Thursday, April 23, 2009

White Lies - Part One

Does anyone else ever struggle with wanting to be an honest yet positive person?

I just watched an excellent short called “validation”. Jeff Hawker posted it on his blog and I highly recommend it as well.

The lead character is basically nothing but positive all of the time. In the film he comes across as completely sincere, and genuine, however I get the feeling like if a person had his traits in real life most people would want to punch him in the face after about 10 minutes.

In real life is it that we hate non-stop positivity, or is it that we just think it’s impossible, and therefore hate insincerity?

In “Validation” the main characters incessant positivity bring about favor for both him and the people he interacts with. I don’t think real life is far from that. I’m not a fan of Oprah Winfrey, her housewife salt water taffy loving cult or “The Secret”, but I do believe that words are a powerful thing.

You can create, or destroy with words; you can lift up or cut down. The bible uses the metaphor of a snakes venom for some peoples words, yet the bible also says that God used words to bring the entire universe into being.

A classmate of mind had decided to pursue a career in the entertainment industry after high school. His parting words to me in my year book were “Tony, when I get big and famous I’ll make sure to forget all the little people, but not you because you’re F’ing huge”. The same person also once said “you fail at life”. Meaning, I suppose, that if life were a game, or a task, that I, at the age or 16, or soon there after, would have failed at it. Not the nicest things to say, and to be honest I’m pretty sure I’ll remember them for the rest of my life. Every time I get worried about my future I think about that phrase “failing at life”. It brings me back to all of the insecurities and uncertainties that filled my, and most other peoples adolescencent years.

On the other side of the coin someone else once said “Tony, I like the fact that you always speak respectfully of your parents”. When she said it I thought, either this person doesn’t know me well at all, or I’ve been lying to her, a lot. I thought about what she said often. It weighed heavily on me, but more than anything it gave me a standard that I wanted to live up to. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I always try and speak positively about my parents now, and I can say that it’s as a direct result of that comment.

Words are certainly powerful.

I want so desperately to be like the lead in “Validation”; to walk around bringing joy and life to people; to bring real and genuine positivity to every situation that I’m a part of, but I more often than not struggle to find the good in everything. Some things are easy; if I go see a really bad band I can say something like “man your drummer is solid”. I can leave out the fact that the guitars were out of tune and that their singer sounds like a tone deaf version of Brad Roberts (lead singer of Crash Test Dummies).

Some conversations are decidedly more difficult, so much so that I find it hard to see anything positive in them.

Is it OK to lie if it’s to spare some ones feelings?

Check back for part two in a couple of days to read more of my thoughts on the topic.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kirstie Alley

Warm smiles, gitty laughter, good coffee and great friends.

I have a place I go nearly everyday. I’ve been doing so for almost 5 months now. It’s my home away from home. It’s where I go when I’m feeling like crap and I need to be cheered up. It’s where I go when I’m loving life whole heartedly, so I can share it with friends. It’s everything that was appealing to me about the TV series “Cheers”, without a massive liver failure, or having to put up with that awful Kirstie Alley.

Not everyone knows my name here, but enough people that I feel important, and few enough that there are people that don’t know who I am.

I like to think those people try and guess who I am, and why I seem to think that I’m so important to all the staff.

“Who is that handsome, chubby man that all the staff greet with smiles, high fives, and a drink that they have ready before he even steps in the front door? He looks like a fat Brad Pitt”.

The concept of anonymity never appealed to me. Okay that’s not true, maybe it did in my slightly criminal past, but that was strictly a matter of convenience. Most of my life I’ve been about as subtle as a swift kick in the junk.

I’ve always wondered if this was a reflection of a large self-consciousness issue I have.

To that end I’m not even sure if I have an issue with self-consciousness. I know I did, and to combat this problem I started to tell myself and everyone I met how great I was.

I think at some point I started to believe it.

As Karl Pilkington would say “I tricked my mind into thinking it”; technically an oxymoron, but a definite possibility.

I’ve never been one for the middle ground and as such I now either float between self doubt, or supreme self confidence. I can either do nothing right, or I perfect everything I try immediately.

Sometimes both even come out in the same sentence. I just typed that I think I look like a “fat Brad Pitt”.

Reading back on what I’ve written I realize that I come across as a bit …crazy, no crazy isn’t the right word…. Kirstie Alley. Yep that’s it. One minute she’s nowhere to be found, in a cave somewhere binging on Ding Dongs, and Ho Ho’s, the next she’s the spokeswomen for Jenny Craig with all confidence of a naked child at the beach, only to be fired from the job after packing on the equivalent weight of said child.

I come off as a Kirstie Alley and I’m OK with that.

Maybe I’m okay with comparing myself to someone I hate so much only because I know in reality just how awesome I am.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Champagne Pyramid of Complacency

“Life’s too short!” My mom yelled as I left the house this morning.

Life’s too short for exactly what?

Is life’s too short to work a job that you hate?

Maybe Life is so short that we need to work a job we hate, so that we have money to do the things we want to do.

I’m pretty sure most people aren’t doing what they would like to do with their lives.

I’m sure a lot of people are content with their lives. They work a job that they don’t mind, for a reasonable wage, and they see it as a fair trade. Sadly I think that has become the goal a lot of people strive for. I say sadly, but right now I would love to have a job that I could tolerate for a fair wage.

At what point does this arrangement go from something we feel we can justify because of our youth, to a way of life; maybe not just in regards to our employment.

Maybe it’s a trickle down effect, like a champagne pyramid of complacency. What if it makes its way down to the base of that pyramid; the thing that our whole life is based on?

What would happen if we took the same attitude to our relationships that most of us take to employment?

I get the feeling that a lot of people think “I can tolerate my job. It pays me well enough. Sure there’s some thing else I would rather do, but that’s a big risk, and I don’t think I’m willing to take it”. I say that because I’ve asked “What would you do with your life if you had a million dollars”, and not once has someone said, “Exactly what I’m doing now”.

Can you imagine if that was how I felt about my non existent girlfriend? My Friends? Or my Family?

What about my Church?

So what’s the secret? Never settling for anyone, or any place, always jumping around thinking that there’s always something better?

Maybe the answer is to put those things before you, base your happiness on those around you, and what you contribute to them.

I don’t really have an answer here. I guess the question “can I make myself happy by putting others first?” is inherently flawed. If I was truly just interested in putting others before me would I be so selfish to ask the question “how can I make myself happy?”

That doesn’t stop all of us from asking it though does it?