Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Writer's Block: A Weird Heat Companion

When it comes to writing as a creative art form, there are two major challenges that affect every creator. The first is having a great idea but not being able to put it into words. This can be troubling, but very common. Given time, words will start to come and eventually shape into the proper idea. Far more distressing, though, is not having an idea at all.

Writer’s block is a real thing. For some, the idea of staring at a blank page or document is panic inducing. At times, ideas just will not come. A writer then becomes easily distracted, doing anything to get away from the feeling of failure. The need to write anything can be obsessive, but the ability is simply not there. The inverse would be having numerous ideas and bursting with details about each one. It is blissful.

Truly, it is possible to expand writer’s block to other art forms as well. I am sure staring at a blank paint canvas or sculpting material induces the same sensation. The feeling of being uninspired would be a low point for any artist. To combat this, an artist could take suggestions, commissions, writing prompts, anything where the idea is already supplied. While this can be an outlet for art, it is not nearly as fulfilling as fleshing out one’s own idea.

Writer’s block—or any similar deterrent in other art—is damaging to the artist’s potential. Luckily, this is often a temporary issue. On the other hand, there is not a reliable way to jump-start a case of writer’s block. All an artist can do in the meantime is read more, do more, experience more and hope inspiration strikes.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Travel: A Weird Heat Companion

If someone hypothetically comes into a lot of money, they are questioned what they would do with it. One of the top answers is invariably to travel. There is even a commercial based on the premise of “going to Disneyland.”

What is it about traveling that makes it a seemingly universal goal? The main reason is to escape from regular life and see something different. By traveling somewhere exotic, we experience a new way of life different from our own. While the actual act of traveling may be exhausting in the moment, I also find it refreshing or invigorating.

Traveling is also an attractive activity because it means we can leave some responsibilities behind, even for a short time. While away from home, we worry less about going to work, doing laundry, or making food. Traveling is relaxing that way.

Whenever I travel to an interesting place, I am struck by conflicting emotions. On one hand, I do not want to leave that place. I look around at people who do live there and feel immense jealousy that I am not joining them. At the same time, though, I have a need to be in my home environment. It is not a very intense feeling, but it is more or less a constant, which increases over the length of the trip. My homesickness—if you can call it that—is not necessarily representative of my affinity for my home. Rather, it is that middle ground of not having a home base. No one likes living out of a hotel, right?

That said, I still love to travel. I think anyone who is able should make the effort to see as many different and unique places as they can. Most people, myself included, pick up a lot of experience by reading books and watching movies set in different places, but there is no replacement for actually visiting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Toys: A Weird Heat Companion

So often, toys are associated with children. Toys are a child’s ultimate gift for birthdays and holidays. Later, that same child will discard toys around the house, declaring he or she are ready for new ones. Then, gifts slowly shift from flashy games to clothes and childhood is regrettably over. Even if someone is too old for playing with a yo-yo, though, this does not mean that person is too old for playing in general. People are never too old for toys. It just may require a redefinition.

Toys are synonymous with fun and relaxation. When we are children, toys are more traditional. The list is seemingly never-ending: dolls, games, cars, puzzles, skateboards, blocks, and so on, with specific sub-categories for each item. They are things we use in time of leisure, which is why a motorcycle may be a “toy” to an adult.

As we grow older, toys—at least traditional ones—become less active and more passive. As children, we acquire toys so we can put together stories. We have Ninja Turtles playing with Transformers because we are able to invent stories. When we grow older, though, we lose some free time, and those toys become more collectible than playthings. Does this mean adults lose creativity or imagination over time? For some, this is quite possibly true. On the other hand, a positive way to consider this is that, as adults, we appreciate the original medium the toy represents. As a fan of Star Wars, for an easy example, a child may use toys act out scenes or create new ones, while an adult buys because they enjoy the original story.

Another evolution of toys as we age is the price. What we spend on toys increases over time. This applies to both traditional toys (such as high-end reproductions of action figures) to what else we may refer to as a toy (like a motorcycle). This is because when we are young, we have to rely on others getting toys for us. Then, when we have a disposable income, we can turn it into an investment in our leisure. Almost anyone would likely say, however, that the monetary value cannot replace the sentimental value of toys from youth.

Equally as exciting as the toys themselves are the commercials that sell them. Over time, the technology of toys has certainly changed. Of course, the sheer mechanics of toys now are far more advanced than generations past. At the same time, advertisements for toys become more state-of-the-art. Regardless of how old a person is—and this may speak more to the effectiveness of marketing—toy commercial never fail to captivate. Toy commercials are emblematic of the generation of their release.

Some may view picking up a skateboard at 27 as a sign of immaturity. Possibly, it seems like a partway-through-life crisis. Whatever the case may be, people need a way to express themselves in times of leisure. Whether that is a traditional toy for children like an action figure or a “toy” for adults like an electric guitar, it is important to have a way to play.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Fighting: A Weird Heat Companion

Fighting is the physical embodiment of conflict. Two parties believe they are right, so they fight to prove it. Sometimes this is problematic, and people get hurt in defense of a side. In other cases, fights can be beneficial as parties unite to reach a compromise. For me, at least in the case of boxing or professional wrestling, fighting is pure entertainment. This is still two opposing parties working to solve a difference. In short, fighting is one way of resolving differences.

We often think of fighting in a negative light, focusing on the pain and destructive nature of fights. There can be a positive note too, though. Fighting is often indicative of passion--both positive and negative. In most cases, if a person (or group) is willing to put up a fight on an issue, this demonstrates a desire to change another’s mind. I believe this brings notice to causes which deserve the attention. More passion (on either side of the argument) highlights the causes more important to society.

Problems arise when this cause might not actually be fight-worthy. Particularly pugilistic people may create arguments just for the sake of having a fight. This antagonism is hardly beneficial, especially when the recipient is someone who avoids conflict and caves into the other argument. Unfortunately, this is the kind of fighting often seen online, where someone can hide behind anonymity and cause a ruckus. This is problematic as fights can escalate into something closer resembling an attack.

Just as fighting can be destructive, though, it can also be constructive. Fighting (or arguing) more on the personal level, between friends or family members for example, can make both sides stronger. A person has the chance to make their case and feel heard. Although it may be frustrating or downright hurtful at the time, persevering through fights can lead to compromise.

Essentially, fighting over a worthy cause is a good thing (as long as either party does not get too seriously hurt, of course). It shows passion, which focuses on good causes. At the public level of fighting, say in a political setting, intelligent debaters will use smart arguments to lead to the right conclusions (hopefully). At the micro level, meanwhile, a fight among friends or partners can lead to a stronger, healthier relationship.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Five Years Gone

Last week, I received an email informing me I have posted on this blog now for five years. December of 2013 seems like such a long time ago, but that is when I made my first ever post. At the time, I had the very grandiose idea of posting some piece of longform thought on any topic that came of interest once a month for one full year. I did not know who would read it, nor did I really care. That is not to say I did not care about the people who read it when, in fact, the people who were reading it are people who know me, i.e. family and friends. No, I care deeply for anyone who has given me a second of thought on this blog; rather, I simply did not have an intended audience.

Since December of 2013, I am proud to say I have not missed a single month of posting. Of course, I have cheated on some of those—posting a couple of lists or reviews or wrap-ups in lieu of an actual longform post. Recently, my posts have been responses to a podcast, more or less off-the-cuff thoughts and not full-fledged articles. For the most part, though, I have stuck to my original vision, and that makes me happy. I have been writing things that interest me and keeping myself on a routine, far longer than I ever intended. I hope to continue going at this regular, albeit slow, pace. Whether I ever find the time to get back to longer posts remains to be seen. But to anyone reading this, or any of my previous or future posts, thank you so much.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas: A Weird Heat Companion

Anyone who knows me knows I become deeply rooted in traditions. I would be hard-pressed to think of another holiday that carries more tradition than Christmas. I do not think I am alone. Most people I know do the same things every year this time of year. I think these holiday routines are what make this time so comfortable.

First off, I am fully aware not everyone celebrates Christmas. I do think, though, this holiday season (whichever you celebrate) is the biggest of the year. Even if you personally prefer Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day, the effect of the collective winter holidays is undeniable. For seemingly the whole month, business picks up at stores, traffic gets busier, and many workers get time off. Even if someone does not celebrate, the holiday season is inescapable. I cannot think of another holiday as pervasive.

A dozen people will give a different answer for their favorite part of the holiday. This is particularly unique for this holiday. In about ten seconds of brainstorming, I can come up with food, family, religion, cards, movies, presents, weather, decorations, music, vacation, and so on. Likely, any of these would be considered acceptable answers.

Of course, there is a dark counterpart of each of these positives. For all the good food, there is overeating; for all the gifts, there is consumerism, commercialism, and materialism. For music, there is “The Little Drummer Boy.” We all encounter these dark truths at some point or another, and we have to avoid letting the bad overshadow the good. The winter holidays are a time for joy, after all.

Also interesting is how the importance of this holiday can change almost yearly. Presents start to matter less, for example, while family time may grow more precious. For my part, I appreciate how the general mood everywhere is a bit friendlier. Sure, stress levels are at the year’s high, but still most people prove to be more cheerful and giving. More people are reflective and give thanks, a sentiment everyone can get behind.

Whatever you do this time of year, whichever holiday you celebrate, I sincerely hope everyone reading this has a fun, safe, relaxing season. Peace.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Procrastination: A Weird Heat Companion

Procrastination is often seen as a bad thing—putting off something dreaded in favor of something more enjoyable. It certainly adds unnecessary stress, but I do not think procrastination by itself is a bad thing. For instance, I like deadlines. In fact, I would barely be able to function without deadlines, so I often end up needing to imposing them on myself.

Back when I had deadlines for school, I struggled with one type of procrastination. Say I had a term paper due at the end of the semester. I would start on the project incredibly early, maybe within the week it was assigned. I would feel so good about actually beginning the work that I would shelve what I had done until it was almost due. At this point, I would dig out the work, now two to three months old, and attempt to rejoin my thoughts, stringing together paragraphs with linking sentences. Needless to say, it was not the best way to work.

I look at procrastination more as a way to prioritize our to-do list. Just having a deadline is enough to ensure something is done. For most of us, then, the important things will rise to the top. The most notorious procrastinators I have known make the claim that all their best work is done the night before something is due. Whether or not this is true is besides the point.

I also think putting off work in favor of more relaxing activities can put us in a better headspace to get the work done. After all, how good can our work be if we have not taken any breaks? At the very least, a relaxing break can refresh the brain for a bit. This may be a stretch—even putting it in words seems like an excuse—but there is some truth to the axiom, “All work and no play…”

Instead, I think the direct danger with procrastination lies with the speed at which we try to accomplish the task. If you run right up to when something is supposed to be done, you will likely rush and the quality will suffer as a result. The balance, which is different for everyone, lies somewhere in taking enough time to be comfortable finishing the product and allowing enough time to be successful.