Cheating: Sound Advice from another author

A friend of mine called me this evening pondering about life and death.  He was seeking answers.

The who.

The what.

The why.

The etectera.

We talked about this and oh so much more.  We have been friends for years.  Throughout our adolescent years.. past the blur of a not quite romance, we still are two kindred spirits.  It was good to talk to him.  I just wished he was feeling better.

As I was talking to him I thought about a note I saw on my friend Violet’s facebook.  I read it aloud for him over the phone last night.  We both enjoyed it.

Here is a copy of that note for you to consume and perhaps enjoy for yourself:

It was once said that this speech was delivered by Kurt Vonnegut to MIT’s graduating class of 97. That proved to be false but I like this and think it’s pretty good anyway. Bon Appetit.
——————

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Smile.  Your life is your own and meant to be lived to its fullest. Savor every moment.  Carpe Diem.  Seize the day.

Halts and time outs

I’m in the midst of yet another major time out.  It’s spring cleaning and with it comes… well the evaluation process of what’s working, what needs to go and what’s actually important.

I’ve noticed over time I seem to have strayed from my journalistic roots.  Once upon a time, I was a game journalist.  In high school, for our school newspaper, I covered everything under the sun, with primary focus in features articles.  I loved it.  It challenged me.

The blogging I initially started here was more for personal reflection.  In some ways it was a collection of all of my thoughts- both fluid and real time that I wanted to release and share.  It was part of the collection for the book I’m writing about my journey through an abusive marriage and divorce.   Later it grew to my path towards getting on my feet, falling on my face, learning to find the strength to get back up again and do it all over.

It was very personal.  It was harsh and real.  It was also a double edged sword.  Ultimately I came to some very important conclusions from it.

Friday was very significant to me.  In many ways, I realized just how much I really wanted to be more careful and greedy about what I sent out into the digital space.  I took a time out.  A very much needed time out.

“There are some things that are meant to be legendary.” he said.

Simple, yet profound,  it was a piece of commentary in a silly private conversation that resonated so strongly… reminder of things I already know but tend to forget.  The easiest and hardest things seem to be that way.

I shared bits and pieces about the events that transpired on my weekend with close friends, but left few digital footprints about it.  It was legendary and however selfish it may have been to keep them private, the moments were my own and the world doesn’t need them unless I chose to share them with them.

People know far too much about my love affairs.  And although I’m forever thankful and happy to tell tales of my brushes with romance and heartache, perhaps part of the problem is that I am sharing these and not writing about it the way that it should be.

I’m taking to account the comments made from my peers: a cast of characters embued into the story, my readers, and the potential readership.  It comes with a price.  I’m weighing in.

I think it’s time you know more about the paths to the stories.  I need to dedicate more time into writing my novels, my screenplays, my childrens books, and, in this realm, my journalistic roots.  I’ve been doing it the way I wanted to for some time, and for those of you that have followed me through this journey, I appreciate you emphatically.  It’s time to put a halt on the bullshit.

I’m sick of being crucified for putting myself so out in the open to be crucified.  The relationships I have become compromised.  Despite my relatively off radar lifestyle, the blips that I do share get run away with.  While I encourage your imagination, there needs to be more left to your imagination.

I think in the end, the format really needs to be more evident of how I’ve changed.  People haven’t taken me as seriously as I’d have liked them to because I show them too much.  If people want to know my personal stories, they’re going to have to get to know me personally or read about it in one of my novels.    Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?  I’ve been selling myself short here.

Ironically it’s the ease of connectivity and accessibility that is really taking a toll.  I want more emphasis on building ways to effectively communicate ideas, passions, goals, desires in a cohesive fashion that isn’t so much “Look at me.”  How about you start inwardly and stop giving a crap about if people are watching what you do or not.

Life is about the journey, not about the destination.  Share your stories with the people you hold dear.  Stop being so accessible to strangers.  If you’re going to put yourself out there, be careful what you write.  On the digital scape, there is no undo.

Reformat.

There are some things that are meant to be legendary.

The best advice I was given in such a long time…

Baby steps…

Remember that movie “What about Bob?” Bill Murray was that psychologically dependent “quirky” guy who read his shrink’s book and could not stop repeating it? “Baby steps.. baby steps…”

That’s the first thing that came to mind when I read Chris Brogan‘s blog today. A few days late though, and here goes nothing…

His questions were:

What were your first steps into social media?

Who were your early people you admired and followed?

How did you get started?

If you were going to give advice to someone starting out, what would you tell them?

What will you do in the next few months with social media?

My first steps into social media were way back when AOL chat rooms started popping up. I also used ICQ back then too. I know all of 2 people that still use ICQ nowadays. Since social media can be used in a general sense, my next encounters were actually in MMORPGs. Over the years it became more and more a part of my life, and slowly but surely the list grew. I belong to over 25 social networks currently.. and I’m sure that I’m forgetting some.

Where I don’t remember all of the people I followed that early on, I did keep up with what was going on in tech at the time and pay attention to the trends. When I came to Twitter however though, @Rudy @Kurafire, @Clintus @Nick @Zoetica, @galadarling and @michaelowens come to mind first. Each person had some sort of personality about them that interested me. I enjoyed their sense of style-weather it was wordsmithing or the shallow “look” and comfort in their own skin. *Note- if you were not mentioned in the list above please do not take it personally. I value all of the people I’ve met with an equal level. Even the negative impacts, have had their merits in the learning experience.

A few of the first people I followed early on I would even go so far to say that I call not just colleagues but friends. I have learned a lot from them just being them. I have learned a lot from discussions with them. And really that’s the point of social media at the heart of it in my opinion.

If you are just getting your feet wet to social media, there are a few things I’d reccomend.

  1. Ease into it slowly. Don’t get involved in too many networks right away. It will be overwhelming and likely make you burn out and fizzle. If you are serious, moderate your activities and branch more as it becomes comfortable. Not everyone can juggle 50 networks and still maximize on all their perks. Not right away at least.
  2. Go to events and participate in the conversations. No one is going to know you even exist if you don’t put yourself out there. You’re cheating yourself of a much larger network of people if you don’t.
  3. Don’t spam just links as your contribution to the network services. Whenever I see someone posting nothing but links, I stop paying attention to them and move on. Promoting your idea and service is not looked down upon necessarily. But no one wants it forced down their throat.
  4. Know where you want to market yourself.. or work on finding it. This one takes some work and even longtime members of social media haven’t discovered themselves. Look for patterns and angles that you find appealing and work around that. I believe that most everyone is or can be marketable with the right direction.
  5. And most importantly, don’t just hear.. listen! There’s a lot that you can learn from your peers. You may be surprised. Take advice, don’t take advice.. but listen! A lot of people have great things to say. Aspire to inspire. I’m an aspiring muse as well as a protege. The secret is trying to learn to wear both hats.

In the next few months in social media, in a complete generic answer, I want to try and get more involved. Here’s a few ways how:

I want to go to more of the events. Months ago I was in a position to go to more of them. There weren’t as many then, and getting into the area wasn’t something I put enough effort into doing. I now live closer to the area where events are happening and have missed too many of them. I want to make a point to attend some and get out there with the crowd IRL even. I want to formerly meet and shake hands with some of my mentors and peers and learn even more.

I want to read more blogs and give them the comments they deserve.

I want to participate in more discussions.

I want to brainstorm and find other ways to branch out with a social technology.

I want to write about other’s stories and not just my own.

(I want to find some more answers for this question =)

So in closing I suppose, a quote from the bum in “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” is in order

What’s your dream?

Life is a journey.. and that’s the where real story lies. The past is a part of the present. Let’s look forward and grow.