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.


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.

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.

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?



“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.

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.

“Indian Toilet. Indian Toilet Paper.”

You’ve been there. I know you have. You might not admit it, but we’ve all experienced one of the biggest fears known to the civilized world: having to take a dump without a clean toilet in sight.

I was nine years old when I first visited family in the country of India with my parents. After a lengthy eight-hour drive from the airport with no air conditioning through the overcrowded streets of rude people, rickshaws, and eunich beggars, the first thing I wanted to do after arriving at the destination was to visit the “porcelain bank” to make a deposit, and then take a nice hot shower to relax from a long day. I went inside the house and asked my new aunt where the bathroom was located, and she pointed outside to a brown and silver metal door. “The kingdom of relief awaits.” I thought as I walked outside. When I opened the door, I thought there was a misunderstanding. Inside, there was a porcelain hole in a small 3×5-foot closet with a large plastic cup underneath a water faucet; and a giant lizard on the ceiling wall. Confused, I went back inside and asked for the toilet again and also for some toilet paper. My aunt took me back outside, pointed to the hole in the ground and said “Indian toilet.” She then pointed to the cup and water faucet and said “Indian toilet paper.” I was shocked and disgusted at this idea. But nature was calling, and it does not care about morals or values when you have to go.

It’s not easy to squat over a hole in the ground to take a dump, let alone ignore a large lizard on the ceiling above. Sitting in that position made it impossible to relax enough to let anything pass through. After a few days, I was finally able to accomplish something. Sort of. Nothing says welcome to a foreign country better than having to clean up by splashing freezing water on your private credentials.

The following day, we went to go visit family friends that lived in the neighboring village. I had to go “fulfill my duties” again, but didn’t see a bathroom in sight. I asked my cousin, and he stood there for a minute. He then proceeded to give me his small half-filled bottle of water and chuckled as he pointed outside to the sunflower fields and said, “Indian toilet.”