It shouldn’t surprise people who know me that I’ve been making myself miserable a good amount of my life. Lately, I think I’m ready to change that by enjoying the little things in life, and by being realistic about what happiness actually means to me; I was chasing after an unrealistic unending sense of bliss to stave my depression. In reality all I’ve needed to do was just accept that bad things happen, mind my mood for a while, and then go play basketball or find some other fun activity to lift my spirits. I’m going to have good days, bad days, and awesome days. I don’t mean that saying “just be happy” will cure my depression, that’s not how mental illness works. What I am saying is that I’m done pushing myself into the dirt and makinge things worse. I’m not a “seize the day” kind of person, but I’m ready to live in the moment and fight the ghosts of my past that keep chasing me.
I know how this person feels, this is what college did to me when it made reading into a chore for me rather than a hobby. I try to pickup and read books every so often, but concentrating on them just makes me fall asleep after reading a few pages. I just don’t have the mental stamina to read anymore, unless I’m editing something.
Hell, it even takes serious effort for me to write blogs if I don’t write them immediately. I don’t envy book lovers though, I’m happy that they haven’t given up on their primary passion in life. I suppose what I suffer from now is a strong lack of inspiration in my old passions. It’s important to remember the person I used to be, but it’s also important to keep my mind focused on the present and take things one day at a time.
I think I’m coming up through those awkward reflective moments of my late 20s where I start to “feel old” by lamenting my childhood and teen years being over. Something many people who grew up in the 90s like myself have experienced as well with the whole “90s Kids” nostalgia phenomenon.
I know things “can always be worse,” but I personally prefer the saying, “Things will get better for you.” I believe that giving people hope for tomorrow is more proactive, where looking at others people’s misery just stressed me out more. I have resolved to hope for a better future, while continuing to take steps in my present to reach that better tomorrow.
In October 2014 I tried to up the amount of content on my blog to become a “power blogger”, but it ultimately fell short because I don’t post consistently on a daily basis. I’m not upset about it, but I understand what I was missing now: passion.
It dawned on me yesterday as I started to try and play Iron Maiden ‘ “Hallowed Be Thy Name” on piano and it made me remember why piano was my favorite instrument to play; it makes me feel alive. I realized that if I turn my hobbies into chores then I was going to hate those hobbies.
I am very prolific with how much content I post on Facebook, so I may attempt to post more of my FB statuses on this blog to bring up the content. If not then I’m just going to keep doing my own thing and write (and play) things that make me feel alive.
I learned about the passing of Leonard Nimoy a few hours after it happened when I got off of work yesterday, and I’ve been greatly saddened by his passing ever since. He was a brilliant actor, musician, and poet. He was also a great photographer, philanthropist, and a proper Bostonian. I only learned recently of some of these facts, but it still hits close to home for me because of how his famous character Spock inspired me growing up.
Growing up as a young boy with Autism, I related myself to the plight of characters like Spock and Data from the Star Trek Universe. I related to Spock for his sharp wit and logical nature, and Data for his struggle to cope with emotions and the concept of acting human vs not being human biologically. Some people on the autistic spectrum do not see themselves as human because we think and feel emotions differently than neuro-typical people do. I felt the same way growing up since I was often bullied and had a hard time coping with social situations through out most of my time in school. Fictional characters are a big inspiration for me, as well as the actors who played them. When you feel alone in your struggles, then it helps most to know that you aren’t alone at all.
Nimoy moved me heavily with his final words that the he broadcast on Twitter before he died:
This quote hits me right in the heart because it reminds me of how I often hunger to relive better moments from my high school and college years. I can’t have those moments back aside from reliving them in memory, but I’m happy to have had those memories all the same. It saddens me to see Nimoy leave us, but I know he lived a full and rich life. It inspires me to live a full and rich life myself while I’m still young.
RIP Leoanard Nimoy, you were among the stars even before your passing.
Long has it been since I’ve been able to pickup a book and read it all the way through to the end. I’m not one to read up the latest trends either. And I’ve never been one of *those readers* who stayed up all night to enjoy a riveting novel. The last time I did read books that intensely was when I was reading World War Z and Slaughter House Five back in my senior year of high school (2007-08, how I miss thee so.)
When I was in high school I considered myself a “punk rock reader”, meaning I only read what wasn’t considered popular by mainstream book culture. This is why I only started reading Harry Potter in the last year, why I used sparked notes to get my way through King Lear in British Literature class, and why I am still hesitant to even bother with the Twilight saga (especially since I’m not the target audience for such a screwy love story).
In high school and college, I loved joy reading different books that caught my attention. My imagination was able to paint pictures in my head of a great literary play of far off galaxies (Star Wars), and PTSD war soldiers who claimed to be abducted by martians (Vonnegut). The last book I can fondly remember reading was “Fire and Rain” by David Browne which told the tale of how 1970 was a pivotal year in ending the optimistic spirit of the 60s, and how pop culture shifted after the Beatles split up. I would like to pen a book in that style about the year 2011, which I feel was a real game changer from the uncreative stagnation of 2009 and 2010 for the world of music (with special thanks to Adele, lol).
My interest in books dwindled after college due to the stress of a four year relationship ending and not being able to hold a job (and I’m still searching for a career today). My life fell into a deep pit of depression for a very long time. Reading books would make me fall asleep after a little while, and I could never read more than a chapter at a time since I read the words slowly. On the flip side, the events of 2014 have largely been a vast improvement in my life with how I’ve re-discovered my sense of self respect, gained valuable work experience, and strengthened my resolve to live life the way I want too. My interest in literature is slowly returning to me now that my joy in life has returned.
Words have become my friends again given how my quality of life has improved. I partially owe this interest returning thanks to comic books like The Walking Dead and Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”. I’ve also started looking back into the poetry of William Wordsworth and Robert Burns. Lastly, I was tipped off to the awesome vampire novels of Anne Rice by a friend. I intend to to read more than I did before, but I will do so at my own pace and with books that I deem to be of a strong quality. I can still be a “punk rock reader” like I used to be. I just need to trust in my own opinions on a book instead of what other critics have to say about it, which makes sense given how I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Star Wars Episode III.
Nostalgia through out the generations is inevitable, but the idea that the next generation of kids are going to look back on the new millennium years as “the good old days” like the way my generation does the 90s disturbs me. In my mind the 90s represented a golden era of peace (post Gulf War), excellent kids TV shows, awesome music, and strong economic prosperity. In the same way, that feel of the 90s ended on September 11th, 2001. What followed after 9/11 was a decade of political schizophrenia and an unending war that has caused my generation a great deal of misery. Some people from the 80s didn’t like the 90s, and some people from the 70s didn’t like the 80s, etc. But I think we can all agree that the 1990s was the last GOOD decade we had since going outside to have fun was a tradition, not an option.
And so today marks the end of my favorite Manga created by Masashi Kishimoto, fitting as a gift for my birthday on November 10th. I’m filled with positive emotions right now, and I’m going to remember this series very fondly. I’m not spoiling much in this blog, rather I’m just going to reflect on my favorite moments of the series, and show what it has taught me as I grew up through my angst filled teenage years.
1. Never giving up or giving in-
This was always the primary theme in Naruto, hard work and dedication pays off vs natural genius at certain tasks. I always related to Naruto being the underdog with how I’ve developed into playing my music. I had to struggle to understand music theory and how to play instruments better when I first started.
2. The Fight Scenes-
Sure, DBZ characters can destroy planets in their base forms, but the fights in Naruto were always very well thought out (the ninjas always use strategy) and escalated in very climactic fashions. My favorite fights were definitely Itachi vs Sasuske, Naruto vs Pein, and Might Guy (eight gates) vs Madara Uchiha. I just fan-gasm every time I read and see these fights in because they are just so epic!
3. Obito Uchiha-
“I am no one, I do not wish to be anyone. I just care about completing the Moon’s Eye Plan!” Obito manipulated a lot of things behind the scenes from the start of the series, and was known as the masked man and Madara Uchiha for many years. The reason I will miss Obito is because I enjoyed the arcs in his character development. Sure, starting a war to revive his childhood crush was week, but he still served to be a bad ass villain for most of the series. And he later redeemed himself in the fight against Kaguya before his death. Also, I respect Madara Uchiha; but I feel like Obito was a better character because he had to work for his power. Madara was just born into the series with God like powers and an annoying cocky attitude.
4. The philosophy behind the “talk no jutsu”-
The talking scenes and flashbacks have annoyed a lot of people through the years (myself included), but when they are used correctly these scenes can have a lot of emotional impact in building up a fight or teaching us life lessons. These scenes helped me cope with my inner demons many times. One of my favorite scenes is where Naruto moved Nagato to revive the people he killed in the invasion of Konoha arc, thus having Nagato redeem himself. I’m pretty sure Naruto defeated more villains using words than he did with actual fighting.
5. People Doing Manga Reviews-
My two favorite online reviewers of Naruto are Sawyer7mage and Forneverworld for their funny and smart reviews. Sawyer’s jokes always made me laugh, and Fornverworld was always good at picking up on things that I had missed from reading the manga. Of course, I tried to get into the swing of things with reviewing this and other manga, but my hands are tied between working and writing about my regular topics (life, TV, music). I’ll miss the jokes and fan theories, but most of all I’ll miss the discussions in the Naruto fandom community that Naruto (the series) had created over the last 15 years.
6. Brightening Every Wednesday Morning-
I mostly read the series through online scans of the manga, though I think I’ll pick up the series in paper form now that all the books will be out soon. In college I would always look forward to Wednesdays for the Naruto manga, and Thursdays for the anime (and my bi weekly paycheck every other Thursday). The weeks where Naruto would take a break would be very dull Wednesdays indeed, but I still survived to see the end of Naruto.
7. The Villains-
From Orichimaru and the Akatsuki, all the way back to Zabuza and Haku, this series had some very memorable villains and anti-heros featured in it. I already mentioned who my top favorite villain was earlier (Obito), but every villain in the Manga (aside from Deidara and Kaguya) was quite memorable. They all had interesting abilities that distanced them from their humanity, and they all had memorable back stories. Many villains always pulled an Anakin Skywalker and turned over a new leaf. As for the ones that stayed evil like Uchiha Madara, they were so overpowered they needed to be killed by plot-no-jutsu, thus ending the joke “Madara’s so powerful even Kishimoto can’t kill him”.
8. The Tailed Beasts-
From the start of the series we see that many of the tailed beasts (“the bijuu”) are seen as menacing and evil from when the Nine Tailed Fox attacked Konoha, we later came to understand the Bijuu as misunderstood creatures who just wanted to live free lives rather than being trapped inside their Jinchuriki hosts. Kudos to Naruto for helping the Bijuu to become happy with life again and helping them achieve their eventual freedom.
9. Naruto’s Mentors-
Naruto had a tough time growing up in the leaf village having never known who his parents were, so throughout the series he had many mentors including Jiraiya, Kakashi, Yamato, and Iruka for being like father figures to him. In Naruto Shippuden many of the villains who wanted to kill Nartuo eventually became friends of his, and he even fought for them to honor their memory. I relate to this (in a sense) towards my music teachers and Journalism professors who helped me through my struggles to become a better musician and writer.
10. Naruto and Sasuke’s Rivalry-
This was the core the story line in the manga that had been built up for quite a long time, and also how the series reached it’s epic finale. For a while people were doubting how the fight would happen when Sasuke began working alongside the Shinobi Alliance, but Kishimoto came through for us in an epic fashion. I’m going to miss seeing these two fight each other, not just in battle, but their philosophies of isolation and revenge (Sasuke) vs friendship and peace (Naruto). I’m happy that their rivalry ending signaled the end of the manga, and led to an amazing epilogue in chapter 700.
And as I finish writing these words, I feel a sense of sadness and joy at the same time for realizing the manga series that I started reading back in college is over now (despite the mini series coming out next Spring). So the only thing tougher than writing this blog as I’m feeling so many emotions was deciding the right song to send off the series. And I found the right one after borrowing an idea from major anime pages on Facebook. “Wind / ウインド” which was the first ending ever used for the original Naruto anime.
Many people say that to achieve equality we need to pretend race or other differences don’t exist. This is the wrong way to approach things because to deny or mock someone’s race, disability, heritage, sexual orientation, and gender is asinine. The best way to coexist is to acknowledge that we are all different in our own way, but we all have the same basic desires as human beings; to be loved, accepted, and live happy lives. We are all different in our own way, but at some point we all feel the same. That is how we can achieve harmony in our lifetime.
This blog is going to be me ranting about what I find to be the truth about human nature (that people stink). Of course, there will always be good/bad/neutral/whatever else people of different of types and creeds in the world. I just like to think of it in philosophical terms in that some believe that some humans are either inherently evil or good.
For example, environmentalists hold that corporatism is a force for evil that’s screwed over the planet in their greed. Meanwhile, corporations (which are somehow people in the US) hold that the environmentalists are just a bunch of “dirty socialist hippies” trying to block their main sources of income. As another example, Masculists and Feminists will endlessly argue on social media over whether misandry or misogyny are the bigger problem (the answer is misogyny), but everyone is wrapped up in the Us vs Them paradigm that we forgot how to just get along with each other.
Personally, I see people as naturally selfish since most animals in the animal kingdom are themselves only concerned with their own survival vs others, and humans are no different. Case in point, I live in Massachusetts; home of the Masshole driver who never uses their turn signal or obeys the speed limit sign. The Masshole driver only cares about himself and potentially puts other drivers in danger because he’s either late for work, or just looking for thrills. I am not a Masshole driver, I am a considerate defensive driver who occasionally yields the right of way, and I’m the same way with how I treat people off the road (being kind to them).
I also see humans as somewhat arrogant for crowning ourselves the top of the food chain, I don’t deny we are the most advanced species with out technological advancements, and that this’s a golden age of information sharing (Wikipedia anyone?) While we also have this guy I once saw carrying his toddler atop his shoulder, jay walking across a busy city road. Some people don’t think and don’t care about their actions, and that is when situations get truly dangerous. However, for stupid careless actions, there is a thoughtful and concerning action. Life is a giant game of survival, and constantly struggling to make the decision between what feels right vs things that are right (while defining right and wrong are debates within themselves).
There will always be jerks and D-bags in the world, but the best way to beat them is to ignore those people and be happy with yourself and others you care for. To quote one of my favorite lessons from the graphic novel series Broken Saints, “The good and the bad, they are both inside”.
A couple of months ago I saw a girl I liked was feeling sad because she wanted to be called beautiful, so I told her that I’ve always found to be astonishingly beautiful, and she thanked me saying I was very sweet. I know that now a days some women take offense to being complimented on their looks (and I know they ARE more than just their looks), but I took the risk anyways because I wanted to do it for me as much as I did it for her. Even if she ended up with someone else, I’m happy that I spoke my mind since I’ve lived my whole life trying to be completely selfless, and people have walked all over me for it. Having worked in sales, I know now that you need to look out for yourself first before you can help others since a little bit of arrogance is a healthy thing.
“I did it for me, it was fun and I was good at it, I was… alive.” Walter White