Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ode To My Life

Spring has been a very good thing.  My stress levels have been healthy and I've been motivated to live.  In my life I have always lived while thinking of the future, and it's always payed off.  People dream.  I dream.  Then I try to act and work towards making those dreams a reality and to become part of my life.  These dreams aren't necessarily big dreams, but rather things and activities within reach if one only decides to act.

I have been blessed with a wonderful supportive family who I feel has played a big part in who I've become.  As a teenager my dad got me some some software for Christmas which allowed me to make movies.  His video camera (and my mom's video camera) was free for me to reign at any time and place.  Was I spoiled?  Of course.  Looking back I can see the wisdom in my dad's purchasing of such software.  With such tools at my hands I would spend my time shooting movies, editing, being productive with friends, etc.

My mom is a concert pianist.  Growing up I have never once been told to do this or that.  I was never signed up for any sport or music lesson with out me first approaching one of my parents first.  My parents did a good job in building confidence in me, making me believe that I could literally do anything if I only wanted to.  With this mindset the world was mine.

With such good energy coming from my parents I was motivated to make them proud.  They taught by example.  I wanted to do well in school because I knew in the end it would help my future.  I also didn't want my parents to be disappointed in me.  I knew if I did something stupid they would be disappointed, but not angry.  Anger wasn't part of the picture.  I loved them and they loved me and so I wanted to make them happy.  After all they're the one's who showed me I can do anything I want.  Not once was I grounded or abused in any way.  I never heard them raise their voices at me, not even once. I was never told to do my homework because I would always do it.  I do not mean to come of as boasting but feel it's safe to say that a large portion of my productive behavior can easily be accredited to my parents.

I recognized at an early age that the education system is simply some very small curriculum a small group of adults created that has been chosen to be taught to kids and youth.  It's robotic.  My dad calls it "jumping through hoops".  There is a video at about how education kills creativity.  I can see where that's coming from.  I saw the education system not as a way to actually educate young one's minds, but rather allow them to play the game "Compare Yourself To Everyone Else".  I don't mean to bash on the education system, this is just how I saw it.

Now that I was convinced that true education didn't come from the system that I was enrolled in, it was time to become educated.  I didn't need a teacher to teach me, I just needed the raw material.  My dad again paid half for a pretty heavy online training class for a program Adobe After Effects.  I mastered it.  I began to love music more and more.  I taught myself the piano, guitar, and had some drum lessons in my early years (which in turn laid down a great foundation for the rest of my music career).  I sang in choir at school and took a college music theory class which has made all the difference in my current music writing adventures.  I began to wonder about my religious beliefs.  Well, it was time to find for myself.  In high school I began to wake up everyday at 5:00am and read the Book of Mormon for one hour.  I was young and looking for reason to rebel, but I couldn't.  The Church is true.  Dangit.

I wanted to do gymnastics again, so I did.  After all I could do anything I wanted right?  I played the trombone in Jr. High which allowed me to play in a ska band in high school, "Top of the Playground" where we got first place in several Battle of the Bands.  My movie making skills allowed me to take part in my schools student government program where I became a Student Body Officer.  I was a skilled gymnast that could tumble (I was convinced) better than any cheerleader at my high school.  I did a few stunts in front of my school a few times.  I made the 9th grade Symphonic Band as an 8th grader and made the Layton High School senior choir as a junior.  My dad paid half for me to travel to Germany with my best friend one summer giving me one of the most eye opening experiences of my youth.

I never once felt pressure to take part in any of these things, but rather ran to them with nothing but excitement.  My mom has been and still is my #1 cheerleader showing that she supports my every decision which in turn builds more confidence.  My dad obviously supports such things by the help and support he's given to me in each aspect of my learning.  It is great to have support from my parents.  But they're not the only ones I feel are supporting my decisions.  Many of the big decisions I make are backed by a "This feels right.  This is good.", and I know who is talking to me then.  I gladly act on such decisions with nothing but the future in mind.

Was I the best movie maker?  Perhaps, but only because I was pretty much the only person making movies at my high school.  Was I the best singer?  No.  Was I the best pianist?  Heavens no, but I didn't really care that I wasn't.  Guitarist?  Nope.  Gymnast?  Maybe.  So now my confidence was high yet I wasn't really a shining star in any of my life's activities.  Was/is this a problem.  No.  I had already accomplished so much and had a lot of fun.  My life was great!  I do believe that such a wonderful lifestyle can largely related to how my parents raised me.

I went on my mission which is easily the best thing I have ever done.  It was a necessary humbling experience.  With my extremely active high school lifestyle pride was definitely part of who I was.  It still is, but my mission reduced it tremendously.  It was hard.

College!  College destroyed everything about me that I just wrote about.  No music, athletics, movies, or friends even.  Life became dull.  In high school I wasn't that good of a test taker.  In college I put that to the test.  I soon became that person in your class that you're afraid of because they will ace a test and make the curve less generous for everyone else.  So I rocked school.  Life sucked.

I chose a difficult major, Computer Science.  In high school I was an OK student, so how was I going to do with this major?  I didn't know, but while I was studying at Nanjing University in China Computer Science just 'felt right', so I chose it.  After all, I could do anything I wanted.  In high school I wanted to play the piano, the guitar, the trombone, do gymnastics, etc, but I didn't really care to ace tests.  In college I wanted to ace tests, so I did.

My mom always told me, "I wish you would do something with your music."  There was no time for that.  Wait, hold on.  'That guy over there is taking one more class than me and doing quite well in his classes and we have the same major.  Yet I feel like I'm trying so much harder!  Man I suck.  Wait, what else does he do?  Oh, nothing.'  I honestly began to feel stress coming from a new source.  I had previously cultivated so many attributes and then merely thrown them away.  Wasted talents.  This could not have been part of the plan.  Right, that guy over there will get that monotonous job of sitting in front of a computer all day with out ever socializing with people.  His pay?  Probably really good.  So I should stress myself out to do the same as that guy in order to qualify for such a job so I can get the job and get a nice salary.  Then life will be as it was in college.  Nice and dull.  Awesome!  No thanks.

On the other side of things I cannot believe how much time people waste.  I often speak with my dad about life and he recently asked me, "Do you ever look around and feel like your life is in fast-forward?"  "Yes!" I replied.  As I've gone through college and lived close to other people I've seen how they can aimlessly do nothing everyday all day and be content with their lives.  You could take the 30+ hours you spent watching TV/YouTube last week and put that into your schooling, or you could pick up a new hobby/skill, live a dream, etc.  TV/YouTube watching isn't going to give you ANYTHING in return.  In fact it's detrimental.  Not only does TV/YouTube watching prevent productivity, it makes you lazy.  How are people content with literally doing nothing with their lives?!  Such behavior aggravates me and frankly pushes me away.  I want to surround myself with productive people who support my ambitions.

College is college and there are times when you simply need to pull a few all-nighters in a row.  But if you are to completely suppress your other parts of life then something needs to change.  I am making that change.  I actually just got done writing a song about it.  I am in the process of recording it (with software given to me for Christmas from my dad.  I've spent hours learning it and love it!).  I guess what is ideal is to integrate who you are into your schooling.  I'm only taking one class right now, Computer Graphics, and can see myself perhaps heading in that direction.

I now have a video blog, or YouTube Channel rather.  I have it to keep me sane.  I release a new video every two weeks, so I'm always working on something.  It's nothing special, but I'm having fun doing it and hope that I'll occasionally get something really good up.  The hardest thing so far is finding people willing and able to help.  Ugh.  I'm either shooting a video, editing a video, writing a song, recording a song, producing a song, writing a script, brain storming ideas, practicing the piano, practicing the guitar, practicing the drums, learning Pro Tools (recording software), and recently have started studying how to make apps for Android and and absolutely loving it.  Oh, and school falls in there somewhere.  Basically I'm starting to live again.  I feel more like myself than I have in a while.  I sure am excited to graduate.  Less than two years left!

1 comment:

  1. Wow - such insight. Squeezing every drop out of life AND he's my dear son. I must have been super lucky in the premortal world! Love you James!