Dave Chappelle recited this quotation when asked about Richard Pryor's influence on the world of comedy. I'm sure there are numerous variations and thoughts about where it comes from but regardless I find the sentiment beautiful and since hearing it, can't stop thinking about it...
Smoke and Mirrors
Listen to me.
As I look up from deep thought I think about life. I'm uneasy.
My Frustration is not having a cell phone for almost two weeks.
My Frustration is having to go to Sprint five effing times.
My Frustration is not attaining the fitness goals I want.
My Frustration is not being as productive as I wish to be on a day to day basis.
My Frustration is not understanding what I'm doing at work.
Are you hearing all this stuff that's going on?
Stress is getting up late for work over and over again when I set my alarm.
Stress is ridiculous traffic on my morning commute that frustrates the hell out of me.
Stress is not getting the girl I want over and over again.
Stress is people being angry at me.
Stress is having so many damn bills to pay all the time.
(As this rant continues a tiny squirrel runs past me. My head shifts slightly to the left)
As I look up I realize that...
Drama is not situations I've had in the past with people I know.
Drama is my buddy Kurt being a proud father and being forced to go to Iraq to fight.
Drama is growing up without one of your parents like some of my friends.
Drama is having to return groceries items because your family doesn't have enough money.
Drama is not being sure you're going to be alive tomorrow because of illness.
Reality is that most of my readers will never be below the poverty line.
Reality is that growing up neither of my parents lost their jobs.
Reality is that as a teenager most of my real problems dealt with social pressures and girls.
Reality is that most people don't have the luxury of being stressed and frustrated like me.
Most peoples' lives are too hard to even think about the inconsequential things I feel sorry for
I dwell on things that a lot of other people would consider privileges to experience.
(As I continue to look to the left, I realize how focused I've been on myself. My Frustration and My Stress are both just that..... MINE. To the left and the right and above and behind me are other people with real problems that I could be helping. I've continually talked about how much I want to help people around me but haven't volunteered on the Southside once yet. But the great thing is that as humanoids we have to ability to make that change when we want.)
Life should be about perspective and
Life should be full of deep breathes and
Life should be about hugs (guy hugs are cool too) and
Life should be about continually taking a step back and seeing the whole picture (not just
from my point of view but from everyones)
Life is about cultivating all the things we have... not getting overwhelmed with the few things that seemingly always elude us.
Funny thing is, people will read this post and surely email me and say, “Dude, why are you so frustrated!” Again, focused on the negative part of the post. In fact, I don't know the last time I've felt so thankful and full of perspective. If anything, take the fact that as humans we have the ability to alter our perspective on life. I just feel like I've been living in my own little bubble for far too long and my priorities need some revamping. Don't get me wrong. From time to time, we all need to vent and be human, it's just important to also have perspective, which is something I was lacking before. I started getting frustrated with the effed up formatting but then started laughing cause the whole point was to let that stuff go - SO I DID!. You get the message.
I sit here and think about the people I admire the most. I'm not going to embarrass you all here but you all have something in common. You all constantly cultivate the “HAVE” in your life and you don't even think about the “WANT”. I feel very blessed to have so many squirrels in my life. Ya'll know who you are. Thanks.
Did I stop the ball? I guess that's not the story I want to tell. You see when you're playing infield in baseball you have a couple options. You can sit back on your heels. When the ball jumps off the bat you are at the mercy of the ball. The ball bounces and you're one step behind. You try to overcompensate, which in turn makes you lose sight of the ball or pick the wrong hop to attack. You might glove the ball but chances are you're going to pull up too early or get hit by the ball. Your second choice is to play on your toes and creep towards the batter. As the ball hits the ground you are now in a position to actually choose the bounce you want to attack. The last option is ideal. Not only playing on your toes but going through all possible scenarios in your head. Where are the runners? If the ball comes to you left what do you do? Your right? You're basically ready for anything in the third scenario.
Why should you care about my baseball days? Because I see lots of people around me getting hit in the face over and over again. I feel like we're a generation of youth living on our heels. We might think a lot about possible future events but we're not ready for the ball to come our ways at all times. Think about the ideal situation I described. A fielder thinks about possible actions, remains adaptable in the moment, acts decisively and completes some action. How many of us can say we go through that process in a day? week? month? I realized a few months ago that I spend the majority of my time thinking about what MIGHT happen. But not about the current situation. I was thinking about what will happen if the score is 5-4? What if we lose the game? What if we don't make the playoffs? The result, life hits you in the face. People around me are doing similar things. Constant hypothetical situations and lots of talk about "I want" and "I'm thinking about." I'm not saying those things are bad! Those things are important but we're often losing focus of the present and about the next steps we need to take to move forward. The thinking alone doesn't make a ballplayer.
I've been in plenty of situations where I marinated on a topic for far too long and ended up getting hit in the face. A simple example is talking to chickidies at a party. I'm the type of guy that marinates on what to say, and then runs through possible scenarios and then might approach said lady. The problem? I am totally on my heels, especially if she comes over and talks to me. Not sure if that's the best example but hopefully you catch my drift. We need to be more decisive and at worst we decide wrong and grow from that. The point is by evolving thought into action you're able to create life events on your terms. You're able to quickly weigh out scenarios, live on your toes, and you're able to choose the bounce you want and your instinct will tell you what to do with it. I do this at work all the time now. Before a meeting I think about where people are going to sit and what the dynamic might be like or before an interview I go through scenarios and decide what I will do in each. The point is my thinking is becoming more in the moment and more action oriented.
I still find myself on my heels all the time and I really want to change. Opportunities are flying right past us every moment of every day. Think when you need to! but be adaptable in the moment to act instantly, be decisive and make things happen. Life is going to hit each and everyone of us in the face from time to time. If you're on your heels, it might knock you down and it might knock you off course. If you're on your toes, maybe you can still make that play you need to or at least you were able to do your best on your own terms. So stretch out a little bit. Take a deep breath and get up on those toes. You know all the possible outcomes. Ping! The ball is on its way... one bounce... two bounces.....what you gonna do?
Neither story is flashy and neither story took a lot of planning or money but in both cases minds were blown. I still remember the feeling I would get opening those letters. The people involved experienced some sort of magical memory that sticks with them. I've been thinking a lot about what creates these mind blowing experiences and they really grow out of being good at little things. I feel like we focus too much on being extravagant and flashy when really memorable events are the result of people realizing that you took the time to think about them. In high school I was fortunate enough to eat lunch at the White House and to be honest I don't remember much about the meal but about 2 years later I ate lunch at my friend's house in Hanford, CA and I could to this day DRAW you the meal. Everything we ate was handpicked from their farm and that could have been one of the best meals I've had. Or when Biggest called me from Egypt right at midnight on New Year's Eve.... I thought to myself, "How did he do that math? Wow he planned that shit out. My mind is blown." Or when I would make an error in baseball. My coach, Art, would come up to me and whisper in my ear, "V, I've done that a 1,000 times. No one feels worse than you right now but relax. Just do what you need to do next time." And for some reason I not only appreciated Art for saying that but he calmed my nerves every time. It was like he had put himself in my situation before talking to me. I guess it's that empathy that lies at the core of mind blowing. People do not expect others to attempt to look through their eyes and when you do, they notice.
So why do we spend so much time trying to impress people with decorations and flossy things when it's the simple things that blow peoples' minds? I've been to a few weddings recently and you see some crazy things like chocolate fountains and the bride wearing more diamonds than a rapstar. I don't remember any of that shit to be honest. It's generic and it's fleeting. At Chuck's wedding they handed out a CD of their favorite songs. That seems to be standard these days BUT they sang the first song on the CD. How badass is that? I've been listening to them sing everyday on the way to work since the wedding. At another wedding I heard about, they handed out flip-flops so the ladies could take their heels off to dance. Both are cheap, simple ideas that are burnt into the minds of the people around you.
I don't think mind blowing is difficult it just takes time. You have to really sit and think about your audience. About their motivations and about their wants and desires. Don't be so generic and cookie cutter. For your next party or get together or class or meeting, instead of brainstorming about what alcohol to get or what decorations to buy or how to organize your meeting, brainstorm about who's coming. What do certain people have in common? How can you introduce this person to that person? What motivates people and what makes people smile? If you even take a few minutes to do this, I ensure you that at least a few minds will be blown. Just keep some Downy handy to clean up the mess.