Living in the Past, Living in the Future, Living in the Present

     I know that I no longer need to create new posts, but it seemed like this is the perfect place to post my current thoughts. I’ll admit that many of these recent thoughts are my own personal reflections on life, and as such, I find that I tend to read different messages into various media forms that I am seeing, hearing, or reading. In this particular case, my thoughts are currently dwelling on trying to not live in the past or the future, but learning how to live in the moment. As I was reviewing material for my upcoming exam, I was re-reading Horizon. It is a pretty amazing story that, for me, centers around the theme of learning to think less and live in the moment. In the beginning of the story, Alisanne, is feeling emotions that reflect feelings associated with depression and anxiety, because she is living with thoughts about past events which torment her, or fear of the future in which past events keep repeating themselves. Her feelings revolve around frustration, hopelessness, feelings of being alone, trapped, life’s a mess…barely holding on. Towards the end of part one, Ali starts to live in the moment, and new feelings of hope come as she starts to gain control of her life.

As I am writing these words, “Let Me Go” by Avril Lavigne & Chad Kroeger is playing in the background. The words in the main chorus are:

“I’m breaking free from these memories
Gotta let it go, just let it go
I’ve said goodbye, set it all on fire
Gotta let it go, just let it go”

The song transitions near the end to the lyrics:

I’ve broken free from those memories
I’ve let it go, I’ve let it go
And two goodbyes led to this new life
Don’t let me go, don’t let me go”

The lyrics in this song is basically talking about Avril & Chad letting go of their past relationships (i.e. the past)…and moving towards their new life together (the present). I’m not usually an Avril fan or a Chad Kroeger fan, but this song is really good with lyrics that are actually meaningful.

The point of this post is not really to discuss either Horizon or this song, it is however, an opening for discussion on why it is so difficult to let go of the past and future, and live in the moment. Is it hard because we have no control over the present moment? Lao Tsu, (the father of Taoism) stated “If you’re depressed, you’re living in the past. If you’re anxious, you’re living in the future. If you’re at peace, you’re living in the present.” I think Wildman illustrated this concept extremely well in Horizon, where as readers we can visibly see Alisanne experiencing feelings of peace towards the end of part one. If the secret to hope and happiness lies in embracing the present moment and letting go of the past and the future, why is it so difficult to live life according to this concept?

*I’ve included a link to “Let Me Go” if anyone is interested. Happy listening.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqajUg85Ax4

 

For all the Hunger Games Fans

Okay, I’m not going to actually talk about Hunger Games, But I will recommend a different series for any fans of Hunger Games. My recommendation is The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. The series is about a dystopian society where the people are divided into separate factions based on a specific human vitues that each group feels is the most important trait that should be upheld. The 5 factions are: Abnegation, which strives to uphold selflessness; Amity, for the ones who seek peace; Candor, for the ones who value honesty and integrity; Dauntless, for the fearless; and Erudite, meant for the intelligent. The story gives an interesting perspective of what happens when a person pursues one specific virtue, without little concern for the other virtues that basically defines the good in humanity. For me, this series was actually a better read than the Hunger Games Trilogy (Although I enjoyed those ones too). Anyways, the first movie (also called Divergent) is set to release in March 2014 (there is still time to read the book before the movie comes out).Here’s a preview for the upcoming movie,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sutgWjz10sM

Anyways, I guess the real question to consider is whether you feel there is one human virtue that should be valued above the rest? or do you feel that most human virtues should be sought equally?

Funny? or Distasteful?

Okay, so here’s an new commercial from K-mart, just in time to “ring” in the holidays. While the commercial is somewhat funny, it definitely illustrates the dual-standard when it comes to gender sexuality. Because this commercial was performed by males, the worst comments that can be made is that it is done in poor taste. However if it had of been a commercial that was made using females, the commercial would most likely be considered outright offensive, and would probably get banned from TV. Why is it more acceptable for males to flaunt sexuality in the name of humour than it is for women to do the same? Anyways, take the time to enjoy the commercial and let me know what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PA3MayY-DM

 

It’s the End of The Men as We Know Them

TI recently read an article written by Hanna Rosin. The article was titled “The End of Men.” I have decided to include the link to the article because I believe that it is a really good read for both men and women. In an attempt to quickly summarize the main point in this article, I would say that the article highlights the gender role reversal in North America that has been occurring over the last century and focuses on how these changes are affecting male identity and masculinity. I don’t believe that  this article has anything to do with which side is “winning” the battle of the sexes; I do believe however, it is a wake up call for men to start rethinking what it actually means to be masculine, and to focus on redefining what our role in society is. The basic premise of the article is that men’s roles in society (as well as the main ideology of masculinity) used to be defined in filling the role as head of the family; as well as being the principle provider for the family. As the article distinctly points out, the trend in society shows that men are increasingly not needed to fulfill these basic roles (For any women choosing to read this article, read it, and be proud of the advances that women have made in society). For any men that choose to read this article, read it and consider what our roles in society will look like in the future, and consider what the definitions of masculinity and male identity should look like.

Major changes are occurring in the marketplace, and men’s physical abilities are no longer providing an edge for men to obtain jobs. Women already do not need men to fulfill the role in running the household, at the moment, we are still somewhat needed to fulfill the traditional role as provider. The dependency on men filling the role of provider is diminishing as well. Without the traditional roles that used to define masculinity, males are facing a type of identity crisis, a crisis in which marketers are quick to exploit. Everyday we are bombarded with new definitions of what masculinity is. For example: real men drink (insert popular brand) of beer; real mean drive (insert big shiny new truck, or fancy sports car); real men eat steak, etc.. Here is a perfect example of this type of advertising:

The problem with defining masculinity based on these external ideals is that by default, when a man does not conform to these definitions, he is not really a real man. I believe the key point in Rosin’s article, is that men are not adapting as well to the changes in society. The question is, “what are we willing to do about it?” With the waning power of the patriarchal society, the traditional definitions of masculinity are no longer valid. I don’t believe that males should (or even could) reaffirm their distinct place in society by reverting society back to patriarchal doctrines. I do believe that it is possible for men to establish a new place in society that is uniquely masculine, a place that has value, a place that gives a man a sense of identity, and self-worth. I believe that this starts, by learning what we need to be doing to adapt to the changing needs of society, and to start redefining what masculinity really is, instead of letting advertisers do it for us. What are your thoughts?

 

 

The Meaning of Life

Ah…The big question in life. What is the meaning of life? This question seems to be one that has plagued human thought for thousands of years. This cartoon suggests that the main purpose in life is to “Eat, Survive, and Reproduce.” In Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Creator Douglas Adams produced an even simpler answer, “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is 42.” In both examples, simple answers are given to explain the meaning of life. Similarly, both examples are equally plausible answers. The question concerning the meaning of life is quite a complex question, which is probably why we continue to search for a complex answer for it. Is it possible that we as humans just overthink the “big questions” in life and therefore might actually be missing the answer? I believe the answer is a simple one, however, I am curious about your thoughts about the meaning of life. What do you think the meaning of life is?

Why Can’t We Leave Train Wrecks Alone?


It seems that as a society we LOVE watching train wrecks. It is like we have a morbid obsession for watching celebrities lives spiral wildly out of control. The crazier the celebrities behaviour gets, the more the media covers it. Instead of being a society that would lend a hand to these struggling celebrities, and encouraging them to get the help they need, and leaving them some privacy to work out their issues- we do the opposite, we make sure that the spotlights are turned on them 24/7 in anticipation of their next crisis. We seem to love it so much, that train wreck stories saturate the media leaving little room for real news stories that really need our attention. I was in Target the other day and the cover of In-Touch magazine featured a picture of Miley on the front with the headline “Miley finally admits: I NEED HELP!” underneath the caption the subtext highlighted “the moment she realized she had become a national joke”. Further subtexts wrote about her obsession with drugs, losing Liam, and her random hookups to numb her pain. I realize that magazine’s such as this one stretch truths as far as they legally can, but it still underlines one truth: She needs help. Her recent behaviour does not seem to far off the track from other celebs like Lindsey Lohan, Amanda Bynes, Britney Spears (during her rough years), and Courtney Love. I can’t begin to imagine what these stars must go through struggling with serious personal issues while the entire world seems to be watching and laughing while they fall apart. The question I have, is how do we know where the line gets drawn between gentle public teasing, and when matters become serious enough where we would be willing to allow these celebrities some time and privacy to get the help they need?

There Isn’t Any Adults Here.

“Growing up is hard to do, especially for adults.” ~ Hal Runkel

Initially I had planned on writing this post with the title “why I hate advertising,” but then thought it more important to address a more serious underlying issue. I’ve called this article “There isn’t any adults here” because it addresses the thought that many grown adults, never really grow up. The phrase I used in the title stems from an ongoing joke between me and my wife which we use whenever we catch ourselves reacting in various situations with child like behaviours. In short, the type of behaviour I’m describing is irrrational, emotionally driven, and ultimately immature. It may seem kind of funny at first, but it underscores a fairly serious epidemic in our society: many adults today, are not growing up. Childhood tendencies appear to have strenthened its grip on young people and does not easily release them into mature adulthood.The fact is, many people (myself included) don’t really like behaving like mature adults. The problem with this, is that it gives room for others to treat us like children.. an example of this is modern advertising. In just about every advertisement out there, the advertiser is telling us what to do, what to think, how to act, and how to live. In marketing, they call this feature “the call to action”. In reality, they’re telling you how to live your life. If a person were to look objectively (as a mature adult capable of knowing what’s best for their life, and are capable of making the best decisions for their own life), they would probably be upset that every ad out there is essentially speaking to them like they are children. In fact they may even be outright p*ssed off. And you should be too. We are not children who need to be told what to do, yet we have become comfortable with letting others tell us what to do…and it might not even be our fault. Some people believe that we have been conditioned to follow orders like children by the very people wo provide us our education either through conventional schooling or through media. One such man is author and educator John Taylor Gatto. Gatto once stated that “there are two groups of people who can always be convinced to consume more than they need to: addicts and children.” From his point of view, we have been conditioned to remain somewhat childlike through the very means in which we are educated. In our society, governments and corporations need us to be consumers, and not just based on what we actually need…but to consume more than we need. Considering the fact that the government and various large corporations are responsible for the information we recieve, it could be possible that this type of conditioning has been occuring. It might even give a plausible explanation as to why it is so difficult to actually grow up. Without ever reaching true adult maturity in life, it is almost impossible to attain/maintain basic life skills such as financial skills or relationship skills. This is kind of a long rant about why I hate advertising (sorry), but I really feel that we shouldn’t be giving others the opportunity to decide our lives for us. What are your thoughts?

What Would You Do If You Were Given a Money Tree

On my last trip into Superstore, I was asked by Ray (the cashier) the question “What would you do if you were given a money tree?”. Ray gave me a few moments to think about my answer while he finished ringing through my purchases. When he asked me for my reply, I told him that I would hold an auction and sell it to the highest bidder. Needless to say he wasn’t expecting my answer, so then he asked why I would sell it. In the very short time I had to decide what I would do with the tree, I thought about the life of the tree itself, as well as how my life would be altered as a result of owning the tree. The first thing that came to mind was fear of losing the tree. The money could potentially be stolen by thieves who would want the money for themselves, or the tree could be overrun by evil little tree-killing insects, or the tree could be poisoned and killed (after all, it is a living specimen) by a jealous person who does not have a money tree themselves. After a few moments, I had decided that having a tree like this would end up consuming my time as well as my life trying to protect and preserve something that I will inevitably lose anyway (after all, it is a living specimen-and all things living eventually die). In the few moments, I had to decide what I would do with the tree, I made the decision that owning a resource that would yield some indefinite amount of cash was not worth the trade-off of living the rest of my life in fear and anxiety of losing something that could not guarantee that my life would be any better than it is right now, or that I would be any happier. I figured if I auctioned it off, someone else would probably pay a pretty decent sum of cash, and I would no longer have to worry about what happens to the tree. (Ray told me he would take some of the money, and just build a big fence with a fancy security system, and buy a couple of big dogs). Interestingly enough, I overheard Ray asking the next customer in line the same question. Her response was that she would give it to her grandkids to play with. Again, Ray seemed perplexed that someone would be so easily willing to give up something so valuable. When he questioned her as to why she gave that response, she simply said, “my dear boy, money can’t buy the things that really bring happiness to a person’s life.” I asked Ray if I could post his question to this blog, and he told me I could as long as I referenced the source of the question back to him. Because of the interesting nature of this question, I will now ask you this same question. What would you do if you were given a money tree?

Technology Vs Body Language, Signals, & Nonverbal Communication

I decided to write this post as sort of a response to Howie’s previous post about cell phone addiction. In this post the theme of the discussion seemed to focus on peoples dependency on their cellphones and how when deprived of access to their phones many people become anxious. Jeff made a point in the response section about how people want to be connected to everyone and everything. I believe that needing to feel connected is a major part of what makes us human. This central need for connection is really what has driven the success of platforms like Facebook, or made cellphones so addictive (if it was just based on the ability to surf the web or play videogames on a handheld device, then Gameboys and the like would have been far more popular than they actually were). The big question here is whether or not technology can actually foster deep meaningful relationships between people. In my own experience, I have found that I am unable to develop deep meaningful friendships/relationships through these different technology devices. No relationship ever extends much (if any) beyond that of an acquaintance level. I truly believe that the reason for this is that this technology eliminates any dependency on body language in order to get to know someone well. In theory, platforms like Facebook should allow a person to “know” a person even better than general real life interactions. So much information can be learned about a person through Facebook that might not be transmitted verbally in a conversation. I mean to say that you can learn about a person’s interests, their hobbies, friends, favorite drink at Starbucks, even what the person ate last night for dinner. Yet even with all the details of a person’s life at the tips of your fingers, can you really know them? In my generation, far more is learned about a person through the perception of body signals, and nonverbal signals that allow a person to really know who someone is. For myself, no technology could ever replace real life human interaction when dealing in terms of deeper relationships; however, it makes me wonder if it is different for younger generations who grow up with this technology? Can they truly get to know someone else based on technological interactions alone? Can technology by itself really be used to establish deep connections with others? What do you think?

C.K Lewis Vs Cell phones

Not sure if this goes off topic or if it fits in. I recently came across a clip from Conan O’Brian. In the clip, Conan is talking to C.K. Lewis, and they get on the topic of cell phones. C.K. Lewis basically talks about how cell phones are toxic (especially for kids) because they steal a person’s opportunities in life to embrace and experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, and loneliness, which in turn robs people of the chance to experience true joy and the happiness that comes on the other side of feelings of sadness etc. Most people don’t like the feeling of being alone, or the inevitable sadness that comes with it, and cell phones provide a means for people to avoid those feelings. From first-hand experience, what he is saying resonates with me. As an attempt to reduce my dependency on technology I put away my cell phone for over a year. The emotions he was talking about were ones that I experienced often, especially during the first few months of not carrying a cell phone. I have included the link to the clip. I am curious about everyone else’s thoughts about what he had to say about cell phones. Do you believe C.K Lewis’ claims that cell phones contribute to people leading only mediocre semi-satisfactory lives because cell phone technology deprives people of experiencing any real sadness or joy? Watch the clip and let me know what you think.