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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Truth Hurts Sometimes, But Consider Tupac...

May I perpetuate a little thought here?  Saying "no" makes not the slightest difference to the following content, so either stay or leave, thus is your choice.  Anyone who has been reading my posts for a while has probably noticed a bit of a shift from the published blogs of an earlier time as I have migrated from an unnaturally positive position to more of a constructive honesty position.  Evolving into what we really are is entirely natural and something that develops over time; especially concerning activities we are passionate about.  Today, I am going to talk about Tupac.  No, really.

Hear me out before you run away because I have mentioned one of the most controversial figures in the history of music, because I have a point.  Anyone who does not at least know the name of Tupac Shakur was either not alive in the nineteen nineties decade or definitely living in a dirty cob house on a primitive hippie compound.  When I was a kid, this young man was in the news constantly for anything from rape allegations, battery charges, or obscene lyrical content in his music.  Even though many do not agree with his motivations for creativity and outlandish verbiage, the fact cannot be refuted that the man was completely passionate about what he was doing over the span of his short career.  

Tupac lived as a supporting member of group Digital Underground (dancer, etc.) for a few years in the earlier part of the nineties and never stopped pushing to be a product of his own success;  literally starting from the very bottom.  He was gunned down in nineteen-ninety-six at twenty-five years old and in those short five years from the bottom of his industry to the top, he either released or collaborated on eight studio albums.  Eight albums in less than five years?  I cannot think of another artist who has done anything similar in my lifetime.  While this artist was still alive, various news-related outlets would show short interviews with him, asking about the lewdness of his genre, or asking questions of his many criminal allegations and those not interested in his style of rap at the time saw him as a worthless thug as not as a creator.  Many people did not take him seriously until after those bullets took his life that night in Las Vegas.

The most popular, highest-grossing artist of that period in time was Tupac, but most of his music was too controversial or smattered with profanity to be played on the radio, so his creative popularity mostly came from album sales and touring.  After his death, however, more people who had never heard a song written by him were suddenly intrigued and interested in what he had left behind for the world.  What do I mean?  Those eight studio albums aside, Tupac had always stayed true to his passion of writing down everything he experienced in life.  Following his passing, massive amounts of beautiful poetry were discovered which spoke about the ups and downs of his life, romances, legal issues, and career;  many of which were expressing the love and respect he had for his mother, even though she had abandoned him for some time as a child.  Once discounted as an everyday street thug who caught a lucky break, more and more people began to see his true artistry emerge only after his death.  These writings were things he was generally keeping to himself because he had a record label-inspired image and character to play for not only his fans, but the rest of the world as well.  It gets better...

Tupac Shakur was an artist and as I have mentioned, he was not only extremely talented at writing, but also completely devoted to his passion every moment he was awake.  Why do I say this?  Think about modern bands who have had careers spanning at least a decade, and then consider how much material, both published and unpublished, they have floating around.  Bands in the current day in that much time have maybe recorded thirty complete songs and possibly another fifty to one-hundred either unfinished or that did not make the cut for their album releases, but not Tupac.  This common, "uneducated street thug" spent every available second recording the music and lyrics playing through his head.  Those who own the rights to his recordings in various stages of completion, but most being ready for mastering, have not given an exact number to the public other than saying well over one-thousand tracks exist in his catalog.  This is how his post-humus releases have eclipsed those available before he died.  The man was a creator and never took a break because he wanted to be successful in his passions.  He never sat around expecting anything huge to happen to him - he never expected anything to magically fall into place or to be "discovered" in his earlier aspirations.  Tupac knew that he was a gifted creator and spent much time in poverty so that he could devote not only full-time hours, but overtime hours to his craft and pushed them out in self-promotion continually.  He never gave up and his success within those passions never slipped; not once, and he has the catalog of effort to prove such in his eternal legacy.

Why did I tell you all of this?  Simple.  There are too many people out there with too much potential to let their passions slip away.
If your passions constitute the level of commitment in your life as you claim, why do you not have a catalog of material (in whatever medium) as big as Tupac Shakur did?
If you are actually serious about your motivations and forward-moves, why are you not devoting overtime effort into what it is you seek?
Tupac amassed the legacy he left behind in under five years, but many of us claim unbridled devotion to our craft yet cannot begin to touch the amount of material he created; and many of us have been "following our dreams" for twice the amount of time he was able to utilize his talents.  Seriously?  No, I cannot take you seriously.  

Chasing what you are supposedly passionate about is like navigating through the winter of an un-mapped wilderness.  While most businesses have methods of operation and policies related to advancing toward goals of success, creators do not have a set structure - creators are required to make their own path.  Anyone who wants to chase a dream of any sort must be completely devoted to that concept and never shut down their thought process until they achieve their goal.  The most ridiculous problem I see on a regular basis are those who claim to be following their dreams, but are not at all humble enough to do things they consider "beneath" them.  Sticking with the current theme of music, just because you get paid to play a gig on a somewhat regular basis does not mean playing for nothing but exposure is beneath your skill set.  Were live performance and exposure with such still my goal, I would spend every available second showing my craft to anyone, in any setting, at every available moment I had;  but that is no longer who I am, so I do not.  I see too many "devoted" artists these days in every medium claim their skill as their true calling in life, but they never get anywhere because they lack the discipline to put themselves in regular view of the public unless doing so is convenient.  "I'll do this or that, put some shit on the internet, interact with the public once a week and just wait for something to happen.  That's how it works, right?'  No, no it is not.  Not only that, but you make me want to knock out a few of your teeth for wasting your skill.  

Am I being clear at all?  Does any of this make sense?  Sure, most people in the world have more practical goals in their life:  school, job, married, kids, happily ever after with a few vacations stuck in the middle.  Creators cannot live by this plan because they are on their own to figure out what it is they need to do in order to spread whatever their passion is to the world;  they are required to make an impact and take the non-traditional path.  "But, you don't get it, Drew. I am passionate about things but I don't have the time to do all that stuff you talk about because I have to work a real job too."  When did I ever say any of this was easy?  We need to get this "time restriction" idea out of our heads and realize that while forty-hours is a standard work week, passions are a full-time devotion.  Passions are what you should be dreaming about while at the job that pays your bills, not something you do when you "have time" if you ever intend to reach people or have any sort of personal success in the venture.  

Why should you listen to me?  I am exactly the person alluded to in this blog.  Within my life, opportunities have arisen for me to chase the things I was passionate about in the past and had a great potential for success in that process.  Many times I was either too lazy or too stupid to pay attention to what was right in front of my face and clearly visible.  One opportunity was refused intentionally, but many more slipped from my fingers due to my own ignorance.  

If you want to spread your message, get it out there at any cost and using any method that will not compromise your morals.
Creators do not have it easy and if you are a creator who does not have a struggle, I would question why that is and find one to be sure of your continued growth.
Do not just eat, sleep, and breathe your passions, but expose them creatively.
If you follow the principles of complete dedication as I have explained in this blog for a number of years and have not yet reached your audience as you intended, start questioning the reasons why by breaking your comfort barrier and asking for opinions from those you do not know outside of your circle and restructure or find the reality of your situation.

The public is always your best critic.
You will only go as far as you push.

Grace and Peace,

-Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Monday, July 29, 2013

This Is Why I Am Single...

I have hobbies.  Like recording dubstep with a jazz guitar?

Today, I begin this blog with choices you can make.  The first part of these choices is of reading an existing blog I wrote on the same level as this a few months ago here and the second choice is to continue reading the current blog, which is just fine as well.  

When I was in the earlier part of my twenties I had pretty strong personal ideas about dating and relationships in general.  Since that time and after a bit of personal growth, my ideas have progressed into other areas, but still begged questions and opinions that I really do not understand.  Are we going about the whole courtship idea incorrectly?  Maybe, but that is not why I am writing this and allowing you to make your own conclusions is really why I post these random smatterings of vernacular publicly in the first place.  

I think too many of us are looking for the wrong people or maybe just confused about what is best for us in relationships and there is no bigger offender of this than myself.  Putting effort into the wrong sort of women seemed to be my thing for a while.  None of that means I went on dates all the time, because that is not a part of who I am either, but those I have been interested in were completely wrong for me - always.  This is not to say that I went out with some women, found out the compatibility was not there and amicably parted ways, but think more on the level of a fair amount of effort going into those situations when I knew failure was guaranteed to be on the horizon.  I have grown since then and come to a few conclusions on my own about my habits of post-modern stupidity, but I digress.

The last relationship I was in happened over two years ago and ran for around four months.  She was someone I knew in the past, from the days of my late teens and someone I knew was always interested in me, but never acted on it.  Add in a few attempts of contact from her end and everything seemed pretty jazzy to me.  The person I had known from five years prior seemed to have grown up in a few ways and she played that role very well for about two months time, and then the mask came off and her real self began to show through.  Even today, and with all of the lies and deception, I will not call her a bad person, but I will say she was extremely dishonest to me and not at all fitting into the romanticized idea of who she was to me during the first few years we knew each other.  I should have known better and should have seen the signs, but being on the resilient side as I am and believing what I wanted to within the relationship was a downfall for me.  Since that time I have spent nearly three years alone, not gone on a single date, and am pretty content with my life.  Through all of this, I have been able to sit back and realize that every (though few) woman I have had some sort of dating relationship with has ended exactly the same way as the last one.  Awesome.

Why have I told you this?  My story all boils down to the things I see in my daily life because I pay a bit more attention to my surroundings. I also have more than one person who seems to depend on me for moments of clarity concerning their personal lives, which has been consistent since my teenage years. 

The way I see the world of dating now is one of high expectations and romanticizing the character of others unrealistically.  This is not true in every case, but stay with me for a moment and do not count yourself as the exception right off the bat.  Being one who spent too many years going for women who had nothing in common with me or my goals has shown just how easily our minds can be unnecessarily fogged within a set moment.  The problem is that I see too many people doing exactly what I have done and not even realizing their fault.  Seeing someone as the being you think they are is easy, but this all comes back down to the word I have mentioned twice now "romanticizing".  

Have you ever told yourself the same lie over and over in your head to the point of actually believing it (everyone has, and do not claim "exception" on this one)?  Well, we do this with people also.  I had a set of lies conjured up in my head about the type of person the last woman I dated was.  Within my own thoughts were those of her being very driven and motivated in what she was doing and where her life's goals were set.  Had we kept the toxic relationship going, I would probably still believe it all to this day, but I had a moment of clarity.  During that moment in time, she was not really gaining any momentum in her life, but she sure liked to talk as if she were.  Being the supportive person I am,  I looked past what was right in front of my face and made a choice to believe she was the same, driven person I had known a few years prior; but older and more experienced with life.  No.  I was wrong and it took me listening to the opinions of others before I saw what was really there;  nothing.  Someone probably exists for her in the world, but it surely was not me.  The problem is, I see people going through the same, senseless internal thought processes I have gone through with not just my last girlfriend, but any of the few before her.  

I see driven and motivated women dating men who act as if they have similar qualities, but really are just playing a part or continually saying "one day I will be/do..." without taking the steps to become the greatness they speak so highly of. 

I see men dating women like I did, who do everything they can to make themselves seem perfect without really showing what sort of person lives within them.  After a few months' time or less, it all falls apart because we eventually have no idea who we are seeing as they stand before us.  

Either of the above can go into a gender reversal very easily. The truth of the matter lies in the fact that too many of us are chasing down the wrong people because of the silly ideas we have about them in our heads or the perceptions of who we have made ourselves believe they are.
"She's hot."
"He's cute."
Yet, those attributes only go so far and if either of those involved in the relationship are so many steps ahead of the other in life while one slacks in effort or chases a risky path without an alternate plan in the works, what are we doing?  

This is not about money, this is about going after life with everything you have.  Success is not measured in a paycheck or in goals.  Goals are simple to set, but it takes effort to achieve them.  That was my problem.  My goals were big and at the time I was reaching them, but the person I was involved with was not pushing to meet theirs, so what did we have in common?  Sure it was not life, because she was not living her's.  

Closing this out, take my advice and be sure you surround yourself with people who not only share similar goals, but similar motivations and act upon them accordingly.  I made the mistake of following those taking the easy road through life for much too long.  Do not expect anything of anyone else, but rather allow them to surprise you with their success and if you do not see it coming to fruition, be prepared to make a change.  

As for me?  I have not been on a date since the day my last girlfriend and myself broke up and I am just fine with that.  My confidence is now high enough that I do not hesitate to tell any woman that she is pretty or charming if inclined to do so, with nothing romantic attached to the act.  Many women assume they are being hit on by me, but once they get to know the person I really am, the person I wear on my sleeve everyday, they often tell me that I am unlike any other person they have met.  Humble bragging?  No way. 
I have just taught myself to be the real me at all times.
I go into no personal conversation with an expectation.
I live my life for who I am.
I want to show you can be caring without a motive.
But I am not what women actually want.
I am happy being alone.

Grace and Peace,

-Add me.  Stalk me.  Tweet me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Sunday, July 28, 2013

We Are Only Afraid Of Ourselves...

My dog has it so easy and doesn't even know...

I have recently been somewhat conflicted with the contrast of basic human decency, personal support, and personal beliefs. As within a religion or anything else really, we all have a dependency on something in this world; yes, everyone does.  Unfortunately, our crutch is often times plagued with nonsense.  Some people get entirely consumed by their job and and that is where their faith lies.  Others become dependent upon chemicals or food and idolize them with the majority of their time, becoming entirely addicted. Far too many people embrace being cocky or self-important, and live out decades of time in such a whirlwind of hatred towards others.  We all have something in our lives to which we devote the overall attitude of our psyche, and we all have the ability to control this, though most do not.  Are you in control of yours?

     You really would not believe the amount of flack I catch from people; mostly those of my own gender.  As males in the world, we are "supposed" to act like jerks on occasion because women are attracted to that? Right. We are taught not to express our feelings or inspiration to others because that makes your sexuality come into question? Uh huh.  We are also expected to hang out with "the guys" regularly to watch sports and talk inappropriately about about women? Um, sure.  The problem is, none of the previous examples fit who I am.  I fear those who embrace the "normal" stereotype spend their entire life running in an infinite loop. Life->Normality->Death...Sign me up! Nope. I'm sure there is a similar order of operations for women as well, but despite what some Neanderthals I am acquainted with seem to think, I am not one; so I would not know where to begin, but feel free to interchange examples on your own.

     Why are we afraid to do things that do not fit into our own culture or mythic gender roles?  Because that would mean we were being our own person for once, and we just cannot have that! Hey, if I want to tell a woman they are special or beautiful for no reason other than being respectful and honest, I will, and not be uncomfortable or have an expectation while doing so. If I want to dance in public (which doesn't really happen), get ready to see me bust a move. If I decide my new hobby should be crochet, hand me some yarn and I will not think twice about how it looks to other people or what that leads them to assume about me.  How does all of this tie into religion, angry people, and Millennial life?
Allow me to tell you.

     You are exactly what you surround yourself with. Simple. Me? I was brought up in a Christian environment, so certain morals hang with me, even though my outlook has changed in a big way as I have aged; adding in my great family influence, and the delicate few friends I have in my support will show you where my positive life progression comes from.  That is a big part of the reason I have decided that being myself is more important than being like everyone else or catering my life to a demographic of limitation. The whole "It's a guy thing" excuse or expectation is not in my phrase book any longer.  Normal is simply too boring.  Fitting into a gender or age stereotype is too stupid.

     Everyone has their own influences that mold their character and shape their life.  My faith, family, friends, and individuality mold me.  I know some people who have the same positive view I do, but may not claim a religion, do not have a close family, have more acquaintances than friends, or any other variable; but every situation is unique.  Your individuality and where you pull your strength from is the fuel for life's positive aspects.  Think about what good things you can dwell on to exemplify your outlook on life and once you find that place, be ready for a great sensation that will make others envious.

     You know how you sometimes run across that eternally angry or negative person?  That individual who never smiles and also takes pleasure in the pain of others? Yes, he or she is a prime example of those who fit the "normal" expectation.  A person who is too focused on being like everyone else to have their own identity.  The deeper you get into that whirlwind of monotony, mediocrity, and public expectation, the more difficult it becomes to escape.  Instead of just ritually saying you have great support and positive influences pushing you in life, try actually living it for once.  What a concept... If not, I will just have to slap the happiness right across your face before wishing you luck in your misery and mediocrity.  Anyone can be normal, but it takes much work to be exceptional and takes a far greater effort to be an individual.  Take that to heart.

Grace and Peace,

-Add me.  Follow me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Saturday, July 27, 2013

*This blog was originally posted as a Facebook Note on December 23rd, 2012* 

    Sometimes we try much too hard. We push for things that we really should not, usually for the sake of enjoyment or personal gain. The state we often live in is like that of a cat during play. If you have ever seen those toys where a felt mouse is attached to a string hanging off of a stick, you know what I am talking about. Once the cat gets a glimpse of that felt mouse, he is transfixed and will try everything within his power and thought process to catch the mouse; never succeeding, but never giving up.
     We, as people, often live by the same standard as the cat. Pushing for things we view as unobtainable is a fairly common trait in humanity. The reasons why we reach a little too far beyond our limitations make no sense to me, but I am as guilty as anyone else of allowing it to consume me. Irony; it's a pain sometimes.
     We live in a world where we are told everything is possible, but that bubble is easily burst by not being realistic about whatever you are reaching for. If you have the next great idea for a business venture, but stay stoned the majority of your waking hours, I do not see that plan surfacing anytime soon, and therefore it is out of reach. If you have aspirations to be a world-class musician, but decide not to practice, you are pushing your aspirations that much farther away, making them entirely impossible;  or possibly fluffed-up by friends or family to believe you have more talent than you do.
     Sometimes the unobtainable is such because of ourselves and the lack of personal motivation, or even our lack of caring in general. Still, other times we reach for these natural, ever-distant spoils entirely determined, yet the way of the world will simply not allow us to close our grip on victory.
     So, in the big picture, why do we chase the ideas, plans, possessions, and connections which are to never be conquered or obtained? Maybe the more we push ourselves beyond our own expectations, the more we are able to establish reasonable goals in our lives and successfully accomplish them. Maybe in doing so, others will pay attention to us and be inspired or motivated by our actions and determination. Quite possibly, somebody could pile all of this into a rambling of confusing terms and awkward word-flow, only to then post it on the internet somewhere (sounds familiar).
     Listen up. I am only going to say this once, so make it count and take it to heart. Sometimes, on a very rare and entirely special occasion, the cat gets an ever so delicate grip on the felt mouse. With the most strength, determination, and hope he has ever put forth in his life, he will manage to use that minuscule grip to break the unsuspecting string and watch the felt mouse fall to the floor. The cat will then stare at it in amazement and complete shock; the felt mouse was never supposed to come off of the string. Why did that happen?...Because, sometimes, just maybe, you really can achieve the impossible...

Grace and Peace,

-Stalk me. Message me.  Add me.  I really don't mind.-
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drew.silvers
YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/drewcoustic
Email:  drewcoustic@gmail.com
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers
Instagram:  http://instagram.com/jdrewsilvers

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Millennial Truth About Social Media...

The public eye.  This is something that has changed dramatically over time as public exposure was once reserved for the likes of actors, actresses, musicians, and politicians but now has a role in daily life.  What do I mean?  We are not all celebrities or move-makers, but for some reason, many of us enjoy posting the content of our lives on the internet for anyone to read at any moment.  The real issue is that there are opportunities out there we are missing completely relating to our passions and business ventures concentrating upon exposure.  

I have been writing this blog for roughly four months now and I have learned a little about sticking my foot into my mouth as a result.  The reasoning behind this was my lack of concern for all things social media when I began this little hobby.  Ironically, my blog started off on Facebook, but I still did not have much to do with other aspects of social media until I spoke with two people about it directly.  One of these people I am connected to at Google as a source of advisory for my content, and the other is a good friend of mine who has spent the better part of a decade in the view of the public, traveling, and performing.  Without going into too much detail for it to backfire, both of these people told me the same thing:  I have no room for growth without showing the world I am a real person.  You know me, you know my blog, and you therefore know that being a real person is of huge importance to me in any regard, so I listened to better understand what they meant. 

My adviser discussed my goals with me for a bit and knows that after all is said and done, writing is something I love to do and if it becomes a full-time occupation at some point or does not,  I will not slow down.  The thing is, I am trying to convey a message to the world, and am therefore visible to the public on a regular basis, which means those people who want to know what I have to say need to be able to connect to me in a real way and not just as a guy with a keyboard behind the computer screen.  Times have changed and people have changed the way in which they become interested in others.  Not too long ago, picking up the newspaper and reading a good article by a favorite author each week was normal and left at just that;  someone who wrote words on a page.  Now?  No.  People want to engage with their favorite writers on a personal level and if they cannot, those once devoted readers tend to fall off.  This stems from us being a part of the age of information where the public wants more from a writer than their thoughts once each week.  The public also wants to have them nearly tangible and are hungry to know even more about them than their cocky accolades on their company website.  The whole idea comes down to marketing and the way people have changed.

Now, stepping away from the conversation I had with my adviser and moving along to my very publicly-living friend, I will tell you how certain facets of marketing yourself for the consumption of the public have changed drastically.  

When I was a kid in the nineties, someone passing out CD's on a street corner would have been the most awesome thing in the world to come across, but not now.  During the time I was growing up into my teen years, CD's were still coveted and not wasted as they were still the main form of media passed along for music and software.  If someone handed you a nicely-packaged disc as a promotion, you listened to it at the first chance before proudly tucking it away into your collection.  I went to a concert of the friend I was talking about above in the spring of 2012 and afterward, there was a guy standing on a street corner, with a box full of these:
The man handing these out worked for someone, but I have no idea who.  There were an assortment of EP's in his box from various independent artists and I know this because the friend I was with had one shoved into her hands as well.  She brushed it off and gave her's to me.  This marketing strategy would have worked fifteen years ago, and I am a big lover of music, but nearly a year has gone by and I have not even broken open the packaging on the one pictured above; it was also tossed around in the back of my car for a few months.  Why?  I could not begin to tell you, but I know I am not only speaking for myself because many of my friends have similar, unopened music sitting around their houses.  This sort of marketing is a big expense, but I really do not feel like it is working effectively to get people exposure as it is no longer the way to reach people.  

My friend I mentioned before essentially explained to me that in order for anything to grow in the view of the public in writing, music, organizations, or any sort of production in the hobby or career field now relies heavily on social media;  because the people you are trying to reach need to know you are real.  If you do not want people to know you on a more personal level, you are failing at your supposed goals and will never get where you are headed.  I listen to him because he understands and was able to turn his passion into a successful career and would still be playing music for fun, had he not.

  Interacting with those who support your efforts is a bigger deal than some people imagine.  Now, I understand that not everyone fits every little social media situation, because I surely do not but being involved in more is better than few;  few is better than none.  My adviser and I also went over a few other ideas that enlightened me to the purpose of an online presence.  One of those being to stay away from automation; and you will probably know what I am talking about when I begin the next paragraph.

After starting and writing this blog for a while, I noticed all of these different "widget" settings available on Blogger, one of which was an automatic post update.  Essentially, I could write a blog, and the second I clicked "Publish" a post announcing my new blog would automatically show up on my Facebook, Twitter, be sent to my Email Subscribers, or really any other social media platform of my choice.    I did not set that up because I believe this practice is stupid.  Nothing takes the personal, relational aspects out of someone's efforts quite like automatically updating their social media.  This is soulless and lazy to me;  my adviser agreed.

The whole point of being public is being able to relate to those who either do or may pay attention to you.  Not being able to post your own, personal updates about writing a new blog, making a new video, or doing a live performance - of whatever sort, makes us look a little less human and much less caring.  The only big lesson I learned from the company I formerly worked for was directly linked to this topic and involved envelopes.

When I worked at my previous job, the corporate managers made everyone at every level of employment hand-write addresses onto envelopes, one section of the local phone book at a time.  Why?  They were putting information about their services into those envelopes and sending them out to everyone in the area.  You see, receiving a letter with your address printed across the front of it or shown through a plastic window is rarely opened and discounted as "mass-mailed junk", but eighty-percent of people who see a hand-written address on an envelope will open it because it looks more personal.  The same idea holds true with social media.  Automatic updates requiring minimal effort get discounted as the same old thing you saw a few days ago, last week, whenever over a short period of time.  I had a friend a few years ago who played gigs a few days per week and had his Facebook set up in that way.  After a few weeks of seeing the same, impersonal information regularly, I hid all of his posts from my feed and stopped paying attention to his music altogether.  Whoops...  Sorry, but seeing the same thing over and over like that puts you into the same category as the people who "share" twelve Christian posts everyday;  you are either ignored or blocked from my feed, and I have had this talk with quite a few people who do the exact same thing as I do.

What I have realized is that in order to make a mark on anything you are doing publicly and to get your material out there within any medium, social media is now a necessity.  I am not talking about having an account within those circles of information that you never post anything on or posting something once every week or so, but you must be active in showing the world you are a real person.  People in this generation grew up wanting to know more about the people they are trying to connect to and if you are trying to be visible, keeping them fed is a necessity, as they are the best exposure you have.  Letting your audience into every detail of your life is not necessary by any means, but everyone wants to know a little bit more about who they are reading, looking at, or listening to.  

I am not a "success story", because I do this as a hobby and nothing more, but after talking to two people who understand and live within the importance of self-promotion and personal marketing, I also have a pretty fair grip on the idea.  Sitting back and doing whatever it is you do without being involved with the public is fine if you do not have any intentions of your material getting out to the world; but if you are a creator of any sort, the motivation to reach more people should be within you, the need to further connect with your audience should be within you, and you should be acting on these things in huge ways. 

But do not act like this:

Or this:
Be yourself and use free marketing tools to your advantage.  
Writing a blog and not promoting it with free resources?  
Playing gigs and not using social media to thank your audience every time?  
Posting a video on YouTube and not responding to the comments?
When did we get so lazy and decide free marketing to millions of people was not necessary to spread our message?
Is that not the whole purpose of being visible?

Being completely honest, there are people who take the social media thing too far:
-I talked about automatic posts (Making posts more personal is not hard, get with it.)
-If you have more hashtag characters in your post than content characters, you look like an idiot.
-Be real and honest, but not too personal.
-Do not post if you are drinking.
-Stay away from politics unless that is the basis of your purpose.
-Profanity still turns away more people than you think.
-Read your "deep" thoughts over a few times before posting them or you may look crazy.
-Post often and stay active, but do not overdo it.

This is not the end-all, be-all advice for anyone and the only piece I am really saying is that social media is your most effective tool in reaching out to the public today, as I am living proof of that:

  A few days after actually getting on Twitter, another writer with a huge span of readers retweeted something I said and my subscribers exploded.  They wanted to know the person behind the tweet and found my blog.  I cannot share my numbers with you on here, but I will say that I literally jumped up and down in the moment because my analytics were climbing so much.  After an initially huge spike two weeks ago, people are finding my blog through my Twitter at a rate of sixty hits per day from the link on my profile, whether I post a blog that day or not, and the number keeps climbing.  Even though my Twitter followers are few, my little profile is being found and linked from.  I have fifteen-times that many followers on Instagram and those linking to my blog from there on a daily basis are on a similar path to Twitter.

Am I anything great?  No.  I just want to share what I have to say with the world and get exposure to as many people as I can.  Less than a year ago, I was pretty far against most areas of social media, but I have realized how beneficial this tool can be to spread a message or provoke a thought.

If your goals are to spread your ideas to the masses and you are not spreading them in every way possible,  you should probably adapt or change your path of influence to something else.
Do not be lazy with your passions or expect something random and great to happen out of the blue; it will not happen to you.  Your goals are only as proactive as your own efforts.

Grace and Peace,

Follow me - Add me - Stalk me - I really don't care.
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Difference Between A Boy And A Gentleman...

Why play video games when you build things with you own, two hands?

I am going to give you an example of a struggle we are dealing with as Millennials which is all too real and far too common.  None of us should be subjected to any of this, but we are nearly all guilty in one way or another.  My generation is not what we were envisioned to be in many ways and I see quite a fault looming in a downward spiral and all in the name of "progress".  Men, you have stopped listening.  What?

"Oh my God, he's going after guys again..."  Yes, I am because I am one, but if I were a woman there would surely be a similar blog to write concerning the failures of women.  I cannot write about many negative aspects of current-day women because I do not possess the attributes of being a woman;  just as I cannot write about parenting due to my lack of children.  What do I mean?  The day and time of the "gentleman" has left us all for the most part and us men are too terribly blinded to even notice.  Men like the word and nearly every man believes they fit the mold of that very definition;  but few do.

Has anyone ever taught you the truth of what being a gentleman is?  Could you ask any man you pass in public for their definition of the word and get an accurate response?
Gentleman - A chivalrous, courteous, or honorable man. source
Within the eyes of the majority (facts? I see it everyday; majority.) of my millennial brethren, a gentleman is a man who does something pleasant for a woman.  The issue here lies in the motivation for doing so, as being "pleasant" is only a small fraction of the definition.  Men are more likely to tip a restaurant server a higher amount if she is good-looking, are more likely to hold a door open for the same reason, are more likely to buy a drink, more likely to play the role of a good friend with an underlying motive, so forth and so-on.  The problem is, none of this has anything to do with the core of the duty of being a true gentleman;  this screams "pretentious scum" or "completely misguided" to me.

What are we doing?  There are so many of us men entirely caught up in the lie of what is expected of us by the rest of our peers.  Sure, this has existed in the past generations;  I understand that entirely, but we were pushed to do better than those before us, not chase down their prior faults.  There must be a line drawn somewhere between being a boy and being a man, but all I can see is a thick fog over where that line begins. 

The years are catching up to me now and I am seeing the same, continual issues exacerbate as those younger than me get to a more "mature" age, while keeping a juvenile mindset.  I can safely say that most of the men (married or unmarried) I knew when I was eighteen have grown ten years in age and maybe earned a college degree, but still have the mindset of a teenager and I do not know why.  None of this is saying that I am against having fun by any means, but I know the majority of those from my dad's generation were not logging compounded weekly hours playing video games or eating junk food while watching every single NFL/NBA/NHL game during the season when they were my age.  Sure, the technology did not exist back then, but I do believe they were better for it.  Back in the generation of our parents it really seems as if people communicated more clearly, or if you did not want to communicate, disappearing for a few hours or days did not make anyone very worried.  Men appreciated women a little bit more overall in the past, modern generations, because with less distractions comes more time to pay attention to each other; specifically to women.

There has never been a perfect generation and I know that, but it seems as though we are getting weaker and weaker by the decade.  Many years ago, there was a gender split between women doing housework and men having an outside job.  Eventually we started growing a bit more together as far as household responsibilities and being in the workforce are concerned, but we have created other boundaries in the process.  There are exceptions to every rule, but in general we have created more and more prominence of men doing "men things" like pushing buttons and staring at a screen (yeah, I don't get it) for extended periods of time or watching hours of other grown men grabbing on each other every weekend for sport (on the same screen as mentioned before).  Where has the time gone where men appreciated women and were allowed to sit in the same room with them, with just each other, talking about their day, frustrations, joys, and plans for the future?  I want to get back to that and live in a place where men are not selective about how they treat women based on anything other than having a general respect for them.  Ideally, I want to be in a place where relationships do not have defined lines of separation so readily as we do now.  I want men and women to be one in the same with each other because mutual respect goes a long way.

A man?  I am one, so I am putting this whole thing on men.  Women could very well have similar issues, but I cannot talk about them, as I said before;  doing so would not be fair and undoubtedly be received poorly.  Leaving you with this is all I can do...

Go out of your way for all women who have done you no wrong.  Regardless of age or appearance.

Act appropriately towards women and do not even use slurs about them in private.

Have decency and show respect.  Do good for nothing in return.

Stop being a boy.
Stop trying to be "a man".
Learn what it means to truly be a gentleman...

Grace and Peace,

-Add me.  Stalk me.  I really don't mind.-
Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Truth Behind Music And Who We Are As People...

Me, a few years ago.

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an authority on the topic of music.  Even though music has been a highly integral part of my life since my early teens, I do not claim to be of any hierarchy concerning my ability to play, compose, or dissect it.  Though, I do claim that the things we hear and experience in life have a way of shaping us as individuals and allow us to connect better with others.

This whole blog idea started for me when a friend of mine mentioned how music connects so many things in her own life, which is a conversation her and I have on a fairly regular basis for nearly a decade.  Music connects people to each other and there is no other medium of expression anyone can have which allows us to show thoughts and emotion on any level, from the most simple to the extremely complex.  What I mean by this can be taken as an object of comparison between two entirely different genres.  Allow me to explain a bit further.  

One of the greatest composers, in my opinion, was Mozart.  Anyone who appreciates music and understands a little composition here and there will be able to pick out exactly why the work of this man is still just as brilliant and relevant today as it was when originally composed.  Speaking of one of his most well-known pieces, consider Piano Concerto No. 24.  This amazing piece of music took him around six months to score and was written specifically for eight different classes of instruments.  Having something like this spring from your mind and be scripted onto a piece of paper is mind-boggling to say the least.  Every classical composer goes through a similar process and time frame if they are serious about their work;  such is the way of the trained musician.  I love every bit of that.

Moving forward and into the modern day, the legitimate classical music audience has been getting thinner and thinner as the years go by, because as with anything else, music evolves with time.  People have more thoughts in their heads currently than they did over two-hundred years ago and the songs most hold dear to them are not half-hour concertos, but usually popular music lasting under five minutes from start to finish.  During the time of Mozart, music was something you trained to do and was a life-long investment of your present and future.  Music was something enjoyed in concert halls and instruments were only ever picked up by those who wished to make the practice their livelihood.  Today though?  Peter Buck (of the band R.E.M.) once said:
 "If a song takes more than twenty minutes to write, it probably wasn't worth writing."
One of his most famous works is titled "Losing My Religion" and was written from beginning to end in about ten minutes.  

The freedom of expression and wanting to do what we enjoy with our time has become a very important part of my Millennial generation and a few coming before it.  Music travels anywhere and everywhere with us and is no longer something we are treated to once a year or less via a concert hall in a huge city.  Music has become less formal over time, sometimes in a bad way and sometimes in a more positive fashion.  The melodies and lyrics we listen to both define and connect with us in ways we have not seen before in any similar activity throughout the whole of history.  

All music is not good, but all music is also a matter of opinion, so we have the ability to either accept someone's effort and motivation or move along to something that does strike our fancy.  

Music shows every emotion and instance in life we wish, as I said before.  The music we connect to varies deeply and as far as I am concerned, the more diverse an artist is, the more accepted they are by myself and some others.  
-Rappers who only speak about money, cars, and women get old very quickly for me.  
-Musicians who live in some bubbly happy place continually (why I never cared for Christian music) follow the same suit of quickly losing interest in my book.  
-Singers who carry their falsettos obnoxiously get under my skin (ie: every R&B singer who performs the National Anthem). 
-Those who cannot enunciate their lyrics properly are the worst, however.
All of the latter are my opinions and feelings about the music I like as an individual;  music at it's very core makes my opinion valid and accepted even if not everyone agrees.  In what other form of expression can that be said truthfully?

Diversity is what I am conveying here, and that is exactly where my influences and attractions stem from.  Nobody wants to hear the same thing over and over, which is why music is so great as an expressive tool.  As a musician, songwriter, or just an enthusiast, we can connect with the energetic songs just as well as we do the songs written in a darker time.  Music allows you to dance, be joyful, enlightened, and can even make you cry;  sometimes all within the same album.  

There you have it.  I have personally connected with more people through music than I can count.  There are just certain songs and certain artists who bring up the best parts of people or at least bring out who they really are deep down at a level not experienced by any other medium of creativity.

Sometimes we crash and burn while needing a good cry.
Sometimes we are happy and just want to dance.
Sometimes we need a little personal, mental healing.
Sometimes we want to share common ground with a stranger.
Sometimes we just want to write.
Sometimes we want to perform.
At the end of the day:

Grace and Peace,

TwitterL  @JDrewSilvers

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Box I Found In A Barn...

In February of 2006, I was driving down a road near my parents' house, where I lived at the time, on my way to church.  A guy on his cell phone, in a minivan, was coming the opposite direction and made a left-hand turn in front of me while tailing another car onto a side-street.  I hit his vehicle at about forty-five miles per hour, totaling both my Camaro and his new minivan.  He was charged with causing the accident and I later found out that the minivan I ran into was a rental he was driving due to causing another accident the week before.  His insurance dropped him.
This is what my car looked like:

A few days after the accident, my mom and I went to the collision center my car was towed to because it had been declared a total loss.  I spent about an hour cleaning out all of my stuff, which I then put into a Rubbermaid box and forgot about.  This box sat in my parents' barn from that day until I randomly ran across it earlier today.  I am going to show you what I found inside.
-Take note, I was twenty years old at the time.
-This box was in a dusty barn, so my hands get progressively dirty as the pictures go.

Here is the dirty box:
 Oh, the crap to behold...
 Braided hose?
 Nope, the hose to my little, brass eBay hookah.
(I put tobacco in it maybe three times, nothing else.)
 At that time, my friend Rachel was the PR Rep for O.A.R.
She would always send me tons of stickers, concert tickets, and other stuff randomly.
 The hang-tag from when I bought my Gibson Songwriter Deluxe:
 Unopened All-American Rejects DVD from American Eagle:
 The license plate from my Camaro:
 Full set of hex-sockets, still in the packaging:
 The end caps to the subwoofer amp I still use:
 Vintage guitar strings:
 Old cell phone because I had just bought a V3 Rzr a few days before the accident:
 More vintage guitar strings:
 Ugh...It was a phase...
 Because you sometimes need to yo-yo in traffic?
 Another useful tool I could have been putting to work:
 The biggest guitar picks ever:
 I went.  It was fun.  But never again...
 More vintage guitar strings:
 Creatine tablets.  $5 to the person who eats one...
 Yes...I bought that...
 Oh, look!  More O.A.R. stuff!
 SLR McLaren.  My friend has a matching one in black.
One day.  One day...
 The shift knob from my Jeep Wrangler.
I sold the Wrangler to buy the Camaro, so I have no idea why it was in there.
 99X Freeloader Card!
99X was the best station in Atlanta when I was a teenager.
It has changed hands/stations a few times and I am not even sure if it is still on the air.
Vintage guitar capo: 
 My "Class of 2004" tassel that hung on my rear-view mirror:
 The Bill of Sale from when I bought my Camaro:

May you rest in parts and pieces, pretty car:
Grace and Peace,

Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The following three pictures are going to show you exactly what this blog is about.  They are all from a box of junk that I brought home from my parents' house a few months ago.  
These items are also something that we Millennials are royally screwing up.
I'm not a gamer.  This is the most recent system I own. Seriously.
Before there was the iPod, Sony gave this a shot.
Be real, you know what this is...

I remember going on road trips with my family when I was a kid and stopping at random country stores and Cracker Barrel restaurants where they would find older candy brands or toys they remembered from their childhood.  I always thought it was cool to find things like that when I was younger; items my parents had not seen in decades but still had a connection to.  With those instances they were given time to reminisce a little bit or strike up conversations with their friends starting with "Guess what I saw in a store the other day?".  Millennials are ruining this and I will tell you why.

There has been this online firestorm of a debate for the past few years raging on about what does or does not constitute being a "90's Kid".  Without getting into the specifics of my own opinion of those parameters, this shows me that so-called "nostalgia" is becoming more and more extinct as time goes on.  Just like I said before, my parents held fond childhood memories of specific products and left them as fun instances of the past, only to sometimes run across them at random and have a smiling moment as a result;  I will never have that.  

Millennials will have no sense of nostalgia when we hit our mid-life years because we are now in our twenties and early thirties but still surrounded by the past.  I am fairly certain every television commercial from the nineties is now on YouTube somewhere and those videos (some in half-hour compilations)  have hundreds of thousands of views as well as thousands of comments on them.  Facebook is full of photo-shopped images people "like" in order to post on their newsfeed saying things like "Share this photo if you remember POGS" or any slew of other products from the time.  I hate those, and the reason is because most of the items in question are less than twenty years old.  As far as I am concerned, we are not ready to be nostalgic and we will not have any stories to tell our kids about toys, candy, and food they have never heard of.  "Son, did you know they made clear Pepsi at one point?"  "Yes, dad.  I saw it on 'I Love The 90's' on VH1."  With that, we have nothing because our nostalgia is being remembered a few decades too early.  Some of us are so resilient that the products we knew back in the day are returning to market again;  Gak, Floam, and Furby as examples.

Have you ever seen that episode of FRIENDS where Monica runs into a guy she knew in high school over a decade after graduation ("Chip") only to have the happy teenage thoughts come back?  Chip asks her on a date and she says "yes", of course.  After meeting up with him, she was expecting the same exact person she knew as a younger woman and that was exactly the person she found.  The problem though?  He was still stuck in the same charmed version of reality as in high school and had yet to really get his feet off the ground, while she was driven and moving up in the world.  Her fantasy should have left him as who he was so many years before and lived on as more of a fond memory rather than figuring out he was still living with his parents and working a part-time job.  Monica was caught up in a romanticized idea of who he was that nobody else could really see, but she eventually figured out. 

This is the same way I feel about having tangible nostalgia relating to my nineties childhood while still in my twenties.  I would like at least ten more years to go by before I hear about Beanie Babies, POGS, Surge, or JNCO's again.  There has been no delay from my childhood and I fear it is being ruined by the continued exposure.  The biggest part of me really wants to leave my memories in the past as something of huge importance and possibly exaggerated memories instead of having them all readily available and being disappointed that they are now not as great as I remember.   

Some aspects of life, including people, should be left in the past.
Can they resurface?  Sure, eventually.
Just be certain you are not setting yourself up for disappointment later.
Spoken as a true "90's Kid".

Grace and Peace,

Twitter:  @JDrewSilvers

The lyrics from the title of this blog came from the song below and were written, performed, recorded, and produced by my friend, Will.  Check out Cartel here:  http://www.cartelrocks.com

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Millennial Meltdown - Part 6...

January, 2007 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia I saw it happen on this very stage shortly after this picture was taken:
A crowd of about thirty-thousand had gathered, some of which were in overflow rooms at the Georgia World Congress Center once the Arena had reached capacity.  This was the moment my friend of about a year at the time took the main stage at the largest college conference in the world.
He was only twenty-two, which seems young in most professional industries other than entertainment.  The night he stepped on the main stage with his guitar in-hand was what he had spent hours pouring over everyday for most of his life.  What many people do not know is the magnitude of the conversations he and I had during that time.  

Where am I going with all of this?  Millennial goals and how we easily lose our way while trying to obtain them.

My friend in this situation had a goal of getting somewhere with his music and used every spare moment he had to promote it.  I saw others in similar shoes during the same time period who were very talented as well and claimed to have a passion for their work, yet did not give it every bit of their energy; they did not make it.  The great thing about my friend is that even through other jobs and making sure he had a secondary plan in case the music thing did not pan out, he never once lost focus of his ultimate goal.  Writing music all the time is one thing, but grabbing every gig and open mic you can find, recording every track possible so you can put it online, being incredibly active in every social media environment possible, collaborating with other musicians, and keeping tabs on the status of record labels was what really made him shine.  
After that night in 2007, after he took the main stage, he signed with the most prominent label in his genre and continues to be a best-selling artist within those parameters and on world tours to this very day.  Why?  He filled every spare moment of empty space in his life chasing his goal and made sure to promote every bit of it in every way imaginable.  

 Why did I use music as an example?  Within my own life and personal experiences, music goals are the most familiar to me.  I went from chasing music, to golf/country club management, so using the example of golf is not nearly as riveting.

As Millennials, we seem to have lost this dream somewhere. Actually, no, we have not lost the dream so much as we have lost the drive;  that makes more sense.  Someone, somewhere in our lives has told us before that we should set goals and follow our dreams to ultimate success, and some of us have tried even though we were not really taught or guided in how to do so effectively.  A few generations ago, teenagers were told to go out, get a job, stick with it, and move up in the world to find success.  However now, we are told to just go out and do whatever it is we do until we figure it out on our own, for the most part.  

Creating goals and following the dreams that have been set inside our heads for years is great, but the reality is sometimes we cannot put every ounce of trust we have into them;  many of us were never taught to think that far ahead.  There are too many of us floating around out there who say things like "I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life."  even before finding success in what it is we are doing.  I am not talking about money;  success does not always have a dollar sign with it.  Yet, some of us older Millennials have spent the larger part of a decade chasing down a full-time dream while applying part-time effort, or less.   

I have seen more than my fair share of people in my age demographic who have their families invest in their business or theoretical ventures of success and be very proactive at the start, only to let their commitment slip.  For some reason I cannot explain, we have the idea in our heads that we can start the ball rolling with most things and then just sit back and watch it all fall into place.  Who the heck taught us that?  The way I see things is that in order to get anywhere in life or to make a success of your ideas or yourself, you must have a never-faltering drive to constantly do better; to continually improve your skill within your business in whatever that may be.  I can name far too many people near my age (27) who still have some sort of financial support from their parents because they are sitting back, waiting for something big to happen in their ventures without being proactive enough to make it happen or even push it along with enough commitment.  This literally makes me ill in the pit of my stomach.  

Talking about our success is easy, just look at Facebook if you have any Millennials present on yours.  Anyone can be a "big deal" on the internet or talk up what they are doing to the point of making such believable at first glance because I see it everyday.  Take me for example:  My blog has been growing incredibly fast over just the past four months it has been active.  I could tout myself as a full-time blogger or writer and talk a big game about how I am doing one of my passions as a career...But I am not.   You do not see my analytic numbers or page views, so I could fudge any of that information to make me look bigger than I am, and unless you knew me personally, you would probably believe this.  

Millennials have been given this stigma of being too dependent and enabled, which I see myself much too often.  I have passions and I have goals in life but I have reached the age where it makes more sense for me to have and keep my realistic dreams close by as well.  Just because I do not write, build custom cars, or play music full-time does not mean that I should get a dead-end job and keep myself from growing in other aspects and trying out other industries because they were not my first loves.  When I was a kid, I hated being around my dad's shop and hated working with wood.  Actually, when I came back to the company, I still hated it, but I am growing and trying to apply my own experience and presence with the company and the potential for every facet of growth is boundless, which makes me happy to be there.  None of this means I am any less in love with my other passions.  You are reading my blog right now, are you not?  That means I am still writing.
Keep your goals and keep your dreams, invest everything you can in them, but do not let other opportunities pass you by which could allow you to grow in new experiences.  Nobody is telling you to give up, but keep one foot in the door of reality, always have a backup plan, and do not allow anyone to enable you.

Grace and Peace,