Tuesday, September 21, 2010

…Because it’s easier to hate you

It’s not that you don’t get me,
I fear you nearly do.
It’s not that you don’t get my quirks,
You’re full of your own too.

It’s not that you sometimes annoy me;
Your voice is as irritating as a rash spreading across my skin.
It’s not that you sometimes exasperate the very essence of my soul;
Your incessant need to be right often has my patience more than thin.

It’s more that you appear to have everything under control;
You’re perceived as whole, absolutely.
It’s more that you appear completely happy with yourself;
You’re self-satisfied smirk almost kills me.

But to be honest, it’s mostly that I see you as perfect in almost every way... while in comparison every element of my own life appears to be in utter disarray.

Have you figured out the second head fake?

Life is hard enough without the elaborate task of over-thinking every element of it, something I often find myself doing. As with most things, I am not alone in this. Thankfully there are people in this world who, despite their own misfortunes and dealings at the hand of fate, still selflessly share with others new motivations in life. Randy Pausch’s ‘second head fake’ is a prime example of how to live your life if not successfully, at least happily - for all you overachievers out there, PAY ATTENTION!

The second head fake indicates a thought pattern that defines life as motivated by living, not achieving. You see, living is the fundamental element on the menu as it is through our living that we will achieve. Thus, achieving is merely a side order to living, which is in fact the most important thing.

So what is being said? Live, live and live some more and achievements and accomplishments, however great or small…will come knocking at your door.

I guess if I look back to my own achievements, my own accomplishments, I can see some truth in this. It sure beats belting out a straight and narrow path that might not get you even remotely close to where you want to be. So here’s to living, not achieving!

What’s in a blog?

Blogging; a quite contemporary online medium through which we are able to express our sometimes hard-to-identify thoughts, opinions and questions…for whatever (if ever) audience may take heed.

In the early stages of this project – as Media Studies 3 students we are compelled to keep a blog – my biggest concern was ‘finding my voice’. Far from the literal sense, finding my voice entailed the discovery of a writing style that encompassed me entirely; a writing style that I was most happy with, a writing style I was most comfortable with.

Although I am still learning I believe now that I am able to identify my writing style as not too serious, scantly formal with a slight hint of attempted humour and TA-DAA…that’s my voice…in development.

Yet, eight months down the line I have been knocked off my perch of happy blogging by the eminent ‘short blog’. Sigh. ‘Short’ is hardly in my vocabulary.
Given technologies ever fast-pace, nay, express-delivery of shorter messages in faster bursts of time through more-than-immediate deliverables (enter Twitter) for information providers and seekers, I am informed that the bloggersphere is under threat.

It is no longer merely about voice; it is about ‘fast’. If you wish, ever so wholly, for your blog to hit a readership close to successful – queue ten people – you best take the following into account:
Your blog needs to be short, concise and to the point; Make your point, explain your point and MOVE ON!

Let's hope I am able to take my own advice into account from here on out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How hard is it to follow instructions?

Uh, there seems to be a mistake here. Where are you from? You’re a local? OK, well, in which language are you fluent? ENGLISH?!

I’m sorry, I must be confused. Can you not read properly? You can? Oh, well then, is it possible that you are simply unable to read the English language properly? You can? Ah…I look surprised? Well, I am.

You must have been pressed for time then. Were you racing through the instructions? Really?! You had all the time in the world?

It must be then, that you are simply unable to follow instructions. Why else would you design a website URL for sexual offenders, when the instructions clearly state people in the field of psychiatry?! http://www.therapistfinder.com/ ??

World famous

In a world that fast is earning everyone their ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ – Andy Warhol – I have decided that I deserve my own, as everyone does. Now…what to be famous for?

Well, that’s easy.

I’d be famous for living to be one thousand years old. I have such a hunger to learn and see and experience. I am enveloped by events of the past – all important factors of where we find ourselves today. However, knowing where we come from makes up only one third of our life. The invention of the spoken language, penicillin, printing press, light bulbs, telephones, the industrial revolution, World Wars, automobiles, television, computers, Apple, cellphones, pollution, hole in the ozone layer, over population, famine, poverty, global warming…hmmm, do you see a pattern emerging?

We know where are (or do we? American intelligence and wonderfully bizarre stories of world conspiracies love to tell us otherwise) but how fantastic an idea to live long enough to see where the human race is going? Will we take heed to new age instruction to prevent world destruction before it is too late? Will we work hard to reverse our atrocities, unite globally and strive for a better, cleaner, safer, educated world?

With technologies fantastic capabilities and my left brain of absurdities, I will construct a superpower that allows me life on earth (and possibly other planets) for as many years as possible. Yes, life is a gift but I want all the prettily wrapped prezzies under the Christmas tree, not just one.

Who knows what awaits us over the next few centuries. I would like to. Is the future of the human being one of success or failure? Imagine being able to continue through the ages, watching as the world around continues to change in every way possible while scrambling to remain as it was before.

Warped, deformed, green and speaking in backward sentences (possible side effects to my superpower); I would be the Yoda of the coming generations. Old, wise and abundant with knowledge he is.

A skill set called leadership

Good morning everybody! Welcome to today’s ‘A skill set called Leadership’ workshop. I’m so happy that you all could join us; I know that today is going to be beyond what you could ever imagine.

Let’s get started shall we? What does leadership mean to you? What makes you a good leader? I assume the drab

- Ability to motivate
- Ability to trust
- Ability to support
- Ability to manage
- Etc, etc, etc.

Yes, leadership is all of these factors. It is also (and far more importantly) so much more than your individual abilities, skills and attributes. It’s not about your overall ability to lead.

It’s about you.

Y.O.U.

So, let’s all start by taking a good, long look at who we really are when no one is looking. Let’s concentrate on what it is that makes us happy, what defines us. Be careful now, we’re not looking at who defines us but rather, what defines us.

What defines us truly defines what we want out of life, what we want out of every situation. We are all leaders. We all have the potential to lead. The question is do we really want to.

How about you lead, you don’t lead. You learn, you don’t learn. When you want to, you will. When it’s important to you, you will. You’ll find it in yourself; there is no single skill that will set you above the rest, there is no book you can read or online tutorial you can follow. If you need to get it done, no matter your style, you will.

Internal ability – there’s your skill set.

Dirt 'n dust


Bungee jumping, sky diving, rally driving and motorcross all have one thing in common; they are sports invented by and for, absolute thrill seekers, speed freaks and fanatics. I am no such individual, not by a long shot. I am a serene-please type of person. Thus my decision to learn how to ride a motorcross bike took everyone, including myself, by surprise; a premeditated choice - I was to participate of my own free will, my own motivation - very empowering stuff.

My first lesson was a far cry from fabulous. You forget that you’re a beginner, so you get the ugly bike. No stickers, one colour, ugly pads. The kit is worse. It’s scratchy and itches beyond comprehension. It’s also been on a zillion other people before you – gross – but don’t think that your complaints will get you anywhere, you’ll receive a fast “It’s a good idea not to p**s off your instructor” in response.

Once you’re adorned in a shirt, pants, elbow guards, knee protectors, kidney belt, chest protector, boots, gloves and a helmet, you’re ready to go. Well, just barely because the kit feels as though you’ve been squeezed into too many layers of ‘uncomfortable’ to even move properly. The helmet is hot and heavy and it makes your head bob all over the place.

The lesson itself is fun; a series of steps that eventually have you feeling confident about the new contraption you’re seated on. I received a break down of what was where and how it worked with special attention paid to the ‘red button’; the life saver in panic-stricken situations – it cuts the engine. I rode behind the instructor, getting a feel for gear changes, brake strength and so on. When the instructor was happy with his explanations, it was my turn to mount the steed, nauseated at the idea that I was to get the engine going. To my relief, I was told “Not yet; respect the bike or eat dirt”. Uh, OK, wouldn’t want that. Honest.

To the amusement of everyone present I was then ‘pushed’ around the track, my instructor panting behind me. I had to get comfortable with the bike. Finally the time came for me to start up the engine. “Pull out the kickstart and get the bike going”. Not quite as easy as said. After what seemed like forever, the bike kicked to life and my leg, to death; I had to lift my leg over the bike with my arms because it was incapable of moving on its own.

With the bike rattling away beneath me, I started to get excited. My stomach started swirling around a little and then, I became utterly calm; not at all how I had imagined my reaction to pan out. I felt prepared, yet anxious at the idea that I was about to pull off on a two-wheeled monstrosity put on earth only to paralyze people, all by myself.

I put the bike into first gear and slowly started moving away. I made it up to third gear and about 40km/h. The gears were difficult, having to remember which one you’re in, whether or not you should press that ‘red button’ to save your life before nearing certain death. I managed to move around the small beginners track and circled round to gear down and come to a stop at my instructor’s feet, his face contorted in confusion. “You didn’t stall” he said to me. “Why, was I supposed to?” I replied. “Well”, he shrugged, his mechanic assistant nodding in agreement, “You’re a girl”.

“Rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read” – Frank Zappa

Comment:

Although a murderously funny quote, there is little truth in it other than some wonderfully sighted stereotypes. While Frank Zappa may hold his own sufficient enough to make a statement of this proportion – the truth remains simply that ROCK MUSIC IS FOR THE FANS.

Thus the noted elements supporting the overall message within this quotation scream a mere tone of misunderstanding. No matter who writes what, said by whom, read by whoever…when you’re a fan, you’re a fan until death do you part. Death or some morbid catastrophic mishap like marrying a non-rocker, converting to commercial bubblegum pop or, gasp! Shock! Horror! Having your band hit corporate sellout contingency.

So, rock journalism is in fact people who love to write about people who interpret life and its meaning through hardcore metal tracks for people who love to read about it...regardless of writing, interview and reading ability of all parties involved.

Teacher, teacher

Telling the tale from the other side of the teachers desk...

On a wonderfully stressed Thursday morning I received a frantic phone call from my eleven year old sister asking, on behalf of her grade 5 teacher, whether I would be able to ‘look after’ her class the following day. Given my stress levels and my love of procrastination, I said yes. I was later bombarded by my sister, with rules and class room systems enforced by the teacher, etc. ‘Just don’t be scared’, she said to me. Oh, they smell fear do they? Fantastic stuff.

The following morning, for the first time in six years, I stepped into a school yard with the intention of attending a class. I greeted the receptionist with her tiny glasses just on the tip of her nose. I made my way to the staff room to collect my class room key, said a few more hellos and then, ran like the wind to the safety net that was ‘my classroom’. It was beautiful; bright and colourful, full of childish illustrations and fun items such as plants in ice cream tubs on the window sill - a science project as I was later told. To my surprise, the classroom was also tiny. I could spit from the whiteboard to the back of the classroom (not that I tried). I can’t say what it was exactly but this cared for, small space had me feeling right at home.

With the sound of the bell I went to collect my class, who listened to me from the word go. It was incredible. They sat and stared and just wanted so much to please me. They were also naughty as sin. What stands out the most for me was their energy, their sheer fascination with each other, with the day, with me. Within five minutes, I had two teddy bears, a kitten and the Vodacom meerkat sitting quaintly on my desk, ‘welcoming me’. The first hour made for a fun ‘show and tell’ extravaganza, with the kids lining up at my desk to show me all of their bits and bobs and I was presented with the sketching ability of most children; cute drawings I was told to take home.

I was also alarmed at the number of boys who came to me to collect their ‘pill’; I opened the teachers draw to find a medical stash of calm-meds. I handed out pills to six children who, within half an hour, were glass eyed and partially catatonic in comparison to the other children. This really disturbed me. I didn’t remember as many, if any, children who used to take meds like this when I was at school.

Classroom politics all but jumped out at me. The children were trying so hard to get one another in trouble. It was terrible. If I taught the children anything that day it was a lesson of tolerance and unity. The children explained how the systems worked and closer look at the charts illustrated behaviour patterns; therefore, the good children versus the bad children. I was reminded of Jack Black’s line in the movie ‘School of Rock’, ‘What kind of system is this?’ and had to stop my self from laughing out loud. Everything was just so negative, negative, negative.

I really enjoyed my stint behind the teachers desk; a fun opportunity for bringing to life my game of ‘teacher, teacher’ from younger years, although much more eventful. I sat seriously considering a career change. Still horrified by the number of boys taking medicine to settle their behaviour, I wondered just how many of them were simply misunderstood. I wanted to free them, see them run and frolic over hills, like the end to a good horse movie. LOL.... I ended the day with a ‘good list’ I’d kept in my diary to combat the negative lists the children suggest I keep. I gave praise to those who deserved it and told the rest to work better next time. In the few minutes before the bell rang to end off the day, I shared a bag of sweets amongst the class, savouring the sugar coated, high energy offering syrupy centre delectable. All in all, a good day.

My top 200 achievements

Blog entry in progress!! This is a tough one...

Childishly creative

What happens when you introduce a video recording setting on a cell phone to a child? The most amazing things...

Everyone always talks about how children are able to capture the truth of the world in all manners of creative output, due to their innocent and untouched views of the world. They create their own understanding and appreciation of situations, these always encompassing true meaning in a reflection that is fun and not always well understood.

Adults on the other hand are corrupt; motivated not by truth but by deceit and self-gain. Ideas are often contemporary but always somehow motivated by selfishness. It is as though we have to actively work on being selfless. We’re stressed and overly serious. We sound pitiful.

I have attached, for your pleasure, the outcome of childish creative output in response to adult moroseness. After having spent a full day cleaning my room - yes, it was that dirty - my younger sister got to work on a school project, all over my bedroom floor. It was trashed. Of course, what followed was my freaking out at the sight of my once-again filthy bedroom and a threat of humongous proportion should she not clean it to my satisfaction. While conducting my freak out, my sister was fiddling with my cellphone - which I then called her on (you can hear me having a quick moan at the beginning of the recording that is to follow).

In return, my sister left a video recording for me on my phone encompassing her thoughts on the situation. Handing the phone to me she said, ‘Here’s what I think about all of this’.

video

[Forgive the side-view video recording - childhood mishap]

What motivates me?

Given that no one person is strictly one dimensional, there are, as a result, numerous events, circumstances and areas that greatly effect who a person is from one day to another. Thus, there is no one motivational factor that stimulates my everyday life. Rather, there are hundreds. Off the top of me head, I’d like to list for you my top five motivations, in no particular order:

1. I have two wonderful parents who have worked hard to give me everything that I have needed or wanted. In addition, I have, let’s call them ‘extra’ parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, family that have always gone above and beyond to assist me in my times of need. Every one of them motivates me on a daily basis. Their actions are a constant reminder of the type of person I should be so that I may in turn be as caring and giving as they are towards me. They motivate my graciousness.

2. I am the oldest of three children. I am the cliché of all that an elder sibling should be. I am a role model whether my siblings see me as one or not. I am reminded of this in my actions everyday. I want them to be inspired, excited and motivated which in turn motivates my will to lead by example.

3. I am motivated by words and behaviour - unmotivated by them just as easily. Fair praise builds up my confidence; it inspires me to work harder, to achieve more in a sad, people-pleasing sort of way (I have to admit - I think I’m growing out of this one a wee bit, being a ‘yes-man’ proves in fact dull and unwanted).
Unfair commentary does much the same thing, except with a lot more sulking and ‘angry eyes’.

4. I want to live. Participation in the areas of life that I believe to be important is a driving power that excites me even when taking part in the dreariest of drear. Everything is an ‘experience’, everything is ‘the end of the world’ or the beginning of a ‘new era’ within it. Life itself is the most amazing source of motivation. It truly motivates my everything.

5. Happiness. If I’m not happy, bet your ass I’m going to be. Nothing wrong with tweaking life a little bit here or there. Sometimes the tweaking has to be done a lot closer to home than I would like but hey, if you’re not ready to make changes in your self...you’ve got a serious problem. My happiness, in every element of life, motivates a true sense of self-reflection.

So, while I am affected by a zillion different motivations in addition to these, life and the people in mine make up my most important factors. For others motivated by happiness, let me share with you a brilliant saying passed on by very good friend’s wise parent - ‘Happiness is not where you look for it, but where you find it’. Mull it over; the conclusion is wonderfully motivating ;)

FOMO

I have it and I have it bad. Cold sweats, nervous twitches, sulky behaviour and increasing social network stalking - it’s official. I have been diagnosed with FOMO, the very serious ‘Fear Of Missing Out’.
It is viral, contagious and has the capacity to seriously overturn even the most confident of souls. For those concerned with catching the virus, let me break down the symptoms for you -

1. It starts with slight boredom on your part, roaming around with everything to do but what you really want to be doing, knowing full well that whatever everyone else is doing is just sooo much better than what you’re stuck doing.

2. Next is continued cellphone checking, with thoughts like, ‘Why is no one calling me?’

3. Thereafter, the virus takes hold. It spreads quickly, moving through your subconscious. There is no stopping it. You open your email account, you open your Facebook account, you open your twitter account...you have a problem.

4. Your subconscious is then stimulated, fully conscious now you perceive worse than before that the things other people are participating in are, once again, sooo much better than what you’re stuck doing. Their lives appear to you as (literally) picture perfect. Best part...WHY AREN’T THEY INCLUDING ME!?

5. You will resist the urge to call, mail, FB chat, tweet your interest in whatever is going down.

6. Thereafter you may fall into a deep sulk from which you run the risk of never recovering.

7. Panic because you are now safe to consider yourself diagnosed with FOMO.

The cure is easily accessible but it is up to you to recover. Recovery is a long, hard road made easier by considering these three easy steps:

1. Remember that your life has value too - call a friend and throw your own party.

2. The grass always appears greener on the other side - and its not; it appears plush because of all the winter grass and weeds and when these die off, there is no grass that side at all.

3. Pictures capture only the good times. Go buy a camera and take some shots of your own.