Take Risks: The Uncomforted Zone

I have been living a stagnant life. Even before the new year, I was saying this to myself. Some where within the last 3 years I have just stopped and became complacent with my life. I started doing things because they are what you are supposed to do as an adult. Maybe, it started before this blog. Maybe even before I got married. The point is, I cannot recall a real time in which I took a real risk other than moving to Syracuse more than 10 years ago.

I have been in my comfort zone for such a long time that I let fear get in the way of leaving that zone. Is this what happens when you get older? We just go to work everyday and do the same things day in and day out without any thought of what else is there? I cannot deal with this possibility and, quite frankly, I have no one to blame but myself. This blog has been a chronicle of things that I need to think about while I continue this “path.” But where the hell is this journey taking me?

The problem is that I have been talking about how most people are sheep and I am not one of them, but how much of this is really true? I have been leading a great portion of my life in fear thinking that I will not be successful with what I do, yet when it comes to doing those things that are necessary, I find an excuse. I am not willing to think about the risk or not willing to make a sacrifice because I have to keep in mind that I am lucky to still have things like a job, a house, and a car. There is this mentality that it is too risky to rock the boat, but when you see those people out there who are ultra successful, it is because they took risks. Isn’t that what life is about, taking risks and stepping out of the comfort zone?

Monday, I did something that I have never done before. I went ice skating. My girlfriend had been asking me to go with her for a few weeks and it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, I just never been. That is correct, I have never ice skated, roller skated, nor roller bladed at all. This was, in many ways, a big deal for me. Plus, she wanted to go to Central Park and do this which means I will most likely be busting my ass in front of lots of people. Which brings me to another point, I have never been to Central Park. How can a native New Yorker, such as myself, never been to this place? I convinced myself that I have never needed to go (one who lives in the matrix does such things).

So at this point when we are walking up to the ice rink and I am already saying to myself that I have been leading a stagnant life filled with risk-less paths so this will be a great way to start the new year. We get our skates and all I am thinking about is how do people walk on these things? Once I put mine on, I could barely stand up straight and walking was next to impossible. I had to sit down before I looked like a fool. I tied the shoes tighter and I look up to see all these little kids walking around in their ice skates with no issues. I knew then that I could do this. The girlfriend did mention that once on the ice, walking on the floor would become much easier (and it was).

Somehow I made it to the ice. I am proud to say that I did not fall once. I hugged the wall much on my first go round. With every significant lap I seemed to improve and I only used the wall when I needed to. It made me reflect on how nervous I was in the beginning and how I gradually improved. Everything in life starts with baby steps. Was I so afraid to fall in front of people? Normally I do not care what people think or am I just saying that? Perhaps I do care about the image that I portray. However, doing something new like this was very exciting and proved my ultimate point, I have been stagnant.

I begin to realize why sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins. Wasting away and not taking chances is not what life is supposed to be about. Maybe I have been taking gradual risks everyday that I not be aware. Some may say writing and putting myself out there is a risk but I have become so comfortable with that that there is very little risk left. So now what? I am asking all these questions with very little answers, so I guess it is time to start taking the risk and find those answers I need.

Sheep: The slow death of Critical Thought

What I am about to write in this blog I started jotting down in mid June. I had trouble putting into words how I really felt about this subject and yet, I seemed to have summed up in my Facebook status yesterday. When I look at the current status of the world, I do realize that many people just don’t get what is happening around them. I am not talking about worldwide conspiracies because that would be too easy to write about and yet so hard to prove but in any case it would make me sound like a lunatic. The only thing I want to point out is the economic gap isn’t the only thing that is increasing between the rich and the poor, so it is the intellectual gap.

So, I have been feeling a certain way about the world lately. Maybe it is age or perhaps is wisdom from that age. I have always had a cynical view of how the world operates and thus, I have always been cynical. I have grown to be sarcastic and question everything around me and even myself. I play the devil’s advocate at work and in my personal life. I point out the inequities in society on this very blog and yet I feel a sense that so many people do this blogging thing, or this twitter thing, or this civic duty thing as if they are in a popularity contest. Almost as if quantity is better than quality. Anyone can write a thousand blogs about shit, but in the end, it is just shit.

It is no secret that I am very critical of certain Latino blog sites and certain Latina Magazines and how they portray us, not only as Latinos but all people of color. I feel that there comes a social responsibility with the power that they hold over their readers and when things get dumbed down, it becomes an insult to my intelligence. Yet, very few people seem to notice things are said or things that are left unsaid. I feel we are in an era in which critical thinking is dying a very slow and painful death. People seem to become sheep. Most people rather read about list of top 10 maids or all time or right way to stuff a taco instead of  actual reading of world events.

I get it though. Life is a bitch and then you die. We all need some sort of distraction from the real issues. African slaves needed a distraction too. The slave owners allowed them to sing and dance and even go to church, but reading was forbidden. Gee, I wonder why. Now, we have free people of color but the slave mentality is the same. Most people still don’t read, but we sure know that Kim Kardashian got married. We know when the Basketball Wives Marathon is on.

So yesterday, after I read something from one of the “publications” above I posted/tweeted this: Please understand, I am not like them. Me and them are not the same. When you think about them, then you are not thinking about me. So what did I mean by this? Someone close to me asked what was up with this cryptic message. My reply went something like this: Most applaud ineptitude and incompetence because they dont know better. Not all people, of course, but I see things that people say and write and it makes me shake my head. Sometimes I wonder, if it is just me. Am I being judgmental? Is this what being a leader is, when no one sees the same things…or is it being a pariah?

There are times that I wonder why I never joined a group or pledged a fraternity. Often times, I say that is not for me, but I could never really form the words to really express exactly why. I seem to be this person who can be so charismatic in person and online and yet fade away in a crowd when things feel so monotonous. I have come to accept that there things that just become so uniform to me that I get bored with things. I cannot force myself to do what everyone else does.

It is very clear that I march to my own beat. I think about how I was picked on in school for being different. I didn’t do the things that other kids did like either hang out after school or smoke weed. Even in college, I was never  that dude drinking with everyone else at the bars or at the South Campus parties. It wasnt that I felt that I was better than everyone else, it is just that I didn’t see the need to do what everyone else is doing.

Which translates to how I am now. I am no better than any one else. I am sure that I could have been a great member of any fraternity. I am sure that I could have hung out with all those people, in fact, I go out now and socialize because I recognize who I am and how I fit in this world. But, I have always had a problem with the majority view of the world. People are sheep. They seem to be plugged into this Matrix in which everyone believes everything they read or don’t read. The ability to come up with a critical opinion seems lost on some. It is like when Jay-Z can come out with a song called “Death of Autotune” and everyone loses their minds talking about how he is this pioneer. Then, the very first song on his new album “Watch The Throne” has autotune. No one says…a word. Sheep.