“Man, you’re fucking tall,” they’d say. Next was, “What?! You don’t play basketball?!” as if their minds were actually on the verge of exploding at the absurdity of it. Where can you hide when you dwarf nearly everyone in your town? How could one’s entire existence be distilled down to how far one’s head was from the ground? Nobody cared about the paper bag placed in the white plastic bag that he religiously carried with him. He was big enough to hold most grown men like babies, an urge he fought like the urge to let that paper bag go.
This 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.
Have you ever wondered why someone doesn’t just steal all those Christmas lights? Or what’s really stopping people from slashing our tires or breaking into our houses? Or worse? Yes, we lock our doors and some people have alarms—and we live in a type of police state, so certainly the fear of getting caught curbs a lot of negative behavior—but I find myself imagining all sorts of mayhem that I don’t think anyone would get caught for. Luckily for my fellow humans, and especially my neighbors, I’m a standup guy and tend to be more on the side of “neighborhood watch” than “neighborhood terrorist.”
Still, I wonder…
I skipped writing last night because I was tired and really couldn’t land on a good topic. I tried to push myself to just write something, anything, and I did. And man, it really sucked. So I deleted it. I wrote another paragraph and that was even worse. Delete. I even tried writing a sappy poem. Um, yeahhhhh. Delete. And the whole time I was struggling with it, one of the #nerdlution mantras was ringing in my head, “If it makes you happy…” I was not happy. Forcing myself to write crappy stuff was making me the opposite of happy. So I quit. And I was mostly okay with it.
Here I am tonight. Back from a work trip, tired, don’t want to write. But in my head I’m thinking: Skipping one day is one thing, but skipping two? That’s some else entirely. And then I asked myself: Is there anything I do every day that makes me happy? I couldn’t think of anything. Of course my mind instantly went to things like eating, exercising, writing, etc. and most of those things I don’t even do every day, and most of them don’t make me happy every time I do them. I do them because they’re required or I have a goal I’m trying to reach—which will presumably make me happy—and that’s the way to achieve the goal. Sure, sometimes I enjoy those things, but there are plenty of things I just do because it’s good for me.
A week ago I wondered about why I didn’t do more blogging on my phone despite always having it with me and having the tools necessary to theoretically blog on it. So I committed to blogging solely on my phone for one week as a side experiment during this #nerdlution commitment of mine to write every day for 50 days. Here’s what I found:
What if we could change the backdrop of our life’s stage just by pulling a cord?
Would that change the quality of our lives or bring us that much closer to being content?
Would the ease of changing just the scenery be enough?
Assuming all else stayed the same and we only had the power to change our setting, would we sleep better at night or wake happier?
Or would the sight of so many cords dangling from the catwalk above overwhelm us to the point of indecision?
Sure, we could just choose any of them, randomly maybe, but what if it wasn’t quite right?
Within 1.5mi of Clairemont High in Oakland, CA, there were 3 shootings a day in an eight-month period. There’s so much gun violence in that area that kids are used to it. That’s not something anyone in the most prosperous country in the world should have to get used to, especially our children.
“If I can wake up one day, walk outside, with the possibility of being shot at any point in time, that’s kind of nerve-wracking every day to do,” says Trevor Watson, 14, one of the youngest members of the group. “You can be at the most safest place that you think, and then some type of violence busts out.”
This week, millions of adults and youth are “celebrating” learning to code by actually sitting down to learn some aspect of code for one hour. This event (known as Hour of Code) has gotten a lot of hype, which I think it deserves. As I was updating my apps today I noticed that, front and center in Apple’s App Store, was a featured section for apps and resources specifically geared to help parents and teachers learn/teach code. I had heard of Codeacademy (and the app was free), so that’s the one I tried.
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?”
I 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.