March 20, 2014

This You Have To See

Just when you think you know what to expect.

Striking photo? Check. Misleading caption? Check. Byline ending with ellipses? Check. And there you have a click-bait article ready for viewing by the online masses.

It's quickly become a common sight over all social media feeds to have click-worthy articles flooding our front pages. From lists to videos you just gotta see, it seems that media outlets have latched onto a lucrative market of people looking for easy-to-digest articles online. I for one was initially fond of the idea that a friend online would share lists of places I should travel or things I simply have to do before hitting 21. But it has gone a little too far as of late.

I guess when you start to define aspects of yourself by what these articles contain, then that's when you know it's got to stop. I mean, come on, half of these articles are just begging for your attention even before you scroll down any further. Now you don't even need to scroll through a list of amazing nature photography to know which one is the best. The caption itself tells you which one to like and share. It's incredible.

Perhaps this has to do with a generation now in the midst of finding themselves, whatever that means, and are quick to take any and all that is shared in order to belong to some form of community. However nice it is to share and relate to common experiences, humanity as a whole is far too complex to be reduced to a mere 'Share' of an article or video.

I might dislike the nature of the way we now share things on social media, but sadly I'm a part of the problem too. In my need to be part of the conversation and not feel out of the loop, I hop on the same bandwagon and pore over these shared items unnecessarily. Everything in moderation, they say. But for now, let me have my click-bait.

March 5, 2014

The Friendships That Endure

The friends you want might not be the ones you need.

I guess it's safe to say that I've crossed the threshold into new territory, where the equation for time divided by friends is now a complex problem. Blame it on an environment that confines you with the same few faces five days a week, but I'm starting to only really understand the meaning behind quality friends now.

I've already accepted that any meet up with old friends, while few and far in between, is precious. We retread old stories and give real time updates on what's really going on in our lives. All the while our conversations are coated thickly with layers of nostalgia and yearning for what we'd like to call the good old days. But I need something more than that. And not just because I selfishly need to have a constant stream of exciting life experiences to document online.

If you ask me, I'd gladly give up my time for straight-up lazing around at home indulging in a good book or a playlist of shows I've been meaning to watch. But in reality that's a lifestyle we can't all aspire towards. So instead I choose to appreciate the contact I have with the friends in my immediate social circle now over needing to hold on tightly to the past. The friends that have stuck by me all along will always be a priority even when time and space doesn't align. Though at the back of my head I always have an itching fear that I take the familiarity we share for granted and that the lack of a casual meeting sooner or later might just ruin that. Yet I need to remind myself every now and then that that's not how the friendships that endure work.

The friends that stand by me very well know that the pause and play button is crucial to our relationship. There's an implicit understanding that we can never recreate the ideal situation of the close proximity we shared back in school. Be that as it may, we all put in our best effort to make things work. As for the friends that I have around me now, I've never been more grateful for their time and presence.

There are some casual acquaintances that walk into your life for a fleeting instance, only to never cross paths with you again. Then there are those who shoot through the sky like a blazing star and you wonder where they have been all your life. They see you for who you are and you don't worry about having to change for them. They support you in your pursuits and indulge in your interests no matter how far flung they might be from their own field of expertise. Being around them is as comfortable as slipping into your favourite shoes as there is no pretence or awkward phase of getting acquainted. It just clicks.

I find that if I can have such a friend in my life, well then that pretty much is more than I can ask for. We won't know for sure where it goes. But I for one believe that if it were to be that fleeting, then I should gladly revel in it for what it's worth. That is how to make those moments, those friendships, endure.

February 11, 2014

The Surprising Returns Of Sleep Deprivation

Over drive while underslept.

You hear and read about how sufficient rest is key to a well-balanced and productive day. But truly, nothing beats getting your job done when you've had little hours of sleep. I've tried it and it works.

On a little more than 3 hours of sleep, I went about my day checking off items on my to-do list. Along the way I marked papers, gave a presentation and proof-read a report on the go. While I must admit I was on an edge half the time, and was talkative bordering on annoying my other friends in the workplace, I still got things done. I guess when I'm sleep deprived I think I'm the funniest person in the room when in reality it's the entire opposity. I don't think being hyper active when sleep-deprived is supposed to even make sense in the first place. But somehow it works for me.

This got me thinking as to how I got past my years of schooling. And you guessed it, I was sleep-deprived for the better part of it. All the hilarious conversations and school table gossip I had with my peers was probably fuelled by this manic energy stemming from a lack of sleep the night before. In a twisted way it kind of helped that this numbed away the more mundane and burdensome parts of school, giving way to the bulk of fun and laughs that were had throughout classes.

So back to the way work is for me right now. I don't believe this is a sustainable means of pulling through work on a daily basis. But it was a nice shock to the system to be running on over drive without going over the limit. There were instances where I felt I could be tripping over my own two feet any instant due to a blunder or overstep. But surprisingly that was not the case. Somehow running on a low fuel tank sharpens the senses and I was keenly aware of all that was going on. Then again perhaps I was just being hyper sensitive to my surroundings; a possible side-effect of the lack of sleep.

Another point worth noting was that a great sense of impatience and low tolerance for hiccups came along with the lack of sleep. I found myself cursing a little too much at times to get things done. And what I found was that others probably weren't used to seeing me this high strung or agitated; so when they did it probably was a clear sign to not mess with me while this sleep-deprived phase passed over.

I daresay I had a lot of fun while sleep-deprived, but probably not so for the others in my immediate sphere of self-acclaimed humour and wit. Recommended use: Sparingly.

January 24, 2014

When Being Brutally Honest Rears Its Head

"People have to come to things in their own time. You have to learn when honesty is righteous and when honesty is nothing more than a parlor trick."

A while ago I was of the opinion that serving up slices of reality pie to those I hold close and dear was rather thoughtful of myself. How wrong I turned out to be.

It was not long before I found that giving unsolicited advice, however applicable and relevant to the recipient, is by no means a form of charity. We can decide to approach life and the many interactions we have with a no holds barred approach; one that prizes truthfulness over tact. But where that gets us in the long run isn't all pleasant as it is cut out to be.

Some might favour such direct forms of communication but more often than not I've found that true intent gets mangled by our choice of words. We can offer sage advice and claim to come from a place of caring and concern for all we like, but in truth we are merely imposing our values and views unto the actions of others. In the process we judge and shape our opinions of them, all the while blind to the fact that we are in no better position that the next guy to point the finger.

There's no denying that brutal honesty triggers a healthy dose of reality checking. However it's worth noting that the adjective attached to that honesty bears the connotation of harm and pain. Whether it is fair to bear the cost of receiving such truths, that can even hurt or offend at times, depends on the level of understanding between both sides. While understandable among best friends and close ones, we should always consider if we are in the right place to dispense such perceived wisdom and advice.

I cannot comprehend pegging the words 'Honestly' or 'To tell you the truth' to the start of any sentence, for it brings to question if there is was ever an ouch of truth in anything else said leading to this point. A fair and balanced opinion is always welcome in my books. But count me out if someone's honesty leaves me reeling from the emotional hurt and anguish.

January 20, 2014

An Appropriate Response When Life Hits You In The Face With A Lemon

Excuse the incoherent mess that is the following paragraphs.

Something ticks.

It starts at a slow boil and when the conditions are just right, it erupts into a massive ball of fury. Every fibre of your being is rattled by that one last overlooked detail that blows everything out of place. A torn seam. A paper cut. A forgotten date. The fabric of any normal day can be ripped to shreds in an instant when something falls out of line.

You don't know why but you are suddenly consumed with vitriol as if the pit of your stomach is gurgling with acidic slime waiting to hurl at an innocent bystander. The day cannot get any worse. Or so you think.

Every little thing begins to frustrate you. You bump into the side of a chair and out flows a string of expletives at any one or thing in view. Then you accidentally hit send on a text to a wrong person. But not before knocking a cup of water all over your desk. In your mind it would be entirely appropriate to let out an expletive in the style of a war cry at this very moment. But your last threads of sanity prevent you from doing so.

Filled with so much irrational anger, you forget to reason with yourself and break this down into sizeable portions to make sense of it all. In fact once you cool off and think things over, you notice facts and details that were in plain sight waiting to be found. It isn't so bad after all. Of course it could be worse if you put yourself in other dire hypothetical situations. But in protecting your sense of self all good reasoning and logic doesn't come that easily. As the dust from your cloud of anger recedes from view, you find that the situation is in fact under control and not in the haphazard mess your mind made it out to be. Your expectations and blood pressure lower.

It can take months or years to forgive yourself for that little mistake, or get over that one time something didn't go down as planned. Then again you realize you've learned this lesson many times before.

You have to roll with the punches. Don't sweat the small stuff. And even sometimes, don't give a shit.