Rediscovering the Rhythm

Tonight, I blew off the reading for my ethics class to watch the last five episodes of Breaking Bad for the first time. It’s 2:00 am, and I shouldn’t have. But I feel good.

It always surprises me how quickly – and often, unexpectedly – my life moves from static to dynamic again. It’s been happening as long as I can remember. I find myself, at least once in every season of my life, slogging through a few weeks in a row, trying to rediscover the vision and regain a grasp on why things matter. I shouldn’t be so fickle at my age, but I’m a strange and crazy dreamer, a perfectionist who loves changes. Old habits die hard.

And then, something (or a collection of somethings) dances back into my line of sight. It’s an email from the director of my collegiate program, or a forgotten picture of my family dredged up from the back of a desk drawer, or just a simple moment in time when a friend serves me just the right smile as I walk past with a beautiful song playing into my headphoned ears. And then I remember all the poetry my life is producing, as if without noticing I had turned the radio volume down to zero and forgotten to bring it back up again. I remember grass on bare toes and canary yellow cardigans on pretty girls in the springtime, cold drinks of water when your head is pounding after an eighteen kilometer run. I remember it all.

I don’t know why I forget, but I praise the world and the God who made it for reminding me when I do. I praise the people in my life who don’t give up on me when I reduce myself to a boring husk of who I’m supposed to be, when I unwittingly sell out the things that matter in order to make a deadline on a paper. My heart is warmed by human kindness – the universal currency of mankind. I feel whole, even when I am alone, for I know that joy is coming and that happiness in this moment is a choice in which I have full efficacy to decide.

I spend most of my time losing myself in big dreams, ones I can only hope to see realized during my time on earth. Meanwhile, my head moves faster than my legs, and I suffer disappointment when I feel that I’m falling behind the people around me who are living out their dreams. And then I wake up and recognize that I’m no ordinary thing. I wake up over and over and over again, pulling just a little more film from my sleepy blue eyes. I know a little bit of everything, a lot about a great deal fewer topics, and everything about virtually nothing – and certainly not about myself. I’m not fully an athlete, nor an academic, nor a businessperson, nor a philosopher, nor a pianist, nor a photographer, nor a film buff, nor a traveler, nor a writer, nor a chef, nor anything else. All of these are a component of who I am, but I will never give myself over to a singular classification. It’s a different road, and often a lonely one, but I love it. I defy description, and it makes the question “What are three interesting facts about yourself?” one of the hardest to answer in all the world.

Tonight, being sentimental and maybe a little mentally clumsy at two in the morning, I began to see on my Facebook news feed a steady stream of people who are finding that moment of wonderful circumstantial euphoria in their lives. They are getting married, having children, releasing debut albums, moving to new cities, starting jobs, graduating from universities, and a whole host of other exciting events. I am doing none of these things – and if I were so quick to remind myself of that fact this particular evening, I would be right back in a position of vague dissatisfaction with the person I am becoming: if for no other reason than simply because my journey doesn’t properly line up with everyone else’s timelines.

I’m tired of trying to compare. The truth is that I’m not the same as them.

I have different dreams than anyone else I know. First, I want to become a management consultant, focusing in corporate strategy and development. That’s not so unordinary, besides its specificity. But afterwards, I have something else that I want – something I’ve wanted since I first thought of the idea after a basketball practice when i was sixteen years old. I want to leave the corporate world behind and move out into the unknown. I don’t want to do it just for me; I won’t hole up in the hollowed-out trunk of a massive old oak on some nondescript mountain in the Catskills (though My Side of the Mountain was essentially my favorite novel as a child, and its idea has always been lodged somewhere deep within my chamber of fanciful thinking). No, I’m going to do something else instead. I want to take what I know about organizational structure to the developing world. I want to set up in a community; I really don’t care where. But there I want to sit with people and help them. I want to become part of their lives, a good part. I want to help the nascent art communities of sub-Saharan African begin to take off. I want to see the women and children entrepreneurs of Northern India beam from behind their shop displays. I want to grow organically into a collective human fibre, and I want to be a real part of something beyond myself, something I truly believe in for the first time.

Maybe that’s what I’m most jealous of, regarding those other people around me. They are able to choose things to believe in so easily.

I don’t have to keep standing outside the window, though, looking in at a world that I’d like to do something about. I’ve come to realize recently that there are two types of persons in this life: those that build the world and those that don’t. The only difference between the two is a vision to create. That’s the type of vision that I desire, and I promise that it doesn’t have to be fancy or flashy in any way, shape, or form – I just want it in my life, in whatever fashion it will come to me. But I also recognize that vision doesn’t rain down upon you like manna from the sky. Vision is developed by action. So here, too, the old adage holds: fortune favors the bold.

So I conclude with the unspoken thought that began this soliloquy, and it is an appeal to you just as much as it is a prayer for me: Don’t ever, ever, stop yourself from moving out into that crazy brilliant future ahead of you. You are a beautiful soul and one that has every right to realize your dreams by mapping them upon the uncharted territory of the world. What’s more, you have seven billion other people to live and work with, people who represent both the greatest challenges and greatest opportunities that this world will ever know.

Now is as good a time as any to get started.

Current academic focuses / obsessions

Emergence theory. Complex systems / complexity theory. Social epidemics. Behavioral finance. Transhumanism and posthumanism. Financial market behavior. Artificial intelligence. Bottom-up learning. Decision errors. Organic organization. Organizational behavior. Industrial psychology. Bubble markets. Decentralized leadership. Randomness (Mandelbrotian fractals) and black swan event behavior.

If you have reading suggestions, thoughts, opinions, or queries about any of these, send them my way, please.

Sometimes, I take stupid as hell pictures in front of ancient history. Here, though, it’s impossible to miss how happy I actually am in this photo. Sure, I look awkward and my hair is unkempt and it’s cold and a million other things – but I’m happy.

I spend a lot of time regretting the decisions I’ve made; truly, it’s a useless exercise, and I know that, but I’ve not gotten free of the habit yet. I wish I were better at stepping out and doing something with myself, instead often keeping my talents hidden in the shadows, sometimes forever. I wish sometimes I had studied abroad in Europe, so that I could have doubled my “countries-visited” list and had that romantic-style experience everyone idealizes. I wish that I would care about things more than I do; I’m exceptionally passionate about things, but I don’t know what to do with those passions. I wish most of all that I wouldn’t be so stuck in the paralysis of my own mind. I seek the freedom that the world has to offer me.

But then I remember that I am incredibly happy anyways, despite being screwed up and making mistakes and not learning from them. I remember that I’m still a human being, and every time I choose kindness – even at the smallest of moments – I am making a good decision. And I remember that there’s still time to change the road I’m on, and no matter my decision, it’s been a great story so far, and I’m still in love with the world in which I live and the people who I can call my friends.

therealjoshthom:

Saw the most serene girl watching a sunset while sitting on an 8ft pillar by the Horizon bridge. Asked to shoot her and she gave me quite the picture

I don’t think I’ve ever promoted a blog. But this is my brother – things are different when it comes to family. Though the posting activity is sparse, his photography is breathtaking. Do yourself a favor and check it out. 
Zoom Info
Camera
Canon EOS REBEL T2i
ISO
100
Aperture
f/2.8
Exposure
1/800th
Focal Length
76mm

therealjoshthom:

Saw the most serene girl watching a sunset while sitting on an 8ft pillar by the Horizon bridge. Asked to shoot her and she gave me quite the picture

I don’t think I’ve ever promoted a blog. But this is my brother – things are different when it comes to family. Though the posting activity is sparse, his photography is breathtaking. Do yourself a favor and check it out. 

Mid-Semester Antics

Unapologetically blowing through Season 5 of Breaking Bad at the moment. By my last count, I’ve watched 16 episodes in the last three days. I’m literally on the edge of my seat for the finale - and yes, I’m aware that I’m about seven months behind the curve. Maybe you would cut me some slack if I told you it will be only the second TV show I’ve ever completed.

I am commencing an undertaking, hitherto without precedent and which will never find an imitator. I desire to set before my fellows the likeness of a man in all the truth of nature, and that man myself. Myself alone! I know the feelings of my heart, and I know men. I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different.
Jean Jacques Rousseau – The Confessions

Maybe I’m just awful, but I feel like there’s something morally wrong whenever a frat bro or sorority girl I know, who has verifiably been goofing off at school, succeeds in some major way – like being accepted to prestigious law schools. 

Stephanie and I are students together at the University of South Carolina in the United States. We met in December at a professor’s end-of-semester party. When she mentioned to me that she would be studying abroad at Koç University this semester, I told her that I was planning to come to Istanbul for spring break – so she said to stay in touch. Four months later, when we actually met up, I’d say it was a pretty spectacular affair.

This photograph is one of my very favorites that I’ve ever captured. It demonstrates antiquity, displays natural beauty, is full yet remains inviting, and encapsulates a city that swept my heart off of its feet. To say that I love Istanbul is to say that I breathe. It is a first-order fact.

I always find a way to travel when something political is happening somewhere. Three years ago, I walked through the streets of Cairo as a prime minster stepped down amidst widespread political revolution. In Turkey, presidential elections occurred during my stay. I encountered spirited demonstrations in both places. I supposed I’ve lived history.

Maybe we could caption this photo: Green Light For Turkish Freedom.

Karaköy | Istanbul, Turkey

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