Monday, May 27, 2013

The Grand Designs of Imagination

     A rolling hill. Gently sloping upward, tall lilies paint the green canvas varying colors. Soft reds, ocean blues, and orangesicle are all present. The most wonderful looking sky blinks down on a single oak tree at the topside of the hill. The earth is undisturbed, an affirmation of her natural beauty. The tree, standing at ease, takes in the soothing landscape. Home. The old tree releases the tension from its appendages and proceeds to conduct the most powerful orchestra on the planet. Leaves, keeping time for the squirrels that pitter patter up the arms of the tree while the whoosh of the wind through the lilies hums the melody.
     A young boy who couldn't be anymore than six or seven years old lies awake one night in his hospital bed. He sets up for a moment and thinks about the scene that he's painted in his head. Should anyone have been in the room with him at the time they would surely have noticed how he was feeling by drawing their attention to the gentle warmth in his eyes. Lights flicker on machines that connect the boy to science. Motor sounds and oxygen flow permeate the room. It's bed time in the children's wing, and in one particular room there's one little boy going to sleep with a smile on his face. 

A New Look at Life...

     The imagination is such a beautiful quality in a person that Henry David Thoreau once regarded it as "our truest life." If our eyes are the windows to our soul, then our imagination is our individually unique perspective of life. It allows us to express ourselves in ways that we could never dream of through normal conversation. Imagination is simply the gatekeeper for other worlds. An imagination comes up with the right words to put together to form the perfect song to sing to your sweetheart. Imagination convinces you to do something new, it encourages courageous acts like those of David versus the giant Goliath. Imagination equals possibility. And because there is no biases or prejudices when it comes to the imagined, everything is a possibility. 
"Imagination has brought mankind through the dark ages to its present state of civilization. Imagination led Columbus to discover America. Imagination led Ben Franklin to discover electricity."
                                                      - L. Frank Baum
     Great ideas aren't born from adhering to logic and strict rules. It's all about the "what if's," and then the imagination takes all those "what if's" and sends them soaring through blue skies where they will eventually settle up in orbit for a while.

     But where there's all this room for your imagination to run around and have fun on the 'playground', there's also another kid out there, the bully. Fear. Imagination is a delicate thing, it's fragile in the sense that it needs to be handled with care, because once it's been abused it can up and leave - just like that (finger snap). Our hearts want us so much to be confident in ourselves but our brains will quickly act against us should the right catalyst come around and push us in the right way. It's fact that if your imagination is attacked it will recede into the private quarters of the brain, and that's a sad day. I'm reminded of a great quote from Stephen King in his book 11/22/63, "Artistic talent is far more common than the talent to nurture artistic talent."

     We must do all that we can to avoid the disastrous fate of losing our imagination. So many great people have lost the ability to think outside the box and challenge themselves in new, and exciting ways because somebody told them it was wrong. As Monte Wildhorn delicately puts it, "Don't stop looking for what's not there." See the world differently, and the sky is just the beginning...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Unfolding Life - One Moment at a Time

"A Swan's Pondering of Existence" - Photo by, Scott Frank -  Lake Eola Park, Orlando FL
     It's a great time to be walking around on this earth, friends! There's an infinite possibility of things for us to do, and everything is much easier to access because of things like cars, cell phones, the Internet, and computers. Ahhh the life! The labors of our ancestors can finally be appreciated as we live gloriously in our endlessly, less complicated lives! Because we live in the 'Information Age' and pretty much everyone has a cell phone smart phone, we virtually have everything we need at our fingertips. But with this newly devised device and others similar to it, a very concerning question comes to mind. Are they making our lives less meaningful?

     Allow me to present to you an example - from my own experience... 

     Not so long ago I was sitting on an outdoor patio with a friend at a swanky little coffee shop in Los Angeles. As we were holding our conversation at the table I reached into my pocket and grabbed my cell phone. I opened it up and began checking work emails. There was one I stumbled upon that was calling out a deadline that was very close to being reached - this in turn, made me fidgety, anxious. Seeing me break like I did, my friend carefully grabbed the phone out of my hand, turned it off and then she placed it on the table - face side down. She looked at me and said, "Stop. Just be in the moment. Enjoy it."

     While I can't argue that technology is such a fundamental part of our lifestyle, and I'm certainly a long-standing admirer of its convenience. There is absolutely ZERO doubt about it that it can be a very major distraction. There's an absolutely hilarious picture floating around in the endless abyss of the Internet where several people are walking on a sidewalk holding their phones and staring blankly into their screens. There's also a caption under it that reads, "The Zombie Apocalypse is here, it's just not what we expected." Sad but genius. If we're constantly looking down all the time, we're going to miss out on what's happening around us, life.

     Albert Einstein once said, "I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots." It's here, it's everywhere, and it's not just limited to the smart phones. Video games, portable tablet devices, and other likes of that nature. I once sat at a dinner table with a half a dozen people and everybody except for two of us were on their cell phones for pretty much the entire ordeal. Not much in the way of interesting conversation that evening.

     I catch myself thinking every once in awhile about why it is that electronics are SO distracting, and there are two reasons.

1. Texting
2. Social Networking

     Another very interesting thought is this, when our younger generations today are in their elderly stages years from now, will they still be tweeting? That could be interesting... tweets that read, "5 am LOL. Time for meds and Justin Bieber." Man, I really hope 80-year olds listen to Justin Bieber someday. Getting back on track here...texting, and social media. Let me write that again. TEXTING, and SOCIAL MEDIA. How many times have you taken your device out to only open up Facebook to check to see if you have any messages or responses to your 'status update'? I fall into this category, especially when I have down time. But thanks to a friend who cares enough about what's going in her surroundings, I've been given a new perspective that's not only valuable to myself, but could likewise be just as valuable to you.

     I'll leave you with just one last quote, and perhaps the most important of its kind on this subject matter. The late Charles Darwin once said, "A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life."
     Summer is fast approaching for many of us, and my challenge for you is this: leave the device behind and distinguish yourself from your peers. Be in the moment, learn from it, digest it, and let it resonate with you for the rest of your lives. One day you'll look back and be grateful that you weren't spending it face-planted on the screen of your smart device. You'll be happier and much better off for it. Life has always consistently been made up of one interesting moment after another, and it always will be.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Beautiful Thing about Sand...

"Little Man, Big Waves" Photo by, Kylene Frank - Newport Beach, CA -2012
     I would imagine that most of us are quite familiar with sand. Most people have probably seen a body of water that's surrounded by it. Maybe you live in the desert - where it's never in short supply. Perhaps you've taken walks over dunes with a loved one. The simple truth is that our planet is made up of 70% water, so as you could imagine, sand just naturally comes with the territory. When you really think about sand - specifically it's size (which ranges anywhere from .004 mm-64 mm - depending on the particle) it's downright inspiring to think about the sheer volume of a single beach and just how many individual sand particles come together to form that warm, soft cushion that our feet just love to hug on a breezy summer day in mid-July. 

     It's at this point you may be asking yourself, "Why is this strange dude so infatuated with the thought of sand? It's SAND! Who cares!" And to a certain degree, you'd be right. I mean if it's just sand than what's the point of discussing it? But, just for the fun of it, let's dig a little deeper into it (Pun intended).

     Sand has many uses, and not just those on the beach. For example, if sand weren't so available to us we wouldn't have clean water, agriculturally diverse crops such as watermelon (which thrives in sandy soils, and without which we wouldn't be able to enjoy during our favorite summer activities - like ridding our farmer's tans on the beach). We wouldn't have bricks to make that new shabby chic apartment complex in our bustling cities, situated next to that trendy coffee shop (which is also made out of brick). There would be no glass to make those big bay windows in that lovely house that allows you to catch a glimpse of the sunrise outside in that beautiful world of ours. The folks in the lower continental U.S wouldn't be able to use bags of it to protect themselves against rising tides that create flooding. And perhaps the most important, there would be no more knights in shining armor, no more motes to cross, because our children wouldn't have the ability to create sandcastles (and some adults).

     So you see, sand has it's many uses. Some much more important than just being a simple amenity to our feet. And just as sand is as individual as we are, I believe there's an important lesson to be learned here from it. If something that is not much bigger than the period I use to end this statement can be joined collectively, with others of it's kind to produce something so much more extraordinary than it is by itself, think about what people have, can, and will do as similar creatures on this earth. 

     Human beings have accomplished so much, we've set aside our own opinions in order to achieve great things that we otherwise couldn't have done without coming together. There is absolutely strength in numbers. Sand is proof. We've come together to beat great odds that were stacked against us. We've made great discoveries to improve life, and we're better for it. We've survived for such a long time, not because we worked alone, but because we came together and worked hard to achieve something much bigger than all of us. You see, sand is motivated, just like you and I. It wants to be part of something bigger, whether it's being a part of the next great barrier reef, or in some bag of soil to aid in the growth of some fruit or vegetable that you or I might enjoy. 

     I urge all of you (myself included) to be more like sand, because together we are so much stronger and better than just being an individual. Be a grain of sand, great as you are, and even better together. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Morning Routine, Observed.

     i wake up every morning around the same time, with the same routines, just like everyone else. I hit the snooze button three to five times, to give myself less than ideal time to prepare for the day, but it's this delicate process that motivates me to get out of the bed so quickly in the first place. With cobwebs in the brain, I turn the hot water nozzle in the shower on full blast - the choke for getting the motor accepting of fuel. After a combination of both towel and air drying, I grab clothes, change, brush the teeth, brush the hair, and finally make my way downstairs to the kitchen. I skip the breakfast and instead go straight for the coffee - ahh, fuel. I'll sit down for a few minutes, tinker with the iPhone, browse the web - looking to see what's happening in the world.

     it's here, in the last bit of the routine that I want to focus. While scanning the morning news, I'm constantly thinking about what the point even is of doing so? I mean, if you look at 95% of online news journals, television news reports, magazines, blah blah blah, etc. I'm willing to bet you'll see very quickly what's being implied here. Murders, rapes, arrests, terrorist attacks, financial collapses, wars, kidnappings, lawsuits...

     ...not much in the way of hope there is it? So, why is it that we crave that information? What makes it so important for us to hear about something negative, talking about negative things, and seeing negativity first-hand? Curiosity? Is it alluring for the simple fact that it's something different, because it disrupts the natural order of things? I suppose it could be. It's probably a lot of things. I'm much more interested in the long-term effects of these negative catalysts. We know that prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays makes us increasingly susceptible to skin cancer. We also know that by wearing a strong sunscreen with a high SPF it will greatly reduce that risk. The point here is simple. People are solution driven. We solve problems to make life easier, better.

     i can't tell you what long-term exposure to negative news ads, etc. has on an individual, but I do know how I feel. Sad, afraid, angry, tormented, depressed, sunken - unhappy. I often find myself thinking about what it must be like to have a career in journalism or broadcasting; how hard it must be on the emotions, the confusing feelings because your empathetic, but you're paid to be otherwise. So again, why do we subject ourselves to slow torture? There's a whole slew of possibilities that stem from this, take for instance: Is it possible that by subjecting ourselves to negativity for extended periods of time, we're ultimately changing the human brain - at the cellular level, the perception of life, the chance of being happy? Absolutely! Without a doubt, look what's happening already, more and more people are having difficulty getting themselves happy. We take happy pills because we're told that genetically when some of us were born, we unfortunately just, born "being sad" because someone in our family was. The normal way of living in today's world more times than not, is that you're ultimately going to be unhappy the majority of your life. Why? Does it come down to personality? The way you view the world? How you let outside influences affect your life? Yes, yes, yes.

     The subject here seems grim, and to a point yes, but the solution is simple and straightforward. In its simplest form, it's a matter of not doing something that you don't like. If you don't like mustard, don't eat mustard. Voila! If the news makes us feel a certain way - negatively, don't watch it, read it, or listen to it. Enjoy the things that you like doing. The more we train the brain to be happy, the happier it will stay. Live your life in a loving way. That's the message here, and that's all before 9 am.

*Disclaimer - as much I believe the news is a harbinger of negativity, I'm not suggesting you be completely unaware of what's happening in current events. Our opinions make us who we are - individuals. You should be reading and understanding what's happening in the world. After all, we do live here. I'm simply telling you that negativity is extremely contagious and should be handled with care.