Antagonists

In life, there will inevitably be those in life who will be against us. Those people are many. Whether they dislike you for some small, insignificant reason, from some transgression you have done against them, or for no reason at all; there will be those that will want to sink and maroon you. Those that will leave you abandoned, stranded. Those that would let go of the rope if they were helping up a cliff. Those that wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire. Many times, it is quite easy to separate these people from those that care about your basic existence. Many times, it isn’t.

Far too often, these people tend to blend in. Sometimes they may lurk in the shadows of your life, or they might the be the person you sit beside in your home on your couch, watching a movie. It is so difficult to point these people out and thus they may be the most deadly. You can never be to sure of their intentions. You just don’t know until it happens. They start treating you like an outsider for no reason at all, they reject you. Not knowing who the antagonists can cause some form of paranoia and it starts to take a toll on a person, making them weaker.

The only solution to breaking down and eliminating potential antagonists is if they start to blend in with the spectator while you are at the center of some form of controversy. If you are being single out by another spectator, the person you thought was on your side will move themselves to the sideline watching you get humiliated or torn apart by another. They will stay in the shadows, a small feeling of twisted fulfillment will stir within them, arousing emotions of seething “just desserts”. When you fight with your significant other, they will not attempt to diffuse the situation, they will sit there and observe gleeful that things are heading south. You might as well give them a bag of popcorn.
One must always keep an eagle eye out for these things. Or else, there will be dire consequences.

 

– Scotia

Of Past Days

Lately,

I have been ruminating about the past. Everyone does this to some extent or another. However, this isn’t a nostalgic feeling, it’s more like “putting things into perspective”. Why we do the things we do, who knows but it makes for some good contemplation fodder. I generally do not care too much about things in my past. People who knew me growing up tend to have more feelings of significance than I do.

As said before, this isn’t nostalgia. Its something different. It’s a realization. I realized that things were so much “simpler”. Not in the sense of just a child being blissfully unaware of things but just things tended to be more “point A to point B”. I am specifically talking about high school. While I am grateful for my high school years, I do not wish to return to them. I miss the “feeling” of my existence back then. My existence comprised of several straightforward routines. I knew few people personally. I was able to lose myself in my own reality easier. I can’t say the same thing now. My day now is constructed from several complex routines. I now have more people  I know personally. I cannot dive into myself as easily as before (even though most days it is still ridiculously easy).

It is very hard to get the feeling I am describing into words. I suppose you can call it a paradigm shift. The most frustrating part was that things got unnecessarily complicated about three years ago. There wasn’t as much red tape. I never had to deal with drama. I never had to deal with other people’s emotions as much as I do now. Even with this paradigm shift, I tried to apply old tactics to a new world. In the end, I caught the burn from the backdraft and I realized I had to reevaluate my strategy to this new battle. I had to adapt. I had to learn new tactics. My failure to relate to people, especially those of the opposite sex – would have to be reevaluated. It wasn’t something I wanted to do but if I wanted to carve out a decent existence for myself, I would have to.

I did adapt and I did get new tactics. It wasn’t easy and it took a span of several months to myself but I did it. Because of that, I now know the common denominator in existence. Evolution.

I’m not “there” yet, but I’ll get there.

 

– Scotia

Paragon

As one progresses through certain stages in their life, they will encounter many different people. There are many from different walks of life. That is why it is in one’s best interest to keep an open-mind when it comes to these types of things. “These things” being people in general. It helps to facilitate a good working relationship and base for your interactions with others. Not everyone is going to share the same views as that backwater town you came from.

As stated before, you meet people. You make friends from these people. You make enemies from these people. You make disguised friends from these people. Most people will usually have a good group of friends and will usually end up having a neutral relationship with them. Most people will usually not feel ambivalent or strongly about anything they do or say mainly because of the fact that these people are politically-correct and will avoid confrontation at all costs. There is nothing wrong with avoiding confrontation but when you have to compromise your opinions in the sake of being “politically-correct”, then you have a problem.

Then there will be a portion of people that usually tend to polarize people. Some will usually have a negative to extremely negative view of the person (whether justified or not) and some will have a positive to extremely positive view of the person (whether justified or not). The actual percentage breakdown is dependent on the individual. The actions that the individuals have taken to get here are also dependent as well.

As on par the course with nature, there will be some humans that will decide to rise above the quicksand that is known as complacency. They are the driven ones, they are the ones that wish to carve out a better existence for themselves and the people they are in close contact with. They wish to thrive and strive to be the best they can be. As one climbs the social, monetary, physical (insert adjective here) ladder there will be people that will drag them down.  They are known in 21st century vernacular as “haters”. Many people brag about having haters, this is quite common in our cybernarcissistic hamster-wheel attention span culture. Having haters is a sign that you’re doing something right, no? The reality is, most people have not done much of anything to justify having a large span of haters other than being a complete asshole or jerk to people they meet. These people haven’t done anything revolutionary, they haven’t done anything innovative, they haven’t done anything creative. If they have any haters, it’s because of simple asshattery, nothing more nothing less.

Then, there are the people that have a large amount of “haters” simply because they are successful in some type of mastery. Whether it be business, arts, or sciences. People will be jealous of what they cannot attain. Mastery means putting in the work and effort to become a “master” in your given field, which correlates to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours theory. Many people are simply too lazy, unintelligent, or impatient to achieve mastery over anything. It is expected in this instant gratification culture to instantly be good at anything. No. It didn’t work for your grandparents and it sure as shit won’t work for you.

When mastery or dominance in an area is on its way to be achieved, there will be naysayers that will come out of the woodwork. Many of them will come out unexpected places. Many of them might end up being very close to you. These people will often tell you that your dreams, goals, and ambitions are foolish and you are better off doing nothing. The goal of these people is just to keep everyone who wish to follow their dreams down so that they will not have feelings of inadequacy every time they see you making a breakthrough. These people were too scared or lacked the resources to make their own breakthrough, now they are stopping yours.

The only way to reach Tahoe’s peak is to cast off these naysayers and plow ahead. A type of solipsistic self-indulgence is necessary, one that borders on the edge of narcissism in order to guard against this threat to sanity.  People gravitate towards mastery and dominance. That is why people in the upper echelons have more hangers on than they know what to do with.
The key, like everything in life, is to separate the good from the bad.

Regret

Regret is probably the one single feeling that I would never wish on anyone, not even my greatest enemies. Regret has been the destroyer of many. It is like a parasite that eats and erodes away at the inside until there’s nothing left but a hollow shell of a man, pining away till their dying day. Many have said to live life without regrets but I don’t think that’s possible. Indecision takes hold of a person and makes them sweat to choose between even the most simple choices. Some are more indecisive than others but there are decisions that are hard for even the most iron-willed of men. Regret doesn’t even have to be about decisions. It can be the inability to take action or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe these do all have to do with decisions.

The only way to eliminate regret is if we had some way where we could see all possible choices that would occur at any given decision to be made at that time. That would only be possible through the power of precognition. As of this writing, humanity does not have that ability made to us. Hopefully we never will.

I have regrets but they are all encompassed within the one sole regret: me wishing I was a better person. In those times I failed to act, failed to make conscious decisions, failed to choose the right option, they’re all encompassed in me wishing I was a better person. Better in the sense of braver, more clear-headed, more ethically sound.

Being a better person. Yeah, that’s it. That’s just what the doctor ordered.

 

 

– Scotia

The Suspended Generation

Radiohead – Optimistic (Right Click to open in new window/tab)

Radiohead might have more to say on this subject than I do, but I’ll give it my best shot anyway.

These days, I can’t help but think of heavier things. With the state of the world right now, any logical thinking human being would. I usually tend to meditate on the past but lately, I’ve been looking to the future. What does the future entail? Well, I guess it depends on your point of view I suppose. If you’re past your prime, in your twilight years, you may have already bought a house, had a family, and established a good retirement fund. Your progeny may have already had children of their own or maybe are well on their way to being married.  You’ve probably already conquered your inner demons and slashed out all doubts you had about yourself. With age, a better knowledge of self tends to come with the territory. It most likely will be smooth sailing for you as you enter the final quarter of your life.

If you’re like me, young, brash, and full of bravado, then the future may be full of doubt or fear even. As a 20 year old, I struggle to find myself in the cosmos of it all. You may call this just another case of growing up, but I’m not buying it. Everyday, as I read the newspaper, watch television, and look on the internet, I see nothing but bad news everywhere. I see nations slipping into defaults, I see stagnant economies, I see war, I see countries building nuclear programs, I see politicians bickering and squabbling amongst themselves failing to arrive at a middle ground. Its nothing but bad news.

A lot of times I hear from people older than me, “Scotia, this isn’t the world I grew up in. Things have changed”. No doubt. I vividly remember one of my uncles telling me he was able to go to college and work part time while paying for his school fees. Why can’t we do that anymore? Why is everything so expensive? Is it greed or something else?

My generation is one that was raised off of reality television, excessive advertising, instantaneous text messaging, and Internet sites such as Myspace and Facebook. I don’t see children going outside anymore, they’re sitting inside on the computer, their video games, and their cellphones. We don’t ask girls out in person. We send them an innocuous little message over Facebook. There’s no passing notes in class. It’s now “sexting”. Instead of living for others, we are narcissistic people intent on making the world revolve around us. Facebook facilitates this process even more. The more likes you have on your posts, the cooler you are. Our ultimate self-worth is defined by our online presence on Facebook. That is what we live for.

Then there’s college. Oh college. More young people now than ever are going to college. I mean, education is nice and all, but I can’t help but ask some people “why are you here?” All some people do is drink and party and BS. These people then graduate with a BS (harharharharharharharharharharharharyouseewhatididthere) in some degree *cough*Business*cough* *cough*Communication Studies*cough* and then go out into the job market. Some people don’t take college seriously and ruin in for a lot of other people because they wish to be selfish and create the “college experience”. Can’t see a future, so I guess I’ll just drink and smoke my life away, right? Maximum payout with little effort, give me that A just for showing up.

Now when we go out to look for jobs, the job market is dismal. Our parents certainly didn’t have to go through this. Even if they are unemployed, at least they are established. How will we even start? Our concerns are valid. A lot of the jobs have been outsourced. Instead of having 5 people competing for one job, there’s now 50 people. Is it the recession? Or is it because a lot more people have degrees? Or maybe a deadly double whammy of both?

What is to become of my generation? Where do we fit in all of this? Is there even a space for us to fit in? What will happen when our parents leave this earth and we literally have to deal with the sins of our fathers? Enormous national debt, environmental degradation, and mutually assured nuclear destruction is not what I signed up for. It just feels like a lot of the older generation just simply doesn’t care about the younger generation. That’s not a good thing. The generation of World War I was called the “Lost Generation”. The generation of World War II was called the “Greatest Generation”. The generation of our grandparents were called the “Baby Boomers”. Our parents’ generation is called “Generation X”. Our generation is officially called “Generation Y”.

Well, I’ve got a new name for us and anyone who comes after. We are “The Suspended Generation”. We’re stuck in limbo waiting for us to drop into the abyss or for us to ascend into the heavens. We are more open-minded, we know more about certain concepts, and we have more information at our fingertips than any previous generation in history. We are also scared. We are so scared. For good reason. The decisions of those who come before us will affect us more than they know. They keep us this way. Until they realize this and invest their future in us with a sincere, honest effort, we will continue to be this way.

The Reason I Still Fight

Southern California Malibu by 45SURF Hero's Journey Mythology Goddesses on flickr

The sun beats down in the early day. Gunpowder shots deafen ears. The soldiers fall back and regroup. They run through the hilly valleys and disappear into the forests. More soldiers come into the fray from the sides, leaping over the fences and through the fields to engage in combat. Are they on the fight for the right? Whose to say.

Life is warfare. Everyone knows that. Some people are on the front lines, others fire the artillery, others give the orders. No matter where we are in the quasi-political hierarchy of life, we are all fighting for something. For some, it is love. For others, it is family. For the rest, it is for self-preservation. I fight for none of these things. I fight because I have dreams. I have a direction I want to choose in life. I have seen the future. It is murky, but it is solid. It is like peering through a rippling body of water and seeing an obelisk sitting on the floor yet not witnessing its distinct shape.

"Murky" by theothermattm on flickr

Being that I have only entered my second decade of life, my dreams and ambitions have often been derided by those that are much older than I am. These “elder statesmen” with their hubris have pushed my dreams aside like junk sitting on a work desk. I have often encountered the statements “you’re too young to know right now”, “you haven’t lived yet”, and “wait until you get my age”. These were the same people that have told me to reach for the stars and if I miss that I will land on the moon among other cliches…

I am seen as being overly ambitious and overly serious. I have been told to “lighten up”, to “live a little”. I suppose it is unusual to see someone who is 20 years old with a drive as strong as mine. As a healthy heterosexual 20 year old male, I am expected to drink as much as possible, commit reckless and often life-threatening behavior, and have as much sex before I become “tied down”. None of this has ever made much sense to me and I doubt it ever will. Since I do not conform to the behavioral standards set by a large majority of my male contemporaries, I am seen as “prudish”, “regimented”, and “odd”. In my opinion, a worldview based on finding your way inside a woman’s “Chinese box” at the end of the night is simply unsustainable and counterproductive.

I cannot blame these people, for they do not understand that I have nothing to lose but so much to gain. I have nothing to lose in the sense that I have not built anything up and I can only increase my standing. Then again, I do have something to lose. No one is waiting for me to fail with the exception of myself. If I do not reach my goals that I have set for myself, then I will consider myself a failure. The situation is too dire and the stakes are too high for me to fail, even though I hypothetically have nothing to lose.

Now that I have gone on about why I must succeed, it is a logical step to say what exactly I want out of life. The first and foremost thing I want out of life is relocation. The phrase location, location, location has always been important in life’s modern warfare and it will become ever more so within the coming years. I want to move out west. California to be more specific. I know what you’re thinking. “Everybody moves to California”. Well, there’s a good reason for that. California is known as being one of the most geographically diverse states in the continental United States and it has great temperatures all year round. However, I don’t want to move to Los Angeles and call it a day. To be more specific, I want to eventually move to this place in California called Big Sur.

Big Sur by carl_l_grant on flickr

Big Sur by karith on flickr

Big Sur by Slippy Jenkins on flickr

For those unfamiliar with Big Sur, it is a region on California’s Central Coast about a little halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is a three hour drive to San Francisco from there and a five hour drive to Los Angeles from there, that is if you take Highway 1 and if there is no traffic. Big Sur is a popular tourist location and for good reason. It is hard for me not to think of Big Sur and think of the values of freedom, mystery, and optimism. Big Sur is just a vast wilderness that begs for the adventurous to explore her curvy bends and tall mountain valleys. It is the perfect mix of forest and coastline.

However, as with many Californian cities, real estate here is expensive. That is why it is important for me to really shoot high and develop a game plan. I know this will not happen overnight, but it will happen. It MUST happen. I do not plan on moving to Big Sur immediately. I plan on exploring other locales first. Not sure if I want to live in Southern California or some other place out West before I make the move to Big Sur later on. However, no matter where I end up in a couple years, I do feel that relocation is central to the ideals that I have in mind and the dreams I want to see fulfilled. Wanderlust. Providing for all needs without having to worry about lack of funds. A breath of fresh air. Satisfaction. A new view on life.

My current environment simply does not inspire me. It motivates me, but it does not inspire me. My primary interest in life is creating art in all forms and I feel that my current environment is stifling and not providing me with the resources I need to do some truly great things. I believe a lot of other young people can relate to my situation, especially those with lofty goals and ambitions. Many of us are stuck in limbo, that uncomfortable space of being let go from your parents’ arms and trying to remember your lessons on how to fly so that you do not hit the ground. It’s that numbing space where you are trying to establish yourself as a free thinking adult, yet you are told by others that you are naive and that you know nothing. It’s discouraging at least, completely heartshattering at the very most.

Some people may disagree with me and say that paradise is what you make it. That may be true, but I have certainly tried to make the best out of my situation and I am certainly trying. However, I have lived here for too long and I need to get out there and see some other things. I am restless and my feet agree.

This is what motivates me everyday. This is what makes me get up at 6:30 am every day. This is what creates the faint tingle that keeps me up at night. This is what makes me put my nose to the grindstone every day, making sure all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed.

Whenever I’m down and feeling as if I’m on my last legs in the midst of this unforgiving modern warfare, I just think to the future about my house in California in Big Sur overlooking the Pacific Ocean and then I feel as if for once, that everything will be alright.

– Scotia

Big Sur Sunset by sbisson on flickr

Charity

 

it is important to remember those who have less than we do. As we fall deeper into this quagmire that is the economic recession, more and more people find themselves in a position of uncertainty and hopelessness. I’m just going to take a guess and assume that there won’t be as many Christmas presents under the tree as there were in previous years. Many people are inspired to give because of the particular conventions of the Christmas season. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” popularized this sentiment. “A Christmas Carol” was published in 1843. It was the first piece of literature to really discuss social ills while disguising it underneath the happy exterior of a season of the year. “A Christmas Carol” has so many different interpretations, but its core message remains unchanged – it is essentially good to give and it can make us better persons. However, deeper within that, a person must give in a certain way in order to reap the benefits.

So many different people were inspired by this message that they began to create institutions that addressed the needs of the poor and less fortunate. These institutions were known as charities. Charities effectively bridged the gap between the rich and the poor and created greater stratification of class. The rich no longer had to interact with the poor, they just had to give an amount to a charity and their donation would go to a certain group of people that really needed the money. The lump sum donation did not address the need to interact with people outside one’s social circle, nor the need to volunteer one’s time to make a difference. This is called indiscriminate giving. Indiscriminate giving provides the giver a sense of comfort that they donated to help make a difference in the lives of the faceless masses of endless people who need help. It however, does not address the core issue.

The issue of charity is not only addressed in terms of monetary donations. It can be addressed in other ways too, most notably volunteering. You would be surprised the difference you can make in someone’s life by volunteering your time and presence. Where to volunteer? If you live in an urban area, there is no shortage of places you can volunteer. People will always need help – and a human presence. There is no better time to provide both, in these dark days – both literally and figuratively.

Money is temporal. Human companionship is not. Giving to charity is great and all but the giver will be missing out on the core message that was detailed in “A Christmas Carol” Ebeneezer Scrooge arrived at his revelation that he could make a difference in the lives of others through simple things such as camaraderie. He got into the Christmas spirit of generosity and he realized it made him a better person because he interacted with people he normally would not have.

If we want to reach the same revelation as Scrooge did and make our lives better, we need to too.

 

 

 

– Scotia