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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nothing In Life Is Worth Pursuing Without Being Paid

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you all.
Welcome to what, you may ask?
First on the agenda is a statement of "congratulations" because we have made it as generations, as cultures, and as people in general.
We have made it to exactly where we didn't want to be.

I have this idea in my head which has existed there since I was a little kid, and even with the age of thirty creeping closer and closer, this image still lingers and gives me motivation.  The story inside my fantasy shows a guy who works hard at a job and maintains a fairly comfortable life, but to him the noun is also the descriptor.  This man views his job as something he does to make money and sustain himself, but everyday he goes home, spending tireless hours trying to perfect his craft for the love of having such a gift.  Eventually, the lay worker and after-hours pursuer of passion becomes the hero, his love becomes his job, and life is perfect.
So, what's the problem?
I don't see it anymore - from practically anyone.

My dad grew up on a farm to the extent that farming was the only education his parents ever really had.  After graduating from high school, he worked in a warehouse and he retained that same job for the majority of my childhood.  Most people would have looked at him back then and just assumed he would live that job title for the rest of his life, but that's not what I saw growing up.  The person I saw worked hard at a warehouse everyday, then came home to build furniture in a shop the size of a shoebox until he was too tired to keep going.  This was what I knew as a kid.  This was the example I was given of what the word "work" meant.  

Yes, he did get out of his warehouse job when I was a teenager and started a small business installing trim and crown moulding which dissolved before I graduated high school, but you know what?  He was still in his shop, building furniture because he loved it.  Yes, he made a little money from his skill, but the time he put into those pieces was worth more than the sparse amount of income it generated.  During my first year of college, though he started building a real shop and began slowly filling it up with the tools he had dreamed of owning while creating pieces in his little shack of a workshop over the previous decades.  

My dad turned sixty years old last October.  He only finished building his cabinet shop eight years ago, but you know what?  It's his cabinet shop and a result of all of those years he spent knowing he could do better.  Wealth wasn't what he was after and that still hasn't been a result of his labors, but happiness and purpose is the definition of success for him.  

The problem is, I don't see this anymore;  this definition of "work" my sister and I were taught growing up.  I see intelligent people refusing to wake up and explore what they are.  Actually, I hear people talking all the time about how they are going to be something or go somewhere or how they will "find" a meaningful job "sometime".  Yet, instead of working themselves ragged while chasing down their real passions, they shut down after leaving the office, the restaurant, or the school for the day.  It's like we have developed this mentality of complacency with whatever it is we are doing in that very moment.  It's as if when we leave our jobs for the day, we turn off a switch to our brains that controls the effort put into the remainder of the day.  I mean, why would you want to do anything else productive when you can drink, watch trashy television, or hang out with meaningless acquaintances  who probably talk about you behind your back?
What.  The.  Actual.  Hell?

As I said before, I have this fantasy in my head that the people I hear complaining about their jobs, lives, addictions, or other situations are working hard and tirelessly everyday to make something better of themselves.  The reality I have found is that, instead, practically everyone would rather just settle into complacency.  They still talk as if they're doing big things though, but I have a very strong ear when it comes to the identification of an untruthful ego.  It seems like the more talking people do in regards to their movement in life, the less moves they are actually making.  
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

You see, the truth is that so many of us would rather live an appearance than an actual life.  We like to make posts on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter so people notice us for the things that practically everyone does on a daily basis instead of trying to figure out our own unique passions and showing the world our real-life devotion to them.
You know, something interesting?

Everyone has a skill and everyone has a passion, but we've fallen into the stupid realm of complacent settling so deeply within our lives that we don't take enough time to explore them.  Passions are work - period.
Am I saying that you'll one day be in a position to turn your skills and passions into an income?
No, not at all.  Most people can't accomplish that, but I guarantee you'll be more fulfilled as a person if you actually take them time to maintain the devotion.  Just don't wait until your world starts falling apart before taking said time to act and chase them down.

Seeing my dad work so hard the entire time I was growing up and finally build the shop he had always envisioned is a large part of the reason I write so much now.  He set a goal and achieved it.  I'm sure he would have found a way to build his shop by now even if he were still working in that warehouse, because that's the sort of person he is.  This is the same approach I take to my writing.  I may not ever make a living as a writer, but that doesn't mean I am going to slack in my education and pursuit of the personal happiness I only get while typing words onto a page.
This is me.
This is how I was taught to work.
I die happy if I reach one person or a million.

If you're not making moves, shut up and move out of the way.

Grace and Peace,

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I had the word "dreamer" as a descriptor of myself in my social media profiles for a few months, but removed it recently because I actually sat back for a bit and thought about what that meant.  The conclusion I came to was that the word had no business existing as an adjective making reference to any part of who I am.  However, I have been a dreamer before - and it was awful.

Along with thinking in the terms of being a dreamer, we also think along the lines of having a solid expectation.  Dreaming is a product of a far-fetched reality and the feasibility of accomplishing a dream is extremely unrealistic.  Dreams are generally unobtainable thoughts, but attempts to make an actual accomplishment for yourself or someone else does not fall into the same category because these are called "goals".  

"Dreamer" sound so much more majestic and empowering than "goal seeker".
What are you looking to do with your life?
Adopt a title or reach an accomplishment?

When I was dreaming about my direction I kept hitting these walls because the things I was chasing after were largely unfeasible.  Talking about dreams as if they were actually goals made me stick my foot into my own mouth far too many times because following through has nothing to do with having a dream.  Dreams are by chance, but planting and harvesting an accomplishment?
That is a goal.

Over the past few years, I have made major changes in my life which I never thought I would - some by circumstance and some by my own decision.  During my era of dreaming I had a job I never thought I would lose, friends I thought would never betray me, and a vise I never wanted to shake.  Everything changed because I lived in a world of idealism and dreaming, when the reality was so much more painful and entirely unnecessary.  

If you had walked up to me three years ago and said I would not be drinking at all by the year 2012, I would have called you crazy.  Here we are in 2014 and a drop of alcohol has not touched my tongue in over fifteen months and probably never will again.  The thing is, I never was arrested, involved in fights,  driving drunk, and actually rarely drank at bars, but this stupid dependency was how I coped with my dreaming.  The obviously unobtainable lines of what I considered to be my ideal life were blurred into looking realistic because of my vise.  This is where the dreams were separated from the goals and when I finally woke up, I realized goals were something I never had.

I had no plans to ever alter my lifestyle and assumed the income I was earning a few years ago would be the minimum of my future.  At that moment I also thought I would always be growing into something bigger and better, climbing that corporate ladder while never looking back.  Within all of this I had convinced myself that being real was the same as dreaming and was certain that goals and dreams were intimately bound to each other. 
No, I was wrong.

We talk too much.  We all talk too much.
We talk about where we are going, we talk about "plans", and we talk about our futures while working so hard to predict said future.  The fact of the matter, and in the end, all that matters is that we need to escape the world of the dreamer and embrace what it means to be realistic with our expectations.  This is not to say we should settle for anything, because that is just as dangerous.  Setting goals and dealing with the hand we are dealt in life while making the best of our situation is better than making empty promises to ourselves.  Talking about the direction of our lives is great, as long as we are doing more than just talking.  Action and dedication without distraction while reaching for your goals instead of your dreams is the only way to reach success.
Success is factored in individual impact, not money.

Goals are designed to compound into bigger goals, so keep them close and stay devoted.

I dreamed for too many years but finally left my own self-inflicted fog and have begun setting goals instead.

Do I have money?
Not really, but I am happier now than I was when I had a big bank account.
Am I successful?
In my own mind, yes.
Have I reached all of my goals?
Each accomplished goal spawns a new and bigger one, so I hope I never do.
Am I happy?
The happiest I have been in twenty-eight years.

Life without a struggle means you are doing something wrong.  If you are breathing and cannot think of a single, current instance of needing to overcome an obstacle, I suggest you find one.

Life is nothing without goals.
Stop talking.
Stop dreaming.
Start living.
Accomplish life instead.

Grace and Peace,

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

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This was me at seventeen years old.  This is not who I am now.
But yes, I still have that car.

A group popped up on Facebook about a year ago for my high school graduating class and I only noticed it because my "friends" were joining it left and right.  In the back of my mind, I knew my ten year reunion was creeping up and that this was the method someone was using to put it together.  After some time, I was invited to join this group but instead of getting excited and accepting the invitation, I took a different approach - I did a massive friend list extermination.

At that point in time, I had just shy of one thousand people on my list of "friends" and most of them had only existed to me in a purely digital form since I fist joined Facebook in 2007.  These were people I had not talked to since graduation and obviously had not played any sort of pivotal role in my life over the following ten year span.  The night I was invited to that Facebook group, my friend list was whittled down to just under two hundred people when all was said and done which made me realize that I really did not want to go to this ten year reunion.

Did I hate high school? 
Was there some traumatic event which happened during those four years?
Would going to my reunion stir up a frenzy of negative emotions?
The answer to all of the above is: "no".

I had a conversation a few days ago which led to me think about my upcoming high school reunion all over again.  This person and I were talking about this suburban bubble which exists around here and how everywhere you go within that bubble creates an experience of the past.  After a while, this feeling starts to get sort of old and sometimes annoying.  When you still have ties to and live within driving distance of the place you spent your teenage years, it feels as if you cannot escape the past - or the people from it for that matter.  I came to the conclusion of knowing that a little more distance from my old suburb should probably exist in my sooner-than-later future.

I live about a half hour drive away from the city where I grew up and that is a product of circumstance and opportunity, more than one of personal location preference.  When my parents went out of town last summer, I stayed at their house for a week, which is also the house I grew up in and during that time I ran across no less than five people from my graduating class who still lived in the area.  The whole situation was weird and even though I currently work in that city, I spend practically none of my free time there since I have a life of my own outside of it.  

In Johns Creek, GA I had many great memories along with all sorts of growing experiences, but at the end of the day, moving away allowed me to grow out of my adolescence and into more of an adult.  When I stopped living there I started becoming less attached to the area and wanted the memories to sort of be suspended in time as something I could look back on and know that I had carved a life away from it, yet was still close enough to visit if I ever felt the need.  

In my own high school, I did not have many friends and this had nothing to do with being an outcast but had everything to do with me separating my actual life from my life at school.  Most of my real friends went to other schools and were at least a year older than me, I devoted no time to extracurricular activities or sports teams at my school, and I only went to my senior prom because I was told not going would lead to regret (that wasn't true, by the way).  I am so disconnected from the class of 2004 that it apparently took two months for anyone to remember me because that is when I was finally invited to join the Facebook group. With all of that said, I still regularly talk to a total of three people from my graduating class (out of maybe seven hundred people), one of whom lives across the country and the other two who are nearly as excited about a ten year reunion as I am.  

There is a possibility that some of the people I did not particularly like as a teenager have grown into great people just as much as there is a possibility that they have not grown at all.  What I found out when going through my rarely researched friend list the night I started removing people was just how immature so many in my graduating class still were and how little ambition (read: class) they possessed.  Most seemed fairly normal, but there were some who never really grew out of their adolescence and it shows - because they either appear insane, uneducated, or childish. Then I realized I was probably better off not knowing some of this information and was also confident that I would also never offer them a job if somehow given such a random opportunity in the future.  Yikes.
The thing is, I am happy with leaving the past in the past and remembering people as the individual they were ten years ago because that is the person I knew.  I hold a grudge with nobody I graduated with but on the same plane, I also have no reason to take steps backward to re-live what experiences we may or may not have had together.  Getting into a pissing match with my former classmates is also not on my "must do" list and I am content with leaving behind what I experienced in the past as opposed to reverting to a place and time I have grown out of and into something better for the most part.  

When meeting someone new, I have never once asked them what sort of person they were ten years ago in order to make a judgment of their character in the present, because that would be asinine.  Likewise, I expect nobody to be the same person they were in high school after so many years, but many of us seem to romanticize them as "Little Bobby from the neighborhood." and often have conflicting results in reality.  I would just rather look back on memories as memories.  The people who matter to me from that time period are few and have been a constant presence in my life because we have grown together continually over the years.  The rest can live on as a memory because romanticizing the expectation of someone from my past to be the person I envision is a little silly.  

I know I have grown immensely since high school and as such would rather leave that person as a memory and experience which allowed me to grow into the person I am right now.  
This is a past I appreciate and may occasionally reminisce about, but not one I care to re-live.
Sometimes leaving experiences and people behind allows us to keep moving forward and tends to curb our disappointment about what "could have" or "should have" been because our focus stays on the journey ahead of us.

This is why I am not going to my high school graduation reunion.  
I like memories to stay just as they are. 
The person I am now is only important to the people I am actually important to.

Bitter? None of this is bitter.  I am just content with who I am.

Grace and Peace,

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

False Influence and Shattered Expectations...

I had a conversation the other day, and by "had a conversation" I mean someone disagreed with me about about something I posted on Facebook and it ended up with two of my friends talking about chocolate-covered Skittles.  Because, what is my life but not candy and intellect, right?
Digression...That is a thing.

Over the past few days, my brain has been chugging along and through a series of experience, conversation, and senseless pieces of reading, I have been thinking about what it means to be peaceful as a whole.  

I have no idea how to go about this without offending anyone, so I will instead offend everyone to keep from expressing some stupid idea of neutrality, which is just as silly as expecting world peace.  

This is where everything started in my thought process.

Agree with me or not, and whatever your opinion may be is respected by me, but keep in mind that respected and accepted are two different entities, but world peace cannot happen and it will not happen.  Essentially, you and I as well as every other person who has previously, currently, or will take a breath in the future will never see a peaceful world exist.
"But, you don't know that."
Actually, I do.

World peace cannot happen because humanity as a whole does not care enough for this to happen.  Living in a world of peace and continual agreement does not hold an ounce of possibility because there is no way anyone can make everyone on earth care enough.  Taking this idea even farther down the pipeline, most of the people who preach such a doctrine to the world do just that and nothing else.  Just as I have said before, most people want to look a bit differently on social media or to the mass public than they do in private - this is how we are wired as to crave acceptance.  The very few who do not care about the idea of acceptance by others are the people who take action, the people who make moves, and the people who give to their passions every ounce they can possibly give.
This is probably not you.
This is also not me.

We live in this two-faced world where most of our population acts in a certain way towards some people and situations yet change their demeanor drastically in others.  I find this funny because it seems most people I know who speak so vocally about their own definition of success and how to achieve it tend to be drowning in their own fantasy world of underachievement and use this projection as a coping mechanism for their own faults.  Those who share the most positive actions to the general public seem to be those with the shorter fuses in private because of the weight they have put on themselves to have a separation from negative emotions. I even know some who proclaim the greater things they will do in life and set goals on a whim which they will actually never see through because of eminent distractions they also pick up on a later whim.
Do you see what I mean?

The way I view this whole world peace expectation as something unobtainable holds true.  I claim factual status because for every devoted person there is to whatever cause lays before them, there are at least a million others who either spend their days claiming greatness while not following through or not caring at all in the first place.  The truth of the matter is that nearly nobody cares enough outside of their circle to actually make the adjustments required to move such a mountain.

We cannot make anyone change their opinion, which is one of the most incredible factors of the human form.  Anyone who says they "change" for someone else is making a temporary adjustment because real, personal change only comes through self-discovery and is not based entirely upon another person.  We become the person we are through growth and all we can do as a product of our own growth is influence other people - not force them into something they were never destined to be in the first place.  

Does that make any sense?
At the end of the day, we are all very different people.  The biggest difference we can make in our lives is through our own influence to those within our circle.  What is so great about circles is how they intertwine with each other and the way in which these actions do tend to rub off onto other people.  

World peace, though?
You will never see it, and I will never see it.
But for the rest of your life, just try to be yourself and try to keep growing into something better; for the sake of yourself, as well as those who pay attention to you.  The more we slack in educating ourselves to the world and everything within it, the more stagnant we become as a whole - the more irrelevant we become in progressing ourselves. 

We have enough "slacktivists" preaching on social media as well as to each other about practically everything which has ever existed.  Either act on what you preach with every ounce you have to give or keep your mouth shut.
Silence is always better than false influence and shattered expectations.
Make your own peace.
Make it count.

Grace and Peace,

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

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This Is Why I Don't Celebrate My Birthday...

 Typing this out makes me feel a bit dumb, but assumptions float around in practically everything we do. Even though we should not, everyone makes assumptions, just as everyone cares what someone else thinks about them to a certain extent.  I do and so do you - do not kid yourself.

When someone says they do not celebrate their birthday, most people probably have an image in their head of an angry-eyed, bratty child, pouting with their arms crossed because they are upset about something.
"I don't even want a birthday, dad!"
The other picture that comes to mind is that of the dark "emo" person who is against society, has a personal vendetta factor towards everything, and would rather sulk than be bothered to participate.  At the end of the spectrum is the person who practices some form of religion which forbids secular celebrations.  
Is this what you envision when you hear someone say they do not celebrate their birthday, or certain holidays?  Even I have that imagery going through my own head and do not celebrate my birthday. 
But what is my reasoning for lack of participation in something so basic to western culture if I am not trying to make some sort of statement or doing so because of religion?

Story time...

When I was a child, I was pretty shy as some kids tend to be.  Everyone develops certain traits at different intervals and that was something which took me quite a while to overcome.  During my shy years (which lasted until my early teens) I went to a church that did something which I believe had an effect on the way I see birthdays today.  Before the church service on the week of your birthday, those who conducted the service would make you stand in front of the entire congregation while they sang "Happy Birthday" to you.  I have no idea how that tradition started, but when I was a little kid and nowhere near being out of my shell, this yearly happening mortified me.  If you were reluctant to step forward, someone in the church knew it was your birthday week and would call you out, while everyone egged you on and laughed at you.  Being as reserved and shy as I was during my early years and having to stand in front of a huge group of people like that did not help to bring me out of my shell any more quickly, and I am pretty sure it hindered me a little more instead.  

Let me get one thing straight: this is not some pathetic baggage I have been carrying around since I was five years old, but from ages five to eighteen it did make me dread my birthday every year because I do not like being the center of attention for something essentially outside of my own control (being alive).  
Then we move on to when I had developed a bit...

At age fifteen, I began teaching myself to play guitar.  Within less than a year I was performing and I still do to this day if asked, though I do not go out looking for it anymore.  My shy nature left me when I started performing on a consistent basis and I did not mind having a crowd pay attention to me because I was exhibiting a skill which I was devoted to continually learning.  Birthdays still made me uneasy though, because I was the center of attention for something I had no control over - this is why birthdays make no sense to me.

Two years ago, I took my birth date off my Facebook page because I do not desire the attention.  The last time I "celebrated" my birthday outside of my family was in 2007.  My friend and I went to a sports bar so I could have my first legal drink at midnight.  From that point forward, I stopped mentioning my birthday to people unless they asked and kept my celebrating down to dinner with my family.  Last year I did not even want to go to dinner, but we lumped my sister's, mother's, and my own into one dinner about a month after my birthday.  

This year, I did exactly what I wanted to do on my birthday: nothing.  I am completely content with the way February 3rd, 2014 unfolded.  I woke up, went to work, came home, ate dinner, and went to bed, just like I do every other day.

I have nothing against people who celebrate their own birthdays and I always go to their parties if they ask me.  But I do not celebrate my own because it is not important to me.  Yes, I was turned off a little because of the yearly discomfort it caused as a child, but I am also very much into showing people appreciation in the moment as opposed to it being at a set day of each year.

This is just how I see it and I hate seeking attention I do not feel I deserve having, so until I change my mind, which most likely will not happen, my birthday will be spent as any other day.  Do not feel sorry for me because that is not relevant at all and do not ever think there is a need to tell me "Happy Birthday", as I will think nothing of it if you do not do so but will not be offended if you say it either.  The gesture is still very much appreciated.

If we are close and your birthday is important to you, it is important to me as well, but you have no obligation to acknowledge mine.
It is really okay.
I promise.

Grace and Peace,

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