Thursday, January 28, 2010

How We Think About People

So I'm reading this book called "Velvet Elvis", by Rob Bell, which is a great read if anyone is interested in a really fresh and in depth perspective on Christianity.  But one part that really struck me, was when Rob talked about mankind being created in the image of God.  Now this idea is taken from Genesis 1:27 "God created man in His own image".  And the reason I found this so interesting, was that it's really an amazing way to think about people.

Lets take a step away from religion for a sec, and talk solely about belief in "God".  Now if we believe there's a higher power of some sort---something or someone that created the world and all we have in it, then I think we have to recognize that there's a serious amount of ingenuity and beauty to be attributed to that being.  I mean, in light of plants, music, coffee (hahaha), the human body, sunsets--these are things that are quite amazing and beautiful.  So to think that people are created in the image of this "higher being", I think adds a lot of value and uniqueness to our view of humanity--that each of us have some of that beauty and ingenuity within us.

For myself, I definitely enjoy this point of view, because I find myself going into society with the mindset that everyone was created with an inherent value, and should be treated as such.  It's not always the easiest thing to keep in mind, especially when people are annoying or rude, etc.  But trying to live this way has definitely brought a lot of love into my life, and a keener appreciation for the people I meet.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When Was the Last Time You Thought About Creativity?

I had the pleasure of being introduced to the TED Conference a few years ago, and it has since then provided me with a great means of experiencing some of the most creative and brilliant minds in the world. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the TED Conference (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is a gathering held every year in which some of most skilled and educated people in these fields, converge to discuss their areas of expertise, and how they relate to our present and future world.

This particular talk by Sir Ken Robinson was one of the most moving I've come across, and addresses some fundamental issues in our perception about creativity and education system.  If you like this, I'd encourage you to check out, to find more talks of the same caliber.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You're a Teacher...even if you don't know it.

I think everyone remembers a time in their life when someone severely influenced the way you thought, possibly even motived you to change the way you lived. For instance, my buddy Adam is one person I can definitely site as someone who has positively influenced my life.

Adam was one of the first people I met in college, yet we really didn't get to know each other until the later years of school. But during my senior year, we did breakfast every Thursday at The Breakfast Buzz in SLO, which quickly turned into our weekly "talk about life". Adam has always been incredibly socially minded, and driven to foster creative, dynamic, and educational communities around him.

Later senior year, I went to an Spring slam poetry event called, "Anthem" that Adam was very instrumental in organizing. Just seeing the care to detail, the organization, and the massive spectrum of people that came to the event, was enough to testify to the hard work ethic. and huge heart that Adam had for bringing people together to experience something positive and educational. I'll never forget leaving there, so incredibly pumped to orient my life in a way that strove for the same things.

This is just one example of a person who has influenced my life--I'm sure we all have many. Yet the point I want to make is that sometimes, I don't think we see ourselves as THAT person. The truth of the matter, is that many of us aren't aware that others are influenced (in both major and minor ways) by what we do--by how we live our lives. We get caught up in thinking about how to take life experiences, and use them to create a better "me". And we forget that all of us have a distinct influence on everyone within our social realm, whether that be your family, you best (or worst) friend, boss, neighbor, etc.

So, in a way, we're all teachers. We all instruct, in some way, by how we live our lives. And I think that's definitely something to think about: a) what things do we want to "teach" with our lives? And b) what are we teaching now?

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Series--Relationships: What is Our Definition of Love?

I'd like to introduce a new topic which I hope to write about repeatedly: that being the huge and crazy topic of relationships. What sparked my interest in this was an experience I had yesterday, while renewing my drivers license at the DMV.

A friend of mine, who I believe is in his early 40's, stopped me as I was walking across the room to get my license picture taken. I asked him how everything was going, and he answered with a weak smile, "Well Nick...not so good". I sat down and he told me that his wife was divorcing him; that it was, without a doubt, one of the hardest things he'd experienced in his life. We couldn't chat long because I had to get my picture taken. So we shook hands, and I said I'd keep him and his family in my prayers.

I left the DMV with a lot of thoughts going through my head. About how elemental relationships are in our lives; how much we create a foundation on those in whom we invest and intrust our love; about how broken a man or woman must feel, when they learn that their spouse or significant other doesn't want their love--will not return it. More thoughts about families who've been marred by separation; children who don't understand why the two people they love, don't love each other. And the overarching question of...what can I, what can we do about this?

Now I believe in God. And as the details of that relationship are lengthy, I won't go into much detail. But here is what my God says about love, and how it should look in each of our lives...

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends..."

The reason I bring this up, is that I want to question how each of us views our role as a person who is responsible for loving someone.

If the quote above is the correct definition of love (which you should question, and that I believe is), we should be deathly serious about who we choose to love. The reason being, if this is the love you mean when saying "I love you", what you're really saying is, I will be patient when you frustrate me; I'll be kind when I'm angry with you; I'll not envy what you have, and what I don't; I'll not boast, putting myself above you; I won't put you down; I'll always ask your opinion in decisions, because I care; I'll be happy when we're truthful with each other, and I'll push through the times when I want to quit....because you're worth that much to me.

This love is pretty serious, huh? I wonder how many broken relationships would be changed if we though of love this way?

There are millions of people who are engaging in relationships today, who are putting their hearts on the line, because they want things to work out. And if the love we're talking about here was what we defined as "love", how much more confident and determined would people be in their relationships, and in their commitments?

You might have heard the quote above millions of times at weddings, in greeting cards, in the movie Wedding Crashers--it might be sort of cliche by now. But the reason it's referenced in all of those, is because there's a deep truth to be found in it. Don't miss this. Truth is found everywhere, and it's our job to question it, and to claim it. So test this for yourself, and see if this is really how love should be.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Facial Hair

Hey Everybody,
I've been away for awhile, but my New Year's resolution was to post at least once a week (we'll see how this goes, hahaha). Anyways, for the first piece of 2010, I thought I'd start off with a deeply philosophical topic....facial hair. As a man of Italian and Croatian blood, I was blessed with a pretty solid ability to grow hair on my face. And especially over the past year, I've had quite a lot of fun experimenting with various patterns...some really creepy, some really 1970's. So in light of our upcoming national tour, I've decided to post some of the facial hair highlights throughout our trip. Here's one from Nov., don't freak out mom. Hahaha