Category Archives: Steps

Steps – Self Ownership

Although we have full agency over our own bodies, our own actions and so our own outcomes, I’ve come to realize that life isn’t so so linear and singular. We all seem to be knotted and tangled in one another, sometimes by choice, other times by nature and circumstance.  If you’ve taken any support in any form from others that have helped shaped the you that is today, made promises to be a pillar for other parties, or become a body that possesses any type of value to anyone else, do they own a piece of you? It was a difficult mental hurdle for me to climb over as I’ve never administered such a form of self-importance to myself.

On days where I’ve had difficulty finding personal reason to get out of bed, I’ve embodied that mindset to get me through the day. And even that sounds like a contrived way of thinly veiling selfishness. Perhaps this is one reason why some people bring pets into their lives, or even have children; to make the mountains of life worth climbing. Because some days your own purpose isn’t enough.

The current status quo of culture seems to shift heavily on individualism. I’ve certainly adopted such a mentality, to want to leave a unique footprint in this world. But in the duration where my personal journey has become murky, I’ve been humbly reminded that my own life is not merely painting of my own wants and needs. We’re all still cogs in a bigger system that we borrow from. Everyone wishes to be a special snowflake, a star. But maybe we’re only meant to be snow for someone else’s White Christmas, or only as a star to guide a lost one home. And that should be enough of a reason to strive to become the best version of you.

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STEPS – Nothing to Worry About

I’ve always been a bit of a worry-bug. Over-worrying is a forte of mine, and a criticism that many around me have offered. Though I have learned to tailor this instinct to more appropriate levels congruent to situation, I also have to simultaneously credit it for being immensely instrumental to many of my accomplishments.

Today, like much of my ideas that sprout into my mind’s eye during mundane tasks like bus rides home or folding clothes, I started to wonder about my own worries, what others worry about, and what this can reveal about someone. What I concluded is that, it’s a blessing to have things to worry about in your life. It indicates that you’re connected and invested in the people, place and stories around you. My career, my growth, my family & family… some of the things I worry about constantly, but I’m also glad that I have a career to worry about, goals I want to reach in life, and people I’m deeply connected to.

Because, there are things I miss getting to worry about; old responsibilities from past hobbies and clubs; shopping for that person’s birthday; if my snowman was going to melt overnight. Some of these are tokens of the past, but other worries I’ve lost privilege to or have not yet attained.

It’s perhaps a bleaker way of looking at life, but it’s a fair question to ask yourself, what are the ideal things you’d like to worry about. Compared to many out there who have to worry about their rent or putting food on their family’s table, I’m lucky. But in some ways I feel a greater somber for the people that have nothing to worry about; no people they’re connected to; no dreams they’d like to accomplish; no real investment into their own lives.

My picturesque life is not one of serenity and silence. It’s attaining all the right worries in my life, so that there’s work to be done tomorrow, and the day after.  With no worries, there’s no risk or responsibility, and without those, what purpose is there to live?

What are you worrying about?

 

STEPS – Stories

We tend to see ourselves and one another in a multifarious number of lenses with an infinitesimal total of combinations. These lenses are usually cultivated through roots like social upbringing, education and culture. A biologist may see people as a living museum that carries millions of years of evolution; a religious individual may see people as the work of a greater power; a business man may view people as working capital; and none of them are wrong or right, though definitely unique in their perspective.

As someone who loves visual art and literature, I happen to view people as houses of stories. The current makeup of every individual is an accumulation of the stories they’ve acquired. So when I meet a person who’s profoundly different than I am or catches my interest, I’m always seeking for the opportunity to hear their stories, especially ones I’ve yet to hear. What I’ve found is that every two individuals – no matter how similar or different at face – will have at least one story that’s near identical, and another that neither of them have heard before. For me, persistently finding that story(ies) that connects me and another  individual has been the chief process in allowing me to acquire a wide variety of people into my life. And allowing me to hear their stories has been my blessing.

Beyond individual people, I see stories in everything around me well. I want to know the story of the tree that grew a funny path and that one of the old house that refuses to decay around a new urban neighborhood. When I looked down at Seattle from the Sky View Observatory yesterday, I saw a living web of stories from cars, to every lit up window on the face of skyscrapers; all things, people, places exchanging and acquiring stories.

As someone who wants to “write” my ideal story, I think it’s imperative for me to also be a story collector, which is what pushes me to continuously meet new people, go to new places and try new things. We never lose the stories that we’ve amassed, but we can certainly change them as we add new ones.

 

 

STEPS – Been Busy Being Better

 

It may sound obvious, but sometimes the best way to get the most out of living life is to just live it; let your body take it’s course in extracting the experiences that are right for you. At the beginning of this year,  I think I became overzealous in making sure every action of every day had some functional benefit to bettering myself, and as much as that may be a good attitude to carry, it also ironically became a hindrance. I spent too much time reflecting and planning my life, and it became almost robotic and disingenuous at times. A large part of it was due to wanting to come up with a lesson learned to write about on a weekly basis. So I decided to go on auto-pilot for a little bit and focus living life rather than thinking about it.

But overall, these few months I’ve been allowing myself to go on auto-pilot and putting all my focus into my work and passions, playing hard when my schedule permitted it, and by the time I hit my bed it’s lights out until morning. This approach really allowed a natural sense of growth other than a synthetic one, and I think the next step for me is finding the sweet spot: the balance of living that puts the right amount of steer into my life where I’m able to carve out a clear road for where I want to go without blocking out the humanizing moments that keep me grounded and curious about the world.

STEPS – Running with Failure

I’ve probably run in to failure more frequently than the average person, primarily because failure and success are such subjective lines and the standards I’ve assigned to myself has always been decidedly high. I’ll save you the headache of preachy idioms and cliche lessons on how to deal with failure because we’ve heard them all and I’m personally not that optimistic. But, I have garnered some pragmatic perspectives and experiences I’d like to share from the failures I’ve strung up in the last few years of my life.

1) Enduring failure is a strength. The way  I see it, the quality that unifies the most successful people isn’t talent, intelligence or even uniqueness, but their willingness to fail. We’re accustomed to only take chances that are guaranteed. And that fear of failure hinders our own abilities more than anything else. When I look at someone I consider to be the best in their craft or most successful, I don’t judge them by their merits; rather, the weight of their burdens and failures they must have endured. Being able to withstand failure is a decisive quality of an individual when it comes to success.

2) Fail the right way. I sort all failures into two categories, the ones where you’ve given your 100%, and anything less than that. I’ve had plenty of failed attempts but the only ones that have been truly paralyzing were the ones where my failure was a result of me not doing enough. The trauma of those losses has kept me failing the right way moving forward.

3) Failure has its silver-linings. My attitude towards failure has also brought upon tangible opportunities in my life. Up until now, I hadn’t realized that my willingness to fail could translate to traits like gumption, vigor, ambitiousness and charisma in the eyes of others. And I find that those are the characteristics that people find me most appealing for. In personal life, it’s earned me respect and strength in relationships. And professionally, people are often willing to take a chance on me despite my lack of experience or qualifications for the position.

4) Willingness to fail unlocks your full potential. Not being afraid to fall has lifted many weights off my back and walls that previously hindered both my abilities and growth. Now I spend my time not calculating which action possesses the highest probability of evading failure, but what’s most creative, true to myself and beneficial for advancement. After all, I sleep better failing as myself than succeeding as a character.

Hopefully this gives you some fresh ideas on a generally very unfavorable outcome.

Cheers

STEPS – Sober

 

 

 

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“Madly in Love”

I hate that expression because it insinuates that there’s another way to love. That’s the only way I’ve ever known.

It’s really a monster that’s too crude for our fragile bodies, and too complex for our limited minds.

It’s the bin of crumpled letters at 3AM; its in an infants first breathe but also a marriages last words; in hellos and goodbyes; words we say everyday and ones we never got to; the quietest Summer nights and the rainy afternoons in Spring; the drunken nights that conceive sobering thoughts; its ubiquitously everywhere yet also confined to our daydreams

It’s interesting how the most well documented phenomenon in human history is probably one that’s only meant to be felt. Including whatever this is.

“And now that it’s over, I’ll never be sober, I couldn’t get believe, but now I’m so high’

Happy Valentines

STEPS – Second Best

I would could never settle for second best. And I hope you don’t either. 

These are not words of ungratefulness, but ones of acceptance that you deserve what you desire most. (If you’re willing to take the risks and do the work)

Between you and your dreams, there’s so many shortcuts and temporary fragments of happiness at arms reach. And in the moment it seems like all agency of labour, waiting, fear, uncertainty, agony….washes away. But the feeling is short-lived. And I think the moment you’ve committed to a life far from what you envisioned for yourself, is also when you’ll realize it might be too late. I think, it’ll weigh heavy on your conscience, and eat you up. And what’s worse than having all these people, places, things around you and still be unhappy? 

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I think the generation that I come from is one that’s too obsessed with the idea of possession. Always needing to have something in our hands. Not having plans for the weekend means you’re a loser. Not having a job means you’re lazy. Not having the latest iPhone means you’re outdated. Having a small circle of friends means you’re unpopular.  These social expectations build fear and anxiety on the idea that “not having” is the absolute worst outcome in life.

Suddenly, it’s not worth the risk, the labor, the time to chase that career path or person anymore. Because we might not “have” in the end. It took me a long time to figure this out, and evenly longer to admit to myself. But I’d be happier “not having”, than to have what’s not right for me. And I’ve been learning to be content with myself to “not have”. Because I’m working for what I want most, and only that.

I’ve seen too many of my peers settle for “stable” career choices, stay around “safe” people, pursue “realistic” lifestyles, when they clearly have other ambitions in mind. And it’s a little disheartening to see themselves put out their own flame when they won’t even entertain the thought of how big it could get.

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I’m here to be that voice that tells you not to throw it away. Whatever you have in mind, I don’t think it’s silly or impossible. And it’s definitely not out of your reach, at least not forever. I’m not saying it’s wrong to reach for the low hanging fruits along the way, but don’t let it stop you from climbing to the ones at the top either.

Enjoy the spontaneity. Carpe Diem.  The small gifts of life that fall like snowflakes into our hands. But also, don’t let all of these distractions blur what you deserve most, the type of happiness that gently crawls under your eyelids first thing in the morning even before the sunlight does.

 

STEPS – Footprints

Have you ever thought about the footprints you’ve left on people?

Exactly which gesture you made or line you said that stuck with an individual and ultimately created the deepest memory of you?

I realized that it’s usually farthest from our expectations. Our lightest steps somehow causes the deepest footprints in people, and other times we try our hardest not making a dent.

I know for me, some of the people that aren’t even in my life at this moment are the ones that have had the biggest influence in my attitudes toward life, creativity and sense of self. And other faces I see on a consistent basis seem to pass through me like a breeze. It makes me ponder at which times have individuals taken memory snapshots of me. On a bad hair day? When I was feeling extra giving?  Without a doubt, a partial aspect of this awareness stems from wanting to appear favorable to my peers, but another component also arises from the desire to start leaving greater, more purposeful footprints in people’s lives. I don’t just want to be that forgettable whiff. I want to take careful steps in inspiring my peers, being the crutch of support when needed, and being a beacon of happiness that spreads as far as possible.

Because after we’re long gone, our footprints are the only pieces of us that will stay preserved. And if you walk carefully throughout your life, it can also embody a magnificent work of art that defines who you were.

STEPS – Learning Patience

 

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Someone once told me I was an impatient person. At the time I viewed it as the world slowing me down. I possess a personality where once I’ve decided I want something, I will pursue it earnestly. Putting the work in has never been a problem for me, but I always desired immediate results. I hated waiting more than the average person.

I hate waiting for people.
I hate waiting for purchases I’ve made online.
I hate waiting for a table at restaurants.

Most of the time, this shortcoming didn’t cause major complications in my life. As my impatient mind always found some method to hasten any process of waiting. If I knew I was meeting up with someone that was always late, I told them to meet up at an earlier time than intended to makeup for their tardiness. I pay for express shipping (sometimes, don’t judge me). I always make a reservation when I can.

It wasn’t until recently in my life that I’ve been put into a position where I have no other choice but to wait. Initially, I felt like my life was put to a complete halt and I tried everything I could to remedy the situation. It was really the first time in my life where efforts were returned with counterproductive results. The only card I had left to play was not one at all. So I wait and wait and wait… But waiting has become a companion of mine since then. Throughout this process, I’ve really learned that being patient doesn’t mean slowing down, it means to harness the ability to put yourself in sync with the universe. Sometimes the lack of present results does not signify a lack of effort. I’ve done my part, and now I need to let the universe make its adjustments. And sometimes the universe just quite isn’t ready for me yet. I still work just as hard, but I’ve learned to enjoy my time waiting for things. Enjoy the silence, the weather, reflect on my day, and create a better me until it’s my turn. Sometimes waiting is part of the work. I’ve never made that conclusion before. Perhaps the most fruitful trees take the longest to blossom.

I want this forever, so I guess waiting for a finite amount of time is more than fair.

STEPS – Signed and Sealed [Part 1]

In the midst of placing myself under reconstruction, there’s been many moments where I’ve found myself afloat in space, not really knowing where to go from one day to the next. I’ve acquired a lot of new building blocks the past year, but haven’t figured out a cohesive way to building upwards. The most confounding and difficult aspect of this process is retaining very vivid dreams in mind but having to draw the map on your own.

With this dilemma, I started watching documentaries and interviews, reading books, articles and autobiographies on figures who were successful in transforming their visions into existence. These figures were people who are considered first class at at their craft, being sushi chefs and violinists, and visionaries that changed society with their ideas like Kanye West and Steve Jobs. I learned a lot from their philosophies, work ethics and attitudes that I desire to share here. But the biggest lesson here  – and one that deserves its own post – is that the largest bridge that separates those who’ve made it and the ones on the other side is not talent, intellect or luck. It’s the audacity to put all the eggs in one basket. Observing these figures completely redefined the words “commitment” and “sacrifice” for me.  The two words together reveals a heart that  believes in a vision so strongly that it’s willing to put every other aspect of life aside to make it happen.

The truth is, most people are average at most things. We spread ourselves razor thin between many people, places, activities, hoping one of those paths will lead us to bliss. We also spend much of our time on moments that we won’t even remember the next day. Most of all we only allow ourselves to be susceptible to a fixed amount of failure. All of these elements indicate a normal, balanced lifestyle. But it was at the end of last year when I decided that that wasn’t really the life for me; at least not now. The individuals that I observed dedicated every minute, thought and energy into a singular goal. Yes it’s probably unhealthy, nonsensical and even selfish at times but don’t you wonder what you could accomplish if you focused all your resources into a single objective as well? It’s that dose of curiosity coupled with the ache of not yet having the things I want most, that pushed into taking that first step on that bridge.

So for the new year, the only diet I’m going on is anything in life that will take me a step closer to my destination. The only people I want to associate with are ones that have a piece to offer in my journey. The only activities I’ll be indulging in are ones that can service me in growth. And I’m not allowing myself to change course at anytime until I’ve reached my efforts have come through fruition or else I might as well go back to being average.