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Back To Basics – Happiness

May 6, 2010 Leave a comment

So, I was away from my comp for a while and just stepped away from everything. Sat down and read Mitch Albom’s Have A Little Faith, which by the way is a great book and you should read it if you can get a copy. Part way through, I had a little spark of an idea I just had to write down. So here it is, the little mental dump that was a result of that spark. Unedited from its pencil and paper form. Written down in one go. No outlines. No rules. Just no holds barred writing.

OMG SECRET MESSAGE! Actually, just a spacer for formatting purposes becuase I’m too lazy to do the html. =P

It’s funny how things happen. how some sort of invisible hand shows you different paths and helps guide you. Not holding your hand or necessarily giving you direction, but rather illuminating things around you. Giving you perspective. Giving you insight. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t believe in. It doesn’t matter what school of thought you come from. it may be a diving being. It may just be coincidence. It may be a situation that you created yourself.  It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it happens. So right now, I sit here, writing. But not on a computer like I usually do. Rahter, I’m using the good old pencil and paper, something I haven’t done in a long time. Not the using a pencil thing, but just writing for the sake of writing. For myself (and OK, maybe for the blog)

The events of the past week or so have reminded me of the world that is out there. Of the world away from Twitter and Facebook. Away from IM clients and email. The world where I see with my own eyes rather than through photos taken by others. The world where I hear what’s being said rather than see it on a screen. There’s something to be said for that. And you know what? I miss it too. Yeah, i’m always active online, but it’s when those interactions translate into real life that I smile. Online, we’re simply avatars, sending each other messages in the form of data. Simple ASCII code. Bits and bytes. Really just a string of 1’s and 0’s converted into information that we can see. But can we truly understand it? Yes, there are those who can write so well it’s almost as if they’re speaking to you right there. Almost as if you can pull the emotion and vocal cutes and inflections out of it. But it’s still only almost. A voice recording gets you closer. but you’re still missing something. It’s only when you’re there in person that you get the whole thing. And unless you’re a great actor (or the other person isn’t observant enough), you can’t get away with anything. You, if you realize it or not, are being genuine. The words you say, the sound and tone of your voice, and the way you stand and move all add up to truly convey your meaning and intention.

Now what really got me onto this topic? what was that spark (which I feel I’ve been missing for a while)? A few simple words that Mitch Albom was told by Albert Lewis, his old Rabbi, when he asked what the secret of happiness was: “Be satisfied. Be grateful. For what you have. For the love you receive. And for what God has given you.” (From Albom’s book Have a Little Faith).

But it’s not what we physically own, or the seats in society we fill, that should make us happy. Those are merely reminders o fthe things that should make us happy. They are, in this case, almost symbolic. The moment you forget this and strive only to get more, that happiness becomes something that is no longer truly attainable. Why not? Because there will always be something with more or who is “better”. But none of that really matters if you can find true happiness, which is something that never comes with a price tag.

“What profits a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?” – Mitch Albom, Have A Little Faith

I think this is one thing that a lot of people forget in today’s world. We’re all so busy going out there, trying to get more, while lamenting about the past and things we cannot change. We’re all so caught up about the future of our jobs, the economy, and our future health, and as a consequence, we forget about the now. We forget to appreciate what we have, especially the little things, instead of constantly worrying about what’s coming up. I’m by no means saying that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow or forget about yesterday. Both are extremely important. I’m just saying that we should never forget about today. About the moment we’re currently in, and all the things we’re fortunate to have. For example, when was the last time you just went out to enjoy the outdoors? The last time you went for a walk without destination or without a purpose other than just to go for a relaxing stroll? When was the last time you chat with a stranger without wanting anything from them except their company for that moment? When was the last time you did something just because it made you smile from deep inside your heart?

Categories: life Tags: , , ,

Cancer Connections Photo Exhibit

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

So this morning, I headed downtown to check out the Cancer Connection Vancouver photo exhibit hosted by the Canadian Cancer Society and PhotoSensitive. It’s hard to really describe the power and raw emotion that is conveyed through the simple black and white photos and stories that they tell. These photos are, as much as people may overuse the term, tear jerking and I admit that I had tears welling up in my eyes as I walked through the exhibit. They tell of stories of triumph, strength, and most importantly hope. Even with those who have sadly lost in their battles with cancer, they never gave up hope and fought right down to the end. The weather seemed to agree, with rain droplets falling on the photos, adding tears of both joy and sorrow to the photos. Enough with the words, I don’t know how else to describe it or what else to say other than that it’s here until May 3, and you should definitely head down and check it out.

Are We Born Into What We’re Good At?

April 17, 2010 4 comments

I was reading this post on Pixel Photography (@PixPh), and I think it’s something that everyone should read. I feel that it applies to much more than just photography. It applies to almost everything to a point, from arts to academics, or to a lesser degree, athletics. But for the sake of ease discussion, let’s talk about photography.

When I walk around with my D90 on photowalks, or shooting at events, I often get into conversations with people about photography. The conversation usually, 9 times out of 10, goes into how I must get some great shots because I have a nice camera and that they’ll never be able to get shots as good with a point-and-shoot. False. I have actually seen a lot of amazing shots taken with point-and-shoot cameras, some of which are better than anything I could shoot right now. Even with my fancy schmancy equipment.

The one thing that I’ve read on almost every photography site that I frequent that I can’t stress enough is that it’s not the camera, it’s what’s behind the camera. I even need to remind myself about this at times, especially when I’m around other photographers (regardless of skill level) who have nicer equipment than me. The nicer gear, in my opinion, merely makes it easier to get those better shots. It’s really the “eye” and ability of the photographer to frame the shot and set it up well (and partially to be in the right spot at the right time.) Now is this an ability that you’re born with? I don’t think so. It’s something that anyone and everyone can develop with practice and time (if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you know what I mean.) People may have advantages with their equipment and background (eg: a painter will have a head start.), but with practice, combined with constructive feedback from others, anyone can develop that “eye” for photography. You can develop the ability to see what will make a good shot, and learn how to frame it for maximum effect.

Take me for example, I’m not naturally talented in visual arts. Just take a look at my early photos and my drawings. So really there can only be one way that I’m able to get the shots that I do, practice and experience. I’ve only been shooting for about three and a half months now, and I feel like I’m getting some good shots here and there. However, in those three and half months, I’ve taken a basic photography class, been out shooting an average of 2-3 days a week (I took pictures nearly every day during the Olympics and have been out shooting at least a little bit nearly every day this month), and taken thousands of photos (even if you count the series of shots taken of the same scene to try to get one that turns out well as a single photo). I have tried to never leave my camera at home so I never miss an opportunity to shoot. I’ve looked for events to shoot at and taken advantage of the weather to go for spontaneous photowalks. When I walk around I consciously look at things and think about how to make a good shot out of them. As a result, I’ve had a lot of practice and a lot of opportunity to get more experience. I try new things, new angles, new ways of looking at things to try to get better shots. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and I learn from it. Then I take what I’ve learned and practice it in order to add it to my repertoire and skill set. I actually learn more from the bad shot that I take than from the good ones. I’ll look at them and figure out what I could have done to get a better shot.

So what do you think? Do you think that what I’ve said is true and that people can develop the ability to become a good photographer (artist, musician, etc.)? Or do you think that people are born with innate talent and we’re pretty much destined to be good a something from the moment we’re born? And then there’s what this whole topic really boils down to: nature or nurture? Leave a comment on your thoughts and vote in the poll!

We’re Not Robots

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

This sign at Go Fish says it all. We're not robots, we're humans. So don't make yourself work like one. Be patient and kind to yourself (and others). Take the time to relax.

So on last night, I went to a Flamenco/Live Music Tweetup at Kino Cafe. Was a fun and relaxing couple of hours with great music, dancers, and company. I had posted this event on both Facebook and Twitter to see if any of my other friends wanted to go, but the response was generally the same. “Don’t you have exams?” “How do you have that much free time?” Well, yes I do have exams starting next Monday, and I’ve started studying already. And I have “so much” free time (a couple of hours at night, c’mon) because I’ve been getting up early and doing work all day anyways. But the answers to these questions aren’t really the important part. It’s the fact that so many people think that we always need to be working. That even the smallest break is going to ruin us. Even though our lives seem to demand a constant state of working, we all need to relax and take a break every now and then. We’re not robots. Even if we have an exam or major deadline coming up in a week, we need to have sometime to unwind. When we’re all wound up and stressed, we don’t perform as well as when we’re even a little bit more relaxed. In addition to a drop in performance, our health suffers. It’s been proven in studies, and we’ve all felt the symptoms of being stressed. So why don’t we all take the time, regardless of how long it is, to just unwind a little bit and just enjoy life? Whether it’s going on a photowalk, or enjoying some live music with friends (as is in my case), or simply just sitting outside and soaking in the world around us, we’ve all got our ways of relaxing. Sometimes all we really need to lighten that load and brighten up our day is just 5 minutes.

So how do you relax and unwind?

Note: That final post from the F5 Expo on Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote is coming soon. I apologize for the delay, but I just haven’t been able to hit my stride with that post and I don’t want to put up something that I’ve forced rather than just let flow for you guys to all read. Thanks for understanding.

Categories: life Tags: ,