What do you Hear / See when….

Now for a lighter subject to observe.

Music and almost all other forms of art are heavily based on that person’s perception. It (in this case, lets focus on music) is why there are a plethora of music genres that resemble and are far between one another. We all hear things both from a group mindset and from a more individualistic perspective. This is why things such as radio stations exist and also why artists who have not received radio play still receive critical acclaim. If anyone has walked through a museum, there is a strong chance that a thought resembling some type of understanding for why people do what they do will fill our heads. I want to stray to a similar but different question. What stands out to others when listening to music?

Is the the lyrics, tempo, volume, melodies, harmonies (two different things) or something else I have not mentioned. It struck me as odd when people mentioned if a song I was listening to was sad or a happy song. I never saw songs with that type of lense before. Why? I would argue because I primarilly listen to the instruments that do not involve the human voice. I find that I am more receptive to melodies, tempos, and what instruments stand out. Having never given an honest attempt at singing and having played other musical instruments in the past, I gravitate to the craft of playing other instruments more than singing and lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I am able to appreciate it all. Lyrics are usually not the first thing that stands out to me.

The same can be said for film. I find myself asking others questions to the extent of, “what about this movie stands out most?” and “what do you look for in a movie that you wish to enjoy?” What fascinates me about this is that most of the time, you get a different answer depending on who you ask. Five people could be watching the same movie at the same time, in the same place, and have five different interpretations of what they have just seen. All shedding light on the bigger picture in the grand scheme of things. This thought experiment Isn’t necessarily to reach an end goal. More to see how far we are able to expand on a particular subject. I personally get a kick out of this and enjoy trying to duplicate this is more ways than one.

The strange thing is that when it comes to movies, writing stands out to me. Dialogue is important and can either make or break a performance. When it comes to music, I look more toward the written notes other than the written lyrics. As much as I enjoy communication, a different itch must be scratched when it comes to music. Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not listening to the most complex instrumental artists on repeat in my spare time. The human voice has a place in music and completes the sound. The point I am attempting to make is that it is not the first thing that hits me as a listener and that we should take some time out to figure out what does to those in our immediate circles. The answer may surprise you.

To Stand Up or to Stand Aside

There comes a time when we as individuals decide whether time spent with others is worth our effort. An emotional cost-benefit analysis if you will. We love to romanticize how from here on out there will be little to no drama in our lives. ¬†Good luck with that. People fail to realize how challenging this can be. People don’t realize how much their lifestyle is centered around these controllable stresses. If you have ever seen someone deal with addiction, there is a strong chance you know how this looks.

So why bring this up in the first place? The new calendar year has everyone thinking about change. How can we change what we are currently doing to be a more enjoyable experience. Whether it be work, home life, personal health, family, or friends, most of us reflect on different approaches to improve our current unique situation. I say all of this to say that we are hitting the first step with precision and without difficulty. The steps that immediately follow are where we begin to slip. Suddenly, the pursuit of a less dramatic life becomes a task that requires more effort than we expected. Once we are inconvenienced, we tend to put our original plans on the back-burner at let them wither away.

Just because things are difficult, doesn’t mean they are not achievable. I personally had a bit of a reality check when it comes to taking action to get what I want. I’ll spare the specifics. In summary, that feeling of unsure, nervous, holding yourself back for the sake of comfort crept up and I buckled. So here I sit, in a state of constant reflection, wondering if I should make a fuss about things that have slowly become a concern on my radar.

The time has come for that type of person to emerge. With that being said, there is a fine line with picking and choosing what is worth our time and effort. Do we stand up to the point of exhaustion? Or do we stand aside and deal with internalized thoughts. I am not the type of person to leave topics unattended for an extended amount of time. I have a voice and my approach justifies it’s need to be heard. Until the next time comes, I will prepare myself for the next time that all too familiar feeling of fear of straying too far from comfort shows itself. I want to be ready to react with confidence despite what might be going on emotionally. Might ruffle some feathers, might not. To me, the benefit outweighs the cost.

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ISO Skepticism and Understanding

Still reflecting about the year that has gone by. Still thinking about the new things I have learned and how it currently shapes my outlook. There was a point in time where the neurosis was at an all time high. Books and changes in social scenery have helped shaped me into a new level of comfort to keep the existential manic panic at bay.

Remember when you first learned about the human body and you were able to describe what was going on every time your heart pumped? Or when you found yourself in a setting outside of school in which you got to test out that foreign language you’ve been studying for so long? Those same emotional highs come when applying logical principles to everyday experiences. Much like proofs in geometry (only to keep the academic theme going) being able to trace how and why things are the way they are with credible and reliable sources make sound statements no matter the context.

To go even further, when you are practicing this type of communication and notice that others are not able to follow or believe in something that you have a solid grasp and explanation on shows a lot of character. A whole new level of understanding can be reached without directly poking and prodding in the all too familiar traditional way.

I like to think that I am able to communicate well in most circumstances. So when I come across people whom I cannot get a point across,curiosity sparks. Why is this person not understanding me? Where did the disconnect begin? How can I mend the disconnect and not come off as a rude and intrusive armchair psychologist? I do not have an answer for most of these but do attempt to make an effort to solve the issues as they come up. 

The irony lies all within the grand scheme of things. If asked why would I go out of my way to make sure that everyone is understood in most steps in any and all forms of communication, my response would be because once all of that is said and done the conversation is over. Mission accomplished.

If I (or someone other than myself) can get a point across in as few words as possible, it means we can all move on with our lives and avoid redundancy. This is the end goal. Say what you need to say in the most efficient and concise way you can, and lets drop it. Coming from a place of concern as always.

Until next time….

Learning a lot in a little amount of time

Recent actions have lead me to come to several conclusions in a short amount of time. What appears as character traits are an attempt to justify flaws. I’m not proud of the way I behave in most settings. I can be stubborn and that affects others in ways that can be prevented. We all can improve our lives in our own personal ways every day. All it takes is for those things that need improvement to show themselves at the wrong place and time. Most of us can (and do) dwell on this for the majority of our lives. The ole vanity in the form of self doubt is a real thing. As much as we like to romanticize this, it is a crippling behavior. 

Letting my mind wander gets me into trouble. Likewise, keeping things controlled to a certain degree has its own unique type of problems. Somewhere there is a balance between the two. Perhaps this imbalance is due to underlying factors I cannot identify. Maybe it’s seeking out these factors that will help balance the mental juggling act that is existence. The pieces seem to be within reach. I wish it didn’t take an embarrassing evening to come to such sobering thoughts. The point being, there is work to be done. 

Until next time

Unused Muscle

Thus begins another trip around the sun. Thusly another attempt at refining unused muscles (that’s enough “thus’s ” for one day.) The year is winding down and the time has come to watch Its a Wonderful Life to remind myself I still am capable of emotions. Post-holiday lethargy is a common occurrence both physically and mentally. I find myself going through a spell of creative constapation and have gotten into a routine of uneventful adulting. 

All that being said, today was the year I discovered cyclocross and cannot grasp how long I have gone without an awesome discipline. We gave the SoCalCross season a go and I consider myself hooked on the competitive and non-competitive aspects of cross. If asked, “What do you like about cross?” My response would be something to the extent of:

  • Combination of enhanced handling with hard efforts
  • Ride profiles keep the rider sharp
  • Less likely to have catastrophic injury

Cross is the discipline where you can ride hard, but not go fast (and I love it.) That and the efforts are shorter, but more frequent (which I enjoy too.) Nowadays, the road bike is in the garage. Still functioning, but a lesser priority. I used to be stoked on the roadie aesthetic. Still can appreciate a well built road bike but value the balance of function and style (70/30 ratio sounds about right.)

Riding bikes, drinking coffee and eating plants are hard-wired into my character. Not much has changed in that respect. Interests have slightly shifted. Still can’t seem to shake the sweet release of death and being able to comprehend the illness that is my mental health, but hey, one can dream. 

As of recently, dreams have been creeping back into my psyche. That and wanting to give my creative side another go. Getting a new job three months ago has me wound back up into a secure routine that keeps me from panic and anxiety. Now that I have found myself in a position of comfort in the workplace, I can now go back to flexing that creativity muscle. 

Until next time….

What makes a good commute

On that note, what makes a bad one?

Living in Los Angeles we as a population are obsessed with direction, location, and getting from A to B. Anyone can walk into a conversation of any context, ask how someone got to where they are now, and almost always be met with a detailed route, and duration (insert reference to The Californians.)

My work commute has changed and it’s allowed me some extra time to think and consider what it is I really want as far as travel from home to work.

Distance: distance has been a big priority when it comes to getting around town. If you followed the routes I take, they usually have the shortest distance in mind (regardless of elevation which has bitten me in the ass more than once.) Instead of seven miles, I’ve got a 30ish mile commute. There is no arguing this significant change, but instead of the knee-jerk reaction of, “omg, this is so far! This sucks! Blah blah blah” I want to explore what is so terrible about the increased distance. What would I / could I rather be doing instead?

Method of travel: When I realized my new work location I immediately made a point to avoid driving to and from work whenever possible. I have a high mileage vehicle and frankly don’t enjoy driving in all contexts. That being said, I have seen the light and have embraced the medium of public transportation. This allows most of the gripes that people have about commuting to be pushed to the side and be disregarded. 

Timing: All types of travel require some type of timing and planning. We all set alarms, and have an absolute latest time we need to be out the door and on our own. Whether you’re on a bike, plane, train, or automobile, there must be some sense of timing to get to where you need to go. With that being said, switching from a car to a bus requires the same, if not less mental effort depending on the circumstance. My new routine is becoming more familiar and I don’t feel that I have to go out of my way moreso than I did when I drove to work. 

Energy: This one is a no brainier. As long as you are where you need to be when public transport arrives, you spend much less energy getting where you need to go as opposed to driving. There is less focus required, and you are allowed to catch up on the sleep you might have lost getting up an extra 30-45 minutes to catch your ride. 

Sure I might be going out of my way to avoid driving to work. But I don’t believe I am really losing much in the long run. To add to that, I’m convinced my commute does not suck. I can’t think of something I would rather be doing with the increased amount of time required to make it to work. Even if there is something more important I need to do, there are enough hours in the day to get most adult tasks finished. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Don’t ask me how much my commute sucks just because I’ve got more ground to cover. Get over it and get your priorities in order. 

Until next time….

Painfully Aware

What an exciting time to be alive

A mantra I would have never guessed would have played in a substantial role in my life, now more than ever. It is a safe bet to say that if you were to go back on my life in three month increments, there is a good chance you would come across a different person you see today. Like an emerging artist who is attempting to hone their craft, there are common themes, but the other 80% of what is going on socially, emotionally, physically, psychologically is attempting to be reconstructed (much like the World Fair at the turn of the nineteenth century in Chicago.) Things I thought would stand the test of time and hold up through out my life have left me disappointingly mistaken and shaped as a result. Alas, this new three month period (May to July 2016) have undergone a series of ideas that have stuck around longer than most. A combination of more informed decisions along with a painful awareness of my surroundings have left me feeling more and more comfortable in my skin (I feel happy more now than ever and it’s freaking me out!)

More informed decisions

Being in constant thought has lead me to the world of skepticism and the logic and evidence-based choices that have provided a foundation for existence in all fields. Balancing out the neurosis and anxiety quite nicely. If I am able to conceptualize a step by step process as to why something is the way it is, there is a good chance I will agree and adopt that aspect into my life in some way, shape or form. At the same time, I have to keep from being consumed in this way of though because like most social constructs, they are emotionally and physically exhausting.

All this is to say that I am finding things I like (mostly things I do not) and holding them to this same skeptic standard which has resulted in a prolonged part of my life and isn’t some strange, short-lived fad I end up being embarrassed I thought this was something I identified with (insert bad bands, hairstyle, fashion sense, and long term goals.) Discovering more and more things I identify with under this lens has become beneficial in many ways. I am able to make up my mind as to why I agree or disagree with whatever the subject, and develop my own personal, philosophical narrative.

Painfully aware

This one has been more of a roller coaster ride than the above mentioned realization. I catch myself going on and on explaining my thought process to others and while there is a lot to learn (both from whomever wants to listen and to myself personally) I cannot remember a time when I have done this in a previous part of my life. When did I talk so damn much? Why am I talking so damn much? What is the meaning behind all of this? Still haven’t figured out an answer for any of these questions. But if you’re lucky and I’m feeling particularly chatty (usually after a few drinks) you might be able to see this inner monologue in real time and not just in concentrated written thought. One question I have probably expanded on the most is the last one of the three. Trying to figure out the bigger, existential meaning to justify my actions. Here’s where things can get dark.

So I’ve got the informed decisions going for me. That’s all fine and well. This has manifested itself into this happy-go-lucky, yet nihilistic approach to life. Despite my best efforts, I continue to identify with the darker, neurotic, melancholic parts of my life. This still make sense to me and it ties perfectly with this increased mindfulness (watching me bring this all together.) What happens time and time again is I catch myself making an observation of some type, things might take a darker note, but as soon as the topic is brought up much like the air that enters your lungs, my obsessive clinging to reservations is harder and harder to do. Perhaps this is where the apathetic nihilism comes in to play.

I am getting the hang of things I like (bikes, coffee, blah blah blah) I still want to explore a space in which most people immediately want to register as good or bad, but choose not to participate in the final step. This is how I communicate. I might speak as though I have some opinion on a topic (and I might) but 90% of the time I value the conversation higher than the judgement at the end. Let me observe and philosophize about all the topics under the sun. I might not be that emotionally invested in it personally (sorry Pokemon Go fans. This takes a step too far back into a point of my life I do not want to relive and want to keep at bay when it was still pleasant.) but still want to discuss how important it is to the other person. This brings me to a new level of understanding that I want to continue to do and stay away from nostalgia as much as possible.

In summary, I’m realizing my interests change and while it’s terrifying and confusing, I will continue to push this mental boulder up a hill to explore that space and gain some insight.

until next time….