“for the aesthetic!” We cry

You can do things simply because it sounds cool that you did them. You can go to a fashion show, hate it, and still brag about it simply because you went. You can paint something not because it has some deep meaning, but just because you wanted it to look pretty. You can do whatever you please, not for some grand reason, but because you feel like it.

This concept comes easy to some people, and brilliantly hard to others. Of course you can do what you want! However, it doesn’t often feel like that because things get in our way. Obligations, ethics, even physical things at times, they all can form a mental prison. However, most times we do not decide things rationally, but decide emotionally, and then justify it with logic afterwards. Emotions shouldn’t drive everything, and hopefully we are well practiced in disciplining our feelings. And yet, there is a power in knowing that we are naturally rather irrational creatures.

We do things that don’t really make sense. We have subconscious drives and biased perceptions! So of course, our behaviors aren’t precisely clean when it comes to why we do certain things. However, if we know we are operating on emotion, we can either let go or reign ourselves in a bit more. We can more honestly gauge our decisions for what they are! We can see how we need to regulate ourselves more or less. Being honest is a journey, but it’s worthwhile. Sometimes you need to do things for the aesthetic.

all about the soles

Shoes are the strangest signal of wealth. In number, quality, and design, the kind of shoes we wear are especially representative of station and personality. A meticulous, rich sort of people will likely have many, brand-name shoes that are well polished. An athletic, nonchalant individual might wear old sneakers and not think twice. An individual who cares about their appearance because they see it as art might wear bright yellow and see it as entirely practical for their purposes. But that’s the key: for their purposes. Do you have ordinary shoes? What kind of shoes do you consider “ordinary” at all? From your favorite pair of shoes you might be able to discern fashion-sense, practicality, self-image, environment, social class, and more! It’s amazing!

But shoes also serve as a subtle reminder of how different all of our lives are. You may think yourself organized, but if you have a pile of shoes in the doorway, that might not be the case. You might think yourself not well off economically, but you also might have more than seven pairs of shoes. You may believe yourself to be a most singular individual, but your shoes don’t stand out, maybe you don’t think too differently from others. Shoes are a kind of symptom of your individuality. There are always factors to consider (after all, you could have seven pairs of shoes and still be impoverished), but little details say a lot about a person.

So what kind of person are you? What kind of shoes do you have? But more importantly, do you have shoes? There are an estimated 300 million people who can’t afford shoes. That’s a massive number!! There are people who have whole shelves of shoes, and yet so many people can’t even afford basic protection for their feet. Going barefoot sounds nice in the summer time, but what about in the snow? Rocky areas? What about exposure to diseases on the ground? What about chronic fatigue and searing heat? The little things can say a lot about us, because they aren’t the things we typically try and control for. So consider a little kindness and think about giving to those in need. It doesn’t have to be shoes, it doesn’t have to be small, it doesn’t have to be incredible! But become the kind of person you want to be, and start it today.

fighting off fantasy

I’ve loved L. Frank Baum’s work for a long time. Part of that journey and experience, however, was the illustrations that came with those books. The drawings are wonderful, a 20s remix of art nouveau and traditional fairytale illustration, full of beautiful youthful people with clear skin, long flowing hair, flowers, and long loose robes. The power of both the books and art was that it transcended the groan and dull of reality. Only beautiful things exist within those creations, with a golden luxury of youth and sense of immorality. It’s the sort of work that makes you forget about all the gritty, ugly details of existence. It’s fantasy, pure and simple.

But why do we care? Why do humans find things beautiful? Why do we long for beauty, and in the end, what is it, really? These are all questions philosophers and scientists debate. It’s okay to desire beauty. Desiring and wanting the attractive things of life is a primary human complusion, it’s not necessarily wrong. However, beauty is important as an extra layer of the cake. Fantasy isn’t inherently wrong, many wonderful things and experiences can come from it.

However, we need to remind ourselves what is fantasy and what is reality. Don’t give up your life for fantasy. Don’t get so caught up in the what-ifs you give up on it ever becoming more than that! Let it be the motivation, not the primary activity of your day.

Go out and face those volcanos

One of my favorite movies, perhaps my most favorite, is a ridiculous, campy heavy handed masterpiece called “Joe versus Volcano”. It stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, with Meg in three seperate roles and special effects arguably worse than Power Rangers. Tom Hanks is a miserable man who finds out he has a “brain cloud” and will die in six months, so he makes a deal with some corporate quack to jump into a volcano as a human sacrifice. One of my favorite parts of the movie is how absolutely stuffed with symbolism it is, but the most important part is the message, and it’s ridiculous, an absolute bonkers lesson that means a lot.

You only live life once. Every second of life doesn’t have to be exciting and interesting, we all have little odds and ends that need to be tolerated, but we shouldn’t just be “tolerating” our entire lives. We need to be starry-eyed a bit, just a little, and ask ourselves what our dreams are, our goals. We are never too young or too old to accomplish things. What things we accomplish vary, but we are always more capable than we think.

Everyday life isn’t stunning, it’s not usually all that fun either. What it can be, however, is up to us. We can talk to others, listen to our favorite music, clean up to de-stress, and really live. Chasing after your dreams is hard, but the hardest part is keeping that dream alive enough every dreamy to chase it every day. Relationships take work, careers take work, even relaxation takes some work, but putting in the effort is worth it. You can do this. Watch a ridiculous movie every once in a while, remember to get excited about this stupid, little things, because that’s sometimes the best part about it.

Respectfully don’t oversimplify 

We often think of people in two disctinctions: attractive and ugly. However, the more we learn about aesthetic preference, the more we see how beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Two strangers, on average, will only agree on what is attractive about 50% of the time. Furthermore, our huge disparities in preference don’t arise from genetics, but mostly our environment. Even world famous models, praised for their looks, still receive negative feedback on their appearance because of people’s variance in opinion. There are some people who are always going to be seen as incredibly attractive, but for the most part, our appearance doesn’t fall into a binary so easily.

Mentally, humans simplify situations in order to understand them quickly. A friend talks to you for an hour about a complicated relationship, and you can sum it up in, “what a jerk!”, or perhaps other choice words. It’s our habit, in order to compile lots of information. However, there are a few things that we need to be careful to not oversimplify. One of those is identity, of ourselves and others. 

Everyone is a work in progress. Everyone can be considered attractive, even if you don’t personally agree with another’s opinion. Respect is an incredibly important thing to have, for both yourself and others because it’s how we carry ourselves in our interactions. If you ignore someone’s opinion because you don’t like it, you might miss out on that tiny piece of truth you can learn from. Nor should we ignore ourselves. If we are miserable and don’t see the point of it, we are wasting our time, and we only have so much of it. So don’t oversimplify the important things and be respectful. And P.S. the more kind we are, the more likely we are to become more attractive to other’s over time. 

Halloween isn’t about death in practice, but you can use it to kill off the problems between you and those you care about

Happy Halloween! For a holiday associated with death, dark creatures, and general wickedness, the majority of people have a fondness for halloween. It’s like horror movies- you don’t like the vicious creature that’s slowly hunting everyone down, you like the thrill. And Halloween is a thrill! Operating at night, talking strangers out of their candy, masking your identity: these are all pleasurable activites because they are customs that we take part in as a community. 

For some, Halloween is just an excuse to party. However, the importance of the holiday isn’t that it’s celebrating creatures of darkness, but that we are celebrating a time together with people we care about in a light hearted manner. The features of the holiday are creepy, but sometimes creepy is fun! It’s an aesthetic that marks it apart from the rest of the year. It has a sort of childlike glee compared to Valentine’s day or Thanksgiving. 

Whatever your views on Halloween, just remember that it’s a holiday. At the end of the day,  it’s not about some costume or summoning demons, but about having an excuse to be with the people you love, sharing in traditions you care about. Even if you hate everything about this night, don’t close yourself off! Sometimes you need to shake things up from the routine.

Make your life your novel

 

Almost everyone has tried to write a book at some point in their life. It might be three pages long and half developed or it might be a full three page novel they can’t stop editing. If you ask someone what they would like to write a book about, practically every single person can think of something they’ve secretly been working on mentally. However, there obviously isn’t a book on the shelves for every person who wants to write one because they usually don’t even find their way onto paper.

There’s lots of reasons why a book doesn’t come into fruition. The person forgets the idea, they discard it, life gets in the way and they don’t work on it, they complete it and never get it published, they try to get it published and no one wants it; there’s so many things that can sway a book from publication. The big factor, though, is the individual who wants to write it. We don’t write books because we usually don’t have the self-control to do so. It’s not that the idea isn’t big enough, or that the plot isn’t developed enough. It’s the fact that we have to put our heads in the game on a daily basis and work on it until we make the idea big enough and the plot developed enough.

Not everyone is a writer, and not all writers are good at what they do. Writing is an incredibly difficult task, trying to get at the barest bones of communication. You don’t have to work on a book in order to feel successful in life, but we could all improve our self-discipline. It doesn’t matter what you want if you don’t do anything to get it. In some areas, writing a book is easier than other tasks because you can measure how much you’ve done through page number, word count, or chapters completed. So give yourself a measure! Make a checklist and fill out your goals. Don’t let your ambitions be unrealized, but seek them out every day, because every day is a gift.

A kind of battle cry

Today is a good day. Sometimes that doesn’t even have to be true, but you have to say it, and furthermore, you have to believe it. There’s this kind of advice: even if you feel bad, don’t look bad. Its this idea that if you feel aboslutely horrible, if you take the time to put effort into what you wear, you’ll feel better. It’s a battle cry of effort, I will not be defeated by my exhaustion! Even if it doesn’t come out through physical apperance it’s important to care about living your life, especially when it’s hard. 

One of my favorite songs is Nat King Cole’s “Smile”, and one of the lines is this, “when there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by”. As to say, sure. Life isn’t perfect. There are so many people who are hurting and struggling. However, if we give up when the going gets hard, we’re letting our true potential slip by. Our ability is not determined by talent alone. Honestly, at the end of the day, talent means very little. What you can change is the part that makes the most difference: your effort. 

You can’t live at 100% all the time, but we can usually give at least 5% more. And if we decide to not put in that effort, we find ourselves in a cycle of stagnancy. If it’s difficult, you’re getting somewhere, so keep fighting. Today is a good day.

Finding your optimum prime

Looking at bright happy things primes us to be happy.  Listening to sad music makes us sad. Of course what we see and hear and percieve affects our mood. Just saying it seems ridiculous, it’s common sense. However, we have a habit of forgetting this piece of “common sense”. We surround ourselves with people who make us angry, listen to angry music, which makes us remember all the times we’ve been angry, and then wonder why we’re angry all the time. It’s not just with anger either. As much as we would like to see oursleves as independent agents, the different parts of ourselves are brought out based on the situations we’re in. 

As much as we want to disown our flaws and take credit for the development of our positive attributes, both are a part of us. There will always be a weakness inside. However, what we can control is what parts we chose to grow and advance. A massive part of that is being a careful consumer of what you surround yourself with.

If you want an attitude change, you can’t do it while repeating all the same behaviors as before. If you feel unproductive, you’re going to need to turn off the phone that’s distracting you. Thoughts and actions are intimately related. You can’t do one without the other. We are primed by our context, influenced by basically everything around us. There’s only so much we can do to control that, but we aren’t powerless either. Don’t let things just be, this is your life. 

Risky cubicle-ing

An adventure harkens to some mighty feat, some string of events that affect and change a person. Yet how many events that have changed you really happened on an ‘adventure’ versus happening because of an oridinary, predictable chain of occurances? Humans are actually good at predicting the future. We can estimate a person’s character pretty quickly, if not always accurately. We can deal with schedules planned literally months in advance because we can understand how to get places and who to deal with. So when it comes to adventure, the key seems to be being unable to predict it.

However, the unknown is frightening, and where do you find unpredictability? How do you make something as intangible as an adventure? Furthermore, why do we want adventure when we also want a routine to stick to?

In my experience, the best way to find adventure is to put yourself in a situation that you are interested in, but usually would never try. You take risks and get to know people whose routines aren’t the same as yours. Sometimes it might be boring or a massive mistake, but it’s different and able to change you for a better. Routine isn’t bad. Change isn’t bad. Adventure isn’t something that people need everyday, although that might be some people’s cup of tea. The important thing is that you do take risks, that you do seek adventure to some degree. We might not always be able to accomplish a mighty feat or learn a great lesson, but we can always learn, can always improve.