June 19, 2010

Confessions and Dreams

I have become aware of something. Something very important, very personal. And I think I have some confessions to make.

I've been selfish. For two reasons.

First reason- My dream. My lifelong aspiration. For years, years, it has been my goal in life to be wise. Like, really wise. More than money, more than fame, I wanted wisdom. And great as it sounds and all, it's selfish. Guess what, I know the end of the story. I die, and whatever was in my brain isn't anymore. It's all so fragile. We can't excavate the knowledge left from someone passed away..all that data is instantly wiped. So I have a new dream. One that's similar, but different too. I'll talk about it later.

Second reason- I loved my life. I had a great life, a perfect life even. I couldn't have possibly asked for more. In fact, things were so nice that I never felt like stepping outside of my life. I lost some perspective, stopped seeing things from the outside, became comfortable. Friends struggled, and I did not mourn with them. Others grew away from me, and I did not pursue them. I lose some friends, and I didn't really care. Because I didn't really need them. It took turmoil to wake me up. Only after I no longer had that perfect life did I look outside of it, and start to realize how much I needed others. Now when the people I care about face trials, I am sad with them. I share that burden, because they were there to share my burden. My life is far from what I want it to be, and that's a good thing.

That being said, I apologize to everyone. To my friends, whom I wasn't really there for because I thought "being there" meant giving them someone to come to, not being someone who goes to them when they are in need. I apologize to my former friends, because..well whoever is to blame for the end of the relationship, I have no doubt in my mind that I didn't do my part to save it. I haven't a clue what happens from here, but at the very least I promise to you that no matter what our relationship is, I'm willing to talk.

So, back to dreams. After 5 or 6 years, I have a new dream. A new goal in life.

I want to change lives.

Dreadfully cliche, no? I guess I should be more specific. I still want to be wise, but not so I can sit around and revel in my wisdom. I want to make people think differently. I want them to reconsider their lives, reconsider their choices, reconsider the way they think..anything, so long as it is a catalyst for change. Catalyst is a good word for it. I don't need credit, I don't even want credit. I just want to start something. Because when I die, that will continue. And I'm saddened by the shortsightedness of my generation.

I don't really know what this looks like, to be perfectly honest, and I expect it to change through my life. For now, maybe my writing is the best way for me to change people. In the future, maybe my audible words will have the same weight. Maybe just the way I choose to live my life will affect people. I have no idea. But whatever it may be, I want to know that I made a difference, that I contributed to something greater than myself. I never even imagined that I had been living for myself, but I think I see that now. I think many people my age live for themselves. And if Wikipedia taught us anything, its that collective intelligence is a powerful thing. In other words, its impossible to see the truth without reaching outside of your own life, sharing with others, discovering things. No matter how hard I think, I'll be wrong about things until I hear someone else's view on it.

My life is open now. I hope yours is too. Then, maybe we'll be able to accomplish something great.

June 12, 2010

The Formspring Effect

It's funny, because this is a topic that's been floating around in my mind for years. This whole principle of opening up to the internet, something I have been incredibly guilty of myself and something that has never been better represented than by the website Formspring (http://www.formspring.me). So what is this website all about? Why has it become massively popular? I think I definitely have the answer.

People love spilling their secrets. They love being interviewed. Love answering questions. Love showing what they are thinking to others, being interesting in that regard. Formspring. Postsecret. Questionnaires. Lists of items where you bold every one you have done before. You all know exactly what I'm talking about. Most of you are guilty of one of these. I know I am.

So why do we come out so openly on the internet? Inhibitions, self-consciousness, social anxiety... These are issues ALL of us deal with. Most people can't look someone in the eye and say "Yes, I lost my virginity. Yes, I smoke pot. Yes, I do things that are socially unacceptable." And yet, when we are just typing our deepest and darkest secrets into a computer, or pasting them to a postcard and mailing them away, it's so easy! We aren't considering the reactions of people reading, the faces they make, the thoughts they think.. It's like closing your eyes before downing that disgusting cough syrup. This can be very good, and very bad.

We'll start with the bad. What is the Formspring Effect doing to us? Well, perhaps more than anything, my generation isn't learning to be social. We aren't learning how to look each other in the eyes, how to be open, how to connect with each other. We all know more about each other than ever before, but all that knowledge seems to inhabit some different layer than the one we interact with each other on. The quiet, severely introverted wallflower finds this great way to express himself and get his mind and his heart out to others, but it takes him seven freaking years to learn how to look a friend in the face and tell them how he feels. He can post to Livejournal, Xanga, Myspace, Facebook, Blogger, etc. telling everyone he knows that his heart is truly mourning over events in his life, but he becomes complacent and never conquers his inability to go to lunch with someone and talk to them about that pain.

God forbid anyone know who I'm talking about right now.

And yes, I used to always be terrified when someone came up to me in person and wanted to talk to me about my blog posts.

So what about the good? Well, I think this whole development is very interesting. In the same way many people use it as a crutch to avoid social development, others seem to find it as a springboard. Answering these questions about their thoughts and their hearts helps build those neural connections, gets them analyzing themselves sooner. Heck, I swear the next generation is becoming mature faster than mine did, because they are being given so many ways to express themselves. And I remember very vividly that expressing myself lead to me realizing there was something to express, which lead to self-discovery, which lead to who I am now. Kids are trying to answer some very difficult questions about themselves sooner. And maybe, just MAYBE, they are finding the answers sooner than we ever hoped to.

This story is definitely not over. I'm pretty interested to see how social networking affects the world as we know it. The dynamics of our relationships are being drastically altered by the internet, and that's kind of cool. But do yourself a favor- find a good friend, look them in the eye, and tell them how you feel. Don't get stuck venting your feelings through one way glass.

June 5, 2010


I want to start writing again. I do. However, at times like this, my thoughts aren't exactly..linear. There is no train of thought to catch a ride on. They are more like fireworks. This is what has made it difficult for me to write recently. So lets dissect it. Find the themes. What literary devices are at work here. What is the thesis.

As far as I am from an English major, these principles seem to work in so many other places.

So, themes. The phoenix metaphor comes to mind. As does the power of words. Trials. Perseverance. Providence. Oh, that's a good one..providence. Faith is another good one.

I'm reading Lullaby. It's essentially the story of a reporter who discovers an old poem which actually turns out to be a spell, painlessly killing anyone who it is used on. Sounds like a neat story, and I'm sure there's some deep metaphors at work here. However, we don't have to search for them. Palahniuk has a way of throwing his literary devices at people- he'll just tell you. Its about sound, words, quietness, society. We are afraid of silence. At the same time, we want our words to have power. We pray. We read books and watch cartoons about magic, spells, etc. We imagine physical consequences to sounds as a representation of the mental and emotional consequences we know exist.

How about another theme. The phoenix one. Rebirth. Its funny how that applies to everything. I mean, its always true. Whether we're talking about civilizations rising from the ashes of their predecessors, or even the fact that most injuries a human can endure lead to some sort of resilience. Broken bones are stronger when they repair. Viruses leave behind immunities.

And now I can finally start to form a line, a train of thought, a story. This is why I have to write. Perseverance. Just as breaking a bone makes it stronger, a broken person comes back stronger. Pain and suffering are good, in the long run. It just sucks while the bone is still broken. Impatience may be the enemy of humanity.

And from there, providence. We need pain to develop perseverance, but we also need to be nursed back to health. We all need to cope. There are an infinite number of ways people find to do this. For me, its talking. Talking to others. Bouncing ideas off of people. Making sure I'm sane, making sure I'm viewing things objectively. Not being consumed. And lo and behold, I find people in my life to do just that. The things I'm going through right now, I could probably name 5 different people going through something similar. Similar, but not identical. That's the beauty of it. I don't have to screw up time and time again, just share my experiences and learn from others. Grow close to the people who are enduring trials as well, and find the light at the end of the tunnel.

The best way to deal with a lack of control in your life is to help others.

It's the engineer in me, I swear. We fix things. Solve problems. What do you do when faced with a problem that can't be fixed? You help someone else fix their problems, and you wait. Maybe tomorrow's invention will bring the solution you need. Maybe it won't. But at least you're fixing something.

I imagine this all makes no sense to anyone. That's ok. It's served its purpose. So now that the pieces are a bit more connected, lets start from the beginning.

Never in my life have I been in a more interesting position. It's intriguing. My life interests me. It's creepy. Many things have happened, none of which are particularly relevant, Nor is it possible to name one, as my position right now is definitely the product of many different elements. However, I'm here. And there seems to be a spot for me in society, a spot where I can still do what I like to do- solve problems. All while learning patience, learning perseverance, learning to have faith. I don't know what tomorrow holds, or the next day, or the next year, or anything like that. This is new. Or rather, I am no longer under the illusion that I know my future. On one side of things, I feel powerless. On the other, I feel free. And perhaps this is why my life is so interesting right now. Every thought has a counterthought, everything's a battle, for every action there is an opposite but equal reaction. For every reward, there is a risk. The risk is me falling off of the earth, my mind drifting somewhere up in space. The reward is happiness, and the life I dream of. Oddly enough, that dream changes pretty frequently.

I plan to start writing again, and hopefully I can get a rein on my thoughts before long. As pretty as fireworks are, they are never really going anywhere. For me, that's probably because I don't know where to go. But once I have a direction, I'll start running again.