIDS awareness, healthy living in general via exercise, diet, and no bullshit drama -- I used to do just for myself. I just kinda did them. They were part of me, but recently, in increasing amounts, I've shared these things with the people around me because I know others might find fulfillment in exploring paths I'm trekking along myself.

Finally, school activities that I talk about so much to kids around school. Let me be straight with you when I say that I wouldn't be the person I am if it weren't for the extracurriculars. When I started high school and jumped into a number of these things, my intentions were split between hmm this could be cool to try out. everyone else is doing it and NICE. now all i have to do is write this on my college résumé that i'll be submitting in a few years. Eventually the mindset transitioned to i'm really getting a lot out of these activities. a lot of who i am and a lot of the way i carry myself is founded upon what experiences in these clubs have given me. Now, as a senior member of many of these activities, I don't only see my responsibility to be to assist in the running of the club and to make sure things are going the way they're supposed to. Being that my life has changed as a result of these activities, I only think it correct to create the experience I had and expand upon it for all the new students. There's a lot of purpose to be gained from these things, and I only see to make that known and available for the students around me.

That's how I share my happiness, my fulfillment, and my purpose. That's how I reap more than I sow. These three things -- happiness, fulfillment, and purpose -- do not come in limited quantities. They aren't scientific, so they don't follow the laws of conservation of whatever. What brings you happiness? What made your day today? Share it with someone. I highly doubt they won't crack a smile. Heck, share it with me. Comment or hit me up personally. I'd love to hear your happiness.

I think success should be measured by the smiles you induce. Something like this (for the math nerds):
Success = ((Average intensity of smile from 1-10)(Number of smiles))^(Number of resulting smiles on other faces)

Stay real,

P.S. Tumblr's a great way to spread your joy. I'd use it if I wasn't already settled in with Blogger. It'd be heartbreaking to leave my online home. Here are a few people that have done a great job at making my day with their tidbits:
P.P.S. It's Breast Cancer Awareness month. Wear your jeans and your pink and flaunt your support. For those of you in Herricks, donate a bit of your change in the front office. For those from elsewhere, Avon and the Susan G. Komen Foundation have been doing great things with their money.

Note the pink ribbon-shaped firework on the left. Crazy, no? (Taken October 5)

P.P.P.S. For those that weren't there, Semiformal was RIDICULOUS. Be on the lookout for a winter formal. Big ups to the rest of the Exec Board and the many individuals that made this possible. Love all of you!

P.P.P.P.P.S. (This has got to stop) Other shots from the Semiformal:

After all the dancing (and sweating) lmfao.
Our beautiful banners.