Archive for Riffs (the random)

Something New Every Day

The many faces of a person- my persona shifted from face to face. Today I am this. Tomorrow I am that. Perceptions of myself ever evolving as I sit and stare, stare and stand, in the continuous flow of life. I recently acknowledged, both too myself and in written form, that I am learning something new about myself every day. With no real knowledge of what has sparked this, nor any real need to know, the days have been filled with self-reflection, micro ah ha moments, and a mind which is always on- peculiar being unable to calm the mind in nearly any situation- this is my attempted release.

A deep dark robust taste hearkens to memories of dark chocolate, sweet coffee, and velvety cake, swirling around in the glass, as well as my mind. The precise yet free flowing sounds of Miles’ horn next to me, a slightly uncomfortable feeling in the air, an uncleanliness on my skin that only a humid summer’s night can capture. The sun is still out, but it is fading- I am fading, fading deeper within these thoughts, and within myself. A sultry groove fills the air- thanks Miles.

I am lost without creativity, specifically without writing- this is one of the many things I have learned about myself recently. Not just a hobby, nor a casual pursuit, writing and being a writer is something that I identify as a core trait of my very being, something that at times I have regrettably not made room nor effort for. The feeling of not being true to yourself- my own worst critic.

I take much more pride and harness much more joy out of my career (which I always considered as separate, vast majority of the time very separate from me being a writer) than I have ever realized. My current work and reflection has taught me that.

I pause for a moment, for another sip, to enjoy the air, to find what comes next? Perhaps all of these- perhaps none- but I take the sip anyways. Life of a writer.

I am bothered by myself when I am anything but truthful, true, and honest in my efforts, and in my integrity on life’s values. I have not always been that way.

I find joys in simple things, and in things that my prior versions of myself and others may find mundane and dull. A quiet weekend night at home with my family, a few minutes to read a book, a chance to de-clutter my home, or even a simple conversation with a friend or loved-one. This is not to say that all wild times, and all adventures are behind me, they are not- this is simply to say that I can now appreciate both, and often times prefer the “mundane and dull”. The power of sitting on the floor playing with your son and his toys is simply undeniable, and the greatest concert, party, or wild adventure could not compare…and believe me, I love a wild party.

Another sip, strong, warm, altering…perfect.

I am no longer the one who provokes, who welcomes altercation, who yearns for a moment, any moment to make a statement, a physical impact, and perpetuate conflict in the world. This is part of the reason I no longer play the game. I strive to be strong, to be calm, to find peace, and to bring good into the world and to those I come in contact with. I have no regrets on my self-appointed role and work for the Nation, it is simply is just not who I am anymore. We all grow- we all evolve.

Another sip, and it is gone. Such is life. Drink it up.

My desire to curtail and control my impulsive and addictive personality is another point of my recent thought meanders. It is a rollercoaster of want, desire, need, followed by satisfaction, which is always followed by near-immediate regret and self-loathing.

I am blessed- truly blessed. I want for nothing, yet find myself getting down on occasion. This is another realization (that I already knew, but have rededicated my focus to), a true appreciation for my circumstances, and the will to carry on confidently with them.

Time. Time, is on my side. Yes it is…I don’t know why I said that.

Every day is a chance to better myself, to learn from my experiences, to realize that about myself that I previously have been scared to, or felt it too difficult.

I gather much of my inspiration from my son- he is my little Buddha.

I am learning to not be so hard on myself, to let myself be, and to let go and embrace it. As Laura and I discussed the other day over an evening walk, it is time to “own it”.

I truly have been learning something about myself every day lately, and I hope that I continue to do so. Norek out…

Duality

Upcoming…

  • A return to the wild free-flow of spontaneous prose
  • Train life
  • Duality
  • Letting go and not being limited by structure, proper form, or standard rules

 

The first winter storm has come and gone. Here I sit, motionless, yet continually in motion- the duality of life. The train roars on down the line- steel, wood, and ice collide in a swarmingly dark lovely cold attack windblown beautiful mind story. Here I sit. Rows of individuals, all faced forward, quiet, still, stoic- missing out on the connectedness of life. Here I sit.

The next stop has arrived- a flood, a momentary bustle of beehive kinetic flickering dance light excitement. It quickly dies down- the cold rows of warriors reminiscent of my time in China with Terra Cotta- resumes. Here I remain, in the back of the car so that I can observe, discover what the first minutes of dusk have to offer.

Outwardly I sip on a multi-layered flavored coffee in a throw-away Styrofoam cup. Internally I envision and long for a dented, cracked, faded, blue stainless steel with the little white flecks camping mug- the type you would carry with you on all of your travels and keep for decades. This is my duality- a modern worker with the spirit of a lonesome dharma bum traveler.

A few snow-capped trees pass by and I am reminded that the holidays are quickly approaching- that insane lovely time of chaos and peace- this is my family’s duality. Slyly I catch a peak of a fellow passenger’s laptop, discover what she is doing with her ride, this is what the train is in the morning- individual bubbles being gently penetrated by the next onlooker for a sense of connection and oneness. The young man (how old have I become) in front of me reeks of too much cologne- his attempt to be noticed, to scream out in a world that has trapped him in- this is peoples’ duality.

Pausing to reflect on my works, I realize that they are always there- even when you are not writing, you are writing. We roll on. It all happens so quickly, one moment you believe it will never come, and the next moment you are looking back to see what has happened- this is time’s duality.

Outside the moving looking glass inspired (uninspired) window, countless tracks litter the snow- quiet the bringer of truth and exposure, the snow tells a tale of who or what has been where- a tale that we cannot escape. The train rolls on and here I sit. Just as quickly as the snow appears and marks our tracks it will disappear and leave only a faint trace- this is the snow’s duality.

The snow is life.

Wild and frantic, the car bounces over the tracks, not a smooth gentle lover, but rather a rough around the edges sort. Here I sit. Here we all sit. This is life’s commonality.

 

Looking Back…

  • Writing can be free, uninhibited and wild
  • The Yin and Yang of life is everywhere

Repetition and Routine- Bringers of Negativity- How We Turn it Around

Coming Up:

  • Repetition and Routine as the hidden handicappers of embracing life
  • How routine and repetition impacted me recently
  • Considerations for how they can impact you and what you can do

 

Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, or so they say. I am not here to debate the merits of that statement, although it would be interesting. There are things else in the world outside of idle hands that are some of the largest proponents of woe and misery today- repetition and routine.

Coming from a family that leans heavy towards the obsessive compulsive mindset, routine and repetition are our closest neighbors, we wave hello to them every morning and invite them over for Sunday brunch. Branching out further, expanding the scope to society as a whole (at least the American society I am familiar with), it can be easily seen that routine and repetition have not just pervaded our lives, but have infected it, captured it, tortured it and ground us down. The worst part about all of it is that routine and repetition are so sneaky, so conniving that they have brainwashed us into believing that they are needed, a simple fact of life, just how things are. They do not have to be.

Variety is truly the spice of life (to be cliché).

My journey over the past few months has been eye opening. I have learned more about myself than anticipated (and I expected a lot). My view of the world has changed drastically. It is not just about career change (that is part of it); my world in the past few months has been riddled with unexpected loss, undo stressors, uncomfortable situations that have forced me to confront deep seeded notions of who I am, what I believe in, and how I impact the people around me. The road has taken many twists and turns as of late, and along the way I have brushed against some thorny undergrowth on my way to truth.

One component of that journey has been my realization regarding the toxic nature of engraining oneself in routine and repetition. This dangerous duo can manifest in countless forms: taking relationships for granted, bad dietary and or fitness habits, accepting sub-par working conditions, avoiding dangerous health symptoms, being oblivious to others’ desperate outreach, and perhaps most tragically, a general and overall apathy for life and missing out on the possibility of the true wonder and amazement that can come with each day.

Life is overwhelming for all of us in some way or another, to varying extents. Routine and repetition are what some may call tools, others will call crutches, there to help us avoid having to see each day as a unique life experience, equal parts exciting and terrifying. In general, we are not equipped, nor do we have the energy (unfortunately) to approach each day as a new adventure, open our minds up to the possibilities, see every item, even those most commonplace fresh and rediscover life with each moment. As a society we have set up our lives in a way that will not allow for this type of fresh-eyed childlike approach. I will acknowledge that there are benefits to routine and repetition in certain niches and situations, but as a whole, when taken to the extremes that we have become accustomed to, they deprive us of a baseline satisfaction and appreciation for life and learning.

In my most recent revelation, I discovered that routine and repetition were impacting my daily life in serious and negative ways. I found myself doing what was comfortable, not challenging myself, taking relationships for granted, accepting life situations that were a hindrance and contributors to negative mental states simply because they were convenient and easy. I was slipping and forgetting how to see each day as an adventure, open my eyes and see the wonder and excitement that encapsulates existence. It takes energy, often times a lot to approach each day anew; it is easier to do what is known, what is comfortable, what is right in front of us, even if it hurts us.

For myself, I have found that it takes daily intention, constant recalibration to avoid the duo of repetition and routine. It has only been a few days since my revelatory refocus, but it has been a godsend. As an artist and a creative mind, I am always thinking abstract in so many mediums; sad to say that the basic premise of living each day had started to be excluded from that list. No more. I am dedicated to allowing routine and repetition to have their proper places in small doses for select situations, while recommitting to opening my eyes and challenging the status quo of what makes up a day.

Consider for yourself, what do I do each day that falls into a routine and repetition cycle?

What things are appropriate to have routine and repetition for? Which life segments are hurt or not allowed to flourish by routine and repetition?

Once you have established your starter list, it is time to commit and take action. The action will be different for each of us. It may be that we need to avoid certain situations, approach people differently, take a risk on something that scares us (the unknown), or we may need to have tough conversations and cut out items that we once believed were vital in our life. Whatever the case, the overarching message is of a fresh approach and a moment by moment appreciation for life. It does not matter if it applies to your career, your family, or you as an individual, the message remains the same.

Looking back, I want to (need to be able to) say that I saw the wonders of life; I embraced the day, the choices, the options, and the great unknown.

Looking Back:

  • Routine and repetition pervade our lives, often times in negative ways
  • By taking some time to reflect and open ourselves up to new approaches, we can combat these negative impacts

 

Scott Norek

Blogger and Freelance Writer at scottnorek.com http://bit.ly/1KOSW02

Why “Live Every Day as if it is Your Last” is Bad Advice

Upcoming…

  • A critical review of a popular saying
  • I imagine my chaotic twenty-four hours
  • Lessons learned on how we can apply the saying without causing societal breakdown

“Live every day as if it is your last.” This well-known life advice has been stated, restated, and over-saturated throughout the years from everyone and everything from friends, family, strangers, Hallmark cards, motivational posters, to internet images. We have heard it so many times and on the surface it seems like great advice, a push motivation to help the individual see the fragility in life and seek out full-life optimization in each moment of each day. We do need to appreciate the day, enjoy the moments that present themselves, and go for what we want now, instead of assuming we will have time later on. Still, this phrase is bad advice. You should not live every day as if it is your last, for the good of you and the good of mankind. If each of us were one hundred percent honest with ourselves, fantasized out what we would do with our last twenty-four hours in this life and did that EXACT scenario every single day, chaos would ensue and society would breakdown.

Consider that faced with our own twenty-four hour mortality, the majority of people would forgo obligations in exchange for a last few precious hours with family, make reckless impulsive decisions, play out situations that they would never do in real-life because of the repercussions that would follow the next day, and in general burn out their twenty-four hours in a chaotic, emotional mess of glory.

I imagine nobody reporting to work, offices empty, commerce at a standstill. The impulsive individuals causing chaos by indulging in all forms of sin, debauchery, excess, and violations of social norms and laws, followed by countless relationships (family, friend, partner, colleague) destroyed by the silver forked tongue of people who have nothing to lose and no repercussions by speaking their mind with no filter- the immediate stalling and caving of society, all within twenty-four hours.

What would I do with my last twenty-four hours? First and foremost, I would spend all of my time with my family, my wife, son, brother, mom, dad, etc. I would forgo all obligations such as chores, work, and social obligations. My family and I would get outside, experience nature, do as we pleased, and not be bothered by what others are doing or may think. Honestly, I would probably also take in a few indulgences and risking endeavors.

Now imagine my scenario above, add in your own scenario, and multiply that by the choices and actions of every single person on the planet- pure chaos, hell on earth.

So why does this popular phrase hold so much weight and end up being uttered daily with the best of intentions? First, we want to believe that we can be free, do as we please, and experience life unfettered. Second, while the literal interpretation is flawed, the intention is a valuable message.

The message is simple, live life in the present. Do not wait for life to align perfectly for your dreams and desires, you need to do it now, whatever that “it” is. Many spiritual practices share a central theme of be present in the moment. That is what this phrase is getting at. We can learn a lot from that perspective.

In the end, be aware of what you desire in life, find ways every day to pursue those desires, and be grateful and present in each moment.

Let Go of Perfection and Embrace Reality

I can be very hard on myself and I know I am not alone. So often we are force fed the notion of perfection, the ridiculously unobtainable ideal that will always elude us and leave us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, an unneeded striving for something bigger, better, faster, more attractive, more expensive. There is nothing wrong with goals, ambitions, dreams and desires- we need that- a motivation to keep moving forward, to better ourselves. Speaking in generalities (of course), we all do this to some extent, some more than others.

Think about it. What do you beat yourself up about? Run one more mile next time, score ten points higher on the next test, wow your coworkers in the next company meeting? Or maybe you just consider it challenging yourself. Perhaps you tell yourself you will pick the perfect partner next relationship, lose five more pounds, write a better story.

In the proper setting these can all be great motivating goals and aspirations. But in the (all too common) incorrect setting, they become negatives, undo stressors, reminders that we have fallen just short, and still have longer ways to go.

So how can the same item be both a negative and a positive? Perspective. Our perspective is key. I struggle with this daily, but being able to be happy with ourselves, appreciate and celebrate our wins (no matter how small), see the big picture, and simply be in the present moment, are the groundwork for happiness and satisfaction in life.

By way of example, my wife (somewhat) recently completed a graduate degree program. One of the first things a close relative asked her moments after graduation was “congratulations, what is next? When will you get that doctoral degree?” Think about it…

My wife had literally just completed the symbolic celebration of the culmination of years of study and work walking in her graduation ceremony, and what she is immediately met with is a thin veil of congratulations, saturated with a polluted mindset bent on the continual “one-up”, keeping up with the Joneses, stuck in a cycle of perpetual reinforcement of the notion that we need something bigger, better, shinier. Ridiculous, yet it pervades all around us. Luckily she is well aware of this, we have talked at length. But, had she not been, she would become victim to the “do better” cycle.

What I have come to realize for myself is it is not just a factor in our career world, nor only in our personal life ,this mentality seeps into nearly every nuance of existence- but it does not have to. You are good enough. You have accomplished a lot. You need to celebrate who you are and what you have done.

Perfection is a myth, a fairytale the ill-intentioned sells us to further their agenda, and what the well-intentioned convince themselves in a faulty mindset. Fault and imperfections are reality and should be embraced. We learn through experience, through our mistakes and life lessons.

In summary:

  • Perfection is a myth– This applies to all aspects of life both personal and professional
  • Reality is beautifully and perfectly flawed– We learn the most from our trials and tribulations, building character through embracing and even loving flaws
  • Accepting imperfections in others is a talent– and key component of interconnectedness and understanding in life
  • The difference between positive goals and a flawed approach is perspective

The next time your coworker, direct report, partner, child, whomever, falls short and exposes themselves for anything but a perfect ideal, take a moment, experience the situation, and take a critical eye to what can be learned from the situation. Focus on showing a level of compassion, understanding and connectedness. You may be surprised at what happens next.

What would a benefit be to you and your world from accepting imperfection?

These are the thoughts of one person, a person who is perfectly flawed, like us all.

Ancient Rock

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Upcoming…

  • Micro Detail
  • Man vs. Nature
  • Advancement of Society

Author’s Note…

I was at a local coffee shop, very trendy, very artsy boutique observing their fireplace when I wrote this.

 

A solid brick base, greys and whites, intertwined with dashes of red, not fire engine red, but red like the windblown sands of a lost desert on a Navajo reservation- earthy- ancient- true. The sharp corners imposing and solid, as they turn up to what becomes a rather disappointing commercial fireplace unit. The gaudy black metal, the manufacturers brand stamped on the side, and in the most disheartening piece (to this nature loving simplistic soul) is the obviously fake (ceramic?) firewood bundle…sad. Sad that such a majestic structure of rock and naturalistic elegance can be constructed and raped of its pure elegance by man’s creation. but, by in large, that is what we do. We try to improve upon nature, try to control it, own it and make it suit our needs. It is our perversion. More metal, more houses, bigger cars, put a mall there, build a restaurant over there, drop an office complex here…and all the while we forgo the beauty that is present and has been present since the beginning (no beginning)- we forgo it and instead have trained our eyes to see it as a roadblock, an obstacle, or worse, we do not see it at all. I am reminded of this unfortunate duality by this fireplace. I am reminded that nature is the ultimate truth and everything else is a bastardization we justify in the spirit of progress and improvement.

Stay strong ancient rock.

Stay strong, you will outlast us all…

 

Looking Back…

  • Perfect beauty is in nature
  • Man in the name of advancement has corrupted that