Monday, September 14, 2009

Fend For Yourself

You're better off dead
When you don't know
An original thought
Where do you go
When all your thoughts
Are hand me downs
Pictures and sounds
Bring back childhood memories
We were humble and meek
With independent confidence
Trust in ourselves
Through imagination
Fending for ourselves
With our superhero powers
Back when curiosity
Made us better in the end
Trusting in ourselves
And our superhero powers
Thoughts of mediocrity
Never entered in our minds

-- J. J. Stock

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

-- Daniel Burnham

Noun vs. Adverb: Round I
The first time I had heard that quote (the one by Daniel Burnham, not Mr. Stock) was right after moving to Colorado. As a BYU-I alumnus (if you can think of a more stuffy, pretentious way to begin a sentence let me know) I was invited to attend a fireside given for students who had traveled to Denver on one of the school sponsored expeditions. In my business casual attire and two-day scruff I felt a little out of place among the all the suits and freshly shaved faces (as if I could have expected anything else from a BYU-I sponsored event). In order to not attract attention to myself, I got there right as it started and sat in the back. But alas, dressed in a red and blue sweater -- I wasn't even wearing a tie *gasp!* -- with growth on my face that would've got me sent home from class, I was positive everyone was looking right at me.

If I didn't feel inadequate enough already, hearing that Daniel Burnham quote sure did the trick. I had just started my first out-of-college job as an auditor. Revenue requirement. Regulatory compliance. Fund administration. Do those words stir your blood? Maybe a light simmer? Yeah, me neither.

Think big indeed, Myke.

Thoughts of mediocrity
Never entered in our minds

I want you to think of someone who is normal. Average. No distinguishing features or talents. Blends into a crowd.

While you're thinking enjoy this picture. These fine gentlemen where the only four stalwart devotees to make it through all six installments of the Star Wars saga in one sitting during the First Annual Olsen Family Star Wars-athon, which took place on December 26, 2005. Left to right: brother Matt, myself (man, I miss those pants), Steven J. Packer, brother Thomas. Talk about ambition!

OK, by now you should've thought of an acquaintance that you would describe as normal or average. Now, how well do you know this person? Probably not very well. Am I right?

I can't say I've ever really known anyone who's normal or average. First impressions can come off as such but once you really get to know someone, you find out that that person has so many facets that make him or her truly unique, far from average, and even strange. Sure, some folks parade their eccentricity more than others, but just because it's not readily visible doesn't mean it's not there.

One day my life got easier
I starting running in October 2005 -- though I've stopped and started many times since -- with the goal of one day running a marathon. I think I can pinpoint with accuracy the reason why I started running. I was pretty insecure about myself at the time. Some of my best friends had just gotten married and others weren't too far off. Friends were transferring to ASU or BYU while I still had another year to go at Mesa Community College, aka High School with Ashtrays, 13th Grade, or my personal favorite of my own coinage, McCollege.

So I started running. "You can have babies but I can run farther than you!" Don't get me wrong, I was happy for my friends and their accomplishments. Trust me, I really was. I was just insecure, that's all. So I kept running. But ultimately my motivation to want to prove something, to outshine someone else wasn't enough to keep me going. I can't count how many times I've started running consistently then stopped because one day my life got easier.

His head was down and his voice was heartbroken
The legititude that is James Dean: he makes one heckuva Cal Trask.

From the movie East of Eden. Don't feel obligated to watch the whole thing; it's kinda long. Do feel obligated to keep reading though. Thanks.

Though I'm not sure how I feel about Julie Andrews as Abra Bacon (great last name, eh?). I don't think the real Abra would've giggled as much. But no one asked me. Had I been alive, I'm sure they would've. And I'm not sure whether I should really like or hate her hair.

It's no secret that East of Eden is one of my favorite books. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that fact in at least five separate blog posts. From said novel, I love this:

"Lately I've never felt good enough. I always wanted to explain to him that I was not good."

"And now that you don't have to perfect, you can be good. Is that it?"

"I guess so. Maybe that's it."

Noun vs. Adverb: Round II
I've thought a lot about the world 'passion' lately; I've concluded that finding your passion isn't so important but living passionately is.

Fending for ourselves
When I was in eighth grade, after school my friends and I played a fair amount of football. I guess I did OK because after a few days of playing my friends told me I should try out for the school team in ninth grade. The school held early morning practices at the end of the year for eighth graders who wanted to try out for the ninth grade team. I attended the practices but I didn't enjoy them. I had played football with my friends for fun and it was apparent for the coaches and fellow players that "fun" wasn't the primary objective. So, like Ben Folds, "I dropped out and joined a band instead."

Having chosen rocking with my best buds over endless hours of drills, sprints, and butt slappings, I wonder how well I would've done had I gone on to play Toro football at Mt. View High School, Campus of Champions. I mean, the rest of my family is pretty athletic; in one way or another my siblings and parents have all excelled at some kind of sport or other display of physical exertion, from track to football to basketball to dancing (I will add, however, that my interpretive dancing skills are unparallelled; actually, Matt probably has me beat there too).

I wonder because sometimes life happens and we get stuck playing football when we'd rather be at band practice.

With our superhero powers
I get this feeling that comes and goes that my career isn't supposed to be the focus of my life. Granted, one's life contains many foci (or focuses, if it's been a while since your last intermediate algebra class), I just don't think my career is one of the major ones.

I heard some statistic somewhere that the average college student (but then again, what is average, right?) changes his or her major like five times. When it came to choosing a major, long story short, accounting just kinda fell in my lap. During my junior and senior years when my course work started getting rough I considered changing my major. I didn't because I knew I was supposed to study accounting. It wasn't my favorite subject and I wasn't always good at it, but I knew -- probably better than I've known so many things -- that accounting was where I should be.

Noun vs. Adverb: TKO
Do I like my job? Yes. Is it my 'passion'? No. Will it ever be? Probably not. Do I want it to be? No.


  1. Myke, sometimes I feel like the best comment I can add to your blog is . . . AMEN.

  2. In a fireside Kari and I attended last semester our stake president's wife spoke about a "recipe for happiness." She took a passage from Alma and explained how if we included each of the "ingredients" listed we would come out with some pretty good cookies in the end. She also noted that to make the cookies/ life great rather than just good we could throw some chocolate chips in there. Chocolate chips represent passion. We can make it through life without it, but having passion for life in general(or for specific things like hobbies and what have you) makes everything so much easier and a whole lot better. Anyway, it made more sense and was a lot cooler when she explained it...

    P.S. I like this quote: (Sorry, I'm not as cool as you and don't know how to hyperlink text on a comment.)

    I think it's wonderful to strive for greatness and originality but I think it's also okay to realize most of us won't end up being very original and there's nothing wrong with this. At least that's what I try and convince myself of.

  3. So I noticed it cut off the address. If you want, google "jim jarmusch quotes." Then go to images. Apparently everyone is liking the quote as there are many many images of it. I guess it's pretty popular. How ORIGINAL of me, no?

  4. Hopefully your stake president's wife also brought cookies to that fireside. All that talk of cookies with no delivery would've been quite disappointing indeed.

    And I really like that quote. I think he's got a good point when he says, "Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic." I guess that brings me back to what I said about about there being no such thing as 'normal' or 'average' when it comes to people. Our souls are incredibly different, so as long as anything we create (not talking only about art here) is a reflection and extension of ourselves, it will be truly original.

    And even though I posted those song lyrics at the beginning, I guess that post isn't so much about originality as it is about greatness. For the same reason we can all be original we can also be great. It's a matter of excelling in the traits that are unique to us as individuals.

    And I think the best way of achieving greatness is through doing good to others.

    Anyway, didn't mean for this to sound preachy... I just felt that I needed an appendix to what I said in the post.

    P.S. Hyperlinking in a comment is easy. It's a pretty simple html code: (a href="") Click here (/a). Except switch the parentheses with the pointy brackets that are on the comma and period keys (had I used them here it would have created it an actual link).