For the past few days, I’ve been involved in one of the least entertaining activities in the world, one that never seems to end and consumes your very existence, bringing inconvenience to every facet of your life. Yup, I’m talking about moving. I’m definitely not being melodramatic when I say that moving from an apartment into a new house is one of the most frustrating things to ever happen to me.
In reality, this isn’t that big of a deal, but it has caused me to become extremely restless. It’s not because of the inconvenience of manual labor or sleeping on the floor or having to eat ice cream with a fork since all the spoons are at the house and not the apartment. All of those things are fine and can easily be overcome. What’s been irking me about the whole thing is my difficulty in creating anything. I’ve failed to complete several blog posts due to my brain not working properly, I’ve been unable to continue learning how to draw due tot the lack of tables, I’ve been unable to make my small Flask have any functionality due to my incompetence and, worst of all, I’ve been unable to wear any clothes that weren’t sweatpants and a sweatshirt due to having to move things.
My mind is so used to doing anything productive that going several days without doing anything that really uses my brain has left me feeling terrible about myself. Sure, moving boxes and carrying heavy stuff is productive in a way, but it fails to satisfy me in any way. Because of the mental unrest, I’ve been feeling terrible about myself and just have struggled to stay positive in the recent days. I had never realized how much creating things, be it CS homework or blog posts, has such a positive impact on my life and the lack of it can have such a negative impact. When I read this article about the health benefits of art, it all made sense.
As the year comes to a close, I’ve decided that one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to create something every day. I don’t mean I need to write a 500 word blog post or draw an amazing portrait or design something really cool. No, that’s nearly impossible. At the very least, I want to be make anything that leaves a unique impact on the world, however small. This could be a small drawing of a potato on the side of my homework if I’m feeling lame or an awesome photo or even just a bombass photo.
I needed to write this post in order to create something after all of these days. Now, it also serves to keep me accountable in terms of what I want to do in the future. It’s a New Year’s Resolution, so therefore the odds are already against me, but even the intention to create more is better than what I’m doing right now.
If it wasn’t clear beforehand, I’m interested in a lot of things. Lots of different pursuits are super intriguing to me and I will often start to look into them deeply for a few hours before realizing that I’ve been procrastinating my homework and should be working on that. As a result, frequently I will never ever return to that thing ever again.
My method for facing any problem or idea or just thinking about anything is just to google it. Without google, I would probably not know half the things I do today or how to respond to most situations. So thank you google. In my dives into random hobbies and interests, I would encounter forums or groups of people who were really focused on that specific thing with an intensity I couldn’t even fathom. For example, I enjoy spinning my pen around my finger from time to time. It began as something that I would do for fun, but now it’s something that can help me focus on what I’m doing. Anyways, I began to research this in more depth and discovered that there was a huge community of pen spinners and even a World Tournament.
My point is that there are entire communities of people obsessed with things you probably haven’t even heard of. There are hundreds or thousands of people that could have a passion for something that simply makes no sense to you or is completely irrelevant. Another example of this is fashion. For many men, clothes are simply a utility. For others, like myself, clothes are a form of self-expression and almost like an artform. Participating on online forums and communities to craft my personal style, I learned an immense amount about different styles of clothing from Americana to streetwear to lunarcore (yes that’s a real thing). More importantly, I learned that it was unlikely that I would ever truly become as dedicated as many of the members of these communities, who would dedicate a majority of their income to get the latest and greatest pieces from the Rick Owens collection or drop thousands on the new Yeezy Boosts.
It’s not just fashion. There are people like this in every one of these concealed communities. Personally, my interest in everything would never let one of these things take over my life, but those who would let themselves were people to learn from. They are the experts that you go to for help on your weekend project with origami or woodworking or yo-yoing. So, maybe one day when you observe some mundane activity that you find pretty cool, maybe give it a google search. You may find a place to become an expert.
This is sort of a weird thing to do, but I just really want to talk about and focus on Ira Glass, who I can say with some level of confidence is my favorite radio host. He is described by Wikipedia as an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the podcast This American Life. Recently, I began listening to this program, which I can say with some level of confidence is my favorite podcast, that talks about a variety of nonfictions journalistic stories told along a certain theme. For example, this week’s episode was entitled “Call for Help” and was, surprisingly enough, about various people asking for help, from a stranded family on a sailboat in the Pacific issuing a distress call to an autistic adopted child finding a friend.
The stories aren’t always so interesting, but the way Ira connects them between parts of the show is just so appealing. He speaks rather softly in a dulcet, perfect-for-radio voice and always seems to talk in an easy-to-understand way. For someone who is so clearly intellectual and well-learned, it is immensely refreshing that he talks just like me, someone 39 years my senior who feels like he could be my best friend. As the program progresses, he often shares his opinions, which are often filled with humor, about different stories which so often are similar to my own and really allow me to relate to him.
Furthermore, he often gives interviews or talks at various important venues like Talks at Google, where he speaks eloquently about nearly everything. In particular, I’m a fan of this snippet of an interview where he talks about the creative process, which sort of serves as an inspiration of this whole project that I’m working on. The principles that Ira outlines in it are just like the ones in The Crossroads of Should and Must (see Day 1). Interestingly enough, Ira is cousin’s with the successful composer Phillip Glass who happens to be mentioned in the book, as an example of someone who found their must late in life (at age 42 after working as a plumber).
Ultimately, Ira Glass serves as an inspiration for me in terms of creative work and communication. Communication is the foundation of everything, from relationships to leadership. I aspire to become as eloquent as Ira by simply observing what he does. He doesn’t speak faultlessly, often having “uh”s and “ums” in his speech, yet he always speaks clearly and at a perfect pace that is always completely understandable.