Why have I been gone?

A few reasons. It started with a trip to Korea that left me unable to update my QOTD on a daily basis, then an error with my browser and reCAPTCHA that kept me from logging in after I got back.

I switched browsers. Everything’s fine now.

The last two months have been far from uneventful. The Korea trip was full of a ridiculous amount of delicious food, but I actually lost weight from walking around so much. I saw PC Cafes, from cheap to luxurious, and got to see some of the Korean-war-era American-influenced history in the form of memorials and statues.

Korea’s a weird place. There’s no middle class, and the line between the rich and poor is vast. It’s definitely going through the growing pains of being a country that’s recently come across a huge amount of wealth and still doesn’t really know how to use it effectively.

In November, the church blew up. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Not much else happened.

December was full of gigs with ECV (eight, to be exact), that had us traveling all over Washington. It was a time of my own fulfillment, where I could brag that I learned 26 songs in three months and had 98% of the notes down. I tried to keep a lid on it, though. No sense in leaving a bad impression on your newest best friends.

All the while, I’ve been watching the stock market and investing into other places. My goal is to never enter the rat race again.

As cheap as a recap post is, I kinda need it in lieu of my missing QOTD months. The time away has been refreshing, no doubt, but I’ll be back next month with the regularly-scheduled post full of pessimism and introspection.

I hope you’re excited for it. I sure am!

Questo è tutto?

A lot has been on my mind lately, and I’ve had a hard time choosing just one thing to write about. Here’s one of many topics:

Is this it?

Have we worked so hard in our society to develop technology just to make junk? Did all these historical societies have to be destroyed so people can spend the better part of their days staring at luminescent rectangles in their hands?

There is no doubt in my mind that laypeople in history have wasted time doing nothing, but we’re in a place now where we don’t have to do that much laborious work in a single day. The time spent in between work and sleep: commuting, eating, and spending time with others… could be filled with just time staring at your phone.

The only social media platform I use is Facebook, and I’m thinking I’ll deactivate it soon. I’d rather be spending time learning about something interesting to me–which is something I use my phone to do a lot (I know a lot of random trivia now). Facebook, Instagram, whatever. They’re a waste of time. They’re the modern iteration of reality TV.

If you know me, you probably know that in certain areas of my life, I’m a perfectionist. Music is one of them. Grammar / punctuation is another. Mediocrity is another pet peeve of mine. If you choose a passion or career path, why not put 110% effort into it? Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

dwarves

A person in a small town of 40 people can get married to his next-door neighbor and live happily ever after. Why can’t you?

Romance is often approached with the wrong mindset. As children, we watched fairy tale movies which convinced us that “one day my prince will come,” that there will one day be somebody to sweep us off our feet and be the light on our dark, dark world. We turn to social media and online dating to find the perfect person to squeeze into our lives, paralyzing ourselves with choice. But that’s just not how it works.

People are broken. The person you have a crush on is as broken–if not more broken–than you are. We’re indundated with media and friends that tell us that marriage is the greatest joy in life, and we rush into it, expecting that our significant other will be the perfect puzzle piece to fix our broken selves. But anybody who’s been in married will tell you that marriage rarely turns out that way, and that the journey is immensiely difficult.

Furthermore, if you’ve fallen in love with somebody before you’ve even begun dating, that means that you’ve likely fallen in love with the ideal image of that person and have become blind to his or her faults. Love is nurtured over long periods of time. It’s infatuation that comes and goes sporadically.

What’s my solution? Set one or two important critera and just go for it. If you wait for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect, then you will never be satisfied. It’s better to start working on strengthening your marriage when you’re young than trying to throw things together when you’re older and more stubborn.

Death by Suburbia

What is the American dream?

For most people in the world, it’s the ability to come to this country where they have freedom and rights; to escape from persecution: religious, political or otherwise. People have flocked here in droves over the past hundred years and have achieved success, at least in their view: 2 1/2 kids, white picket fence, perfectly trimmed lawn and a dog.

That was the old American dream. Those kids have grown up and that dog is dead. So I ask you: for those kids who were born in America, what is their American dream? Does it even exist anymore?

I’ve gone around and asked a few friends about what their goals in life are, or have been. Most of them have been the same: if the person is a student, it’s usually something about doing well in school, getting a good job and living a long, comfortable life. If the person I ask has been in the work force for a while, then the answer is usually something about providing enough opportunities for their children to live a better life than they did. Some have said that they want to enable their kids to choose a career that they both enjoy and can make a comfortable living doing (sometimes implying that they don’t enjoy their own careers).

It’s quite possible that I’d receive a different set of answers if I asked people who lived outside the PNW (or any first-world country, really), but I’m sure it wouldn’t vary that wildly.

That’s not the life I want.

I don’t want to live a life where I’m stuck in the corporate machine, where I go through school only to become a slave to someone else, where I can try to do my best to make it up the ranks to make more money and live a more comfortable lifestyle in luxury and wealth. If I have kids, I certainly don’t want them to be thrust into this corporate machine, either.

When I was in China, I attended a church camp for youth students. The theme of the camp was, “Dreamers,” where we asked ourselves, “what is God’s dream for us individually?” Even if you don’t believe in God, I think there’s a valuable perspective to gain here:

The trick to finding out what this dream is is to find something that falls under these three criteria:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What do I enjoy doing?
  3. What does the world need?

Simply put, this is what we believe we’re made to do. If you don’t believe in creation, then you can believe it’s your destiny. Whether or not you embrace it is your choice.

If you can figure this out for yourself, you’re already way ahead of the curve. Most people never figure this out and end up just dying without realizing their dreams. Put enough thought into it and you might end up figuring it out.

I’m not entirely sure what my dream is yet, but I think I’ve got a pretty good idea.

Rotting away in a corporate office is not it.

Juju

This will be another scrambler of a post. Sorry.

I like to think of myself as a person who has many hobbies. Some of these hobbies require more time and money than others, but the common factor between all of them is that they require some level of interest to be enjoyable.

And it seems like everywhere I turn, these hobbies are slowly dying. Attendance diminishes over time and people are fine with just getting by at the minimum level of skill.

To that, I say: why?

If you’re going to spend time and money on some sort of activity, why don’t you get to a point where you’re not bumbling around? Most things in life are much more enjoyable if you’re at a certain level of competence. Maybe my satisfactory level of competence is higher than that of many others, but I’ve never been pleased with just scraping by in my hobbies.

I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out why people have this attitude; it seems to be more prevalent than it was a few years ago. I haven’t been able to come to a solid conclusion, but my hunch is that it’s a combination of an individual person’s nature and the instant-gratification attitude of the information age.

People aren’t so used to spending time to hone their skills anymore and will try to find shortcuts to learning. But usually those shortcuts will tell you how to derive an answer and won’t actually teach you how to get there. The derivative of x² is 2x. I know that because I memorized it, and I have no idea what it means or why.

As I’ve said in many of my previous posts, I’m really interested to see what the future holds. How are we going to act around each other? How much face-to-face time will we get with one another? How empathetic will the world be? We won’t know until we find out.