Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hope and Action

You know those moments when things just hit you out of the blue? Those moments when life makes sense? Those moments when you get the excited feeling in your gut and you want to go out and change the world? (I'm reminded of Gru in Despicable Me: "Lightbulb!")

Just when all the things were getting difficult, I had two of those moments yesterday.

First, I was listening to the radio when Andy Grammer's "Keep Your Head Up" came on. I have no real like or dislike of the song and I usually don't listen to lyrics (I'm much more focused on the music), but for some reason I tuned into the words yesterday. I think it's the second verse that really clicked with what I was going through:

I've got my hands in my pockets,
Kicking these rocks.
It's kinda hard to watch this life go by.
I'm buying into skeptics, 
Skeptics mess with the confidence in my eyes.

I'm seeing all the angles, starts to get tangled
I start to compromise
My life and my purpose.
Is it all worth it?
Am I gonna turn out fine?
Oh, you'll turn out fine.
Fine, oh, you'll turn out fine.

Lately, I have been ruminating over all the difficulties and problems that come into life and, like the lyrics suggest, everything started getting jumbled. I got into a rut just ruminating over paradoxes and never being able to make a move. I was giving too much credence to other people's opinions and skeptics and not listening to myself. I stopped acting and moving because I was always afraid that any action would be turning me down a terrible path. How could I make a decision when I've doubted every action. I was looking for the perfect path to take in life, but I realized: it's not ever going to be perfect. Instead, life is about feeling out what paths are best for us: but that requires action...not deliberation. Talking about it helps and gives some direction, but if it goes too far nothing would ever happen. I don't think God would want to create a people too afraid to live life. 

And yes "you'll turn out fine". We all will, I think. But you have to DO something. Go start that business. Run the 10k instead of the 5k. Hike the tallest mountain. I just want to live rather than talk.

My second "moment" was while I was watching "Saving Mr. Banks". (Which I fully endorse and thought was an excellent movie). For those who don't know, Saving Mr. Banks is about Walt Disney trying to make the Mary Poppins movie with the author of the Mary Poppins books. Travers, the author, was growing frustrated that Disney wasn't making Poppins more realistic and accepting the difficulties and improbabilities in life. Walt answered with something that I thought was extremely important (I don't know if this is quoted exactly from Walt Disney, but either way, it's brilliant.)

That's what storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again."

Unfortunately I can't find the rest of the quote or background, but I guarantee you'll love that scene. He's trying to explain that his work is giving hope to people when the world is defeating. I've realized that while I've been thinking over things in my head, I've becoming so much of a realist I've been losing hope of ever being happy or of ever finding peace. However, isn't unrealistic hope is what drives us? 

My friend I was with made the point that our country was built on people who, regardless of where they lived, hoped for something greater and not "realistic" as their world was currently. They built something new and imaginary: freedom, the hope of choosing your own life and path. Sure, this may not be 100% the way America turned out, but that hope, in my opinion, gave us a great country. 

I don't want to be the realist that never dreams and works for anything great. I want to be a person that not only is inspired, but can inspire others. Hope is what drives us to create, invent, live--and do it well. Sure, maybe we shouldn't be living in a dream and we are destructively disappointed by reality. But, does that mean we should stop dreaming? Instead, I think we should all realize that dreams are really what drive innovation and greatness. I want that. I want to dream of a happy, fulfilling future -- and you know what, I think we can all achieve something like that.

So, hope and action. We've got to dream and then live our lives. Hope to grow and become great and working to reach that. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Silencing the Critics

I'm sitting around, sick with something awful, and I cannot seem to function except blogging and watching Psyche. 

While doing nothing but laying in bed and showering today, I was reflecting over my past year--appropriately for the New Years. A lot happened this past year, especially in the last semester: it was literally my last semester as an undergrad (Hallelujah), took the GRE, started grad school apps, etc. I know most people believe that their current semester is "literally the worst", but this was (objectively) a horrid experience. In any case, I survived the semester walking out quite unscathed. In fact, the only thing that would be make it better is if I got accepted (please oh please) into a PhD program.

As I was thinking about this, my first reaction was: "TAKE THAT WORLD! I'm a BOSS!" I started to think of who it was that told me that I couldn't do it, that I should tone down, or maybe consider other options. However, I came up short: I couldn't think of anyone (except for one professor, but we cleared things up as to what he meant).  Then it hit me, it wasn't other people that were constantly belittling me or telling me that I wasn't going to make it...

It was me.

I was the one always doubting myself or telling myself that it would never make it. I wasn't fighting "the world" this whole semester, I was fighting myself. Trying to prove to myself that I was worth it. Worth it for what? I'm not sure, yet. However, it's time that I focus on this. How much more peaceful would life be if I stopped being my own worst critic? I'm not saying we shouldn't self-evaluate, but it definitely should be less incriminating. More to come on this later, but it's something to think about.