— Amy Waldman, The Submission
— Nathanael Lee
‘So’ as an adverb and exclamation points.
Olu - Big Bank Dank ft. Blue Scholars
Swerving right and narrowly missing that white Honda Accord last Tuesday, made me so much more thankful for the relative safety I have enjoyed in my first year of driving.
So I guess you could say that it’s not only the bad things in life that open your eyes, but the ‘almost bad’ things.
Either way, this quote is still slightly unnerving. From what I’ve seen, these “bad” things often appear in the form of misfortunes in other people’s life. You’ll hear about how this person had this happen to them, or that person had that happen to them. And while you sympathize outwardly, in you’re head you’re thinking, ” I’m so glad that’s not me right now.”
So behind this awful cliche and its merriment, is a darker truth.
The misfortunes that befall others improve our lives. As humans, when another human hurts, yes, our herd mentality allows us to momentarily empathize, but our even greater survival of the fittest instincts, force us to rejoice.
Perhaps this two-fold emotional reaction explains the crisis of humanity, the absence of world peace, and the proliferation of fragmentation around the world. Maybe world peace is an impossible vision. We’re hardwired to, for the lack of a better word, enjoy the misfortunes of others. And optimists who speak of a world with no bloodshed, mistakenly put too much faith in altruism, ignoring the even more deeply ingrained primordial urge to conquer.
A victor is no victor without a loser.
I remember last Tuesday being exceptionally happy throughout the rest of the evening. Even though Mom at one point began to bother me enormously over some small issue, I shrugged it off and allowed myself to be happy, reminding myself over and over in my head, ” At least I didn’t total my car today. Now, that would be shitty day.” I would visualize how tough that phone call to my Dad would be, ” Hey Dad, I just got into another crash.” I would no longer be allowed to conveniently drive wherever, whenever.
I was so freaking happy that I was able to swerve right in time. But someone else out there, had just gotten totaled. I guess the question that I’m asking myself is, ” Can I be happy with everyone else being happy?”
I think this question hits home for me. For example, this year, I was very happy that I got into UC Berkeley. There was a very high number of kids at my school who didn’t get in despite very strong academic records. But imagine if most of my friends had all gotten into Ivies. Would I still be just as happy? or would the success of my friends have devalued my own success? In other words, if there hadn’t been so many kids unhappy with their college results, would I have been as happy as I was?
Success seems to be relative. Maybe that’s why it’s so elusive. We evaluate our worth on the basis of others. It’s a well known fact that there will ALWAYS be better people out there, so every achievement you accrue comes with an asterisk. “Note- so and so, did even better than this.”
Ah, I must go. I will finish this thought train at a later time.
Yesterday was our last academic day of high school. Today we just showed up at 9:45 for a quick graduation ceremony rehearsal, so it didn’t really feel like school at all.
Afterwards, some lovely people in our humanities class arranged a celebratory/last hurrah picnic at the local park. Hot dogs, Popsicles, and other assorted yummies.
Earlier in the day, I was not very inclined to go. My lower back has been killing me the past few days so i wasn’t feeling up for frisbee and other park activities. It’s crazy how a little back pain can make someone incredibly antisocial.
But while I was at home, I realized that I would probably never get to hang out with these people again, all together and at one place. So I walked down to the medicine cabinet, and popped six of those marvelous blue and red striped, fast relief Ultra Tylenol pills. Thoroughly medicated and back pain slowly numbing, I jumped in the car and headed for the park.
It was a beautiful day.
Right away, we got into a nice game of ultimate frisbee. Shirts verse No shirts. After which we played a game of croquet. The game was unfortunately interrupted by the persuasive calls of our other friends to join a round of sharks and minnows, but that’s no matter. I had been ahead of a good friend of mine Julia. She’s from England so croquet is supposed to run in her bloods. But I was doing better than her. I felt proud- I felt English. And I realize that feeling ‘English’ is not exactly a feeling. But if it were, it’d be a nice medley of class, pride, and victory.
This was followed by a huge game of Capture the Flag(Bio class verse the Physics Class). Later on, a game of HORSE with a few of the guys. This game of HORSE was especially interesting. We had all agreed that the loser had to run over to one of the dudes and kiss his chest chair. Never before have I played HORSE with so much intensity and motivation. I need more hairy chest in my life.
We all parted ways a few hours later but then reunited at the awards ceremony in the evening. For most of us, we got our five seconds of glory and then sat there for two hours, bored out of our minds.
Concluded the night with a late Flame Broiler run with my good bud David. We thoroughly enjoyed our chicken bowls topped with Magic sauce and chopped green onions. Might I mention that David is currently the number one junior national swimmer in the nation in the 1650 meters freestyle. He’s been to the Olympic Trials and is actually heading off for Indianapolis for World Trials( basically as big as the Olympics) in two weeks. I’m proud to call such an amazing guy my friend.The amount of work he puts into swimming truly inspires me, although I doubt he knows that he has that sort of effect on me.
Over the course of the meal, I realized that I was eating exceptionally fast. I attempted to slow down but it was too late. David was left sitting there eating, while I just sipped on my drink and twirled my fork around an empty plastic bowl scavenging for stray grains of rice. Note to self, I should be more considerate and eat slower with company. That they way they don’t they feel so rushed and can ingest at a normal speed.
Came home, showered, read a few chapters of Zig Ziglar’s autobiography. It was meh. Then read the first chapter of Into the Heart by Kenneth Good. It’s a real account of an anthropologist who travels into the Amazon to study the Yanomami tribe and ends up living there for over a decade and even marries a Yanomami woman. I’m not too far along but I’m fascinated. Here’s an excerpt from the back cover that’s sure to pique anyone’s interest, “Anthropologist Kenneth Good went to the rain forest of the Amazon to study the Yanomami. He found more than one of the few remaining peoples untouched by modern civilization. During more than a decade of observation, Good found himself accepted, indeed virtually adopted, by the tribe and eventually fell in love with a young Yanomami woman. In the process, he made exciting new discoveries about the tribal people and about himself. Into the Heart is the fascinating story of his journey of discovery.”
And now I’m off to bed. I’m tagging along with my sister and my Dad as they travel up to Long Beach for her archery tournament. She came into my room earlier tonight and asked me if wanted to go. I enthusiastically replied yes. I doubt there’s going to be another opportunity in the near future to go support her archery ambitions. Usually, tournaments are really far and in the middle of school season.
Arnold’s Six Rules
The delivery is lacking, but I love how he organizes and consolidates all his reflections, and packages it into six rules. Breaking it down is essential.
By nature we forget. It’s important that we have a go to, easy to understand reminder of what we stand for, and how we want to live. I think I might these print these out and read them every morning.
2. Break the rules (not the law)
4. Don’t listen to the “Nay Sayers” (people who say “You can’t”)
6. Give back - Don’t only take. Help others.
Being ‘realistic’ is the most commonly traveled road to mediocracy.
One of my heroes. A prime example of a powerful figure using his fame and money to change the lives of others. He attained greatness, and then turned around and devoted himself to helping other’s attain greatness. In all his interviews, he answers questions so eloquently. His responses are so thought-provoking. I love the man, and I love his philosophy.
The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.
I’ve never really viewed myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is ridiculous, sickening work ethic. You know, while the other guy’s sleeping, I’m working. While the other guys’ eating, I’m working.
There’s no easy way around it. No matter how talented you are, your talent is going to fail you if you’re not skilled. If you don’t study, if you don’t work really hard and dedicate yourself to being better every single day, you’ll never be able to communicate with people - with your artistry - the way that you want….
The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. You might have more talent than me; you might be smarter than me. But if we get on a treadmill together, there’s two things: you’re getting off first, or I’m gonna die.
It’s really that simple."
— Will Smith
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