Life, Philosophy, Writing

All Shapes All Sizes…

I try very hard not to do this, but it seems nearly impossible. I do this on a daily basis. If you’re reading this and we have had a face-to-face conversation, I have most definitely done this to you.

I compare myself to people constantly. Am I making as much money as them? Am I as happy as them? Am I as adventurous, intelligent, healthy, attractive, strong, cool, patient, humorous, thoughtful, creative, kind, etc… as them?

The answer is always no.

Ho Hum...

Ho Hum…

Seriously, anytime I attempt to make myself  feel good by comparing myself to others, something like this happens…

Hmm... I notice that I am more physically fit than that person...

Hmm… I notice that I am more physically fit than that person…

Dang... but they are loads smarter than I am. They pick up analytical concepts at a MUCH faster rate than I... I suck...

Dang… but they are loads smarter than I am. They pick up complex concepts at a MUCH faster rate than me… I suck…

So, I’m constantly living in this world in which I am “winning” or “losing” some fake game that I’ve created in my mind. I’ve just recently come to terms with the fact I do that. No, this blog isn’t about how we shouldn’t size each other up. I believe we’re made to analyze and make adjustments accordingly. It makes sense. When we (humans) were out in the world without shelter or safe places to hide, we needed to be able to assess legitimate obstacles. This animal is bigger than me, but I’m smarter, but it’s faster. Ok, I’ll sneak up on it or hide.

That deer knows how to analyze threat assessment...

Threat Level: Human…

But, as far as sizing up other people go… I’m learning that every single person has a skill you don’t have. And, every single person lacks a skill you have. I find that beautiful. What that reveals to me is that we truly need each other. Human beings are highly mutually dependent. I’m not sure what that says about altruism, but it doesn’t matter. We don’t just help people because we want to. We help each other because we NEED to.

Anyway, I was writing this because I felt down on myself about what I’ve done so far in my life. And the thought that talked me down off of the ledge was that… I’m needed.

And I need you.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

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Idealism, Life, Philosophy

Ten Thousand

I think I’ve finally figured it out. I’ve come to the conclusion that we all have too much to lose to be outstanding. I’ve been listening to Macklemore lately and the song 10,000 hours came on. Coincidentally, I currently received the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell from a good friend.

Malcolmore or... Mackle Gladwell... YOU decide!

Malcolmore or… Mackle Gladwell… YOU decide!

Malcolm’s book and Macklemore’s song reference a popular expertise theory that suggests that the greats of our world didn’t become great just because they won some kind of genetic lottery. Rather, they became great as a result of hard work, grit and diligence.

The study suggests that in order to become an expert at something, it takes 10,000 hours of practice. That’s an unusual time statement. It’s annoying. It’s like a mother saying her child is 29 months old… He’s TWO you freak!

Yep, she's only 238 months old! That's why we DIDN'T buy the Chemistry Pop-Up book this year.

Yep, she’s only 238 months old! That’s why we DIDN’T buy the Chemistry Pop-Up book this year.

Anyway, a different study suggests that as numbers become bigger they become less comprehensible. So, I like to break things down. Let’s say that I want to become a great writer. According to the 10,000 hour theory I would have to practice for a little over a year straight. And when I say straight, I mean I would literally need to be writing 24 hours a day. That’s impossible. Let’s break that down a bit more. If I were to divide that time into two years, I’ll be great by just practicing 12 hours a day. Still a bit egregious, eh? Well, let me put it in terms that I can understand.

If I consider the theory to be correct. I am saying that if I were to devote my time to picking up a new skill right this moment and I vowed to practice 2hrs everyday, I would become great after 13.7 years. That’s a long time. That’s quite a commitment. Worth it? Yes. But can most of us do that? No.

My day today: Wake up at 5am, go to work, work till 3pm, need to go to the grocery store to buy food for dinner, cook dinner, mow the yard, exercise, eat dinner, and finally relax at about 8pm when all is said and done. The last thing I want to do is hone my craft at that time. I’m exhausted! Is exhaustion just an excuse? Absolutely, but it’s a valid one.

Then, I imagine how realistically it would be for me to become great when I think of potential children. I don’t have time to become great when I’m feeding my kids. They can’t get neglected just because I have a passion.

Well, I hope someday I will become a great writer. But, until then, I’ll just keep putting my nose to the grindstone when I can and maybe after 15 years I’ll get a call.

The point of this post wasn’t to be pessimistic. Actually, quite the contrary. Knowing that greatness is within my reach makes me just want to practice more! Even if it takes forever, I have to try!

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Idealism, Life

Improving Improv

Hey Kids!

I’m not actually dead.

Not today... death.

Not today… death.

I’ve just been busy.

 

Something that I’ve been troubled about lately, has been my unwillingness to volunteer. I used to volunteer all of the time. Hell, I even gave two years of my life for the sole purpose of volunteering. However, lately I haven’t been giving myself the time.

I write, I read, and I work 40+ hours every week. Not to mention all of the time I spend doing improv and just general relaxation time. But, I still enjoy helping people and it hurts my soul to not be doing that. And I don’t want that to sound pretentious. It reminds me of a blog a fellow RPCV of mine wrote that stuck with me. He spoke of his volunteer service as something that lacks any kind of special altruism.

Oh, you dedicated nearly a third of your twenties to do relief work? You must be SOOO generous...

Oh, you dedicated nearly a third of your twenties to do relief work? You must be SOOO generous…

I agree with his blog for the most part. In the blog he writes of his experience as something that he just happened to be doing. My desire to continue volunteering is something that just happens to be of interest to me. But, that does not make me noble. For instance, saving lives as a doctor would be more noble and helpful. But, I am not inclined to be a doctor any more than some doctors would have been inclined to join the Peace Corps.

With that said, contrary to the tone I started this blog with. I just recently volunteered!

I did an improv presentation and demonstration with about 15 underprivileged kids and nothing in the world can compare to my elation! There is this place called Studio 222 and they do this amazing middle school after school program for kids in the Oklahoma City area. They pick the kids up from school, they feed them, they teach them all types of different art, and then take them home! It’s like latchkey on steroids. The directors and artists that help run the program clearly have a strong beautiful passion for the kids and the kids are absolutely amazing.

Yes, as a matter of fact they ARE cooler than you.

Yes, as a matter of fact they ARE cooler than you.

I, with the help of my good friend Raychel, led a short little presentation concerning improv, what it can do for you (the answer is a LOT), and then had the kids do a few improv exercises.

I was floundering a lot, but with Ray’s help we pulled it off. And apparently the kids loved it! The community atmosphere is addicting and the program’s passion for The Arts is spectacular.

I haven’t had that much fun in a long time and it only strengthens my resolve to become an educator in some way shape or form. It also whet my appetite for more volunteering. It’s strange how wonderful helping other people makes you feel. Seriously, if you are a selfish mother lover. Then you should be volunteering like crazy! It may seem like doing work for other people, but it actually brings YOU more joy. Thus, even the most callous of hearts should be getting their volunteer on!

All of these men should have just volunteered!

All of these men should have just volunteered!

Much Love,

-Brandon Holly-

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Uncategorized

The Game

Life is a game and I have been spending a lot of time playing it… Thus, I have been writing more, but blogging less. However, I would like to change that soon because my life has been very fun and interesting lately! Well… of course, I might be biased!

 

Stay tuned!

 

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

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Uncategorized

Love Affair

We fall in and out of love at least 800 times during the course of our lives. At least, that is how I feel. And if you by that, then we also have at least 800 affairs during the course of our lives.

We really do. This is not even counting the thousands of half-loves Rumi says we have.

"A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home"

“A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home”

But we also have hundreds of full loves. They inform our decisions. They cause our heartbreaks and conflicts of interest. And, we constantly have to cheat on our loves. Not because we want to, but because life necessitates this.

Life tells us that we cannot be writers and artists and scientists and criminals and leaders and followers and sexy acrobats all at the same time. And, it’s not the same as a mean authority figure attempting to control you. It’s just the reality of things. Yes, we can be all of those things. But, we cannot be hopelessly and soulfully and indefatigably devoted to ONE of them.

Now, before I go on allow me to clarify. I think we can be that kind of devoted to things that are beyond us because they are precisely that. It is BEYOND (things like hope, G-d, love, etc); but, I mean these smaller things. These things that are close to our size.

Yes, I’m a writer. However, I’m also a significant-other and a child and a cousin and a worker and on and on…

But, what I am trying to learn is this:

How do I stop being these things separately and sinfully, but to rather connect these things. How can I as a human being find unity of mind.

Stop separating, damn you!

Stop separating, damn you!

How can I MARRY all of the parts of who I am?

I don’t have the answer yet.

But, maybe someday.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

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Life, Philosophy

Celebrity

I was thinking of posting more than once per month.

No, in all seriousness. I was thinking about celebrity. I have ranted about celebrity quite a bit to my friends and family. In The Philippines I got a taste of celebrity. I was “famous” in my town merely for being the black guy. People wanted me to go their parties, be a ninong (godfather) to their children, break bread with them, etc. They wanted me around for no other reason than the fact that I was different. There were many well-intentioned people who were mostly just curious and intrigued by this foreigner that (as far as they were concerned) randomly decided to settle in their otherwise homogenous community. But, there were other people who were “out to get me”. I put that in quotes because of the fact that I understand why they would be compelled to try to take advantage of a foreigner. Now, that does not mean that it is right. However, I can empathize.

I say this because of the fact that I just don’t quite understand celebrity. We’re all just people trying to get along in this world. When we get down to the core of things, there really aren’t that many things separating me from oh… let’s say Kobe Bryant.

I see no difference

I see no difference

Except for the fact that he is a world-class athlete, makes millions of dollars every year, may or may not be a rapist, etc…. ok ok so superficially we are quite different.

HOWEVER!

When you really break it down. He is just a man. And I am also just a man. Just another dude. He eats, sleeps, breathes, and will die just like every other single human being before him. So will I.

But… there is something very interesting about celebrities. It’s not that they aren’t human. But… somehow they seem so much more than that. They seem larger-than-life. They seem SUPER human. I’m not immune. I would babble like a baby if any of these men just happened to show up on my porch…

Rudy!

Rudy!

I studied at Julliard! (Seriously, give the man more respect)

I studied at Julliard! (Seriously, give the man more respect)

Yes, I picked this picture.

Yes, I picked this picture.

This. This is a man.

This. This is a man.

(Yes, they ARE all comics… ;-))

And naturally, I could keep adding people to this list. People I respect. People I look up to. People I emulate, for no other reason than the fact that they either make me happy or are doing something I want to do. I inexplicably care about these people. I want good things to happen to them. I respect them. I IDOLIZE them.

But honestly….

Why?

I don’t know them. They have never done anything for me (other than entertain me and it’s not like they were doing that specifically for me. They get paid a lot of money to be amusing.), they have never spent one moment in my air space, they do not even know I exist.

Yet… I care about them. Albeit, in a very shallow way.

Why is that? What makes celebrities so different?

I don’t know. I really don’t. All I really do know is that celebrities have a lot of INFLUENCE.

And… well, that is a whole lot of responsibility. So, maybe we should cut them some slack when they slip and make mistakes. Because… well, we make the same mistakes too. It just so happens that we don’t do them while the entire nation is staring at us.

But more importantly. The point of this blog is….

even if you’re not a celebrity, you have influence.

At any given moment, SOMEONE is looking at you. Someone is curious about you. Someone is watching you react to situations. Someone out in the world is waiting to call you out… (I need to stop using these ellipses… dammit!)

or praise you.

So, my goal is to try to sincerely be a hero. I might not have the sphere of influence as say:

This guy will show up at your party and will F. S. UP!

Bill Murray will show up at your house party just to F***. S***. UP!

But, I have influence. And I want that influence to be positive.

I want to use my influence to inspire people to be more than they think they could ever be. I want: To help people. To make the world more loving. To make the world more peaceful. To make the world more beautiful. And to influence others and to INSPIRE others to do the same.

I started by helping Nicki Minaj out of the snow earlier this week.

nicki

You’re welcome, Nicki.

Ok, so she wasn’t REALLY Nicki Minaj, but the resemblance was striking.

I guess I could use my celebrity just to inspire people to look cool…

I don't usually care about celebrity fashion, but...*breathes in* baHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!!!

I don’t usually care about celebrity fashion, but…*breathes in* baHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Anyway, the new year shall be much more bloggier than this year I hope! I love you all! And…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

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Idealism, Life, Philosophy

Give Thanks

So, this week has been Thanksgiving. I should be writing about all of the things that I’m thankful for. The fact that I have a roof over my head, a health plan, food in my stomach, shoes on my feet. I have plenty for which to be thankful. I should be singing praises to G-d and the universe for putting me where it has. I’m a very fortunate man.

My thinking reasonable mind knows that I have nothing to complain about. However, my feelings are different. I’m not saying that my circumstances are the worst by any means. However, I do know that everything is relative. And, comparing everything that has happened this year in relation to the past two and a half years. I’ve come to the realization that- my life blows…

Just replace the books with like… life and you got it.

But no, seriously. This year has had a LOT of satisfying moments and I really am truly thankful for them. But, that does not change the fact that this has also been a particularly difficult year. I am a positive person. I am highly optimistic and we will get to that later. But, I’m about to list off why my life has been absolutely LAME this year.

Top 10 lame things that happened to me this year! In no particular order:

1.) Feeling of loneliness and emptiness due to leaving the Peace Corps and not having a defined “purpose” any more.
2.) Crippling debt
3.) Literally almost dying.
4.) MORE crippling debt. (Go medical bills!)
5.) Crappy cubicle job that felt soul-sucking (but at least it paid well enough)
6.) Losing crappy cubicle job the WEEK I decide to move out on my own.
7.) Nearly going bankrupt and living EXACTLY paycheck to paycheck. (Plasma Centers are great)
8.) Friends going through personal issues.
9.) My family dog whom I loved dearly died.
10.) Learning of some heartbreaking family news.

and 1 to grow on!

11.) Most recently… I’ve been dealing with the death of a good friend’s girlfriend. She was also a friend of mine. Admittedly, not extremely close, but still a friend and still just another dark thing that has happened this year.

And as the resident happy-go-lucky, ever-resilient, optimistic guy… I feel like this most of the time.

Well, ok not quite as emo.

But strangely enough… sometimes I feel like the opposite. B-because I AM optimistic!

Life is fun!

And people want to know how you’re feeling. They want to be supportive. And they WANT to be a shoulder to cry on, but, I’m not crying. Now, I DO have moments of sadness and anger and crippling depression just like each and every one of you.

However, they just don’t tend to last very long. I’ve said the following to friends many times. The way you process pain is no better or worse than the way anyone else does. It’s what you DO about it that really matters. If you’re being destructive or counterproductive to your recovery, that’s different. However, if you naturally just need some alone time, that’s fine. If you naturally need your friends, get ’em! For me, I naturally go to a very dark and sad place for a period of time. (some longer than others) and then… I’m ready! I’m good! I’m happy!

There is just too much good in the world to let things get the best of you. As I’ve said before, you only lose when you give up! And these tough times only make me want to fight harder.

So even though life has been doing this to me…

Life smarts

I know I will make it, that things will get better and eventually after all the beat downs and training, when I’m ready…

I’ll get up again, fight, and WIN!

Life is hard, but… good friends, words of wisdom, and a lot of thanksgiving food fortifies a man and enables him to go on. And THAT ladies and gentlemen is what I’m thankful for this year.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

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