Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
In the original Tron, I found inspiration in a line from the movie. If you’re unfamiliar, the premise of Tron is that there is another world inside or a computer system or network and the programs perform their functions, much as we go to work or school. All the while they believe in the existence of “users”, mythical creators and benefactors that employ them to do their will and care about their well-being. At one point in the film, the main character, a human, sucked into the digital world or grid, confesses that he is in fact, a user. The titular program then says, “If you are a user, then everything you've done has been according to a plan.”
Ha, you wish.
In both these instances god-like attributes are given to us mere mortals and we feel better about ourselves, responsible for being an example to these wayward entities and desire to live up to our reputation. The alternative, and usually the rest of the plot, revolves around the revelation that we’re no more perfect or self-aware than our artificial counter-parts. Then the remarkable part happens, it doesn't matter. As with most things revered, it is nearly impossible to fall from the pedestal.
Now if you haven’t figured it out, in these stories we are somehow superior to these, less than human, characters and yet we aren't made of metal and plastic or have super strength or intelligence, we’re just human. Again, this doesn't matter, simply because we are human. Is it lonely at the top? In our arrogance do we have to contrive stories that, although cast a spotlight on our weaknesses and faults, still portray us as some sort of god? Maybe it’s not arrogance; maybe it’s self-consciousness that inspires stories like these.
After all, if one day a god-like entity is revealed to us as less than perfect and our own existence is discovered to be a happy accident, where would we fit into the story? How would this make us question our own existence any more than we already do? And so it is, that just like the characters in these stories we walk this Earth in constant search of purpose, a reason to rationalize and justify our existence.
I can say this. Some of the most interesting people in our lives have no idea what their purpose is. It is the pursuit to find that answer that inspires the rest of us. We are entertained, amused, distracted from our lives by the fruits of their labor and the beauty of their lives. In the seeming lack of purpose and the insatiable desire to find a solution to life’s questions, their purpose becomes them. Personally, even though I am unemployed I am not without purpose. I believe that somewhere out there just might be a creator that is not only proud of me, but encourages my own musings and loves me all the more for it and at the risk of sounding pretentious, perhaps I can be an inspiration to others.
End of program. . .
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I finally moved out of my parents’ house. Since I wasn’t able to take anymore classes, I could finally work full time and get an apartment. I was aching for my own living space, so I didn’t waste too much time.
I found a roommate and a place in a location that I liked, and we moved in the summer of 2007. It was a modest place, not something that would impress a girl, but at least I had my own place and a friend to live with, giving me company and help with the rent and bills.
Still my life was nowhere close to where I wanted it to be. I was working 30 hours a week and involved in the grievance process, which wasn’t finalized until the spring of 2008. I wasted much of my free time sleeping in, spending unproductive time on the computer, and just going out at night. My life was definitely in a rut. I had no girls in my life nor any goals or ambitions to speak of. I spent too much time indoors with my blinds always shut, not because I was a hermit, but because I was hiding from life. Maybe this was because I felt embarrassed and ashamed. My apartment was a safe haven; a place where I could hide from the world, which had been cruel to me.
I didn’t even feel low or depressed during this time, but I wasn’t happy either. I was simply in a rut and floundering around. My job was comfortable and flexible. I had lots of free time, and other than the grievance process, my life was stress-free and easy-going. So instead of making productive use of all the time I had in my life, I wasted it by sleeping in and lying around all the time essentially doing nothing when I wasn’t working or eating. The only thing I looked forward to was Friday and Saturday nights when I’d be out partying and meeting girls. When I got phone numbers, I either never called them or if I did, waited too long,
I didn’t feel like any girl would want to date me or be a part of my life. When a girl did actually express interest in me, I had nothing to offer her. It was the summer of 2008, and I ran into her at a neighborhood bar. I had already gotten her number about a month before, but I never called her. We talked a bit at the bar and did some karaoke. At closing time, some of her friends proposed the idea of going for a swim in the apartments across the street where one of the guys lived.
We brought some wine and beer out to the pool and went for a dip. We had a nice relaxing time that summer night, but then came the question. I’ll never forget the question. We were having a romantic moment, when suddenly she asked me, “What are you worth to me?” And she wasn’t referring to money. I just told her that I didn’t know. I honestly had no good answer, and I could see the disappointment in her face. When she drove me back to my car, she now seemed distant and uninterested.
I remember one day deciding to visit the apartment fitness room, and this was a sign that the flame within me, while faint and diminished, was still lit. I looked at myself in the mirrors lining the wall of the fitness room and couldn’t believe how unhealthy and out of shape I looked. I was skinny, pale, and underweight, with atrophied muscles. I don’t think I had been in a gym or even exercised since living away at college. That was four years ago! How did I get like this?
My roommate was involved in community theater, not only acting in plays, but serving on the board of directors, and attending events and parties within that social circle too. At home, he spent time screening plays for future shows and rehearsing his lines, and after work, he’d be at rehearsals or the actual performances. He was doing something with his life and with his time. Why wasn’t I?
I needed something to shake things up and take me out of this rut. In September of 2008, that thing arrived in the form of a hurricane. It came without any hype or panic, and it came directly through Houston! I stayed over at my parents’ place during the storm, and as the hurricane was approaching, I walked around outside drinking a beer and enjoying the wind, and I could just feel that something was about to change!
The wind was starting to strengthen, causing the transformers on power lines to light up the sky. I went inside, and made a bed for myself in my mother’s closet, because I was so afraid to be near windows! It was a tough night to get much sleep. I could hear the winds howling outside with the pitch of the sound rising whenever there was a gust.
When it was all over the next morning, we had no power and no air conditioning, and the air outside felt dirty, humid, and tropical. That night we used radios and flashlights, and shared a neighbor’s generator for power. It felt like camping, but we were at home. It wasn’t easy to sleep that night either, but this time because of the humidity and mugginess that the hurricane had left over Houston. We had no a/c to cool us off! Thankfully, an early season cool front came through the next morning and pushed all the hurricane air out.
Much of the city remained without power for days, and for some even weeks. I was able to return to my apartment right away, because we shared an electric grid with a hospital, and they were first priority to get powered back up. Driving back home, I felt like I was in some desolate rural place, not the 4th largest city. Everything was completely dark!
A couple days later, I received a call from my manager that our office had water damage from the hurricane and that we would be closed for a week, but they were sending a number of us up to Omaha, Nebraska to work until our office was ready. All I had to do was say yes, and I would be out of town and in another state the next day… my first ever business trip!
It was the first time in over a year that I felt any kind of excitement, and just the reality shake-up that I needed. While I was in Omaha working, I felt alive again. I was having a great time, and experiencing life instead of hiding from it. I returned to Houston with a new frame of mind, happy and hopeful. I wanted to open the blinds on my windows. I wanted to sit outside on my patio. I wanted to go to the pool at my apartment and tan in the sun. I wanted to work 40 hours a week instead of just 30. About a month after the Omaha trip, our company moved into a new office right around the corner from my place. It was fresh and clean, and it had a very professional look to it. My company’s office upgrade paralleled my own personal change. Just prior to the office relocation, a co-worker who sat at the desk next to mine showed me an article in a magazine about attracting women. It really had me curious. I knew that I had a lot of potential, and I spent the past few years doing nothing to reach it.
Little did I know at the time, this article would spark an insatiable appetite for learning new social and attraction skills and an insatiable thirst for self improvement.
It was late 2008, and my lease was ending soon. My roommate had already made new arrangements, so I started talking to a co-worker about the idea of moving in with me, and we’d just extend the lease. He was interested. But something about that just didn’t feel right. I was looking forward now, no longer stagnating. I went out looking at some new apartments a couple miles north that had captured my eye. I got some information, took and tour, and fell in love with the place. I approached my co-worker about it at work, and told him that instead of taking over for my other roommate, how about we start over fresh and get a brand new place that has never been lived in before. He was still interested. It was meant to be. He was the kind of positive and motivational person I needed to get my life back on track, re-focused, and restored.
We moved in that December of 2008. The place was simply awesome! It had that fresh new smell, because everything was completely new and clean! It was the perfect bachelor pad for a couple guys in their late 20s and early 30s. It was a place that guests, and especially girls, wanted to visit.
Everything was looking up. I wasn’t putting the pieces of my life back together, I was building a life! I was gaining identity, purpose, and most importantly, control. I had an open attitude, much like when I moved away to college, only this time I was wiser,and had a new positive attitude unlike anything I had ever felt before! I could just feel my life going in a positive direction with no end in sight! I was never going back to the way things were. The year 2009 was a socially active year for me. I cultivated new social circles and had lots going on with family and old friends too.
There were several weddings and several funerals that year. There was a high school reunion. There were live music shows, since my new roommate was a local performing artist. We had guests or family over from time to time. There was always something going on.
My new roommate even had an electric keyboard piano, and I could write songs again! I was feeling perpetually inspired, and coming up with songs faster than I was able to put them together. It was like 2001 again, only this time my songs had a more positive tone, and more of a pop structure with lots of vocals. I dreamt of performing live music for a crowd either alone or with other musicians. We had a lot of good times that year. It was a great one.
We had only signed a year lease, and it eventually came time to discuss the future. I wanted both of us to stay and keep the good times rolling, but my roommate had a desire to move into the inner city where he spent a lot of his leisure time, and he was not planning to continue through another lease. This left me feeling disappointed, but I knew that I needed to be adaptable if I was going to keep things moving forward. I decided to stay and move into a one bedroom in the same apartment community. I loved it here too much to leave.
The year 2010 was phase two. I would now be living completely on my own, and I had a self-improvement plan that I was ready to implement, because I still needed a lot of work. My roommate had a positive and restorative influence on me in 2009, but now it was time to do this alone. It was time to put all this positive energy toward building a life, improving myself, reaching my full potential, and converting my passions and talents into real plans of action.
I felt a sense of power upon moving into the one bedroom apartment on New Year’s Eve. It was spacious and overlooked the resort-style swimming pool. I began what I called my TSI (Total Self-Improvement) Plan right away when I awoke the next day on New Year’s Day of 2010. There was so much I wanted to do.
I started waking up earlier, jogging and going to the gym, eating healthy foods, reading health and wellness magazines, reading self-improvement books, and investing hours each week into songwriting. I worked on my tan, improved my hygiene in every way I could possibly think of, and started gradually improving my wardrobe. I helped my musician roommate from 2009 with his music promotion business, and it gave me a feeling of professionalism. I was meeting girls, actually calling them now, and dating them. I had options, and it felt great. I was living on my terms now. I was enjoying life pro-actively. I spent time that year thinking about my career goals, as my talents and interests began to come clearly into focus. I thought about how my biggest passions were people, health and wellness, life coaching/inspiring others, and writing music. I was ready to “jump in” now, because I finally had some sense of who I was.
I am now 30 years old, and the great person I always knew I was on the inside is finally shining through on the outside. I just hiked 3 miles this past Sunday on some nature trails. Hiking is one of my newest hobbies, and I plan to add a few more. I’m participating in life, not hiding from it. I thank God, who is always in control of things, for helping me to take control of my life and to be the man He created me to be. Maybe it took me a long time, but it’s all part of God’s plan. I know I have a purpose, and I’m excited about what the future holds!
so much to look forward to