Sunday, January 16, 2011

Being Done

Everyone knows the feeling.

When you reach your goal, when you finish what you started, and when you make it all the way to the end. When you feel like you accomplished something, when you know that there's nothing left that needs to be done, and when you don't need to worry about it anymore. We all know what it's like to be done. No more loose ends, no more little details, no more effort required - you're all set. It's awesome.

The best part about being done is that you are free to move on and do other things. Being done with your homework means you get to go hang out with your friends. Being done with your job applications means you don't need to worry about filling out tons of forms. When you finish sleeping, you can get up and live another day. Everything in life happens in a linear, cause-and-effect sequence. Do this, get that. Finish this, now you can do that. Being done means you are progressing through that line. You are being productive, and are on the way to producing more. It's a never ending cycle in which people are proud to be trapped.

Conversely, often times when in the middle of something, people feel tense. The only thing they feel might be anticipation, a desire to make it to that point where they are done. Some people have mixed feelings when they are nearing completion. Yes, they will be done and can move on with their lives, but they will never work on that thing that they completed ever again. Think of a final draft essay that you just handed in. You're done. No more room for corrections. You just sent off your paper, and unless you feel like changing it around after you get your grade back, you will never change a word on it again. It's carved in stone, and you threw away the chisel. People get bothered by that, but some things don't have second tries.

Still, there is a feeling of serenity when you're done. One less thing to worry about in the endless string of things to worry about. We will just keep getting bombarded with tasks and missions in life, but we will still feel like we are going somewhere when we get them done. We've made progress, and that's all that anyone can ever ask of us. Let's do our best to make them, and ourselves, proud.

...I'm going back to school today.

Thank you to all of the people who have read even just one post on this blog. I had fun writing it, and I hope you had fun reading it. The month sure went by fast, but these posts served as a way to keep the thoughts trapped in those speedy seconds here for anyone to see. Some memories disappear fast, but I am glad that this will be able to stay here for a long, long time.

And with that, everyone, One Month of Words is done.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Take Your Time

People tend to rush things.

I haven't eaten fast food for a while. I can say that with some pride, considering the amount of knowledge we have about how unhealthy it is. If you are a regular around Wendy's and McDonald's, you probably are fully aware of what kind of stuff you're putting in your stomach. I'm not against fast food, in fact when I am in a rush, it is often the only option. But will you leave your house, one with a fully stocked kitchen and clean pots and pans, in order to go to a fast food restaurant? As a surprise to me, yes, many people actually do that.

The idea of having anything instantly, not just food, is an appealing one. We live in an age where any little tidbit of knowledge that we might want to know is only a Google search away. They even brag about how much time it took to make your search - often less than a second. Naturally, when surrounded with so many opportunities to get results now, we try to take them all. "Get results quick and easy!" is a staple tagline to any fitness product, otherwise we wouldn't be as impressed. No lines at an amusement park means we get to spend more time on rides. Bottom line, pretty much anything we want, we would like to have sooner rather than later.

There's an issue with this fact. Let's say you want to boost your English grade, and want to do as best you can to earn an A on your next assignment. Naturally, you are going to want to put in your best effort and nurture your work to make it as close to perfect as possible. But at the same time, wouldn't you be happier having that amazing paper right now? In this situation, that is impossible. Some exercise machines do get you results faster if you use them, and some amusement parks have no people in your way of riding a ton of rides. Time is not a factor. But in this scenario, you also need to put in the time - there is no choice. Your perfect paper will come from hard work combined with enough time put into it, not one or the other.

Take your time. Cook yourself a healthy dinner, don't go out and browse the Dollar Menu. It is worth it in the end. More time into what you do yields more attractive results, regardless of what you do. Yes, there comes a point where putting in more time is unnecessary and sometimes even harmful, but that doesn't come for a long, long time into your task. There's no such thing as too much revision, until maybe your eyes hurt. Stay for the entire allotment of time that you were given to take your final exam - unless you are really, really confident that you did not make a single avoidable mistake.

Just put in more time. That's all. You have more than you think you do, even when you're in a rush. Take your time, take your time, take your time.

It would be pretty embarrassing if there was a type-o in this post after it went up. I looked it over for a pretty long time...

Tomorrow, I will be headed back to school. This means the final installment of this blog will be up in less than 24 hours. Man, what a fast month.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Little Things

There are people that are living on their own islands right now.

Growing up, I didn't have that many expensive things. I had the standard video game systems, a bicycle, a swing set, and things that pretty much pair of parents in northern New Jersey had to offer to their kids. I think my parents did a pretty good job in not spoiling me though - I wasn't begging for toys like some kids would. But this is because I tried to find ways to have fun without ways to have fun. In other words, I kept myself entertained without things to help me.

I exaggerated things a lot as a kid. Think of playing in a sandbox. The eyes of an older teenager see a square with some sand in it. But the eyes of children see a square with not just sand in it, but possibilities. Possibilities for what, nobody knows or cares. They're there, and thats what always mattered. When kids swing around their Tonka trucks and toy dinosaurs, they are really seeing those things come to life in front of them. They don't need to see images on a screen to see it in their heads - they see it on their own. Expensive toys are unnecessary. Just give a kid some sand and some sky. They'll figure it out.

Not to say that people don't do it, but I wish more of us appreciated the little things. Everyone take a minute and gloss over this website. Every post is some simple little thing that might make you smile during the day. Not some major achievement or huge deal that you made, but things that feel like major achievements or huge deals. Not because of their size or scope, but just because of the simple quirky positive natures that they hold. So many more little things exist in this world than huge, almost unattainable things that cause "happiness" in people. And we can easily get a smile out of a high five or a secret handshake. Kids can do it, and so can adults.

It's funny how much money some people have. More money than they know what to do with. It's almost a curse, really. You have more at your disposal than any one person should ever have, and almost everything you experience is a direct result of the price tag on it. People are out fishing on their own boats and coming home to giant screen TV's in their home theaters while their personal chefs make dinner. That's all fine, but it's not necessary. People dream to have all of that - but they are already so close. You can go out and jump in a puddle and come home to people making shadow puppets in the closet while popcorn is popping. I'd be pretty happy with that, maybe just as much as the ritzy moneybags scenario. The things that we should appreciate more are the things that are not quite things, but ideas. Kids can do it, so can adults.

Take a deep breath and think of how nice that air tasted. Hug your family members and think of how warm they are, on the inside and out. And realize that what you have is more than enough to make you as well off as anyone else. It's the little things that build up and make everything in this world worth it. Big things may come in small packages, but you have to open them up first.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Breaking Cycles

We all have cycles.

Wake up, go to school, come home, watch TV, eat dinner with your family, do homework, sleep, repeat. Wake up, drive to work, come home, play with your kids, eat dinner, sleep, repeat. There are general variations to everyone's cycles, but the overall framework is relatively similar across the board. Save for major life changes or times of unclarity, you can more often than not say with confidence "Today was a lot like yesterday." I'm telling you now that you should strive to never saying that again.

People need to practice breaking their cycles. Have you ever heard a friend complain about an element of monotony in their life that they wish didn't exist? The only thing I ever want to say to people who bring that up is "Well, change it." We are the masters of our own destinies, and we make our own fun and luck in this world. I've said it before, but people need to go out and find things on their own, not wait around for someone or something interesting to come along to fix things for them. If you're feeling bored, it's time to break a cycle - don't spend the day at home doing whatever the whole day, find something new. Schedule an appointment for something in which you would normally never be interested. Hang out with someone that you don't hang out with as much. Break the cycle.

Many people are afraid of breaking the wrong cycle, which is exactly why so many cycles go unbroken. It only takes one really bad confrontation with a new person to make someone not want to do anything with them again. We then put up a barrier, associating hanging out with new people as a direct route to a bad outcome. Therefore, no more cycle breaking. It's important to just deal with cycles that lead to something negative in order to prevent ourselves from never breaking that cycle again. It might have been no fun being with that person for the day, but after a while your cycle is going to get old and stale again, and it will need breaking. Just because you have a history of bad outcomes with your new people cycle doesn't mean you shouldn't break any other cycles again. You broke the wrong cycle - s'okay, try another one.

I remember growing up, I was always skeptical in eating new foods. My parents would tell me "You should try new things, you might like them!" Truer words have never been spoken. You'll never know until you try. I was under the impression that other people were in control of bringing new things into my life, i.e. my mom's cooking. But that is not the case. We control things for ourselves. We are all at liberty to introduce variety to our lives, whenever we want. That should be a well developed skill in all of us.

So eat random new foods, talk to total strangers, and go to different places. And if it doesn't work out in the end, don't worry - a broken cycle doesn't stay broken forever.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


The weather is apparently a pretty big deal.

Snowfall often makes or breaks someone's day. For many, it means their plans are officially ruined, or their schedule for the next 24 hours is replaced with "playing outside." There's not a lot of middle ground - and how can there be? Every news station sends their field reporters to where the storm is going the hardest. Forget about international affairs and the state of the country... We have snow to worry about, guys. It's no wonder people are so opinionated about snow on the ground, someone mentions snow more times than we inhale in a day. But still, there's just a little too much ado about nothing.

I guess it bothers me because of how predictable this time of year is. It's the middle of winter. There will be one or two major storms every year, I can almost guarantee that. Yes, we need to keep up with the weather channel to make sure we know when the storm is on its way. But as soon as wind is caught of a blizzard thats on the way, the human race enters panic mode. People rush to the grocery store and stock up on a week's worth of food. We take weeks off of work because we won't make it out of the driveway. Meanwhile, news stations are rehashing the same scripts on TV as they do every year: "Major interstate highway is backed up, X number of snow plows are working through the night to keep the roads as safe as possible, watch out for ice because we need to remind you that there's ice, we will keep you posted on the rate of snowfall throughout the day."

Come on. I think we've all lived through enough winters to know the drill. It's like you go camping for the 20th time, and your dad, once again, reminds you to put out the fire before you go to sleep. Well, yeah. That's kind of how I've been doing it my whole life, thanks. It's important to do, sure, but I think everything is accounted for. Yes, we know there's snow on the ground. No, I wasn't planning on driving as fast as normal.

People groan all the time about being inconvenienced by the snow. We talk about how long it took us to shovel the sidewalk, how much food we had to buy, and how mad we are about being stuck inside. Why do we all focus on the negative? Is snow as bad at it is because of what people made of it? Let's talk about the fun parts of snow instead. "I got to go outside and watch the snow fall, and had hot chocolate when I was done." "I had a huge snowball fight with my friends, and it was a blast." More of that, please and thank you.

I ran around with my dog in the snow today, and we both loved it. I hope you are enjoying the snow as well. Everything is what you make of it - so why not make a snowman?