Friday, May 29, 2009

Mean People Suck

I think there isn't enough importance placed on niceness in today's society.  There are too many people getting away with snide remarks and put-downs without consequence, not enough children being taught the importance of kindness and generosity, and far too many adults finding success by meanness and greed.  It's exactly as John Steinbeck once said:
"The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."
Of course, I admit I'm guilty in this particular dilemma.  It's not easy to stay nice, especially in the face of adversity or when gain is just a backstab away.  And for that reason, I am trying not only to improve myself as a good-hearted human being, but give praise to those who truly resemble the best qualities of the human being.  And I would ask everyone to do the same.  The next time someone is courteous and kind towards you, thank them.  Thank them for being good, for being a true human being with a thirst for good works.  Because the first step towards a kinder society is setting up a new order.  One where people who do kind things are rewarded, and people who do wicked things receive there just punishments.  
While I have certain qualms with our current economic system (okay, MANY qualms), it does teach us that people are propelled by reward.  So, if someone has something to gain from being a kinder person, even if it's just the warmth that comes from hearing "Thank you" or "You're so kind", they will try harder to be kind.
 This is an honest question to any reader, when is the last time you explained your disdain for another with, "They're just plain mean" or something in the like?  I have a feeling you have said/ heard more recently, "They're so STUPID" or "They're so annoying".  I tell you what, I'd rather hang out with a nice, stupid, annoying, smelly dude, than a mean, good looking, fresh like spring-roses one.  Because the least excusable human fault, I believe, is meanness.   
And we're all guilty of it.  But we're all capable of things so much greater.  


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dane Cook is what's wrong with us.

I'm taking a break from my usual blogging to cover something I think is very important.

I believe Dane Cook is the least funny comedian on the planet.  I would rather count the wrinkles on my dog's balls than watch this man's comedy.  I would rather be on jury duty than watch this man's comedy.  I would rather go to the DMV then watch this man's comedy.  I...

I think you get the picture.

His comedy has absolutely no depth, no clever bits of insight, and somehow not even punch-lines.  He gets off on running around the stage and yelling.  He's a dick.  He's an ignorant religious zealot.  And he's what's wrong with you, me, this country, and probably most of the planet
There I said it.  You probably hate me now. 
And if he was just unfunny, then I could deal with it.  Not being funny is no crime, (except the fact he makes millions not doing it.)  But I honestly believe he is (or portrays) the worst traits of the human being.  Let me explain.
In his average special, Dane Cook runs around for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour screaming.  About nothing.  It's all just the same garbage material we've all heard before.
And this is a real problem I see amongst people.  We waste words.  We don't value them, because we think we always have more.  We talk over each other to fill in our useless two cents.  All to say something with absolutely no relevance to, well, anything.  No funny, no wit, no truth, no knowledge.  Just mouth garbage flying out your mouth.  And that's Dane Cook.
And then there is the ignorance.  He puts down Atheists.  He talks about how their ideas are stupid, and not even in clever ways.  "You become a tree, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA."  Fuck you Dane Cook.  You're a close-minded psychopath who should be shot in the face.  I'm not an Atheist, but you're not a Christian.  
While you are on paper, you forget the most important bits of Christ's message.  Understanding and acceptance.  Really, you're just a dick.  And you're what's wrong with US.

Reader, thank you for your time.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A certain breed

There is a certain breed of human being that I have always admired.  The kind of people who will, without hesitation, set themselves to work.  The kind of leaders who pick up a shovel and join their workers; the kind of men who see a task and set themselves to its completion without question or complaint.  People with selfless devotion to service.
My Grandfather, Evan Allan Larsen, past away last Thursday.  He left quietly, in the hospital, after a brief bout with cancer.  His daughter, my aunt Annette, was at his side, while my grandmother, mother, and my aunt Emi were in route. 
Emi thinks that he left this plane knowing grandma was on her way, and chose to go before she arrived.  I can't help but agree.  He was always a man of service and action, and it seems fitting that he would choose to go in such a way.  In service to his family; to their feelings and needs.  
My mom alerted me to the diagnosis a few weeks back.  The expectation was that he would go sometime in the summer, and we were arranging to visit as a family.  But I can't seem to think of his quick and quiet exit from the stage as anything but a blessing.  This is a man who took pride in work; in doing.  He was the breed of person I spoke of before.  He was diligent in his work, charitable in his service, and compassionate to a fault.
  He was a carpenter.  He worked tirelessly, even in retirement making little (and large) additions to the home.  Always working, always bettering his environment.  That's why I'd rather not imagine him bed-ridden and useless; his spirit broken and body defeated.  No, it is better this way; that he go before the pain was too great and his body too weak.  
My grandfather understood the NEED to help people.  He always had a knack for uplifting spirits and helping others.  I remember once, as a small child, I made some now insignificant error and found myself in a worrying mood.  When I came to him with my little trouble, he related to me a little story, and a common saying I had not yet heard.  
"No use crying over spilled milk."
And there was no judgement in that saying.  It was simple; the past is the past, and there is no changing it.  So there is no use crying for it.  And while I don't remember the exact situation that prompted Evan's response, it has stayed with me for years.  Always look forward.  No use looking back.
But now it is time to mourn.  It is not only to show love for the dead that we mourn, but to share that love amongst our family and friends.  We all have memories of grandpa and it is best they be shared.  It is best the love for him grows and we can all feel that love.  Share in the love for someone lost.  Though ultimately not lost at all.
He was a good religious man.  And while I have certain disagreements with his beliefs, I have nothing but respect for his diligence and service.  
My mom related a beautiful story to me.  When he was Stake President in Maui, he was going to church once with the Hansen's disease patients on Kalaupapa.  There was a woman tending to the garden there, a woman with the disfigurements that come with Hansen's.  
He said she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.  He could see her spirit and it's strength.  He saw her tending to flowers, and saw so much more in her than a leprous woman.  And that is a skill to be praised.  He saw something of Heaven in her, and now I'm sure he has gone to see much more.
And while we can never know what comes after this little time we have, I can't help but imagine Evan in a large green field, walking with a smile on his face, a big black lab running at his side.  Off in service for someone in need.

Bye Grandpa, I miss you tons.  


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Did I wake? (or never sleep?)

I started a new composition recently When I found myself after one particular all-nighter, a phrase popped into my mind; "Did you just wake up? Or never sleep?" It was born from the strange feeling one living off a sleepless night feels, that haunting knowledge that the rest of the world spent their night in dreams, while you lay awake or forced yourself awake for one reason or another. That feeling that, though it certainly is no longer night, it cannot be day.
But as I pondered the phrase further, another thought came to mind; another feeling and disposition. Namely, the one a person finds him/herself in after a seemingly sleepless night; the kind where you never remember falling asleep, and never waking up. Those nights where you MUST have slept, but the details of it are a haunting mystery. The dreams can't be remembered, and you seem to believe that you spent all night pondering some demon of your past, future, or present, questioning yourself, surroundings, or the countless "others" frequenting your life.
The song itself is a work in progress; one I will hopefully be continuing to work on for weeks or months to come. But there is a section of the piece I hope to contribute to a vocal part with lyrics. I've been working on this little piece of poetry for a few day, and hope to put it to a melody later. Like the song, it is a work in progress. I'd like to share some of what I have been working on, however. Here is what I have so far:

Did I wake or never sleep?
Did the world drift by like tumbleweeds,
Leave me wondering, sick, and weak?
Did the stars give me repose,
To all those little woes,
And take me from the lows to
high off dreams?

If I slept, then did I dream?
Is it so much just to ask for an
escape from this old scene?
Were the lovers kissing there,
Make me sigh, more than I can bear, though I can't
Even much as dare
To hope such things?

Lucid dreams, do make me fear,
That my feet aren't standing here,
Though I truly hope to hear
You call my name.

If I dreamed, was it of you?
Was I carried off to wondrous places,
Never parting; no adieu? But even
if it's as I say, It's no
Replacement for the passing days I spend,
to make my little way,
to be with you.

Now I'm awake, where are you?
Sleep please take me now!
Take me to a better place,
Sleep for now...
Sleep for now...
Sleep for now...

That's what I have right now. I'm pretty much just in the editing process now, and yes, I realize it turned out to be a love song, in one form or another. At this point, any revisions I make have to maintain this same form. The last stanza is written to a specific melodic section that I already wrote, and that returns throughout the piece.

Also, this was my first try at lyric writing, so please be gentle.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Who do you want to be?

I think most people have a vision of who they'd like to be- their personal model for perfection.  And their entire life is made to slowly approach that vision of perfection, but never reach it.  The vision changes, the path is tricky, and people are imperfect, so no one really can reach that place- at least not in this lifetime.  
The funny thing is, we are already that person.  We are that person when we sit alone in our rooms thinking on the world, we are that person when no one else knows we are.  Circumstance takes away our perfection, each individual choice and broken compromise to that perfection takes us away from that Giant.  It's easy to maintain the right personal standards when no one is looking and when we don't look down the muzzle of a gun with each personal choice.  
Because we don't exist as a person at any time except for this very moment.  
I have known people to make rash judgements concerning people when they choose to boil them down to very simple characteristics.  Oh, he's lazy, or she's gossipy.  But that is untrue, because when we look at a person in the grander scheme of life, they cannot be known by just that one characteristic.  We are complicated beings made of complicated chemicals and thoughts and awareness.  But to another person, we only exist in the moments they experience us, we only exist as their personal perception perceives.  So when perception becomes an issue, we make the decision to part with our perfection for a moment, but that moment is all that exists.

And again, I failed to make a point.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What is happiness?

Happiness is a more abstract concept than most people recognize.  It is illogical and it doesn't have set prerequisites; some of the most successful people are miserable, and many of the most poor and down-trodden find glimmers of happiness in important places.  I think it must have become a biological imperative not just for the human being to be able to feel the full gamit of emotions, but to have to feel them.  The human body has to cycle through all of its states or it becomes overburdened somehow, it becomes too much of one state to take.  We are not made to live on the plateau of happiness.  In fact, it is only because the troughs that we can truly experience the divine.  
In all of my most memorable musical experiences, whether I was creating the music or standing in audience to its creation, there were moments of extreme feeling- plateaus created by harmonic activity, dynamics, and other less tangible features.  But the music wasn't created to stay there; those moments are rare in comparison to the general attitude of the music, and for good reason.  Musicians and listeners alike become over indulged in constant peaks, grow weary, and out pops the tylenol.  
The general dull of everyday life is the great canvas we live in, with little spouts of divine color at the most important moments.  The birth of a child, the rush of love, the loss of love- these are the colors made to contrast the general grey of life.  And this isn't even just concerning happiness, any high is too high to be maintained too long.  We are meant to eventually sober ourselves and come back to the plane of business as usual.  True, for some it's possible to maintain a more elevated state for longer, but everyone has a personal comfort zone. 
And this has really been an aside to a personal question I've had for a long time, namely, "Am I happy?"  When I go to sleep at night, am I happy?  Not am I proud of what I've accomplished, not do I think I'm a good person, no did I have a good time today, but "Am I happy?"  Because, even though these are obvious contributors to happiness, they are not happiness.  The happiness is made by each individual in their head, in some personal equation we can never understand.  And while the individual variables might be high in quantity, when the general equation is set up to yield low results it will be increasingly difficult to find real happiness.  
But I don't really know.  I probably think too much, and I still haven't made any point in this post.  

Monday, December 8, 2008

Face Value

I have decided, from here on and forever forth, that I am only going to take people at face value.  I've come to the conclusion that I spend a large amount of personal time trying to determine a person's ulterior motives and personal feelings; is this person angry with me, is this person annoyed with me, does he hate me, or does he think I am untalented or not worthwhile?  And I say this with a certain amount of foresight into what is an essentially impossible undertaking.  I will second guess; I will try to ascertain a person's true emotions no matter how hard I try.  It is simply human nature.  But these are my reasons for trying to live so.
I have come to realize that my gut judgements are typically accurate.  There is a wealth of research into gut reactions, if you're interested read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.  And I have to admit that I am usually accurate in my guessing.  
But that being said, when I think something negative about a person, I certainly don't want them to know how I feel, and I should respect the same want in my compatriots.  You have the right to dislike me despite my knowledge.  
There is a new show on TV called "Lie to Me".  It's about a man notorious for his ability to spot a lie, and his help is solicited by all sorts of police agencies and other people who need to come to the truth.  The point is that this man is able to tell what people are thinking, or more importantly, feeling, based upon micro-expressions and body language.  "If the emotion doesn't match the words, it's a lie."
But there is an obvious coercion that the man chooses to exert with his talent, he chooses to believe people's faces, instead of people's words.  But he allows himself the privilege of lying to his coworkers and friends.  He holds himself to lesser standards than others.  What's more, he is not happy for it, but somehow the quest for "truth" is more important.
And I have a certain obsession with truth myself.  The inner workings of the mind, how people really feel.  What part of inhibition is keeping them at bay, what is their secret analysis of their surroundings.  More importantly, what do they think of ME?  Think of the load off that would entail a constant knowledge of your standing in your friend's lives.  You'd KNOW if you were the friend everybody hates, or if people just plain out couldn't stand you.  
But it would have to be a two way street.  A single person with such an advantage is destroying the system and would take advantage of people to no ends.  And more than that, it's simply not fair.
And that's why I want to take people at their words.  Why I'd rather believe a lie than second guess.  They have the right to mislead me, like I have to them.  
But I would much rather you just tell me the truth; as much as you think that'll hurt me, it hurts less than never knowing.