Category: Stop and Think

Relatively Speaking

It’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life at all.”

–“Both Sides, Now” (Joni Mitchell)

With every year that passes, I tell myself that I’ve gotten wiser and am that much closer to attaining my purpose in life. But sometimes it just takes one event, one phone call, or even just the muttering of one sentence to debunk everything I thought I knew.

As I gaze into my palms that cup the remnants of what was once my prevailing belief, I notice small curves and cusps that were seemingly hidden before.

The pieces are all scattered about now, just waiting for me to fit together the fragments.

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An Ode to Stupidity

And the day it ceases to be dumb is the day that it ceases to be real.”

–Lester Bangs on rock and roll (Almost Famous)

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There are some things in the world we try to avoid to be. Careless. Forgetful. Rude. What tops the list is often to be stupid. But to be smart and to strive for perfection is a very limited mindset. To really live and embrace the human existence to the fullest is to be stupid.

Stupidity is an art form that evolves with you. It can show you portals of the world most people never get to see. What smart sees as a blunder, stupid sees as a success. Follow your stupid instincts. You never know where it’ll take you, but you can rest assured that it’ll be one hell of a ride. In the face of risk and the unknown, how would you react?

One of my favorite campaigns was Diesel’s manifesto to “Be Stupid.” Through their ads they argued their stance relentlessly–stupid is the way to go because it is those who are stupid that create, say yes, and listen to the heart.

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Try on this mindset for size and start seeing your mistakes as necessary fieldwork and turn that fatal flaw into an invaluable asset.

Be stupid. And stay human.

Photos from here, here, here, and here.

Embrace the Mess

“It will be a little messy, but embrace the mess.
It will be complicated, but rejoice in the complications.
It will not be anything like what you think it will be like, but surprises are good for you.
And don’t be frightened: you can always change your mind.
I know: I’ve had four careers and three husbands.”

Nora Ephron

Recognize the natural flux of life.
Then dive into the chaos with gumption.

In the Immortal Words of Lester Bangs

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“Don’t let those swill merchants rewrite you.”

Whether it be your captivating thousand words on Black Sabbath or your passion project you dreamt up in Shangri-la, hold that pen tightly. You call the edits (and re-edits) of your piece.

Picture from here.

A Big, Gigantic Drum Kit

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Nick: Check it out man, that’s uh 14 mounted toms, 8 floor toms, 4 splashes, 2 gongs, 10 cowbells , 4 rides, 5 snares, a rototom rack, and it’s all mounted on my infamous quadruple kick drum system. Six more pieces and I got a bigger set than Neil Peart from Rush, yeah.

Lindsay: That’s great Nick.

Nick: Teachers want us to work, and I say, “Fine, I’ll work. But you’ve gotta let me do the kind of work that I wanna do.” And for me, it’s my drum kit, man. This is my passion. This is the essence of who I am now. But before I had this, I was lost, too. You see what I’m saying? You need to find your reason for living. You’ve gotta find your big, gigantic drum kit.

Your calling, your dream, your big, gigantic drum kit.

Whatever you call it, chase after it and claim it as your own.

Then let your fiery fervor take over, as demonstrated below.

Quotes from Freaks and Geeks.

Picture from here.

Ask Andrew Anything

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Sometimes we find solace in unexpected places–and sometimes from surprising people.

One cold day in February I stumbled upon that week’s issue of The Village Voice –well, a few pages of it ripped out and left on a table in the corner bank. As I waited for my friend to withdraw some money, I began flipping through the loose pages and saw a picture of a familiar face. There was a small black-and-white photograph of Andrew W. K. glancing back at me. “ASK ANDREW W. K.” was stamped in red in the corner of the page.

I quickly skimmed through the questions that the readers had submitted and Andrew’s insightful and kind replies to their inquiries. He replied with a sincerity and a sense of humor, offering the perfect punch of optimism delivered in his friendly tone.

Perhaps it was his advice in that February 26 issue accounting the importance of dreams that got me hooked. He advises his readers that “a dream is precious and fragile. Keep it safe. Keep it secret. Keep it alive.” Or maybe it was his empathetic and encouraging words to a woman who was facing a midlife crisis. He wisely (and fittingly) urges her to “recommit [herself] more than ever to [her] passions and see them through with determination and joy. Celebrate the ups and downs in your life. When the going gets tough, the tough gets a party going.”

I appreciated his kindhearted and go-getter approach to life ever since that issue. His weekly columns serve to be a pocket of sweet sanctuary in midst of my bustling days.

While I love picking up paper copies, I also receive emails from The Village Voice. Every now and then, Andrew’s column shows up in the emails. Last week, I read another thought-provoking and reflective piece which reinstated my appreciation for his column. He writes in response to a discouraged reader:

Achieving the dream isn’t even as important as living the dream. And all it takes to live the dream is to live each day with as much untiring and unflinching excitement as you can…Most of all, just don’t quit. Stay strong, push yourself, and no matter what, don’t ever abandon your dream. It’s what makes you who you are.”

Tune in either the old-school way with print issues or online for more of Andrew’s positive outlook. He’ll be there for you to get you through whatever it is you’re tackling–whether it is overcoming a break-up, getting over your shyness, or learning how to be a man.

Email him your questions at: AskAWK@villagevoice.com

All quotes from The Village Voice.

Picture from here.