Monthly Archives: August 2012

Needs vs. Wants: Feeding your Dream

It’s not an uncommon sight — a dreamer, slouched over his desk, trying desperately not to succumb to inertia — if only he had the willpower to focus, if only he had the persistence to continue in the wake of defeat, if only.

Distraction.  Fear.  Laziness.  The sum of these forces pervades our lives and prevents so many of us from accomplishing that which we truly desire.  This seems counter-intuitive.  If this dream is what our heart demands, then we should not feel lazy in pursuing it, right?

Wrong.

The reason why we so often find ourselves stuck in patterns of behavior that contribute to our eventual failure is because we make the mistake of merely wanting our dreams as opposed to needing them.

Society teaches us to contextualize our dreams as aspirations, as wants, things of passing fancy that, if left in poor condition, we will eventually abandon.  But desire is a spectrum.  At one end is want, and at the other is need.  Thus, there is something transformative in wanting enough that you generate a need.

So make your dream a necessity.  Want your dream so thoroughly that you feel you need it to survive, each step along the path a treasured breath saving you from drowning, each failure feeding your continued appetite.

We allow ourselves to sabotage our own success because we give ourselves conscious opportunities to do so.  Remember, want is conscious, need is unconscious.  If you have to think about what you’re going to do, chances are you’ll think up something to distract yourself with, too.  

When you’re hungry, you eat.  You don’t avoid eating by virtue of laziness.  You don’t get distracted from hunger.  You get distracted by hunger.  Aim to internalize your dreams in much the same way.  Know that you cannot survive without your dream.  Let the pangs of your unfulfilled dream frustrate you until you are forced to satisfy it.  Feed it, feed it, feed it.

The Start of a Zombie Apocalypse

Writing a zombie apocalypse novel to see where it takes me.  Having a lot of fun with it so far.  Sharing it for any curious readers out there.

Jacob slumped back in the Italian-marbled bathtub of his hotel suite and wept.  Seven days of self-imposed isolation.  Seven days with shades drawn, soundproofed windows, and with the floor all to himself.  Seven days since he left Molly to clear her stuff out of the apartment.  He picked up his gun and tracked the silver glean along its barrel.  Everything had gone to shit – the divorce had been finalized, he was still working the same banking career that he swore he would quit ten years ago – everything, but it was time to take control.  He cocked the gun, pressed the end of the barrel flat against his skull and shut his eyes, ready to pull the trigger.

Instead, he laughed.

He imagined Molly meeting up with some tall, handsome divorcee, one willing and able to have her biological children.  She would smile, he would smile, and she would talk about how terrible her ex-husband had been, he would pretend to care, and they would marry as soon as was socially acceptable.  Then she would finally get what she wanted.  Nine months later she’d be popping out a little screaming bastard for the whole world to cherish. Continue reading

Video

Steve Jobs on Living Before You Die

Wanted to post this since I watch it from time to time for inspiration and motivation. His ideas match my own personal philosophy to a great extent. For anyone paying attention, I’ll be posting something original in the next day or two. Sorry for the delays – things are getting really busy since my return to Philadelphia.

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A beautiful quote from Miguel de Cervantes.

Busy evening, but I wanted to share this quote from the author of Don Quixote.

“I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is.

Pain, misery, hunger….cruelty beyond belief.
I have heard the singing from taverns
and the moan from bundles of filth on the streets.
I have been a soldier and have seen my comrades fall in battle…
Or die more slowly under the lash in Africa.
I have held them in my arms in the final moment.
These were the men, who saw life as it is,
Yet they died despairing.
No glory, no gallant last words… only their eyes filled with confusion,
Whimpering the question,  

‘Why?’

I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?
Perhaps to be too practical is madness.
To surrender dreams – this may be madness.
To seek treasure where there is only trash.
Too much sanity may be madness – and maddest of all:
To see life as it is, and not as it should be.”

To me, this sort of inspiration is particularly poignant because it is not blind to the realities of our existence. It runs in stark contrast to the popular quote, “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” Here, however, Miguel de Cervantes is inspired to think differently and to dream big after having been exposed to the morbid realities of war.

In other words, life can be depressing as hell. It is of no benefit to pretend that the universe will reward us, always. We should accept that life has the potential to be extraordinarily shitty, and we should use this dissatisfaction to shape a new, less risk-averse perspective. It is then that we will thrive.

Life hurts sometimes. It hurts a lot of the time. But you must keep dreaming.

Keep dreaming.

Pride is a tool – use it wisely.

Fuck the haters, right?

That’s not a bad attitude to have, necessarily.  There are plenty of people in life — family, friends, and strangers — who will tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something.  Don’t fall prey to their negativity.  For reasons why, please refer back to my post, ‘CHASE YOUR FUCKING DREAMS’.

Pride is a complicated thing.  As a dreamer, pride can be what keeps you afloat in tough times, but, left unchecked, can also be what sinks you.

Here’s an extended personal example. Continue reading

Demand more out of life – you’re entitled to it.

Whether driven by a personal fear of failure, family pressure, or something else, most people make a crucial, endlessly frustrating mistake: they don’t demand enough out of life.

Let me try and put your existence into perspective here.

You were born into this world against staggeringly low odds. The typical human male ejaculate contains 150 million sperm cells, but you were the one that made it. You won the fucking lottery. Drill this into your head. You are a member of the privileged elite in a universe of infinite possibilities. It’s about damn time to act the part.

As children and teenagers and young adults, we imagine that we will eventually be important political figures, athletes, musicians, movie stars, astronauts, and adventurers – when we dream, it is unapologetically big – but somewhere along the developmental process, we begin to manage our expectations. Suddenly, the things we once wanted more than anything are too risky to pursue, and we are left in cubicles to plunk away at spreadsheets and contemplate the life that could have been. Continue reading

The Stars Don’t Shine in the City (Short Story)

Wrote this three years ago when I was in college.  I had just read about the fatal beating of an A-student in an inner city school in Chicago, and was deeply saddened by the event. It inspired me to write this. Hope you enjoy.

Jamal was coming home late.

His English teacher, Mr. Johnson, had delayed him after class to discuss his future.  Specifically, the possibility of a college education.  Even as Jamal approached the squalor of the projects, he allowed a small grin to creep up from the side of his mouth.  It was Mr. Johnson who had convinced Jamal to expect more from himself, who told him that he could be somebody, and so, in the midst of struggle, he began to rely heavily on his teacher for support.  He might even admit that he liked Mr. Johnson, and that was a rare thing.

Rarity defined Jamal – shambling under the weight of a stuffed backpack – his bookishness, his curiosity, all presented an unfamiliar image around these parts.  In a place where dreams were buried prematurely, his had survived for an unusually long time, enough to earn him the jealous scorn of peers who had relegated themselves to a life of small victories and even smaller expectations.

“Ay yo, check it – here comes that Steve Urkle lookin’ mothafucka.”

Jamal immediately recognized the slouching figures crowded ahead on the street corner.  Long ago, when they were kids, they used to play together.  Now they were entry-level thugs slinging drugs, thinking they were kings that had finally been given the crowns they rightfully deserved.  As Jamal walked past, he felt the violent burn of their judgments, a cigarette butt on the skin of his being, forcing him into a forward march, step-by-shameful-step.  He took care to remain submissive.  They would appreciate that.  Build up their ego a bit, he figured, and then they might ignore him.  In a way, Jamal understood their swagger.  To prosper on these streets demanded a different set of skills, and he didn’t blame them for what they did.  What use was an education when problems here were better solved at the smoking end of a pistol barrel or opiate pipe?  Intellectual sympathies notwithstanding, he pressed on past his would-be aggressors.

“Damn son, Mr. Johnson’s dick must taste like a mothafuckin’ haagen-daaz, huh?  Punk ass over there with him talkin’ bout all kinds of freaky shit, I bet.”  They began to orgasmically moan Mr. Johnson’s name: Damon.

Jamal kept his eyes glued to the pavement. Continue reading

You MUST believe that everything is going to be okay.

I had to get this off my chest today. I keep hearing people complain that they are failures, and that they won’t ever achieve their goals, speaking as if the universe itself conspires against them.

Look,
You have to believe in your inevitable success.

That’s not to say that you can simply laze around and eventually become an accomplished writer, entrepreneur, lawyer, etc., but assuming you actually go about doing everything you need to do, then there is nothing holding you back from success in the field of your choosing.

There are two reasons why you might disagree.

1) You think that you lack talent; that there is something innately lesser about the core of your being such that even hard work, persistence, and good practice, consistently summoned over the course of years, will not lead to success.

2) You think that life is a game of chance, and that nobody can predict how the dice will roll.

Now here’s two reasons why that’s bullshit. Continue reading

Depression and the Dreamer: My Story

Ever since my voice first cracked, depression became a major problem. At first, it was the acne, then my seemingly permanent braces, and finally, a vague, deepening feeling of insecurity. I was refugee skinny, my face was weak, and I would wake up every morning, stare at my mirror image, and think of all the structural changes that I wished my genetics had determined instead. A bit of bone here, a little less hair there, a smidgen more muscle everywhere. I was ugly. That was my view of myself, and it influenced everything about me.

But I made it through high school relatively unscathed, mostly because I pushed myself to be active in athletics, earned high marks in my classes, and developed a sense of humor that earned me friends enough that I was sure I was a person of value, even if I was physically unattractive. Importantly, I forced myself to discover and cultivate aspects of my personality that gave me a feeling of value as a human being.

Unfortunately, my depression was not left behind in high school. The unique pressures of college introduced new and even greater problems. In college, though my looks transformed – many even thought I was attractive (oh happy day!) – I found myself struggling with my social self-worth. I met great people and was part of a fun group, but I was no longer the center of attention, a role that I had grown used to in high school as the ‘clown’. My social anxiety and insecurity, however, was ultimately minor in comparison to new issues concerning my academics and career path, and what followed was the most severe, long-lasting depression of my life.

But let’s backtrack to the beginning of college. Continue reading

Travel and Relocation, Savior to the Dreamer

Is your current work or dream location-independent? Is the only thing tethering you an Internet connection? If not, can you make it so? Then this is for you.

We live in an age of unprecedented movement and opportunity. Stop taking it for granted.

In medieval Europe, lives were so fundamentally tied down to a single location that it was not uncommon for people to take on the name of their village or town as their own last name.

The War of 1812 was fought for months after the Americans and British had officially ended it. Why? The ships sent to relay the Crown’s orders to its soldiers took months to crawl across the Atlantic. Whoops.

And here we are, exactly 200 years later, able to cross the Atlantic in 5 hours, treated all the while to an endless stream of video entertainment. Wherever you are in the world, you can be somewhere entirely different within the scope of a single workday. The world is smaller than ever before, small enough to fit well within the bounds of big dreams.

TRAVEL IS FOR MORE THAN FUN.

Okay, so you know that travel is easier, cheaper, and safer than ever before. Cool, but you don’t need me to convince you to go on a vacation.

Stop thinking of travel as an escape.

Yes, travel can be an effective, if temporary escape from the rigorously scheduled life. Yes, travel should be fun and full of vibrant interaction with the local culture and people and history. But it can be so much more. Travel can help you achieve your dream. Long-term travel let’s you choose a set of circumstances where you can more effectively dedicate yourself while avoiding unnecessary stresses and constraints.

Think of travel as a way to maximize your freedom and earnings while minimizing risk.

If you’ve decided to grow some courage and chase your damn dream already, then follow these two simple steps to maximize your chances for success. Continue reading