A few weeks ago, my roommate returned home from work with a copy of Richard St. John’s The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common that everyone at his office had received as a gift. Since it’s relatively light reading, I decided to start incrementally working my way through the book and see if there are any good takeaways to be gained from it. I cracked the book open, and quickly read through the first chapter discussing trait #1: Passion. I read different accounts of how identifying one’s passion has led many well known individuals to go from underachieving to overachieving, the importance of following your heart instead of your wallet, and suggestions on exploring and finding passion. As I closed the book and contemplating what that all meant for me, I concluded that one of my big issues has been that I’ve been missing the passion element from my day-to-day life.

The lack of passion isn’t something new in my life. In fact, it was one of the biggest reasons I implemented the great seclusion of 2012. At the end of 2011, I lacked passion because the strain of dealing with my past drove me to compartmentalize all of my emotions and detach from my feelings altogether. Yet even now, well since I’ve made peace with my history, I’ve still been emotionally hollowed out. It seems that all the distance I’ve placed between me and my past self and all people & elements related to resulted in a wider general disconnect. This is something that I’ve noticed exemplified in my inability to engage with music and enjoy it on the level to which I normally do, and more recently, have accepted as a factor as to why my writing and other creative endeavors haven’t been going anywhere. To fix that, I’ve have been making a stronger effort to actively reintegrate socially in life, though present financial limitations have been proven a formidable obstacle in that regard. Still, now that I’ve begun to allow myself to open up on that front, I’m left with the identification of the things that drive me as the only missing piece of a solid foundation for my personal passion.

Some Background

Although it feels like it’s something that logically goes without needing to be stated, my passions are strongly tied to my outlook on life. I subscribed to the philosophy of secular humanism when it was first introduced to me as a teenager by an old friend. From the the material I reviewed on the subject, it read like a formalized version of my personal guiding principles, specifically the individual examination of ideology through science and philosophy. Some time not long ago, I had the pleasure of stumbling across Discovery Channel’s Prehistoric Disasters on Netflix while looking for a good documentary to watch. That selection turned out to be a five-part series exploring the various cataclysmic disasters that happened on Earth before humanity came into the fold. At the end of it all, I walked away with the realization that life as we know it is simply a chance occurrence. In the vast expanse of space a very long time ago, the right bodies happened to be in the right place to collide and form the Earth and the moon. The chain reaction from that, Earth burning, Earth freezing over, Earth being hit by an asteroid…everything that needed in order to create a planet hospitable for sentient self-aware humans to exist and thrive the way we do. Merely existing is the product of winning the universal lottery multiple times over. It doesn’t seem like anything too special when there’s over 7 billion of us out there, but life and the human experience are a unique and rare opportunity that we owe ourselves to make the most of while we have it.

Having been born in the latter half of the 80’s, I was part of the Millennial generation that grew up in the midst of a huge technological stride. I still vividly remember when hooking up a simple 8 bit gaming console to a TV using an RF adapter and home stereo systems that had both a tape deck and a CD player, and a Windows 95 machine with a CD-ROM encyclopedia set were cutting edge technology. As we’ve transitioned to broadband wireless internet and mobile devices over the years, we’ve all witnessed first-hand the technology’s ability to improve quality of life, and how advances in tech across all industries have been accelerated by the ability to communicate and collaborate on the internet. This something that has undeniably influenced my passions in life.

So, What Are These Passions?

  • Utility: Doing things in life that are carry meaning, and taking pride in the outcome.
  • Self Improvement: Just because there’s too much in this world to ever truly know and experience it all doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try.
  • Community & Compassion: One of the best things you can do for yourself sometimes is helping someone else in need.
  • Honesty: Being a good man does not permit being a dishonest man.
  • Communications: Collaboration is where innovation is born and productive rational discussion enables progress.
  • Technology: It helps us take better care of ourselves and our world.
  • Music: To me, the most powerful form of expression. I enjoy listening to it and gradually teaching myself how to play & create it.
  • Children & Education: As someone who’s lived the story of the gifted child who wasn’t afforded the support and environment to become the best version of himself, I’m a strong proponent for active parenting and education improvements. Kids are the future and our ongoing legacy; it’s our duty to help them grow into the adults they’re meant to be.

On: Web Writing

For a long time now, I’ve been struggling in my attempt to get back in touch with my writer’s voice, and to develop my talents with word craft to where I see myself as a capable communicator and not some half-hearted hobbyist. To that end, I’ve begun pushing myself to pay a closer analytical eye to the various articles I read online on a daily basis and writing regularly in my DayOne journal. Throughout that process, I’ve also started giving this blog a bigger degree of consideration. I’ve asked myself why I haven’t been writing as regularly as I want to be, what the different challenges and mental barriers I encounter are and how I should be working around them, weighed the things I think about writing against the online-identity-appropriate filters, analyzed and questioned the matter from all manner of different angles. Yet it wasn’t until just yesterday that I asked myself the question that should be asked by any self-respecting writer: why would anyone want to read what I write? I managed to think of a few reasons as to why others may find interest in the things I write about, but when I substituted “I” for “anyone”, I found myself at a lack for an answer.

When I look back at the things I’ve written, my primary audience has always been myself. From long form LiveJournal entires in the early 2000’s to recent social network updates, I always share my thoughts with the primary goal in mind being to leave a record somewhere of the events in my life. While the engagement that comes from sharing is gratifying, it pales in comparison to the satisfaction that comes from being able to sit down at a later date and revisit the past in detail. Yet, the entire time that I’ve been working on building out this blog, I haven’t felt a sense of ownership over my output. Without that sense of engagement, it’s hard to get a feeling of accomplishment from creating new content. More importantly, it doesn’t allow me to look forward to looking back on my writings, the whole reason I do it in the first place. 

When I used to write on the web in the past, the internet landscape was a lot different than it is today. Back then, screen names and their inherent sense of anonymity were the norm. With search engine technology not being anywhere near as refined and efficient as it is today, it was easy to focus on writing itself, and not having to worry about the personal brand online activity creates or it’s real-world ramifications. Back in mid-August, I pruned the content on this blog in an effort to wipe the slate clean and start focusing on tuning up my online identity. But in the time since then, every time I’ve had a new idea for a post topic, the enthusiasm behind it gets killed when I start questioning whether or not it’s something I should even bother investing the time to write. In short, the self-censoring is killing my creative drive. Questioning whether or not I want something I write tied to me or publicly available introduces concerns in my mental process that feel unnatural, and editing myself to build an “ideal image” feels dishonest. 

Over the recent weeks I’ve repeatedly contemplated throwing in the towel and dismantling the site, quitting blogging altogether and sticking to offline journaling & social networking. But after so much time and so many repeated attempts that have ended in failure, I can’t bring myself to walk away from this blog. When I first contemplated having a personal site back in my high school days, I envisioned it as a portfolio and public repository for my thoughts and ideas. By the time I finally acquired hosting service in my mid-late 20’s, I’d lost touch with that creative spark and internal drive. As much as my year of isolation served as an opportunity to identify all of the things I wanted to remove from my life, it was also a chance to revisit my past and remember all of the traits I’ve lost along the way that I’d like to reconnect with, the most relevant to this post being my self-confidence I had as a teenager. I recognize that a good part of it may have been the arrogance of youth, but I also remember everything that was going on in my home life at the time, and how much it forced me to become self-reliant. As a result, I had an uncompromising sense of identity and the unwillingness to apologize for being who I am.

While I still aim to build this blog to be what I initially wanted it to be in regard to my creative endeavors, the events of life in my 20’s has resulted in a new additional objective. Last year at the age of 26, I did not like who I was. I refused to accept the person I was then as the culmination of all of my past experiences, and sought to push myself towards realizing my idealized self. Writing about that change helps me define that self, and pushing it to the web gives it a feeling officiation; once it’s out there, I either have to adhere to it or make a fraud out of myself.  It’s for all these reasons that I write, both for myself and on the web.