7

Rush-a-shanah

Hey y’all. We’ve been having a lot of fun here lately, but here’s a small dose of Real Talk. I know that’s one of the two topics that I don’t normally like to broach here – the other being politics – but I’m just feeling…a certain way, and maybe being philosophical about it here will help. Pardon me if I come off as whiny (or just comment, “hey Jacob, that’s so whiny, man up,” or something) but here goes.

This year, I didn’t have much of a Rosh Hashanah. In fact, I had about one hour of it, on Monday, between 10:30 and 11:30. Fortunately, I got to hear the shofar and say a few little prayers before jetting off to lecture. I got a few questions about why I didn’t petition off for the holiday, but I shrugged it off. I love Rosh Hashanah; some good prayer, some good food, do it all again the next day. Now, Rosh Hashanah’s come and gone, and I’ve spent most of it in classes and meetings.

Today, I found out a few items of bad news. Well, bad is sort of relative, but there were a few things that I found out that did not make me happy. One made me mad, one made me sad, and one just left me confused. I talked to various friends, and they tried to make me feel better, but ultimately, it was all up to me to help myself. I’m still here, writing this all down, so I guess I’m doing pretty good, but I have this overwhelming sense of guilt, that somehow it’s my fault that these things happened, even though none of them directly involved me or could have been controlled or prevented by me. I can’t say much more about any of the pieces of news because (almost) none of them are public knowledge yet, but suffice it to say: God, I love you with everything I’ve got, but why did that have to happen? And why do people feel the need to send vague, passive-aggressive emails? And why, why do I even try, what could I have done differently, why can’t I get a definitive answer, what is wrong with me, what am I working towards?

Okay, so that’s a lot of questions.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m not unconvinced that karma doesn’t exist. I am so grateful about so many things in my own life, but maybe I need to do some more meditation. And eat more fiber.

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9

Some Thoughts on a Sunday

The busyness of school is on in full force. Despite only having four days of class this past week, I’ve already got readings to do and assignments to think about. The weekend went by in a blur as well; I can’t believe it’s already Sunday night and I have to be awake in eight hours to start my week.

Nothing very interesting happened to me this weekend; I found some geocaches, saw a few friends, went to a pre-semester APO meeting, and got all my reading done up to Tuesday.

So far, being back in Madison has felt strange. I haven’t quite yet developed a routine, and I feel a bit lonely at times; it seems like I’m surrounded by undergrads that are perpetually hanging out, yet I can’t find anyone to hang out with. I am focusing on building better relationships and friendships with people I already know, with hopes that this year will be different than last year, at least on a social level.

Of course, when I do get this time alone, I usually do one of a few things: look up stuff on the internet, play games on my phone/iPad, and think. I could probably benefit from some more focused thoughts, but today I thought a lot about freedom.

Hokey as it may sound, I don’t think that we, as human beings, embrace and appreciate our freedom enough in our daily lives. If you are reading this, you are alive and free, which are two pretty incredible things if you think about them. I can stay in my apartment or I can go outside. I can eat and drink whatever I want, whenever I want. I can go out and get a big fancy meal or make something in my kitchen. I can walk around my apartment in my underwear. Which is not an uncommon occurrence when I am alone. I spent some time today meditating on recent and not-so-recent events in the news: Boko Haram, ISIS, and the like. There are people out there who don’t have the freedom they deserve, so we, as free human beings, should live with twice the vitality that we normally do, because we are free and we are alive. Go ahead, have that extra slice of pie, introduce yourself to a neighbor, smile at a stranger, sing on your way to school or work, or just wiggle your toes.

Soak up all the freedom that you can absorb.

3

Let It Grow or Let It Go

As I opened WordPress on my iPad to start today’s (11:30 PM – crap) entry, the song to come through the earbuds amidst the chatter of the Saturday night crowd at Glass Nickel Pizza Co., is “Let It Go,” from Disney’s Frozen, AKA the best new song that everyone is (rightfully) going gaga over.

My Florida trip as well as the past 48 hours of being home without very much human interaction brought back my anxieties and fears, big time, preventing me from getting my work done (well, that and the fact that I left one of my textbooks in Florida and have to hunt down another copy at the library tomorrow). The usual fears; schoolwork, life, friendship. These are the anxieties that make me stare into walls, pick at a scab on my heel until it bleeds, pare my nails, and on the whole, take down my confidence.

Confidence is a tricky thing; it can help you reach your goals, but you shouldn’t have too much of it, only in moderation. Having a whole lot of inner confidence can help you shine on the outside, even when you don’t feel particularly positive. Knowing who you are, and what you love and why you love it, and allowing that feeling to emanate throughout your body, that’s true confidence and it’s tricky to achieve. Sometimes, people mistake a lack of outer effervescence for a lack of confidence or self-esteem, but sometimes you don’t need to assert yourself. It is okay to celebrate being you, because you are the best you that there is. When I doubt myself, it hampers my ability to function. But I just have to keep reminding myself to let it go, just like the song says, and focus on my power inside.

There’s a phrase that I heard somewhere along the line, what you focus on grows. It’s a corny phrase, and of course my dirty mind goes straight to the innuendo, but if you look at yourself in a better light, as a dreamer, a believer, a human…(now, “Under the Sea” is playing, so my thoughts are temporarily interrupted by singing sea creatures)..,okay, well the song’s not over yet, but grabbing back on to that previous train of thought, what you focus on does grow. The more I replay a scenario in my head, the bigger it gets. So if you just focus on being a good person, the positive attributes will grow and overpower the bad and sad thoughts, making them the plebeian, shoddily-made cloth finger puppets of your psyche rather than the complicated connections of bones, muscles, and tissues, that make up your essence as a puppet of your own design, controlled by all the processes that magically fit together to make a human being.

Taking a step back…sometimes that’s just what is necessary, to take a step back. Just today, A friend of mine posted a one-liner on Facebook that made me giggle, and I told myself “okay, I’ve gotta comment on this with a zinger.”

So I clicked.
And I thought.
And I waited for a thought to come to me.
And I started typing something…but then realized all the ways it could be misconstrued.
So I deleted it, and started typing something else…before retracting that.

Ultimately, I wasted about five solid minutes just staring at that dialogue box, “leave a comment” leering at me through the bared teeth of Facebook on iPad.

And I didn’t post anything.

Sometimes you don’t need to have your say on everything, mark your territory, get in the last word. If you have something to add, put it in focus and let it grow, or take a step back and let it go.

Exactly one post down was another keen observation made by another friend, and on that one, the appropriate response came to my mind fully formed, and took me mere seconds to post, without a second thought.

Now, that moment has come where I can’t think of anything more to say, so I’ll end this post for tonight with this message:

If you want to post a comment, do so, and let it grow.
If you’ve read this far and the moment doesn’t come to you, just press like and let it go.
I won’t be offended either way.

2

A Philosophy For Blogging

I’ve been doing this thing a lot lately – this thing where I wait until the last minute to start a blog, publish it before I’m done so I can get it in before midnight to keep up a streak I’ve had since January 1, and then stay up for another few hours working on it and editing it, therefore delaying (and sometimes deleting) any hope of getting any schoolwork done. I’ve discovered that this method is no longer conducive to healthy study habits, so I’m just going to come right out and say it: my streak will most likely end tonight (if I manage to finish and hit publish before midnight). Most of the past weeks’ posts have been almost cheat-y in that way, including last night’s. I was going to write about the Oscars, but it wasn’t until 11:59 PM that I realized that I had been glued to my TV through the entire ceremony and Jimmy Kimmel’s post-Oscar show and hadn’t written a word. I’m probably going to go back to that post tomorrow and edit it to incorporate some thoughts about the Oscars.

Basically, I’ve been rethinking my whole blogging style.

I used to have a LiveJournal when I was a teenager (who didn’t?) and I would write mundane posts about nothing (truly, actually, nothing) just to get a 1 on my calendar for that day. I’m sort of falling into that pattern again, and I don’t like it. I know that some of my posts are significantly worse than others, and I’d like to minimize that in the future. More substance, less “word vomit.”

I’m a huge fan of Hyperbole and a Half (if you haven’t seen it, you really should; Allie Brosh is incredibly adept at capturing oft-misunderstood emotions and encapsulating them in childlike imagery via MS Paint) but what I like most about it is the philosophy of blogging that the author shares in her FAQ section.

Some of the points that I’d like to echo in my own blogging

  • Updating frequently does not = the best quality, necessarily. Though I’ve been known to write alarmingly quickly (like that time in sophomore year when I started a 15 page paper at noon on the day it was due, finished it 8 hours later, and turned it in 15 minutes before the cutoff time) sometimes my ideas are flagging since I’ve been focusing on other things all day that day and have nothing much going on inside my head that is substantial enough to share (and that bar is pretty low).
  • Sometimes it takes a while for inspiration to hit, or to find the time to get the ideas and details down to a publishable point. I have about seven drafts at any given time that I always mean to get back to, but never find the time to give them appropriate attention. Maybe this is a sign I should go back to those.
  • And yes, my details are sometimes selective. They’re not really exaggerated (at least not to my knowledge) but she’s right in that it takes the adding/cutting of details to make a “you had to be there” story into one that’s memorable and worth sharing on the Internets for all time. Basically, storytelling that has elements that keep it rolling, moving, entertaining, worth writing about and worth sharing.

This probably won’t be the last thing I have to say about my blogging philosophy, and who knows, maybe it’ll change. But for now, I guess I’ll get back to that paper proposal that’s due tomorrow over which I’ve been agonizing.