30 June 2011

Someone is going to not like you eventually

I was reading a very interesting article online about how it's very bad for you if you try to please everyone around you. No matter how good you are to the crowd in your life, there are always going to be people who don't like you.

The best part of that article was that and it doesn't matter. The world is still going to turn and you are still going to go about your life. Even if you feel bad that you may have found a new enemy (well ok maybe not enemy, but non-friend).... so what? A lot of times in my life I've had people complain to me about my ways or my habits that they didn't like and I keep reminding myself, "so what?" and move on. I remember when I was younger, I had this obsession with black (and eventually colorful) nail polish, I used to enjoy the look on people's faces when they'd see my fingers painted in red, green, yellow, black, etc. colors that had no apparent relationship to each other. Many people would question if I felt uncomfortable when people gave me those looks, and I'd usually respond with my usual so what? I suppose having grown up in Hong Kong as a foreigner, I've gotten used to people giving me weird looks, or I've just grown numb to them.

The so what attitude probably came about when I was blessed with Metallica's cover of Anti-Nowhere League's So what:
 This song definitely had an impact on me when I think back to the number of times I had this drilled into my ears. Especially when you're a teenager, searching for your own identity, realizing that so what is quite a powerful attitude really helped me.

Speaking of teenagers, I recently had an interview with a group of 40+ students who fired questions at me one after another for 1.5hours. They included my growing up as the foreigner amongst my local friends, the challenges I may have faced learning who I am and accepting me for me. It reminded me of all the times in my life I was ashamed of who I was. I wanted people to like me, so I was searching for the ideal person that would fit into what everyone wanted to like.

Sadly, everyone likes something else and unless I can be a chameleon of personalities, I was never going to achieve that goal. Initially, the challenge was to make the people around me like me, then came the phase where I wanted to make girls around me like me, then came the period I wanted to make the girls I liked like me, which transformed into wanting to make my girlfriend at the time like me, and on and on and on. Each time things didn't work out, break ups happened or friendships ended, it was a good lesson and reminder to me that there is always going to be someone who doesn't like who you are, no matter how you change to suit their tastes. Heck, people's tastes change all the time. I used to enjoy painting my nails as a teenager and in university, but today I have no interest in it mostly because that's not time well spent in my books anymore and the surprised look on people's faces when they see my fingers isn't what I'm looking for.

Everything I do in my life has been criticized and there's at least 1 person who doesn't like me for that thing I do. But I guess instead of focusing on that 1 person who doesn't like it, why not focus on that (at least) 1 person who does. Me. And if you don't like what I just said, so what? :)

Long weekend ahead here in ol' Hong Kong, which means one thing for me (it always means the same thing), catching up on my work! Yay! At least I do this to myself because I enjoy what I do :).


20 June 2011

Juggle your thoughts

For anyone who knows, I'm a good Slayer fan. A good fan? you ask? Yes, I won't say I'm a big fan or a great fan because to do that statement justice, I'd have to do more than just listen to and like their songs. This month I'm studying this band and their history to get a better grasp of what it is that made them...well them.
As my last entry stated, I've come to notice that all great icons were nobody's with a big dream at one time. Slayer is no different. They're another band alongside Lamb of God that I'd travel to a nearby country to check out. My experience watching Lamb of God in Taiwan was a life-changing one and I can totally imagine Slayer doing the same thing. Ever since I started playing drums, I've admired these 2 bands even more than before.

As I study Slayer, I've come to notice that even though these guys are at the high-end of the spectrum of technique and skill with their instruments, if you really break down what they do, it's not as complex as you'd imagine. The phrase keep it simple comes to mind. When I used to play drums before, I'd try to think of these wild crazy grooves that left drummers in the audience busy trying to figure out what I was playing. Sure, it made me feel good that I could master something like that, but when I look at what these great drummers do, I've finally accepted that it's absolutely stupid if not useless to try to play drums for drummers in the audience vs playing drums for the song which then works for everyone in the audience. I guess the same goes for any performance, like it'd be silly to do stand up comedy for the comedians in the greenroom vs. the audience in the main room. The same goes for making websites to show off to web designers vs making them so they're actually useful for the client.

So my goal for the next 10 days isn't to achieve as much as possible, but to do what is most useful in just making me the person I want to be. I suggest you try it out. It's quite refreshing when you change your to do list to a need to do list. And if it's a need to do item, why is it necessary? And what would happen if you didn't do it? So compare Do it vs don't do it and which one makes your life better?


09 June 2011

Virtually Real

For a Wednesday, when I have a bunch of work still lined up, I still don't believe where I am right now. I'm enjoying the peace and quiet of the seafront near the Hong Kong Science Park. Yes. Very unlike me to be here when I should be busting out my chops and getting things done.

I was invited to visit the ALIVE lab where they showcase a bunch of Virtual Reality installations and I must say, I am completely blown away. When I experienced some of these creations on display, my mind was very visually and physically stimulated. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. We weren't allowed to take any photos of the venue so I can't share this with you, but consider scenes from Minority Report and imagine you were in those scenes where little video clips literally flew around your head and you could control them!

There was another work that involved a hexagon box and you could shine a torch into it to see the virtual world of people walking inside the box, and you could see it from each side of the hexagon in real time! Very fascinating stuff1

But the real reason I'm sitting here writing this is because I needed a moment to calibrate myself back to reality. It's been a while since I just randomly got pulled out (I used to pull myself out) during the day and did something completely out of the ordinary like today. It was both refreshing and necessary. I found I was starting to fall into the grey area between a habitual lifestyle and a rut. I've been spending a lot of time reading stories of other people's struggles that lead to their accomplishments and I'm starting to feel that of my own with everything I'm doing. I am feeling that I'm getting there feeling, but it's kind of like you see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you need to remain patient and focused, otherwise you risk wasting away all that hard work from before. Things are taking off big time for me, all those "dream goals" are starting to be realized and I feel like I'm on that tight rope, but I'm feeling my muscles, and mind slowly wear out. I'm not saying I'm tired, but that initial adrenaline has subsided and I need to make sure I focus myself and keep at what I'm doing. Habits are formed, routines are set and things are happening.

I started to feel this way since last night, when I re-visited my old university department (my department used to be in a renovated university car park) and it brought back a lot of care-free memories and good times. Back then, where I am now was a dream I didn't know how to realize. I was still busy building my foundations as a solid human being. Today, being in that virtual reality room, made me realize that all the "cool" things I used to see as a kid, can be realized, it's just a matter of doing it. All my childhood dreams, having my own business, being a drummer, doing stand up comedy, they're all happening, now it's a matter of making sure I can keep feeding fuel into that engine or risk seeing it die down. The chapter on Embracing Ambiguity that I read in Think Like DaVinci has to be one of the most inspiring chapters that have influenced my life like nothing else. It's made me notice how everyone I admire has embraced the idea of "you never know" and just put their faith in themselves and worked at what they wanted. A clear strategy may not have been in place, but it was a mixture of going with your gut, analyzing your situation and just making sure you're progressing in the right direction that got them to where they are. I'm reading the book I'm Dying Here and

It's times like these that I've noticed that all the people with great accomplishments cherish the time they get to spend alone. And that's what I'm doing now. Living in a virtual reality where all life's worries are on hold and I'm just staring into the sea and absorbing the sound of quiet breeze with little tinkles of sweat dripping own my back.

Update: I continue this post a day later, after enjoying the 4th anniversary party for alivenotdead.com at the Happy Valley Race Course. I'm sitting in the train station clearing out all my emails one by one. I wanted to share one more thing. I've started reading I'm Dying Here which retells stories of many famous comedians and how they struggled to follow their dreams as a comedian. It's such a fascinating read I am already 25% into it (yay for kindle books telling you your progress) just 2 days into starting it.

Update #2:The CEO of nuffnang.com came to one of my comedy shows with his family (wife and son) and it was a pleasure to hear his 3 year old son could relate to some of my bits (which makes me wonder what level of humor I'm actually dealing with ;P). The good folks at nuffgang.com are running a competition for all you bloggers out there, so go check it out and possibly win yourself an ipad 2