Culture, Life, Philosophy

The Ascent

I decided to start documenting my journey of becoming a respected author, while things are still new, and I’m figuring out things. I want to be able to remember the beginning of the process, before the “likes” and popularity, so that I can remember the most important part of the journey, and share this with others.

It’s been roughly three months since I began writing every single day, with the purpose of becoming a better writer on my Instagram. I also started to read and write more so that I can have a better understanding of both the topic I wish to speak about (increasing the belief in oneself to do great things by recognizing negative patterns through self-awareness) and writing structure in general. I’m also still trying to figure out my demographic, but I think I’ll be able to narrow it down with more writing. I’ll have to give up podcasting daily so that I’ll have more time to write, and ramp up my audiobook intake.

It was also my first day at my new job today. It felt nice, and I met lots of good people. But at the end of the day, this job is just a tool for my writing and podcast. It’s important to always remember why we do what we do.

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Culture, Life, Martial Arts, Philosophy, Politics, Racism, Social Commentary, The Resistance

Float like a Butterfly

Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest athletes of our time, but his opponents extended far beyond the boxing ring. We too can be the champions of the battles we fight each day if we are adaptable and courageous.

Being a black Muslim in the 1970’s produced its own challenges in the forms of racism and Islamophobia. One of the characteristics that made Ali so remarkable was his ability to stand firm in his beliefs, regardless of who was opposing him. If you look up any video today, you’ll see ferocious confidence in his self-expression.

Being unique today requires tremendous courage to challenge the status quo. Heroes are scarce in our generation because most of us have been taught to limit our critical thinking for a paycheck; by fitting into society like a standardized cog in a machine. Ali found courage within himself and became an individual. You can also cultivate this courage for self-expression.

In nature, a butterfly is able to float because it is light, agile and curious. On the other hand, a bumble bee has similar capabilities but different mindset: workers that’ll defend the queen and hive with their sting. Humans however are not restricted to any particular pattern, because self awareness allow us to change our perspective when presented with new information.

When Muhammad Ali’s saying, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” was also a comment on how humans can adapt their nature. We can be light on our feet and observe like a butterfly, but change and strike with purpose like a bee. We are not restricted to nature’s patterns, but to recognize and change them requires self-awareness and that courage deep inside you. Adapt, and you will overcome anything.

Culture, Philosophy

The right team for the right job

If your goal is to build a bridge, then following the advice of a demolitions expert and buying dynamite make no sense. But most of us do this in our lives every day: we take actions opposite of our goals and end up frustrated.

Demolition experts are the negative people in your life. They’ve relentlessly practiced how to locate and identify even the smallest faults and weaknesses to destroy the greatest structures. The reason negative people seldom live positive lives is because they focus on failures their entire life — so they rationalize any risks to avoid taking them. They can easily demolish the foundation of your courage with their years of practice.

On the other hand, an expert bridge builder focuses on strengths, and what materials go well together for a strong structure. His mission is to connect people, and this goal far outweighs any short-term fear of failure. His team and tools are also much different than a demolition expert: one carries dynamite and a wrecking ball machine, and the other employs construction workers and engineers.

Depending on what we are trying to accomplish, we need the right team. Whether you’re trying to build bridges or destroy them, you’ll be able to achieve your goal more efficiently with a team on the same mission as you.

Culture, Life, School

Generosity Comes From Abundance

[Today’s podcast was about generosity. You can check it out here]

In college, one of my colleagues was notorious for forgetting his pencil. It was very clear in the way he dressed, his mismatching socks, and disheveled hair that his goal was to do the bare minimum in class to get participation. And usually he would ask me for pencils, since he knew I kept an ungodly amount of pens and pencils in my backpack.

I think it’s interesting to note our respective attitudes in this scenario regarding pencils. If I really just wanted to be prepared, I would keep only a few extra pencils. Not twenty. But in past experiences, I’d personally been in embarrassing situations where no one was willing to give me a pencil. So, out of this fear, I kept many pens and pencils.

So he would ask, and I would give. But I started to notice that when my pencil stash would run low, I was more hesitant to give him a pencil. In fact, sometimes I would lie that I didn’t have an extra, so that my own anxiety could be quelled. Needless to say, neither of us were happy in this situation.

I had developed a relationship with my irrational fear of pencils, and my colleague developed an unspoken trust with me of providing. The more pencils I had, the more comfortable I was with giving him a pencil. But as that stash dwindled, so did our weird relationship. Basically, the less I had, the less willing I was to give him a pencil.

Eventually, he moved to another part of the class where he continued his cycle of “pen-handling.” I thought I was being generous, but in reality I felt bad for him. We aren’t able to freely give if we think we don’t have enough.

You know at least one person in your own life who has shied away from donating because they say they don’t have enough. They usually say things like, “Once I become rich, then I’ll have extra money to donate!” But riches come from an abundant mindset. Let me ask you this: how will you ever become rich, if you operate from a poor and lacking mindset?

 

 

Advertising, Culture, Fitness, Food

Almond Joy, Asparagus or Arugula?

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I went to a nutritionist the other day, and I’d like to share some simple tips about eating healthy with all my readers. Basically, eating a variety of different-colored edible foods is an easy way to check your diet. So I went to the grocery store, but I was confused about what edible, colored food to pick:

Arrugulua or Almond Joy?

OK, so I am exaggerating. Many of us are able to distinguish healthy versus processed foods. So then, why isn’t it easy to eat healthy? Well, it actually is but a here are few psychological factors that work against us:

  1. Marketing. In the picture above, companies that manufacture processed goods attempt to mimic the visual attraction that colorful natural foods produce. These companies invest billions of dollars in research to figure out how to control the psychological process between consumption and choice of food.
  2. Price. Eating delicious healthy food is expensive, and eating cheap healthy food taste disgusting. To which I say, fuck the organic stuff.  A regular tomato or banana is healthier than most things on dollar menu. But on a macroscopic level, it’s more profitable for corporations to promote a Big-Mac versus arugula. One burger funds a particular franchise that promotes chemical research (preservatives), marketing businesses (advertising), pharmaceutical industry (medicine caused by malnutrition diets), doctors (prescription), forest deconstruction (to create land for businesses and malls), etc. Think of it this way: the addiction is cheap for us, yet profitable for the investors.
  3. Social. What conversation sounds more probable? “Hey, want to get a quick bite from Jack-in-the-Box?” or “Hey, wanna go to the store and get some asparagus to snack on?” Sans a couple of vegan health enthusiasts who swear by gluten-free products, probably not often. Eating has a social aspect in addition to nourishment that allows us to connect with people; talking about who you ate with, what you ate, when you ate, how you ate it. Unfortunately, Sprouts is not open after 9:00 PM like McDonald’s, nor does it have a drive-thru.

Just like putting unleaded gas in a Mercedes causes engine damage, putting figurative crap in your body is not much different. Proper fuel is required for proper performance. Do you guys agree/disagree?

Leave your comments, questions and suggestions below!

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Culture

“Watch” Your Friendship

Holidays are times of the year when large groups of miserable people purchase overpriced garbage. Stores are filled with waves of degenerates trying to find their perfect gifts: simple inorganic objects to define complex organic friendships. Seems like a daunting task, doesn’t it? Some people manage to do it. Nothing says “I love and greatly appreciate you” quite like an engraved, vibrating toothbrush.

Seems like nowadays, people would rather go into debt than be creative. It’s impressive for us to charge $100 on our credit card to gift a digital photo frame, but less impressive if we create a wooden frame for $5 with a real picture. Isn’t the latter more meaningful and cost-effective? Celebrating holidays have lost their meaning.

We used to celebrate with family. Now we spend time with loved ones.

What a nonsensical euphemism! It doesn’t make sense when people say “spend time.” “Spending” is a verb done with transactions, not loved ones. For example, “I spend money. I spend money on prostitutes with HIV. My family spends money on my funeral.” Americans are proficient in spending, especially money they don’t have. Perhaps a $1.5 trillion deficit and economic depression might be effective to mention here.

And what about “time?” Time is a man-made measurement. It is impossible to have a measurement. We don’t go around saying “I have centimeters.”

“Excuse me Travis, but how much for that bracelet?”

“About 1000 centimeters.”

“Well I only have 800 centimeters Travis. Can you lend me 200 on credit?”

That sounds silly. Don’t be disappointed that you don’t “have” enough time finding that perfect gift. It doesn’t exist. If you spend more time purchasing a gift for someone than you hang out with them, a minute of conversation is worth more than each crystal dial on the perfect watch.

Culture

No Reservations On Black Friday

So Black Friday, why do we call it Black Friday? Perhaps there’s a racial undertone towards black people: deals so cheap, it feels like you’re stealing. Black is often used as an adjective for hidden things, and unfortunately carries a negative connotation. The government conducts “black” operations that we don’t know about, we drink black coffee to hide that we are tired, the color black is also known as the absence of all color. Black Friday: maybe we’re trying to hide how miserable we really are as Americans with buying things. We use credit (money we don’t have) to spend on things we don’t need (consumer marketing) to impress people we don’t really know ( Facebook, twitter, and tumblr).

This morning, I reached over to grab my phone. The time read 8:05 AM, and the battery died about 5 seconds later. I forgot to charge the damn thing last night. You see, my charger is located in vastly far region of… next to my bed. Now, a normal person in this situation would simply make it a point to charge their phone regularly. Not me and my brain: “Hey, it’s Black Friday. I should get a battery-pack enhancer for my phone.” What an idea! Something to take my laziness to the next level of pathetic.

I like Black Friday, but not because of the sales on flat-screen TV’s, flashy new tablets or sharp knives that can cut through my shoes: so much pointless merchandise! I like Black Friday because it illustrates how America is progressing as a country. About twenty-four hours previous to Black Friday we celebrate Thanksgiving, formerly a farmer’s holiday to celebrate a successful crop harvest. I couldn’t remember the last time I grew something, so instead I gave thanks for can openers this year. I once tried growing a pineapple tree. It took too long, so I just went to the store and brought one. But then I had to cut it, and screw manual labor, so I ended up bringing home a can of sliced pineapples, and ate them. Couldn’t have done it without the can opener. Makes my life 100 times easier.

The first Thanksgiving is popularly considered to be the day when Puritans learned how to farm from the native tribes. Before the Natives lent a hand, these people were dying from starvation, malnutrition and disease. The indigenous people had survival skills, and the Puritans needed them. But little did the indigenous people know that their kindness would be reciprocated with The Trail of Tears, Manifest Destiny, crappy housing reservations, and an annual “holiday” to remind them of how badly they got fucked over. In return, they eventually sucked out their land, exiled their people and raped their daughters like parasites.

Black Friday: a day of shopping gluttony, preceded by a day of Thanksgiving food gluttony, followed by a Saturday of holiday media gluttony. If there’s a reason why Americans are the most obese people in the world, this might have something to do with it. But I still have some “reservations” about how we treat people.

Culture

How To Get Your International Idiot License

My stepdad invited a friend of his from India to help us with our pizza parlor. His friend had a slight problem with the English language: he could barely speak it. There were several times I wanted to beat the crap out of him with a Merriam-Webster dictionary.

He would constantly offend customers by asking them inappropriate questions, such as if they wanted his sausage in their “pieces.” When the customers would cuss him out, I would have to clarify that he meant “pizzas.” He also had this odd tendency to raise both eyebrows after every statement he made, like a villain from a 1970s movie.

About six months after arriving from India, he wanted to learn how to drive. My parents, being Asian, convinced him to save money by not going to driving school and use me as a free teacher instead. I was being used for free child labor in the kitchen anyways, so why not. Plus, the working conditions were probably not as bad for me as children in Chinese sweatshops.

He had difficulty comprehending the written test questions in English, so my stepdad found out that they offered the exam in other languages such as Chinese, Arabic and Braille. Yes, Braille. Because it makes sense to give blind people the right to take a driving test. Anyway, his friend got really excited after finding out he could take the test in Punjabi. They both started Bollywood dancing in their ridiculous chef hats in the kitchen. I told them I thought that didn’t make any sense. They both stopped dancing and asked me why I thought it didn’t make sense to take the test in Punjabi.

Because road signs are written in mother f***ing English!!

I got grounded. No video games. For a month. His friend failed the driving test all three times. But he earned his license…to be an international idiot.