Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014 — Reflections

Thoughts about life in general, mostly whipped up at the coffeehouse or in my home office-like space (in other words, when I was avoiding life in general).

You should go (1/8)
I’ve cycled through every emotion on the Louisiana issue: never wanting to leave, open to leaving, dying to leave, feeling homesick, returning, open to leaving again, dying to leave again, leaving again. As of now, I’m not sure I’ll ever be back. But you never know. Those of you on life’s road-fork shouldn’t let anyone tell you there’s only one acceptable way to feel; it’s up to you. Community is important, but ultimately, it’s your life.

Obvious (?) thought of the day (2/20)
This ties into something I've thought a lot throughout my life — it's tough to be good. There really isn't much incentive to be good, because bad people are so much better at being bad. Being laid-back, humble or meek guarantees that you'll spend your life fending off type-A predators. (In America especially, being bad is often very good for business.) Conversely, virtue is its own reward. You can't expect people to reciprocate or pay it forward. All you can do is be the best person you can be and hope it rubs off at some point — all the while not letting others' shortcomings rub off on you.

The tricky magic of Louisiana (3/13)
He wants fellow out-of-staters — in particular, the ones who have a hand in shaping national and world perception of Louisiana — that the “magic” is an entirely different kind than they're imagining. One grounded and coexisting with real life. A real, and better, magic.

The closer something seemingly magical is to reality, the more compelling I think it is. South Louisiana is a fun place to visit and live because it is a unique and energetic place with lots of history, attractions and friendly people. It has its share of spiritual curiosities, but even if you don’t believe, you’re still immersed in charm. All of this is true without any need to make a netherworld of the region; it's even more amazing because it is all real. That’s all Thier is saying, and he’s so right.

The harsh truth about harsh truths (3/14)
One trait that fascinates me most about people is — for immediate lack of a better term — the need to be slapped. ...

I suspect this is a privileged, upper-middle-class phenomenon, where the well-off have to fabricate challenges for themselves. The rest of us don't have to bother with searching, because the challenges slap us every day. And because we've had to struggle with life's obstacles rather than have the luxury of inviting them in if we please, we have a more nuanced and empathetic understanding of the circumstances.

The downside of arrogance (3/19)
All arrogance is undeserved, because no birthright, no achievement, no higher ground, no sense of certainty ever justifies it. Arrogance arises not from being correct, but from the narcissistic need to be right, and better, all the time. When that urge takes hold, people can be very, very wrong. Even when they're right.

A letter to all the "nice" guys (5/27)
“I’M NICE, DAMMIT!” IS NOT A PICK-UP LINE. There’s a saying that if someone is nice to their friends but rude to their server, then they are not a nice person. That absolutely applies here. If you broadcast to the whole world, “LOOK AT ME, I’M A NICE GUY,” then explode in disbelief and rage the moment you get friend-zoned, you’re not nice. You’re “nice.”

I went to see the Emancipation Proclamation and this happened. 2014, everybody.
I'm (writing about) Batman (7/31)
Burton's Batman was a more serious take on the character that hadn't been done before, but it's still the right amount of ridiculous. Because Batman, like all superheroes, is ridiculous. As a kid, I particularly enjoyed the Gothic set pieces, which were radically different than anything I saw in my everyday life. That helped to immerse me in the action and, more importantly for me, separate it from the real world.

Many people prefer the Nolan films because they did the exact opposite. Gritty reboots are big these days, but most have skewed too dark for my tastes. They try to be true-to-life, and succeed. Too well.

Is it love, or the idea of love? (8/5)
It’s one thing to casually mention in conversation that you’ve never been lucky in love (and even longing isn't that bad in small doses). It’s another to bemoan it. The bemoaning is what makes it a turnoff. It gives the impression that you are insecure and will thus glom onto anyone. You might be looking for the perfect person, but they won’t bite if they feel like you’re more in love with the idea of them than the actual person that they are. I want someone who likes me for me, rather than who likes me for being a check on a checklist.

Crafting singles: A slice of American cheese (9/16)
If there is, in fact, a rising rate of single people, that's less likely a testament to the prevalence of apps (always a weak argument in any case) than to the broadening acceptance of lifestyles. Fewer people are hitching up these days for the wrong reasons, which if anything strengthens the institution of marriage, and empowers individuals to have confidence in whatever decision they make.

Some of the reasons Weird Al rules (9/27)
Weird Al’s enduring talent, and ability to seamlessly mesh with today, is why he’s the only person who could appear on both Family Double Dare and @midnight and have it make perfect sense both times.

Saturday morning cartravesty (10/7)
Saturday morning cartoons (and their live-action counterparts in the same vein) were more than the sum of their parts. They were the introduction to the weekend for kids. ... Another thing I dug about Saturday morning was that it was the only time of the week the TV was just for us kids. Adults went off and let us watch, and the networks seemed at those times like they were run by fellow children. For the first time, I felt like the TV wanted to talk to me (and wanted me to want things, which I then did).

Move it or ... well, don't (11/3)
I absolutely recommend moving away, because it’s a learning experience that not only educates you about how others live, but will also teach you much about yourself.

If you want to. Because it’s not for everyone.

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