I’ve written before how sharing here creates connections across spaces, lives, and people in ways that sometimes I see, and sometimes I don’t. The other day I wrote about this article I read and how it illustrated choice and acceptance for me. My friend Terry in Kentucky responded with how it reminded him of one of his favorite videos from 2013, “This is Water.” So I, in turn, checked that out and it captured so many principles and behavioral changes I’ve been working towards over the last few years, that I’ve decided I should highlight it here.

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Humbled by Gratitude

thank_youToday I received a Thank You out of the blue. It came from a young woman that lost her wallet two years ago just before Christmas. I had found her wallet outside a gas station in Folsom (a few hours from where I live) on my way home from celebrating Christmas at my aunt’s house. It was late and after glancing at the contents in the wallet, I decided I didn’t want to risk just leaving it with the gas attendant.

When I got home I found her on Facebook and messaged her to find out where I should mail it. I wanted to be sure I mailed it to her most current address. We connected, I dropped it in the mail, and all were happy. I expected that to be the end of it.

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Authentic Online Connections

authentic_connectionsOne thing I’ve really been enjoying lately as a byproduct of this nerdlution thing and posting every day, are the extra connections that are being made. Part of my goal isn’t just making and putting my own stuff out there, but finding, reading, and commenting on other’s posts. So I’m learning new things every day and getting to know others better, and I think others are getting to know me better as well.

In particular, I wrote a post on songs that have sparked emotion throughout my life, and in turn, it has sparked my friend Joel in New York and Kevin in Massachusetts to post their own musings on that topic (and they’re both great posts you should read).

For me, this is what an authentic online experience is all about. It’s about sharing thoughts and experiences that are my own, are honest, and that make me human. And I think that’s what others can relate to and appreciate, which ignites something in them to think, question, and explore for themselves and share back, and thus conversations are born. It doesn’t happen with every post, but the times where those connections are made are what inspire me to keep sharing online in an honest, authentic way.

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Life in Ballads

life_in_balladsWhen I was growing up, pretty much the only way to hear your favorite song was via the radio. I didn’t have a lot of disposable income to buy any album I wanted, not even those singles that came out on cassette tape. I remember just listening to the radio in hopes of hearing that one song and stopping everything just to listen to the whole thing or belting it out with friends as we cruised around looking for something to do.

I’m a sucker for sappy songs. From my angsty, emotional teenage years, right up until my last road trip with the family this past week, I pretty much can’t get enough of songs about love, loss, and pain. I tried to make a top ten for my life to share with you, and I had to leave out way too many, but I got it down to 11. This list covers a broad range from childhood up to the present.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Step in It, but Step Up When You Do

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Photo by DeShaun Craddock

Today I read about ?uestlove’s offensive remarks he made while touring Japan. Then I read his statement he posted to his Facebook page addressing it. Maybe I’m biased because I’ve been a fan of The Roots and ?uestlove since I was in high school, but his response was honest and heartfelt, and not some ass-covering, canned PR auto-reply. Here’s an excerpt:

—look. i’m a human being and dumber yet, i’m a public figure. if you’re lucky enough to be either of the aforementioned, then not only should one stay clear of saying or writing hurtful things, one should actively work against feeling comfortable, thinking hurtful thoughts. given that black culture consistently finds itself at the butt end of so many offensive “outsider” jokes, I should be way, way more sensitive (after all, who’s zooming who). I for one, should never allow my cultural bias to take precedence over my “examined life” (clunkers be damned). i know the whole kinder and gentler thing reeks of a self serving political correctness, but eff it, it’s “all me”.
Ahmir Thompson / “Questlove”

Here’s my take:

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Unplugged from The Matrix: Being Alive in Reality

the_matrixThis past couple years I’ve unplugged from the Matrix. Unlike the popular movie, it hasn’t been so dramatic as joining an underground militia to start a human revolution against machines, but the plot is actually pretty similar.

If you’re somehow not familiar with the movie, the basic gist is that people in the future become slave-batteries, powering machines, and are kept subdued by having their brains tapped into and fed fake realities. It all seems real until you’re unplugged from the matrix and shown a much harsher, but ultimately freer reality; a reality in which you have choice. In my own life, I’ve started focusing on my problems, stopped drinking alcohol, started working on my spirituality, and started realizing that in everything—even how I feel—I have a choice.

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The Stealth of Racism

Shell Ad
I saw the ad above today whilst pumping gas and it struck the same nerve that’s always a bit raw from growing up in America half-Japanese, half-white. I’ll be the first to admit I’m racist, and I also believe that means different things for different people.

I think (or hope perhaps) that there is “obvious racism” that’s easier to spot. For instance, most people notice statements like, “You’re Asian, you’re supposed to be good at math.” or looking at any written language that resembles Chinese or Japanese saying, “Hey, can you read that? What does it say?”

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No Longer Than a Song

20131211-003950.jpgI parked the car and turned off the engine but left the radio on. A song was playing and it had that perfect balance of hopeful and sad. And we were both wrapped up in it, hands held together like we were two high school kids falling in love. Just us, in the car, the heat slowly dissipating around us as the music played on. There was nowhere else to be and nothing more important than hearing how it ended, together. We didn’t need to speak or maybe we just didn’t have anything to say that could be more important than listening. With the melody, my mind wandered from dinner, to the winding highway along the coast, sliding in and out of wisps of fog, and back to that parking lot. The hopeful parts of the song took me back to three kids sleeping a hundred miles away, our day together, and intertwined somehow in there too, was something like sadness. Like words left unsaid or regret. Then back to you, the car, the cold closing in and our hands getting sweaty together. A perfect moment that’s hard to let go of. The music stopped and we paused just enough for a breath, knowing that we eventually had to let go of each other’s hand and get out of the car.

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Just Pick Up the Phone

helpTonight during dinner I got a call from a coworker. This never happens so I knew it must be an emergency. When I answered I was greeted by a very apologetic, very worried person who had basically pushed a button they shouldn’t have pushed. We’ve all done it, right? Pushed that one button that somehow erases hours (or God forbid, days) of work. Lucky for this person I’ve had enough “oh shit” moments of my own to push me to make copies of code, saving revisions as I go, just for instances like this. Within a few minutes I was able to restore what was lost. Just like that.

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Saying Goodbye

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I’m learning (or maybe I’ve learned?) that I wait too long to take care of things. Yes, I take care of a lot of important (and not-so-important) things every day, but there are those things that really matter that I put off and put off until they silently slip away and get replaced by other pieces of life. And if they’re really important and I’ve let them wander off, they often come back as regrets.

It’s been three weeks since I returned from Honolulu to visit my dying Nana—a trip I made to take care of one of those important things: saying goodbye.

I broke into tears when I entered her room. The weight of everything washed over me instantly and there was nothing to do but cry and somehow, in the midst of that, try not to show what I was really feeling and thinking. Did she know I was there because I thought she was dying? Did she feel like she was dying? What does it feel like to see people grieving your death when you’re still alive?

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