Monday, December 30, 2013

Infinite Shades of Grey...

Anakin Skywalker once said (a long time ago in a galaxy far far away... ha) to former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi: "If you're not with me, then you are my enemy." Or something like that. I don't know, I was way more focused on the fact that they were having an incredible lightsaber battle on a planet COVERED IN LAVA.

What really caught my attention was Obi-Wan's response. He said "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." Now... I don't have a dictionary nearby... but that sounds like an absolute to me. So thank you, George Lucas, for the terrible irony and for the inspiration behind this post.

In my 19 years and some odd months of life it seems like there's way too much of a "one side or the other" mentality in the world. Where you're either with someone or against someone.

Democrat or Republican
Rich or poor
Skinny or fat
Abundant or scarce
All or none
Good or evil

When did the world become so black and white? Why can't one be Independent? Or average weight? Or middle class? Why do people forget that between scarcity and abundance comes "enough"? Or that between all and none there's some?

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Sirius Black tells Harry and company that "... the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters." Which is to say that there isn't solely heroes and villains.

Between good and evil there is innocence and apathy.

There is no divine doctrine that states that you MUST take a side when presented with the option to do so, and I think that this is something that the world would do well to remember every once and a while.

You see, the world isn't simply divided black and white. There is grey. Infinitely many shades of grey (not the book). And if you think about it isn't everyone just their own shade of grey?

I can't think of a single instance where two individuals ideals line up perfectly. That's what makes us human.

What's wrong with being...


Friday, December 27, 2013

New Years Continuations...

This is the third time I've written about an approaching New Year...  so that means I've been blogging for over 2 years. That's a big deal because the only things I've stuck to longer than blogging is viola and Student Council. So I'll start accepting gifts now. Cool thanks.

On Facebook I asked for people to suggest topics for me to write about, so if you suggested something don't panic. I'm still brainstorming, but this post is somewhat obligatory and has been forming in my head for a few months now.

NEW YEARS. It's almost 2014. Holy balls. It's been almost a year since the world was supposed to end (again... I'm looking at you, Y2K) and the world is still very much alive. So that's cause for celebration, I guess.

I've expressed before how little I believe in New Year's Resolutions. I think, for the most part, they are very much mortal, and their life span is usually pretty short. Go to the gym a week from today and it'll probably be packed. Go to the gym in 6 months and it'll be empty because McDonald's drive-thru is much easier to handle. I'm so guilty of this. Let's not even deny it. Holla' at my Freshman fifteen.

However, reflecting back on 2013, I'm pretty pleased with what I accomplished and stuck to. I set myself guidelines instead of resolutions.

I said I wanted to work on thinking before I speak and live by the rules of Karma. I'm pretty satisfied with the progress I've made in those two areas and I plan to keep working on them.

So instead of resolutions or guidelines this year I would like to share with you my list of "New Year's Continuations." Thank you, it's clever, I know. I'm such a genius.

1. Music. This should be a given. I'm going to keep making music. It's one of the few things I'm halfway decent at, and it makes me so happy. Did I mention that I can keep my performance major and pursue my psychology major at the same time now? Yeah. Super jazzed about that. That means more more job / grad school opportunities... and God knows I need all the opportunities I can get.

2. Leadership. I'm going to keep exhibiting and enhancing leadership skills both in and outside of school. I recently was hired to work as a facilitator at Mizzou's Venture Out, a complex that specializes in group team building via the use of low and high ropes courses. Google it, the pictures on their website make it look way cooler than I can make it sound by writing about it.

3. Writing. Obviously. It's how I stay connected with a lot of people and it's a way for me to express myself and relieve stress / vent. I don't know where I'd be without it.

4. Tweeting really stupid stuff. It gets exceptionally dumber between the hours of midnight and 4 AM. Feel free to follow me @HannszKetchup (yes I am shamelessly promoting my Twitter right now. Sue me).

5. Burying hatchets and burning bridges. Whatever the situation calls for. I live by the saying that everyone you meet is a blessin' or a lesson. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two. I hope to reconnect with people whose bridges I burned and probably burn bridges and cut off communication with people that aren't good for me. We'll see where life takes me.

6. Meeting new people. It's one of my favorite things to do. How would I have met my best friends if I hadn't taken the chance to just say hello and start a single conversation? Funny how the world works.

7. Continue to foster the relationships I already have. I especially look forward to this one. A lot can happen in a year and I'm excited to see who still stands by my side and whose side I'll stand by when 2014 comes to its end. They say you'll meet some of your lifelong friends in college. I think that statement is true, though I hope I met a few of them beforehand too. Wink wink you know who you are nudge nudge you know what I mean.

8. Make mistakes. I'm human, and while perfection is always the goal, it'll never be reached. I make mistakes (though I don't like to admit it when I do). Everyone makes mistakes. Don't deny it. I think it's one of the best ways to learn. Mistakes lead to experience and experience leads to wisdom.

9. Continue to strive for self-actualization. Once I have come to terms with my personal potential I can then turn to helping the people around me without worrying about myself.

10. Try and change the world. I don't care on how large of a scale I do it, whether I revolutionize all of humanity or change the life of one person for the better. Either one would be equally satisfying. I'll keep at this goal until the day I die.

I picked these things because I think they are all things I can incorporate into everyday life.

So here's to a new year (almost). I hope you all had a good holiday!

Love always,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

5 Things I Learned by Being a Musician and/or StuCo Kid...

You'll never meet a person who's more satisfied with what they were involved in during high school than I am. The funny part is that in high school I wasn't involved in a whole lot. Orchestra, Student Council, and Choir.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experiences I had during these activities. I got to serve the community, travel to Boston, place 2nd in a national competition with my high school orchestra, be one of the first orchestra to play in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts with the Youth Symphony of Kansas City, achieve the status of being one of the top ten high school violists in the state of Missouri, be a camper and then a leader at the best summer camp on earth ran by the best organization on earth, and through all of these things I got to become friends with some of the most inspiring, talented, kind-hearted, genuine, fun-loving people I'll ever meet.

But on top of all those things, I most value the life skills I learned from my time on Student Council and the effort I put in every day as a musician. So I've decided to compose a list of 5 things I learned by being a musician and a StuCo kid.

1. Being spontaneous isn't always a bad thing. In fact being spontaneous and being able to think on your feet are incredibly valuable. I find it hard to believe that every plan a person makes will follow through. That would imply perfection and I think that perfection is a myth (which I will discuss in detail later). When a plan you set doesn't work sometimes you don't have time to think of a new one. You have to make a decision right then and there and then work with the consequences (either good or bad) of that decision.

2. You should always aim for perfection and also be perfectly content with the fact that you'll never reach it. That sounds depressing, I know, and it had a negative resonance in my head when I thought of it but at the same time I think it's pretty empowering. If you always strive for perfection then you are guaranteed to give 100% effort at whatever you do. If you accept the fact that you'll never reach perfection then you will learn to be satisfied with the results you obtain when you've given 100% of your effort.

3. Keep your friends close. I met my two best friends because of music and StuCo and I've made a multitude of other invaluable friends who consistently inspire me and push me to be a better person. These people mean the world to me and I couldn't live my life the way I do without them. Even when they're hundreds of miles away I still keep in touch with them. Thanks, technology.

4. Express yourself. Whether it's through music, blogging, dancing, painting, or another form, self-expression is vital to being who you are. Because if you express who you are it allows the world to embrace who you are as well.

5. Be who you want to be. And whatever you want to be, be a damn good one. Nobody should be the sculptor of your life but you, and if the clay is on your potter's wheel then sculpt away! Create a masterpiece that you deem worthy of your creation.