Saturday, September 6, 2014

We All Want to Chase the Sun like Hilary, Right?

I surely want to myself.

Anyway, I think you would agree that it is a great comeback.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Actual Caring is Better Than Abstract Theories

Abstract theories are good for winning arguments. For example, there's the theory of 'privilege', with its subsets of gender privilege, race privilege and class privilege, which I am sure most people do not know anything about. Some of my friends are very much into arguments about who has more privilege - or how would being gay, female, black, disabled or transgender rank in terms of who has the least privilege. Some days I would get so tired of it. There's a major lack of social justice out there, who cares who is more 'privileged' than who else?

I would rather prefer actually caring about what people want and need in their lives. For example, everyone needs access to food, shelter, health care and education. These things are under attack from fundamentalist pro-business politicians right now. Besides economic injustice, society needs to also correct its remaining social injustices, the chief one being marriage inequality I think. Caring about all of this is something everyone can do, simply because they do not wish to see others suffer, simply because they would not tolerate blatant injustice in the society around them. It is both simpler to understand and simpler to act upon, and much more effective in improving people's lives, than abstract arguments about 'privilege'.

I know being simple about my social ideals sometimes makes me look 'less intelligent' than some other commentators, but then, who cares? I certainly don't. (Especially when I probably have more postgraduate degrees than those who are saying I'm being simplistic).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Root Out That Self Defeating Attitude Now!

There's a saying out there that nothing is impossible if we just try hard. This may be a bit exaggerated, but the point remains - things are often more possible than they seem, if you really believe in them and work at them.

But on the flip side, there's also a path to certain failure, and that is having a self defeating attitude. You may not even realise that you have one. You may call it 'being realistic'. But that's no excuse - who knows what really is realistic or not without having tried and persisted? 'Being realistic' is the most popular euphemism for having a self defeating attitude in the world, I believe.

So don't 'be realistic'. Be hopeful, and try very, very hard at life. You may be amazed at the results.

Download the full song here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Peaches Geldof, Gone too Soon

Peaches Geldof has died at the age of 25.

Nobody should die that young. It's really sad, I think.

Cherish your life. We never know when it ends. Don't have any regrets.

Friday, March 28, 2014

"Divergent" and "Hunger Games" Pro-Capitalist and Anti-Collectivism?

An article appeared recently on Salon criticising the popular movie series The Hunger Games, as well as the new movie Divergent. It basically said that both movies glorify individualism and personal liberty, and therefore are panegyrics to capitalism.

I really don't agree there. There's more to individualism and personal liberty than capitalism. One can even be a libertarian socialist, right? Our generation remains divided on the left-right economic spectrum. But one thing almost all of us can agree is that the government has no business in regulating the behaviour of individuals where it doesn't hurt others. That's why no matter where we come from, the majority of us support things like legal euthanasia, decriminalising marijuana, and the freedom to marry for everyone (I personally go further to support marriage privatization). I personally am on the traditionalist side of my generation, and yet I proudly support all the above.

The basic lesson: our generation likes the idea of individualism. Socialist and capitalist alike, we support freedom. The glorification of individualism and personal liberty is not necessarily tied to consumerism for us, and does not exist only in capitalist circles. It's not 1974 anymore.

By the way, both stories are beautiful stories, aren't they?

Download the full song here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Come On, Lena Dunham Doesn't Represent Our Generation

Many 20-somethings, a significant proportion of them going through a quarter life crisis, love the HBO show Girls. Some of them also absolutely adore, dare I even say idolize, its creator (who also plays the protagonist), Lena Dunham.

But when you think about it, Lena Dunham is plenty more privileged than most of us, right? Most of us don't even have the opportunity to replicate her success in life. If we did, we may not ever experience a quarter life crisis, or at least not in the same way.

Lena Dunham may not be a bad person. She has pledged not to get married until there is marriage equality across the US, after all. But she really isn't the icon of the typical quarter life crisis.

The typical QLC is a long struggle, and not so glamorous, really.

Download the full song here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lady Gaga's Latest Stunt is Stupid

Lady Gaga is known for her outrageous stunts. But even by Gaga's old standards, the latest one is very sick - literally. At her recent South by Southwest performance, she had a performer vomit green slime all over her.

Firstly, I don't know why anyone would want to watch this. It has only made me like Gaga even less, and I don't think I can listen to any of her songs in the same way ever again.

And then there's also the glamourising eating disorders issue. That is also unforgivable, in my opinion. I think she owes the public an apology over this, at least. Maybe she can make amends by doing something for the cause of preventing and treating eating disorders, like making a PSA.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Playing Field is Not Fair Yet. But It Will Be.

In this day and age, the playing field in life is much fairer than it ever was before. In the West at least, people of all races, genders and backgrounds can vote, voice their opinion, and participate in public life. Everyone can get a good education, and in many Western countries, there is a strong social safety net. Even the USA is moving in that direction under Obama. More recently, the internet has opened up opportunities for many independent authors and musicians, as well as numerous business startups.

But look closer, and you will see it's not quite fair yet. Money and its associated promotion is still king in almost every area of life. The less than spectacular can rise up above the genuinely deserving with enough financial backing, and this distorted cultural-economic landscape continues to dominate our collective popular cultural imagination. If you don't 'make it very big' in this world, 99% of the time it's none of your fault, and if you make it very big in this world, 90% or more of the time it's probably because of one or more unfair advantages.

But don't despair. The revolution has just begun. The unfair system is beginning to be seen for what it is. That's why indie musicians have become increasingly respectable, and indie authors are rising up too, just behind them. In the age of unlimited choice and unlimited opportunities, there is a chance for people to connect with cultural icons with genuinely interesting ideas and sincerely held values, and those propped up by money pretending to be cool whilst only caring about making more money will not last very long before they are rejected. And for this, the world will become a better place.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lena Dunham May Quit Acting. We Hope She Writes Books Instead.

Lena Dunham, creator and star of HBO Series Girls, probably the most popular show amongst 20-somethings with a quarter life crisis these days, apparently may not want to act anymore in the future.

"I don't know if I'm going to want to act anymore," she told the April issue of Glamour magazine.

We hope she writes books instead, if that's the case. I'm sure they would be interesting to read.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Three Lessons YouTube Musicians Teach Us

YouTube has been the main platform for many successful musicians over the years. Most of them do covers of popular songs, as well as their own original songs. Not everyone wants to be a YouTube musician, but I guess there are things we can all learn from their success. I believe there are three things we can learn:

1) Success takes time
Many successful YouTube musicians have been making music on YouTube for many years. Many have never had one particular viral video, and most were certainly not overnight successes. They built up their audience over time.

2) The secret to popularity: Take something popular and make it sound different but similar
Many popular YouTube covers are popular because they are unique and different. It still amazes me how someone can take such a familiar song and make it sound so different sometimes. We like certain YouTube covers because they are different, hence add something of value to our musical lives. If they sounded exactly the same as the original, we wouldn't like it so much, right?

3) Be friendly and approachable, Always
Most popular YouTube musicians sound like very friendly people. If they were instead cold and aloof, would we like their stuff so much? I don't think so.

Related Posts:

Your Dreams that 'Never Came True'

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Princess Spirit that Does Not Grow Old

When I was younger, a friend and I had a discussion about what it means to be a princess, or what their essential spirit is. We were not talking about princesses of royal families in real life of course, we were talking about mythological princesses who were also often heroines in one way or another. We came up with a list that was something like the following:

1) Belief in one self's ability to make things right in the end.
2) Never giving in despite the odds being against you.
3) Being proud of your sense of style, even if others don't like it.
4) Never change who you are, even if others bully you for it.
5) Loving life, and loving the people around you.
6) Helping those less fortunate around you. Sometimes this requires courage too.

My friend and I agreed to keep ourselves up to these pillars of princessdom. As we grew up, some of these things were sorely tested along the way. Many people gave up on these ideas. But not me. The more they were tested, the tighter I held on to them. Eventually, I realised that these were great pillars of life that can apply to many situations, including all the new challenges that were ahead of me personally, and ahead of us as a society.

The princess spirit never grew old for me. It never will either.

Here's some musical inspiration - especially for point 5 above

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

6 Ways my High School Graduation was Between the 90s and the 2000s

I graduated from high school in the early 2000s. (Before everyone starts guessing my age, I guess I should also say that I graduated high school shortly after my 16th birthday). With all the memes out there about graduating high school in 1997 or 2006, I guess I should make one about the early 2000s. In general, the time around 2002 or 2003 would share some similarities with both the 'real 2000s' and the 90s. So did my graduation meet these expectations? Let's see.

1a. I had a mobile phone on graduation day. It was big, chunky and useless by today's standards, but it looked cool back then. I could use it to contact friends about our graduation day plans. (2000s)

1b. But that was the first day ever I had a mobile phone that was mine! It was a graduation present from my parents. Phones were only for grown-up kids back then, you see. They were also so expensive that you generally needed to earn your right to one. (90s)

2a. On my graduation day I listened to one song again and again. The singer was Kelly Clarkson. (2000s)

2b. I listened to it on a fairly old CD player. MP3 players weren't common back then, and I had never seen an iPod yet. (90s)

3a. My dad was unwell during the day. Luckily I had the phone described above, so I could keep in touch with my family. It would have spoiled the day even more having to worry about how he was doing all day long. (2000s)

3b. Besides the mobile phone, there was no way to contact my family to know how he was doing. Plus I was only able to phone home a few times anyway, because calls costed so much back then. (90s)

So I guess it was between the 90s and the 2000s. As expected.

By the way, here's that Kelly song:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Past Still Lives On

Nostalgia is a big thing for many people. Between the beginning of this year and today, there must have literally been over a hundred articles written about the 1980s, 90s and the early 2000s posted to the internet.

Here's a confession: I like reading that stuff. I guess I am a nostalgic person too.

However, unlike other people who read and write about the past, I don't believe it's just stored away in memory lane. It's still alive today, for me. And it can be alive for you too, if you choose.

In the age of the internet, it's very easy to live in any decade of your choice, as long as it's not something like the 1880s. My favourite decade happens to be the 90s, and there's plenty of stuff in the style of that decade to choose from out there. What's more is that if you enjoy the old stuff over today's mainstream styles, don't limit yourself to just the old stuff either - plenty of music released today can fit perfectly in an 80s or 90s setting. You just need to be open minded.

My point was, music styles haven't changed so much, really. To make my point clear: here are a few examples of music released in recent years, that a friend of mine thought were retro.

Jeff Marx - You Have More Friends Than You Know
My friend thought it was released in 1990
It was actually released in 2013

LeAnn Rimes - Give
My friend thought it was released in 1997
It was actually released in 2011

Katie Melua - Walls of the World
My friend thought it was released in 1975
It was actually released in 2012

Miley Cyrus - You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
My friend thought it was released in 1980
It was actually released in 2012

Hanne Sørvaag - You're Like a Melody
My friend thought it was released in 1995
It was actually released in 2011

Hailey Rowe - My Boyfriend is Gay
My friend thought it was released in 1999
It was actually released in 2013

Related Posts:

The Culture: What We Can Do About It

When Does Somebody Become Old?


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Facebook Distorts the World

Most of us have Facebook. You probably have one. And many people log onto Facebook multiple times a day. You probably do, or you may know somebody who does.

But paying too much attention to Facebook may not be that healthy.

In an ideal world, people would post their happy moments as well as their problems in life to share with friends. However, many people like to look better than they really feel in life. Therefore, many people only share the best moments in their life. As a result, there are often way too many picture perfect lives in Facebook Land.

Don't feel like you need to live up to those picture perfect lives. They don't exist in reality.

On another note, I wonder what part of human nature has caused this phenomenon? What's the shame in sharing the less glamorous moments of your life, I wonder?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Three Things to Do for Success

Every now and then, we need some motivation to carry on. So here's something my friend and I want to share with you. Success in life doesn't come quickly, but if we do these three things right, it will come eventually.

1) Start Working ASAP
Many dreams and goals in the modern world require complex navigation to achieve. This has meant that some people plan obsessively. But this wastes your time. When you move forward with your project, whatever it is, you will find out more about it. By the time you get some significant progress, things may have changed so much that your plans have become irrelevant. So have rough outline type plans to guide yourself wherever you are going, but never plan obsessively.

2) Stay the Course
As we all know, dreams take long to achieve, and they take even longer in this complex and big modern world of ours. We must keep ourselves motivated enough to stay the course, which can be many years. Or else, we would just have a long list of uncompleted projects and goals.

3) Keep a Firm Eye on the Target
As we come across barrier after barrier and detour after detour, it is easy to lose sight of our actual target and get distracted by other things. We need to remind ourselves to keep a firm eye on our actual target, and brush aside things like irrelevant comments, difficult people and unfair circumstances (as long as not grossly unfair enough to warrant a complaint). These things should not be able to stop us.

Related Posts:

It's a Long Ride: Living the Practical Life whilst Chasing your Dreams

Your Dreams that 'Never Came True'


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Let It Go Through Google Translate!

Disney's Frozen is a major box office success, and Let It Go from its soundtrack has become a major hit.

But how does it sound when you put it through Google translate, cycling through a few very different languages and back to English again?


Monday, February 17, 2014

"I Have a Degree"

By Natalie K

Today I met up with my friend, let's call her Courtney. Courtney and I are in a very similar situation: we are both unemployed, and we both have a degree. And we both know several more people in the same situation too.

Several years ago, we thought this wouldn't happen to us. After all, we both did well enough in college. We knew that some people get unemployed after they graduate, but it wasn't going to happen to us, right? Our parents both went to college (a less common thing back then) and after graduation they all got employed straight away. Surely some things have changed, but it should still be this way for the majority of graduates right? Apparently things have REALLY changed.

Courtney recently applied for a job which did not even require a college degree (she is still waiting for a reply on that one). At the interviews, she told me, there was an applicant who kept saying how the job should be hers because she "got a degree" unlike the other applicants. Besides her obnoxious attitude, the reality is probably that most other applicants also have a degree. You may be applying to be underutilised, but there is nothing special about your plight nowadays.

It's not our fault, really. It's the system's fault. But it doesn't hurt any less.

I guess nowadays everyone in their 20s get underutilised, and we just have to wait it out. Meanwhile, let's forget about how we're being treated by 'the market' because life is too short to worry like that. There are much better things in life to look forward to, like good music and good food, which doesn't have to be expensive either. You get to enjoy these things no matter if you have a job or not, just like you get to experience unemployment no matter if you "have a degree" or not.

Related Posts:

But You ARE Special - Reasons to Remind Yourself

It's a Long Ride: Living the Practical Life whilst Chasing your Dreams


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ellen Page Comes Out as Gay. So Did My Friend.

So Ellen Page has come out as gay.

News of this is spreading like wildfire out there. But here's our take on it: so what?

Thousands of people come out as gay every day. It isn't as if Ellen Page doing so would make any difference. The world will still go on as usual. We won't magically get marriage equality everywhere, gay people everywhere won't feel safer, and we as a society won't become more tolerant because of it. Life just goes on.

There's no reason to make a big deal out of it. Really.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

When the World will not Accept that 'You are Special'

Unfortunately, even if you believe that you are special, it doesn't follow that everyone will believe the same about you. In fact, it is almost ridiculous to expect the big machine that is 'the system' to believe that anybody is special, when it clearly functions more like robot than human.

Even if you have it resolved that you are special and you are going to embrace it, the world will still pour buckets of cold water onto your flame from time to time.

I believe the best solution to this problem is to continue to do the work you need to do, whilst ignoring this kind of critique. It's like how you dealt with the school teacher who never liked you, who would find opportunities to criticise you whenever he could. I think the best attitude to have to those parts of the world which insist on treating you like nothing special is the same attitude you had to this teacher. You still had to do the assignments and tests in his class, but you knew what he said was usually irrelevant. You did the work in his class well enough, but you avoided letting his critiques get to you.

Some Related Musical Inspiration:

Related Posts:

But You ARE Special - Reasons to Remind Yourself

Why they 'Need' to Kill the 'Special' Idea Off


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Dream Forum: How I Want You to Know Me

The music I make and the books I write are about a vision. Together, they convey a spirit of dreams, love and compassion, family supporting each other, and a hope for a better world.

I want you (the reader, the listener) to experience this spirit when you come across my work. I want you to know me, as a believer in this spirit.

This is how I want people to know me.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

But You ARE Special - Reasons to Remind Yourself

You are special, and you were born to do some special work in this life. You are the way you are because there is some special work out there that requires someone like you to do it. Without you, that piece of the puzzle will be missing.

Your are special because you are special to someone. It may be your partner, your parents, or somebody you will meet in the future. It may even be someone you don't know - but they know you, and cherish your existence.

You are special, because no other mind in the world thinks and works in the same way, and has the same material (experiences and memories) to work on. As a result, no other mind will have the same output on a given topic.

You are special, and the world would be missing a unique part of its richness if you did not exist. It would be like a colourful quilt made up of pieces of different colours, but one piece was missing. Wouldn't it be sad?

Even your imperfections are unique, and they make you even more special. Only with your imperfections you could have experienced the world in this particular way, and have the particular memories you have. You can then use that experience to help other people, especially others with the same imperfections.

Some Related Musical Inspiration:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Nostalgia: A style of Pop that Doesn't Exist Anymore?

Listen to these three songs:

Don't you think they have something in common, that is not found in any of today's popular tunes?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why they 'Need' to Kill the 'Special' Idea Off

The 'everyone is special' revolution may be good for everyone on paper, but as with all revolutions that have come before, there are people who stand to lose out, or feel they stand to lose out. As a result, there are people who are going to push back against it. This time, we do have quite a challenge: part of those pushing back are loaded up with money, and are busily pouring their unlimited buckets of cold water on our generation.

Some old style bosses may feel that if everyone feels special, then nobody is going to be doing the menial jobs that need being done. They feel that our generation has a 'sense of entitlement' and is therefore not willing to do the unglamourous work. But anybody from our generation will recognise this as a straw man. Most of our generation is more than willing to work hard. It is because of our feeling of specialness that we are willing to work harder than previous generations. We do feel we have special work to do in life, but we don't feel particularly 'entitled' to anything.

Another group is those who just fear any major social change and put up their resistance accordingly. But resistance to social change is always futile - think the end of bans on interracial marriage, gender equality, computers, the internet, gay rights. The resisting side has lost every time. And that has been good for us - if they had won we would have missed out on major progress every time. Being on the wrong side of history just because you fear change is always misguided.

Yet another group are those who are sincere about solving the problem of the quarter life crisis, but have gone about it in the wrong way. They think that we must have our high ambitions and endless but yet unfulfilled dreams stripped away from us so that we can live normal lives like generations that came before us. And at the core of our ambitions and dreams is this feeling of specialness. Therefore, they feel that they must undo our 'everyone is special' upbringing.

In conclusion, those who want to kill off the 'everyone is special' revolution are all misguided people. However, that doesn't change the fact that they keep putting out their discouraging messages, blaming the educators for teaching us this way, blaming our parents for bringing us up this way, as if they could put the genie back in the bottle. And since they continue to be misguided and act accordingly, we need to protect the flame of hope that came from our special knowledge - that we are special - from these constant buckets of cold water.

Related Posts:

It's a Long Ride: Living the Practical Life whilst Chasing your Dreams

So What is Causing The QLC Symptoms?


Monday, February 3, 2014

Beating the System: Should I Join a Political Party?

Today I was talking with a friend who recently joined the youth wing of a major political party. She knew that I was passionate about many causes too. Therefore, she encouraged me to join.

I don't know whether to take the advice or not, seriously.

There are branch meetings where you get to talk about issues. You get to meet like minded people. You get to debate things.

But then I don't see how I can change things through doing these things. And another thing you get to do include handing out information and how to vote material for candidates during each election, big and small. I really can't see how I can put my vision into practice by doing things like these.

I know it can be fun, but I just don't have extra time to do free work, really.

Maybe I should just start a political blog. It seems like a better use of my time anyway.

-Amanda J

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Generation who Grew Up 'Special' and a Potential Cultural Change

For many generations, people grew up with the expectation that most people are going to be ordinary in life, and only a selected few are special people. Generation upon generation have lived like this, not knowing what they missed out upon.

But for the generation born after around 1980, this changed. Many of us grew up being told that we were special. That we would all do some special things in life, in the future, when we grew up. It's a way of raising a generation that has never been tried before, that can have major consequences for society. Sort of like when gender equality was first introduced.

Actually, everyone, every human being has been special from day one of history. But until now society has not been evolved enough to allow everyone's specialness to be recognised - just like once upon a time it was not ready to accept ideas equality between men and women. As a result, many generations lived and died believing that they were ordinary, and never achieved the full function of their specialness in life. It's just like how women lived and died in many ages past not knowing how they could be seen as equal to men and have the same rights in law. But once we have moved forward from there, looking back we see how limiting the past paradigm was.

We are the first generation where society has become ready to embrace this idea - hence many of us were taught this idea when we were growing up. Society has become ready because in the First World at least, we have solved the problems of widespread poverty, hunger and disease. Another important recent development is that we have already developed a system where religious, cultural and ideological differences can be settled peacefully and we can be tolerant of each others different beliefs, and there is thus not as much a need for one group to be dominant over another, or to have everyone formed into tribes ruled by tribal leaders. In the First World at least, we have moved beyond all that.

The idea that we are all special is capable of starting a revolution in and of itself. No longer will people just accept that they will live like every generation that has come before them. No longer will people just accept that they are interchangeable with their other colleagues at work, as if everybody was a small, easily replaceable part in a large machine. Everyone will live their life trying to find their life's work, and express and use their specialness in different ways. It's really a very exciting time in society's history. In fact, the phenomena of the quarter life crisis, dreams taking longer to achieve, people taking longer to settle down or no longer even thinking about settling down, these are all society's first steps in adjusting to the new situation.

Some Related Musical Inspiration:

Related Posts:

Symptoms of a Quarter Life Crisis

It's a Long Ride: Living the Practical Life whilst Chasing your Dreams


Friday, January 31, 2014

The Dream Forum: What Do Our Authors Want Out of Life?

TaraElla: I want my ideas and music to touch others' lives. I want people to read my ideas, think about them, maybe come back to them later when they need them again. I want people to hear my music, and be able to come back to it whenever they want to. I certainly have been touched by others' ideas and music, and sometimes when life gets dark, I know what the spark of an idea or the sound of some particular music can do. (Luckily, there's this thing called the internet, where we can find whatever we want to when we need it. It certainly did help me reconnect with some earlier days when I desparately needed to do so.)

Rosie: I want to write a great novel, hopefully a series. I want it to change people's lives. Just changing one life for the better would be great. Other than that, I just want a good life, with friends and family.

Amanda J: I want to leave my mark on the world but don't know what it is yet. Other than that, I am very conventional - I want that promotion, I want that pay rise, I want that beautiful home, I want a husband and family. But if I miss any of those things, it won't be a great deal. I have learnt that life is much bigger than our immediate desires.

Natalie K: I was a happy girl growing up. I just want the future to be like the past - happy, with not much to worry about. I don't really care about the other details.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Secret Ingredient to Battling On Whilst Keeping your Dream Alive: Feeling Special

Besides having the right mindset, the roadmap, and the priorities, there's another secret ingredient to keeping your dreams alive for a long time, even in the face of adversity. It is believing that you are special.

Let me tell you something: you are special. You are special because of who you are, the way you see things, and the way you do things. You are special because of your experiences, and how you dealt with them. You are special because of all this combined, and as a result, what you have to offer to the world.

You are special, and you were born to do some special work in this life. You may not know what it is yet, but the dreams you have in your life will guide you there. Once you have this in mind, you will be able to face any adversity, and keep your dreams alive and energetic.

You may ask, how can everyone be special? Am I telling a lie here? After all, who is ordinary then, if everyone is special?

Actually, everyone, every human being has been special from day one of history. Computers can be ordinary, but all humans are special. But although society has existed for so long, until now it has not been evolved enough to allow everyone's specialness to be recognised - just like once upon a time it was not ready to embrace ideas like equality for men and women and rights for gay couples. We are the first generation where society has become ready to embrace this idea - hence many of us were taught this idea when we were growing up. This idea alone can cause a revolution, however, and there are signs that sections of society are pushing back against it as a result. We must push forward with this revolutionary idea, however, and ignore those voices that want to take us back.

Some Related Musical Inspiration:

Related Posts:

When Does Somebody Become Old?

But You ARE Special - Reasons to Remind Yourself


Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's a Long Ride: Living the Practical Life whilst Chasing your Dreams

When you were younger, you could have all these wild dreams about the future. But then, you also needed to deal with the reality of what was then right now - schoolwork, exams, all the practical stuff associated with your life at the time. After all, if you failed that test, your parents would likely give you a hard time, and you didn't want that.

Now that you are an adult, it's a similar situation. In parallel with dreaming big and trying to achieve your dreams, you also need to take care of things like making ends meet and paying bills. It's just how life is. It's just that these things have replaced your schoolwork and exams as the things you 'just need to do' in life.

Don't let all these things drag you down though. Although like school you need to do these things 'well enough' to avoid trouble, you shouldn't let your spirit of dreaming get tarnished by any setbacks in these practical everyday things. After all, a poor score on one test at school didn't affect your dreams about the future, right?

Another thing is that, for dream chasing young adults these days, 'settling down' has become a thing of the past. The practical realities of the biological clock and dreams taking longer to come true means that we often will need to think about starting families before the dreams in life have come true. However, starting a family doesn't mean we need to adopt the 'settling down' philosophy of previous generations. To us, the duties and hard work associated with starting a family is just another thing we have to juggle in life, on the long road towards achieving our dreams.

Some Related Musical Inspiration:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You need a Roadmap, and Some Priorities

With dreams taking longer than ever to achieve, the ride can seem long and dark at times. Having an all or none approach can add to this. This is where you have one big end goal, which probably won't be achieved until 10 or 20 years later. Meanwhile, you will have a decade or two of feeling not achieved, desperately asking 'are we there yet'. This could be enough to zap your spirit out before you can get to the end.

Therefore, there are two things I wouldn't recommend a person to set out on their journey of dreams without: a roadmap, and a sense of priorities.

The first thing is to get your priorities right. You want that package that is your ultimate goal at the end, but you have to decide which parts of it you really want the most, and which parts of it must come before the others. Set out on achieving these first.

Say your goal is to live in New York City and write a book about it. However, you currently live in a small town in New Zealand, and don't even have the money to travel to New York to have a look at the place. Your two first goals may be to familiarise yourself with New York, its landmarks, its culture and the way people think about it, and get a higher paying job so you can save some money for your eventual move. With the internet nowadays, it is very easy to get somewhat familiar with big global destinations like New York. You can get familiar with where things are in the city for a start. Google maps or any other mapping application can be useful for that. You may try to get into Street View and 'walk' a block or two to get a sense of how the places connect together on the street level. You would also try to read the many articles people write about New York. Articles like 50 Things I Love About New York or 40 Reasons to Hate New York, or even things like 30 Signs You Grew Up in Manhattan can be very useful sources of information for you. It will take years to go through all of that and get it absorbed into your brain, trust me. Meanwhile, during your day, you may like to start looking for a job if you don't already have one, or look for a second job or a higher paying one. You may decide to return to education so that you can get even higher paying jobs later on.

Then you need to draw up a roadmap. Using the example above, once you have saved some money, your next step may be to move to Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, to get a feel of how city life is like. Auckland may be a lot smaller than New York, but it has skyscrapers, international food and lots of business activity, some of the experiences you will find in New York. It may help you get used to New York when you eventually get there. An alternative would be to take a two month holiday in a nearby large multicultural city like Sydney, Australia, which also has all these things, perhaps on a slightly larger scale. Meanwhile, you will want to continue to connect with the cultural phenomenon that is New York. You may want to watch so many New York movies that you become so familiar with the settings you can point to where they are exactly on a map. You may want to make some New York friends online. When you feel you have enough knowledge and connection to New York, perhaps you can start writing parts of your book. You will have to modify and rewrite parts of it when you actually get to see the place, but it's great to make a start when you already have something to write.

Eventually, your dream may be achieved in a similar fashion to your roadmap plan, or maybe not. Maybe you'll find something even more suitable in your life. But in any case, none of it goes to waste, and every bit of it would have helped coloured your life vividly. Twenty years down the line, it's quite likely you would have lived in New York and finished your book. Or alternatively, you may have decided to just settle in Auckland, but have a cultural connection to New York. By then you might have already seen the city on two or three different trips there during your annual leaves, paid for with the money you saved over the years. Although you didn't write a book about living in New York, you did write a book about your connection to New York and your opinions about the city as a New Zealander, an even more unique thing. You might have also written another book about living in Auckland, or perhaps a book comparing and contrasting the two cities. Either way, the dream did not go to waste.

One important thing is that you enjoy the process as much as the outcome. In my example above, there would be new experiences and inspirations every year along the way. It's not the final act of moving to New York (or not) that mattered, it's the knowledge, experiences and friendships gained over the years that were the main gains from this big dream.

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Your Dreams vs The System


Friday, January 10, 2014

Your Dreams vs The System

The outside world is often hostile to your dreams. In fact, it is a hazard for your dreams, which stand a high chance of being killed either slowly or quickly by this outside world if you don't protect them well. And it does all this without even trying.

For example, if you believe that you need a promotion at work now to get to where you want to get to, and nobody decides to give you that promotion, your dreams may just die quite a bit. When you write a 600 page novel and nobody even wants to read a page of it, that would also seriously harm your dreaming spirit for some time. The fact is that they probably wanted a specific person for the new opening, or that people were too busy to read your novel, especially amongst 1000+ other ones to choose from, but that never makes anything better, right?

The world is one giant, inhumane machine that get things done every day when viewed from a certain angle. Life goes on, but the system never cares about how many people are destroyed by it. This is the reality of a world that has become so big and so complex, with various established interests running every part of the system. There's no denying it.

But it is up to you to protect your dreams, especially when it may face some darker times. It is up to you to keep them alive and healthy, so they can keep your life energized. One great way to protect and nurture your dreams is to take as much of it 'outside the system' as possible.

But what is 'in the system' and what is 'outside the system'? Anything that requires input or approval from established interests as an essential ingredient for success is relying on part of 'the system', I believe. If your life goals are that you want to travel the world or write a novel that other people will want to read, they really don't rely much on any company, government or any established interests, if you think about it. Surely, it may take some time and money, but you can work towards it with your own effort. But if you dream relies on a series of promotions within a corporate or political hierarchy, then they essentially rely on the decisions of powerful people in charge of different parts of the system. I am not saying that those dreams are any less valid, it's just that putting all your dreaming eggs in a basket like those is a big risk to take in life. It essentially sets you up to have a high risk of being quashed in spirit.

Fortunately, there are many ways of achieving the same kind of dream in this world, and usually not all of them need to involve 'the system' that much. For example, if your dream is to 'make a difference in the technology world', you can either work for a tech company, hope to climb up the ranks there, and eventually influence the kind of products it makes or the ethics it conducts its business by. But another way of doing it is to learn some programming yourself, and write and release your own dream software. Yet another way is by starting a tech blog, and sharing around ideas that may help shape the tech sphere. The difference is that first way relies on the system, and the other two ways don't. You mileage may vary even with the two ways that don't rely on the system, but it's not like another year without a promotion can quash your spirit so easily. In this world where dreams take so long to achieve, it's really an advantage not to be subjected to barrier after barrier where you may be quashed by the system each time.

I am not saying that you should give up your dreams that are somewhat tied to the system. What I am saying is that, you may need to develop other dreams in parallel, if your primary dream is tied to the system. This way, your dreaming spirit cannot be easily quashed by some random corporate decision, perhaps caused by some random economic event. This alone will make you feel much better about yourself in the longer run, trust me.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Your Dreams that 'Never Came True'

Perhaps once you too were influenced by that dreaming big culture, and some time ago you dared to dream big. And then the dream never came true. You became so disappointed that you stopped dreaming, and now actively avoid that dreaming big culture. In other words, you would rather become old prematurely rather than get hurt again. You just can't let yourself get hurt again. Perhaps you also know quite a few friends in the same situation too.

That really doesn't surprise me much. I know quite a few friends who feel the same way too.

Let me ask you one thing: how long did you give that dream to come to fruition? One year? Maybe two or three years? After all, in the movies dreams always come true in a year or two, or even sooner, right? Therefore, if it hasn't come true in three years or so, it's surely time to quit, right? By the way, it wasn't just that it hadn't come true in three years, I worked so hard during this period and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Shouldn't I just quit trying?

The truth is, there's a great chance that the dream which 'never came true' wasn't doomed, you just gave up too soon. As I said before, dreams take much longer to achieve nowadays, even though ironically people these days have much less patience.

When you think about it, working hard on something for five years or more and having nothing to show for it isn't really unusual nowadays. It also makes perfect sense. When you have a dream and you set out to achieve it, you have almost unlimited hope and energy that you can pour into it. But the world is so big and complex nowadays, and there are so many possibilities everywhere. Just searching through these possibilities and opportunities to find the right path for you can take years. And with a complex system comes more barriers too. This applies to relationships, careers, and goals of all types. Realistically, you may need to work on something for ten years or more before you see some results, and it may take even longer for you to feel like 'you have arrived'. Meanwhile, if you don't have the right strategy and the right worldview, your energy and optimism can fizzle out within a few years, when you are likely just at the beginning of the long journey.

Popular culture is unhelpful here again. I guess movies generally have a limited time frame, and it also sounds not hopeful enough from a marketing perspective if dreams are shown to unfold throughout many years. But way too many movies show dreams that come true within a year or two, and that has created unrealistic expectations in many people, similar to teenage millionaire celebrities and 20-something IT CEOs. The fictional world is reinforcing an illusion of the real world here, and it just makes the possibility of almost overnight success all the more real. But it is ultimately unhelpful, because people inevitably find that their dreams haven't come true yet two years down the road, and that false hope turns to despair.

Therefore, it's time to set yourself free from the dreaming prison now. If you have a dream that 'never came true', it's time to have a look at it again. Surely, many years may have passed, and conditions may be very different in your life and in your worldview. You may need to adjust many parameters of the dream. But if you still believe in the spirit of the dream, the essence of it, that is all that matters. It's time to give your dream(s) another go.

Some Related Musical Inspiration:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dreams are Essential for Youth Culture

If the essence of youth is a boundless view of time, space and opportunity allowing for the wildest dreams in life to be made, then it should follow that dreams are essential for youth culture. And I believe this to be true. Let us have a more detailed look to see if this is really the case.

A recurrent theme in the culture of being young is simply that you have the ability to do pretty much everything you want to. From Billie Piper's Because We Want To in 1998 to Katy Perry's Roar in 2013, the music of youth celebrates this idea very well. Movies celebrate this idea as well. Movies from Spiderman to Transformers are all about unlikely people becoming heroes, doing previously unimaginable great things.

Another manifestation of this is in its talk about relationships. A lot of music and movies have that theme where somebody is able to get the unlikely dream boyfriend or girlfriend, either as the main theme or an important sub-plot.

Yet another manifestation is in those movies about having a big adventure, the most popular settings being a road trip with friends or an overseas adventure. There are too many movies here to name, really.

As you can see, the spirit of dreaming big is not just present as a part of being young, it is interwoven into every aspect of life, and appears in different forms in different parts of culture or life. It is omnipresent.

Put it simply: if you want to regain the spirit of youth, the spirit of dreaming big must be omnipresent in your life and your culture.

Some Related Musical Inspiration: