Man in the Mirror

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I was chatting with my girlfriend today and asked her the question, “If your current self saw your 15 year old self, what would they say..and vice-versa?”

Her answer struck a chord with me, and I told her mine. Both of my answers were more revealing than I was prepared for.

Current age (28) to 15 – “You’ll never be a G (gangster).  You’re sincere, loyal, and funky.  People need real and they need it from you, so be yourself.”

This is a 30% hipster/business professional/fitness nut/breakdancer/indie-movie lover/photographer speaking to an insecure, not-as-‘black’-as-he-should-be high school sophomore.  I have in no way, even remotely arrived, but I am MUCH further along than I was at one point, and these are the things I would have benefitted understanding.

My 15 year old self says to current day me – “You have an awesome girlfriend, sweet manual Audi, Samsung flat screen/PS3/iMac, and a cool place to live in?  You made it dude!”

Background being, It was hard for me to even see past high school let alone becoming a live-action adult.  I think it’s official btw; you know, the whole bit about turning into an adult.  Life keeps sending me subtle reminders.  As in the other night I made dinner for my mother at my place, and afterwards as we were cleaning up, she asked me where the cutting board went.

*Power pause*

This may not seem like much to you but believe me when I say I could feel the atoms of the universe splitting at the words.  You’ll be glad to know that I  somehow managed to hold it together however, and just laughed it off as ‘getting older’.

So, what about you?  What would current day you say to 15 year-old you?

Peace

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So Cereal

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Like, “surreal”.  Ok play on words that failed me.

“Show me a man that eats a good breakfast and I’ll show you a man that is ready to on the world.” No one ever said that.  I mean I just did, but no one important has ever said it.

So, breakfast.  And what is breakfast without cereal?  Since childhood they’ve been discreetly telling me that my breakfast just isn’t totally complete without it.  And you know what.  They’re right.  Sometimes.

So this post is dedicated to Cereal.  Maybe it’s because I’m not a planner.  Which means I forget to buy groceries or to wake up on time.  Which means I need my morning dose of 9 to 12 vitamins and minerals in 180 seconds as I’m running down the door and sometimes a nutri grain bar won’t do it.  Or maybe it’s because my dad worked for Quakers Oats the majority of my childhood and I’ve gone places most cereal lovers haven’t dreamed of.  Deep Sea Crunch anyone?

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Either way we’re doing this.  Here are my top three cereals of all time, rated by the below criteria:

  • Initial quality – First and second bite flavor and general amazing-ness (with milk)
  • Longevity – How long does the cereal maintain it’s crunch?
  • Standalone quality – Receives high marks for ability to have as snack without use of liquid
  • Flavor Last – Some cereals can break down not only in texture but in taste as the journey goes on.

Here we go:

  1. Quaker Oats Oh’s.  Always the underdog, not enough people have truly tasted the Oh so delightful goodness that these sweet yet crunchy circles of delightful goodness offer.  Don’t sleep on this one guys.
  2. Kellog’s Corn Pops. – What it lacks in crunch longevity, those sweet golden puffs of corn more than make up for in taste and flavor stamina.  I can’t count how many times I’ve planned for a quick bowl that turned into half of the box.  Also great as a snack.
  3. Lucky Charms. – Lightly sweetened semi-magical presumable wheat bits brightened by an ever increasing array of actual magical marshmallow pieces; what more do you need?  The adult in me approves because I’m getting my grain intake (kind’ve), and my inner child is satisfied because Marshmallow.  Quick energy spike with the sugar, long lasting with the wheat bits.  Genius.  And people wonder why I don’t need coffee.

And the winner goes to…

Oh’s!

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It was a hard choice but it’s just too strong a contender for me.  Nostalgia,  great taste, and rates very high in the indie cereal scene.  Plus I guarantee your milk will get warm before these bad boys get soggy.  Great for those of you with dogs or children that are bound to pipe up as soon as the moo moo is poured on.  A small caveat; chew with caution.  These are not for the weak-gummed.

Chew! (Ciao)

*Honorable mentions go to Frosted Mini Wheats, all iterations of Raisin Bran, and Cocoa Crispies*

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hump day musings

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Funny how at 3am when I cannot sleep I turn to blogging.  I suppose as far as therapy goes, this is one of safer, less expensive alternatives.

Since my mind seems fixated on considering the future and it’s possibilities this morning, I naturally drift to the things that bring me excitement, passion, and joy.  While many of them are vastly different than the other, I realized just today that they all share a similar title; that being ‘Subculture’.

Subculture is popularly defined as “an ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society” – in other words, it is a circle, within the circle of one’s culture, that becomes so focused on one or a few things that it’s members begin to look and speak and move differently than the lot around them.

I suppose that every interest group could be loosely tagged with the title, but I think some are more difficult to hide than others, and I believe it’s that bit that grabs my attention the most.  Call it our generations’ lack of attention span or my being exposed to many different environments as a youth, but I have never been able to choose just one thing, without something else shiny eventually grabbing my attention.  As a kid it was always video games, and fantasy books, and playing basketball outside, and car magazines.  As an adult, I find myself pulled in similar ways.  Hi-lighting personal fitness, just in this past year I have had a serious go (many not for the first time) at Long distance running, yoga, martial arts, Cross-fit, and reliving my glory days on the track running sprints.  The consistent interests of my adulthood seem for me to be fitness, automobiles, dance, and photography.  Enjoy links to each of these at the bottom 😉

Let’s get to the point though – why am I, and I suspect many of you, so attracted to these groups of committed people?  

  1. They are, for the moment, happy.  For many, this thing they are doing is what brings them happiness, or what relieves stress, or reminds them what is important.  Happy, fulfilled people (even if temporarily) are attractive people.
  2. They are committed.  There are 1,000 other things they could be spending their time and money on, but they have weighed the costs and invested in this group.  That is also known as sacrifice, and greatness of any kind requires it.  Try and emulate what someone respected in a such a group has done, and you will face that truth sooner than you may have wished.
  3. Diversity.  Subculture can breed it like few other catalysts I’ve seen.  I briefly mentioned my being a breakdancer or bboy, and for those 8 years or so,  some of the most diverse crowds I saw were at these competitions.  There is a nearly palpable feeling of family, love, and friendship alongside an undeniable desire to win, but I was always amazed at who would attend.  I quickly learned that this, thing, was something for everyone, and that I couldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.  And not only with ethnicity, but diversity of thought is apparent as well.  People coming together with non conventional goals often means they have a slightly altered value system compared to the ‘norm’.  
  4. Membership.  It is human nature to be exclusive, and being accepted into a group that feels it is ‘not open to all’ is heady stuff.  In typical fashion, C.S. Lewis gives brilliant observation to this in his essay, The Inner Ring, “It is a terrible bore, of course, when old Fatty Smithson draws you aside and whispers, “Look here, we’ve got to get you in on this examination somehow” or “Charles and I saw at once that you’ve got to be on this committee.” A terrible bore… ah, but how much more terrible if you were left out! It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons: but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse.  We have seen time and time again in cinema and life how Mike or Jessica tries something out of the ordinary because someone who was ‘in’ offered an invitation.  

If I could spend the rest of my life observing how these ‘Inner Rings’ work and influence and influence others, I’d never be short on interesting stories to tell.  At the end of the day, they are made up of people, and people, no matter what their background or personality, never fail to provide a story.

Peace

Fitness

Cars

Dance

Photography

The Inner Ring

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Relationships & Spirituality

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I find myself unable to sleep at 3 in the morning, an as this seems to be the topic floating around in my head I figure I will share it with the rest of you.

*Sidenote – not being able to sleep feels strangely like being held captive against my will.

What does spirituality mean in the context of relationships these days? I’m sure as many of you answer there will be unique responses. Some place a similar spiritual attitude at the forefront of their ‘wish list’ in a partner; for others it is an afterthought, maybe just a bonus for their counterpart to have a reverence for these things.

What does it mean to you in this context, and has it actually affected who you chose or desired to be with? Would you involve yourself someone that didn’t necessarily see eye to eye with you spiritually?

Given your background or upbringing, you (and me actually) can tend to associate (brace yourself for an air quote barrage) “being spiritual” with “going to church” or “being religious”.

There, you made it through.

If you take a step back and look at things from a wider perspective, I think you’ll find that even you don’t really believe that in this context.

Firstly, and I am not entirely sure that is a real word, you and I both can think of people who are very spiritual who have hardly set foot inside a church and rarely utter traditional prayers. I’m also confident that you’ve met others in your respective circles who attend the same services as you, but that you have felt little connection with. So what does it really mean?

I’m in danger of becoming long-winded so I’ll land with this; I think spiritual compatibility within the context of a relationship is paramount. Given my experience and thought process, this does include to a large measure some sort of theological agreement, but it goes deeper than just that. The very word ‘spirit’ denotes something soulful, the essence of ones being; it’s the stuff they are made of. It is more than personality, because one can be quiet and the other loud but both may be very passionate people indeed. Some Christians may call it being equally yoked, but whatever the wording, it may do you well to consider it more in the future.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and thanks for being an insomniac with me today.

Peace

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Resonance

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I’ve been talking about movies a lot lately but I’m not bothered by it if you aren’t. They often highlight things you wouldn’t normally notice in the everyday-ness of life.

Speaking of noticing things, when was the last time somebody noticed you? Not just looked at you or spoke to you necessarily, but actually saw through your mask to what was really going on underneath.

Have you seen the movie ‘Inception’ yet? First off, if you haven’t; what are you doing in your life? Your answer needs to be like,”tracking down rogue tigers in India” or “flying around the world in a balloon”. Anyway, it’s sort’ve like the scene where Leo (btw my sister and I are starting a protest group to get the man an Oscar) is at the bar with Cilian Murphy, and everyone in the lounge stops what they are doing and looks at him. Until he moves on in his speech the people fix their uncomfortable-ly static gaze in his direction, and as the audience you find that we were holding our collective breath during the whole scene.

That’s kind’ve what being noticed feels like. You feel exposed, found out, discovered. This, depending on your personality or circumstance or honestly your day can make it a wildly exhilarating, cripplingly horrific, or an amazingly defining moment. (‘Defining’ needed its own adjective)

No matter what you’re bringing to the table, I think we all desire to be known. It’s freeing, and really allows for relationships to grow. Think about the time someone asked why you looked so down even though you were trying to hide it, or instinctively knew you were going to find something hilarious without even having to make eye contact.

I don’t have a great way to end this post, outside saying the next time someone gets noticed, maybe it’ll be you pointing the proverbial non-threatening finger in their direction.

Peace

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Mornings Like This

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Mornings like this one make me think of my childhood.

Pleasant sunshine.

The familiar owl making its final calls.

Birds cooing as they ready for the day.

A gentle wind blowing through the leaves bringing to life the nearby windchime.

On mornings like these I feel the need to take a moment and sit in silence, drinking it all in. It’s good to stop and think of the gift of life that we have. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so make sure you carve out a few minutes today to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.

Peace

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Community (Not the show)

I watched Waking Ned Devine for the first time tonight and aside from the warm feelings I got towards the end (and the fact that all the words in my head now have an Irish tinge to them), it got me wondering about people and cultures, but more so community.

Growing up in various parts of the United States I’ve been exposed to different races, thought processes, food, weather, and landscapes.  Even in our technology-centered world you’d be surprised how much living either near mountains or flatlands can change your perspective on life.  In southern California it was the beach & sunshine, in Illinois the miserable cold, and in Georgia the humidity and pollen.  Yes, one of these is not like the other.

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Waking Ned Devine focuses in on a small Irish community of 52 and how the lives of each member are affected by the man of the town who died upon realizing he’d won the lotto.  Their lives are so intertwined and rich with relational history it was impossible for the ticket to be claimed without someone being bothered to know who the winner was. It reminds me of my childhood a bit; growing up knowing nearly all of the families on my street and not feeling self conscious at all knocking on a neighbor’s door uninvited.  Fast forward to today where I don’t think I’ve been in the house of a single person on my street not counting the garage or halfway in the front door.  

I think  we all want community in some fashion; even that we were meant to have it.  Maybe it’s technology, or maybe it’s choice, but since everything is so accessible nowadays I think we look past what is right in front of us for the ‘better thing’ around the bend.  The thing is, we all have something unique that we bring to the table and we can certainly lose out by not appreciating what’s just next door.  

So, you all have an assignment this week: Learn something about a neighbor!  If you live in an apartment complex, choose someone on your floor.  If in a neighborhood, someone on your street.  Leave a message, knock on a door, share a drink; whatever you need to do to break the ice.  You might not meet your soulmate, but you might get a good friend out of it.

Have you ever had a positive experience with a neighbor?

I’d love to hear stories about how this goes for you guys.  Leave comments below!

Peace

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