Category Archives: Life Lessons

Stop Doing What Makes You Great

“We decided, that with this new album, we’re going to yell more, because we’re an alternative rock band, and that’s what we do, we yell!”

We hear it all the time, when an artist or band is out to make their second album, there are always those artists that want to focus on something that makes them great.  How about, “You know, this time around, I want to get back to the basics.  I want to get back to what made us different,” or “I want this album to feature a more darker atmosphere.” Artists always find themselves in a realm of exploring more or less with their art.  They end up lost in this new different world, questioning whether they should come back to the beginning; their basics.  However, when they do, those basics and that origin turns out to be smothered with the noise of their newly “fresh” ideas, making it impossible to turn into their earlier versions.  The legends become students of themselves, as they try to relearn who they are.

Damien Rice said something along the lines of, music is a lot like vomiting.  He was describing how music is like this down pour of raw emotion.  Serj Takian, the lead singer to System of a Down said, if you want to say something, say it.  You know who says, today we’re going to focus on something different.  People who are lost say, today we’re going to focus on something different. People who don’t know who they are.  People who just want to please other people.  Those people really have no idea what they’re doing.  They know it works because they’re filling up stadiums, but they don’t know why.

No one should tell someone what they should want to do with their art.

Picasso drew ugly things.  Ugly ugly things.  They don’t look like people!  They’re square faces with creepy eyes and unfortunately placed noses.  If someone gave me Picasso’s sketches or the sketches from any artist who worked on Pixar movies and asked me who draws better, “Gee, I don’t know, the rectangular shaped face or the futuristic robot.”  Yet, for some reason Picasso is one of the most historically acclaimed artists.  It’s probably because he never forgot his passion.  He didn’t draw to please the masses of people.  He painted the things he wanted to paint.  He painted the things he felt passionate about.  Most importantly, he painted the things he wanted to say.

People are selling out everywhere.

The art of the artist is falling apart everywhere because other people are telling them what to do.  Their work has become tainted by every single living person’s ideas; moving their passion in a certain direction to appease fans, agents, record labels.  Legendary artists dumbing their music down to reach more people, to fill more seats at stadiums, suppressing their message so people will like them.  Imagine if Picasso didn’t draw his unusual characters, what if he confined himself to only draw artwork influenced by religion and the church.  Where would Picasso’s message be if it were quieted?

All our peers are pulling us in every direction.

Most of the time, record labels who are paying musicians to make music can’t make music any better.  They especially can’t make that specific musician’s music better than they can, that’d be preposterous.  However, rich people have been telling artists to entertain them, and they do.  They do it all the time.  Ever since the time of kings and queens, and jesters.  Artists aren’t slaves to an audience. The audience chases the message of the artist.

Passion needs to roam freely.

In Embarcadero, a popular street in San Francisco, there are cartoonists, portrait drawers, and every artist with a different medium from charcoal to oil pastels.  You could find these people anywhere, sitting on city corners, sketching out strangers.  However, before they became everyone’s personal artist, there’s a good chance they’d rather be drawing other things, bigger things, certain people in their lives.  Unfortunately, they won’t be able to afford studios and large canvases, or building corners to draw eloquent murals.  We as an audience will never know their message.

Us, bloggers, we need to stay true to ourselves, to our art.  Before The Titan Project became a lifestyle design blog, it was a personal blog, then it evolved into a relationship blog.  I’d write long inspirational essays like The Girl All The Guys Want, and surreal moments describing how my girlfriend and I met.  I almost thought I would stay there.  People liked my work and were interested in more of what I had to say about the subject.  The day I wrote about toxic families, I was weary.  However, people still enjoyed it.  I’m sure it was because I felt like it needed to be said.  It’s probably because it was a genuine part of me I wanted share.

Your message will forever evolve, but never should it be restricted.

Does Fake Work Make Your Job Suck?

Guest Post by Mark Lawrence of Lifestyle Ignition

Many people complain about their jobs.  “It sucks.”  “I hate it.”  “I want to escape.”  While there is a multitude of causation, much of this angst can be tied to fake work.

What is Fake Work??

Fake Work (FW): A project or task that keeps one or multiple people busy yet has no productive value.  It serves to keep an illusion alive that there is still something of productive value being achieved.

It’s these worthless tasks that make us feel worthless.  Work gives us a sense of pride.  It’s a large part of our identity.  Most people when they first meet discuss this topic.  Work is a natural topic to get a feel for what someone is like.  It’s a way to instantly gauge someone’s likes, dislikes, value system, schedule, income bracket, and a whole range of stereotypes that come into play.  If the tasks at work feel useless, then we feel useless.  The topic of work hurts to talk about, because instead of a sense of pride, we have an uneasy feeling.  It’s much easier to say you hate something, than to actually identify the reasons why.

You may not even know that you’re doing fake work or you may be doing work you perceive to be fake, but is actually is productive and real. Find out if you’re doing fake work or real work by:

  • Confronting the reasons behind the completion of a task and understand how it fits into the larger process and bigger picture

There may be very good reasons to complete the tasks you’re supposed to that management understands since they see the bigger picture.  However, don’t let this deter you from finding out the truth.  If you as an employee don’t understand why you’re doing the things that you do, then management has failed.  Much fake work has been produced under the guise of this “you don’t understand because it’s above you attitude.”  Don’t let this continue.
Once you’re sure you’re doing fake work:

  • Make it known.  Alert the people around you of what you have found.  Show them why the work is fake.

Seems simple.  Ha!  It’s easier said than done.  A lot of fake work continues in a grand conspiracy to keep a department afloat that shouldn’t or to appear busier than they actually are.  Your boss could be in on the scam because they are afraid of losing their job.  You may be afraid of the retribution you would receive even if you tactfully may people at work aware of the situation.  Or worse, you could realize that your job “security” rests on this conspiracy to keep going.  That in exposing the fake work, you expose yourself.

If you’re afraid of getting canned for exposing fake work, then you should find another job.  Sooner or later the fake work will be exposed and your position will be eliminated for you. If you work in fear of questioning authority and blindly go along in yes man mode, you are a robot, and you will be replaced by one.

If fake work is causing your job to suck, do something about it.  Stop repeating excuses, and start looking for answers.  Normally “I can’t…” and “It’s impossible because…” really just mean you’re not willing to step outside your comfort zone and take the risks to face your fears head on.  Ask yourself, Do you feel like you’re doing “fake work”?

Mark Lawrence is the creator of Lifestyle Ignition. Listen to his interview on BlogCast FM:  Mark Lawrence on Shameless Marketing, Retiring at 24, and Leaving the Template Life. Follow live updates on Twitter @igniteadventure

Many people complain about their jobs. “It sucks.” “I hate it.” “I want to escape.” While there are a
multitude of causations, much of this angst can be tied to fake work. 

What is Fake Work??

Fake Work (FW): A project or task that keeps one or multiple people busy yet has no productive value.
It serves to keep an illusion alive that there is still something of productive value being achieved.

It’s these worthless tasks that make us feel worthless. Work gives us a sense of pride. It’s a large part
of our identity. Most people when they first meet discuss this topic. Work is a natural topic to get a feel
for what someone is like. It’s a way to instantly gauge someone’s likes, dislikes, value system, schedule,
income bracket, and a whole range of stereotypes that come into play. If the tasks at work feel useless,
then we feel useless. The topic of work hurts to talk about, because instead of a sense of pride, we have
an uneasy feeling. It’s much easier to say you hate something, than to actually identify the reasons why.

You may not even know that you’re doing fake work or you may be doing work you perceive to be
fake, but is actually is productive and real. Find out if you’re doing fake work or real work by:

Confronting the reasons behind the completion of a task and understand how it fits into the
larger process and bigger picture

There may be very good reasons to complete the tasks you’re supposed to that management
understands since they see the bigger picture. However, don’t let this deter you from finding out
the truth. If you as an employee don’t understand why you’re doing the things that you do, then
management has failed. Much fake work has been produced under the guise of this “you don’t
understand because it’s above you attitude.” Don’t let this continue.

Once you’re sure you’re doing fake work:

Make it known. Alert the people around you of what you have found. Show them why the work
is fake.

Seems simple. Ha! It’s easier said than done. A lot of fake work continues in a grand conspiracy to keep
a department afloat that shouldn’t or to appear busier than they actually are. Your boss could be in on
the scam because they are afraid of losing their job. You may be afraid of the retribution you would
receive even if you tactfully may people at work aware of the situation. Or worse, you could realize that
your job “security” rests on this conspiracy to keep going. That in exposing the fake work, you expose
yourself.

If you’re afraid of getting canned for exposing fake work, then you should find another job. Sooner or
later the fake work will be exposed and your position will be eliminated for you. If you work in fear of
questioning authority and blindly go along in yes man mode, you are a robot, and you will be replaced
by one.

If fake work is causing your job to suck, do something about it. Stop repeating excuses, and start looking
for answers. Normally “I can’t…” and “It’s impossible because…” really just mean you’re not willing to
step outside your comfort zone and take the risks to face your fears head on. Ask yourself, Do you feel
like you’re doing “fake work”?

“You Want a Hug?”

When I was younger, sometime around high school, I started hugging people.  It was more for satire.  “You want a hug?” I would say with the most pouty puppy particular eyes.  I use to hug everyone.  I’d hug people I didn’t know.  I’d hug my teachers.  I’d ask a lot of people and they would turn me down, but for the most part people would spread their arms and for those two seconds in which my arms could wrap around their torso and then pull away, there was just that little something we all long for.

I was very destructive as a young boy.  I wanted to hurt everyone.  I wanted to see people fail.  I thrived on knowing my life wasn’t as bad as others.  But, I was almost always wrong.  I started understanding that people just didn’t know pain like I knew pain, and for that reason, I felt valiant.  Through imperfection I felt superior and because of that I stopped caring.  However, no matter how many times you would ask me how much I don’t care, how much I feel the need to be destructive, there’s still some sweet itty bitty child in me that just wants to remember what it was like to have a family, to have friends, and to be wanted.  If that’s true for me, the boy who rested his eyes over his own sad sorry life, and if everyone feels anger, pain, and anguish, then for the most part, I’m pretty sure a lot of people just want to feel like they belong somewhere.  I’m pretty sure people want to feel something real.

People want to feel wanted.

We spend so much time being angry at people.  We spend so much time trying to be cool.  We spend so much time trying to be better than people that some of us just don’t realize that we’re all in pain.  Somehow denial wraps around our heads and tells us we’re bigger than this, we can do this on our own, and we don’t need anyone to help us.  That may be true.  But it’s not going to make you happy.  I pushed everyone away my whole life; no one likes being alone.

Hugging, holding hands, cuddling, little tiny kisses on the cheek, it’s all a form of affection that people need.  People need affection.  Fuck the general population of people who think it’s awkward.  Screw the genre of thought behind handshakes and keeping your distance.  If a moment’s embrace is ill mannered than someone needs to rewrite the book on etiquette and put “hug everyone” on there.  Don’t waste your time being on anti-carebear protest.

The greatest gift is letting someone remember that they are loved.

This was my greatest gift post.  Check out these awesome greatest gift posts:

17 Ways to Look Cooler Now!

How can someone look cool? Is it possible? Ever since the beginning of time people have longed to find out what’s so cool about that guy. From cowboys to rock and roll bands. Mozart to Robert Plant. Wolverine to Neo. What makes someone look cool? Below is 17 possible ways to look cooler now!

#1 Wear a V-Neck and, at the same time, pull off looking as if you still like women.

#2 Don’t just wear a leather jacket, wear a hooded sweater under it! It’s genius!

#3 Always extend your eyebrows to look interested but at the same time unexcited about what anyone is talking about.

#4 Move your hands a lot. People can concentrate better on what you’re talking about if you move your hands a lot.

#5 Make sure everyone knows that you play either poker or guitar. Those two things make you look douchey, but without all the doucheness. A good way to do this is to leave a guitar pick or a poker chip in your pocket along with some spare change. In the event that anyone would ask you for a quarter they’ll be surprised and aroused that you have one of the two things. Carry both for an instant orgasm.

#6 Ask people if they want spare change.

#7 Find out your size for jackets, then go one size over. Tight fitting clothes are essential. Tight fitting jackets are borderline fairy. They’re supposed to look heavier than your skin.

#8 Don’t shop at the same places your friends shop. Your friends are terrible with women.

#9 Make your own accessories. Rolex’s make you look like grandpa or a spoiled brat. A string on a piece of wood makes you look creative and adventurous.

#10 Don’t wear the necklace your friend gave you. Wear it as a bracelet. Don’t rep your friend’s fashion advice. Mock it by not wearing it in the way it was meant to be worn. Plus, layered bracelets are cool.

#11 Don’t get a hair cut if you want your hair to look messy; it makes everyone want to punch you in the face repeatedly.

#12 Know your facial and hair products. It makes all the difference when you could find a hair product that can stealthily make you look as if you didn’t even try to take a shower this morning.

#13 If everything else fails and you can’t help but to be ugly, brush your teeth. Nothing overcomes everything than a maintained straight white picket fence.  Keyword:  Straight.

#14 You’re expected to smile when you meet someone.

#15 Practice looking adorable and nurturing. Nobody likes an ogre.

#16 Be the guy who wears that certain article of clothing everyday. Life is like a job interview, it’s easier to remember someone when they’re consistent.

#17 Don’t wear a suit, take a shower, or fix your hair, people will expect too much from you if you try too hard. Have them expect nothing and it’ll only go uphill from there.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

What do you want to do before you die? A Realistic Bucket List

I thought about a story that has to do with this topic.

It’s about two middle aged guys who are dying at the same time who meet up with each other in hopes to find people that understand what they’re going through. They go on to write a bucket list and go their separate ways. One guy goes and does all these incredible random things.  He travels to Cambodia, buys dessert in some obscure French restaurant, tries to break a Guiness world record and fails. He’s happy. He comes home and gets in touch with his friend and over some coffee asks him what he did.

He says that he went to see his neurotic father and stood there as he yelled at him and verbally abused him. He visited his mom across the country and sat there for a few weeks and all she could talk about was how much she hated his father and why she divorced him. He traveled to meet his brother and sister and all they told him was how much he was worthless and pathetic and never did anything with his life. No one knew he was dying.

The first guy asks the second guy why he did that, and he replies, “I did it because they’re my family, and I know they’re not perfect and they’ll never be perfect; I know that. But I only have one family. We spent so much time hurting each other that at the end of the day, the only thing we’d ever wish for, was one more day with family.”

The next day they get up early to see the sunrise on top of a hill. The second person, the one who saw his family, lays down and falls asleep. He never wakes up.

The last thing you see is the first person knocking at the front door of some random house. The door opens and he says, “Hey mom. . .”


How To Invent Gravity

Before I strummed my next chord, I stopped.  I pulled my guitar from off my lap and started to cry.

I use to think I knew everything.  I could ace a test like I cheated, but really didn’t.  I could run faster than any other person on the track team, but no one off the team knew.  I could draw a picture and everyone knew that that was Jonathan Manor, no one could top him in drawing.  The day when they finally published my short story in the school newspaper with my name next to the title, was the day I couldn’t be overlooked for my talents as a writer.  That front page on that paper wasn’t just my 300 word fictional short story, it also said, “Jonathan Manor is a passionate and gifted person, and here’s a slap in the face because you thought he was stupid.”  I was the best at what I did.  Throw in some somewhat emotionally intense bones and you had what I was.  It didn’t really matter to me that not everyone knew that I was fast, smart, or gifted.  I knew who I was.  That’s all I wanted to know.  But for some reason, when I picked up the guitar, I was a failure.

I use to bring my guitar everywhere.  I could still smell the corridors in high school, the carpet at church, the benches, the cement grounds I use to sit on, every place and every moment where I strapped on my guitar and just started playing.  I could tell you what material I wore on my wrist, what fabric I was probably wearing.  I brought my guitar everywhere because I wanted to play guitar so badly.  I wanted be good.  I took the summer guitar course they held at the nearby community college.  I took weekly lessons.  I played 6 hours a day.  I even bought a tape that told me that I could learn perfect pitch so I could identify every note played in any song.  It didn’t work.  It all didn’t work.  I played the same chords, the same music, finger picked the same way, and my plucking never got any faster.  I just couldn’t do it.  No matter how hard I tried, pushed, and practiced, I never got any better.

There was a lot of reasons it must’ve been pretty obvious why I would never be great at guitar.  The first and most obvious reason was that I didn’t have an electric guitar.  I had an 80 dollar acoustic Yamaha guitar that came with free strings and a flimsy leather guitar case to hold it in.  I would later buy a hard case that costs even more than my guitar to begin with.  Another reason why I thought I couldn’t get better at guitar was that I didn’t have the proper utilities at my disposal.  I didn’t have a computer, I had compact disks that I would borrow from the library.  I didn’t have an infinite plethora of music which was just a few clicks away.  I had to rewind, hold the button with the two arrows on it, and hope I don’t overshoot.  I knew I didn’t have the proper equipment or have the means to become good at guitar like everyone else I knew.  However, there was one reason why I failed and continued to fail and that was because the way I approached the guitar was wrong.

I had two friends, Tony and Hans.  I pretty much grew up with Hans.  I knew Tony before he even picked up the guitar; we met in chemistry class sophomore year.  Hans and I started playing guitar at practically the same time.  Within a few weeks he was playing the solo to Stairway to Heaven.  It was crazy.  We all thought he was a prodigy.  Tony use to play the same power chords, power chords are the most basic type of chord, and then one day I passed him my guitar and he started playing the Mexican Hat Dance at some unreasonable speed.  I was jealous of these two, and I was frustrated with myself.  Neither of them spent money to learn guitar.  Neither of them had started playing guitar before I did.  It baffled me.  How could they be that much better?  I read every textbook, learned Melbay’s Guitar Method, the most well known basic guitar method booklet out there, and worked my toosh off to learn everything I could.  That there, that was my problem.

Tony and Hans played by ear.  I approached the guitar like a science class.  I memorized everything.  I read from all the textbooks.  All this!  All this was really just hurting me.  Unlike my friends, I didn’t end up having all the possibilities in the world, because I felt I had to read about it, memorize it, and then do it.  This just isn’t the way to learn especially with an art like music.  Did someone tell Van Gogh how to paint?  Did someone teach Picasso to draw pictures that looked like badly drawn Nickelodeon cartoons?  No.  They didn’t go plagiarizing everyone else’s best paintings.  There’s a difference between science class and actual science.  In science class we never went outside.  We stayed inside, read our books, and assumed everything in that textbook was right.  Some people have never seen a jaguar, yet they know it exist.  Most people have never seen a venus fly trap, but we all know they are pink or neon green toothy plants that eat anything that walks into their mouths.  We all learned these things, but we really didn’t know these things.  We didn’t experience them.  What a textbook really does is put limits on what we can learn.  It puts knowledge in a cage and tells you how things should really be, just because you should take their word for it.  That scientists from long time ago figured everything out for us and from now on we can’t learn anything for ourselves.

I use to have a pear tree in the backyard of my old house.  The pears would drop off the branches when they got too big and the stem holding them would break.  I discovered gravity when I was 6 years old, “Where’s my nobel prize?”  Where’s my auditorium filled with old white men dressed in togas stroking their beards.  I was 6 years old!  How come I don’t get to name the process in which things fall to the ground?  I would’ve named it “Uh oh,” or “Oops I’m falling.”  Forget about Isaac Newton, I was a 6 year old scientific prodigy because I watched the pears in my backyard go “Uh oh.”

Textbooks teach replication.  They teach you material and tell you to memorize it, so that in some far off future when you have to meet a slug you’ll know that he’s not in the same family genus species as puppies.  Pretty useful, huh?  But what if we meet something that there’s no textbooks for?  What if there’s nothing to replicate?  No wikipedia, no internet, no google images.  Who can we replicate?  Are we stuck?  It’s the same reasons why we have a poor people epidemic, because most people aren’t surrounded by millionaires and their millionaire knowledge.  It’s the same reason every guy you know is terrible at meeting women, it’s because every other guy is telling him what to do.  It’s the same reason we suck at most things.  It’s the same reason we can’t understand the things beyond what we’re taught.  It’s why we’re scared of new information.  Who says we can’t just learn things for ourselves?  Who put a page limit on biology?  Who says we can’t “JUST” play by ear!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

On Christmas of 2003 the only present I got was a 6 string, wooden, acoustic, dreadnought, Yamaha guitar.  I would spend years finding out what failure was.  However, that day was the same day I would eventually find out that I was Isaac Newton.

Related Posts:

Why Doing Homework Will Make You Fail

Meaning of Freedom

Read Previous Life Lesson

1 Million Reasons Why you Should Get into a Fight

16 Reasons to Love and Hate Alpha and Beta Men

There’s a lot of great reasons to love assholes and losers, and in retrospect there are also a lot of sufficient reasons to hate both of them.  This post defines both the good and bad qualities of both types.  As I said in the earlier post, The Cure for Assholes and Losers, it’s not about becoming one or the other, it’s about finding a balance.  Assholes do have a negative connotation to them, and losers do have a more common delightful tone to their being.  However, there is more to consider when analyzing both of them.  There are a lot of things that can either make them really negative jerks and tools, and there are a lot of ways where they can be either seen as having great qualities for being an Alpha or Beta male.

 

Disappointing Qualities

Main Disappointing Quality: Most losers lack a sense of passion and direction because they feel the need to please everyone else before themselves.

Other Disappointing Qualities:

  • Relationships: They almost always end up being “just friends.”
  • Career: They’ll almost never follow what their passion is, or know what it is to begin with.  They’ll usually end up choosing a career that fits other people in their life such as their wife, children, and on some likely occasions their mom.
  • Social Status/ Community: Losers tend to follow what everyone else says and does.  Since they do this, they’re usually easily influenced when it comes to doing stupid things.

 

Advantages

Main Advantages: They help others before they help themselves.

Other Advantages/ Great Beta Qualities:

  • Relationships: Losers make for great marriage material and are usually desensitized to infidelity especially compared to assholes.  They turn out to be more long term relationship material.
  • Career: Tools, or losers, usually end up getting promoted often due to their ability to focus on helping others.
  • Social Status/ Community: Losers tend to keep everyone together.  They do this by listening to other people’s problems and helping others through harder times.

 

Disappointing Qualities

Main Disappointing Quality: They tend to push other people away.  They usually only care about themselves and don’t consider other people’s feelings.

Other Disappointing qualities:

  • Relationships: They usually don’t make for great spouses.  They end up with a high infidelity rate.  They do jump from relationship to relationship, but more often, they jump from bed to bed sleeping with a different woman every chance they get.
  • Career: Since most assholes tend to follow their passions and nothing else, they usually find themselves unemployed.  If they are holding a job, it’s usually a job they hate and would never get a promotion for.
  • Social Status/ Community: They tend to burn bridges, hurt other people’s feelings, and tear up social circles.

 

Advantages

Main Advantage: Assholes are very passionate.  They go after the things that they want no matter what anyone else says.

Other Advantages/ Great Alpha Qualities:

  • Relationships: We’re a lot better in bed.  Assholes have unique ideas and are more inclined to get others to try new things.  If a woman could tie down an alpha male then both parties can feel more challenged and feel more rewarding.  It also makes for a more fulfilling, less dull, eventful relationship.
  • Career: If they find something they’re passionate about, they’ll live very fulfilled lives.  Most of them have the power to persuade most people with their charm, ease, and the passionate appeal of their voice.  They make great salesmen.
  • Social Status/ Community: They’re usually funny.  Since they take chances there is a larger likelihood that they come up with unique exciting things to do instead of staying in the normal routine of things.

 

Someone who just contains the disappointing attributes of an asshole, is just an asshole.  However, there are a lot of advantages, and great alpha qualities, that aren’t as much learned as it does somehow just naturally comes together from being an asshole.  Obtaining those positive attributes over the negative ones, make for a more Alpha male perspective on life.  Same with losers and tools.  If a male just contains the negative, disappointing, qualities of a loser, they’re just losers.  They’re just people nobody really cares about, or isn’t excited to meet.  However, if they encompass some of these positive qualities they will bare some great beta qualities, making them more eligible spouses, friends, and colleagues.  Even though the phrase beta has a negative connotation to it, and is still a lower form of male than the alpha male, there are still some great qualities that come along with being a beta male.

In future posts we will come to revisit these two ideas behind personalities.  I’ll also be focusing on one single type of personality at a time to provide a more in depth analysis.  I’ll be going over some fictional characters, and some nonfictional historical figures to dissect and derive information from.  Anticipate these posts, they should be coming soon.

Read last life lesson here:  The Meaning of Freedom

The Meaning of Freedom

“Why do you have mama’s phone?” my sister asked me.
“Because she can’t handle having AT&T,” I replied.
“Why can’t she handle having AT&T?”
“Because she thinks she pays 60 dollars a month.”
“What does she really pay?” she asked.

We were sitting in my sister’s car, I could feel the warm waves hitting the coast as we came closer to the beach.  I knew the tension that was about to smear into my sister’s emotions.

“She pays one hundred seventy a month,” I told my her.  I could feel the disappointment in my sister’s silence as we continued driving.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

I planned it all out in front of my mom.  I told her a million times not to switch over, not to waste her money, not to move from MetroPCS.  In MetroPCS there was no contract, she would be safe.  She wouldn’t have to pay for minutes, or hope they “roled over,” or anything!  She would pay a fixed price of 40 dollars and could spend her day calling llamas in Pennsylvania for all I cared.  But she didn’t.  She fell for the price of a cheap phone, signed up, and now we’re in debt.

I wrote it all out for her.  I pulled out a pen and a piece of binder paper.  I did the math in front of my mom as if she was in elementary school and couldn’t understand a simple multiplication problem.  “You think you pay 720 dollars a year, but you really pay 2,040 dollars a year.   If you go back to MetroPCS you’ll pay 540 dollars a year.”  She was paying a difference of 1,500 dollars more a year.  My mom loved misery.

When I was a freshmen in high school, I read a book called, “Rich Dad Poor Dad.”  In one of the earlier chapters the author, Robert Kiyosaki, talks about liabilities with the example of car payments.  Brand new cars are great to look at but they’re a total pain in the ass to purchase.  People think you could pay installments and it’ll be easier.  The truth is these installments grow with interest.  And after the 2 to 4 years when you’re done paying the car, you’ll be stuck with a lot of debt to own a car that’s now out of fashion.  You could have saved that money on your own and earned your own interest and made a profit.

Car payments are different from cell phones.  However, they have something major in common.  Contracts.  Contracts will follow you for however long they need to.  When you breach a contract, you’re not breaking free, you’re just getting into more trouble.  The contract owns you.  No one really wants to be owned.

A lot of people don’t notice it, but a lot of things are really contracts.  Everyone’s trying to own someone else.  Jobs, family, religion, your relationship.  Your job wants you to be somewhere so they could tell you what to do.  Your family wants you to stay home, walk the dog, meet your relatives.  Your religion wants you to embark on this incredible journey of praise and being humble.  They all own you?  However, what is it that you want?

Do you want to help the sick in some saintly endeavor?  Then you should become a citizen of church.  If you’re doing it because you heard hell sucks, and that’s the reason why you put on a tie and go to church every Sunday and try not to think of naked women, you might be doing it for the wrong reasons.  I’m not sure about religion, but I’m sure people are there because they believe in the good and they “want” to praise the good.  It shouldn’t be that they’re scared into it, that makes for a terrible life.  Does someone value the good or evil.  Values!

Same with family.  Do you value that connection with your family, enough that you will drive whatever distance with them and let them talk down to you about your lack of a job or the fact that you’re sister is ruining her life.  Do you value it enough that you would sacrifice for it.  Sacrifice!

My friend Noah use to work graveyard shifts.  He woke up every night, worked until morning, and then fell asleep.  He was 21.  The best year of his life spent working to pay off car payments, insurance, a blackberry phone, and to rent a small room in a big house with socially impaired roommates.

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate, so we could buy shit we don’t need.” – FightClub

I love being in a relationship.  I let my girlfriend own that part of my life.  It’s still sacrifice.  I don’t go back to the apartment of the random girl I met on a subway train.  I keep my distance from touching the next girl I’m in a conversation with.  Because it’s worth it.  I get to stay in bed with the girl I’ve chosen and know that I get to see her after that.  I get the plan.  I get the contract.  Because for however long, I want to be like this.  I don’t want to wonder where this relationship is going.  I want that security.  That’s where I give up my freedom.  That’s sacrifice.  I don’t complain about it, because there’s nothing to complain about.

If you’re complaining about something in your life, cut it out.  You don’t need it.  You could weigh it out and see how it goes, but that’s only lying to your happiness.  You could cut off your family like you could cut off your phone contract.  It’s not going to be easy.  You might have to pay for a termination fee. It might be unethical to think of it that way, but you got to make the decision and ask yourself, “Is this really worth it?”  If it’s not worth your happiness, cut it off.  Stop complaining.  No one deserves to be complaining.  You don’t own anything to anyone or anything.  Cut it off, and you’ll never have to worry about it ever again.

Read last life lesson: How Nickelodeon Taught Me to Become a Better Son

How Nickelodeon Taught Me to Become a Better Son

When I was younger, I watched a cartoon on Nickelodeon about this father who always makes crappy homemade inventions for his family.  One day his son wants to make a go cart for a race.  His dad steps in and makes him an awful looking go cart.  His son refuses to use the go cart for the actual race because it’s ugly, slow, and doesn’t drive well.  The day of the race, his mom talks to him and tells him, “Do you know why I use all the things your dad invents for me?  Because it makes him happy.”  The boy ends up pushing his dad’s dinky creation up to the starting line.  His dad jumps into the go cart, and right when the race starts, the go cart falls apart.  They laugh.

I guess it really makes you think.  What’s more important?  A go cart race or seeing your father happy.

This was from afternoon cartoons.

Read last life lesson here:  How Glee can Help you Run a Business

“Do Over” Bloggerstock Day

Bloggerstock
Guest Post by Author:  Tazim Danji
Website: Being Tazim
Link:  www.beingtazim.com

Do Over

We all think about it all the time. Hindsight is 20-20. If you got one “do-over,” what would you do differently?

Did I pick Auckland, New Zealand for my university exchange because it was just about as far away as I could get from Vancouver, Canada? Not exactly, but it didn’t hurt.

The stressful application and visa process, packing everything away, and then having to change flights several times, not to mention the 3 hour wait at the airport in the security line, should have tipped me off. Of course, at that point, it was too late to change my mind. Because my best friend and I would be out of the country for a year, and sub-letting wasn’t a possibility, the exchange forced us to put everything in storage and find another place to live when we returned.

Why did I initially think that it would be worth it?

1) I was tired of living in Vancouver, and dealing with the rain. . . plus the bureaucracy at the University of British Columbia was getting to me.

2) I needed some credits in Indigenous Art to finish my Art History degree but the courses at UBC in this area were severely lacking. Maori/Pacific art being taught in New Zealand or Aztec art being taught in Vancouver, by someone who’d rather be backpacking than teaching? It seemed like an easy choice.

3) I’d heard about how beautiful New Zealand is, but didn’t quite buy in to the allure of this tiny country. What changed my mind was the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

4) The fact that New Zealanders speak English was a big draw – I didn’t want to have to figure out a different language on top of trying to study.

5) It was supposed to be an inexpensive year – that is, until the New Zealand dollar decided to rise in value. The country turned out to be an expensive low-value place for me to spend my year.

So, what would I do differently? I would have shortened my stay to one semester and spent more time travelling around the country. My best friend and I didn’t make it to the South Island (where the majority of the Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed), because it cost $200 each way on the ferry, but we did manage to buy a car and drive around the North Island a fair amount. I don’t regret having gone to New Zealand – it would have been great if it were a vacation instead of the place where I was forced to live for a year – but I do wish things could have gone differently. For instance, wouldn’t it have been great if the courses that I flew for 24 hours to take hadn’t been cancelled and that the ones that I did take had transferred properly? If I had to do it again, I’d make sure that I had a lot of money and time.

Tazim Damji is an art historian, interior decorator and artist residing in Vancouver, Canada. You can check out the guest post, by Michael Venske, on the Being Tazim blog she writes here. This is her first time participating in Bloggerstock, a monthly blog event where participating blogs all post on the same topic.

Click here to see the full list of bloggers participating in this month’s Bloggerstock.

Jonathan Manor guest posted for Roxy Pants.
Website:  Getting There