Although you can’t say it yet
It’s never been the same
And it looks to stay that way
It feels like you’re okay
When I was a fire I turned into ice
Melting off my last feverish highs
And I leapt through the sunshine and into the night
Singing songs of my healthiest fears
I’m doing my best to maintain a rigorous guitar practice schedule of at least twice a month. I’ve spent much of my adult life denying the fact that I can play the guitar. This has mainly been due to the fact that I only know approximately 10 chords and have a difficult time with barre chords. I’ve been playing the same strum pattern since I was sixteen as well, which doesn’t help my case.
Tonight I learned how to play a syncopated strum pattern and managed to maintain the rhythm while singing the chorus. I was elated. The song I was singing was terribly sad, though. In a viciously personal way. It isn’t the song that introduces this post, so don’t get the wrong idea. It’s going to be awhile before I get to Manchester Orchestra.
Lately I’ve been going over the decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve made a lot of friends in a lot of places. Okay, really just two places. It seems like a lot more after we all moved to different cities, though. I can’t say that has been something I’ve questioned. The friends I’ve made are amazingly accepting and encouraging. That’s not what I’m getting at, though. The thing is that when I really examine the things that have been my choices to this point, I have been a little bit passive in my decisions. I’ve been vaguely apathetic. I can’t do that anymore. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve finally understood everyone always telling me the only person standing in my way is me.
I can’t really influence the actions of others. I can’t know the types of decisions others will make. I can only do my best and try to accomplish the goals I have for myself. I can’t make anyone believe in me, understand me or trust me when I make promises. Those are all things I earn. I can work on what I have though, to use as reference.
They might have been chords I already knew, but it’s the patterns that changed and that’s an education.
People like to be demeaning. People like to make you feel small and inadequate. It’s easy. Think about it: flaws are easier for us as a society to discuss than assets. We have a broader vocabulary in the negative realm than the positive. Even the words we do maintain in the positive realm get twisted and turned into ironic-use-only vocab. Sarcasm has gotten the best of conversational English, and while often hilarious - it makes it difficult to compliment someone for their skills without sounding like a fan-girl or worse: like an insincere prick. The best news: if you know this is just how things roll, it’s actually easier to navigate the world of job-hunting, networking and avoid the all too common mid-twenties/early-thirties all-encompassing personal/professional breakdown. Okay, maybe it can’t help you avoid breakdown, but it can certainly make you realize it doesn’t have to be the end and you will survive to see better days.
The thing about these other people, these nay-sayers, they are not me. They are not you. This is an obvious statement. The real focus is: don’t take advice you don’t believe. Sure, there are experts out there who want you to listen to their every word. This doesn’t make any sense though. How can you follow the lead of something (or someone) you don’t believe in? If you want something bad enough and use that desire to work hard toward your goal, I really believe there’s no reason you won’t succeed in one way or another. This doesn’t mean you won’t get discouraged by the dismissive comments of others or your own negative thinking. Being your own motivator is probably the best place you can be in this scenario.
That being said, I’ve found that when someone tells me (or even remotely implies) that I cannot do something, I gain relentless drive to accomplish this thing that someone else has deemed impossible (sometimes regardless of my interest in the activity). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to use this to my advantage. Less and less often do I find myself doing something merely because someone else unknowingly double-dog dared me to do it by saying I wouldn’t be able to successfully complete something. However, that’s where my problem still lies. I must learn to better say “no” both to myself in situations where I feel like I must rise to the challenge, and to others when I really just don’t have enough time to commit myself to another project.
Momentum. Yeah, it’s a buzzword. Whatever. I have a hard time with maintaining a steady workflow when I get to entrenched in a specific aspect of a project or idea. I get frustrated and somehow find comfort in that feeling. I get stuck when I’m doing too many projects for friends and family, when I’m not taking enough time to just sit and read, or when I just get too caught up in getting everything done right now. That’s why I have a 5 year plan, not a 5 minute plan. I’ve got to get to a point where I can get out of my own way.
Patience. I need more. My whole life I’ve gone through cycles of patience followed by fits of urgency. These cycles can generally be seen by examining the length of my hair in photographs from any given time in my life. I had very long hair until I was about to begin 2nd grade. I’m fairly certain this is the point in my life where the prove-them-wrong attitude began. We got my hair cut to just above my jawline, a nice little bob. Life was so much easier. It no longer took an hour to wash my hair. I had so much more time for all the business I had to attend to as a 7-year-old: organizing my cassette collection & re-naming my fish based on my favorite book at the moment.
The point of this “hair as metaphor for patience” story is that my hair is currently the longest it’s been since I graduated high school over 6 years ago. I keep contemplating cutting it off. That’s a signal that I’m almost ready for a manic/urgent stage. Terrifying. I don’t want to be in that state of mind. It’s stressful. I like having long hair, but it really does take a lot of time. What could I be doing in that additional half-hour a day? Maybe that’s the half-hour I would spend belittling others, and maybe it’s best I keep myself occupied during that time. I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. That’s why (at least for today) I’m keeping my long hair.
Steve Jobs (via soupsoup)
This man revolutionized my line of work before I even started in the field, and I take it for granted all the time. His innovation will live on forever. This advice is something I plan to keep close at hand; it’s the truth and some of the most inspiring words I’ve heard.
Day 28: Email someone you admire but have never met
Day 29: Settle an outstanding argument
Have a conversation with someone 20 years younger or older
I decided that I didn’t have enough time to complete day 28 and 29 properly, but have plans to accomplish these tasks. I’ve had a hard time deciding who to email, especially when I can’t find the contact info for the person I am thinking of emailing. The outstanding argument settling will likely be done when I arrive in Ohio in November. I wanted to try and meet up with an old friend in Ohio in person and really hash some things out and get to a positive conclusion. We’ll see if my schedule and the other person’s schedule line up, but here’s hoping.
Day 30 fell on the first night of FUSE Fest. I was getting ready to head out on my bicycle to meet my friend Claire and just as I finished locking the door, a little boy and his mother were walking by with their tiny adorable dog. The little boy pulled his mom’s shirt and pointed at me. I asked him if he had a bicycle and he smiled and got really shy, hiding behind his mom. She laughed and told him to say hello. He peered around her and waved at me timidly. I told him to be good for his mommy and that I’d be sure to say hi next time I saw them. When I started riding away from the house, he yelled after me: “BYE BYES.”
I suppose I did a fairly good job with the challenges this month. In October, the challenges are based on getting healthy. They’re still daily and I’m going to try to keep up. I think I’ll only be posting weekly re-caps, but I hope some of you will consider taking part. The challenges are very simple, but make a big difference.