The first year of Free Thinking is now available on Amazon.com as an 88-page paperback.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
The blog is currently undergoing some huge changes and will officially be switching hosting platforms and format within the next week or so. As of now, posting will continue as usual (might be a little slow because of this thing called finals week). But stay tuned!
Monday, December 5, 2011
I think the greatest triumph is when people realize that what they do, who they are, the words they speak, and the things they think, matter. When purpose and reason is assigned to life, that life obtains purpose and reason. Realizing this empowers the individual to not only act in accordance to his own wants and needs, but to see that every little thing they invest themselves in has an effect on someone or something else. When we realize that we are not merely in the world but the world also in us, it becomes ours; suddenly nothing is impossible. The most effective way to obtain purpose in life is not to find a void in the world that needs filling and attempt to fill it, but rather to answer the call for what brings us alive. The world itself is dynamic; if the world is within us and the world is dynamic, we have no excuse to remain static and complacent. We matter. But the journey of purpose is not one that is traveled with eyes down, cautiously avoiding imperfection in the road; it is one traveled with eyes forward, knowing all the while that a confident step forward is one step closer to somewhere.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Happiness may be such a hard idea to grasp not because it is complex, but rather because many times, our concept of it is not accurate. Happiness is not about being happy. It is impossible to “achieve” happiness because to consistently exist in that state of being is near impossible. Life has its highs; conversely, and undeniably, it also has its lows, many of which occur due to factors that we have no control over. Happiness is a concept that is more centered on freedom. Being content and “happy” in life is about setting up your own life and making decisions in a way that allows you to live every facet of your life to its fullest, while meeting minimal unnecessary resistance. It means giving yourself a direct path to success in personal life, accomplishments, and progress in whatever passion your heart possesses.
So, how do we avoid resistance? First, we differentiate resistance from challenge. Struggle and hardship are necessary to accomplish what we dream, but what holds us back more than the challenges that present themselves to us, are the challenges that we present to ourselves. When we allow our lives to be dictated by any sort of negative, we give up a necessary component to living a full life—the ability to decide for ourselves the direction that we will head in. When we allow a part of our being, however small, to be guided by that which only guides backwards, naturally our entire being will follow suit. This could happen sooner or it could happen later, but it will happen. When we refuse to hand over the reigns of any aspect of our lives, we more fully become “us.” We steer our hopes, dreams, thoughts, and thus our lives in a direction that is not backwards, but rather moves forward. A direction that enables rather than hinders, and one that leads to a peaceful state of being rather than one that searches for happiness in vain. The next time you find yourself searching to no avail, instead of changing direction in haste, find the rein that is not in your hand, and take it.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Being thankful is both an individual and collective process. Thankfulness is not a trait inherent to man, because it is not independent of a receiving object—in order to be thankful, there must be something that we are thankful for. Thankfulness is a dependent trait, but this being said, it is something that is rooted in the individual and his own world, in the sense that being thankful is a recognition of ourselves in relation to others. Gratitude reflects the notion that who we are is dependent on much more than what we can accomplish alone. When we are thankful for something, we give something other than ourselves credit for some positive aspect of who we are. Being thankful is realizing, in a positive and selfless way, that we are not alone in the world, not alone in our lives, and especially not alone in our accomplishments, both personal and otherwise. Likewise, the act of giving thanks is an extension of this realization, and externalizing the acknowledgement that in order to be the people we are, we must rely on outside factors and other people. In many ways, thankfulness is one of the highest yet most fundamentally human thought and feeling processes—it calls to mind how simple the idea of coexistence and peaceful interdependence really is. It reminds us that being thankful and making that recognition is something that can transcend time, distance, and hardship, and remind us of who we really are, how far we have come, and how far, with all that we are thankful for, we have to go.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Our actions are a lot further-reaching than we might think. Why are we here today if not to leave something or to work towards something tomorrow? As important as it is to live right and to live right now, it is equally as important to keep tomorrow in mind and to think past your immediate feelings and actions; impulsivity, like many things, is only good in moderation. An impulsive life cannot be meaningful, for it is only self-serving and refuses to allow for meaningful relationships that come from thought of how our actions affect others. To live a truly good and meaningful life, the repercussions of how we act must be looked at as an extension of ourselves—how we act is ultimately who we are. Although feeling is an individual process, action is felt by more than just the soul that performs the action. Ultimately, action can be tangible in the sense that it can affect real people in real ways. Living without regrets is good. Nobody should ever regret, but conversely, using that phrase as a crutch for living selfishly and acting with reckless abandon does nothing but harm to the individual and those around him. Just as one decision to act can affect another person’s path of life in a forward manner, action without regard can be equally as debilitating as action with regard is enabling. Humans are resilient but also vulnerable, and to live a good life it is absolutely crucial to remember the vulnerability the next time emotion extends into action and action into being.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Inspired by all of the kind people in my life.
In life, the controllable inevitably transitions into the uncontrollable, and what was deemed a choice yesterday is a situation today. The actions of today are the circumstances of tomorrow. Although fate is oftentimes considered unchangeable, what people do not realize is that its inelasticity is due to our own choices—we make our inevitable fate what it is. The choices we make in living, in loving, and in our words and in our kindness or lack thereof, are crucial for not only fulfilling our obligation as human beings to leave the world and those in it a little better than we found them, but they are also crucial to our long-term success as humans. When you have the choice to say a kind word or do a kind deed, do so. Life works in cycles, and although ‘what goes around comes around’ does not resonate well with many, kind actions do cycle through when the time comes that you are the one who needs a kind word, needs a friend, or finds themselves in a situation that would be easier if there was another person to connect with. The benefits of malice, if any, are short lived and self serving, whereas those of a simple action, word, or a mindful way of living shine through our entire being and allow us to be one step closer to peace. The purpose for the road traveled by some people into your life, if only for a brief moment in time, may hinge on your decision to either be or not be kind, and how you decide to act could determine where, beyond your own universe, they continue to travel to.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Humans are passionate creatures. We are mistake driven—we mess up, feel when we are not supposed to, and we try with all of our being when all else tells us that it is hopeless. Trial and error underpins our existence, because driven by passion, we do, and how the world responds determines whether or not we try again. We are resilient, and the resilience shines through when we keep doing what our hearts drive us to, and keep living when we are the only one that believes, with the faith that our belief will be contagious. Within all of us, there is the person, who, when he recognizes even a seed of possibility, sees an entire field, even when the land he finds himself on is barren and naught. Let us find our seeds and plant them, for the world responds to passion with opportunity, even if that opportunity means a field that must be dreamt before it is sown.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Time rules our lives: hours in a day, day sin a week, weeks in a year, years in our lives. The limitations that time provides gives definition to the changes that we witness—what would a year mean if it did not pass with the expected shifts in life that occurred within it? Units of time were developed to be consistent with how the human race lives their lives—hours and minutes consistent with our physical cycles, days and months with our cultural recognitions, and years consistent with the manner in which humans mature. Would we notice time without change? Is time beneficial because it gives us a rough estimate of how much we can do until we return to the ground, or is it another attempt by the human race to standardize the way in which we live, setting invisible but undeniable limits on the possible?
Monday, October 31, 2011
The world we live in is a hectic one and the lives that we live are no less hectic. We find ourselves swimming in a sea of what ifs, could’ve beens, what may be’s, should I’s. We stay afloat because of the must-dos and the have-tos. Oftentimes the answers lay in the questions and asking is the most important part of moving forward and living life, but other times what we need to do is take a step back and look.
Why do we need to step back and reexamine? We must do so because maybe it is not the job of the world to present things perfectly to us, but rather our job to find the beauty in the imperfection—to find the light in the dark. Perhaps sorting through the insanity of real life is the challenge as well as the meaning of life—simply because sorting isn’t easy. No one ever said it was, and no one will ever be able to look you in the eye and say it will be. But those that find the good in others, the good in their lives, and the good in the world are the ones that will find it. With belief in goodness and faith as the fuel, the search for order in the divine chaos of our existences will never grow old. Search and you will find. Do not give up the fight.
It is up to each and every one of us to find order and faith in that which has been given to us, for the world has no order unless you assign it order, no meaning unless you give it some, and no life if you do not go live yourself. So go and assign order. Give meaning to each one of your actions and relationships. Go live. Above all, have faith in others, their ability to change you, and your ability to change them, because through the madness of reality we are able to find peace in the simple fact that we are not mad alone.
Monday, October 24, 2011
I think that a lot of what we do in life because we “have to” doesn’t ever really turn out to be what we “had” to, but rather the act of doing was what was necessary. Our schooling, jobs, and the things we learn and produce are not the underlying reasons for our existences, but rather the societal extensions of what allows us to truly be. The learning and making is coincidental, but the processes of learning and doing themselves are opportunities for us to better ourselves, and to learn what we are all about.
Will we fold in the face of apparent irrelevance? Or will we allow ourselves to rise and discover not only our weaknesses and limits, but our passions and strengths, and become better than who we were before presented with the must-dos of our lives? Truth is, none of us really need to buy into society. At any point, we all have the power to change our direction and decide to not do what society mandates us to, but most of us will end up buying in.
We can buy in without losing our hopes of bettering ourselves and the world around us. We can buy in without giving up the notion that we can and will live the lives we’ve dreamed. Do not let the stagnant nature of modern-day society stifle your imagination or force you to lose your drive. Let yourself stay a dreamer and do simply because you can—with the knowledge that your act of doing says more than what you are actually doing ever will.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I think a lot of the time, God brings people into our lives in order to teach us something or fill a void that we have, whether, in our thoughts, actions, or what we feel. But other times, very special times, God brings people into our lives that are there not to fill a void, but to enable us to fully realize ourselves. They are placed there to make the full parts of our lives even more full. They are the ones that are able to see straight through to your heart and your beliefs, and do nothing but strengthen them. These people come quietly, and when we’re lucky, never leave. The thing about these people is that you do not recognize the gifts they have given you until you begin to recognize yourself and the changes that are subconsciously being made to your life that make it better. When the process of recognition begins, there is no hope in going back to the person you were before you let the one that changed you into your life. True human interaction is irreversible and beautiful, but in order to begin experiencing the gifts of others, you must first give of yourself.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
The stories of the heart are not stories of the mouth, whose telling could never say it all
Nor of the pen, whose ink merely marks the surface
Nor of the actor, whose interpretations could never suffice
Nay, the stories of the hear are those kept in the libraries of our souls
They are the pages we turn when life goes all but black
The piece of life that pulls our heartstrings
And lets the dust float off and settle
The stories of the hear are never told for more than one life, for they can only be told
To, for, and by oneself
Whether by choice or by chance, sometimes their legacy lives on
But the truest of stories are born and bred, grow old and die within each one of us
Although the stories of our hearts, why they do what they do, will never fully be explained
Sometimes the actions they inspire can collide with the actions of another’s story
And ah, if they do collide
But if we live and love, breathe and take in, feel and let feel
Our dust never settles nor does it collect
On volumes of life that breed life anew
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Journeying away from what you know and what you think you know in order to find more in life is never an easy thing, but there reaches a point where you realize that the only thing standing between you and being truly happy is yourself. It does not mean that you are in your own way or are some kind of obstacle, but rather that in order to take a step forward, you must make the conscious decision to do so. When you figure out that the only right action is forward action, that to achieve something you must do something, and that the people who are or were in your life were placed there for a reason, then you are ready to make the first step. Life is to short to waste a day lamenting over what you do not have or what you have left behind, because when you journey towards happiness, you will find that journeying requires taking steps—in turn, these steps lead you to a place that is not nearly the same place that you began. It won’t be easy, and the beginning of any journey is surely the hardest part. We never really know what’s coming next do we? But when you realize that somewhere between the conscious decision to live and reaching your destination (which, you’ll find you never really do) you have found yourself, embrace it. A day walking towards the horizon is never wasted for the horizon is always there—it is in realizing that the world is not flat and that there will always be a sunset for us to chase that we ever become truly happy.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
It seems that a lot of life is spent preparing, saving, and becoming ready for tomorrow; it seems that we live in a constant state of “warming up.” We do what we are supposed to do, say the right things, get ourselves on the track that will lead us to wherever we are supposed to go, and hold back our passions a little bit until our lives begin. So the question is…when do our lives really start? When is it time for the warm-up to end and for us to take the field and give it everything we’ve got? The answer is now. In life, there is no practice, no warm-up, and no drills that allow us to begin with a clean slate when it “matters.” There will be a point where each one of us realizes that there is not one moment in life more important than the next—we realize that it all matters. When we live, when we play the game of life, the slate cannot ever be clean if we intend to ever truly be. Errors happen, but we are better because of them. Sometimes a teammate will quit, a head coach retires and a new one steps in, and the way we played that we thought was right the entire time turns out to be completely wrong. But for every teammate that quits, every mentor that exits our lives quietly, and every change in living that we make, there is a new friend waiting for us to meet and change our lives, a new role model that is looking for the empty space under his wing to be filled, and great results waiting for us because of our willingness to change. Success happens too, and we are more driven because of it. The great thing about really allowing yourself to play the game of life is that you never have to try out, you never have to retire, and from the very moment you choose to be until your last breath, you are the star of the team.
Monday, September 26, 2011
How many of us underutilize the opportunity we have to live? Sure, this question could be extremely subjective in the sense that the definition of “living” varies, but on a level deeper than surface, the root of the definition is universal. Living is taking advantage of what you have, when you have it, and where you are. How many times have we pressed snooze to put off facing what the world has to offer? Or, how many times have we just gone through the motions of our everyday lives, waiting for that magical moment where it all gets “better?” Right now is that “better.” When we put off life’s experiences until tomorrow, sooner or later the number of tomorrows that once seemed endless become limited, and we lay waste to the greatest gift of all: today. Today is a gift because today gives us a choice. It is a choice to either be fully immersed in ourselves and in those around us, or sit around and wait for life to discover us, which will never happen without action. It is a gift because for each and every one of us, today has come at the perfect time. It has been waiting for us our entire lives, so we need to take a hold of it. There are far too many people that would take our spots in life if they could, but the reality is that they cannot. So why not make the most out of our own realities? Nobody else can or will.
Friday, September 23, 2011
I think if we all lived our lives and made our judgments on the way things were, on the events that have occurred, and the way people used to be, we’d never be able to look forward or see the world in a good light. If we fixate on what is done and not what strides are being made in order to better, we’ll always be stuck. The world and people themselves evolve simply because of the concepts of forgiveness and growth. By placing emphasis on the journey, on what positive actions are being performed to recognize mistakes, we are able to clear mindedly see what steps need to be taken. Acknowledging mistakes is the hardest part. Taking responsibility for what you have done and allowing the blame to be laid on yourself if need be is no easy task, but the ability to do so is what marks and differentiates a person that is capable of growth from a person who will go no further from the state of being they are in. Finding the good in the world cannot be done by merely examining the concrete, but also taking a look at the more dynamic journey that takes place immediately after. Being able to see in a positive light requires the examination the “post-actions,” or the things done afterwards, and from there, making the judgment.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
With so many people in the world, so many thoughts, feelings, interactions, motives, and underpinnings that drive us all, life gets overwhelming sometimes. There is so much to keep in balance and so much to do just in order to be composed enough to again keep everything in order tomorrow. Much of our concerns are transitory and when looked at in a grander scheme, mean nothing. A common error I think we all commit in living our day to day lives is trying to live for everybody else. Trying to do what will keep our little worlds in equilibrium, and how could we be faulted for that? Naturally we want our lives to run smoothly, function perfectly, and well, just plain work. However, there reaches a time when we need to live for ourselves and make decisions based on what will and does make us truly happy, regardless of what we are expected to do—by ourselves and by those around us. Live your life regardless of the short term effects, the short term downfalls, and just plain regardless of the short term. What is crucial to our success as human beings is not concerning ourselves with that which will not stand the test of time and hold weight once that time passes, but with that which is eternal—people, experiences, and decisions that enable and empower our souls to grow, our minds to expand, and our hearts to be open to the world around us.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Life and experience are two words that are often used to explain the specific, but are more universal than they may appear. The two words are mutually dependent on one another, for without life there is no experience and without experience there is no life. Experience here can be defined as a situation that is taken into account by an individual using multiple senses. Experience can “happen” to a person, but does experience really exist without other people to share it with? Try to think about the last time you laughed, a joyful experience. Odds are you were either with people who shared the experience with you—you became happy as a direct result of other people to share your happiness with, or you experienced something and proceeded to share it with others—you became happy and passed it on to others. The purpose of this is to provide common ground, for when we take others’ experiences into account, we are able to see through their eyes and they through ours. When experience is universal, understanding is achieved. Experience always involves more than one life, and becomes “life” as a universal when shared with others.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
There is a reason that throughout the course of our experiences as humans, we are put on both the giving and the needing ends of the spectrum of human interaction. Life functions as a give and a take, both in our actions with others and our interactions with the world. When we find ourselves needing more than being capable of giving, it makes sense to question what type of god would put us there. Wouldn’t a merciful God make it a little bit easier for us? The answer to this question lies not in the characterization of God, but in the definition of mercy. I think His mercy lies not in allowing us to breeze through, but in giving us the chance to be something more, feel something more, and do the same for others. The struggles we face are given to us for a specific reason—the troubles that look us in the eye are the ones that show us our weaknesses and give us the opportunity to strengthen them. It is almost like our troubles are custom tailored for our lives. Pray for patience and you will be put into situations that require you to be patient on your own accord. Pray for forgiveness and you will be put in situations where you must forgive others. The real reward in life is not avoiding struggle but overcoming it. It does not come in always getting what we ask for, but working towards what we want in situations that allow us to examine and change the ways in which we live.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Inspired by my latest Philosophy class and by a Saturday spent doing nothing that was necessary.
The value in life lies not in doing what we have to do in order to survive, but in doing what gives our survival its value. When we set our agendas and our must-do ideals to the side and instead now and again do what gives us pleasure, what puts us into contact with other people, and what drives our souls, our existences become more. Our lives become less of merely doing to survive and more of doing to be. No matter how quickly we complete our to-do lists, and how many X’s reside on our calendars, there will always be more to do and even more to cross off and put behind us. However, when we focus less on completing and putting behind and more on putting forward, on acting in order to remember and not to forget, then we become closer to being whole, and avoid wasting another day as a merely a tool to society. If it hasn’t already happened, there will come a day soon when there is too much to do and not enough time to do it all. Ask yourself this: do I need to do this to survive, or to live? If the answer is to merely survive, then you must ask yourself whether it is more important to survive or to really live.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Change is indicative of growth, not of failure. If you ever find yourself in a position where life is not what you knew life to be, where the position you are in is unfamiliar to you, and where you are faced to make choices and decisions that you never thought you would, do not fear. Change is dynamic in the sense that in order for a person to grow, he must change along with and in accordance to his situation that has changed. If most of us had our way, once we found a place where we could say we were happy, we’d never want to change. The error in this temptation is lack of foresight. Most of us were happy as infants. How did we know any different? We had no idea of the greatness that lay before us, and with that greatness the struggles, hardships, but ultimate rewards that life would bring. To render yourself static, reluctant to change, and complacent is to put yourself in a position of zero potential. The great was never achieved through complacency, and life was never truly lived without occasionally looking towards the horizon.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Whether you have experienced it or not, the notion of finding happiness without really looking for it is tough to wrap your head around. When you live your life in hope that you are living well, living right, and living with an undying faith in the good of the world, you begin to believe that sooner or later, the world will show the same faith in you. Never doubt that it will. This faith is called happiness. When you do receive it, your individual world is level and even. Your mind, composed of your beliefs, hopes, and dreams, matches your heart, composed of your feelings, which matches your surroundings and circumstance. Happiness doesn’t come from just simply liking your situation. Nor is happiness a destination, achieved after a culmination of both good and bad experiences, times that have both tried your mind and your heart but also let them rejoice. It can be found over and over again, just like inspiration, and can be looked at as karma of sorts. Give faith and you will receive faith. When you stumble upon happiness, you know so because you are able to look out into the chaos of the world or even the chaos of your own life, and your soul is quiet. It is content, and you could not imagine living any other life but your own.
Friday, September 2, 2011
I think that the here and now always arrives at just the right time because all of our actions have led us to this point, and whether or not we feel prepared for the present, we are. Life throws curveballs, but there is also a part of life that is merciful—that will not give you something you cannot handle. A common fallacy in attempting to understand life is succumbing to the notion that life’s unpredictability is interchangeable with the idea that it is unnecessarily unfair. The claim that life is unfair cannot be denied. It is extremely unfair. But unfair is also what creates good and what spawns growth of mankind. It forces the one with the cards stacked against him to evaluate who he is, who he wants to be, and for whom and what he will stand for. You may not feel ready for a situation, but when life forces you to re-evaluate and use what you’ve got, you have no choice but to be ready. In that sense, you are never ill-prepared. Something about life gives you the tools you need to face anything thrown at you, whether or not you have recognized them as tools yet.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
We’re not there yet, but we took the first step. We’re not there yet, but we know one day we will be. The rest of our lives is right now and there is no better time for forever to begin. We make mistakes, take wrong turns, and cross things out. We are human, but know that one of the most glorious things about being human is that through all the downs, the tears, the feelings of emptiness, confusion, and distrust in our own world, one way or another we’ll always find our way—even when progress seems so far and few between. We’re not there yet and we don’t know when we will be. Hell, we don’t even know where “there” is. What we do know however, is that life will be lived and love will be behind every step on the journey to wherever we are going.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Finding without looking—seems like a contradiction doesn’t it? Seems unfair that we could discover without putting in the gruntwork or be rewarded but not searching. The tricky part however, is that not looking is the hard part. Anyone is able to wander towards the general vicinity of what they are supposed to do and what society says they should. It takes courage to stop looking and forcing when all else tells you that is exactly what you should be doing. There is a reason inspiration is found and not achieved. The purest of life’s experiences come when our guard is let down because it is then that we are, whether by choice or not, open to the world and to what is around us—simply because of the fact that we have no expectations. When we are not anticipating, all preconceived notions are thrown to the wind and experiences reaches its fullest potential and is most effective. Acting on passion and instinct is not a conscious decision but a conscience decision. You owe it to yourself, if no one else, to follow your heart and your heart alone. Why squander energy searching for the predetermined when what is meant to be will be if we live our lives in faith?
Friday, August 26, 2011
One of the most important parts of being truly happy is being truly aware and giving of yourself in that awareness. Being present doesn’t mean forgetting about the past or not wondering about the future. Rather, it means you use what has come before and the possibility of what will come after now to allow yourself to be immersed and act on it. Being happy is not abandoning tears shed, losing touch with our old stories, or trying to compare a current state of happiness to another time where we said we were happy. Happiness is subjective, and your happiness now is no better nor worse than it was before—it is perfect in this moment and you are perfect in this moment. It is by remaining open to the possibility that there could be something better than what was that keeps us all moving. It means embracing the fact that every step and misstep you have taken has led you to the here and now. It is in that here and now, with others who fuel that state of being, that we find heaven underneath our feet.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Popular opinion says that having a single home is optimal for growth. I think that statement can be challenged because the definition of home can be challenged. Home in its truest form is not a place but a state of being facilitated and defined by a physical place, and is no more concrete than is the soul inside of the physical body. Home does not necessarily mean that everything is familiar and everything runs smoothly while you are “there.” Above all, home can and should be defined by the people you surround yourself with while in this state of being. But what is the state of being itself? It cannot be put into words, but experiences. Home is being fully aware and fully present without consciously having to choose to do so. It is going to sleep and waking up exhausted because you did everything you could do with the people you were with, even if you did nothing. Home is wishing there were more hours in the day, instead of wishing the hours away. Home is having an inner peace and an inner freedom, the kind that is only found when your day is freckled with moments of belief that everything is possible. I guess they say “home is where the heart is” for a reason. When we love, are loved, make mistakes, learn, grow, and do so with and around those who bring out an inner light in us, they become our heart. Greatness and goodness can be found in all, if only they find their way home.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Inspired by a conversation with Kate Haber and dedicated to those I've been lucky enough to meet, know, and call my friends this past year.
Possibly the most important component of human growth is interaction with other people. Because growth and betterment are integral to being human, we are drawn, either by choice or by chance, to those who will in one way or another, now or in time, will make us better. Finding the flaws in ourselves can happen through positive interaction where we are bettered simply by being around and being challenged by those who are better than us, or even through negative interaction, where mistakes we have made through interacting and the mistakes others have made because of us force us to examine ourselves and the way we live, and change in order to avoid those mistakes in the future. We are drawn to others because for some reason and in due time, they will become a part of us, a part that is better. We become better because the light we see in those we are drawn to shines through us, and from then on we can’t help but live brighter.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
How much and to what extent do we really know ourselves? What does it mean to really know ourselves? Maybe our lives are not intended to be individual quests for knowledge, but rather quests for discovery. Searching with the intent of reaching an ultimate and final answer will yield nothing but frustration. One answer will not be found, and would never suffice even if it could be. However, searching with the intent to learn and to search even more will yield a hunger that builds upon itself, one that refuses to be put to rest and fuels the human spirit. Allowing yourself to discover and allowing yourself to change because of these discoveries is what knowing yourself is all about—it means setting yourself free. The more you know yourself, the more you know humanity, the more you know God, and the more you figure out how to live. Learning how to live is no more than letting ourselves become a different person than we were yesterday. How far have we really come if we view the world from the same vantage point as we did for our entire lives leading up to today? The way you have lived has brought you to this day. If you do not allow yourself to be affected and discover a different you, how do you know that the way you are living will lead you to tomorrow?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Our stories, as much as they exist due to our actions, are just as equally created by the hope that we hold on to. Humans are hard-wired for optimism; there is not much that can explain how or why we are capable of believing in brighter days, able to see the good in the worst, and completely capable of turning a situation around, if only we choose to. The human story continues not because of what we do and who we are—the tangible, but what we dream to do and hope to be—the intangible. The ability to look ahead is one that creates a platform for something better. It is what gives us the strength, no matter how lost or how broken, to take another step for faith that the step brings us closer to something, to anything. It is what gives us the strength, no matter what the world or the people in it have proven to us, to dream. Have faith in the hopes you hold and instill your hope in the faith you have in the world. With both, you will be content in the knowledge that the next rising sun is no longer than a day away.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Dedicated to those who say it cannot be done.
Can’t is a funny word. It is oftentimes used as a way to cover ignorance, lack of self-motivation, confidence, intellect, and responsibility. Those who deny the abilities of others do so to put themselves out of the spotlight and away from the scrutiny that comes with chasing dreams and taking risks. When people follow and share their passion, it is truly a sight to see, and makes for an easy target for those who have achieved less or not achieved because of fear or incompetence. We do our best to follow our dreams, and some are lucky enough to travel the road unobstructed. Perhaps the path to what you want is clear, but I can almost assure you that a flawless journey will not be the case if what you’re chasing is worthwhile. As soon as somebody says you can’t, it is amazing how much clearer our aspirations become, and if you allow it to, negative does nothing more than highlight the positive. Life is full of checks and balances, and one such check to dreams is negative energy. Your dreams will test you and challenge you to fight, and oftentimes will do so through the words of the naysayers. The will to fight must not be lost when faced with the ignorance of those who underestimate and do not realize the strength of both your resolve and will. The power of the individual is too often lost, too often cracked under the weight of doubt. When the world becomes a little bit heavy and your dreams a little out of reach, it is not the time to rest, but to rise. That is the time to dream bigger and reach farther. To the ignorant, a mountain is an obstacle, but to the driven, it is just one more reason to rise.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Exceed your limitations. Go beyond. Surpass your limits. Some of the greatest minds have heralded going above and beyond for a very long time. Using the traditional definition of limits, surpassing them is impossible. However, the trick lies in the double meaning. Though they are obstacles, ceilings that for one reason or another we cannot seem to rise above, we can. Limits are not extremas of what you can and cannot do, but rather extremas of what has been done. They are not testaments to the possible but to the achieved. They mark what has been done but say nothing about what can be done—limits do not exist if you do not let them, and if you do what you did not think you could. A limit cannot be set on that which as not been dreamt, and constraints cannot be placed upon that which has not been done, for there is no standard for the possible.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Inspired by those with the courage to open the unmarked door.
It’s surprising how much we learn about ourselves when we, as individuals, are “taken out of context” and put in places and in situations that we are unfamiliar with. When we take a few steps away from what we know, we find that as people we are put in a much brighter light, in the sense that it becomes a little bit easier to see what and whom we love and for what and whom we will stand for. Essentially, you learn more about yourself when you are set aside from what you have allowed to define you. It’s part of life to be defined by places, people, and experiences you have become accustomed to, but it’s a part of growth to take yourself out of and away from these places, people, and experiences, and define yourself from an isolated standpoint. We should all do this from time to time—take ourselves away, temporarily close the door on what we know, and open the one that is unmarked. For if you have the courage to experience only yourself, no door will ever be locked.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Inspired by a conversation with Sam Fregenti.
It is natural to get caught up in your everyday life, in the little things, the unimportant things, and the things that make us want to pull our hair out. I would even argue that from time to time we should be preoccupied with these things, and that preoccupation is essential to our flourishing as human beings. But what differentiates the man who is and the man who is not, is not how he flourishes, but rather what drives him to flourish. Why he flourishes. Have eternal motives—reverence for life, love for fellow man, and a will to be better—and you will flourish eternally. Have fleeting motives however—thoughts of your fellow man, words of your fellow man, and a desire to be better for vain reasons—and rest assured your flourishing will be fleeting as well. There are aspects of life that are perpetual and will blur the lines between ages and generations, and will be able to stand the tests of time. These are matters with which you should primarily concern yourself. These will serve to heal, to innovate, and to better. Do not let your human ways control your motives, but do not allow your motives to allow you to lose touch with what it means to be human.
Friday, August 5, 2011
When was the last time you looked at the direction your life was headed in and saw that it led directly to what you wanted? Maybe you do all the time. Maybe you’ve never. For those who see more of a meandering path than a direct route, I couldn’t really tell you why we all like to complicate our lives so much. A lot of us act like we don’t know what we really want, but why? To be like everyone else who has no idea where their lives are headed? To give ourselves an excuse to embrace the fear of failure and let it dictate what we allow ourselves to try? To give ourselves a reason for why it didn’t all work out the way we wanted it to? To avoid responsibility for our lives under the pretense that we were just going where the wind decided to take us? You know where you want to go, so go. Don’t complicate it—find what makes you happy. Find who makes you happy. When you put it all on the line, there is nothing to lose. Chase the life you want with those who make your life better and make you want to be better. Make it simple—live your life and love your life, and don’t waste your precious time under the notion that you don’t know yourself or the world would not accept you if you did.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
There is a reason life is so often compared to a journey down a road. For all intents and purposes, it is. What the metaphor never suggests, perhaps most importantly, is that there is a destination. Maybe that’s why the cliché lives on—because there is nowhere in particular we all really need to go. We start the journey with a destination in mind, possibly, but it is never the direction we really end up heading in. We meet other travelers along the way and when we’re lucky, those travelers become passengers with us, accompanying us while we discover ourselves and the world around us. We have maps that we assume to be correct, and sometimes they are, leading us to extraordinary places and allowing us to see extraordinary things. Other times the maps aren’t so reliable, forcing us to make decisions and choices, and abandon the map completely. Sometimes we get lost and rely purely on instinct. Along the way, we switch seats, moving to the front and to the back, seeing the world from different vantage points. Sometimes we drive, and other times we let ourselves be driven. We spend our whole lives traveling, and the real reward lies not when the “are we there yets” cease to be asked, but rather in the flat tires we learn to change, the songs we sing, the way we’re able to see the world pass right outside of our window, the feeling of the wind in our face, and how, one way or another, we always seem to find our way.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Forgiveness cannot be constricted by words; it is something given, something received, and something that brings peace to the mind and soul like not much else can. It is a noun, a verb, and is absolutely essential to a well-lived life. If anything, forgiveness means reaching a destination that proves life is far too short, far too precious, and far too full of possibility to waste even a second of unnecessary negative energy. It is a reality check. Conflict is a part of growth because it means that you held strong to a belief or an action, regardless of whether it was good or bad. But resolution and forgiveness are the fruit of that part of a person’s growth, and nourishes the heart more than pride ever could.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
I’ll admit that I am one of those hopeless believers in phrases and clichés such as “everything happens for a reason.” I believe that they exist because they hold some truth and even more hope. However, as strongly as I believe our course unfolds for us for reasons we are unsure of, I believe even more strongly against the use of these phrases as excuses for living passively and not chasing what we truly want. Allowing our path to unfold as a result of our own actions and desires is completely different than not having a say in the underlying reasons why it has unfolded the way it has. Letting ourselves go through the motions is an utter and complete waste of our God-given talent, which we should not doubt for one second that we all have. We let our fellow man down each time we say “oh well” and lay down the will to fight for what we want. Failure is going to happen. We’re going to have to start small. But who accomplished anything great and did not start out small? When we let our passion take a hold of us, we will not fail. Sometimes our expectations will not be met, perfection not achieved and desired heights not reached. So what? We have to press on and refuse anything less than what we’ve ever wanted. We each have a dream to go live—there is nothing to lose but time.
Life is an effect, not a cause. Life comes as a result of living, which comes from a not-so-complicated equation. When you employ passion in your day-to-day actions, you are living. When you love and allow yourself to be loved, you are living. Living is doing with purpose, and life is the result of passionately acting and interacting. So what is life? Life is the feeling of waking up in the morning with a smile on your face, knowing your work is cut out for you.
Hemingway wrote that "the world breaks everyone and that afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Being broken at one point or another is inevitably part of living life. Truth is that eventually, by someone or something that is a part of it, the world will break you. It is a part of the continual cycle of destruction and re-growth that allows the world and allows us to move forward and evolve. When we choose to grow strong at the broken places, we do so because a lot of the time the parts of us that are most vulnerable to being broken are also those that are most essential to our lives. Parts of us are broken—not shattered—but broken down into their essential pieces that lay the foundation for our beliefs and simultaneously create a perfect platform for change. What else is there to do but build when all you have are pieces? Say your heart is broken. More often than not, you will not perpetually use this as an excuse for a sacrifice of any love that is to come your way again. Rather, you will be forced to re-examine your definition of love, and change its meaning or function to you so you can avoid the same kind of break again. We discover the ways and means that must be changed, and a lot becomes clearer. We become stronger when we become more sure. Growing strong at our broken places does not refer to a sort of blunt, numb shelter that time brings to an ignored hurt, but it means reconstruction, redefinition, and renewal. When it becomes clear to us that maybe we were broken solely for the reason that it would force us to change, it also undoubtedly becomes clear how to turn our weakness to strength, and stand up once more.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Being true to yourself does not mean never changing your opinions, beliefs, or actions. Rather, it is much the opposite. Being true to yourself, above all, means to be receptive to change and refusing to have a static lifestyle while holding fast to the things that have allowed you to evolve with the world around you. It means remembering and acknowledging the steps you’ve taken and the people who have helped you take them, and not changing because of anyone’s conviction but your own. It means not allowing anyone or anything to define you without your consent. Being true to yourself means remembering the past, making decisions about your actions and beliefs in the present, and looking forward to the future with an inspired heart and a clear mind. Change, if anything, is the poorest indicator of if one has stayed true to himself. How and why one changes though, says more than any observable shift ever could.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I know what love is because I have smiled, laughed, cried, gotten butterflies, looked forward to, reminisced, and wanted to better myself because of other people. I have looked past imperfections and have seen the best in others, and have also taken notice of flaws and seen the worst, as I am certain has been done of me. I have witnessed the change love brings, the need and want it brings, and both the vulnerability and power it forces one to experience. I have been broken down but I have also been built back up. I have seen love inspire selflessness. I have been asked multiple times why I believe so strongly in the power of love. The only way I can think of even coming close to explaining why is in the simple reason that I experience the bits and pieces that compose “love” as I live my life. I experience some pieces every day, some once in a while, and some hardly ever. Love is ingrained in us all and in all of our “every days” if we only decide to look at it that way. So what is love? I’m not really sure anyone is capable of providing a universal definition. Because love is as specific as it is global, as composed of little pieces as it is whole, and as indescribable as it can be described.