I can only suppress it so long. The free spirit is what lights my soul on fire for feeling, experience and spirituality. It’s not the Holy Spirit and it ain’t the devil either. It’s my reflection in the mirror, guiding my physical self. It’s the biggest struggle to contain myself in a world that lays out expectations. I will never understand the complete psychology of my brain, and don’t really care to.
Yes, it’s hard to be an internal free spirit in an external yuppie town like this. Smack dab in the bible belt, filled with many christians and few Jesus-followers. I settle for being patient and waiting, which is the most painful part. Waiting for an ideal peace and contentment that will never last. Waiting for clarity amongst chaos. I even convince myself at times settling here could be fine, I just need to calm down and keep my emotions tame, maybe I am off my rocker.
When times are looking up, and there is lots of opportunity, its easy to get lost in other people’s projects. I’m a sucker for helping out. Now no is the answer and I’m not waiting for affirmation from humans who act like they know when they don’t. I’m past that. I know there’s no all knowing wise human. I’m the only human who knows me like I do.
When I know what I want, I’m always convinced otherwise. I have a history of settling and sacrificing. I’m no longer giving out handouts of my care when I don’t have any left. I don’t have the capacity to play games like the government. If I’m going to help others, I have to make sure I’m sane first. Duct taping a NASA rocket to the ground will only hold so long. Eventually it rip free and fly. I want the bird’s eye view, too.
When I feel crazy, and it doesn’t make sense, I know it’s right. Let me fall and skin my knees. Let me bleed all the possible colors and fatigue from running place to place, culture to culture. Let me connect with nature. Technology ironically disconnects and overstimulates. Let me be overwhelmed with reality and dreams synthesizing into a beautiful piece of art. The books you put before me are not even close to what life’s really like. I want to experience and feel and I’m okay with not knowing.
So instead of crushing my soul into a fine dust and blowing it out over a graveyard, let it ferment, unconfined in its barrel of growth and dance away death in its being, loving anything and everything in its path.
So I’ve decided my golden age of blogging has come to an end for now. I’ve got lots of projects I’m working on, and I need the time I spend on here for writing on my screenplays and film projects, in addition to starting a masters degree. Thanks for reading. Lately I’ve felt the quality downgrading, and no one deserves to read that mess. I may be back on here from time to time, when I get some inspiration. Those are the times I feel I can really connect. Ever since I started capitalizing on specific days, it’s become more of a chore than a way of expressing myself. So I’ll just pop in from time to time if I feel it necessary. I want to write because it’s necessary, like breathing, not because it’s a specific day of the week, therefore having to pull something out of myself. Its not about the amount of followers i get, but that someone out there relates in some way, or that someone out there is thinking about things in a new way. No matter how little, influencing can change the world for the better. So for now, I’m closing down shop. But I can’t promise I won’t be back.
Keep living life.
Ps. If you’re looking for some good inspirational life blogs to read, check out my two friends here:
I see a problem with certain people in our culture sometimes. It’s called laziness. More and more people are being dependent and expecting everyone else to run their life for them. If you can realistically do something for yourself, do it for yourself. Get off your lazy ass and do it for yourself. Wash your own clothes. Clean your own room. Make your own money if you’re able, which many of us are more able than we let people think. Don’t pray to God for good grades when you haven’t sat down and put in the effort to study. He’s not there to give out free blessings whenever we want them. But he’s there when we need him when we’ve done all we can do. Don’t interrupt someone’s focus in a project to do something as minuscule as walking across the room for a remote. Get it yourself. If you are able to do something, do it. If you are not able, ask for help. Take responsibility for yourself. By becoming an independent individual, you are opening yourself up for so much more opportunity and self sufficiency. And life will become a whole lot easier. Your psychological well-being will take a turn for the best.
When I worked at camp two summers ago, we were told to “Ask for help when you need it.” I tell you what, I had to ask for help many times. But when you’re dealing with 13 urban fifth graders who have emotional problems and the high stress energy that children most times do, things can get out of hand. I actually needed help with mediation when fights broke loose and emotional breakdowns ensued. Shame on you for being too prideful to ask for help when you need it (if that is you). Do us all a favor and ask for some help.
If you are not able, thats a completely different story. I’m not talking to you. I’m talking about all the complainer able bodies.
Ask for help when you genuinely need it.
I love personality tests. Anyone who knows me well can attest to this little obsession. Something about understanding myself on a deeper level and knowing there are others out there with similar tendencies brings peace to my soul. ”I’m not the only one that does _______!” One I like a lot is the Myers-Briggs which separates everyone into sixteen personality types after decades of study. Recently I found a newer kind of test that also has had decades of research built into it. It’s called the Strengths Finder 2.0. What it does is test you online, only after buying the book, and states the five biggest strengths you have out of thirty four. My biggest strengths, starting with strongest, are Ideation, Adaptability, Intellection, Developer, and Individualization. Whats cool about it is instead of encouraging you to work on your weaknesses, it encourages you to capitalize on your strengths.
It seems these days people are spending more and more time trying to improve their shortcomings instead of trying to build on the strengths we already possess. As Tom Rath describes in the book, people tend to want to take the path of most resistance. This is a good example he describes that most of you probably know of:
"This is quite apparent in the way we create icons out of people who struggle to overcome a lack of natural talent. Consider the true story of Rudy Ruettiger, the 23-year old groundskeeper at Notre Dame’s stadium, who was the protagonist if the 1993 movie Rudy. At just 5’6” and 165 pounds, this young man clearly didn’t possess the ability to play big-time college football, but he had ample “heart.” Rudy worked tirelessly to gain admission to Notre Dame so he could play football there. Eventually, after being rejected three times, he was accepted to Notre Dame thereafter and earned a spot on the football team’s practice squad. For two years, Rudy took a beating in daily practices , but he was never allowed to join his team on the sidelines. Then, after trying as hard as he could for two seasons, Rudy was finally invited to suit up for the final game of his senior year. In the last moments of this game, with a Notre Dame victory safely in hand, Rudy’s teammates lobbied their coach to put him in the game. In the final seconds, the coach sent Rudy in for a single play-and he tackled the opposing team’s quarterback. It was a dramatic moment and, of course, Rudy became an instant hero. Fans chanted his name and carried him off the field. Reuttiger was later invited to the White House. where he met President Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, and football legend Joe Montana. While Rudy’s perseverance is admirable, in the end, he played a few seconds of college football and made a single tackle…after thousands of hours of practicing.
The inspirational nature of this story actually masks a significant problem: Overcoming deficits is an essential part of our culture. Our books, movies, and folklore are filled with stories of the underdog who beats one-in-a-million odds. And this leads us to celebrate those who triumph over their lack of natural ability even more than we recognize those who capitalize on their innate talents. As a result, millions of people see these heroes as being the epitome of the American Dream and set their sights on conquering major challenges. Unfortunately, this is taking the path of most resistance.”
Now I am all for the underdog, and I like the idea of the American Dream. But Rath has a point here - why do so many of us focus on trying for something so hard if there are other strengths we have? I don’t know about y’all, but I’m happiest when I’m exercising my strengths. I take pride in being recognized for what I’m good at, and I like to stretch these talents to even higher levels of strength. ”You can’t be anything you want to be” might sound un-American, but I like this idea of capitalizing my strengths. I really think I will find more happiness with consistent practice of my strengths than I would chasing a far fetched dream that odds are slim to none - a dream that may not even make me happy. It might be all for nothing. I am not saying not to chase your dreams - you definitely don’t want to regret all your decisions down the road - I’m saying chase those dreams that you would be most happy achieving. The grass always looks greener, but sometimes me miss what’s right in front of us - or what is within us.
Don’t get the message confused. This isn’t a blog saying settle for the safe route. I’m all for chasing dreams. Just make sure those dreams are truly within you and not false desires that may just look shinny on the outside.
Chase your dreams. Strengthen your strengths.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYBODY!
Go pray with whoever family is to you and give thanks for all you have!
Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
And if you’re watching the Macy’s Day Parade, look for me!
(Don’t get too annoyed with your in-laws.)
And most importantly…EAT….DAT….TURKEY!!!
Peace and Blessings.
Today I want to share a book with you that really got me thinking about things. It’s called The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse: A Book For Creators. Written by Michael Gungor of the inspirational indie band Gungor, it talks about anything from tolerance to fundamentalism, stereotypes to nuanced worship. Even though a lot of it is focused on the band’s faith and being true to God and not man in creativity, there is so much truth that can apply to anyone found throughout the book.
One of the things I found interesting was the section on fundamentalism. Here is an excerpt from the book:
“Fundamentalism is rigid and certain—like a prison. It leaves no room for doubt, no room for exploring or creating outside of the acceptable boxes. It is the polar opposite of creativity, the enemy of art. Fundamentalism is not limited to traditional religions like Christianity or Islam—there are fundamentalists in every stream of thought. There are fundamentalist atheists whose worldview is rigid with certainty. Even the “nothing in particular” belief can become dogmatic and arrogant. The fundamentalist’s worldview is one that is not open to the unexpected or the new. It is a closed system. Fundamentalism is not the same thing as healthy faith. Healthy faith is a gift held in open hands. There is humility in this kind of faith, a hope, an acknowledgment of the possibility of error and the need for growth and change. This openness leaves room for creativity. Fundamentalism, on the other hand, holds beliefs with a clenched fist. Fundamentalism is rooted in arrogance. It thrives in fear and control and darkness. Fundamentalism runs planes into buildings and straps bombs to the chests of devout and gullible young men. Fundamentalism divides people into groups of “us” and “them.” It wages wars, systemizes racism, censors expression.”
I like the new perspective this excerpt gives on fundamentalism. It’s so easy to say one point of view is too fundamentalist. But its kind of ironic because if you are saying this, you may also be fundamentalist in your perspective if you’re not inviting the other perspective into your mind to be considered, no matter what it may be.
So think about why you believe what you believe. Think about why someone else believes what they believe. Have reasons and intuition. Don’t just follow a set of point blank rules. Don’t force your opinion on somebody. Open your mind to all the possibilities. Think outside of the box for a change. We’re only limited to the limits we create for ourselves.
Open your hands and heart to the ability to create.
I get so flustered by the injustices of this world. This week I found out my dear friend, now in her 60’s, is about to get kicked off her property for expansion of an apartment complex. She had a beautiful tree-covered drive through the woods up to the house her Dad built about 70 years ago. Now the bulldozers have torn down all the trees up to her property. In this small house she was born and raised. Her roommate of many years, her sister, died recently. Now she lives alone on this property in the house she has known her whole life. Her personality is like that of an angel, always graceful and sweet; she would never hurt anything.
The problem is she had a deed for the house and now it’s gone. A man came and took advantage of her sweetness. He told her he would help her out by taking the deed to study it and now he says she never gave it to him. She called our house crying, not knowing what to do. It broke my heart to hear her tears. We’re doing all we can to help her, so please keep her in your prayers, wherever you may be.
People are not business deals. And those of you who look at people that way will never find happiness. Look deeper into people. They’re these amazing beings that have hopes and feelings and aspirations. People are not limited to what they can do for others’ selfish reasons.
It disgusts me how greedy people are and the lengths people go for money. You would think by now from all the stories reiterating that “money turns people greedy and doesn’t necessarily buy happiness” would have taught people a lesson by now. But no, history is here for a reason. It keeps repeating itself over and over. The American Empire is falling in the same steps as the Fall of the Roman Empire, for example. Grace comes from within. Within we destroy ourselves even if it is clear what is right.
Referring back to my last post on The Tree Of Life, there are two paths one can take: the way of nature and the way of grace. It seems that less and less people take the way of grace everyday. People fall into the animalistic way of nature where they put themselves first, doing anything to survive, right or wrong. Its easy to lose hope, but thank God some of us still have it.
“Grace doesn’t try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things. The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by.”
Choose grace over nature.
Last week my mama had surgery so I was able to have some good downtime with her. We decided to watch “The Tree Of Life”. Now if you watch movies for purely entertainment purposes, I suggest you quit reading this blog right now and wait for the next post on Thursday. But if you know how to appreciate art, read on. It surprised me how restless the rest of my family got when they came in to join us for the film. Some film is for art purposes and it surprises some people that this is true. But film can also be entertainment and art at the same time and it usually is, with the exception of a few crappers that were thrown together for some money.
"The Tree Of Life" is a slow-paced movie that takes patience, but the images are pure glory. And the music gives chills. It follows the life of a little boy in an abstract way and shows the difference between following the way of nature and the way of grace. Also included is a long majestic montage of the creation of the world, space and some evolution/creation. Even dinosaurs! But this story has a sort of visual storyline of a family in the 50’s and it will have you trying to figure it out the whole time, but don’t hurt your brains too bad. The reason this will happen is you probably aren’t used to looking at life in the way it is portrayed in this film. You’re used to straight forward, to-the-point stories that fit the science of traditional storytelling genres. Just be (as you watch) and soak in the beauty. It’s almost like this movie is feelings portrayed as visuals. And there’s a lot of whispering throughout that takes us further into the characters’ heads and emotions. Take a gander at the trailer to get a small vibe of what the grander picture is portraying:
I would say go out and check this out. It has so many abstract images as well as relatable life images. The camera movements are new in their flow and intimacy. Never have I seen life portrayed in such an unusual yet familiar way. It’s hard to describe. Just go watch it!
And remember movies are not just for entertainment.
“Life’s a bitch and then you die.” I don’t really know if it is. I mean, a lot of things suck. We have to go through all sorts of unexpected things in our lives. I don’t think its healthy to either be just an optimist or just a pessimist about life. Pessimistic makes you all cynical and crabby, which repels people. Optimistic makes you fluffy and peppy, which also repels people and your face attracts a fist. I mean, its really unhealthy to hold your emotions in and fool yourself in to thinking you’re happy and everything is great all the time. I like to swing back and fourth between the two with some realism mixed in here and there. What would life be if we didn’t get to feel all the insane things we get to experience?
So many people are striving for that one day when they’ll be “happy”. Think about it. If everything was happy and grand all the time, would we really be able to feel the emotion of happiness with full force? Probably not. Because its those bad times that balance out with the good that make us feel our emotions. Something wouldn’t seem really happy without some depression sprinkled around. Without bad, there wouldn’t be good. And not only that, but the bad times are the things that make us stronger, where all we have to go is up once we hit our rock bottom.
Honestly if I wasn’t screwed up and if all the people in my life weren’t crazy, I don’t think life would be nearly exciting. I mean madness can even be funny sometimes. My siblings and friends drive me crazy at times, but sometimes they say things that just make me fall out when a second before I was about to explode from the nerves.
Parents, for another example. When I was little I thought they were super heroes who could do no wrong. But when I got older, I realized they are human just like everyone else and go through some really tough shit. In reality this makes them even more admirable than super heroes in my eyes because super heroes have an inhuman advantage anyways. They went through this crap and got back up again AND continued to be there for us even if they weren’t there for themselves sometimes.
Another thing is people who compare situations. As humans it is our natural tendency to constantly make comparisons and connections. ”She looks hotter than me.” ”I can’t believe he said that. I am so much better.” ”At least I’m not that stupid.” ”There’s no way I will ever live up to that standard.” It’s so easy to look at others and either feel inferior or superior to them, when in reality, even if there is someone with a worse situation than you, it doesn’t change the fact that you are still going through that tough situation and are still having those feelings you’re having. Just because kids are hungry in China doesn’t mean I am going to want to eat my broccoli more. Its so hard to look at people for who they are instead of how they match up to us and measure up to our personal standards.
So I see why someone could believe “life’s a bitch and then you die.” But its an exciting bitch. Its the only bitch you have. And its only going to be a bitch if you focus on its bitchiness. So make it your bitch and look for the good and fun in it too. It’s there, you just have to be a little more observant. If you’re bored, you’re not doing something right or being true to you. Like breathing, something that often gets overlooked. Isn’t it so cool how we can breath and it just happens and all the elements work together? So when we start recognizing the varying emotions and experiences in life for what they are, life might be a little more tolerable and maybe even fun in its dysfunction. And you can’t spell dysfunction without FUN.
So come join us on the crazy farm.
“I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have.” - Charlie, Perks of Being A Wallflower
Melancholia (n.) - a mental condition characterized by great depression of spirits and gloomy forebodings.
I think its easy to see Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia (2011) is a cinematic masterpiece of German Romanticism. I think we’ve all experienced depression at some point in different forms. I know I have, and that makes this very relatable. Von Trier takes the idea of depression and portrays it in a beautiful way, paralleled with an impending doom - an end of the world scenario, which is also compelling and beautiful and brought to light differently in an era of apocalyptic films. Kirsten Dunst had experienced some hard depression before in real life and this was an artistic way to share its expression to humanity. The director is also in a constant melancholia when not working on a film, which contributed greatly to its inspiration. I related in the way that one of the protagonists does not get fulfillment from partaking in humanity’s common rituals, while her sister thrives amongst its madness. Dunst’s character is a great portrayal of the psychological fact that melancholic people react calmly in high anxiety situations.
Right below I’ve included the intro to the film. The frame rate was extremely high during production, so in post they were able to slow it down immensely, giving it a sense of longing. Its not often we see movement this slow yet fluid on the big screen. Von Trier has a unique filmmaking style he makes his own. The takes didn’t have rehearsals. He wants the actors to feel the energy of experiencing the scenes for the first time, sometimes improvising with slight direction between takes. I also find it interesting that he used Richard Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde throughout the film to give it a somberness. The goal was to make it romantic, but keep everything realistic, which gives it an unexplainable feeling of longing for the tragedy of it all.
(This indie film had limited release, but it now available on Netflix and Amazon instant video.) Give it a watch. Your feelings might be confused after watching, but I think thats just the effect the film has. At least it did on me.
When all of your life is melancholia, it seems you have nothing to lose.
Thoughtful Friday? That don’t rhyme!
I know I’m a day late, my apologies. In this post I wanted to take the opportunity to promote my friend E.A.P.’s blog. She has great thoughts and is an amazing person to discuss ideas with. Each week, she takes a quote and analyzes it.
Here is here blog address: http://mindfulloftruth.tumblr.com/
With her permission I’m including it on here. Enjoy!
Mind Full Of Truth, Pockets Full Of Empty
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” -Sylvia Plath (poet and writer)
This quote is near and dear to one of my best friends, so I figured that it would be a nice opening piece. Do you ever get a feeling of inadequacy, even if your life is alright for the moment? You can be moving towards your major goals and have everything be fine, but still feel that you could do more.
I’m guilty of this inadequacy. I read as many books as I can every month, just to acquire knowledge of something that I’m ignorant about. However many books I read, they are never enough. I can’t gain the spiritual conviction of Gandhi by reading his books. I can’t go on the drug-fueled adventures of Jack Kerouac because I read On the Road. I will never be able to see through their eyes and live through their ideas. There’s no way to experience their lives.
Life is one of the most complicated things in the universe. It’s hard to define, yet we pin definitions to it to make ourselves feel better. Poets and artists try to interpret it for everyone else, while everyone is busy trying to keep theirs in order. Everyone from ancient philosophers to modern teenagers try to define life. They complicate it, they over-simplify it, they twist and manipulate it.
Life is more than the simple “Peace, Love, and Happiness” slogans. It is more than poverty, war, and hunger. It cannot be contained in a painting, poem, or photograph. We cannot hear “life” in a grand, majestic symphony. We can’t turn a blind eye to the negative, nor can we dwell in negativity’s darkness. There is so much that we can’t do. It feels as though we are missing out on the wide world of experience that is possible.
To be honest, our experience makes up one small part of the quilt of life. Our experience adds to humanity and there will never be another piece just like yours. Just think of it: no one in the history of mankind will live exactly like you. It hasn’t happened in the past and it won’t happen in the future. All we can do is create our own lives and live them as fully as possible until we can live no more. What will you contribute?
Sometimes we are going about our daily lives at 100 miles and hour and forget to really experience what we’re passing. There are so many things our senses give us the opportunity to relish, but many use them mindlessly without a second thought to what they are actually going through.
Music is an aspect these days that I think gets overlooked. If you look at the top sales on iTunes or just turn on the radio, you can easily see what music that people want to hear is electronic club music with auto tune. It loses the art and emotion that music once had now that computers are making it with mathematical algorithms. Though there are many artists who still record natural music, they get the small straw.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to go dancing and get my booty shake on every once and a while - thats what club music is for - good beats that make us want to move our bodies. It definitely has a purpose. But the point is, there just isn’t a way to hone on the feeling of that music like there is with the humanness of instruments played live at a recording session and a voice that isn’t touched up.
But beyond just this, I think people in our day and time have trouble listening to music, even if it is authentic. We’ll skip through songs because we have so many options. Now we can have all songs with us at all times and its really overwhelming. Does anybody remember how exciting it was to get a new record or CD before iPods were out? I would look forward to going to Walmart to buy a CD of an artist I had heard a few tracks to, then I would find more tracks I hadn’t heard that would become just as good, if not better than the few I heard before.
I invite you to put on some nice headphones, close your eyes, lay down in a place where external forces can’t disturb you, and really listen to each and every sound to the music you listen to, and the new discoveries you are making. (This means no listening while the TV is on and you’re checking your Facebook and texting at the same time. Don’t even get the urge to message your friends about the song you are listening to because you have to share it with the world right then. Because you don’t. Save it for later. Just listen, trust me.)
I think you’ll be able to appreciate music in a way you haven’t before. Listen to the changing force the violinist uses with their bow. Feel the shivers of a powerful buildup moment. Move your body when the spirit of the music fills you up.
Here are some songs I wanted to share that I like to REALLY listen to lately. Maybe you’ve heard them or maybe they’re something you already like. Maybe you’ll dislike them. But try to REALLY listen. And I won’t tell you what I think about them personally because I want you to here them raw and without expectations.
Make sure you REALLY listen to music.