On Growing Up

I am currently in a hotel room about to attend my first work related conference in the morning. This is the first time in my life that I took a flight and went somewhere for the specific reason of furthering my employment. It is a sobering experience. I mean I have only been employed at my current occupation for a few months, and I find it a bit odd to be doing something like this so soon. 

It has been an odd year so far. I started an actual job with health insurance, a retirement plan, and hours of work that I have to attend and be present for. I have embarked on one of the traditional markers of adulthood or at least what American society considers adulthood. 

In a way, it is oddly satisfying. I have a good job with a decent paycheck. I am young and unattached, so I don’t have any major dependents or bills outside of student loans. Even so, I am still searching for something.

I know I will not stop with my current job because as satisfying as it may be, it is not where my heart, head, or passion lies. Where I am physically and mentally is not where I am supposed to be and I am making progress towards movement. So, even though I have definitely grown up, I am by no means done doing so. And perhaps that is also a staple of adulthood; realizing that getting older and growing up are not necessarily the same thing. And that it is okay to still be confused and searching.

I suppose I am not too much of a grown up considering that I am drinking a few beers, eating pizza, and playing games on my computer the night before a work conference. Frankly, that is okay too. To all adults who still hold on to a bit of their childhood, this next drink is for you (and me as well). 

Salud! Cheers! To Franks! (That one’s for you, Honeycutt)

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Lessons From…That Awkward Moment

Today’s lesson comes from the romantic comedy That Awkward Moment. So, right off the bat, this film is no Citizen Kane or even a Citizen Bob for that matter. However, it is a surprisingly entertaining and satisfying movie as long as you are not expecting Shakespeare. To be perfectly honest, I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed the film considering the star. Somehow, Zac Efron has had a rather impressive career post-Disney days. As always from this point on: SPOILERS.

 

 

 

As you can see while the film has a classic rom-com love story, the true “heart” of it lies in the friendship and interactions of the three main male characters. This is probably why I found the movie so entertaining. Any film that relies on a central camaraderie always, at the very least, piques my interest.

Now, I could discuss the possible messages of physical/sexual and emotional relationships with the opposite sex post early 20’s/college days or even the essence of friendship amidst evolving personalities, but for me this film has one message in particular.

Early on in the movie, Mikey (played by the irreverent Michael B. Jordan) is with his friends Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) having breakfast while trying to recover from the shocking news that his wife wants a divorce. Mikey cannot understand how his life is in such a tailspin.

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He best exemplifies this in the following lines, “I went to medical school right after college. I married the right girl. I did everything I was supposed to do. I did everything right.” Essentially, Mikey believes that he made all the right decisions at the right times and ended up with a huge mess.

Considering my own life and current path, I could not help but empathize with this confusion from the character. After all, everyone wants to believe that a just reward will present itself at the end of equal effort and work. Of course, this is hardly ever true and life does not really work that way.

Which brings us to today’s lesson: There is no road map to life and regardless of our choices we are owed or deserving of nothing. I know it is a rather depressing thought, but it is honest. We can make all the right choices with the best people at the appropriate times and end up no where. It is why someone who runs marathons and eats only the best organic foods can be hit by a car one day while the mess who inhales a scotch and bacon cheeseburger a day can live well into the Golden Years.

Life is a beautiful, chaotic whirlwind that we have the privilege of riding through. There are ups and downs and a lot of the times those are not dependent on what we put into them. This is not to say that we shouldn’t make plans or dream those impossible goals. Only that we should appreciate the rare opportunities and moments when life is good and learn from and live through the times when it is a bit a bad. In the long run, there is not much else we can do and really would we want any other way?

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

 

 

On Relationships

“Relationships are just you being there for someone when they need you. That is all relationships are.” 

I heard this quote in a movie I recently watched. Can’t quite recall which film, but this particular line stood out to me. It’s of significant interest because it essentially relates the definition of all relationships, not just romantic couplings.

I find relationships, particularly friendships, fascinating. I am sure there is some evolutionary reason for our desire to seek communities, but the reasons as to why we gravitate toward certain people or why they choose to return friendship are as varied as the people on the planet.  

These connections may be lost over time and others can take their place over the years. In my own life, there are a few relationships that I am trying to keep. I am not sure if such a thing will be possible, but I know I want to try. Perhaps that is a bit selfish of me, but I believe that my friends elevate me on some level, and I hope I do the same for them.

Not really much of a point to this post other than a random musing on the nature of relationships. I pray that I am there for those who need me and a welcome friend to any who desire it. What are your thoughts on relationships? Do you agree with the initial quote?

Lessons From…Zero Charisma

Movies and television are some of the ways that I learned about, and how to interact with, the world. Thinking back, this is probably a sad realization I’ve made but not untrue. I led a sheltered existence in a sheltered family within an extremely sheltered, and very closed minded, community. Hell, at one point The Simpsons became taboo in my home. That amazingly has not changed.

With this background, I lost myself in the worlds and culture provided by film, television, and books. I knew these were fake immersions, but I still found them a worthwhile escape. I suppose in some ways I have never really stopped using these forms of electronic entertainment as a means of escapism and self-education which explains the weekly post on morals derived from examples of popular culture.

Anyhow, excuse the odd self-introspection and let’s move on to this week’s discussion topic: Zero Charisma. As always, I’ll try not to but possible SPOILERS ahead.

Zero Charisma is an independent film relating the story of Scott and his rivalry with a hipster for the hearts and minds of a Dungeons & Dragons group. Yeah, I know how can this not make for mass, riveting entertainment, right? Surprisingly, or not for those among us who enjoy tabletop gaming, it actually works for the intended narrative.

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What works best, at least for me, about this film is that there are no caricatures but several characters. Typically “nerds,” “geeks,” and “gamers” of any ilk are not shown in the best light in popular media. Now, Zero Charisma does not necessarily show these cultures in a better manner, but the depictions serve the narrative and have some basis in truth and fairness.

So today’s lesson has to do with depicting sub-cultures and people within said sub-cultures. The main character, Scott, is an asshole. He is completely anti-social outside of moderating D&D campaigns and other nerdy topics. He has anger management and control issues and alienates the few friends he has in the film.

rivalry

All these characteristics have nothing to do with Scott being a gamer or a fan of heavy metal music or having sub par job. The film could have taken the easy route and simply mocked Scott using his particular eccentricities and interests. Instead, the movie is an exploration of character and culture through a focus on Scott without being patronizing, demeaning, or forgiving.

Scott runs his D&D campaigns with an iron fisted totalitarianism because he has no control or direction in his actual life. He loves listening to metal music because it helps him express his anger and frustrations for a few minutes. He has poor social skills because he never really recovered from being abandoned by his parents.

Not an inaccurate depiction.

Not an inaccurate depiction.

The film explores these facets of Scott’s life without passing judgment. There are reasons but never excuses. So today’s lesson (admittedly this one is more for creators) caricatures are amusing but forgettable while characters are enticing and memorable. People are a complex mixture of so many bits and pieces; to see them as less so is a disservice to them and you. With the addendum that just because a person can be complex does not mean he or she cannot also be a tremendous douche.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

Also, see Zero Charisma. It’s a pretty good film and worth the time.

On Writing Goals/Challenges

I am currently in the midst of CampNaNoWrimo and my word count is not quite what it should be. Truth be told I have tried to complete the NaNoWrimo challenge a few times before and have fell short of the finish line. I am hoping that this time will be different and that I will manage to catch up on my writing project. *Fingers, toes, and other malleable appendages crossed*

This worry over my current writing challenge did get me thinking (unfortunately not writing so obviously my muse has a wicked sense of humor) about goals and challenges. We attempt various things in our lifetimes, and most will never be accomplished. Whether circumstance or apathy does not allow their completion, the truth is most of our goals will only be dreams in our heads.

Not the goals discussed but I miss the World Cup fervor.

Not the goals discussed but I miss the World Cup fervor.

Yet we continue to make lists and lists of achievement we wish to strive for and fervently pursue them. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we create these endgames? Is it merely the desire and need for hope of change and progress or do the things we labor for have some deeper intrinsic meaning for us?

I wish I could answer even half of those questions, but I do believe that the dreams we have are at least possible to attain. Hell, I have aspirations of being a published author and the stats on that fantasy are not forgiving. Still, having that in my back pocket makes me write as much as I can and read authors of all genres to expand my internal inventory and appreciation. Thus, even if I never see my name on the New York Times bestseller list, my life would have been enriched in some way by this pursuit of a pipe dream.

More in line with post.

More in line with post.

Maybe, that’s the best any of us can hope for. Perhaps it is the, at times, vain attempt of a challenge that benefits more than the end result. Who knows, but it is, admittedly, fun just to try.

Lessons From…47 Ronin

I have always been fascinated by stories of warrior’s code and duty regardless of country or philosophy of origin. Gawain and the Green Knight has been a personal favorite of mine but before that particular tale, I gravitated toward the story of the 47 Ronin.

Yeah, that's right comics, y'all!

Yeah, that’s right comics, y’all!

Truth be told, I am not sure how I came across this narrative, but the story of loyalty and duty always stayed with me. I suppose it was helped by my odd fascination with Japanese culture and history.

Like all good tales, 47 Ronin has been adapted to various other mediums to spread the story to a wider audience. Most recently, I believe, the story took on a Hollywood spin starring Keanu Reeves.

Yeah, definitely an attempt at a summer blockbuster that did not quite pan out. However, even this odd attempt holds a few lessons that are worthy of attention.

First and foremost, the obvious moral the story unfolds is that of a warrior, hell a man’s, duty to his honor, vow, and master. According to the code of bushido, a samurai was bound to his daimyo (lord). Under these sacred vows, a samurai had to fight to the death to defend the lands, members, and the household of his master.

Now, obviously, the vassal system no longer really exists but the concepts of duty and honor should be no lesser in the modern age. Each and every one of us has something or someone that we should hold in high regard and be duty bound to protect and honor. I don’t know what that may be for you but everyone should have such a stake in this world.

I cannot say that the new film reinvents or does anything revolutionary to the tale of the 47 Ronin, but there is one aspect that does manage to add to the narrative. In the movie, an outsider (Keanu Reeves) is the 47th ronin on the list willing to fight and die for his lord. The outsider, Kai, in the film is running away from a dark and troubled past. He has been trained in the ways of killing by the tengu of the forest. Basically, he can access a super speed form allowing him to kill his enemies seemingly at will.

For some reason, Kai regrets these teachings and gifts (something to do with the darkness and lack of feeling and love, etc.) and finds solace in being a humble beggar on the outskirts of civilization. However, it is the knowledge and skills acquired from these early teachings that ultimately prove a boon to Kai and the other ronin on their quest.

Without either of these things, the quest for justice would have gone unfulfilled. In essence, the things Kai hated about his past were his saving graces that ensured victory over his enemies. This is today’s lesson: that which we do not understand, or possibly despise, can be the one thing that sets us apart and guarantees our success. Perhaps we should nurture our eccentricities and odd gifts instead of weakening or hiding them.

The 47's legacy.

The 47’s legacy.

Thus endeth today’s lesson. Seriously, though if you have a chance, read the story of the 47 Ronin as soon as you can.

 

Página en blanco

My worst enemy,

my dearest friend:

The blank page

 

Endless possibility

lies within your borders

 

You paralyze my

hand with hesitation

 

Unsure if what I place

is worthy of darkening

your pure face.

 

I hope and pray

that perhaps someday

I’ll fall into your embrace

like some familiar place

 

Until that time

all I can do

is put pen 

to paper and

push on through