Escaping Normality

When you think of normal, what comes to mind?  A guy who drinks his morning cup of coffee on the way to his 9-5?  The real question is, why do we all strive to attain mediocrity?

Now, some of you could say I’m a hypocrite when it comes to the subject.  I’m going to a 4 year university and majoring in the business category.  However, I consider it my back-up. Yes, I really have made my college education my plan B. (no, not the birth control jackass)  Basically if none of my other ideas in life make me a living doing something I would enjoy much more than a 9-5, I’ll always have that to fall back on.  It’s always good to have a fallback.

But this article is about you.  Do you really want to be another person working for someone else just to afford the things to keep you and your family happy and healthy?  It’s not a rhetorical question- I know plenty of people that are quite content with the idea.  But that’s just it- most everyone looks at life with this as their max expectation.  The ones that see life in a different light are the people who are doing something that they are either passionate about or that makes them a LOT of money.  Usually both.  I can rattle off names to give you examples- Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc etc.  But what you may fail to realize is that there are thousands, likely millions, of others who make a great living doing work they don’t consider work.  That’s when it’s easy.  That’s when the money flows into your life and you don’t have to worry about waking up at 6 a.m. the next morning.

Here’s what you’re going to tell me, “But he’s not mentioning the risk involved.”  Sure, there’s risk- but the way I choose to think of it is like this: I’m risking working 9-5 for the majority of my life by NOT taking the chance to make more money doing what I love.  You really shouldn’t even have to read the rest of this article, that one line should be enough.  But in case you’re not quite convinced I’ve got a little more for you.

Okay, so you’re still concerned about risking your lively hood on something that may not work out.  Then do a variation of what I’m doing!  I’ll tell you right now, I do not want to end up in that office doing whatever work my boss lays on me for the week.  I want to sit in my own office, in my house, overlooking the sea.  Or something like that anyway.  But I’m not afraid to fail, and you shouldn’t be either.  If I end up having to work a regular job for a few years, so be it.  Because I’ll still be working on new ways to escape normality even then.  I have until whatever the retirement age is to escape that job.  There is no downside.  You CAN find the time.  Don’t you think most of those people who have become rich doing something different have had a lot of other obligations?  Of course they did.  Do you think they ever thought about what might happen if they didn’t succeed?  Absolutely.  But the one thing they didn’t have to question was their will to escape the norm.  To breakout from the rest and become a leader in life.  And now a lot of them help others do the same.

I’m not telling you to quit your day job and start auditioning at the local theatre.  I’m telling you to go there directly after you get off and knock that audition out of the park!  Your family and friends won’t laugh at you.  And if they do, then they just provide more evidence to what I’ve been trying to tell you all along- people are afraid to be different.  So power ahead and lead the pack for a change.  Hell, runaway and start your own pack full of more motivated wolves who want to make money their own way.  And if you don’t get the wolf reference it’s okay- just try something different and at the very least you can have one less regret.

The Hope of Disappointment

We go through a lot of emotions- I mean a LOT.  But there is one in particular I’ve found people try to avoid at all costs.  Disappointment.  Think about it, when we cause people to feel other things like anger, we almost get a rush off it in the moment.  And although we may regret it or feel sorry about our actions later, while it’s going on we usually have no problem escalating the feeling even higher.  There’s a few other feelings that we treat this way like sadness, happiness, excitement, etc.  Some of those we try to make last as long as possible.  Sadness we can even get lost in, and yeah nobody wants to feel sad- but the truth is sometimes we need to.

Back to the point.  Of all the feelings that come to mind, the one I really never want to make myself or anyone else feel is disappointment.  We try so desperately to not disappoint the people close to us that sometimes we make the wrong decisions for ourselves.  Your parents are a big one here.  Maybe they really want you to get into a particular college, or apply at a certain job.  And people tend to want to make their parents proud.  But what if those decisions aren’t the right ones to make for your own well-being?  Maybe you want to go to the college where your friends are at, maybe you don’t want a career in that field.  We can’t let disappointment hold us back from doing what makes us happy.

This comes into play when interacting with our friends too.  Sometimes you can even start to feel that awful sensation as you send a simple text back- “I can’t hang out tonight, sorry.”  See, you even felt guilty enough you had to throw in a quick apology at the end.  The truth is it’s almost never going to be the end of you and your friend’s relationship if you can’t hang out that night.  And friends, the good kind, are great at understanding this.  You have other obligations, it’s OK.

Of course, there’s also self disappointment.  It’s a feeling that usually comes in after disappointing someone else.  You forgot to do the errand your mom really needed you to do, you failed your exam at school, your boss thought you could have done better with your report.  Well, here’s the great thing about disappointment- in most of these cases you can allow it to motivate you.  Tell yourself, “I don’t ever want to make someone feel that way again.  I WILL do better.”  If you start thinking this way rather than getting bummed out every time, you really will start to see a difference.  And then when you succeed, you’ll replace that old feeling of disappointment with ones like pride, happiness, and satisfaction.

Some people can tend to say things like, “Well I don’t care if I’m a huge disappointment.”  I’m not denying there are people out there who don’t care about disappointing others or themselves.  But I’ve never met anyone who strives for disappointment, goes out aiming to get that feeling.  These type of people certainly aren’t a lost cause.  Everyone reaches a point where they feel the need to at least try doing something different.  It’s because people don’t want to feel bad, and their minds will lead them to do things to make themselves feel better.  It’s not always the right thing, but they will adapt.  That’s why the people near to them need to give that little push in the right direction.  Nothing too specific, don’t make them think it’ll be the end of the world if they don’t.  Just enough that they have the freedom to choose what specifically they do, but it’s still in the correct direction on the path to a less disappointing and more joyful life.

Moral of the story- don’t fear disappoint, don’t think it’s completely unavoidable either.  But always let it inspire you to do better.

An Unusual Idol

When you ask a child who is hero is you generally get back the same answers. Superman, parents, firemen, amongst others. My idol differs from these greatly, and doesn’t happen to be one individual.

I’ll give you the most recent example of someone I looked up to as a person to be like one day. I was sitting on a plane next to a man with a laptop. I said maybe three words to him the entire duration of the flight. I watched as, for three hours, this guy typed away- answering countless emails, editing PowerPoints, and analyzing an insane amount of Excel spreadsheets. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking- This is the guy you look up to? Well yeah, but it’s not so much this one particular random stranger, it’s all the others that are like him, busy making money and affecting the world from their computer.

I’m certainly not telling you that I don’t look up to my parents. Of course I do, just in different ways. My dad has a job that requires much of the same work the man on the plane was doing, but I look up to him and my mom for their other exceptional qualities. Not everyone can be a police officer, and not everyone wants to be. We must become content with the idea that we can be inspired to become whatever we choose. There is no need to conform to anything.

One quality I saw as something I wish to improve on was the man’s overwhelming work ethic that seemed pretty much effortless. Another was, as cliché as it sounds, the way he carried himself. His unimpressed nature with all that First Class offered him showed he had a good sense of entightlement. Often entightlement is seen as a poor quality. And in some cases I agree with this, but when you act like you’re entightled to what you have earned- I see this as self respect. He wasn’t snobby or rude to me or the flight attendants, he treated them as an equal even though in ways he was superior.

I do not know exactly what the man did for a living, but it matters not. I know that he commanded respect from those around him and rightfully so. Never be ashamed of who inspires you, you may even inspire people the way you are right now. You wouldn’t want those people to be ashamed, would you?

To a Night Unknown

Night, a time rivaled only by the day prior and the day that follows. The classic way of thinking is “There’s always tomorrow.” “Let’s get a fresh Start tomorrow morning.” “Let’s call it a night.” Why? Why do we always look to the next day for opportunity? I wish to reveal to you the under appreciated opportunities of the night.

Night is often left to the procrastinating essay writer, the business man with too much work to get done in a 12 hour day at the office, the so-called “late night tokers” and many other types of people. But I say night holds promise for everyone.

Night doesn’t always have to be defined as a time for rest. I prefer to give it the title of a time for the mind to explore. A time for the brain to wander and think of the intricate beauties we commonly overlook in the bustle of our everyday. Night is where we can search out our deeper inner thoughts, and not just let them pass by like usual. It’s a time where we can gaze out our bedroom window and be amazed by the vastness of our World. This gazing can lead one to think of some of the more meaningful and puzzling questions of life. “What is my purpose? What do I want to do with this life?” And I believe you’ll find that the answers you discover will hold more value when thought of in the night. That they are for certain a more truthful answer to yourself than your reply may be in the daytime. It’s because the dark gives us a humbling sense, it makes us undeniably more honest with ourselves.

Perhaps the best way to think of it is that night is the time to input the ideas you wish to take action on the next day. Sometimes you can be so overwhelmed with motivation that you even act on them before waiting for day to arrive. It doesn’t matter either way, you’ve done the important part- you’ve become honest with yourself. You’ve set your mind to take action on accomplishing the next task. Get to the bottom of what it is your mind is wondering about before bed and you’ll find you have less of those annoying thoughts that keep you from sleep. You’ll be excited to be thinking of real things that, yes, you CAN do. And by doing so you can fall asleep quicker, and wake up easier with a more defined purpose.

Get the tough part out of the way, so that waking up isn’t what you dread, it’s something you look forward to. I used to wish for the longest nights, that while I slept it would feel like it lasted for as long as possible. Simply because I didn’t want to wake up, go to school, or whatever other task it was I wasn’t looking forward to. But those days are long behind me now. I seek progression in every next day with the ideas of the night before still fresh in my head.

Try it out, see that making a conscious effort to better yourself actually works in your advantage. Determine what you want, give yourself a few ideas of how you can achieve it, and then allow your mind to rest. Sure, there’s always tomorrow- but why not embrace the night?

Seattle from the perspective of a small town Ohioan

Cornfields. I’ll see 10+ on any given drive I take to somewhere. It’s comforting in a way, the familiarity. But it also leaves you wondering about the other side of things, what else is out there? I’m by no means a “farm raised kid” but at the same time this is the environment I was raised around. I’ve always separated myself from the farm lifestyle, but at the same time I’ve never been one to knock another for choosing that kind of life. I recently took a trip to visit family in Seattle and thought to share my experience from the point of view from someone who is used to a very different surrounding.

My first impression of walking around the city- wonderment. I mean when you’re not used to seeing intricately designed buildings pretty much on top of each other everywhere you look- it’s really an amazing sight. You’re impressed by pretty much everything- from the rentable bikes people can leave anywhere to the vastly different personalities of the people you walk by on the street. And I realize that Seattle is quite different than other large cities in the United States, but the general city life here is still something to be noted. Once you get over the initial amazement at all the cool technology, you begin to marvel at something else. The people. Everyone is so different from one another, when you’re used to a lot of like-minded individuals. You see that the first person you walk past probably has an entirely different way of thinking than the next. In my hometown each person is usually a lot like the next.

I notice that these people are so much more open to the concept of new ideas. They don’t fear progression, they encourage it. And when you’re not used to that you really, really appreciate it. Now it’s not like I’ve never been to a city before. Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland- been there, done that. But Seattle is a totally different experience from any of these. You see a city filled with a lot of accepting people. The things people here have no problem accepting, people in my town would have to take drastically longer about in order to change their way of thinking towards.

The next thing I notice is the overall motivation. The people here want more out of life, they can be content but not automatically convinced that there’s no better life for them. They have the motivation to seek more for themselves. To make more money, to encounter new experiences, to discover new ways of doing things, and above all to be open to new concepts and ways of thinking. Here’s where you’re like, damn is this guy just roasting small town life? No, it’s just me explaining the differences I notice. There are actually several things I appreciate about my little town.

For one- I’m not walking past total strangers on the street. I’m walking next to people I’ve grown up around my whole life. They know a lot about me, I know a lot about them. I don’t have to try too hard to strike up a conversation with them and that’s really nice. They’ll ask me more personal questions, which to some people would be annoying, but really it’s just them taking a deeper interest in my life. And not every person from a small town is simple minded, a lot of these people can have their own very different opinions. It’s just that they don’t always have the experiences these people in the city have had to base their opinions on. They haven’t been exposed to as big of a variety of people and ideas.

That’s why I’m thankful for this experience, it’s given me that extra background that not a lot of the people I’m usually around have. It’s made me appreciate both the world outside of my town and the town itself. I don’t know at this point where I’ll want to live in the future, but I do know that I can be open to living in a larger environment. And hey, who’s to say I won’t miss those cornfields if I ever do move to a large city someday. The beauty of it is that I have the choice to choose, and my location never has to be a permanent place. You can always go back, you can always go somewhere different.

Expose yourself to something new and you can find yourself appreciating your norm. Find yourself in the same place for a while and realize you want to experience something different.

Our Dictionary of Understanding

Even if we all spoke the same language, say English just for this example, we would often find ourselves still struggling to make others understand the meaning behind our words. And it’s for one reason- we all have different ways of interpreting someone else’s words.

Before I dive right into it let me give you a quick example:

A man is sitting aboard a plane and as the stewardess comes by she asks if he’d like some more coffee. To reply the man says “I’ll take a little more.” For a brief moment the man sees a delay in understanding flash in her eyes. Then she picks up the coffee cup and fills it.

Didn’t seem like much, did it? The man asked for more coffee and he got it, right? Well yes, but there’s a bit more to this short exchange if you care to look closer. The short moment where the stewardess paused before filling his cup does not come from her lack of understanding the English language. Rather it can be derived from all the experiences of her communication with others throughout her life. The way she has most often been spoken too, combined with the way she most frequently would reply is what has become her own personal dictionary of understanding.

The woman, being a stewardess, finds herself in a bit of a “have to get it done” mindset. And this mindset is only because of her occupation, she could have several other factors in her past experiences that have also shaped her dictionary of understanding. But, being in this mindset she had to take that extra moment to understand because she is used to getting short responses. “More coffee?” “Yes.” “More coffee?” “No.”

And so when she receives an answer from a man who has a more laid-back dictionary of understanding it leads to the short pause. Perhaps where he came from people find themselves adding more words than necessary to give an answer to someone. Therefor he answered with “I’ll take a little bit more.” Instead of just saying yes. And he did it because it’s natural for him to do so. His past experiences in communication has made his dictionary believe people appreciate when you speak a few more words to them when replying.

I am not saying one of these forms of communication is better than another. At least, not one of the two I mentioned above. I am telling you that people have different levels of understanding because their experiences have led them to it. Your personal dictionary may find you being short and straight to the point with most people you speak to. Your friend might babble on for hours after you ask him how his dinner was. He’s found that he needs to go into more detail when explaining something in order for him to give a satisfactory answer. You, have had more success being brief and straightforward in your conversations.

Now, of course, there are exceptions to my guide of understanding. You may find yourself talking in more detail to one type of person over another. And you’ll very likely find yourself talking differently to your partner than you would a stranger. The point is -in general- different people have different ways of communicating to others because of their past successes and failures in gaining understanding with others. So hey, go on out there and talk to someone, see if you notice it.

Let Me Tell You Something

Let me tell you something about love. It’s the kind of something that not everyone will be able to understand, but I hope to do the best I can while telling you.

The word love cannot express all that is behind it. There is so much behind that small word, so much that can seem impossible to explain- and some of it truly is that way. But that is not something to be saddened or disappointed by. Love in in its truest, deepest form is something entirely other than love. Love is more than a feeling, we only perceive it as a feeling because that’s all we know. But truly it is more of its own entity than only a feeling. An easier way of understanding what I’m trying to tell you is that love is a connection. A bond.

Love can be pictured as a blue line of light connecting one being to another. The stronger, more pure, and deep you can picture that line is sort of like how much love you have for that other being. It’s incredibly challenging to limit love to this image alone, because in all honesty even this is inaccurate. You see, love is endless. To tie it down to the simple image of a string of lights connecting one soul to another is almost pathetic. But that’s how I want you to imagine it. Because I’m trying to tell you something, something so unimaginably complex that I wish I had more than words to describe it to you. And because love is an endless and boundless entity, we must allow ourselves to picture that beam of light in one ultimate form when love reaches a certain level between two things.

So, if you truly love someone in a way that makes you feel like you desire to understand that love more- picture it like this: The strongest most pure and deep blue beam of light spreading from you to your loved one, connecting the two of you in the most ultimate astronomical way fathomable. That there is nothing in all existence that can cut through that line because you know the two of you would never do anything to hurt each other or make that light go dimmer or any less strong. So, really, if you feel the type of love I’m trying to describe to you about someone, this is the love that is completely endless and unbreakable. It is stronger than anything else I have ever thought of- much less experienced. It cannot lessen, only become more powerful, more blue, more endless.

People don’t often think of love as the color blue, but for me- that’s what best describes this visualization. The thing is, once you reach this understanding that your love is invincible, you no longer have to worry about understanding it anymore. Simply because it serves no purpose to understand it at this point. You can go on loving your individual and never have to think again about how deep your love for them goes. You know, you more than know, that the love connecting you and them is infinite in power and strength and feeling.

I know- love contradicts itself. You try so hard to understand it and once you reach this level of understanding you no longer desire or need to. You simply love and you go on loving. Often, it is one person trying to define how much they love another, or think about how much they love another, that ends up causing the end of their relationship. But if you truly have the most pure and deep sense of love for them- you don’t have to worry about understanding it and you are infinitely connected.

Perhaps it is even to small of a thing to limit love to the word life. If you ask me, love can go beyond life. That blue light does not break, remember? It is invincible, immortal even, if you wish to think of it like that. So if you love someone like I just did my best to tell you, stop trying to understand it after reading this. Just go on loving them with everything you have. Because if I’ve gained any of your trust at all, you can trust me that this thing we call love is the most beautiful thing in all existence. Give it to the one you choose, enjoy every second of it, but never fear it- for it does not end.

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