10:26

February 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm (Uncategorized)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ―Theodore Roosevelt

Virtue
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky;
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night,
         For thou must die.

 

Sweet rose, whose hue angry and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye;
Thy root is ever in its grave,
         And thou must die.

 

Sweet spring, full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie;
My music shows ye have your closes,
         And all must die.

 

Only a sweet and virtuous soul,
Like season’d timber, never gives;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
         Then chiefly lives.
 
–George Herbert
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February 27th

February 27, 2013 at 10:08 pm (Uncategorized)

So I have a very long and convoluted blog post in my head that I’ve been kicking around the last couple of days. I was thinking about writing it tonight, but then something happened to me and I’m also just far too tired. So perhaps that will be tomorrow’s project.

Anyway, tonight. I was driving home after choir and stopped at the Camas Safeway to get some gas in my car. It’s about 9:15, and the place is deserted except for a guy with a beat up ancient red truck that looked like an insane redneck Santa in overalls. He leaves. I finish putting the gas in my car and am about to get in when a man approaches me. He explains that he’s stuck here and needs a little bit of gas money for the person who is picking him up.

At this point I have a few options. A) I can give him some gas money–which will be $20, because ‘ol hickory is the only thing in my wallet. B) I can tell him I sympathize but don’t have any money. C) I can tell him to get lost.

Now, I don’t have a lot of money at the moment. I budgeted a fair amount of my future expenses towards going up to Moscow this past weekend. Totally worth it, but I just have to be extremely frugal for a while. That $20 in my wallet is from my mother who wants me to be able to buy coffee occasionally and will not accept my refusal (or protestations that I get a lot of free stuff already living at home). So on the one hand it’s $20 I would not have had. On the other hand I am in some respects violating the intended use of what in my mind is my mother’s money.

In the end, I didn’t have to really think about it. I gave the guy the money and told him to pay it forward sometime. It could have been a scam, but I prefer to live in a world where I don’t automatically assume that people are trying to pull one over on me. I also like to think in that situation maybe someone would have shown some kindness to me as well. I am a firm believer that putting goodness out into the universe begets more goodness. When I think about the kind of person that I want to be, it’s someone who is generous with their love, time, money, and whatever else they can spare.

Existence is a series of simultaneous events that beget more events. If I can take negativity in my life and then make sure it stops there, then the chain of harm ends. If I can start new chains of positivity, they will continue to spread out into the universe. A mustard seed is very small, but it can grow into a big tree and shade a lot of people in the desert.

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Music can be wonderfully relevant

February 21, 2013 at 10:18 am (Uncategorized)

2013, so far.

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Stonking Tweety Birds

February 20, 2013 at 10:55 am (Uncategorized)

Image

I don’t usually put pictures in these things, but if you like football at all you should check out Dave’s Art Locker and his web comic called The Draw Play. This particular image is part of a series he did “if NFL teams were all British.” I enjoyed it.

This is sort of the sports wasteland time of year for me, speaking of football. The NFL and college seasons are over, and we’re not yet at march madness or the NBA playoffs. It’s not that I don’t like the NBA, college basketball, hockey, or international soccer, but none of them have the pull that football does. It’s more that they’re just on and I like watching sports, so I have them on in the background while I try to be productive. Perhaps my favorite “sports wasteland” sport is women’s college basketball. It’s entertaining and I legitimately think that those women are there to get an education. Much less of the whole “shamatuerism” thing that pervades the NCAA is going on there. As the sport gets more popular and starts bringing in more money that will start to become an issue in women’s basketball too. It’s more or less inevitable with all the tv money out there these days.

In totally unrelated news, I thought this quote is relevant to everyone, but maybe especially to my theatrical friends:

“Maturity includes the recognition that no one is going to see anything in us that we don’t see in ourselves. Stop waiting for a producer. Produce yourself.” -Marianne Williamson

It emphasizes what I think most of us already know: you have to work on yourself before you can be the kind of person you want to be and to have other people see you as that person.

Getting pretty jazzed (ehh, ehhhhh?!) about going up to Moscow this weekend. Good music, good friends, good times. What more could you want?

Can you tell that I don’t have a specific topic for today? Well that’s not exactly true, I have virtual sticky notes all over my computer screen with little bits of blog posts and topics for things to write about all over, but none of them jumped out at me as something that wanted to get written today. So here we are. And here I go.

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The Pimsleur Approach

February 19, 2013 at 10:57 am (Uncategorized)

I wrote yesterday a little bit about becoming, and being the kind of person you want to be. I think a lot of times people get afraid and take the easy way out, one way or the other. I clear out the junk folder of my email inbox each day, but I go through it to make sure that nothing I actually wanted to see was sent to the wrong place. Amid the Nigerians, sex, and free credit scores, I noticed an ad that said “Learn a language in 10 days.” It seemed to me that was the ultimate attempt at getting people to take the easy way out. Not only can you not learn a language in 10 days, but I have been speaking English for 22 years and I still am learning new things about it. These things are processes, and you can be efficient, but efficiency is markedly different from just wanting to be capable of something.

There is a certain appeal to the idea that we can become great at something in a brief period of time, because I think many of us inherently both want to be great and also have a fear of failure that inevitably accompanies any challenge. That is something I think education should do better–instead of instilling us with this fear of failure we should embrace it. Things will go really wrong, but that is merely an opportunity to pick yourself up again. You see in mythology, in movies, and in literature people who are gifted immediately with all kinds of power, but real power and wisdom is accrued incrementally. For those of us that like immediate results that can be something that is hard to wrap one’s head around. It takes more than a magic device or a movie montage to become the best kind of you. It takes making choices everyday and sticking to your guns.

This job search, for instance, has been difficult. I have the skills, but it takes a lot of putting resumes out there, emailing people, and generally being proactive. I have recently had a bit of breakthrough in terms of networking, and that has led to a ton of leads. It’s exciting, but it’s just the first step towards building meaningful relationships with people and finding a rewarding vocation.

I also am trying to remain mindful of the fact that I likely will not have a few months off again for a long time, so why not enjoy it and work on other aspects of myself? I am losing weight, writing, reading, singing, listening to a ton of new music, heading up to Moscow to volunteer for jazz fest, and generally “doing me.” Do I wish I was working? Of course. But doing the right things will lead to the right results.

I think the last few years have been good for me, both in giving me fantastic opportunities to work on some excellent projects (campaigns, theatrical, musical) and in tempering this idea that I was going to immediately vault into the top of whatever I did. It takes hard work, and the raw material of my potential is slowly being turned into the usefulness of experience.

 

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” -Maya Angelou

 

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” -Dalai Lama

 
 

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Choices and Better Angels

February 18, 2013 at 12:20 pm (Uncategorized)

“I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

I am currently listening to the new(ish) Maroon 5 album, “Overexposed,” and I am really enjoying it. Totally random choice paying off. It’s a choice that worked out for me this morning and has almost nothing to do with the main thrust of this blog post, but there it is.

This morning I am thinking about consequences–of our actions, our thoughts, our words. Last night it took me a while to get to sleep, and as I suspect many people are in those moments I usually am not 100% awake and my mind flows in an almost dreamlike way even though I can’t bring myself to fall asleep. It’s like a daydream but at night.

I was thinking about how I have this desire to fix. This almost irrational belief that I can make things better regardless of the given situation. Rationally I know that I can’t, but there is a visceral part of me that is convinced that I am capable of anything at all. I have come to realize more and more that I am very fallible, and make as many or more mistakes than anyone else. I still harbor this feeling that I can fix it all, though. When you combine that with my desire to be universally liked, I find myself in this place where I try to fix the mistakes I have made with past friends and significant others instead of just letting them go on and letting go. One of the things I want to get better at is apologizing for my mishaps and then just letting people do their own thing. Sometimes the fix, if you will, is moving past and away from it all.

 

“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.” -Sivananda

 

When we talk about consequences, we are talking about karma. People have a very skewed understanding of what karma is (as they do about many eastern religious/philosophical ideas–and if we’re being honest, western ideas as well. What culture makes popular is not always accurate in a strict sense. That’s a topic for another day). Essentially, karma is the results of one’s volitional actions–what you do produces consequences, results. People like to say things like “karma’s a bitch,” and popularize the idea that what goes around comes around. That’s a romanticized idea of karma, really. Basically no matter what you do you are generating consequences. Now do we have an idea that doing good generally brings about positive results and bad brings about negative results? Of course. That’s not a given, though. Karma isn’t an active force, it’s just another way of describing that every action has a reaction.

 

“Make up your mind to act decidedly and take the consequences. No good is ever done in this world by hesitation.” -Thomas Huxley

 

I, like many people, have moments of greatness, moments of mediocrity, and moments of weakness. What defines us, I think, is our response to the consequences of our actions. I have not always been the best human being, the best friend, the best boyfriend, or best [insert role here]. I have moments of misjudgement, of hubris, of defeat. 2013 has thus far been a difficult year for me personally. I have had some low, low moments. Even when the darkness of my mind was hanging heavy, though, eventually I heard the calling of my better angels. When I am in dark places I just think, WWJD. What would Jordan do? Not me as I am, but the Jordan I want to be. The Jordan of someday. The Jordan that people look up to and trust. The Jordan that is courageous and kind and upbeat. When I am hesitant, when I am afraid, I endeavor to make the choice that Jordan would make so that maybe every day I am a little more like him.

I have tribulations and difficulties, but I can make it through because somewhere in me (and somewhere in all of us) there is an indomitable spirit that longs to see me realize my fullest potential. I may worry that I will end up alone and unloved, but there is an indomitable spirit within me that is worth being loved and can give the kind of love back to my friends and whoever I end up with. I am in a constant state of becoming, and even when that progress feels stilted I just need to keep placing one foot in front of the other.

 

“A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.” -Winston Churchill

 

 

 

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Re:Stacks

February 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been bad about writing, but there have been some rather significant changes in my life in the past couple of weeks and I just haven’t felt like writing much. Going to try to get back into it, at least a few times a week.

It’s not really a “for Lent” thing (I’m not catholic and the plan is to stick with it past Easter, presumably) but I have decided to go back to being a vegetarian for at least a while. I’ve been eating less since the start of the year and it’s worked to the tune of about 10 pounds (which is pretty great) but would love to lose another 10-20 and then add around 5-10 pounds of muscle. So a net loss (for 2013) of around 15 pounds with some added muscle. I have been pretty consistent with my eating habits but my workout schedule has been more sporadic. I would love to have a workout partner, but thus far I haven’t found anyone around to work out with. That’s just something I know about myself–I am much more comfortable letting things slide when it’s only me vs. when I am holding myself accountable for/to someone else. I’m just pleased with my progress so far and need to make sure I keep on doing well every day.

Heading up to Moscow next weekend for Jazz Fest, pretty excited about that. Love the music, the volunteering, and visiting friends.

I went to the library the other day for the first time in a long time (at least to the Camas Public Library). I don’t know exactly how long it’s been, but since college at least. To my surprise my library card still worked. It was gunky and gross after sitting unmoved in my wallet for half a decade, but it still is the key to opening a multitude of doors to the imagination. So I’ve got that going for me.

 

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

That’s one of the next steps I have for myself–opening my heart and being content with things as they are. I am seeking. Not sure what for, exactly. That’s not really true–I am looking for a way to navigate the murky turbulence of existence, to have my eyes be as open as they can be. Something of an existential–crisis is the wrong word–snag, maybe. I guess I know on some level the only way to be OK is to accept, but that path is a difficult one. Just have to keep on going.

 

“When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need.” -Dalai Lama

 
 

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Compactionate

February 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm (Uncategorized)

“You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.” -Meister Eckhart

After Wednesday’s blog post Paige posted an interesting article along similar themes to the one I had written–namely you should treat people as people and stand up to others trying to treat someone as less than you (here is a link to the full article if interested: http://www.thefrisky.com/2013-01-18/guy-talk-why-a-straight-man-like-me-cares-about-transgender-rights/). I really enjoyed the article, but a phrase of his was rolling around in my head all day, namely Dan Solomon’s assertion that “Compassion is good, but compassion also means that it’s always someone else’s struggle.” I disagree vehemently, and ideas were rolling around in my head to talk about the subject that night and the following morning.
 
I then got the news that this great job I had interviewed for and had several follow ups with decided to go in another direction. When I told Katie about this she asked if that direction was (and I quote) “straight to fucking hell?” There is nothing like having great friends to make you feel better.
 
In any case I took the next several hours to feel sorry for myself, muddle through some sight reading at choir rehearsal, and get drunk alone in my room while watching pitch perfect. I did not get around to writing this blog. Today is a new day, though, and there are many more applications that have been sent and are currently being worked on. I will presumably find employment one of these days–I am capable of doing a great many things and doing them well. Anyway, on to the main topic of the day…
 
I think many people have this idea in their minds that compassion is a passive thing. It has an internal element to it that many people associate with passivity, so I don’t blame people for assuming that but I do think they fail to look at the whole picture (or at least the picture as I see it through my lens). Compassion arises from empathy, i.e. the ability to feel what someone else is feeling. In my mind compassion also arises from the notion that there is no real difference between yourself and any other person or thing. Once you get small enough, that notion bears out. It is a physical reality (at least insofar as science understands the world) and for someone who is an erstwhile Buddhist a spiritual one as well. I understand that many of my friends are rather attached to the idea of an everlasting soul, and I cannot tell you that such a thing doesn’t exist. I am skeptical, but there is certainly a part of me that would want to last forever–who doesn’t? What I can tell you is you are dependent on the rest of existence for YOUR existence, and existence is reliant on you to exist as it does. We are all cogs in the machine of existence, drops of water in the ocean of the universe, or whatever piece of whatever cosmic whole you prefer your analogies to arrive in.
 
What I’m driving at essentially is that compassion for others is really compassion for yourself, because there is no separation, there is no other. You can believe that on an atomic level or you can believe it more spiritually, but either way it’s difficult to refute. Once you see that there is no difference one can take actions to regulate the themselves and the universe in more positive ways.
 
Compassion isn’t really compassion if you simply are sympathizing with other people’s plights. It’s not about going out and changing the world by yourself, but it’s about doing the little things every day. It’s letting people know that hurtful words are not ok, and standing up for others in your daily life. It’s about turning off the water when you’re brushing your teeth so that there is more for all. It’s about not being wasteful. Compassion is a process; it’s something you practice every day. It certainly does not mean believing the struggle to be someone else’s.
 
It does not take magic or the supernatural to change the world (although God, if you are indeed out there, please give us the strength and wisdom to be better than we are and strive towards our inner greatness). It’s up to each of us every day to be better than we were the day before. Some days you will fail, but you have to pick yourself up and do better the next time. It’s something I struggle with and am constantly trying to get better at. There is nothing that makes me feel better in tough times than helping someone else. A kind word or gesture go a long way.
 
 
“May we not succumb to thoughts of violence and revenge today, but rather to thoughts of mercy and compassion. We are to love our enemies that they might be returned to their right minds.”  -Marianne Williamson

 

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