Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A Middle Thought.

I think the last time I was on here was November. I had a lot going on then. I guess it was mainly confusion. I still feel it now, but today's different.

My undergrad experience has been so beautiful so far. I've met so many amazing people who I know I'll be friends with for life, I've had the privilege of receiving education from some of the most passionate instructors, and I've been able to grow up a little more.

You know how people always say, "Don't worry, there's more to life than now, it gets better?" I would have to agree with that, but in many ways I think people forget the fact that you have to go through a lot first. Now, I'm not speaking from a position that claims to understand it all because trust me, I'm sure the worst of crises hasn't hit me yet, but I am speaking from a position of middle ground.

About a year and a half ago I watched this movie by Olivier Assayas called "Clouds of Sils Maria," and while I watched it because I have the biggest crush on Kristen Stewart, I also became fascinated with its ability to focus on the middle of a story. I've become more and more aware of the importance of individual scenes rather than general plots during my undergraduate degree and it's proven to be a reminder of what stories are really about. They're never about the beginning or the end, they're always about the middle.

This year has honestly been much more intense than last year. I've taken up 4 volunteering positions outside of school and while they've been incredibly rewarding, they've also been quite difficult to balance. I'm finding that this year has been a direct antithesis of last year in the sense that I'm almost never home and I'm almost never in one place for a long period of time. I've honestly been feeling like I've lost myself in many ways. I've decided to remain positive and think that maybe this feeling of losing myself means that I'm not losing myself per se, but merely losing parts of myself that are not meant to carry on. Subtle parts, but parts nonetheless.

I have this horrible habit of thinking too much about the beginning and the end that the middle ground always seems to pass without me being fully aware of it. The middle ground is the toughest but also the best part. The middle ground is where we find ourselves, it's where we begin to know ourselves, and it's where we fall in love with the things to come.

I'm learning to slow down, calm down, and merely look at what's in front of me. I feel like we forget to do that too often. All we really have to do is look at what's in front of us and move forward from there.

I hope this comes to you at a good time and that you're taking time to breathe and merely see what's in front of you. Linger in the middle ground, it's the only place you're meant to.

Monday, 7 November 2016

"Where my Muse at?"

Hello out there. It has been 7 months. Yes. Sorry, not sorry.

Honestly guys, this hiatus thing, it started out as some kind of attempt at an "Internet Purge" over the summer. I wanted to do things and spend time with people and be outside. I ended up doing exactly that and it was great! It was hard in the beginning because I was so used to being inside... all the time... but eventually I got out and pretty much took care of the bare necessities AKA get outside at least once a week.

The summer was great for feeling things and physically doing things. The summer was not great however for mentally doing things. I mean I get it, I think a lot... all the time. But over the summer I guess I tried to take a break from overthinking and over-planning and now all of a sudden I feel very... empty. I wrote a few songs over the summer but in terms of writing stuff, like not song stuff, that didn't happen. It sucks.

Please watch Barton Fink if you haven't yet, super sensitive John Turturro is a babe.
Last year I had a bit of an existential crisis. This year it is much worse.

I feel like, in terms of WHAT I AM I'm satisfied. I know everything and feel comfortable with everything. But it's this whole WHO I AM STUFF that's bugging me. Now, this may not be the right time and place to be spilling the tea, but it could also be the right time and place because this is my blog, like duh, but I guess the meaning of existential crisis for me has been the only thing that has changed.

I've been in a perpetually existential state now that I think about it, and maybe it's simply the meaning of the term "existential crisis" that has evolved for me. Whether or not that includes or is mutually exclusive from the evolution of my identity, I'm not sure.

Last year, I had an existential crisis because I didn't know if I was sure about what I wanted to do after undergrad. Over the summer I sorted it out and now I am back to being super optimistic. So I guess that kind of existential crisis is what one would call "generic" or "common" or more appropriately, "First World."

This year, it's more: "Why am I here? Why am I doing this? What does this mean? Does this even matter?", which I think is definitely still common and generic and First World, but more personal, more introspective. Oh and trust me, if I've been a brain in a vat this entire time, I bet you my brain/me/I would be in the "SUPER INTROSPECTIVE!!! DON'T EVEN ASK!!! SHE LOVES HERSELF SO MUCH!!! AND QUESTIONS EVERYTHING THAT SHE DOES!!! UNNECESSARILY!!! LIKE ALL THE TIME OH EM GEE!!!" section.



I reflect on all of this now because I've started to realize that I'm becoming more and more frustrated with how my person comes across in the world. I've become more and more concerned with my place in the universe and in "capital S" Society (because nowadays the universe and society are apparently equal). And, maybe it is one of those "Oh my gosh everyone goes through it Nicole, it's called life, life isn't supposed to be easy oh my gosh but it's gonna be worth it oh my gosh" moments, but I just don't understand why these questions come up in the first place. I don't get why these questions keep me up at night or keep me from wanting to do things. This monster called Doubt takes over and everything falls apart.

One of the reasons why we doubt could be because we don't know what life means, and yes of course we could go down the existentialist route and say that we create meaning like what Zadie Smith writes in On Beauty:

“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful...and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clich├ęs, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”

*** PSSSTTT, side note: if you fangirl about Zadie Smith and everything she has ever done ever, just like me, then you'll love this article from Elle Magazine, it has footage of her singing Billie Holiday's version of Easy Living -HEART EYES EMOJI- check it out here. ***

But here's the thing, interest in meaning/finding meaning/believing in a certain kind of meaning only ever lasts for a little while if we don't fight to keep it around. I could think that I'm here for a certain kind of purpose or create purpose for myself one day and then feel completely ambivalent or want to absolutely abandon everything associated with that purpose, the next.

It's kind of like passion, if you don't prompt it, it won't come. Sure, you could feel passionate about someone you love or a career you worked hard for, and sure you could even say that some kinds of passion can come out of nowhere and hit you like a truck, but if you think about it, passion is not a consistent feeling or an ever present feeling.

If you feel that your passion for something starts to slip away, and you don't try to save it by grasping onto the reason why you felt so passionate about that thing in the first place, it becomes really difficult to keep the passion alive. If you don't reach for the thoughts you once had when you couldn't sleep just thinking about someone, or don't attempt to reel back the chills you once felt moments before the most important interview of your life, you won't feel the passion anymore.

Passion fades. Perception is unstable. People change. But objective truth? That's something that will never evolve, it can only be mistaken when it is misunderstood. Can we know the objective truth? Sure. But we have to be able to understand the difference between deception and truthfulness first, and that is nearly impossible, we're always deceived.



So what is the solution, you ask? Where am I taking you? How do we solve the problem of purpose? How do we not doubt? Well, I don't have a solution actually, but what I do know is that passion and inspiration are essential to motivation and purpose. I also know that I can't wait around to be inspired, I have to inspire myself, and in doing so I'm pretty sure I'll start feeling like I do have a purpose, you know, once I start doing things and inspiring myself to do things. Maybe not for an external purpose or a purpose I have for myself because that can slip away, but merely for the thing itself?

Also, so this virtue/saying about inspiring yourself is something I ripped off of multiple artists and writers, but if you want a name, Chuck Close said this:

"The advice I like to give young artists or really anybody who'll listen to me is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”


Here's some detail from one of Chuck Close's self-portraits. His art focuses heavily on photorealism.
So there you go. I may not agree with everything Close says because I do believe you need inspiration but I think inspiration can be prompted by the poet and not just by the muse. I mean, if the muse is out to lunch the poet can't just say "I'm not a poet today," right? Also, you might be asking the question, "Well, what's the purpose of the poem?", my answer to that is "Stop." Just kidding, but also not kidding, don't be a jerk.

My real response is, the poem is the purpose of the poem. Yes, there are also other external purposes, but the main purpose of the poem is the poem, the poem must be written, there's no other way.

My response relates to our discussion here because listing things off: we may not know objective truth, or life's purpose, or our purpose, but while we're alive and we're here and not anywhere else, we wake and do not die in our sleep. So if that is the case, namely, we're here living this life then we just have to live it and make do with what we want to do while we're here.

Here's a really horrible really cringy "young person student thing trying to not be a young person student thing" example to end this off: If the muse is out to lunch, and I'm Homer, I can't just not write because the muse isn't here. I mean, am I suddenly gonna throw away the pen, shave my probably really long beard with some sharp rock, and pick up a rake made of wood and also rocks and rake leaves? No way.

I'm Hypothetical Homer for goodness' sake, I can take a break but I can't suddenly say "I'm not Homer the Great out to change your lives with this majestic epic" I'm still Homer the Great out to change your lives with this majestic epic, I still gotta write The Odyssey man, people gotta have standards. I just need to get the creative juices flowing or you know, call the muse across the street.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Battle for Consistency.

The most hostile epidemic sweeping the globe right now is this thing called "Procrastination". All of us subscribe to it no matter what it is that we do for a living. Due to the fact that it can be absolutely inescapable at times, I find that procrastination can actually be beneficial to some of us, it's just that we're all SO BAD at dealing with it.

Now, the reason why I believe that procrastination can be beneficial at times is because some of the greatest things to ever exist ever are products of procrastination:

Albert Einstein discovered the General and Special Theories of Relativity while procrastinating at the patent office.


Paul Erdos became one of the greatest mathematicians because he chose to hang out with his friends at the park every day at the same time.



Artist Francis Bacon spent hours drinking and partying every day and never cleaned up his studio, but because of his "dysfunctional" work ethic, he completed some of the most iconic works to date.



You have probably noticed by now that the people I have mentioned all have one thing in common - they existed at a time when distraction was not as saturated an experience as it is today. You also probably know by now that I'm going to yet again speak against technology while hypocritically relying on it on a regular basis for  "entertainment" and "educational purposes."

See, the issue I have with technology, and yes I will take full responsibility for my faults here too, is that it is because of its consistent nature that we've all fallen. The consistency that exists within the functions that govern social media and online businesses is the exact kind of consistency that we have all decided to give to these corporations.

As much as I know this post is beginning to sound a little "big brother-y", I do want to point out that the saturation with which distraction presents itself at this given moment is driven by the amount of attention you give to it. I do believe that distraction has developed into a ubiquitous entity because of this technological revolution that has consumed our very human nature, *GASP*, BUT, I also think that we blame it for our self-accountability.



The one thing I seek to redeem at this point is not a life so remote that I don't involve myself in the universe that is social media etc., but that I seek to reclaim the consistency that technology has taken from us, AKA the consistency that we have openly surrendered to it.

I find that the "breaks" we seem to be having are not "breaks" but "methods of escapism". Instead of taking short breathers from our jobs or assignments, we give our clocks the stink eye just so that time will pass by quick enough for us to stop doing things and start doing nothing at all. What a paradox.

Technology has forced us to stop working. We rely on systems to do everything for us down to the very errands that we had to get up to do when we were younger. Remember when we used to have to get up to change the channel and volume on our televisions? How about the VCR tapes we had to rewind before watching a movie? Or that we had to schedule alarms for the days that TV series would be available to watch on you know.. the TV? We're not even in charge of those things anymore, so how do we expect to be productive if we expect something else to take accountability for our efforts? To take accountability for our laziness? Or better yet, to do a "better job because it's easier for it and less tiring for us?"


Technology has NO PROBLEM being instant. A lot of people are dealing with more stress because once we escape from the world of the instant and come back to reality we realize that we have been teaching ourselves to work quickly rather than qualitatively just to make up for the time we've wasted to be entertained and to take breaks from skills we haven't developed to be fast enough. It's not that we're not fast enough to keep up or to change our lives, but it's that we're not actually doing anything to improve the overall speed and quantity with which we work.

How do you expect to get better at calculus if all you're doing is searching up how to do integrals on google's integral calculator instead of understanding how to actually complete the problem yourself? Whatever happened to those visits to the library to search for books about calculus? All those trips to the library down the hall in elementary school were not for nothing my friends.

Nonetheless, I hope we can all retrieve a certain level of consistency and discipline sometime soon. In the meantime, let's at least try?

Series called "99 Steps of Progress" by Maentis

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Not Every Goodbye is Bad.

One of the greatest lessons I've ever had to learn is that of love.

Growing up, I've always thought that love was just something that happened, that you didn't choose it and that it just came up in random places with the most unexpected people. I later learned that there was that type of love: the one that just swept you off your feet resisting any sort of battle against it, and that there was also the type of love that you had to choose.

It has been said countless times that if any sort of relationship hurts, it is not love, and I agree with that. I think the root of most toxic bonds is located in mistaking toxicity for sacrifice and labour. Just because you sacrifice for someone for any duration of time, it doesn't mean that your sacrifice will always be free of happiness. Sacrifice is supposed to entail happiness and love, or else, we would not sacrifice at all. That is not to say that we sacrifice to receive love and happiness, but that our sacrifices are what give us love and happiness, no matter how painful it tends to be for us.

But in this lesson of love, I've also learned that we are not meant to keep everyone we love in our lives. Sometimes our loved ones leave us for their own reasons, sometimes their mission has been fulfilled on Earth, sometimes we just lose touch, and sometimes we are just meant to end things with them because it is the best choice for us to make.

I don't think that ending relationships of any kind ever means that we love that person any less (unless that was the cause for the end). I think that sometimes, when we're called to let go, we're in a sense loving that person all the more.

Goodbyes I believe are meant to be GOOD, I mean, why else would you have the "good" in the "goodbye"? But the reasons for a goodbye's goodness can be different at times.

Sometimes a goodbye is good because we're meant to see one another again. Sometimes a goodbye is good because we're not meant to see each other again. Sometimes a goodbye is unpredictable, and not knowing everything has a lot of great things about it.

But the point is, after a goodbye, we all go through our "degrees of separation", but we're meant to meet something or someone along the way.

I guess we're just all still searching for our sense of longing to be silenced when goodbyes end it all, and I understand that completely.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Can I Take a Break from Taking Breaks?

I'm currently on break from school, and trust me, I know that I really need this break.

I'm off until the 12th of January, and while everyone around me is celebrating this month long sojourn, I'm sitting back with so much anxiety because I just want to get back into the groove of things.

The reason why I'm struggling with this, I presume, is because school is literally the only place I feel the most "myself".

School was the place where I first realized who I was and who I could be (although I know I'm not exactly there yet, I'm quite curious to find out). It was what influenced me to figure out what I was comfortable wearing, who I identified well with, what kind of work ethic I had, and what kind of passions I had in life that took my mind away from the nervousness that standardized testing evoked.



I remember having a conversation with a teacher I hadn't seen in a while and saying to her that if I could come up with a career that was so unrealistic, but meant something dear to me, I said I would just be a student for the rest of my life (that is, if education was free and we weren't all drowning in student debt AMIRITE?).



If you ask me what my greatest passion is, it's honestly being given the motivation to do something great, being educated with the means to do this great thing, going to do the great thing and being satisfied regardless of the result. That for me is what school is.

Now, if you've been keeping up with me this semester, then you're probably thinking that I've completely lost my marbles because:

  • I had 6 courses in total which entailed 6 "exams" (three of which were just midterm tests so I know I didn't have it that bad) 
  • 6 assignments back to back on the regular (which were often due within either the same week, the same day, or just a few days away from one another, and by a few I mean ~2 to 3 days apart)
  • 6 constant study sessions (usually taking up a day each)
  • and 6 texts to read weekly

But to be honest, as hectic as that sounds, I really enjoyed my sleep-deprived, neck-wrecking semester. I know I'm never ever gonna do that again (if I still have control over my schedule in the future), but I'm super grateful because being under that much pressure really pushed me to be the best I could be this first half of my second year in university.

As for this break, I've done the neurotic thing I always do on break, which was to set up a schedule for things I want to take the time to review again from last semester, what I want to review for next semester, and what new projects I have set up for myself in terms of personal artistic expression, because I also need time to be emotional about this crazy life and write songs about it.

I also want to totally break the flow of this blog post as well and say I am so sorry for not posting for a while.

As you can see, there was a reason why I had to spend more time trying to figure out what the heck a gentle knight was doing "pricking on the plaine" instead of being my very own Spenser.

Anyway, until next time, Merry Christmas everyone, and to all the university students, happy break!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

"Object"

I am an object of consumption.

I walk the streets seen and to be seen,
observed and read at a constant speed
of judgement, and concern.

I am an object of gratification.

I dress to impress,
the subjects of greed and pleasure,
constantly grieving the loss of their
sanity and paycheques
all due to that one shiny console.

I am an object, namely the Other.

I strut to the beat of my own drum,
a drum that was created by the corporations
to make me weep when it's broken
and all I can do is rely on one to fix it,
because I can't do it on my own.

I am an object.

Of consumption and gratification,
namely the Other who breathes like her brother,
is obsessed with her sister,
talks like her mother, and looks like her father.

I am an objec-

Saturday, 31 October 2015

The Conundrum of the Self: How Can We Change the World?

We need to stop undermining the individual. We need to stop thinking that just because we feel similarly to one another at times, that we're the same people. It's a habit we've made popular -- the typical, "have you ever felt like x?" question, and the typical "oh my gosh, yeah, I didn't think anyone else felt this way!" answer.

Alright, I understand that what I just said up there was a bit of a "punch", but I want to make it clear that my point is not about getting rid of our relations to one another as humans, but rather that it's about getting rid of our nonsensical tangents that lead to narratives of undermining the unique, and stuffing the common down people's throats until they can no longer breathe the very essence that makes them, themselves.

I think that teenagers experience this all the time. We get categorized, underestimated, brainwashed, ostracized, humiliated, etc. etc., almost every single day. I bet that even our thoughts are doing that right now, the whole, "I've already heard the typical being a teenager is awful narrative" turned into a, "I'm undermining myself by saying that" finally evolving into, "I'm horrible for trying to set myself apart because now, I'm just attributing my existence to that narrative."

But I think that it's important for us to realize, that by thinking that we're foolish for trying to initiate change by glorifying the individual, we're not doing ourselves the very favour we need, which is to be proud of being young. I mean, come on, we all know that the reason why we're underestimated and humiliated for being young is because the really mean older people that don't like us, know that if we're on the same team, we could possibly ruin their "empire". As much as we look like super uneducated monkeys to some people, they also know that with a little bit of book reading and a lot of analysis, we can actually really change the world.



So, after having talked about the potential for a "young and ripe overturn of the machine", it's worth focusing on why I think it's so important to embrace ourselves, that is to say, by embracing ourselves, we're able to stop the cyclical trap of "pushing to be unique".

As a member of such a large community of humans, I know what it's like to feel lost or insignificant in the presence of numbers so big. I get it, we're all trying to set ourselves apart from one another, and as much as I know I glorified that just a few paragraphs ago, I also want to comment on why it's really hard for us in the long run to be doing that, which is to say, to be trying to set ourselves apart.

This whole quest for the "unique", and the presence of the glorification of discoveries of the "unique" being panned out for so long, is actually a process of self-sabotage when you're in the position of the other, which is to say, the observer of the unique. It becomes an issue of trying so hard to be different, that you just end up being like everyone else.



Now you're probably thinking the same thing I am: that this has to be a visible conundrum that people are either avoiding, or treating like some rhetorical question.

Actually, I've realized that it's just something we've been overlooking for so long as the general public, that it's almost incredibly awkward if we do what's actually supposed to happen.

The big answer to this conundrum is what I've been saying this whole time... we just have to be ourselves. That's it.

We spend so much of our lives worried about what people think, who it is that we should hang out with, why we should prefer wearing matching colours over mismatched tones, where we should place ourselves on the ranking scheme of societal convention, and how we should be acting in order for people to think we're different. It's crazy, because we didn't need all of that.

I know that it's just part of the human condition to be feeling the way that most of us do about our place in the world, and the acceptance of others, but really at the end of the day, the ones who make a huge change in the world, or establish their own unique platforms, are the ones who just follow their gut. Our gut instincts are probably the most unique things about us, and I think that the moment we do follow our gut, we become masters of our very own empires.






Along with this however, we need to remember that not everyone is going to like us for who we are, and I don't think it should matter as much as we think it does. We all want to be accepted but sometimes that's just impossible, and I think that's okay even if it doesn't seem like it. We sometimes can't grasp an acceptance of our own selves, so why would we expect any different from other people? Moreover, why should we want everyone to like us? Liking other people isn't the the focus of global change, it's the awareness of the fact that other people exist on this Earth, and that they deserve every inch of respect for being the individual that they are, no matter where they're from.. except when they're really horrible like the countless people who have killed others for reasons completely unjustifiable by reason, and by humanity.

The point is, love yourself. It can be hard, I know, but it's the secret to loving life, and that's important.