As an adult I’ve seen the saying “It’s the small things in life” applied heavily to the ins-and-outs of my days. Things like waking up and having 20 mins to lay in bed, no traffic on my often-frustrating commute, and an extra-yummy lunch that I’ve prepared the night before really iron out the wrinkles in my day.
I’ve really come to appreciate my morning routine when I first sit down and hit the “in” button in my office. I grab a steaming cup of coffee and hear the crinkling of ice in my water, gulping down the amazing provider of refreshment. I slowly sip on my coffee and eat my cinnamon and vanilla oatmeal as I cruise through my blog reader in search of relevant and interesting content as it pertains to my company’s industry. While the content tends to be repetitive and somewhat inapplicable to my job, there are occasions when I stumble upon nuggets of gold that can stop me in my tracks and make me say “whoa.”
Last week, I, along with 4 million others, saw David Foster Wallace’s words come to life in production company The Glossary’s video “This is water”
As I began to hear the words that Wallace candidly spoke at Kenyon College’s commencement 8 years ago unfold to a portrait of the typical frazzled nine-to-fiver in a grocery store, my brainwaves and heartstrings began to come alive. I’ve been coming to terms with my entrance into adulthood, and watching this video articulates perfectly the anquish I’ve been experiencing for the past few months.
But really, anybody whose anybody and works 40 hours or more a week can accurately paint the picture of the drudgery and monotony of our daily lives.
Wallace, however, proves his sage-like status by offering a solution.
Take a look at the video below and open your heart and mind to the words and propositions of “This is water.”
Whatcha think? Was there a particular sentence or paragraph that shined a spotlight on something you’ve been dealing with? (Check out quotes from his speech here)
It’s really hard for me to pick just one highlight, but perhaps what was most evident to me was how much Wallace’s philosophy on life ties in with the purpose of a Christian life and making decisions to become more like Christ. For the record, Wallace clearly states that this isn’t about religion, but I’ll have to throw in a big wrench into that wheel of anti-spirituality.
The topical word is choice.
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.
That is real freedom.
That is being taught how to think.
The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” — the constant, gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.”
God gave human’s a choice:to follow Him or put themselves as the center of the universe. We make the conscious decision to become more Christ-like with each and every decision we make, from opening the door for a slow-moving elderly lady to not talking badly about our coworker in the cafeteria. Wallace echoes this fundamental Christian tenet by saying that we experience “real freedom” by not caring so much about ourselves and our stupid, petty problems and look for opportunities to really care and love.
The main takeaway for those with secular leanings is that if we continue living life with our heads down, we are just miserable, lifeless creatures, waiting for our time to end and to start pushing up daisies.
Though I’ve heard this vitally important message on numerous occasions from my parents, pastors, and mentors, I think it was the timing that made this lesson stick. To make our days less ordinary and more fulfilling of life’s purpose, we absolutely MUST stop thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe and see that it is a relationship with God and humanity that will make us see water for what it is.
I hit a breaking point a few months ago, and I recognized a clear segue between early 20-something Maggie and closer-to-thirty Maggie. I’ve heard talk of the stark differences between the age of college grad fever and acute-family-making onset, but assumed that I’d be immune to it. Then I see this cutesy, Girls inspired Buzzfeed article, and I was able to check off each item as if I were self-diagnosing my symptoms.
The tickling urge to party hard late into the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday morning-gone!
The ability to eat a heap of ice cream without seeing it instantly implanted on your tummy-gone!
Not worrying about bills and your financial situation so much because you’re in college and it doesn’t matter-gone!
The stress of living a life with the young person’s “yolo” attitude was becoming quite a burden. From chain-smoking cigarettes to crushing entire bags of Doritos in one sitting, my arteries were filling up faster than a contestant’s mouth in Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Challenge. Add on 8+ hours of daily sitting, tip-tapping on my keyboard, and my life was fast approaching a fate of Sedentary Death Syndrome. (Yes, it’s a real thing!)
I was getting antsy for a change, so I did what most red-blooded Americans do and waited until New Year’s Day to start. I quit smoking, quit drinking, adapted a mostly vegan diet, and became a fitness freak.
And boy, has it made all the difference.
My breathing alone must be at 5x the capacity it was 5 months ago. My energy levels are steady all through the day, allowing me to be more productive at work and complete more projects, errands, and chores at night. Cheerfulness is a new experience. By taking all of the weight off of my body, I truly feel lighter both mentally and spiritually.
Don’t worry, my vegan diet hasn’t made me all “granola.” I still eat meat, but only 2-3 times a month, and usually when my family feeds it to me. I’ve found other ways to be social by cutting out the bars and restaurants, and in return noticed that my true friendships have grown stronger. I’m 5 months strong for no-smoking, and there is no looking back.
But the biggest thing that has been instrumental in my transformation has been fitness. Fitness is what keeps me going, what boosts my energy in the morning, and what keeps me strong all the way through. For the first time in my life I can call myself a runner. I feel like Gumby with the flexibility I’ve gained from yoga. People confuse me with Rocky when they see me kickboxing, running, and lifting weights. I soar like a bird of prey when I hop on my road bike.
I feel strong.
I was inspired to write my testimonial of a total health makeover by this piece of writing I saw, entitled Mama Laughlin. It’s a great motivator, and I think I may even print it out and put it in my office to refresh my mind and get a burst of positive energy when my fuel tank is running low. There’s a reason we are in the middle of a fitness craze–it just feels too darn good!
So I’m not the best when it comes to breakups, but really, who is? No one wants to tell someone that they just didn’t make the cut, that their overall personality (or even looks) just didn’t jibe with what we are looking for in a mate. It’s even harder to remove the traces of an ex-lover. Now, like for everything hard in life, there’s an app for that.
In the digital version of Eternal Sunshine On A Spotless Mind, Killswitch promises to make “breakups suck less” by discreetly erasing any connections and reminders of an ex. (I love the name, tagline, and concept). Made by two twenty-something females, a friend’s messy breakup inspired them to create an app that simulated throwing away old pictures, gifts, and memories of a former flame.
For those who may not have cut a relationship off so cleanly, there is an app made by–get this– Brazilian soft drink company Guaraná Antarctica (Content marketing at it’s finest?). Aptly called The Ex-Lover Blocker, this app will let humiliation loose if you attempt to call an ex by sending out a warning to your closest friends and posts an update on Facebook about your heart-weak ongoings. This one would’ve helped me with one breakup that I just couldn’t sever completely (It eventually turned into an even bigger mess).
And of course there is the bit more well-known website Never Liked It Anyway, a community that allows jadded newly-single people capitalize on their broken hearts. With a somewhat bitter name, this website not only can make someone some fast cash, but is a perfect way to make a public decry of the “pig” or “bitch” that was the gifter of the ware for sale. This website is so popular that apparently they’re making a TV series based on it’s services.
Is there an app you wish you had to make a breakup easier? For me, it would’ve been handy to alert me when an ex was in a restaurant, bar, or any other public space so as to avoid awkward crossings. (Receiving death stares never feels good)
Isn’t that just creative, another shout out to the hipsterdom of Brooklyn.
I’m saying that this sign should be visible on any of the intersections on Harrison in Richmond VA. (Or anywhere within a one mile radius of the School of Art) Sure, Brooklyn may be the predominant flocking ground of our nation’s biggest hipsters, but if Richmond keeps feeding the asymmetricial hair-style wearing, “effortlessly cool” creatures, then there is no telling what may happen!
The concept of jugaad has exposed itself to me recently during a routine browsing through my blog reader. I wasn’t even trying very hard to find trending articles; these two just happened to pop up.
Translated from Hindi, jugaad encompasses the practice of doing a lot with a little. In my home, we would call this “being resourceful.” Others say it is “embracing the entrepreneurial spirit.”
What caught my attention was Adelheid Fischer’s essay and description of “makeshift vehicles…made from reclaimed jeep parts and scrap wood.” For our culture, this description recalls the popular Failblog meme “There I fixed it,” meant to poke fun at shabby duct tape repairs and “ghetto-rigged devices.”
It’s funny. What we laugh at and pass poor judgement on is really, when you look at it, incredible inventiveness. To take parts that seemingly don’t belong together and engineer them in a functional way is a sure sign of jugaad. Sure, the design and aesthetics may not be the most attractive, but assuredly money was saved and the job rendered complete.
The Hindi culture for centuries have lived by the ideals of finding utility in scarcity; why is it so hard for us to adopt this program? It is common within the American mentality to want instant solutions. We are constantly allured by the “shiny object” and demand only the newest and top-notch materials in both our personal and professional lives. I know I’m guilty of this. I’d rather go out and buy new things the instant something breaks or fails to work they way I want to. I call on professionals to solve my problems, rather then invest time myself to learn how to solve them on my own.
Even though I’m not a follower of jugaad, I have much respect for it. Those who exhibit such ingenuity and cleverness should wear badges of honor square on their chest. Not everyone can solve a problem when materials and resources are scarce.
I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking deeply on how I connect with the people in my life, my community, and the world. In the quiet hours of the morning, while my neighbors slumber peacefully, I begin my morning meditation. This is a time for me to focus, to breath, and to fill my body and thoughts with positive thinking to fuel my spirit through the day.
By nighttime, I’m exhausted, and I recess into my inner consciousness in the hopes that I can recharge myself to move forward with the daily practice of life productivity. I either settle in with a book, a documentary on Netflix, or the pages of my journal, until my eyelids are too heavy and cave in to the nudging of sleep.
I am an introvert, and I like it that way.
There has always been an anxiety, almost a pressure, within me that tells me that I have to be a social butterfly. I think to myself, “But I don’t want to be around large crowds of people, why should I do something I don’t want to do?” Constantly did I feel a nagging that I have to part of something bigger, something outside of myself. In college, this pressure was so insurmountable that I succumbed. How did I overcome the discomfort of having a social agenda? Alcohol.
But now college has come and gone, and booze (and cigarettes) are no longer in my diet. I’ve come to accept my introverted propensity and have silenced the voices that tell me introversion is a negative quality. Susan Cain helped me with her succinct and well-researched TedTalk on the subject of introverts.
One of the best quotes from her talk was “…solitude is a crucial ingredient to creativity…” Sure, we need collaboration from time to time, but in the end, it is our alone time that we do our best thinking. Instead of feeling restless, as if we have to be around people, we have this intense concentration on a certain thought or idea that spurs us to generate insights on a different level.
I’m an introvert, and that’s ok.
Have you ever seen an image or photograph that drove you to imagine all of the circumstances leading up to the final capture of the moment?
Or, have your eyes had the experience of delivering such staggering sentiments to your brain that your body physically reacts?
These are the moments that photographers strive to capture with every flash and snap they take. To encapsulate human and physical elements in such a way that they continue living in a static, unchanging environment is what truly makes a photographer an artist. One such artist, Platon, has paved his own route in making the characters in his photographs seemingly divulge their darkest secrets to the viewer.
I was lucky enough to receive two tickets to the Richmond Forum this past Saturday, reveling in quite an adult affair for this recent college grad. Dressed in my best evening wear and with curls in my hair, I waited anxiously in my red, plush seat in the historic Landmark Theater. Unsure of what to expect, I did some research on this Platon guy, nearly skeptical of this mononymous person of certain celebrity. On my small mobile screen, his photos looked sharp, with his subjects having the most recognized mugs in the world.
“Ok,” I thought, “I’ll give this guy my attention.”
The next two hours I was on the edge of my seat, being taken, along with the audience, on a universal tour of human emotions.
Image by image, slide by slide, one could hear the resonating gasps and ahhs of the audience as we had huge photographs of both public figures and embattled human beings placed before us on a large projector screen. Platon let the photograph sink in before recanting the story of each interaction with his subject. Never before have I seen such powerful images that entirely boils down someone’s persona, and in a sense, animates them. Along with his amusing, heartfelt, and even unsettling stories about the time he spent shooting these individuals, these photos proved that visual images are more powerful than ever.
To evoke such reactions is to be a visual image master.
Now master he may be, Platon is also a person of modesty. While there is no doubt that his portfolio is world renown, Platon focuses more on the content than the communicator. In the Q&A session following his presentation, the moderator asked him about some of his techniques. Platon answered, simply, that it is not in the technique or the equipment that he focuses on. Rather, it is ensuring that he captures the essence of his subject matter and that his photo can communicate effectively the content it holds.
Wow. Platon got down to the fundamentals with this statement. He knows that photos are more than images; they are messages.
As the excited chattering lingered on, I felt an odd feeling tinkering on my consciousness: My experience with the visual storytelling actually increased my ability to understand things that are larger than me. And as cliché as it is, this proves that a picture is indefinitely worth a thousand words.