Thursday, August 28, 2014

What to be vs. what to do?

As children it is quite common to be asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Taking into account the high level of frustration most professionals have and the reality that most of the time we do not work at what we study, I propose a change to this question. 

What do you want to do when you grow up?

Among the reasons for this suggestion, I think how hard it is to visualize being an architect, an engineer or a variety of professions and the frustrations that may come about if you aren’t able to reach that labelled goal. However, if instead you ask what you want to do, you can have more flexibility in regards to what you want to do in your life. 

Here’s an example: you ask a kid, “what do you want to be when you grow up” and they say video game designer. That’s a pretty broad term. However if instead you asked them what you want to do, and they answer, make videogames, the answer allows you to ask further. Are you interested in graphics, in writing the story, in gameplay, in shading, light sourcing or producing? Are you more interested in the music? It broadens the horizon and can help show there’s a wonderful world of possibilities. Heck, if they want to do it all themselves, they can, though it’s a tough route that not many are able to go through, just check Indie Game: The Movie. 

Imagine that conversation if someone says they want to build things, make music, help people… even make money. It gives you the flexibility to engage in conversation and to better visualize what you want to do. It also gives you options. Right now there are many professionals that need to reinvent themselves because there are no jobs in their field.

If they focus on what they enjoy about what they do, they shall always have the liberty to think beyond the job title and focus on the impact they have in the world. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Define yourself

If you ask twenty random people about what you should do with your life, you will get twenty different answers. If you flip through TV channels, read magazine covers, listen to podcasts or follow fashion, it is the same. 

What should you study? Where should you work? What should you wear? These and many other questions can easily yield answers. There’s only one problem. 

They’re wrong.

It’s not that the insight of other people is not useful, it’s just that in life, who you are, what you do and how you behave should be defined by yourself. 

One of the most important mantras (in my life at least) is to define yourself. 

Don’t let circumstances, conditions, pressure, other people’s behavior, or anything else define you, who you are and what you do. Do it yourself. You’ll be amazed at the freedom you feel. The catch is that with this freedom comes accountability and that frightens many. 

Taking full responsibility for your actions is a big step because you can’t blame anyone other than yourself for anything that happens. You can’t say a mistake came about because of a moment of weakness. You are left crutchless and without excuses. 

It’s all on you.

The flipside is that you get to listen to your heart instead of the noise that surrounds you. You wear what you want to wear because you want to wear it. That’s because what’s in season depends on what’s in your season, not the rest of the world. You listen to whatever music you want to listen to. You act according to your inner compass. It is liberating, empowering and makes it a whole lot easier to love yourself and smile, because you only have to please one person. 

This is not a call to self-centeredness… it’s a call to live and think for yourself. It’s a call for self-love and individuality while looking to connect who you truly are with who another person truly is. It’s a call for tolerance and acceptance. Be what you want to be not what anyone else wants to impose on you and invite others to love themselves for who they are.

After all, in the story of your life, there is only one editor... make sure you define as you see fit then. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Live beyond the checklist

Life is so much more than a series of milestones. 
When I listen to some people, they think that happiness and satisfaction are attained by checking items off a list. 

  • Graduate high school
  • Graduate college
  • Get a job
  • Get a retirement plan
  • Get married
  • Get a dog
  • Buy a house
  • Have children
  • Put them through high school and college
  • Die

Although a bit hyperbolic, some people actually see some sense in this list as if crossing off any of these items could mean you’re closer to happiness. The “plan” definitely includes getting a steady job, even if you hate it. Build your résumé, acquire experience and demonstrate loyalty to your job. 

Which brings me to an interesting question: where is the loyalty to you? To your passions and doing what you love? Where is the room to explore, learn and experience? Where is the part of the movie where you get to live?

People want a to-do list to attain happiness. A step-by-step guide to being fulfilled… as if such a thing could be possible. 

Happiness happens… it isn’t amassed, or accrued, there is no interest to be gained… it just is or isn’t, it happens or does not. Most interesting to note is that a lot of the people who have actually completed most items on that list aren’t necessarily happy. 

That’s because statistics, odds and studies conducted give an idea of some things that have made some people kind of sort of happy. Then again, you are not “some people”. You are you and you are free to define happiness as you see fit and pursue it with as much passion as you can muster. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

If it scares you, odds are it's worthwhile

There you are... looking at what you’ve just written on the page... you think about your mom and dad, your friends and your significant other... what will they say? What will people think about what you’re committing to paper... you even question whether you should leave something in your story or not......

Odds are you should.

When you’re writing, it’s natural to have fear because once you publish something, your words cease to be yours, they become the readers’ and that’s a frightening thought because what if people understand things incorrectly. Well, this is actually a possibility with anything you do any day of your life. If people feel the need to misconstrue what you say over coffee, you’ll hear about it.

So that’s when you have to ask the real question... why do you want to include that part in your story? Is it just because you want to irk someone or is it because it’s something you believe in. The deeper the reason and motivation, the more you should follow your instinct because if something moves you, odds are it’ll move someone else.

Then what to do?

The decision to not include something is based on fear... imagine letting go of your fear. Imagine being true to your vision and committing to a topic you think is important to share. Picture yourself not judging and not being judged... engaging in dialogue, conversing.

Now imagine depriving yourself of this bliss, just because you want to remain in someone’s good graces. The problem is that eventually, if you only write to make others happy, you will be left without things to say, because someone, somewhere will take offense to your perspective.

So by all means... let go, be true to your word... and put it down on paper. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Candles, cake and a wish or two

Earlier this week, I turned 34... it doesn’t sound like a huge milestone because it’s not a catchy number. It doesn’t end in five or nine, it’s not a sweet sixteen or a multiple of it, it’s not like I finally got my license or have just legally been allowed to consume alcohol... I’ve just lived another year of my life.

If you say it like that, of course it sounds ordinary... and then I see what I’ve lived in the last year. The publishing of Only Human digitally and physically, the release of my first poetry collection, my participation in the Puerto Rico Comic Con, going to Napa Valley and Atlanta with my wife, all the work I’ve done, over a hundred posts written, all the people I’ve met and connected with. All the times I’ve spent with mom and my family. The waves I’ve ridden and the days I’ve shared with the ones I love.

It’s been a great year and now I look ahead and I smile.

You see, regardless of the challenges, the tests and the tribulations, it’s been a good year. I’ve always had the means to be well and to keep the people I love well.... and really, what else could you ask for?

In my case I could ask for more people to read my work, for more reviews, for better sales, more interactions through here and social media... I could make a long wish list and send it to Santa Clause. The thing is, I don’t think I need to.

Everything that has happened in the last year has been because I’ve invited people to explore what I have to say and if I’ve been fortunate enough to pique their interest, they have been kind enough to read... be it a blog post, a poem, a tweet, a message on an Instagram post or my novel. People have been kind, they haven’t done anything due to pity, they have willingly helped me because they think I have something interesting to say.... and again, what more can you ask for?

I’ve received kind words from new friends and old who have said that what I wrote made a difference in their day. I’ve had people thank me for something I wrote because they felt as if they could finally accept themselves for who they are. I’ve heard young writers say they will hone their craft and pursue writing because they saw me with a booth at a convention. I’ve heard people say: I believe in myself thanks to reading what you wrote...

So a third time I ask, what more can you ask for?

Dave Matthews has a song called #34 and there are lyrics in it that say: “Lean upon me, I’ll lean upon you, we’ll be Ok.” Throughout this entire year, I’ve lived this message through the people I love, the closest friends I have and strangers kind enough to spare a minute or two. I’ve been blessed in thousands of ways... so what else can I ask for?

Whatever life wants to give. 

5 Roles I would have loved to see Robin Williams play

Oh I do love making lists. Top 5s, Top 10s, Top 20s... you name the amount and I love making lists because I think through lists we can explore the realm of possibilities. The thing is that apart from typical Top 10 Lists... I love exploring new possibilities and inviting others to think.

Taking into account a previous post I shared this week, I have decided once again to not judge someone for their actions, but to celebrate the good they did and not ponder on other things. So let’s explore the world of possibilities and smile.

Robin Williams played a variety of roles I definitely enjoyed as a child and an adult. There was versatility and commitment and one would be hard pressed to ask, what roles didn’t he portray... I’ve come up with five I would have loved to see him play due to the challenge and his wonderful talent.

In no particular order, here’s the 5 roles I would have loved to see portrayed by him.

Zaphod Beeblebrox

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of my favorite series in fiction and in this series is Zaphod Beeblebrox... one of the funniest, craziest characters I’ve ever read. Although Sam Rockwell did a fantastic job, I still wonder... where could Robin have taken that role. The Guide invited you to take logic and cast it out the window and I think he would have been brilliant here. And with Zaphod, well you would have gotten a chance to see that two heads aren't necessarily better than one in the best possible way.

The Riddler

Maniacal, inventive and insane... many people are measured by their performance as a Batman villain for better (Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Aaron Eckhart, Tom Hardy and Heath Ledger) or for worse (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tommy Lee Jones)... so imagine if you will, Robin, a bowler hat, his mischievous smile and a delicious riddle where someone's life hangs in the balance.

Puck/ Robin Goodfellow

Be it the Shakespearean version or Neil Gaiman’s interpretation of Robin Goodfellow... I would have loved to see Robin Williams in this role... it allows his Shakespearean side to be expressed through the trickster nature of Puck... a match made in heaven? Perhaps.

Merlin the Wizard

I think a movie made of Merlin would have been brilliant with Williams. That wit and sparkle in his eye would have been a perfect fit and he would have once again showed us what magic is all about.

And last but not least...

Willy Wonka

When I think of Gene Wilder’s brilliant portrayal of the candy maker, I remember that there was a tinge of sadness in his character and I’m still not sure if it was due to real life problems or his desire to portray Wonka in a way where you didn’t know where he was coming from... still, that sadness, that edge? I think of Robin and would have loved to see the madness he could have brought to that beloved character.