3000 Shekels or 6000 Drachmas?

I’d like to discuss the idea of wasted potential.

When we think about people who have “wasted potential,” we think about people we know who are astoundingly lazy, or have “wasted” their talents or gifts in one way or another. I’d like to address something slightly different.

We’ve got all these people in the world now who seem to have a natural talent for things like computer science, new genres of music, or extremely specific types of video games. But if these people had been born a hundred or even a thousand years ago, how would these talents have been realized?

I operate under the belief that everybody’s got a talent in something. I also operate under the belief that many people who realize their talents can only do so because they have the access to the tools that will help them do that. What if someone’s got talent in something but doesn’t have access to it? That potential is wasted.

Here’s another scenario: what if someone’s got incredible talent in something that is effectively useless, either in the sense that it’s not able to be commercialized or otherwise undesired? I’ve got a friend who’s gifted at the yo-yo. Where is that going to get him in life? What about that friend I’ve got who’s gifted at underwater basket weaving?

This leads us down a rabbit hole of a thought train. What, really, is talent? Is it innate or developed? Is it specific to just one specialty or can it be applied to a wide range of activities? In other words, would these talented people have been able to strive in a different era with other tools in more or less the same manner? What if all the wasted potential in the world was suddenly realized and everybody was able to contribute to the world in the way in which they were naturally able?

Regardless, maybe it’s not so constructive to think about what “could-have-been” than thinking about what we can do now.

CLICKBAIT TITLE for Obligatory 2016 Recap Blog Post

Warning: lost post ahead.

It’s the end of the year again. This year went by soooooo fast. omg!

All right, I’ll cut the fluff.

Any time I learn something about myself or my character, I feel immense gratification; not only because I can use that knowledge to better myself (if it is improvement that needs to be done), but also because it means that I’m lowering my pride, admitting that I don’t know everything, to let somebody speak into my life.

I love it. Almost to a fault. Because I crave this so, I assume that others share my sentiment, and sometimes I’m unknowingly abrasive with my comments toward them. It’s usually the downcast expression or painful silence that follows that gives me the hint.

This has been the year where I’ve been the most honest with myself. I finally started to admit my faults, sharing with others my pains and struggles, and became extremely motivated for self-improvement. Of course, it wasn’t an instant turnaround, but rather a process that took more time than I care to admit.

But it was nice. I was getting up early every morning to exercise, then I would do my best to eat healthy during the day and study up on future interviews that I would be planning to take in the coming months. I was practicing piano and bass again, keeping up with my personal relationships, and getting better at those games I so loved. Things were going so well, and then…

WHAM.

I got hit by a car.

The morning of August 19th, at around 7am. I was crossing the street at a crosswalk and a car struck me, going probably around 35 or 40, the sun ostensibly in the driver’s eyes. I awoke in the hospital that day at 3pm, with very vague recollections of beginning to cross the crosswalk, blacking out, then regaining consciousness to call my mom on my phone. I don’t know why I tried to call my mom. Presumably to tell her that something had happened. I blacked out again before it went to voicemail.

I went in and out of consciousness in the hospital; I don’t remember anything about the ambulance ride, but I remember the doctors and nurses asking me basic questions like “what is the date today?” and being able to answer them with clarity and brevity. I could not, however, tell them what exactly I was doing in the hospital, my family around me.

The moment they told me I was struck by a car, two things happened: first, I didn’t believe them, then those memories came flooding back, at a speed that was almost painful. What had I been doing that I didn’t see the car flying toward me? How come I wasn’t able to get out of the way? Why didn’t my mom pick up her phone during this obvious emergency? Who contacted my family after I lost consciousness?

Regardless, I was in the hospital and was stuck there for four days–sent there with a fractured radius (picture of the x-ray) and skull, along with all the symptoms of a concussion one could ask for. I had to get surgery to fix that arm (x-ray post-surgery). Friends and family came to visit, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

I would only learn later that I was struck by an SUV (a Mazda CX-7 to be exact), my head hit the windshield and ruptured it, and when the police arrived on the scene, I was 25 feet from the crosswalk where I had been walking.

The following months haven’t been fun. I haven’t been able to fully return to work, since I’ve been visiting doctors and chiropractors several times a week (and am, to this day). I lost motivation to exercise and to study, simply because I couldn’t and didn’t have to. I still can’t/don’t have to, but now I’m entering a state of complacency that I would really rather avoid.
I also learned recently that I have an AVM in my brain and the neurosurgeon wants me to get treated as soon as possible, through surgery. How did I find this out?

Well, in my haste to get back to working health, I was careless with the surgical wound on my arm and consequently got it infected. I tried to wait it out but it wasn’t getting any better, so I went to the doctor to get some antibiotics for it. The pharmacist who handed me the medication said that it would be best if I ate before taking the medication, but that it was not required. But I would eat before taking the antibiotics, just out of convenience. Except once.

That one time had me back at the ER with vertigo and nausea like I’d never felt before. In an effort to find the root of the problem, my chiropractor recommended me to a radiologist (who does MRIs and other brain scans) to see if there was anything awry in my brain. There was not, but through the MRI, the radiologist found something anomalous in my brain and called me to return the next day.

Thus, the AVM was found. It’s 4mm by 6mm, but can still cause major problems given the right circumstances. It’s most likely hereditary in my case, not having been caused or even affected by the accident. But the neurosurgeon that saw my case recommended I get treatment as soon as possible. I’m not convinced. I’m awaiting a second opinion.

But as I said, it’s been a struggle. To get back on my feet. To get running again. To get motivated to do something other than play video games. To hide the pain, emotionally and physically. It’s been hard to control my emotions and keep a cool head like I used to be able to. I’m not really sure why. I’m much more irritable now, and more easily angered. And I haven’t been able to sleep very well.

That’s been my year. 2017 will be different, for better or for worse. But what I’m looking forward to the most is all the time I’ll have. The adage is, “time heals all wounds,” and I’ve never believed or appreciated it until now. Until…the end of 2017, I suppose. We’ll see what happens. What the new year has in store for me. For all of us.

I’m just glad the year is over.

It was the Best of Times, it was the…

It’s already the end of November.

And boy, what a month it was.

I know I’ve complained a lot recently about growing up and I’m sorry, but I’m going to be doing it again.

My least favorite part about this past month (and really, the past year or so) was the fact that I felt as if I could have put forth more effort to prevent certain things from happening. A sense of guilt came over me as I saw social media blow up: friends hurling insults at friends and vowing never to speak to each other again, just because of some political views. It hasn’t exactly been fun, watching all this drama happen, and there were countless instances where I had to stop myself from stepping in and making a fool out of my own self. I even had to stop myself from writing a blog post on the very topic; I consider myself somewhat political but I do my best to keep it away from my leisure (which would include blog posts).

There are a few reasons why I feel guilty about the past few months, but it mostly boils down to the fact that I feel somewhat responsible for things that have happened. I briefly addressed this topic in my last post, and the sentiment hasn’t changed. I feel that I have the power to change the world, and that I simply haven’t done it because I’m lazy, misguided, cowardly, or have my priorities in the wrong place, etc.

The other problem is that I’ve been training myself to pick up on small things like social cues, and using my observations to determine how people are feeling. However, I’ve reached the point where I can sometimes notice things that are not so obvious, and leaves me in an awkward place where I can’t decide whether to bring it up or just walk away. There’s a moment when I weigh the two options, but then I usually opt for the latter, because I’m usually not willing to ignore social norms just so I can show someone that I can tell they’re not doing okay. Then comes the doubt: should I have said something? There’s no way to know for sure. The moment is lost forever. Then comes the guilt.

I wish I could just stagnate in ignorant bliss.

Music to fit the mood.

Jan

So many noteworthy things have been happening lately that it’s hard to keep up.

I recently found out that I lost one of my high school acquaintances to suicide. I do admit some fault of being absolutely clueless about how he got to that point, and it would be unfair of me to assume that he wasn’t talking to someone about his mental health but I feel a huge loss in my heart. I didn’t know him particularly well but I always respected him for the different perspective he had of the world and his boldness to share it.

It’s too late now. My words of affirmation were too few and far between. All I can do now is wish that I had done something differently, that there was just some way I could have known what was going on in his life. But what could I have done? The guy seemed perfectly normal; a bit odd, yes, and rather lonesome, but perfectly normal otherwise. Nothing could have tipped me off about how he was feeling or doing.

That raises a question. Is it my fault for not being able to tell how he was doing? Was it his fault for not being able to deal with it? Is it the fault of his close friends who weren’t able to help him? Is it society’s fault for putting a stigma on discussion about mental health?

“Fault” probably isn’t the right word to throw around but I’m sure it’s a little bit of everything I just mentioned. All we can do now is to try to break this stigma; to show people that it’s okay not to be in the best shape. Nobody’s perfect and the fact that we’re trying so hard to appear to be perfect is literally killing us.

 

Personified Cynicism pt. 3

You know what really grinds my gears?

Well, lots of things.

But dude, take some care to reflect on your life and how you live it.

If you’ve become complacent in any part in your life, it means that you have decided that you don’t want to get better at that part in your life anymore. Whether that decision is conscious or unconscious is extremely context-and-person-sensitive.

For some things, that’s okay. For example, I’m totally fine with bowling an average of 45.

For other things, it’s not okay at all. Like the way you look down at people or are completely oblivious to how they’re reacting to you. And if this becomes enough of a problem that someone brings it up to you, it is not okay. If more than one person brings it up to you, it is definitely not okay. Do something about it. Fix yourself. Forget that “I’m independent and nobody can tell me how to live my life” idealism. There’s something called basic human decency.

And if you can’t tell which areas of your life have devolved into complacency, then think about it instead of filling your life with inane garbage. Or just ask your close friends. If your friends don’t have an answer for you, then they’re having the same problem you are. Get new ones.

This is as much a reminder to myself as it is a message to you.