Free at Last / Day 3 of 365

When I announced this project, I posted what I was doing on my Facebook account. I told my friends and family what I was up to and why my account was about to suddenly go dark. I didn’t stick around for comments or a quick scroll down the Newsfeed. Instead, I immediately logged out.

I left the post up for a few days to allow the message to spread and today I went in to deactivate my accounts. Facebook was easy – I just went in and deactivated without too much thought. When I logged into Instagram, though, the top post on the page (I didn’t scroll, I swear guys!) was someone I’ve been following religiously for the last year and a half. The ease of deactivating Facebook, contrasted sharply with the FOMO I feel with deactivating Instagram.

Everything isn’t gray, sad, and lonely though. It’s been three days since this project has began and I already feel like I have more free time in the day.

I’ve wanted to learn how to juggle for about 6 months now – and about a month ago I bought some racquetballs to practice with. Without too much thought, I put them upstairs on the counter. Now, whenever I have a free moment, I find myself reaching for juggling balls rather than for my phone.

It wasn’t an intentional substitute – but it’s been working great! Here’s a really short video of my terrible juggling (I’m up to 64 juggles!) –

Hope y’all are having a wonderful start to the week!

3/365

(as a reminder, I don’t intend on posting daily throughout this project. The goal is to take a digital fast from social media for 365 days!)

Advertisements

December 15./ Figs and Lost Opportunities

Sylvia Plath’s poem “The Fig Tree” has haunted me for years. It speaks of a woman sitting at the foot of a giant fig tree. As she looks up, she sees a different life represented by each fig. In one fig, she’s a stay-at-home mother. In another she’s a CEO of a large company. She sees herself as a world traveler, a teacher, a lover. But she couldn’t pick which fig she wanted because if she picked one, it would mean that she would lose the others. Instead, she sits starving at this tree and watches as the fig shrivel and fall to the ground.

Sometimes I see myself sitting at the bottom of that fig tree. I gaze up at the different directions I could choose to go in life and, instead of choosing, watch the opportunities disappear.

There are so many things that I want to do in my life. I’d love to travel the world, study horticulture, live in Europe, work in the NPS – you know, the average bucket list. But unfortunately I don’t have a long enough life to do everything.

Last week, my co-worker was telling me about her little sister. She’s like 6 or 7 and Christmas is still a ~new~ holiday to her. Anyways, my co-worker was telling me how her little sister spends hours on YouTube watching toy reviews to see what she wants for Christmas. Instead of playing with toys that she has, she spends hours looking at new toys.

At first, it seemed a little strange. I never thought about toy reviews on YouTube. It seemed sad that kids would spend so much time watching reviews of toys, envisioning if they wanted that particular one.

But then I thought about myself and my own life. I haven’t been reading as much as I usually do. I’ve been spending a lot more time on Instagram and Amazon. Instead of going out and traveling, I’m living vicariously through famous Instragramers and travel blogs. Instead of going to the gym, I’ve been looking at gymspiration.

It’s so easy to fixate and obsess over a particular lifestyle or thing that you want. Lately, I’ve been guilty of buying things to support this mental fixation. I’ve bought gym equipment that tends to gather dust faster than I use it. I’ve bought extra kitchen supplies that are unnecessary because I’m enamored by what I could do with them. I even bought a zafu for meditating and it’s completely wonderful but I don’t meditate every day like I thought I would.

It takes little energy to lay around in bed and daydream. It takes effort to get outside and build the lifestyle that you want. It’s easy to stay inside and imagine these lives you could lead without actually pursing them. If you pursue them, you may have to give up other lifestyles that you want. If I pursue meditation, maybe I won’t have enough time for working out. Unfortunately there are only so many hours in each day.

This is a first world problem. Not really of much substance. But I think that it causes a lot of suffering. By imagining these lifestyles rather than leading them, we skip over the learning process. We skip all the failure on the way to greatness. So much of our lives is learning from mistakes and genuinely trying new things. We derive satisfaction from effort and overcoming difficulty.

I’m not trying to bash YouTube or Instagram but rather comment on how I’ve noticed my life change in the last few years. I work full time and only have a few hours when I get home each night. Instead of spending that time doing things that I love – mustering up the energy to get out there – I instead lay on my bed and watch others pursue things I’m interested in. I’m so fixated that I don’t notices all the figs falling around me.

Hey, Zen Pencils has a wonderful illustration of the poem I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I highly recommend that you check it out. Click this link to view it: Zen Pencils – The Fig Tree

 

Quality or Quantity

Is it better to have quality content or to have lots of content? Often on YouTube, users that make great videos only have a few of them. While content creators that make mediocre content tend to have an endless amount of videos. For a very long time I thought it was better to have more videos than less high quality videos.

What this means as an artist/content creator is; having high quality work is more valuable than having low quality work. It’s also better to have a larger portfolio than a smaller one. Therefore it’s best to have a large body of work that is high quality. However, it’s extremely difficult to combine the two.

Artist tend to have a problem: we always want better quality work. When we create something that is beautiful and perfect, we want to create something that is more beautiful and more perfect. It doesn’t matter what the previous quality was, as long as the next is better. This drives progress because it forces the creators to motivate themselves to produce better content, thus increasing skill.

However, it often is intermixed with unhappiness and dissatisfaction. We have difficulty accepting our work and being proud of our products. Sometimes we create crap content. Everyone does.

Anyways, for a long time I thought it was better to have more content. More content means that you could explore more areas and find what you like best. It also means that you have a larger portfolio which could cater to a larger group of consumers. By creating a lot of work, you grow significantly.

However, mass production doesn’t always drive improvement. This blogging project is about creating a large body of content. Its purpose is to teach me how to write. By sitting down each night and finding a topic to talk about, I’m learning a skill. At the same time, writing daily doesn’t give me time to edit, or really think about concepts. It’s very much a produce, produce, produce, mindset.

As the last two weeks come about, I’ve been getting this sickened feeling in my stomach. This blogging project took a lot of time. It’s produced 350 blog posts so far and more than 120,000 words. Overall, this is the most I’ve written in my life.

The last days though, I’ve been reflecting. This year has been full of adventures. I’ve recorded some of them in blog posts and others in pictures. The mass quantity has forced me to learn how to write about any situation at any given time. Which is a great skill but I can’t help but feel that it’s also been a poison. Right now I’m rambling. There is purpose to this text but nothing that is worth editing. Mass quantity breeds ignorance of the process.

This work isn’t great. It’s just work. At the end, I don’t know how many posts I will keep up. I learned from it but it’s not something I want to show off. The lesson was learned and I’ve grown from it but this isn’t my portfolio. It’s not a complete version of myself.

A couple years ago, a photographer I loved removed all of her work from Flickr. I was absolutely devastated. Her work was a huge inspiration. The photos she posted were one of the reasons that I started taking photos myself. I didn’t know what to do when I couldn’t look through her work.

I was devastated and vowed that I would never remove my work. I wanted others to be able to see my growth. They could also look through a large body of work. Perhaps they would see that I’m human and they could create too.

As this project halts, I don’t want to display my content. I want to remove it and start fresh. It takes a lot to start from scratch but I don’t like this content. It’s not polished. I can’t share it with everyone. It’s imperfect.

I can’t answer whether having a large body of work is better or worse than having a higher quality of work. That’s something you have to decide. Would you rather put a lot of time into creating one excellent piece or five pieces? When you go online, would you rather see five mediocre videos of your favorite YouTuber or one awesome video? It’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself: quality or quantity?

350/365

Moderation

Is it more valuable to produce a large amount of content or to moderate what you post? I find that some of my favorite YouTubers and photographers have an incredibly small body of work available. Yet, I’m still dedicated to them and what they have to say.

Social media is an interesting beast because while it’s easy to create lots of content, it’s often difficult to view it all. I’ve posted endlessly on Facebook, yet, to look back on it takes hours and Facebook doesn’t even display all of my content. Is it worth it to be so consume in social media without a way to fully retrieve your content?

May it is better to produce less content because it’s more manageable. Anyways, I’m off Facebook for a while again. We’ll see where things go in the future.

325/365

20/31 Blogtober

Playlist Live Tickets

At work, I watched as Playlist-Live tickets were sold. The number of available tickets dropping from 77 to 70 to 69. The last event looked amazing and I was really bummed about not going. So, today I bought a ticket. I don’t have a car to get there yet. No hotel booked. Not even a guarantee that I’ll be able to attend. But I decided that I have things that I want to do in my life and I can’t wait for all the details.

I can’t plan every aspect of my life. $200 is a lot of money, especially for an event that doesn’t have a lineup released yet. I’m not sure I’d spend $75 for a band concert. But I know that this is something I want to do, even if I’m alone.

I fear driving for 5 hours to go a city where I don’t know anyone. Especially with having to return to work a few days later. What if I have complications and I’ll be back late? I could get lost or experience any number of difficulties. My family is on the other side of the country; I can’t just call for help. These are all the things that limit me and run through my mind constantly. They keep me at home and in my bed. But I can’t experience life from under my bed sheets.

While I don’t know everything that will happen, I plan on going to Playlist-Live 2015 in Orlando, Florida. It’s nearly 6 months away and a 300 mile drive, but I’m really excited. Maybe I’ll get back into making videos or change how I blog. Who knows? Plus I’ll be finished with my 365 in just a few months! Maybe a vlogging 365 will follow? Mm, probably not. But who knows! I’m liking this mystery and daringness that I’m finding within myself. There are obstacles we put in front of ourselves that we must overcome and tonight I feel like I’m surpassed one.

275/365

P.S. ONLY 90 DAYS LEFT! WOOT!

Traveling in Basque Country: Ea

04561 The festivals in Euskadi are crazy, I’ve written about them before and I’ll share more of them (and other travels) as I dig deeper into my hard-drive. Over the past few months I’ve realized that I have a lot of material that I haven’t shared yet, so over the course of the these next few months, I will be posting more articles on the places I’ve been to.

In Ea, friends of mine wrote and practiced music they would perform in their own village for a fiesta. These people are very prideful of their heritage, so naturally they sang in Basque, instead of Spanish. Last year I posted a video of them practicing, and I guess it’s time that I share the video of them performing.

IMG_2683The Basque people are beautiful because the pride they have for their people. They’re connected to their roots and understand the traditions of the people who came before them. Fifty years ago, speaking or writing Basque was illegal under Spanish law. Books and other Basque material were destroyed by these unfair rules. Its people maintained the language and kept the culture alive.

During WWII, Spain’s ruler bombed its own innocent population (see Picasso’s “Guernica“) in the city of Gernika. If you go there today, you’ll see that the entire city is new – that’s because it was destroyed almost 80 years ago. Everything was rebuilt since then, and the city stands once again.

The city grows as a testament that the Basque people are both resilient and strong. Many people don’t know about the attack during WWII or the persecution of Basques. That is why it is amazing to visit them. Their sense of pride and heritage is so different from the US.

IMG_2705 IMG_2615 The first country I traveled alone to was Basque Country, and I will never forget the hospitality they had for me. Going to Ea I had no idea that I would come back again, nor did I ever realize the impact it would have on my life.

I think another traveler I met summed up Basque Country pretty well; “You never have to worry about violence at the parties here. They’re kind and you’ll never see a bar fight. In fact, when they’re drunk, you’re more likely to get kissed by a Basque than punched in the face.”

IMG_2638

IMG_2642This fiesta lasted all day and consisted of an entire village of people dancing in the center of town. At night, my friends sang while everyone and their brother came out to watch. They all got together to celebrate life and where they came from.

IMG_2732Everywhere you go, you experience a different culture and a new set of people. When I went to Basque Country, I experienced a sense of community and passion for heritage. I learned of the trials of their people and the celebrations they have to honor their history. In short; we drank, we danced to ska, we ran around the town in our underwear, and I learned the joys of community.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Basque Country, go!

227/365

Truth about Food

With all the fad diets going around, food is a subject we should be talking about more often. The media tells us sugar is bad, carbs are bad, fat is bad, and everything else that you could ingest. With all of this conflicting information, it is difficult to grasp which information is correct.

One of the resources I turn to is an  organization called PsycheTruth, which produces 10-20 minute lectures on subjects varying from happiness to diet. These videos, which are all free on YouTube, explain “super-foods“, easy ways to become healthier, protein substitutes for vegetarians, and how chemicals that are used in spaceship re-entry tiles are in your Mt. Dew. While the purpose of their videos is to inform, the information that they teach is easier to digest than any class I’ve taken.

It was almost two years ago I first ran across the video embedded below. It features Corrina Rachel discussing the various types of carbohydrates. She explains the glycemic index, the difference between glucose and fructose, and why eating a Snickers bar has less of a sugary impact than white bread. The simple 15 minute video has affected the way that I eat for the past two years. Simple things, like knowing that cooked vegetables act more like sugar than raw vegetables, make me reach for the raw food. When I’m getting ready in the morning, I go for the yogurt instead of the bagel.

While there is a lot of information to take in, I wanted to briefly write about this organization. PsycheTruth has been an invaluable resource for various topics and I have a huge appreciation for everything they create. All of their content is free and enlightening. Similar to Roadtrip Nation, their work makes the world a better place. If you have 10-20 minutes to spare, I highly recommend you watch the video above or scan through their collection on YouTube.

198/365

Inspire Us All # 2