Monday, April 20, 2009

Until another day.

"Parting is such sweet sorrow"
~Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 scene 2
As this semester draws to a close, I reminisce over the many posts we have written. Some have brought tears, others laughter. How can I sum up what I have learned or what I have spoken? I thought to wrap up all these thoughts in a blog full of short insights and quotes I couldn't touch on throughout the semester.
“No man, for any considerable time, can show one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally becoming bewildered as to which is true”
~Nathaniel Hawthorne
I've been re-learning the whole idea of being yourself. Yes, you want to impress people like any other human being. But, at what cost? Changing your whole identity is not the way to do it. When I moved to New York, right before my seventh grade year, I didn't fit in. I had amazing grades and worked hard in school. I was ridiculed by my classmates because of my want of high grades. As any young teenager does, you want to be accepted by your peers. So, I purposely tried to get not-so-great grades. I regretted it years later. I sacrificed a part of me, my grades, in order to have a different persona in front of my peers. Eventually, when you want to become the real you, you either don't remember how or you confuse those around you. They only know the 'you' that was put in front of them. The two cannot be reconciled. We lose so much of ourselves by trying to fit in.
“A very popular error- having the courage of one’s convictions: Rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack upon one’s convictions.”
~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Wow. I think this is a powerful quote. It is so true! Being brave about your beliefs is a hard thing to be, but an attack on your beliefs? Here's a slightly silly example. Suppose you hate pepperoni pizza. You state your opinion and have enough courage to stand by it. The hard part could be when people start yelling at you for having such a preposterous view. Being courageous, is maintaining that view point. Some might fold in the opposition and mumble, "Well, it isn't really that bad. I don't hate it. You have a point. I'm an idiot."
I've thought about it a lot and know that sometimes I fail to have that courage. It can be so easy to mumble an answer that I don't mean, while hoping no one yells at me for actually stating my opinion.
"Don’t make someone your priority when you are only their option"
A friend of mine posted that quote online awhile ago and it made me think. Growing up, there were always the cool kids. They were the ones that were popular, all the kids wanted to be their friends, etc. Because everyone wanted to be their friends, they would do anything to be considered popular. My question is why? They obviously don't want to be your friend unless you change. As soon as someone else comes along, they'll leave you as quickly as they came to you.
In high school it is the same thing, only can be slightly more subtle. You have lots of friends with whom you are closer to some then to others. There are some you work harder on that friendship then others. Let's just say you really want to be friends with Betty. She is friends with you; you are friends with her. When you hang out, you have fun and trust each other. Now, what happens when you are in school where there are lots of people around. Obviously, you try to talk to Betty and in your mind, the friendship is the same. But to Betty, she has more or better people to talk to, so she ignores you. This is a good example of someone making you their option, when you are making them a priority.
"To be trusted is a better compliment then being loved"
Obviously it is good to be loved. But, loving someone is a common thing. Trusting people takes work. Think through all the people you 'love'. There are several degrees of love, and with those degrees, come more trust. I love my friends, but that doesn't automatically mean I will tell them everything. You won't tell just anyone about some horrible things that are going on. Why? You love them don't you? It is because you don't trust them as much as someone else.
I would rather be told I can be trusted then having a friend who says they love me, but won't tell me anything about their life. I think that love and trust go hand-in-hand. You cannot love to a certain depth without trust. I have friends that I know would do anything for me. If I was doing something wrong, I know they would point it out and get me back on track.
I've had people show that they've trusted me without having a real relationship with them. I was able to be trusted, even though we weren't close because I had proven through my life I wasn't a liar or a gossiper.
“Sometimes we deny being worthy of praise, hoping to generate an argument we would be pleased to lose.”
~Cullen Hightower
Okay. When reading this quote, either you or someone else pops into your head. We all know someone who loves to be loved. That person will have fake piety, while hoping they will continue to be gushed over. Or, you think of yourself and feel a little guilty about some 'humility' you have shown.
This draws an end to my blogging this semester. I will probably get back on from time to time to add more thoughts. I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts about different quotes, along with life experiences that have gone along with the quotes. Hopefully, they caused you to think through your actions and seriously evaluate why you do what you do. I've been challenged this semester and have been stretched past some of my personal comfort zones. But, that isn't a bad thing because that means I'm growing and changing. To my fellow classmate bloggers, I hope you've enjoyed my blog. To other readers, I hope to continue sharing my thoughts with you. For now, I must bid you farewell.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why are you laughing?

“Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable.”
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I love to laugh. I love jokes, funny stories, funny actions, and funny people. Laughter is something I resort to when I'm not completely confident in a situation. If someone is having a rough day, I make it my goal to either cheer them up, or let them talk about it (which is another topic altogether). The things most people laugh about show what their conduct is. There can be a variety of conclusions from their laughter.

I tend to laugh at people when they do or say something stupid. Part of that is because I do stupid stuff all the time and can empathize with them. The other part is because I tend to need to work on my compassion skills. Don't get me wrong. I try to be sympathetic and listen, but if it's their own fault they are in that mess, I don't feel sorry for them. Hence, my laughter.

I'm one of those people who watch the fail movies on youtube. I laugh so hard because these people should realize the end result of their actions! I mean, if you're going to skateboard down a rail, chances are you are not going to make it to the end and you will hurt yourself- in a not so good place.

Another thing people show their character through laughter is the type of jokes they laugh about. Politically incorrect, discrimatory of any topic, and more show that you don't really care about harming these people. I realize that some of those jokes are funny, like the blonde jokes. But, when jokes are made about handicapped people or different races, it crosses a line.

Sometimes, you can't help but laugh, you might say. I agree ten thousand percent! I've laughed at jokes being said and later wondered why I laughed. It wasn't that funny as a joke, but the way the person said it was hysterical. Some people just have the gift of turning anything into a comedy.

I am a nervous laugher. I laugh when I'm in situations that are kind of awkward. The other day I was eating dinner with some friends when a man walked up to us. He was making bunny ears for one of the guys in my group. Thinking this was strange, I snickered. The man then went on to talk to us about random things for about twenty minutes. I'm not sure if the man was completely lucid or had some mental difficulties. The strange topics and the way he came up were so bizarre that I was fighting laughter. I felt bad for laughing at the man because I didn't want to hurt his feelings. But, if some complete stranger does bunny ears to your friend, I don't know how else you can react.

I have used joking and laughter in some serious situations. A couple friends will try to talk about something serious and I'll make a joke. They'll laugh, which makes me want to continue. After a bit, I focus on what they are saying and try to maintain the level of gravity they have in the situation.

These different ways of laughing and situations you do it in, show what type of person you are. Are you compassionate? Do you care for those different then you? Are you seeking attention away from the topic at hand? Laughter is an important part of life. I use it daily. Hopefully, my laughter shows what is important to me, and helps others know my character.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Who is in control?

“Beware the tyranny of the minority.”
~Latin proverb

I should probably define what I think the words 'minority' and 'tyranny' mean. I think that minority is less than half of a particular group that are of a different stance on a particular issue. Tyranny, for the purpose of this quote, can be a person who manipulates a system or rule to better them. Having defined these words, I'll explain why I agree with this quote.

Each person has been a tyrant. Go to a local day-care center and watch the children. Yes, you were like that too. Yes, you pouted when you didn't get your way. Manipulation and tyranny can be hand-in-hand for a child. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I go to the store and see children throwing tantrums. The minority is the child. The tyranny is the actions of the child wanting some candy. The child gets angry because they don't get what they want and start manipulating the parent to get what they want. The worst parents are the ones who give it to the child to appease them.

The minority can be for something as large as an ethnic group, or as small one person. In America, we practice our 'right' of speaking up when we don't agree with something. (Personally, I call it complaining.) It's when the smaller section of the group doesn't get what they want, that problems start to occur. One example could be a group project for a high school. One section of a class might want to do something different than the rest of the class. They state their opinion, and if they aren't listened to, they fight for 'their rights' and try to change it to benefit themselves.

I've had a philosophy in my life that goes well with the quote at the beginning of the post. "The minority is always the majority". If you think about it, it's true. If there is a majority vote, and the minority complains enough, there are new rules made. It kind of bothers me. Obviously, the majority felt a certain way. When those in charge decide to help out the small part of the group and make rules specifically for them, it dismisses the desires of the majority. I think to myself, what's the point of having a vote if it's not going to determine a change based on the group as a whole. The minority is not the group as a whole.

I think that if we are going to try to make decisions that affect others, we should try to help everyone. But, if only a small percentage of a group is not in accord with the others, you can't please everyone. It benefits the group if you listen to what the overall group is saying.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter time

The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.
~Robert Flatt

Easter is a great time of year. I always enjoy getting together with my family. Growing up, my dad would hide our Easter baskets throughout the house and we would have to find it before getting ready for church. My favorite part, though is going to church for the service. Easter is such an important memorial day for me. It's the day that I remember the resurrection of Jesus and how important that is to my faith.

Many people just think about the candy or the new outfits. Those are all really cool stuff. The actual reason for the holiday is for Jesus raising himself from the dead. I can't wait for Sunday! The choir sings great songs, the congregation gets to sing, and the pastor does a good sermon. Normally the Easter account is talked about, but my pastor switches it up sometimes.

I think it's good to celebrate different holidays and think back on events. We celebrate Easter as well as Good Friday. Some people don't like to sit and think in depth, but I believe it is a good thing to reflect on the important things. Easter is one of those examples.

Operation: Encouragement

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
~ Albert Schweitzer
As the semester wraps up, it can be easy to start stressing about classes, projects, finals, and summer plans. I know that I've had a couple stressful weeks and I know I'm not alone. I think what makes the most difference is the people around you and if they encourage you.

Encouragement can be through so many outlets: a friendly hello, a phone call, a present, etc. It may seem like a little thing, but it could make the other person's day. My church college group has this event called Encouragement Week. We do these once a semester, usually towards the end. We sign up to be involved and receive a name. The cool thing about this is that the person you get has no idea you have them! You get a list of things they enjoy, their email, and their address and the sneaking begins. You can create fake email sites and send encouraging emails; you can buy them cool stuff and drop it off at their doors, and so much more.

I have participated in this for three semesters. Each time I was blown away by the kind words said and the frequent gifts. I had one person drop off a package at my workplace for me to get after they left. I've had the doorbell go off, and realizing it was my secret encourager person, I took off running to catch them. The adrenaline is so sweet when you are doing knock and drops. One semester, my encourager had a theme of using a basketball player writing me notes and sending me random gifts. I would try so hard to figure out who it was, but I never could.

My part in the Encouragement Week was fun. I didn't make a fake email account. I would primarily do knock and drops. This past semester I scared someone, though. I wasn't sure which entrance to put their gift on, so I called them on a friend's phone. I masked my voice and said to go out to their porch. They hung up the phone. Figuring I freaked them out, I quickly grabbed my phone, hoped they didn't have my number, and called again. I used my normal voice, said I was sorry for scaring them, and quickly said there was something for them on the porch. Suffice to say, I won't use different voices on the phone again.

Finally, at the end of a mysterious, fun week, we reveal ourselves to our encouragee in a group assembly. It is so funny to see who received what, who was behind all the goofy stuff, and who got caught. I know that Encouragement is an awesome idea for groups of people, and I can't wait for it in the next couple weeks. But, having a set week isn't the only way you can encourage someone.

I had a test I was kind of worried about and stressing over. One of my friends texted me to see if I could stop studying for a bit. She had a funny story to tell me. So, she called me up, told me the story, and could tell by my response that I was slightly preoccupied- stressing, is probably a better translation. She then offered to help me study. Since this was a Spanish test, and she is taking Chinese, I didn't think she would be able to help. She started naming random Spanish words, I humored her by translating them, and suddenly I realize the theme to the words. She was doing a song from Veggie Tales! She started to sing a small part of the song, and I busted out laughing. "The Dance of the Cucumber" is a song about a cucumber and a tomato. It is random, yet hysterical to me. It made me relax a little bit. She texted me some of the lyrics the next day, again, cracking me up.

Little things like that make my day. A friend got me an ice cream cone the other day and it totally made me happy. The flip side is doing things to encourage others. When my friends have exams, I try to text them before their exam and tell them I hope they do well. It's a way to let them know someone is thinking of them and praying they will do well.

Think of some things you can do to help someone through the last weeks of this semester. It can create some memories or create some smiles. Either way, it's a fun way to help someone out.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Stick to it

"If you deny yourself commitment, what can you do with your life?"
~Harvey Fierstein

Have I grown sentimental in my old (alright, not quite ancient) age? Or have the seemingly small things become more important? Think back to when you were a child. There weren't many things that made you cry from an abstract point of view. Ideas weren't emotionally taxing. But, as you grow older, some things grow more important, if not the idea of them. Commitment is one of them.

I was watching the final episode to the television series ER. That show has been known to occasionally bring tears. I was not prepared for tonight's finale. There was an elderly man who came in with a bedridden wife. She was going to die and he didn't want her to. The doctor explained that keeping her alive on more drugs and ivs would prolong her pain. I don't think I'll ever forget what the old man said. He looked back at the doctor, and said with a cracking voice, "I'm not ready for her to die." I have to say tears were streaming after that. When other people start crying, I start welling up too. So, when the old man started crying later on, or talking about how he hasn't looked at another woman since meeting his wife in sixth grade, I was gone. The last part for him was showing him lying next to his deceased wife in her hospital bed, just stroking her hair.
His dedication to her was so evident. He loved her and wasn't going to let her go through death alone. His brokeness was so touching.
Why is this important? It made me think about how cool it is to see that type of commitment. Being with someone for that long and being faithful for that long is a milestone. It made me think of a couple in my old church. She always called her husband "my sweetheart", even when they were well into their eighties. I would always smile when hearing them talk about each other.

Commitment is something taken very lightly. Most couples, friends, and families break apart after short amounts of time. When you were younger, you didn't worry about saying things that could offend or cause someone to not want to be around you anymore. Commitment was such a simple concept.

As a child, I didn't worry about my family leaving each other or my parents cheating on each other. I still don't worry about that because I know their commitment is just as strong as that old couple. Their faith is a huge part of their marraige and has helped them stay committed. My parents have joked that after seventy-five years of marraige, they will renegotiate. It's pretty definite that after that amount of time they won't want to look for someone else. I know that they've had hard times like everyone else. But they chose to stick with their commitment.

I know that its easy to make a commitment and not stick with it. It's hard. You might not feel like it. But, feelings are so fickle that they can't be trusted. You have to choose to stick with everyone. Commitment is worth all the hard times. This is proven by that old man in the ER episode. She wasn't alone, even at the end, because they chose to stick with each other. It will always be worth it.