Monthly Archives: August 2013

Outside of the box: Forming a new perspective

Before I start writing, I want to make it clear that I am only 5 chapters in to the book I am about to be commenting on, though I am in love with it already.

I recently started reading, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, after hearing some good things about it. I was a little hesitant at first, mostly because the title led me to believe I needed to have some sort of knowledge of motorcycles or maybe even own one to understand it.

This was dismissed immediately.

The book centers around the idea of motorcycle maintenance, using the ideas associated with it as metaphors for life philosophies that the author, Robert M. Pirsig, has picked up over the years.

Early on in the book he describes the feeling of riding a “cycle,” as he often refers to it, as a means to get to a destination as opposed to a plane or a car. The cycle allows you to be in the scene. You get to conquer the space in between where you are and where you’re going. “The concrete is just inches below your boots,” Pirsig says. He goes on to mention how a car has a compartment, separating you from the space around you on your journey.

The following is an excerpt from the book that struck a chord with me:

“To arrive in the Rock Mountains by plane would be to see them in one kind of context, as pretty scenery. But to arrive after days of hard travel across the prairies would be to see them in another way, as a goal, as a promised land.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a “It’s about the journey not the destination” line, but for some reason, this quote in particular got me thinking about more than that; more than the journeys you take in life.

I want to live my whole life outside of the box. I want to have the freedom to learn and explore, even if it’s not a physical journey. I know I’m not very exciting; I don’t take crazy trips; I don’t jump off of cliffs or out of planes. I know that’s not a bad thing, I enjoy living a simple existence with room to expand at my leisure, however, I do want to make sure I’m putting my life experiences in a context that allows me to truly understanding the things I’m going through.

With all that being said, I do want to take more trips to places I’ve said I want to visit. As Pirsig says, having a good time means concentrating more on “good” and less on “time.” To me, that means not worrying about how far it is to your destination is and how long it will take to get there, just that you got up and went.

Every couple of chapters, or when I come across something I find interesting, I am going to try and do a write up to make sure I really understand what I’m reading. Wish I had this kind of focus on school work. I’d have a PhD in a couple of years if I did.

On top of all this, now I really want a motorcycle. Maybe one day.

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Being responsible for your emotions: A rant

We’ve all heard the saying, “Control your own happiness,” but what about other emotions? Sadness, regret, and anger are all things we humans experience on a somewhat regular basis. Why should we let other people have such a huge influence on the positive or negative aspects of our lives? I recently figured out a little bit about myself and started understanding why it is I do what I do.

I want to control my ALL of my emotions. If I’m going to be happy, I want to be the reason I’m happy. Whether it’s surrounding myself with family and loved ones, playing hockey or music, or just having a couple beers with some friends around a bar or a fire. I answer to no one when it comes to my happiness.

This goes the same for my occasional err…somewhat constant anger and aggressiveness. I choose to let it out when I want, which is probably healthier than keeping it in. Meh, what do I know, I’m not a doctor, nor is yelling at someone from my car for cutting me off going to change anything. Anyway, I want to be in control of those emotions, too. I’d rather get in trouble for something I did and be mad/embarrassed at myself than let someone else make me feel helpless and have anger towards them for something I can’t control.

I want to make my own messes and I want to clean them up.

I want to make my own mistakes and I want to own up to them.

 

I’ve been called abrasive, aggressive, angry, unorthodox, told that I worry too much and to slow down…yada. yada. yada. You know what? (Cue hardcore lyrics) “I’ll keep my failures. You keep waiting.” (Call It Fire) In other words, keep it to yourself. I’ll be over here learning something from what I just did.

I don’t mind being the guy who tells you what you don’t want to hear. I don’t mind being honest.

I do mind when people don’t do their jobs and I catch the raw end of it. I’d rather let them know and skip a few rings in the “chain of command” to make people aware of the problem than sit there and have no control and be miserable. Too many people sit idly by and let things happen to them. They get stepped on or skipped over all together. I want to learn from mistakes, because that’s what life is all about, right?

Sometimes bureaucracy is helpful, but most times it isn’t. For what my jobs have been and what I hope one day they will be, and that’s helping or educating others, we don’t have time for it. Face problems head on. Take ownership of the problems and mistakes made along the way. Then, move on. Put your pride away and learn something to help the people you’re supposedly in favor of.

The moral of this rant is, control your emotions. Not in the, “keep them in check” kind of way, but in the, “take them by the horns” kind of way. Be happy, be sad, be angry, cry, punch shit, be alone or with others, write a blog post about it, laugh SO loud, scream your face off – be emotional on your own terms.

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My Claim to Fame:

Since my grandma died about two weeks ago, I’ve been feeling nostalgic. I’ve had some rough nights thinking about her, but I try to make sure I’m remembering the positives. As I think about all of those great things we did together, I can’t help but remember other members of my family that have passed within the last decade; members of my family that did cool things; members I hope I never forget.

Most of my family never did anything amazing or ground breaking, hell, most of my dad’s side of the family is still across the Atlantic Ocean in the old country (Italy). However, there is one person in my family, my great aunt Helen, that not only lived over a century (she passed away at 102 I believe), but was also a part of something for the only two years of its existence and is my only real claim to fame.

She was the Queen of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in  1926 and 1927.

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 Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my family to pieces and to be honest, I could care less if they were “famous,” and that’s not because I know I won’t be unless I go on some crime spree and wind up in the papers. I like my simple existence and don’t need anything huge, even in my family’s past, to gratify a non-existent ego.

Anyway, when I think about the history of my family, where everyone came from, and all the things they did during a century that seemed to transcend what could happen in a century’s time, this is something I can proudly connect with. 

I remember being there for her 100th birthday party in Florida and on numerous other occasions. She remember everyone’s name, always sent birthday cards, and knew what everyone was doing. She loved everyone, and after 3 generations which followed, there was a lot of us.

She was the first generation born in the United States, making me the 4th generation, which from what I understand is a very long time for Jewish families in America.

The historian in me likes to better understand those roots and make sure I can tell the story to my grandkids one day. My dad’s side is much easier, as my grandpa and his brother came to the United Stats in the 1950s from Brazil and the Dominican Republic (respectfully) after leaving Italy when there mandatory military service was completed. They went to South America to avoid the low immigration quota that was placed on Italy after World War II, though I also know that many mobsters from southern Italy also went to South America to clear their names before coming to the United States, which is much more fun to tell people even if I have zero evidence my family was connected to that.

This nostalgia also helped re-kindle my idea to write about how social media and the internet will change how we are able to look at history. Not really sure where it’s going to go as of right now, but a friend of mine and myself will be slowly working on it in the near future (I hope). My grandma has a Facebook and Instagram, and though my Aunt Helen didn’t, I was able to find this New York Time article about her coming back to the parade as a guest of Macy’s.

It’s really cool looking back and it makes me proud to be who I am and where I came from, even if we’re just a regular family.

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August 8, 2013 · 11:20 am