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Be The Example

It's About Perspective

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It's About Perspective

What's yours? When you go into a difficult situation or face a challenge, what is your perspective? Are you the glass half type of person? Or the glass half empty? 

Throughout our lives we face many challenges. Some great, some not so great. But, whatever they are there's a certain attitude that we should all take with them. For most people going into a challenge cause them to be filled with dread, despair, discomfort, and stressful anticipation. Or if it is a challenge or obstacle that surprised them, they are thrown off their game and demotivated to overcome it. Just like the glass half full or glass half empty analogy, you can look at life and the challenges within it two ways. 

The, "I can't do this/that," Perspective: 

For those people who face challenges with dread or despair, this is their perspective. Whether it be a challenge that they are personally facing or a challenge that is in the world, people that have this perspective skirt the issues of their lives. This perspective and the people that hold it is very synonymous with lying, making everything seem ok, ignoring what they are truly capable of, and a general unconscious put down of themselves on a daily basis. 

If you have this perspective on the world you might look at a marathon (or a 100 mile race) and say, "I can't do that." In a broader sense you might look at the challenge of doing your best at your job and, maybe not consciously or verbally, say, "I can't do that." What I mean by that is that if you have this perspective then your entire frame of life will be based on failure. Which isn't a bad thing, you can learn from failure. But with this perspective you will make it very hard for yourself to learn from failure. 

A lot of people in my life have this perspective and it's sad. They are wonderful people (most of them) who can do so much more with their lives. I'm not just talking about the adults in my life, many kids that I know at school also have this perspective. 

One of the biggest challenges that people with this perspective face on a daily basis, are themselves. They are there own biggest challenge, because they do not allow themselves to live their full potential. They stop themselves from pushing beyond their preconceived limits. They cannot overcome large challenges and little ones cause great stress. Of course someone who has this perspective could not be as bad as I describe. People vary. But, whether you have this perspective very badly or hardly noticibly it is negatively affecting your life. 

 The, "That's a challenge," Perspective:

This perspective is the opposite of the one above. It is the peaceful and ultimately successful perspective. If you look at the world as a challenge and not in a bad way, then you have this perspective. What I mean by that is that the "I can't do this" Perspective would look at the challenges in their life as impossible. While the "That's a challenge" Perspective looks at the challenges in the world as a challenge to themselves to overcome. As a contest where they can persevere and an opportunity to overcome. For the negative perspective their life alone is to hard, but for this positive one the world is an opportunity.

Do you see the difference there? It is subtle, but it is there. This perspective looks at the world and sees hope, while its evil twin looks at just their own life and sees despair. Like I said before, this perspective can have many different variants within it. The common theme between them all is the fact that those who have this perspective, large or small, tend to live happier, more fulfilling lives. Instead of setting themselves up for failure and failure that they do not learn from, they set themselves up to learn. Now this perspective isn't perfect, nothing is. While you will fail sometimes with this perspective, nonetheless you will learn from failure and work to overcome it. That is the difference. 

But how do you achieve this perspective? Or if you feel that you already have it, how do you improve it? Well the answer is quite simple and you have heard it all before. The answer is practice. Now I do not like the saying, "Practice makes perfect," because nothing is perfect and there is always room to improve. I prefer, "Practice makes better." This is what you must employ to gain or work on this perspective. You must practice looking at the world as a learning experience. A teacher that teaches through failure and success. You must practice enjoying every moment and beginning to look at the world as hope, instead of despair. When you catch yourself thinking or acting negatively or saying, "I can't do this/that," simply do what we do in meditation. Become aware of your negativity, breath into the moment, and look at the reason why you are negative as a time to learn and a time to overcome. Look at it as a challenge, something to persevere through. Of course, it's easy to enjoy the good times mostly, except for when the negative ones take over everything. In those cases you must again employ a present mind and a calm soul. Breath into the moment and into the challenge. It is nothing that you cannot overcome.


For me, and I know for you, it is a constant journey. I do not want to call it a battle, because it is not something so violent. The conflict between good and bad perspectives will wage your entire life, but it is not a war. It is more of a give and take, a ying and yang. One could not exist without the other and so when you face the bad, know the good will come. Now when you face the good, simply stay present in that happiness. Recently I went to UCLA for an AP Chemistry review session. Going to such a huge campus, even for day, was different to say the least. My high school is extremely small and while the architecture of UCLA was beautiful, it is not the kind of school for me. To big and to vapid. While walking around I was thinking on what the majority of perspectives that students in high school and college have. I came to the conclusion, from that UCLA experience and my own high school experience, that most of my fellow students perspectives are the " I can't do this/that" Perspective. They limit themselves to less than what they are capable of and it is very sad. I wish that more of my generation could find who they truly are and see what they are capable of at a young age, instead of the many years or never that it usually takes.

These thoughts on perspective are just that, thoughts. Maybe you look at the world differently than either of the ways that I outlined. Like I said, there are many different variations and possibilities. I am not here to tell you what to do, I am simply here to make you think and consider. To think on your life and the state that it is in and consider that you might need or want a dramatic change. I am here to help. It is what I do at my school and in our world. Let's all try to change our perspective for the better. Whether you are a fresh faced student or a weathered adult, we all have one very basic thing in common. We exist on this planet at this time. So let's all support each other a little bit more. Love each other a little bit more. Change each other for the better a little bit more!

Thanks,

Jarod

 

 

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Performance on the Stage

So this past Saturday I went to go see the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker at the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown LA. Both the venue and the musical were beautiful. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion has a utilitarian aesthetic to it. It was built in the 60's and you can really tell. But, it was still quite beautiful and I enjoyed the sights. I personally am more used to traditional theaters with vaulted ceilings, intricate facades, and the like. A great example of that is a local theater in my town, the Warner Grand, look it up. 

 View of City Hall.  

View of City Hall.  

The performance of the musical itself was amazing, too. The musical was the Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. The stage was filled with over 200 kids as the organizer pointed out during intermission. It was a city affair, with kids from all over LA acting and singing in the musical. As the Nutcracker goes the audience was taken on a journey throughout our world and the mystical world through song and scene. One of my favorites was the Candycane number. A hip-hop number that was cast with all guys, it was fun to watch and had great rhythm. One of my other favorites was the Arabic/Middle Eastern scene. The flowing costumes, bright colors, and simple music were wonderful combinations to form a mysterious, yet alluring atmosphere. My third and final favorite scene of the night was the Chinese dance number. This was a scene were the dancers danced using flowing ribbons that suspended them above the stage. The immense physical strength it takes to dance like that and the idea of moving art suspended in air made it a wonderful to watch.

The entire musical was upbeat and very sure of where it was going, which was forward. I loved the fact that so many kids were included in the production and the organizer also pointed out that over 100 parents were backstage assisting with costumes, makeup, and organization. This, I'm sure, contributed greatly to the productions success. To be a young actor or actress and to perform on a stage as prominent and large as that of the Music Center must of been thrilling. The venue was packed, which is a good sign for the continuation of the production, because I will go see it again next year. However, I would have loved to have seen it from a closer location. My mom got a deal on the tickets, which is the main reason we went, and so we were in the nosebleed seats high above the stage. The venue was actually so big that they sold binoculars in the lobby. I guarantee the production would have been even more incredible than it already was if we had seen it from a closer vantage point.

After seeing this production it really has reinvigorated my love for theater. Coming from a theater background I have always loved the pure art of the stage. To me it's an incredible form of expression. The set designers, actors, composers, directors, and the rest have only say a 50 foot by 100 foot area in which to convey all of the beauty and art they desire to in that 2 hour period. Yes, movies you could argue have that same restriction, only having a 16x9 ratio screen to work with, but it's not the same. Movies can make and almost go anywhere. The stage is constricting in a way that only breeds better performance and better art. Art is about dealing with limitations and finding a creative way to express yourself through that. Painters do not have infinite canvas nor do sculptors have infinite rock. Art is beauty through restriction and theater exemplifies that wonderfully.

 Out the windows.  

Out the windows.  

I now want to go see many more plays and musicals. Living in such a cosmopolitan city as LA I have many options to choose from and many beautiful venues to attend. I have seen many productions here already. I saw Wicked at the Pantages with Idina Menzel, which was incredible. I know going forward I will be going to college soon, but where I hope to go to college is really not that far away from LA, so maybe a few drives down on the weekends to run and see a play is in order. Of course I will be coming down a lot for family and running, but I do want to add theater into those visits. 

One of the biggest things that I always take away from a stage performance, no matter what it is, is that we all express ourselves in different ways, but if we can find a way to honestly express ourself in front of others then we create a connection with them and can influence them. We can either be a teacher or a destroyer. We can be examples to them. The theater is a place to go and see someone connect with you and influence you, whether you know it or not. The lessons conveyed in the production are being conveyed to you, and depending on the caliber of the production, maybe very deeply. The actors and actresses have the opportunity to be a positive example in your life and I think thats quite remarkable. If we can include just a little of that dedication and true emotional connection into our own lives I think we can be much better friends and family. I think we all need to take a few lessons from the stage.

Thanks.

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