Something I can die proud of…
air date: 5.22.11
If three years ago you told me I would be writing this I wouldn’t believe you… Up until about a month ago I hated the word “blog” I thought people that posted blogs were depraved attention seekers who would post their entire life story hoping people would read it…. Some kind of wannabe online reality TV star… but I guess like anything else it’s not what you say but how you say it (Thanks Mom)
I have no intention of tweeting what I had for breakfast or blogging about my day. I want to talk about what I believe to be are more interesting topics: human struggles of identity, temptations of ambition and society’s unprecedented ability to market ‘success’. I get confused between the messages I hear/see every day and my own original thoughts. This sounds crazy even as I write it. How could you not know what is an original idea and what isn’t?
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like I am so over-stimulated with people [indirectly] telling me what I should do, marketing campaigns depicting ‘the good life’, portraying a ‘beautiful woman’ …these messages pervade my thoughts, jading my decisions. These images and perceptions are all relative. At different periods in history or when you visit different areas of the world these images and perceptions change. We can’t base our life decisions on relative concepts… Can we? Can we aim for a moving target expecting happiness and fulfillment? This seems like a model that would leave us with a very small window of opportunity to succeed, one where we only fall within the “depicted image of happiness” a small percentage of the time. ie. beautiful when you’re young, happy when you’re rich, fulfilled when you ‘live the good life’ Once these images are no longer reality we also lose our perceived happiness. ie. lose financial wealth and therefore I am unhappy/unfulfilled
The only way around this would be to base our foundation on something more substantial. I need to accept my role in this world and learn to use my abilities to make a positive impact on those I encounter along the way. …and maybe it won’t be pretty, or make me rich but at least it will be authentic and I think that is something I can die proud of…
Does That Make Me Less of a Man?
air date: 4.7.11
I stopped into a chain coffee shop this morning for a quick breakfast. As I was leaving I noticed a guy behind the counter in his early twenties with an interesting form of facial hair; a double chin strap! This is new to me. Apparently this is a form of overcompensation yet to be realized. One chinstrap is simply not enough! I need two!
As I walked out the door with coffee in hand I smiled to myself thinking “ridiculous” In hindsight I know I was making assumptions, but I’m afraid this is just the beginning …
I started my car, got out on the road and at the first red light who is stopped right next to me? Yup, The double-chin strap kid wearing designer shades. Except now he has completed the image with his black-on-black BMW 535i. Immediately, my mind jumped right back into analysis and judgment mode. Prior to this moment I felt superior, he was the kid working at a coffee shop with ridiculous facial hair. Now I’m caught in a tailspin of desire,.. "I wish I could afford that car,…why did I rack up so much credit card debt? That was so dumb… alright well don’t beat yourself up there’s nothing you can do now … you’re almost out of the weeds,... yeah, that’s great! Start fresh at 30, sounds great Burton. Sigh.” (Your mind does crazy things to you when you leave it unmonitored.)
Eventually I arrive at my most accessible assumption: "He must be the owner's son... that’s why he can pick up and leave the coffee shop, that’s why he has that car…. It’s probably his father’s car anyway." …This is apparently my mind’s attempt at helping me accept and rationalize my sense of longing or desire for material possessions for which I do not have the means to purchase.
Thinking back to the challenging times in my life (when I questioned my values and motives) I seemed to always end up feeling more indecisive than when I started. My internal debate never ended... I was playing devil’s advocate with myself- and ultimately felt... trapped. Not simply because I couldn’t make a decision (which admittedly was a big part of it) but more-so because when I came up with a potential solution or a good idea my conditioned beliefs around cultural expectations (read: limitations) had a stigma or a negative thought attached to it. These negative ‘auto-reactions’ became stories that were then interwoven into my self-image and dictating what I believed I was and was not capable of. Thus causing any potential solution or new idea to be scrapped before it was ever attempted to be implemented.
These are the guidelines of our society. This is how the game is played and this is your role. You must learn the rules and use them to your advantage. Or else, be left behind... ie. labeled a failure
This perspective created a ‘black & white’ model for conventional success in our society which left me with two basic options:
1) Go to College, Build a career, work your way up the corporate ladder, drive a BMW/Mercedes, get married, buy a house, have kids, save for retirement your whole life
2) Anything other than that
Well as I attempted to make sense of this, I felt pulled... by choosing door #2 I am going against the grain, what will people say?
There must be another way to approach this... I know for me loved ones and relationships are what happiness is about… I don't want to sacrifice my time with them just to gain status in society and drive a nicer car or live in a bigger house.
Although I know this to be true…I still feel pulled, tempted by the big houses and expensive cars. It’s everywhere…
The closer I got to accepting that door #2 was the road I wanted to follow, the more I felt like a quitter.
If I choose not to compete that means I'm less of a man. You can't hack it with the big boys in business... you’re just lazy, you don’t have what it takes to beat the Wall Street sharks at their own game.
Or at least that's the story I’ve been telling myself...
TODAY, I realized I'm not quitting. I'm still competing in the game of life, I just choose door #2. I can live here in the same society without following the masses to the mid-life crisis graveyard; where debt is the secret to the rampant ‘façade of success’, where your kids don’t know who you are … an oasis where your commute is longer than your lunch break and the divorce rate is 50%.
Some might say door #2 is the easy way out….others might argue it's a tougher fight, going against the grain is never easy….
The fact is there’s more at stake. There’s more to life that impressing your neighbors with a new car…
And then again maybe it will end up being tougher… but at least I made a decision and defended it. Live my life by my own principles. Isn’t that what makes a man? …yeah that and a pair of testicles.
air date: 3.20.11
What are we doing? What am I doing? How can I, this microscopic spec in the universe make an impact in my little corner of the world? What can I contribute? ...relationships... community…
Happiness! Oh how we strive for happiness. It seems, the more "civilized" we become, the more we gravitate toward illusions and become estranged from our true selves. Money, power, material possessions, ... and the bigger these possessions are, the better. We don’t just want a house, we want a MANSION! Now I have never owned a home, so I can't say if it makes you any happier.
Those mortgage things seem like just one more thing to worry about and tie me down. Maybe there's a time for that, but it isn't now. Yet somehow there's something in my brain telling me I want to own a home... and a BIG one... 3 or 4 bedrooms... near the water, with a fireplace, an island in the kitchen, and a hot tub in the master suite. It starts to sound like an episode of HGTV playing in my head. Is this what I want? Is this something that will make me happy? Or is this just what I am told? What I am ''conditioned to think I need to be considered a successful member of society.''
I am inclined to believe I don't need it. No. I know I don't need it. But how do I shake that nagging conditioned version of pre-packaged artificially flavored "happiness?” How do I live inside this hamster-wheel world and swim against the current, without being tempted by friends and family to jump back in line? I propose the most logical solution is to find and contribute to a local community of like-minded people who promote creativity. People who support BIG dreams and facilitate opportunities for "pie-in-the-sky" ideas, through a positive circle of influence at the local level. Thus creating a ripple of positivity that everyone involved can identify with,… each of the individuals involved can look at the results of that project and say, “I helped to do that.” It is my feeling that this is the missing link; a sense of creative ownership.
Our ultimate goal is to create one such circle. Through our experience we have found inspiration in many forms; books, people, music, places, and even food. There are signs of authenticity and passion everywhere ~ once you start looking you will be amazed at how often you encounter it. Hopefully sharing these mind-expanding experiences and muses will ignite a spark in those of you who think and feel just as I have
Is it because it's what I want? Or am I fulfilling an order that was programmed and reinforced throughout my life? I have to believe there's something more to life than mindlessly following the herd… And I intend to spend the short time I inhabit this earth finding what that is for me. It’s not quite clear but I feel like I’m getting closer every day. I’m just going to keep spending my energy on what I believe to be the reason why we are here... relationships... community... and alright I'll say it... Love .
If anything strikes a chord with you, come back and visit us from time to time. Jenny will always be coming up with new ideas, posting new pictures, and generally starting a revolution to change the world.
Hopefully there's something in there you can use.
Be true to yourself,
R & W