There is a conceptual delight to the idea of a robot. A continuously productive machine with no gross emotions or feelings or biases is a wonderful thing. However, strange as it is, we are not machines. We need constant recharging, for hours and hours at a time. Even at our height, we are still not as efficient and effective as machines. We are volatile, events can harm us without direct physical contact. Humans are just so problematic compared to machines!
And yet! Being human is such a unique experience because we are aware that we are. We might not be as productive as machines, but what basis is there to assume our productivity equates to our worth? In some settings, we may begin to feel like that’s the case. However, there is more to us than that! We are creative and adapative. We can think outside the box, and use our associations to connect ideas. We can make wonderful things like machines in the first place, and emotionally connect to other people! Even we aren’t sure ourselves how we can do all of these things. It is something special to be a human.
While we love to connect to other people, part of being a social creature means we become jealous at times. We begin to compare oursleves to other people, and it goes downhill very quickly! But like machines and humans, part of being distinct entities requires there to be differences between them. Because you are an individual, you are different from those around you. Because we are varied in style, shape, and character, there are going to be differences in what we are good at and what we struggle with! You are not a machine, and that’s a good thing because you can do so much more than you are programmed for! You are also a “you”, and that means you are also able to bring something beautifully distinct to everything you do.
There are some situations that are solved best by being honest and telling someone how you feel. Those are also the situations we like to solve by doing practically anything else. Even if we know we’ll end up miserable, keeping the truth to ourselves, we don’t want to confront people. Confrontation is easy between two strangers on Twitter. In real life, with someone you care about? It’s harder.
Most people like other people, I think that’s a safe assumption. We might loathe crowds or become irate at that annoying guy whose laugh rattles your ear drums just a bit too much— but we like approval. Whether it’s from our peers, or it’s respect from our colleagues, or admiration from our friends, it’s nice to feel like we matter. When we build relationships with other people, it can become terrifying to face the truth and say what you mean. It means that all that approval, respect, maybe even love, could disappear. So we hold it in, become passive aggressive or just plain aggressive.
Knowing that “the truth will set you free”, doesn’t necessarily motivate you to be bold about your opinions. We tell ourselves that if we just keep it inside, we’ll just suck it up and move on somehow. There are situations where that might be the proper course of action. But if it keeps coming up, keeps bothering you, that means you care! It means that you should express yourself. If they can’t respect it, they weren’t your friend to begin with.
Even in other kinds of situations, be bold and honest. Say what you mean, in the most respectful way you can. Say the uncomfortable truth and be prepared to listen to whatever they’re going to say. Even if you think you’re not ready– you’ll never be. Just do it. Tell the truth.
Light is one of those phenomena that seems harmless. People can claim it’s power for acne treatment or pyschological help, but it almost seems ridiculous. Most people know how dangerous UV light is, and on those burning hot days of summer, might be careful to put on sunscreen. Yet normal light? You can’t touch it or hold it, it goes the nature of most physical matter we encounter. Light is not only physically astounding, but pyschologically stunning as well because it can affect mood and atmosphere; Compare the lightning in the movie The Matrix to an Applebees and the result is quite amazing.
Light is truly incredible, has all these features, but still we underestimate it. For most, light is something that surrounds us, accompanies us from day to day. Unless you’re blind, most people come to accept it as something we deserve and need. It’s importance to us is because of its consistency. If we all were in the dark, we would learn how to do without and it would remain some sort of novel thing, intriguing perhaps, but unessential. As it is, since it’s there, we begin to think we need it as much as water.
Everyone needs vitamin D from the sun to survive, but symbolically and without too much scientific depth, we don’t really need light. In our lives, we begin to think a lot of things are essential. We begin to think that these things that surround us are somehow integral to survival. However, really, most of what we have, if not all, is a gift. We are given so many things, and yet we pretend as if we deserve them and require them. Obviously being able to barely survive shouldn’t be the standard of living; however, reminding ourselves of this can keep us grateful for everything we have. If we see ourselves as lucky rather than wanting, we can live with a better context in mind.
I was a strange kid. I felt this constant frustration when I was a child because I didn’t have to ability to do what I wanted to do, or to know what I wanted to know. I don’t mean staying up watching tv and eating ice cream for every meal, but wanting to have a job, travel, and be respected for my opinion. There is a huge, defining factor that looms above us throughout our entire lives, something that we rarely talk or think about: constraints from age. I don’t mean physical contraints, but social ones. Again, I was a strange kid, but I don’t think it’s uncommon at all for people of any age to desire respect.
The young are naive, the old are too stubborn to change. Young people should be happy and ambitious, old people should be wise and good teachers. There are both negative and positive stereotypes for most ages, but we are heavily strapped in by them on all sides. Talk to a 40 year old and they’ve already decided that they can’t change. They can’t learn or take risks, they’re too far gone. Talk to a 14 year old and try to understand the constant undermining of the validity of their emotions. Imagine, or recall the time when you had lots of emotions you couldn’t control, life is hard, and yet no one takes you seriously but you can’t complain because people chalk it up to your age. Think about people in their 80s and 90s, who have experienced so much and now have to deal with people treating them like babies not just physically, but emotionally too.
At certain ages, we need to be cared for physically. Still, our physical and our psychological situation do not always align. Children don’t have the experience to give advice like a 70 year old, but both deserve respect. Even if their opinion seems crazy or irrelevant, they might share something that can shed light on the situation. Or, maybe it is completely insane and useless, but it isn’t to that individual who desires communication and connection like the rest of us.
Ageism tells us that we are too young or too old to change. We can’t make a difference, we’ve not the experience or too much in that one area to make a revision now. But screw it, even if it seems ridiculous, you can always start living better. You can always do more than you think. The most important part is just taking the leap and going for the gold. Go for this! You can do it.
The Room produced, directed, and starred by Tommy Wisseau, is a masterpiece film that is known as the greatest worst movie ever. The Room has absolutely horrid dialouge, random charcaters with no established relationship, entire plot points that don’t become resolved, and the acting is obscenely stiff yet over the top. As in, it is so horrible, it has its own cult that has lasted 15 years. I recently watched the Disaster Artist, which is a liberal sort of reinactment of the making of The Room with James Franco. Something that really sticks out about the story they tell in The Disaster Artist, and which is amazing in the reflection upon history, is how our hopes can go completely in the opposite direction in real life.
No one sets out to make a horrible movie. No one wakes up and says to themselves, “Today, I’m going to get an F!” It doesn’t seem right. Theoretically we understand that some people are going to be at the top, most are going to be in the middle, and some are going to be in the bottom; it’s basic statistics, the standard bell curve has a bottom 10%. But we don’t like thinking about that. No one wants to be in the bottom. Most people don’t even want to he in the middle. The fact that we can really care and be in such a horrible state compared to others’ expectations is terrifying.
The Room, however, offers an alternative. You might try really hard and end up in the bottom. You might fail miserably, but you will only fail miserably by that one standard. As a drama, The Room is a failure. As a cult comedy? Gold. We might never become the shiny dream we want to be, but what we can become is our own best self. Even if everyone was as talented as Albert Einstein, the world would be lacking the individuals who aren’t him, who can offer their own unique perspectives and life stories. You aren’t your heroes, but you can still become one yourself.
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.
Understanding is a strange process. We may think we understand a lot of things, but even something as simple as a definition can allude us when someone asks. Whenever we engage in conversation, we assume the other person has enough context to understand what you mean. Sometimes understanding isn’t just knowing something, but knowing something on a deep level. Understanding requires a lot of effort, more than we usually want to give, but one of the most amazing things we can experience is that moment where even we don’t know what we mean and a friend can understand it.
In some ways, that’s what a friendship is: an understanding. You know you can depend on them and they on you, you enjoy each other’s company, and most of all, you know each other on a level where there is a connection. Friendship isn’t really friendship if you can’t communicate with each other because a lack of communication leads to loneliness. Lonely friendships defeat the whole purpose. Friendship is something that is almost sacred, it involves trust and the emotional support that they know, they understand how you’re feeling, even if it’s something they can’t help with.
We need connections. We need relationships, especially close ones. Loneliness legitimately kills; It increases your risk of disease, mental illness, and shortens your life expectancy. Even more than that, being alone feels miserable. Our relationships matter because we need to be understood. The support we get from our community and those around us is structure that builds us up to the best we can be. We can understand books, subjects, theatrical plays, anything and everything, but the most important thing to understand is that we need people.