Friday, February 11, 2011

Basketball

Where in this world can one accomplish as much as many, and success can be had by any who are willing to work for it? Where clarity can be found sweating with two feet on a line, and where lessons learned can touch upon truths of life? If there is one place where this is all extraordinarily true, it’s the basketball court.

The basketball court has been, and will continue, to attract people from all walks of life (the Chinese love it) to come and shoot around and focus on something simple yet amazing; putting the ball in the net. Now that’s not to say there isn’t strategy involved, or that freakish athletes aren’t selling out arenas worldwide and making millions of dollars, but really what it all boils down too is extremely simplistic: putting the ball in the hoop. Hours are spent, blood is shed, and lives are changed, all over this basic concept. But the universal goal to be the best at it is what gives this simple objective its incredible significance.

For me, basketball is played on Wednesday’s and Friday’s at an indoor court at the Monster Cable Headquarters, with a group of guys that I met through another group of guys, who happen to be my best friends. We don't play for money, and we don't play for fame, but we play hard, and we play to win. Tensions rise & fall, and egos do clash, but all in all, we just play. I look forward to these two days of the week more than anything. Period. It is absolutely necessary for me to compete in order to stay sane. Whether I win or lose, it’s the competition that keeps me going. The spirit of competition is what drives me in life, and if I can apply it to the court, then I can apply it anywhere. And although it’s the spirit of competition that im there for, I do like to win, and that furthers my drive to train to better my chances of doing so. So in a way, basketball is played 7 days a week. It’s played at the gym at the gym every night, and its played while watching pro’s when I can. I'm not Kobe or LeBron, but as an amateur playing with those of similar skill, I do what I can to obtain an edge. My friends and I discuss every game and each individual performance of Wednesday, breaking them down until we get a chance to build them back up on Friday. Strategy is added to athleticism and a “weekend warrior” is built. A team game in nature, but a solo mission at heart, basketball is all about hard work, and in this way it runs parallel to life.

Perhaps the best moments of clarity in my life come when I’m at the free throw line, alone. Breathing hard, sweating bullets and bent over in exhaustion, I pause from full-speed repetitions of pull-up jumpers and baseline fade-aways, to rest at the line and practice my freebies. In this moment, mind is not anywhere else, as so often in life it scatters away from me. In this moment, my worries are nil but for the fact that I still miss an occasional shot, and that’s the drive of it all: to never miss. And to quote the great Allen Iverson (although I’m flipping his meaning) “ …We’re talking bout’ practice man. Not a game. Not a game! We’re talking about practice…” and something about the pure exhaustion coupled with reaping the rewards, make practice the most fulfilling part of it. It gives you the insight that when you make everyone you’re playing with stop and stare in awe when you do something they’ve never seen you do before, that it was no accident; it was practice. Because like I said, basketball, and really anything you’re passionate about, is played 7 days a week. And when it comes to success, there are no accidents; there is only hard work.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Results May Vary

Another minute. Another scam. Another commercial break, another so called reason you should drop everything and call another 800 number for another product that that’s far superior to any other before. Another infomercial, another exuberant, charismatic nut-job feverishly demonstrating the far reaches of what the product is capable of. Another test, another special offer, another price cut, another “you’d be crazy not to buy this!” And sadly enough, there's always another sheep willing to roll over and buy this garbage; even though, like every other “Perma-Sharp Knife,” “Miracle Weight Loss Pill” or “Super Absorbent Towel,” there is always a warning: Results may vary.
You might see this disguised as, “results not typical,” or “dramatization.” But they’re banking on the hope that your attention is more focused on the boldly scripted “THREE FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!” which is usually followed by the ludicrous idea that, “IT ACTUALLY PAYS FOR ITSELF!” All of that bullshit is designed to make sure you’re not reading the fine print, which as cliché as it may seem, most of us still don't do. But as always, written in the bottom of the screen (in 8 pt. font of course) is the warning “DO NOT EXPECT THESE RESULTS.” No… because I was under the impression that fat literally “falls off your body!”
I know its easy to get caught up in the idea that “this one must work” or “those tests couldn’t have been fabricated,” but the truth is that no it won’t and yes they can. But remember, these products aren’t intended for all of us. While the products themselves are designed in some two-bit lab somewhere, the people marketing them are no joke. And they are good at one what they do. They have been trained like Hyenas (and believe me they are laughing at us) to pick out the weak, and easily deceived among us; those who are constantly looking for quick and easy solutions to problems that take time and effort to solve. No one wants to spend time and money on things that seem like they should have an easy way around them, but most of us do. The sad part however, is that if even 1 out of 20 people fall for all the overstated and embellished nonsense that these companies spit out then the companies make millions. So I guess what im saying is just don't be that “one,” because I’m aware that no matter what I, or anyone else says, someone out there is frantically searching for the phone because they were just informed that they are going to get “not 1, but 2” non-stick pans for the low “expiring” price of $14.95 (turkey baster included). But look on the bright side, the car flashlight and easy-store portfolio were getting lonely is the junk drawer because you finally got around to throwing away your HD vision goggles and Fushigi Ball.
P.S. The Shake Weight is a topic of its own.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Philosophically Speaking

We are always in a constant communication between our consciousness and the objects in the world around us. Every object that passes through our consciousness delivers a message that we perceive quickly, but continue to ponder the deeper subtexts of its (and ours) existence. We are capable of thinking about an object while being conjointly aware that we are in the process thinking, and then even further, we question what both the object and ourselves might mean beyond any preconceived notions we have to fall back on. It is this continuous and nagging awareness of our own consciousness that drives us to create new information and knowledge on subjects that we previously had considered fully understood. And as such, new information emerges from around the world, from the collective consciousness of mankind, that by it’s nature, goes beyond anything that preceded it. This then opens up a whole new level of context for the masses to then reapply, with great success, back on the world that was always there, creating essentially a “new” world. Being able to see the world as an ever expanding field of created information will enable you to look upon everyday objects in a new light, and to feel liberated from the static unchanging environment we once believed existed. As humans, we exist in a world created by those that came before us; everything we have learned is the culmination of everything those before discovered. We are born into a world that comes with preconceived notions of how things work; a set of laws concerning all aspects of the world, from the physical (geography, physics, etc…) and the mental (psychology, ethics, morals…), and we use these as a base point to begin our journey. We pass these sets of laws through our ever-expanding consciousness, thus creating new information and new laws for those after us to, in turn, expand upon. Knowledge is not the same as information, but instead is the product thereof. Into our consciousness passes through information and through an unknown process, knowledge is created. However after the initial creation, knowledge turns itself back into information once it again is processed back through your consciousness. It is this continuous cycle that has driven every discovery that has ever been made. We have an inherent ability to create something from nothing. Presented with but basic stimulus we are capable of creating a truly deep understanding. And this can apply to anything. We think in live in a “condense and improve” manner. We strive to simplify the systems around us, and once they get to simple, a new breakthrough emerges forcing us to start again in our continuous quest to simplify and hence explain our existence. Again and again this has been shown throughout history. Nothing is ever as it once was, and it is impossible for us to know what will be. We can only take solace in the fact that creation will happen, and being the central drive of human kind, has to happen, in order for our species to find reason to exist.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Start your engines

The following takes place when an unsuspecting, and extraordinarily lazy, person sits down at a computer to write and essay, but instead finds himself trapped in a downward spiral of self-destruction. It can happen to the best of us, and many a good student has been lost to this horrible fate.
This tragic comedy begins with a simple double click on your preferred browser for the month, which brings you to your chosen homepage (for the month). After checking out the all the odd and irrelevant stories on Yahoo –who would’ve ever thought that McDonalds would be on the top ten worst places to eat list- you go over to Facebook in to sink your teeth into some “real” news. After learning all about what so-and-so’s asshole boss at her new job in the mall said, which is followed an hour later, upon getting off, by just how exhausted she is although she still has 5 hours of homework left to do. The next stop is your e-mail, where you read and perhaps reply to a few messages. But lets keep it real; you’re not the CEO of a company, and outside of electronic bank statements and sales alerts from Jos. A. Bank, you rarely get real e-mails anyways, so there's not really much to see here. Your Internet experience then turns to pleasure, and maybe you visit a website you like, shop for a new hoodie, or catch up on a popular forum or blog you follow (hopefully mine). Typically –not on Mr. Waters Opus of course- there's not much to see, and your broke, but in the sake of procrastination, you delve on. You remember by now that three of your four local teams played tonight, so over to ESPN you go to check some scores. At this point, after learning that all three teams lost in overtime by small margins, three realizations occur: 1) You have nothing more to look at or do on the Internet, but however, 2) You have absolutely no intention of logging off and getting down to business on the paper you should have been writing the whole time. Which leads to the thought that, 3) In the time it took you to check the other websites on your “must see” list, there’s a chance (more like a hope) that something new might have magically appeared on your homepage, so you race back over. Congratulations, you have now completed your first Internet lap, you’re officially a slacker. Just three more laps to go and you’ve just run the Internet mile! What happens next, and mind you that this is only after you’ve been running laps so long that your face is melting and your fingertips are callused, is you eventually catch on to the viscous cycle you’ve trapped yourself in and get so disgusted with yourself that you “rage quit” (thanks Andy!) the whole operation, thus effectively blowing off that essay that you should’ve been proof-reading by now. Coincidentally, is just so happens that the real reason your parents bought you that laptop was so you could write that essay, not so you could hone your dilly-dallying skills in preparation for the upcoming Annual Procrastinators Marathon (got to get those times down if you’re going to place this year, especially after that horrific showing last year…) So now not only are you failing English, but your also failing your parents. Bummer. But hey, at least you found a way to kill some free time, and since you just dropped out of school, that’s an invaluable skill.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Constants in Life

No matter what happens you are allowed to laugh. No matter how much you may have messed things up you can still crack a smile. Problems will be problems and money will be money, but the little things in life that define us, and what it means to be human, are worth it all. While fines and penalties deplete your bank account, and you work only to watch your money go as fast as it came, your family and friends remain, standing by your side watching with you as the material and trivial objects in life dwindle, offering the greatest form of relief: company. It’s at this moment you realize that the objects in life that matter most are not the ones that can be bought or sold, but the ones that come naturally and will never abandon you; the ones that are irreplaceable. Accepting this will allow you to make your way through all the trivialities of the modern world and will bring to a place where you see clearly what is important you to you. Delving through the bullshit, you arrive at a place of truth, a place where you understand that it is your right to be happy, that it is in your make-up to achieve contentment. You can do this at any moment, and I encourage you to do it minute. The world can seem to stack itself against you, but there is never a moment when a step in the right direction is not possible. And as is the nature of the world, where a continuous string of “now’s” is all we will ever have, that any moment can be the turning point in your life. You may not see it coming, and you have no preconception of what it feels like, but you will know it when you see it, and it will rock your world. This is the second where you decide to let it all go and deal with life as it comes. The second you start living life. Life can carry you if you let it but drag you if your fight it. I suggest that you take a look around and take stock of what you have in life. Not your possessions or problems, but what you really have: family, friends, health, life, and empathy, to name a few. Truly these constants that each of us possess are what matter in this world. The freedom to smile is worth more than any Ferrari. To share a moment with a cherished individual trumps any gadget you can buy. Even through calamity it is these constants that we must lean on to pull us through. If there are bills to be paid at the end of the month, do what you must to pay them, and be on with your life. You can still enjoy a movie with your friends even if you owe the government $10,000. The bills are not your life; the time spent enjoying the world with family & friends is. A genuine smile is not something that anyone can take away from you. A bond with a loved one is not subject to restrictions or corporate policy, it is a birthright of every human, and is something that will live on in man kind long after money and materials have gone. It’s sad that often it is only through strife that we realize these things to be true, but once you’ve been awakened to it there's no going back.

At some point, eventually becomes now. So, living only this moment, do your best to smile.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

No doubt about it

Doubt, v. - to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.

This is about doubt. About the disbelief that all you strive to achieve, you never will. That everything you want will never be yours. It’s the feeling that you are neither worthy nor competent enough to achieve, all obstacles painstakingly out of reach. Doubt can spell the end of the road for many, and will prove a daunting roadblock for others. It can envelop you like a cloud, and in the same fashion, blind you to the outside world of hope. It is because of doubt that many never begin to try. Doubt is dreams never pursued, adventures never embarked on, life never lived. Indeed, doubt can cripple a soul like an earthquake can a house, toppling it flat, leaving it bitter, let down, and embarrassed that it once aspired to flourish. Doubt is the daunting winds that keep the ships docked, and the planes grounded. Doubt is the coward’s easy-way-out, his escape from failure, surviving merely to do so without ever realizing what could have been, or perhaps should have. It prevents the creator inside each of us from bringing anything to fruition, halting production before it leaves the drawing room floor. Doubt is the Devil.

Waiting dormant for its moment to strike, doubt will eventually rear its ugly head just in time to shatter hope, and destroy ambition; ever eager to abolish your sense of self worth, doubt can and will hit you where it hurts, penetrating all superfluous levels of your spirit, reaching the core and ceasing it where is stands, leaving it frozen, scared to move forward. So what are we to do about doubt? Is there anything one can do? What has been done? The only answer can be to rise above, to remain steadfast on any endeavor you have embarked on, refusing to let doubt dictate your intended path. There is no set method, nor a guaranteed result, only a goal: to eradicate any sign of doubt in the name of all you believe in. Shed yourself of the skin of distrust and emerge triumphant, undaunted, and eager to succeed. For once you do, you will find you are all the stronger for it, built on a more solid foundation, less permeable to doubts relentless attacks. Now that you have survived the night, you can live the day.

From an external force, doubt can be equally debilitating, for your inner world depends on the approval of those around you, as you feel what is felt unto you. Therefore, if you receive nothing but doubt, you are capable nothing but doubt, it becomes all you know, an ugly constant staining the otherwise beautiful masterpiece that is your soul. Imagine you are working towards running a marathon, something you have aspired to do your whole life; you’ve trained all year for it, tearing up the gym and adjusting your diet accordingly. You have strived and sacrificed for seemingly forever, all in the name of your quest, and finally the day of the race looms. Now imagine, that in these waning moments leading up to the race, your family and friends strike a crushing blow and reveal to you that think it unlikely you will finish, let alone win. Here is your moment to be strong in the face of doubt. A seasoned runner –in fact a skilled participant in any discipline- needs not the reassurance of those around him. The fire inside the confidant man burns bright red, he is not concerned with the opinions of others, his only concern is his goal, the finish line, and there is no doubt in his mind that he will cross it. This man can be you, it can be me, it can be anyone, all it takes is the ability to put your head down and push through. Picture the mule that carries 400 lbs. of luggage and supplies up a steep trail in the snow, without pause he pushes forward, unfazed by the seemingly impossible task; or the alligator who hasn’t eaten in a month, who, near starvation, is found patiently waiting, confident his moment to come, and he will eat. The secret lays in faith, not faith in god or in a divine governing force, but in you, the real governing force. Learn to trust yourself, and you will prove immaterial the skeptical thoughts of others.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Today is a bad day. Not for very serious or life-threatening reasons, but rather a string of more conventional nuances. Let me tell you what happened: First, I couldn’t find my headphones this morning; and no im not some music junkie who scratches his eyebrows off if he doesn’t get his Kanye fix. But you see, life, or more specifically life as lived day by day, is one big chain of events; for every action, a reaction. When I couldn’t find my headphones, my reaction was anger and frustration. Which lead to slamming my hip into the doorknob during a frenzied search. Which lead to jamming my finger in the door of my car. Which lead to spilling hot coffee on myself at the gym. And all of this began yesterday, when I missed court and realized that I have not one, but two unresolved citatations, amounting to a not so grand total of $850. You see, in one grand cosmic joke, when one thing goes wrong, without fail our cruel universe finds it funny to pile on more shit after more shit after more shit. Leaving you, naturally, with a shitty day. Being that it’s only noon, I can only imagine what bumps and bruises await me the rest of the day. Attempting to put it all behind you can occasionally work, but your temper hangs in the balance, held tight by your last nerve. A couple “woo-sah” moments can help, that is, until you knock a glass of water off a table and watch your sanity literally shatter into a hundred pieces. I firmly believe that every part of today will be shit, and there is little I can do to remedy this.

Why do things work the way they do? I’ve read and watched The Secret, and I feel as if I have a decent understanding of the grand scheme of things, however, it seems that an undisputable answer to the question of why still eludes me, and forever will. Example: I returned from work, only to find that my headphones were not indeed lost, but instead my mom had attempted to appropriate them from me. So the initial spark that led me down a rocky road of anger was just a fluke, and my irritation completely unmerited. Now im left to ponder why. I'm inclined not to believe that it was a part of some master plan laid out for me since birth, and that all will be revealed in due time. This seems to good to be true, and certainly has not been up to this point in my life. Instead, I choose to believe that nothing is certain and nothing is guaranteed in this world. But even though I stated earlier that the rest of the day would be shit (and indeed it was), this holds no bearing for tomorrow. Because in it’s own way, the universe will find a way to remind me that it is still on my side, and eventually it will set me back along the correct path, and I will be convinced that this day was but a fluke. However bad, it was just another day amongst many to come, both good and bad. For all I know, tomorrow could be the best day of life. Now that might not seem to make any real sense, but that’s the way the universe likes it, nonsensical and random. You see, there are an unlimited number of possible outcomes for any day, and each outcome stems from the many unique decisions made by the subject in question. So I should say that the universe does not act completely randomly, instead more consequentially. And while it may be impossible to predict or prevent the future, it is possible to curtail it to your desires. Simply know that if you begin your morning wrong, the day that follows will in turn, be wrong. However, the adverse is also true. Start your day with the same emotions that you wish to end it with, and you have successfully tilted the cosmic odds in your favor. Congratulations.