Daily Reflection 4/22

Its been months since my last DR… I want to say that Ive been busy, that Ive found other outlets, that life has been to complicated to justify devoting time and energy to this contemplative act. But, Im not really sure why I stopped. Sometimes I wonder if I use this medium more when Im feeling accomplished, or in order to feel that way. Its easier to share your successes than your failures, but I think theres more to be gained from the latter. Learning to channel disappointment into lessons learned is an art that separates the pushers from the accepters.

Finding the time for personal writing and reflection is usually a function of my need to process thoughts and procrastinate in a (somewhat) productive manner. Only when Im swamped with pressing work do I feel the urge to take the time to mediate over this keyboard. Something about writing completely subjective, often readerless words helps me to get my creative juices flowing, so to speak. As thoughtless sketching is to a painter, so journaling is to this budding writer. With most of my endeavors I aim for the unreachable goal of perfection, which, though I know is unattainable, pushes me towards the high caliber of quality which Ive come to expect of myself. It also tends to cause me a perpetual dissatisfaction with most of what I produce, even in its most finalized, polished state. But here on this blog, with the entire world not watching, I feel free to rabble on about nothing, or something, with no end in mind. Freedom in black and white.

Daily Reflection 1/18

I heard a quote the other day that really moved me. It was a phrase Malcolm X used to describe his frustration with the argument that progress on issues of racial inequality move slowly:

“You can’t stab me in the back 9 inches, pull out the knife 3 inches and call that progress.”

I haven’t fact checked to see if he really did say this, but I love the phrase either way. I don’t even know that I have much more to say about it.

Daily Reflection 1/17

The word of the day for me is balance. I suspect this will be the word of the next week, and coming months, and perhaps the rest of my life.

Only now that I am as busy as I have ever been am I beginning to understand the real importance of this word. Even for those who give 150%, there is only so much time in the day to accomplish your goals. Learning to split time between many discreet tasks is a skill that takes time to master, and is becoming increasingly important in my life.

There are probably 100 things that I would like to accomplish over the next month. Of those I will prioritize about 20 as “must get done”. 50 more will go on my “would like to get done”, list and the rest will be chalked up to “I fantasize about getting these done”. As much as I hate to admit it the reality is that I am constrained by the institutions of time, money and energy- until I can increase my possession of each of those I can only do what I can do. What matters most to me is not checking off my entire list, but doing as much as I can while still being proud as hell of the work it took to cross off each one. Quality matters more than quantity, despite all of the pressures college students face to have a million things on their resumes by the time they graduate.

I am working hard and smart every day to improve my focus and performance on the tasks I set out to complete. Maintaining quality of work will get harder and harder as projects pile up and energy runs low, but learning to push the limits of your capabilities is one of the ultimate destinies of human existence. I am not intimidated by the sea of responsibilities coming my way, but instead am excited at the prospect of learning how to surf them.

Ask any surfer what the most fundamental aspect of the sport is and they will give one answer:

Balance.

Daily Reflection 1/10

Grind time starts today.

Making good on resolutions to be better is easy on day one: you’re excited, you’re energized, there’s a world of possibility laying before you. But day two it gets a little harder to keep it up. And then harder on day three, and four, and so on. The only way to combat this cycle is to establish your new habits early and strong.

For me this is a commitment to several personal projects that I want to devote my energy to. Already I’ve found time in my schedule for the things I want to do for myself, and set that time aside as sacred. The trick to success in this field is honesty and persistence. Carving out time devoted strictly to one goal is a good way give yourself the space to do these things.

This in mind, today is my day two, and already I can feel the momentum of stagnancy trying to weigh me down. But this year I think I feel something coming in the air. There’s too much on the line to let goals slip through my fingers- I want to emerge from the next few months better equipped to handle any of the many things that are perched on my horizon.

In short, its grind time now.

Daily Reflection 1/9

Back at it again!

After quite a long hiatus from this section of my site, I’m making a return to writing every day. Now that I am back in Santa Barbara and diving headfirst into the responsibilities associated it will be a pleasurable break from my daily routines to post here.

It was a hell of a winter break for me- I went from Santa Barbara to Oakland, to Idaho, back to Oakland, up to Oregon and Washington and finally returned to Isla Vista with enough time to get a few hours of sleep before the beginning of a busy quarter. I had a blast with my family and friends doing all of the things one would expect of a 22 year old with relative freedom from work and school. A mix of relaxation and exploration has me feeling ready to take on the whole world in this new year.

During my break I thought about what the turning of the new year meant for me personally. I realized that “Winter Break” would never again occur for me. Without the structure of school, the concept of time off for the holidays will certainly take on a whole new meaning. In an interesting way I also realized how much of my personal productivity was linked to the relatively arbitrary schedule of my university- work during the quarter, party during the breaks. But in the face of this new year, and new chapter in my life, I believe the time to change this mode of thinking has come.

Soon enough I will have more time on my hands than I know what to do with. Without school to suggest when I should be productive, I aim to re-envision my concept of when and how to accomplish the things I want to get done. It’s definitely easy to rely on the structure of school to dictate your on and off days, but when that no longer exists I think its the perfect opportunity to tailor those rhythms to your own individual ebb and flow. I know when and under what conditions I tend to do my best work, and I look forward to molding my schedule to maximize working during these times. Maybe this is just naive millennial hopefulness, but I really can see a future for myself where I work when I want how I want, not because it’s fun, but because it will bring out the best in me.

Whatever the future holds, I am excited to be fully in control of my own destiny. Now to buckle down and fight the good fight.

Daily Reflection 12/10

My daily reflection hasn’t been “daily” as of late. This has really fallen by the wayside for me unfortunately, but I promise to get back to it! Finding the time and energy to write every day is challenging, but I’m determined to discipline myself into the habit.

My excuse the last few days is that there has been a ton of craziness going on around me. I finished my last quarter as an undergraduate, secured a solid internship, said goodbye to a lot of friends who are leaving, and partied hard to celebrate it all. One of my favorite feelings in the world is earning a night of fun- I rarely go out any more unless I feel that I’ve done something to deserve it. Work hard play hard is becoming a real motto for me.

The end of the quarter energy of Isla Vista is fully settling upon our town and its great to see. While I was getting drinks last night a local bartender told me he hated finals week because of all the negative energy students brought in. Stress is no good for anyone, and I’m inclined to agree that people tend to project their mood to the world in very tangible ways. In any case, people are much happier now that school is done and the holidays are approaching. I count myself among them.

The coming of Christmas signifies the beginning of a new year and a new chapter in my life too. Without classes taking up my time I will be able to do a ton of cool things that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Creatively speaking, I think I am on the verge of a real blossoming. I’m excited for my future, and I hope the positive mentality of those around me continues through the coming months.

Daily Reflection 12/7

It’s about 5pm right now. In two and a half hours I will be taking my last final at UCSB. In five and a half hours I will have completed that final. Unbelievable how time flies.

Really, truly- time does fly. It feels like just yesterday that I was trekking from my dorms on campus to IV Theater for Keith Hess’ PHIL 3 class at 8 in the morning. I was so excited, so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to learn from an entire faculty of distinguished scholars. Since that day I have completed over 40 classes here at UCSB. I have been instructed by and worked with countless professors. I switched my major four times. I’ve made the honor roll, failed classes, done research, and made a difference on campus. After three and one-third years here, I am proud to say that I made the most of my time as a Gaucho.

All week I’ve been thinking about that first class with Keith. Keith Hess was, and is, one of the best teachers I’ve ever had in my life. He was able to get a room full of hungover, naive, sleepy freshman excited about the logic of philosophy for an hour at 8am three times a week. Not only did he make the topic seem relevant and interesting, but he demonstrated a level of concern for the well-being of his students that I have rarely seen repeated. All the way back in freshman year Keith was the first teacher I made time to go to office hours for, not because I needed help, but because I found him intriguing, and the material he studied very cool.

We talked for about an hour that day about his work, his path as an academic, and what I could expect for the next few years as an undergraduate. I came back to his office several times during the quarter for such talks. Keith became a mentor for me, putting me in contact with colleagues in areas I was interested in, and constantly going above and beyond to find answers to the dumb questions freshman Andrew peppered him with.

Besides helping me so much to find out what to do with myself that year, Keith provided me with a standard of excellence that I came to expect from all of my teachers. And while I can’t say that every teacher I’ve had lived up to this standard, many have, and thanks to Keith I realized that professors are the single most important resource you can take advantage of as a university student. After that first quarter with him I made it a point to make personal relationships with almost every professor I’ve had in college, and it paid off immensely.

Before I return one last time to my bittersweet, final routine of pre-test cramming, I want to give a sincere thank you to Keith, and every single teacher at UCSB who has changed my life in immeasurable ways. Without these professors and graduate students working as role models, mentors, teachers, and friends, I would not be the man who I am today, full of knowledge and ambition that I can be proud of.

So here’s to you Keith; if I never see you again in this life, let’s hope you’re right about metaphysics and Ill see you on the other side.