Growth, Idealism, Life

Pain

A lot of things have happened to me as of late that have caused me discomfort. I personally felt a LOT of pain, but I understand that pain is relative and I refuse to try to quantify it as a lot or a little.

Problems...

Problems…

This is one of the things that have caused me pain as of late. I can’t say a LOT of pain because let’s face it., there are people all over the world who would KILL to have a car to wreck in the first place! My life is not bad. I have nothing to complain about. However, I have always said that emotions are valid.

One look at the twitter @celebscomplain_ and we’re all laughing at how petty and simple the problems of the other half are.

The Miracle of Flight, Apple Products, and Rumors?!? ... Tell me again how hard your life must be...

The Miracle of Flight, Apple Products, and Rumors?!? … Tell me again how hard your life must be…

But, at that moment, their life was hard. Pain is pain. Humans are extremely adaptable. Whether you’re adapting to abject poverty or garish excess, your entire world is filtered through that. Your actions are indicative of it and your life is unfathomable to those who are your other.

The two sides are at odds all of the time.

“Um.. why are you so dirty?” – Because they work in a field for 12 hours a day and the nearest water is an hour away.

“You have NOTHING to whine about!” – Well, they’re actually STILL human and humans feel pain regardless of their socio-economic status (Though I will admit that a step out of a certain limited worldview might be in order)

Now that I feel properly pre-vindicated allow me to go on…

A lot of things piled up on me at once. The accident, a few career issues, plumbing issues, housing issues in general, and the whammy is something personal, but I will say it has to do with losing something you thought you’d always have.

You wouldn't call this little guy pathetic, would you?

You wouldn’t call this little guy pathetic, would you? – THEN DON’T DO IT TO ME! 😉

Anyway, when things stop going your way you begin to feel like a failure. You feel as if you have the opposite of the Midas touch.

Midas: What you touch turns to gold - Negative Midas: What you touch turns to crap - B. Holly - What you touch turns to golden crap...

Midas: What you touch turns to gold – Negative Midas: What you touch turns to crap – B. Holly – What you touch turns to golden crap…

Failure is not an easy feeling. You feel worthless. It makes you feel as if you deserve nothing and that you are just a cancer to everyone else that you’re around. Failure is hard. But, as I said in the previous blog. Failure is necessary. Success is impossible without it. Failure makes you stronger. I wonder if we’ve forgotten that.

And failure… well, it hurts.

It’s hard because people will come after you either way.

Our society is so obsessed with non-failure, that taking risks has become taboo! What?!? Move to New York City or Los Angeles to try and make it?!? Are you out of your mind? Most people fail and come back home. This may be true, but at the same time, if you don’t try you’ll never grow. Why take an AP Algebra class when you can just take the general class and pass? Why should we even bother pushing ourselves?

At the same time, we often look at people who try to better themselves as being full of themselves or we belittle their attempts. Which, by the way, if you find yourself scoffing at someone’s diet/exercise attempts or saying things like, “Ugh, why do you always eat Salad? always Study? always Exercise? always Pray etc…” Just… stop. Why would an attempt to self-improve ever be a bad thing? I’ve done it… you’ve done it… and we all need to cut it out. Don’t try to be better than others. Just be better than you. And CERTAINLY don’t allow your road to success to be making everyone suck a little more than you.

Anyway, taking risks and failing and growing- That’s where our greatness lies! A fellow PCV and a very good friend was interviewed recently and I believe he said it best during an interview with SoCal’s Public Radio station 89.3 KPCC.

“The beauty about games is that they encourage failure. They are predicated on kids trying things and failing and trying something else and trying it again,” he said. “That’s a skill that we need to impart on our kids. This fearlessness in just doing stuff.” – Dan Thalkar

d&b

The only decent picture of us. He’s the bearded not black guy!

I think we can all take a lot from that. We need to impart the spirit of failing and trying again to our kids, yes. But, we also must lead by example. As I mentioned in the blog before this one., failure is necessary for success. However, I left out an important thing we all need to accept. Failure hurts.

Pain equals growth and I refuse to believe my trials and tribulations are anything but small road bumps on my road to self-actualization.

Dan’s Minecraft Blog!

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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Life, Philosophy

Life, Man….

Disclaimer: DO NOT just read the first part of this blog and stop. Because, I promise you… it gets better.

[Insert cliché Charles Dickens opening line here]

This is an extremely interesting time in my life. I’ve never felt more alone, hurt, tired, and depressed. There’s never been a moment in my life in which I’ve felt more hopeless. There’s never been a time in my life when I’ve felt pain like this. Pain that’s not the most intense pain I’ve ever felt. But, it is the most enduring. I’ve never hated my life more…

I came back to the United States from the Peace Corps ready to take America by storm. I got a job immediately and then got a better paying job shortly after. I moved out of my parents house and began to live life independently and free. I was ready to grow up and be the man I’ve always figured I would be.

Then, I lost my job. I move out and immediately lose the great paying job that was affording me all of the luxuries I was experiencing. I had an expendable income and was easily paying my bills and though money was tight due to debt, I was doing well enough. I was happy. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I hated all of the work I had to do at my job. And, I wasn’t even especially fond of the job, but… I was making it. And, I was doing it on my own and since this is apparently a cliché day- I did it MY way.

Doin’ it his way… and looking damn classy too.

But, crap happens. I was optimistic and hopeful. I was afraid because I didn’t know where my next paycheck was going to come from, but I felt like this was my opportunity to evolve. I immediately found another job, but unbeknownst to me it was only part-time. I searched and searched (and am still searching) for a new job. A job that either paid me full-time or at least made the ends meet. This hasn’t happened yet. So, now I sell my body for money.

“It’s my hot body! I’ll do what I want!”

Yeah, living under the poverty line is a strange feeling…

Oh… but also, my family dog died. It’s just a dog, right? No, no she was not. We all cried. We bawled. My family hurt a lot, it was like losing a sibling and in fact… it WAS losing a sibling. I loved that dog as if she were my actual sister. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true.

No, no your dog wasn’t as cute.

And then, to top it all off. Something happened that I’m going to be vague about just to respect those involved that aren’t me…

I had a very traumatic experience that has a lot to do with my parents, both of whom I love very much. I really do, but it does not mean that I am feeling great about what’s happening.

TL;DR – I graduated college and joined the Peace Corps just to come back to be penniless and broken due to life happenings.

But….

I’ve never been happier! I’ve never felt more alive! I’ve never grown as much (other than the PC, but that was a different type of growth)! I’ve never had more opportunities or more friends or more support! There’s never been a time in my life in which I’ve felt stronger. There’s never been a time in my life in which I’ve felt so much optimism! I’ve never loved my life more.

Wait. What?

It’s true! Losing a lot humbles you. I could roll over and just feel bad for myself. Or, I can realize that things always get better and that this experience is just making me stronger, more diverse, more creative, and a helluva lot more appreciative of what I have!

Also…

Due to the nature of my employment, I’ve had to learn how to make money all sorts of ways. This has led me to writing hotel reviews, dog sitting, tutoring a woman from Saudi Arabia, and acting in TV advertisements to name a few. These are things I would have NEVER had the opportunity to do with my formal normal full time job. I am becoming a MUCH more well-rounded human being. I have also had the opportunity to sharpen other skills. I have been writing more (albeit not here, which I’m trying to remedy), I have been making more music, and I have been exercising more.

I’ve become the human equivalent of this.

Not only that, but I have more friends than I have ever had ever. And that’s not even counting my loving and lasting Peace Corps relationships! I have reconnected with friends I’ve gone to school with, I’ve found friends at work, I’ve met new people through pursuing my passions and hobbies, etc… I am finding out that I am surprisingly a people person.

And I’ll never go back… to the not havin’ friends ways of the past!

It’s not that I didn’t have friends before, but maybe I’m just really appreciating them more now than I ever have.

ALSO I’m acting, writing, and doing comedy on a weekly basis! One of my greatest passions is entertainment. Oh, I love writing and being behind the scenes, but I also love acting and comedy as well. And, I have become part of an AMAZING improv team! (Yes, it’s a facebook link, but PLEASE log in and “like” us!) And, not only are they an extremely talented group of individuals that stretch me and force me to grow; but, they are just awesome people in general.

Sometimes we kill people at our shows… with LAUGHTER!!! HA.. Ha… ha… oh forget it.

And really looking at how terrible and how awesome my life is, I’ve started to learn that… Well, you know what.

I’ve been listening a lot to Macklemore. And I think he says it best,

“This (life) is what you make of it, yeah we play to win.  Live it like we’re under the lights of the stadium. Fight until the day that God decides to wave us in.”

Right until He waves us in…

So if you’re also going through a tough time in your life…

Fight. Always ALWAYS fight. You only lose by giving up, ok? If you remember that, I promise to try to remember that too.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

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Idealism, Life, Philosophy

Attention

To what do you pay attention? I pay attention to my physiological urges (eat, sleep, sex, breathe, poop, etc), my loved ones, political news, tech news, music, exercising trends, and the list could go on and on.

But, the thing I pay attention to most of all, is what I’m doing to make the world a better place. As it turns out, my blog is aptly named. The thing is, I pay attention to it so much that I don’t understand how it seems that others do not. Not that I feel like I’m more aware or enlightened by any means, I just have this overinflated sense of empathy and it just makes life much more stressful.

For instance, earlier today, I saw a terrible car accident. Four cars were involved in a pile up and it didn’t look horrifying…

It wasn’t THIS bad.

But, it was still pretty bad. Paramedics were rushing to the scene. I later expressed to my lady companion (girlfriend just sounds too immature) that stuff like that can really ruin my day. She informed me that what I had witnessed was indeed terrible, but it shouldn’t ruin my entire day.

Which is true. It shouldn’t.

I could just send a prayer or positive thoughts their way and be thankful that I’m still safe. However, I don’t. I do those things, but then I still can’t help but feel every emotion I’d feel in that situation. The thoughts make my stomach turn and I get stressed and feel bad for quite a long time.

Having an overinflated sense of empathy means you’re probably a people pleaser as well  (something I mentioned I’m working on in an earlier post) and it kills you inside to have someone feel disappointed in you.

It’s this trait that makes me feel bipolar at times.

Driving on the highway an impatient selfish PRICK will cut me off and I’ll be upset for one moment and the very next moment I feel bad and think thoughts like..

“What if his wife’s having a baby?”
“What if her husband’s sick?”
“What if that person just had a really bad day?”

And I sympathize and stop being upset in the very same instance.

But…

What if they’re just a jerk?

Well.. what if they ARE just a jerk? I say, “so what?”

You see having a lot of empathy means your attention tends to be externally focused. How can I make the world a better place? How can I help people? How can I help the environment? How does one stay happy while simultaneously making the world happy.

The problem with this is, you can’t figure out why others’ attentions aren’t similarly focused. Thus, when you’re taken advantage of it hurts… A LOT. I suppose it hurts regardless of who you are, but when you’re always thinking of others it just feels unjust.

And here it is, the problem with being empathetic all of the time and spending your attentions trying to make things better is…

You ALSO end up with an overinflated sense of…  entitlement.

This is NOT how the wild rumpus starts!!!

You see, when YOUR attention is outward most of the time and you realize someone else’s attention isn’t. It hurts when you’re overlooked. Because YOU’D never overlook anyone. It hurts when someone is inconsiderate. Because YOU’RE not that inconsiderate.

The problem is, it FEELS like people are being inordinately rude towards you. When in reality, they’re just treating you like they treat everyone else.

I guess I’d just like to find my balance. How can I be idealistic and realistic at the same time? And is it any use being an idealist in a world that’s…

not.

Hmm…

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

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Idealism, Philosophy, Uncategorized

Love And Other Pain Suppressants

I read an article awhile back about how the feelings of passionate love, cognitively speaking, in some ways mirror the effects of cocaine ingestion. Now, the only stimulant drug I use and frequently abuse is caffeine, so I’m not endorsing illegal substances. However, I do want to touch on love.

When I was more, shall I say, “fundamental” in my spiritual beliefs I was highly conflicted. You see, the bible thumpers told me to “love” everyone. G-d is love and there is no better way to be heavenly towards your fellow man than to just love. With that said, they also told me to not drink or smoke or chew or to go with girls who do. I was told to love, but for G-d’s sake, have some boundaries! One such boundary was homosexuality and those who “practice” it.

Love is a beautiful thing. But wait, no, apparently that’s not quite right. You see, HETEROSEXUAL love is a beautiful thing. ONLY that. Growing up, I knew many homosexuals, but I was told that they were going to go to Hell and that I should probably avoid them, much like the girls in the aforementioned cautionary rhyme.

I was told that, even though they go through so much persecution and that even though they seem to struggle and that even though they (sometimes) wish they were just born straight… (or not at all), that they were choosing all of this.

But you see, even as a fundamentalist Christian, I was also a thinker. I thought to myself, “Hm, well I’m NOT gay but apparently I could choose to be so. Thus, as a thought experiment I tried to just be gay. I imagined meeting a guy that I got along with in the same ways that I’d like to get along with a girlfriend. I imagined us deciding to hang out, play, eat dinner, watch movies, etc. Then…

I imagined us hugging and I thought to myself, “Hm, ok that’s not too uncomfortable” So, I took it up a notch and imagined us holding hands and thought, “Ok, it’s a bit strange, but maybe?” THEN, I tried to imagine me kissing another man. I can tell you this as a man who is very comfortable in his sexuality and is totally fine with seeing others expressing passion and love for one another. …

I couldn’t do it. The idea was repulsive to me. The thought of pushing the idea any further ceased.

Sorry, homie. 😦

I just couldn’t imagine how someone could just choose to be gay. There’s no way I could. Talking to homosexual friends revealed that they felt the same way about being sensual with a woman. It wasn’t just less preferable. It was literally repulsive. I was conflicted, I love my homosexual friends. I can’t choose to be gay and they can’t seem to just CHOOSE to be straight… so how do I reconcile this with what I’ve been told?

I stopped really letting the problem bother me. I decided that, well, I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t turn people away just because they were gay. So, why should I?

Time passed and eventually I came to some kind of compromise. Well, if people are going to be gay and if G-d is love and love is important. Then fine! I don’t see what being gay has to do with much of anything else, so, let homosexuality exist (because apparently it just does, whether we like it or not) and just say we should all be held to the same standard of integrity whether you’re gay or not.

But then I found out…

No. If you’re gay you can’t get married. B- but wait, as Christians shouldn’t we AT LEAST be ok with the idea of chastity and commitment instead of promiscuity? (Not that single people, gay or otherwise, are automatically promiscuous; but, bare with me) Wouldn’t marriage be the ultimate way to reconcile our faith with something we just can’t control. Can’t two men or two women stand in front of G-d and make a commitment? Wouldn’t that be a good thing? A preferable thing? The ACCEPTING thing? The, dare I say it… CHRISTIAN thing to do?

Well, apparently not.

Nope.

As I’m sure you all well know, Gay Marriage (Which is an admittedly silly term, marriage is just marriage. I was listening to some comedian or something and he made a good point about that term. It’s not like when I go walk the dog, I go GAY walk the dog. I just walk the dog) has been a hot topic as of late. What with North Carolina saying, “NOPE” and POTUS saying, “Why not?” everybody is full of… themselves. An amusing result of all of the drama was this website: http://whenobamaendorsed.tumblr.com/

Image

When Obama endorsed gay marriage, there was apparently a party at Hogwarts! And, if you’re a TRUE fan of the Harry Potter series you’ll know why! 😉 

Anyway, I guess the point of this blog is just me expressing the fact that all of the hoopla just has me feeling a bit bemused. I just don’t see what the big deal is and maybe that makes me ignorant or a heathen. I just wish we could all just get along, ya know?

Let people love each other. I don’t see an issue. And sure, I hear you “sanctity of marriage folks” balking at me. However, think of all of the children born out of wedlock, born as an “accident” (no child is an accident), born through anger, violence, selfishness… that doesn’t ruin the beauty and awe and “sanctity” of life. Think of all of the violence, pain, anger, and disappointment that happens all through the pursuit of sex… That doesn’t ruin the beauty, awe and tenderness of a newlywed couple’s first night together. What I’m saying is, just because something happens in a way we might not personally enjoy, that doesn’t mean it’s any less beautiful. Does it? Because if it does, if one little thing comes in and whatever we hold as holy suddenly breaks down… then I think perhaps the thing wasn’t all that sanctified to begin with.

I dunno, those are my two cents.

Much Love (with a capital L),

– Brandon Holly –

(FYI, I DO believe marriage is a beautiful holy wonderful thing. I think it can be flawed like all things humans get caught up in, but beautiful nonetheless)

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Life, peace corps

Brandon and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

My first day back at school was boring, but I thought that day 2 would be better. Not so much.

I woke up this morning sweaty and tired. I did not get much sleep because the power had been out since yesterday morning. It is never under 90 Fahrenheit here in The Phillies, so a loss of power generally means a loss of motivation to do anything. However, in the main part of the city there was power. That fact motivated me to get out of the house. I needed to clean myself but no electricity means no water. I didn’t have time to go out to the pump, so I wet a handkerchief with alcohol and rubbed it all over myself to feel somewhat clean. I put everything I needed in my bag and got myself out of the door.

I forgot to readjust my bike seat, so my groin and butt were in a little pain, but nothing too bad. I made it across the bridge and down the street. I was tired because I hadn’t eaten since noon the day before. I was attempting to motivate myself to keep moving . . . then, my pedal broke off. I looked down to notice that part of the reason it was so difficult to pedal was because I had a semi-flat tire. I get off and push my bike. I try to hitch a ride, but everyone is full of passengers. I walk my bike all the way to the city. I am devastatingly tired.

I finally find a ride for the last little stretch. I tell him to take me near to where I need to go. He doesn’t take me. He says he can’t get there, but I have lived in this town for 7 months now. You can pull right up to where I need to be, but he refuses. I’m out P15 and am stuck walking my bike up to the shop. The shop is still closed. I then walk my bike all the way to work. I am looked at funny and laughed at. A tired sweaty foreigner pushing rather than riding his bike is apparently very amusing.

I get in to my office. I sit down. I turn on the fan. Thank G-d for electricity. I sit down for about 30 minutes. I use the time to situate myself and to try to organize things. I am extremely hot, but I am thankful for the fan. Then, of course, the power goes out. I want to punch something or scream or do anything to rid me of the boiling frustration that has become my day. However, I am at school and I must compose myself.

I then get a call. I answer. My dog was hit by a car. I tell my girlfriend that everything will be ok. She is hysterical, but I don’t have a bad feeling about the situation, so I’m sure things we’ll turn out alright. I try to just take a nap. I need to rest and my co-teacher understands and lets me skip our class today.

I start sweating. I begin to stink. I need to get out. I decide to go have my bike fixed. I do. I am happy! Things are ok! I then notice my tire is completely flat. It’s ok. I’ll just go to the gas station. They have free air there, right? Yes! Yes they do! I walk up briskly and am redirected back to school because the air doesn’t work when the power is out. I walk back to school. Sweaty, smelly, and defeated. I sit down for ten minutes and decide to just cut my losses. I go home.

I walk and walk and finally find a trike that will take me and my bike home. He notices my predicament and takes advantage of the situation by overcharging me. I am too tired and hot to fight with him. I just give him the money and hope that karma will take care of the rest. I get home and realize I forgot the power cord for my friend’s laptop at school. I can’t just leave it there. I want to cry. During the ride I think about what it must have looked like when my dog was hit and my eyes begin to water. I quickly compose myself as to not confuse the driver. I shell out even more money to get back to school to retrieve the cord.

I get it. I come back home. I am delighted! The power is back on! I attempt to call my girlfriend to make sure everything is ok with the puppy. She calls me back. He is brain dead and will be put to sleep if he doesn’t show any positive signs soon. She tells me that even though his lungs and heart are fine he had significant brain trauma. She tells me that it will be very expensive to keep him on the “puppy life-support” and that he will have to be put down. I want to tell her to keep him alive whatever it takes, but I know that it is not practical. She says she’ll wait, but things aren’t looking good.

I then remember my own money problems and the fact that I don’t eat breakfast or dinner to try to save my money. I then remember my parent’s money situation and how it isn’t so hot right now. I then remember how their situation is stretching their relationship thin and how THAT isn’t great either. I then think about how NOTHING is going right and about how I have a million pimples because of this heat and that I have absolutely NO control of ANYTHING and I just want to scream!!!

And that’s where the revelation happens. Control. It is an illusion. We pretend as if we have control. We don’t. Nothing is within your control. Everything you hold dear can be gone in a flash. Nothing is permanent and nothing is promised. Humans are weak. There is an oil spill that we can’t seem to CONTROL. There are terrorist groups out there that we can’t seem to CONTROL. There are liberal and conservative talking heads that we can’t seem to CONTROL. There are natural disasters happening every day that we can’t seem to CONTROL. We cannot control anything and it drives us mad!

Buddha says that the only thing worth controlling is yourself. Christ tells us that those who realize they are not in control have peace. One of the main tenants of Hinduism is being able to control your own mind.

I am beginning to learn that true control is to be able to control yourself. Nothing else in this world is controllable.

I surrender. I can’t change any of my situations, but I can control how I feel about them. I can control who I become after them. I can try to grow rather than stagnate. I can move forward rather than look back. I can hope. I can pray. I can dream.

I feel like my summary should be. I had an awful, terrible, disgusting day . . . Then my dog died.

Fox McCloud the Corgi

I will miss him. Rest In Peace little guy.

This day was not fun, but I learned something. I’m still not happy. I am very far from it, but I can get through this. I know I can.

Much Love,

– Brandon Holly –

p.s. – Sorry for the depressing post.

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