Archive for May, 2010

Am I Emo if I Intentionally Make Myself Bleed?

I’ll be honest here. God hasn’t really been hooking me up lately. The numerous setbacks and incidental bad luck I have had over the recent years have probably made me out to be more cynical than I originally thought I had become. I do get angry. I do get envious. I try to understand what the hell is wrong with me, and why do I keep failing or screwing up. And sometimes, I get to be that little whiny-ass emo bitch. Yeah, it’s not pretty. But at least I haven’t cut myself yet. I haven’t tried to make myself bleed out intentionally.

Until today.

The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind or roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I feel right as rain, and other times I feel like the little whiny-ass emo bitch I can be. Well, I was feeling like a little whiny-ass emo bitch recently, so I decided to do something about it. I was going to cut myself. I was going to stick needles into myself. I was going to bleed it all out while listening to Nine Inch Nails on my mp3 player.

Fortunately, the local Red Cross Donation Center had walk-in appointments. I entered through the front door, signed in, and took a seat. Minutes later, the staff were asking me questions about my health and taking a small sample of my blood. And then after that, I was taken to a nice comfy chair, where I sat as I had a nice pointy metal hollow stick penetrating the skin of my hot and sexy arm. Did it hurt? Nah, man. I was a tough guy! I’ve done this before, and I’ll do it again!. Ehhhh… Okay, it stung a little, but once the needle was adjusted, I felt fine.

Now I didn’t actually listen to any NIN, but I might have been listening to Linkin Park’s “Bleed It Out” while I actually was bleeding out. Or was it Lisa Loeb? Damn, I love me some Lisa mutha’ %$#@! Loeb…

So there you got it. Even if you feel that you are totally pathetic and utterly useless, like a little whiny-ass emo bitch, then consider using whatever blood you got left to make the world a better place. If you feel like cutting yourself, then why not do it so it can help another person? I know that in my neighborhood of Southern California, the American Red Cross must collect 1,500 units of blood each day to meet daily patient needs. Hey, if your emo-bitch ass isn’t going to use your blood, I’m sure there are plenty of other people who might need it. So if you can, please donate.

Plus, they give you cookies.

Putting that Metaphorical Gun to your Head

A couple weeks ago, I had written that sometimes we got to put that metaphorical gun to our heads in order to wake up to reality without forsaking our dreams. But even if the drive is there, even if the desire to reach and grasp our dreams is present, many of us don’t really know how to get there. Sure, some of us might want to be a better dancer, or a better runner, or a better writer, or a better artist, or a better baller, or a better whatever. Some of us might know what to do, but other times we are not all geniuses who can pick out inspiration and insight from out of nowhere. We all need a little direction with where we are going, and pursing our dreams is no different.

So here is a list of things that I propose to help us in our journey of reaching our dreams. Some of this might not apply to everyone, but hey, a little reminder to help keep us on track is never a bad idea.

One hour a day
If you want to get good at something, then you need to practice. That’s a given, and there’s no exception. Even prodigies still need to practice to hone and perfect their given talents and skills. Otherwise, they would just simply end up with mediocre achievements.

Now I know many of us live busy lives with our day jobs, our family lives, and other tedious chores just so we can get by every day. So finding a little time to work toward our dreams might seem difficult to do. But I’m sure we can find at least an hour a day to devote to our dreams, to our goals. Cut out the television. Turn off the video games. Put down that newspaper or magazine. Spend that one hour practicing. It can be running, going over your dance steps, drawing or sketching, or even studying up on the latest technologies. Whatever it is, take one hour a day toward your goals. Consider it as a form of reward for all the work you have done elsewhere.

Hey, one hour is really not that long, after all. It really isn’t, especially if you got a gun pointed to your head to convince you.

Find people with the similar interests
Okay, so practicing for an hour a day doesn’t seem that difficult to do, but it can still be a pain to motivate ourselves to get off our big fat asses and do something. We feel tired, or we’ll do it later or tomorrow. We get too complacent with the present that it is difficult to change. That’s where having others for support comes in.

Sure, it’s not easy to take that metaphorical gun to our heads, but I’m sure we know someone who’s willing to hold that gun to our heads for us. Let’s say, if your goal is to run a marathon, finding a running partner can be more appealing than running alone. You want to practice taking photographs to be a better photographer? Get a buddy who will take pictures with you, and then you can share and compare your shots. Group activities add a new dynamic to motivation because now we are not just considering our own affairs, but also how our actions (and inaction) would impact others. We don’t want to let them down, so we try to keep up with them. In turn, they don’t want to hold us down as well, so they also try to keep up with us. And soon, all of us are wanting to keeping doing this so we both get better and better.

There might be a little competition when dealing with others, so it’s important to deal with people who will enable your good habits, people who will hold up that metaphorical gun to your head, but not people who will pistol-whip you across the face, which leads to…

Cut out the poison
I’m sure most of us know of people who just really won’t make a situation better. It could be that coworker who doesn’t do enough work but still has enough energy to bitch and complain. It could be that overly-competitive type-A alpha male (or alpha bitch) that’s willing to cut down others just to get a leg up. Or it could just be someone relatively close to you who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, who might not necessarily knock you down but still doesn’t do a damn thing to help pick you up as well.

It should be noted that some of these poisons are not intentional. In some cases, they are very subtle, and we don’t notice them because they have become a part of our everyday life. One such example could be our day jobs. Even though this job is necessary to make money and pay bills and otherwise survive in a dog-eat-dog world, it could also be part of what is holding us back. Now this isn’t to say to quit your job and go follow your dreams, but it is a recommendation to see if your current lifestyle is holding you back in some way. And if it is, then make adjustments. Change something. Don’t get too complacent but find out how to make things better for yourself. In the case of an uninspiring job, then try not to work overtime, or start looking for another job elsewhere, or maybe even changing something at work to make things feel better, such as a change in schedule or even adjusting your workspace.

In the case of people who might be poison, then try to stay away from them, or at least limit yourself to their presence. I know some of us have those relatives who act like this poison, so keeping away might not be an option unless you can move to another state (which might not be a bad idea either). If that’s the case, then you got to stick up for yourself. If they care about you in any way, then they would put down their egos and see what the two of you can do to make things better, to avoid a poisonous relationship. In the cases when compromise is not possible, then just cut the dead weight off. Sure, it might hurt and might cause some bad feelings, but don’t think you should put yourself at risk just for the sake of another person’s ego when that person isn’t even trying to consider yours. In the end, those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

Never stop learning
As kids, we were looking forward to that day when we don’t have to go to school anymore. Hell, some of us adults feel the same way with college classes and supplemental training. But for the things that really interest us, we can’t stop learning more about it. If you want to be a better writer, you read about other writers, and see how they write. If you want to be a better martial artist, you don’t just stick with the basics but also try to expand your knowledge, not just of different fighting techniques, but also training techniques. If you want to be a better artist, you also got to read up on what other people are doing, and see what you have been missing out on. If you want to be a better chess player, then you read up on all the different strategies over the years.

There’s always room for improvement. The best of us don’t settle for any less, and they always look for ways to improve. We grow out of our teen years and realize that we really don’t know everything after all, that what we do know is just a mere scratch on the surface. So never stop learning, because it will only make you better.

But how can we learn more? Taking a class is one idea, for example. Even after some of us finish up our final classes for a college degree, some of us might still take the occasional class at the local junior college just to help us improve. For others, there are seminars and conferences which hold a plethora of information to be soaked up. And with the advent of the Internet, information is just at our finger tips. Sure, we can find something on Wikipedia in 10 seconds, but then that might also lead to more jumping points to increase knowledge. A simple search about a particular painting might lead to the artist who created it, which then leads to an entire art movement, and then to other artists of similar style. These new artists might also inspire searches for their respective cultures, and then how those cultural styles compare and contrast with what we already know. Well, we might also learn about new technical techniques and styles that we would not even be aware of if we simply stayed in out narrow small corner of the universe.

Getting a personal teacher or mentor is also another way to learn outside of the traditional school environment. The student-teacher relationship is always something special that should not be overlooked. Even if you are not close to your teachers in school (though you really should try if possible), there are plenty of other “teachers” and mentors available outside of the classroom. Sometimes, this mentor could just be someone who is more experienced than ourselves. If one were training to run a marathon, then finding someone who has already run a marathon to help you out is perfect for an easy kind of mentorship. This goes hand in hand with finding others who share the same interests. But instead of each of you trying to bolster each other, you find that you are learning more from an experienced mentor. This is where putting away your ego is paramount to success; if you are not willing to “unlearn” your old habits, then how can you learn new ones? And once you become more proficient and experienced yourself, then maybe you might end up being a new teacher or mentor for another young buck who would be in the same position that you are right now.

And if nothing else, go read a book. Books are good. Not only do they taste great and have lots of fiber, but they are also known to carry all sorts of information. Visit your local library or bookstore. I’m sure they got lots of books there.

Don’t be afraid to explore and learn more about your goals and dreams. It might be scary and difficult at times, but no one ever saw the beauty of a sunset over the Pacific without risking to step out onto the beach. Drop the ego and get your learn on.

Be in a better environment
This comes in part with finding people with the same interests and cutting out the poison. Both of these are environmental influences to help you out. However, it might not always be enough. In some cases, you need to find the right environment where you can perfect your skills.

I’ll go back to the running example. If we find ourselves running around the same places over and over again, we might not be challenging ourselves with new and exciting places. We might not be getting enough inclines or declines. We might even forget about enjoying ourselves as we train. That’s where being in a better environment might help out.

Now “better” does not always mean “ideal.” In fact, sometimes a less ideal environment can help us learn better than if we were in an idealized situation. See where that learning part is sneaking in here? The idea is that we need to judge if our surroundings are hurting or helping us. For some activities, we need a decent place to stretch out and practice. This allows us to perform better and more efficiently. Other times, we need a change in order to challenge our present skills so we can do better.

There is no single perfect environment for any single thing. That usually comes to the individual. However, we need to try to be perceptive enough to see how our environment impacts our skills and practice. Are you painting a picture? You might need more light to see what you are doing. You might need more space to set up your paints and easels and brushes. Could you get away with less? And if you do, would it be necessary?

Distractions also come into play here. There might be certain things that are seemingly unrelated to our goals, but they could still be a distraction from the task at hand. Do you have a couch in your studio? If so, do you find yourself crashing down and napping on it regularly? If you got rid of the couch, would you find yourself doing more work? What about that damn television in the workout room? Do you find yourself fumbling with the remote to get that new MTV program, or the most recent news reports, or the latest sports news? Is that taking away time from actually working out? And does it take away focus from your task at hand? Maybe you got your space setup so it’s next to that cute girl’s space. Sure, she’s pretty, and she might be flirting with you, but is she another distraction from your work? Talk to her after you are done, but not during. If you are legitimately talking about your respective tasks, then that’s fine, but not when you are asking her about her weekend. And yes, video games also fit into this as well. All too often they can be a real bane to our existence. Trust me on this.

We can all use a break now and then, but continual interruptions and distractions are obstacles for our goals. Sure, they might not be poison in the usual sense, but they do distract from keeping our eye on the prize.

The other side of the coin is finding things that help us focus on our goal. For some, it’s a sign above the doorway that says, “Play Like A Champion Today.” For others, it’s an entrance theme song that gets them pumped up for business. And still others, it could be a photo of a loved one near the place of work. Whatever it is, people have found different things to help them bring their best. It could be a silly superstitious practice or it could be a heart-felt reminder to something more important than ourselves.

As we get rid of distractions, we should also find something to help us focus when we practice or work toward our goals. You might be one who likes to crank up da’ noize, while another might prefer to enjoy the silence. Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to make a few changes to get you in the mood, to make you operate better, and to help you reach your goals. Remember, our dreams shouldn’t be dull and boring. They are our dreams because they are exciting and interesting. We shouldn’t lose sight of that.

Do what you can, make do with what you have
Sometimes our efforts might be limited by constraints that are out of our control. We might not have the proper equipment, or the time of day is not right, or maybe we are just not finding the right people to help us. Yes, these are all discouraging circumstances that slowly chip away at our motivation until we lose the passion that we had before. But these should be obstacles to overcome, not excuses for our inaction.

One of the old excuses that I have heard is that old or subpar equipment might be a reason why we cannot compete or perform as well. Sure, we might hear how the newest shoes will help out with running longer and faster. Newly designed swimsuits made of the latest space-age materials allow for less friction in the water and can cut down on times. The release of this new software will make things all so easier, and is necessary for all business today! And if you don’t have any of this, then you can’t compete with the rest of us.

$#@! that.

Sure, equipment and tools are important for the job. You can’t go bike riding without a bike. You can’t swim without a swimsuit (er, well you could but only in a private pool or you risk public exposure violations). And you can’t make a computer do something without the proper software. Nonetheless, there are things that we can still do even if our tools suck. But one should not be dependent on the tools we use, but rather use the tools to benefit us, not limit us.

Remember your inherent skills. Sure, getting state-of-the-art gear is great, and could make things easier, but always doing things the easy way could make you complacent, and then neglect your core skills that will take you closer to your goals. Consider it a form of training. If you can do something well even with less than ideal tools, then you’ll just be that much better when you do get better tools.

Take care of yourself
This might be understated, but if we don’t take care of ourselves, then who will? Balance and moderation in all things. That also applies when you are working toward your goal. Yes, our goals are important, but if you put yourself at risk, then you might end up losing everything that you have worked for.

There are a couple ways to look at this. One way is to not burn out. We sometimes see this with overbearing parents pushing their kids to be better, to always get ahead, while ignoring what the kids really want. Yes, working toward your dreams can be an exciting and rewarding process, but if we burn ourselves out before we get there, then we lose our drive, our motivation, and ultimately those same dreams. Learn to take a break. Get away from it once in a while so you don’t lose that same passion. No one can keep going 100% all the time. We do need the occasional rest so we don’t end up resenting our efforts in the long run.

The other way is to not get obsessive about our dreams either. It is important to recognize that our goals and dreams are not the only things to make us happy. Nor are they the only things in our lives. There are people, and our relationships with them. There are other experiences in life, outside of pursing our goals. Sure, these might be considered distractions, but going too far is also unbalancing. We lose perspective of everything else, and that puts us at risk. Sure, we want to keep working on our music, or on our art, or to be the next great athlete, or to be the next greatest whatever. But if you haven’t gone pro in it yet, then you also got to consider the other parts of life for our own survival. Sure, you might get friends and family to help support your dreams, but if you keep relying on them to take care of you, then they are supporting your addictions. Sometimes, sacrifices are necessary for the dream, but if our obsessive side makes us lose track of what’s important, then we might be sacrificing more than what we bargained for.

The key thing is to know what’s really important to you. Compromise when you need to, but never mess yourself up if you can help it.

So there you have it. Yeah, I talk way too much for my own good. It kinda makes you want to put a gun to your head, correct?

Arise, oh Great Wyrm!

I managed to finish up that card from last month. It’s been completed for a week or so already, so I have sent some copies of it to a few friends for their own birthdays. I really think that my experimenting with the fire turned quite well. Enjoy!

Giving Up on Your Dreams and Waking Up to Reality

“Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessle’s life. His breakfast will taste better than any meal you and I have ever had.”
– Tyler Durden, Fight Club

As kids, we all have dreams. Some of them are mildly fantastical (“I wanna be a princess!” “I wanna be a superhero!”). Some of them are more rooted in reality (“I wanna be president!” I wanna be a police man!” “I wanna be a dancer!”). But as we get older, we see that some of our dreams turn out to be just merely whims of our imaginations. Some of our dreams, however, stay with us into our adult lives until we recognize them as our personal passions.

But too often, given the pace of the modern American society, many of us tend to ignore our dreams in favor for more immediate concerns. We need to go to school. We need to get a job. We need to go to work. We need of take care of the kids, or the spouse, or anyone else who needs our help. In these cases, we slowing but surely give up on our dreams and wake up to the harsh reality of life.

Or is it?

That first line at the top was from one of my favorite movies, Fight Club. That line follows a scene where the character of Tyler pulls a shop clerk out of his shop at gunpoint, questions him about his dreams, and threatens him with his life if he doesn’t make good on pursuing his dreams. I reflect on that scene, and I think about how pursing our dreams is an act of desperation, a choice only to be made when our lives really depend on it. And I realize just how close that is to the truth.

Some of us are lucky to be doing what we enjoy, what we see as our dreams and passions. Others don’t always have that luck, and so they drudge through life, thinking they are living but all they really are doing is surviving; they aren’t dead, but they are not living either. There has to be something else to make life worth it, to make life have meaning of some sort, if you want to take an existentialist point of view. I don’t see myself as any kind of existentialist, but hey, they got some cool ideas nonetheless.

I was once in that drudgery of “living,” doing an 8-to-5 job, to pay bills and accumulate material gains. It was not bad, but it wasn’t really living either. That, combined with other factors in my life, it was slowing sucking the life out of me because I wasn’t doing what I enjoyed doing, which was to pursue a career for my creative talents. Yeah, I wanted to be an artist. Art doesn’t pay much, so I stayed in my little tech job for too long, until I got too complacent.

Well, fast-forward a few years, and I find myself in a position to pursue another career. I had this opportunity to start over, to do what I wanted to do, to pursue my dreams! But I was not prepared. I had the opportunity, but I messed up. I woke up to reality, and found that my dreams were just that: a dream. I all but had given up on my dreams. Needless to say, I was depressed at this turn of events.

But instead of resigning myself to being a little whiny-ass emo bitch, I decided to do something about this. Sure, I’m now playing catch-up with my dreams, trying to pick up from where I left off, but I just had a metaphorical gun pointed to my head, telling to get off my ass and get to work! So I did. It is slow but sure, but I’m doing the best that I can given where I’m at. One year later, I’m not as far as I want to be, but I have taken those first few steps in the right direction. There were times when I was crying with frustration, and there were times when I was laughing with intensity. Sometimes there’s a part of me that just wants to cry and say how life is so unfair. Then another part of me kicks that part in the ass, calls it a %$#@! pussy, then grabs life by the balls and starts shaking.

Never give up on your dreams, even when people think you’re crazy for doing so. Hey, because it’s usually the crazy ones who are crazy enough to think that they can do crazy things. Booya.

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Who is SpiderTeo?

An artist, illustrator, designer, Silly Little Flip, and overall one of those crazy creative types. Hey, I'm just trying to get by, and hopefully some of the stories and pictures I share here makes it worth it. Feel free to contact me at spiderteo@yahoo.com Enjoy!