Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Wall With Glass on the Inside...

This post is dedicated three ways to three very special people. They know who they are.

Carrying on!

You can tell a lot about a person by their face.

A smile indicates happiness. A frown indicates something that probably isn't happiness. An ugly face where you contort your jaw to make many chins indicates a Snapchat.

You can really tell a lot about a person by what they're doing with their body. If my arms are crossed and I'm looking down it means I'm shy. If I have my teeth clenched and my mouth shut tight it means I'm mad. If I have my teeth clenched, my mouth shut tight, and I'm holding a gun it means I'm really mad.

All funny jokes aside (and they were funny, thank you) I think we take too much at face value.

We assume that the person that is smiling is always happy, and not just happy in that specific moment. We don't think that maybe they're sad more often than they are happy.

We assume that the person that is frowning is sad, but maybe they aren't always. Maybe they just stubbed their toe.

We assume that a person who is sarcastic and always has a snarky one-liner ready to deliver and also works pretty damn hard at his/her craft and likes to smile a lot has always been sarcastic and talented and happy. Maybe they're sarcastic because they had to find a way to counteract the timidness that often got them picked on when they were younger. And maybe they smile a lot because they figure that smiling on the outside and hurting a little bit on the inside is better than hurting on both sides. And maybe they slave away at their craft because they were never good at what society expected them to be good at (sports, if you're a dude).

The people always surrounded by their friends? Maybe they push themselves onto their friends because when their alone they become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety.

Maybe what you see and hear isn't a reality at all, but just a very strong facade put on by someone who has become very talented at fooling those who watch and listen to them. A strong wall that is the result of many years solid mental work that surrounds their whole mind and is so tall that you can't fathom where the top of it might even end.

And why do people build walls these walls? Because we trick ourselves into thinking we don't want anything to do with the outside world. But that's not what we really want.

We want to find someone who will knock that son of a bitch down. We want to find someone who will look past our face value and see us for what we're really worth. We want someone to invade our mental kingdom and take over and see us for more than just the show we put on.

If the outside of the wall is brick then the inside surely must be glass. Smooth and polished glass that acts just like a mirror. So one thought reflects off the wall and back to another side and keeps ricochetting off of the barrier until God knows when. So if the thought is a negative one you're stuck until it loses its momentum.

Talk about shit out of luck.

In my almost 2 decades of life (I round up) I've found maybe three people that have even taken a gander to see behind my walls (in a non-creepy way), and I kind of like that number. If you ask School House Rock, three is a magic number. Not too many and not too few.

I can't let everyone behind the wall though. There's not enough room and I don't have the patience to be hosting a party in my head all the time, there's enough going on as it is (damn you, music school).

There's nothing quite as satisfying as meeting those people that pick up the hammer and start swinging. In some weird way, the damage is liberating. The wall doesn't just keep people out it also keeps you in, isolated from a world of possibility and endless opportunity.

Who knows where'd you be if someone didn't care enough to start tearing your wall down?

Brick by brick, until you finally can see what's on the other side.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

More Than Worth Every Mile...

I'm suffering from withdrawal.

Maybe I should back up and explain. My name is Tyler Hannsz and, unless you count gummy vitamins and ibuprofen, I do not do drugs. 

I'm having emotional withdrawal, because I just spent an incredibly wonderful weekend with wonderful people (MASC people, in case you couldn't guess) and now I'm back at Mizzou.

I love Mizzou, make no mistake. I love everything about this school (except for the price), but the people I spent my weekend with are people you just can't compare to or live up to.

I like to think that when it comes to people in the state of Missouri that are my age I am somewhat decently networked. I know a variety of people from a variety of places that went to a variety of schools and participated in a variety of things. And that's great.

However that means that a large majority of my favorite people in the world don't live in the same area as me. 

For example: My best friend lives on the eastern side of the state. I spend my time living either in the middle of the state or on the extreme western side of the state. That means that on any given day we're anywhere from 120-250 miles apart (approximately). People always assume that being a good hundred or two hundred miles away from my favorite people in the world is emotionally painful or something.

I don't think I'd agree. The distance isn't painful. In fact I think the distance often times acts as a stimulant. The time I spend with these people is a million times more valuable and we don't take any of it for granted. The trip to wherever it is we're meeting is exciting and charged with energy. Every mile brings you closer to what you know is going to be a great time. It's like going a really long time without eating your favorite food. The next time you eat it it tastes like it came out of God's personal super market. 

In the case of my friends there's six simple steps to our get togethers, and we follow these steps almost every time, without really meaning to.

Step 1. The journey to. This part's kind of agonizing. The driving time ranges from 2-5 hours depending on where we're meeting and where we're coming from. But the closer you get the more excited you get. You start to anticipate all the fun you're going to have and think about all the fun you had last time. This step is significantly fun if you're not the only one in the car.

Step 2. Arrival. You arrive at your destination and everyone freaks out because you haven't seen each other in however many months and you just can't handle how happy you are and you think your heart will explode because of all the bliss you're feeling.

Step 3. Experience. This is the longest stage. You're experiencing new things (and reliving old things) and creating new memories and you're just so happy to be in everyone's presence, but you're accustomed to the company now and you're not jumping up and down like a manic rabbit anymore. You create inside jokes (and to all of my lovely friends I'm just going to say the words "midget" and "orange" and let you fill in the blanks) and have a wonderful time. You're too immersed in the moment to care about anything but the here and now.

Step 4. Denial. The night before your departure back to reality (and reality is incredibly dull in comparison) everyone still has that smile on their face and everyone is still laughing so hard that they're going to cry / throw up / pee themselves or any combination of the three. But everyone also knows that we'll have to say our goodbyes in the morning and that's never a fun time. 
Step 5. Departure and depression. The hard part about living so far away from your favorite people is when it's time to leave. When you have to willingly put those hundreds of miles between you and those incredible people again. You make promises to see each other again soon (April can't come fast enough at this point) and then make that quiet and slightly depressing car ride home. Every mile you put between you and the people you love hurts a little bit. 

Step 6. Epiphany. But then you start to reminisce and reflect on that one stupid thing that somebody did that made everyone laugh and the epiphany hits you like a train: What you have is incredible. Almost too incredible for you to be able to fathom. 
It gives you something to look forward to.
It gives you memories to reflect on when life becomes a little hellish.
People to text or call when you have good news.
People to text or call when you need support.
A reason to wake up every day and take on the world with a smile on your face and a skip in your step.

Because you appreciate the journey you've made with those people. The short amount of time you get to spend with them is what gets you through the days without them.

And the miles you travel to see them for that weekend?

It's more than worth it.

After all, the only thing between you and your friends now is time.

And you've waited before. 

They're the kind of friends worth waiting for.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dog Years...

If I had to list the top five things I miss the most about not living at home the top of the list would easily be my dog, May Belle (we call her May).

She's sweet, she's funny, she's care-free, and she's awkward. If she was a human being close to my age I would marry her. Is that weird?


Dogs are incredible creatures. Like us they come in all shapes and sizes with a wide array of personalities.

I think, though, that they sometimes have a better method of living life than we do. Dogs have a long list positive character traits that we, as humans, could learn from and use to benefit the world.

For example:

1. Dogs are loyal. Loyalty nowadays is so hard to find in a person. With a world full of people looking out for themselves first there's a lot of back stabbing (hey, high school, I'm looking at you). People will do anything and step on anyone to end up on top. Dogs don't do that. Dogs sit when they're asked (if they're trained well). My dog does this thing where she knows when you're sick. So if someone in our house isn't feeling well (usually it's me) she comes into your room and she won't leave as long as you're in there. And when you leave she leaves. My dog literally tries to follow me into my bathroom. No, puppy, that's my personal tinkle time. And then when I'm done doing whatever I needed to do outside of my room (usually taking Ibuprofen or Dayquil) she obediently follows me back into my room and assumes her place on my bed (usually the spot I try to lay on) and keeps me warm (even if it's the middle of the afternoon in July).

2. Dogs love their humans unconditionally. I think I could tell May that I kick puppies and she'd still love me (of course she would, she can't speak human). My point is that no matter what day (month, now actually) I've been through and how pissed at the world I am when I walk into my house 99% of the time the first person to greet me is my dog, and she's certainly always the most enthusiastic. She doesn't care what kind of day you've had or what you've been through. She just wants to be with you and lick your face and sit on you. And fart, probably. She's usually pretty gassy.

3. Dogs are care free. As far as I can tell, a worry seldom crosses their mind. They live in the moment and are taking part in life simply to enjoy it and get as many tummy rubs as they possibly can. I remember reading a tweet once that said "maybe dogs live such shorter lives than humans because they know what they know how to live a lifetime faster and simpler than we do." Scientifically speaking I don't think that's quite true, but it's still a nice thought. Dogs, it would seem, simply are better at being happier than us. They don't worry about things like we do. My dog's kinda dumb, but she doesn't care. She happily barks at her reflection and bites her own leg and she'll keep doing it thank you very much. She just wants to be happy. Keep on doing you, pooch.

4. Dogs are happy to be who they are. You don't see them trying to change the way they look or act. A dog doesn't go and get its coat groomed because they dog next door has shinier hair than her. Hell, my dog likes to roll in dirt and eat her own poop. She doesn't care that it's gross and makes you want to vomit. She's still gonna try and cuddle with you and lick your face (she licked me on the mouth once and I literally threw up).

I don't know why it's so hard for people to grasp these concepts, especially if we're the most intelligent form of life (though college has made me question this claim). Dogs are so much more happier than humans and their happiness is infectious.

Maybe we should take a leaf (bone?) out of their book and view the world in a simpler light.

The world might actually be a happier place if we all lived in dog years, ya know?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Your Expectations vs. Who I Am...

Expectations. The belief that something will happen.

We're all surrounded by them. We're expected to abide by the law. We're expected to arrive at work or school (and expected to be there on time).

And that's great. It creates structure, and I'm a huge fan of structure.

But where do we draw the line on expectations?

Do we let people create expectations on who we are and who we will be?

Do we let those expectations play any role in defining who we are and who we will be?

That's up to the individual, I believe. But like I said, everyone has expectations set upon them. I'm expected to be a musician. I'm a brother, a son, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, and a million other things. I'm a tall, white, caucasian male with green eyes and brown hair.

I'm expected to be sassy, quirky, sarcastic, blunt, funny, a little pessimistic, a realist, empathetic, a musician, a leader, and a friend.

And that's great, because I revel in being all of those things. But there's a difference between the first and second list.

I am all of those things in the first list because I was born. I had no control over it. Could I stop being any of those things? No. I could cut myself off from my family (but I won't), I could dye my hair (but I've learned to enjoy being called JewFro), and I could get contacts (but I'm poor and, incidentally, I think the color of my eyes is lovely).

The second list are all things I could change. Maybe not easily, but it's possible that I could stop being sassy. I could forgo my use of sarcasm and quit being funny. I could detach myself from my rather strong sense of empathy and walk around with my head in the clouds with a sense of reality that is far from real.

I could stop being a musician, I could lock away my viola in its case and never touch it again, I could never run my hands over piano keys again (not that I'm an accomplished pianist in the slightest), and I could never let a musical note come out of my mouth ever again. I could eventually silence the music in my head that literally never stops playing (currently I'm running through Brahm's second symphony, which is where we get his famous lullaby. Feel free to take a listen: ). That sounds really cool, right? It's like I have the Spotify app in my brain, and it never stops playing music. WRONG. It's annoying and distracting.

I could stop being a leader. I could stop encouraging others to expand on their leadership potential, because that's what a leader does. A leader makes more leaders.

And I could stop being a friend. I could stop interacting with people that I share common interests and emotional bonds with.

So what keeps me from doing all those things?

Am I sassy because it's expected of me? Am I a musician because of the expectations of others? Am I a friend because my friends expect me to be a friend?


I am these things out of my own volition. I think that there's a large number of people who are what they are and do what they are because of expectations (Cough cough congress cough cough) and because society seems to be so hellbent on kissing the butts of others.

Eventually the expectations that the world places on you are going to clash, and if you let expectations dictate your actions and let them influence who you grow up to be you are going to run into conflict.

So don't let them shape you. If your life is clay then you, and only you, should be the potter.

So let me make this one final thing clear: who somebody expects me to be plays the most minuscule of roles in who I am. I am metamorphosing into what I want to be because it's what I want, not what others expect.