May 19, 2014
Here are two links I think you should check out. Each link is about a 20- to 30-minute time investment. They are about people struggling to deal with their emotional/mental challenges. They are great stories, and I think it's brave of them to share.
But there's another thought I want to explore after. If you can, read/watch the links below:
I hope you managed to read/watch most of that. If you're like me, there's a lot to admire and learn from what Tarol and Erin shared. Erin's video in particular helped me understand a lot of what I was going through a while back. I'm not bi-polar, but the negative drumbeats she was describing sounded very familiar. It was a relief to realize I was not alone. And Tarol, whose comic I FEVERISHLY look forward to every week (seriously, you should read it if you like anything remotely D&D), defines all the best aspects of what a one-person-produced web comic can deliver versus a branded, company-owned print comic. His very talented creative voice is clear and beautiful to hear.
That said, here's my thought (if you haven't guessed).
Music and dance.
I read a blog or watch a video like this and it makes me think about music. Can you guess why?
In each of their stories, Tarol and Erin describe how these negative thoughts just kept coming to them (for whatever reason; I'm not looking for fault), saying the same things over and over, beating on them, increasing in volume or depth, and in Erin's case, eventually screaming at them, until they (Tarol and Erin) were rendered practically helpless mentally and/or physically.
World English Dictionary
We value our thoughts like gold. We revel in the "absolute" control we have over this ONE thing in the world. Yet the patterns we create with them, the "sequences," the "tones" we adopt, the "harmony" we project, the "melodies" we craft, our minds are full of music and we are dancing all the time.
And sometimes, yes, the music gets away from us. Like a natural disaster, it grows to something beyond our control, and we are forced to dance steps we don't want to.
But if we're lucky, like Tarol and Erin, we have some friends or a partner who is willing to share their music, teach us a different tune, even grab our hand and take the lead for a while.
I highly recommend finding a great dance partner. I also recommend listening to inspiring music.
In the meantime (while you decipher my oh-so-clever metaphors), thank you Tarol and Erin for sharing your music and your dance.
And as always, thank you for reading,
April 7, 2014
We're on vacation and I'm driving, so my kids decide to tell jokes to pass the time. My oldest two deliver some good ones – "What do you call a pig that knows karate? A pork chop!" and "Knock, knock. Who's there? Interrupting cow. Interrupting c...MOO!!!"
Then my 5-year-old, excited, decides to try, "Daddy! Knock, knock! Who's there? Cow! Cow who? MOO!" And she laughs and I laugh, but the older kids were silent and my wife just smiled and we drove on and told jokes and some were funny.
And it got me thinking, if there is a system for telling jokes, as my 5-year-old daughter clearly understood, couldn't you make an algorithm that defines it? Then you could create an app, name it JOSHUA (Joke Output Simulating HilarioUs Automaton), and sell it for millions to large entities that need it most, like corporate networks whose writers go on strike (or don't), foreign regimes that shoot people with a sense of humor (like Canada), or Conan O'Brien?
Which got me thinking even more about systems, how they're everywhere, like:
So I start asking myself, since they're everywhere, how easy is it to let systems take over? Some you have to respect, like the weather, or your body, but you don't let them run your life, right? But how often have I let systems determine the places I end up in life? Like getting caught in an ocean current or a roundabout – once you're in, there's no telling where you'll get out.
I didn't like the answer. So now I ask you.
How much of your life is determined by the country you live in? The education you had? The religion you grew up with? The values you were taught? The technology available to you? The jobs you've had? The job you have? The amount of money your family had? The amount of money you have? The people who raised you? The people you grew up with? Your leaders? The people in "charge"?
Like I said, I didn't like the answer.
I'm not implying you should "fight the system" or go off the grid, or wear an aluminum hat, or pee in a jar. My point isn't to say systems are bad or good. They can be either. I just mean that honest answers to those questions will tell you that too often we let the "system," the way things are or the way things are done, take over for us.
And sometimes, I think the "system" prefers it that way.
My young daughter told a bad joke, according to the joke system. But according to a different system, I laughed at it and all her other jokes, and she was happy and so was I.
And Conan O'Brien is way overpaid.
Thanks for reading.
February 5, 2014
I'm four kids deep; basketball, soccer, ballet, school every single day and it just keeps piling on. My wife and I went out for a date the other night...without the kids. We didn't know what to talk about. We had to find our "groove" again. That place where you're comfortable being you without all the little yous running around.
But shouldn't "you" be you regardless of where you are or who you are with? I know, different people, different needs, "you" use different voices. But somewhere, shouldn't there always be a "you" you? How does raising kids, giving everything you got to them, turn into losing the "you" you thought you were?
Maybe you never really knew "you" as well as you thought you did.
(And by "you" I mean me. But you can be "me" if it helps.)
I do believe that hardship reveals character (that's why I try to avoid it). And stories, really great stories, are FULL of hardship. But it's easier to read or watch hardship than to live it, cause that's them, not "you"..."me"...me?
I know this: my high school calculus teacher, in response to complaints and whining from us about homework and quizzes and all the things you complain about when you're a stupid, selfish bundle of teenage potential train wreck, used to sing as he wrote equations on the board:
And since I am both "you" and "me."
Man! He was teaching us on so! many! levels!
Maybe I should just solve for "x."
Thanks for reading.
Hug a teacher.