Sunday, November 30, 2008

Passionate Vampires

My reading lately has consisted mostly of school material, though I did take the time recently to read a recommendation from my wife. I had been wanting to and just had not taken the time to read Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I was amazed by my reaction. I must admit that even with the glowing praise from my wife, I was still expecting to find a semi-immature piece of teenage literature. What I did find was a passionate work that made me think twice about all things normal in my life.
The story centers around teenager Bella, who moves to the small town of Forks, Washington and meets the mysterious Cullen family. She is particularly taken with Edward, a strangely pale and yet charming individual who no one seems to know anything about. As Bella and Edward strike up their friendship, she discovers that he is more than a normal 17 year old boy. He is in fact a vampire. Suddenly what Bella knew as normal is turned upside down. Most of all she is confronted with the passion of living a life distinct from any she has ever known.
The reason this makes it onto my list is that this book is filled with Passion. The relationship between the two main characters is intense, though not in the immature high-school manner that most assume. Bella is not your normal teenager and Edward is obviously not in the slightest bit normal. This book challenges everyday life and causes the reader to look at things differently than they normally would.
Along with this book, the movie has now come out and while it is not as good as the book, though only slightly, it still does a fantastic job of portraying the passion. At one point Edward is showing Bella the world from his point of view. Bella says, "This isn't real, This kind of stuff just doesn't exist." To this Edward replies, "It does in my world." The reality is that they live in the same world just with differing perspectives on that world.
This is the difference between those who live a passionate life and those who live normal, boring lives. It is all about perspective and the walls that we construct so that we aren't able to move beyond what we have told ourselves are the acceptable boundaries of normalcy. Everyone should take the opportunity to change their point of view from time to time to stretch the boundaries of the mind.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

If you could do anything...Will Hunting

A few weeks ago I finally sat down to watch the movie "Good Will Hunting" and was quite moved. I must caution anyone who does not like strong language (profanity) to not watch this movie in its original version. If you can watch it on television or find an edited version, I highly recommend it.
The premise of the movie follows Will Hunting as a genius working as a janitor at an Ivy League school. He is discovered when we solves a complicated math problem on a chalkboard in the hall of the school. A brilliant professor at the school tries to befriend him and put him on the path to mathematical godhood. He resists, not willing to leave behind what he feels is his roots as a common no-good orphan. Will begins to see a counselor who helps him to work through some of his problems. Due to his voracious reading habit, those around him realize that he is a genius and can solve almost any problem put before him.
As always I won't give away the exciting details about the plot. This movie raised some interesting questions in my own mind...What would you do if you could do anything? Think about that. If you had the ability to do whatever you desired, would you be where you are now? Would you be in the same career in which you find yourself? What would your life be like? If you can answer that you would be doing exactly what you are doing where you are doing it, Congratulations, you've got it.
If not, why not? What is impeding you? As the eternal optimist, I always argue that everyone can attain their dreams. You can do anything. Don't stop yourself. Allow yourself the desires of your soul.
Ask yourself often to remember. What would you do if you could do anything? Then make it happen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Life is Beautiful

My wife and I were out at garage sales a few weeks ago and I was excited to find Life is Beautiful on DVD for just one dollar. What a steal!
This movie puts an interesting spin on the events of the Holocaust. The story revolves around a family who is put into concentration camps. The father wishes to keep the pain from his son and so tells him that it is a game, with the winner getting a tank. The entire movie shows the strength of the spirit. With atrocities occurring around them, the family is able to emotionally endure in a sense.
It is stories like this that make me think about how I react to the hardships that occur in my own relatively simple life. Can I be better at looking at the bright side of every situation? Could I better help those around me by being optimistic in every sense? I believe so.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If you build it....

I apologize for not having posted for quite a while. My family has been in the process of moving cross country, which does not provide for much blogging time. Part of the process included me and my father in a moving truck for 3 days crossing over some of the most flat and mostly boring terrain that the US has to offer. We crossed Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana on our way to Ohio. Anyone who has done the trip will know that the most abundant landscape is that of green cornfields. I admit that my love for corn in waning after having seen it for 3 days straight. As conversation was not easy in the loud diesel truck I took to thinking about things that I could blog. I'm weird and I know it and am ok with it. Driving across Iowa I thought of a movie that fits perfectly into this blog and also what I am doing now in Ohio trying to complete even more schooling: The Field of Dreams.
Now for those who are not American, this is a baseball movie and so it may not connect on that level. However, the message I believe is universal. The basic plot of the story is that of a man whose father was a baseball player. The man is now a farmer and has extensive cornfields. During his youth he found a love of baseball but never really was able to know his father before he died. This visibly troubles him. One day while working in his fields he hears a voice that tells him, "If you build it, he will come." The man is beside himself and believes he is going crazy or that someone is playing a joke on him. During the course of the movie he comes to terms with hearing the voices, which occurs several times, and figures out what he needs to do to achieve his real dream of being more involved with the game his father was so passionate about. The end is brilliantly emotional.
So what does this have to do with my life and many of yours, I am sure. Well, at times in life, we will hear a voice, or have a feeling, or perhaps have a loved on give us some advice, that really rings true and gives us insight into our burning passions and deepest dreams. Those voices or feelings come to help give us an push in the direction of achieving our dreams. A lot of times we do not understand exactly what those voices are saying, or what they mean, or even where they are pushing us. The important thing for us to remember is to follow the voice or feeling. Most people are doing a job that they are not passionate about, but it was available and the easy option. If we assume that life is to be easy, we are kidding ourselves. Accomplishing what we are meant to do in life is never easy. I, for example, know that I am supposed to be back in grad school to complete a third degree. I'm not sure where exactly it will lead me but I know this is where the voice is leading me and that if I follow, I will be able to have my dreams and help my family to attain theirs.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My favorite book

Just wanted to let everyone know that the iTunes music store is giving my favorite book in audio format today for free. That's right, you can download the entire audiobook of the Alchemist for free. Everyone should go and download it and listen to it. I know what I'm listening to all day tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I would like to see...

I know that there are more people in the world that feel as I do. I know there are people who regularly visit this blog to see what I have written. Please, if you feel the same, or even if you don't, leave comments. If you have suggestions for my list, or even if you just want to agree or disagree with something I've written, please leave a comment.
I'd love to hear from and get to know everyone who visits my blog. Thanks for reading and a pre-emptive thanks for commenting.

I'm Bigger Than My Body...

And Waiting on the World to Change... These are song titles from musician John Mayer and the songs are exceptional. Bigger Than My Body talks about how society has gounded us and clipped our wings, and yet someday we can fly and soar and leave our old self behind. Now, I am a large man for those who don't know me (6'6", almost 2 meters, and about 280 pounds), but many times in my life I have felt like my soul is trying to explode from my body. I know others have felt the same.
Waiting on the World to Change is political in nature, and yet it works for me on all levels. There are many facets of our lives and societies that need to change. Politics is only one of those facets. I believe that mutual respect is another. Communication another. Belief in the potential of humanity another. I am waiting on the world to change. It can change, if we do something about it. It won't change on it's own.
Also, check out the song Gravity, also by John Mayer. It has been featured on the show House M.D..

Friday, May 23, 2008

Inspiration Peak

I added a section for websites that I like to visit that go along with my blog topic. The first one added to the list is Inspiration Peak. The link I put will get you to the forums where I also regularly post. It is a great site to talk about anything inspirational. They also sell motivational gifts and have places for sharing poetry and stories as well. It is an impressive site.

Someone Watching Over Me

Throughout my life I have noticed that there have been people strategically placed by the powers that be to help inspire me to complete my personal mission or personal legend (for those Alchemist fans). At times we do not realize our own potential and the great things that we could do for the world. There are very intuitive people out there that give their all, whether it be conciously or not, to help others on their way. Sometimes it is a family member and others it is a kind old lady in a grocery store that you have never seen before and will never see again.
In the movie Raise Your Voice, Terri the main character has enormous potential to become a gifted musician. She loves it but does not realize the power her ability has. Her brother does and does everything he can to motivate her to chase her dream. Unfortunately her brother dies tragically in a car accident. Before he dies, he sends a dvd of Terri singing to a music school Terri is hoping to attend in the summer. She is invited to attend and works on honing her musical skills. The whole movie she is visibly shaken by the death of her brother that she deems as being her fault. Near the end of the movie she realizes the impact her brother has had on her life and the amazing gift he gave her. She encapsulates this in the song "Someone Watching Over Me". It is an amazing message and I encourage everyone to listen to the song and to think about the people who have helped you along the way. Also, be that type of person and help others as well. It will not only enrich their lives but yours as well.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Homer Hickam did it...Why can't I?

I've recently been thinking about the fascination that small children have with being astronauts. Almost every child goes through the phase of wanting to grow up and go into outer space. I truly believe it come from our desire to get as high as we can. Our young minds equate achieving our dreams with soaring high into the air.
For years, movies about space have intrigued and captivated the public and given us a glimpse of our own dreams. October Sky is the emotional and motivating story of Homer Hickam's dream of breaking free from his small mining town home. When a new teacher comes to Homer's town and challenges the students' goals and life's ambitions, Homer decides to learn as much as he can about space and rocketry. He and his friends set out to enter and win the science fair and send a homemade rocket into orbit. Homer's determination inspires his whole town as they all cheer him into the heavens.
The main thing that I gleaned from this story is that each person has his/her place and mission in life. Homer's was in space, while his dad's was with the mine. Homer felt that the mine was a trap, while his father felt comfortable there and felt he was best put to use in it's shafts. Every person should be inspired to their best place, whatever it may be. There also was a great sense of community in this story, something I believe is truly lacking in most western societies today. This story shows that the dreams of a few can bolster the dreams of many and also that the help of a community working together can skyrocket the ambitions of a few highly motivated souls.

Fahrenheit 451

The topic most discussed with this book is that of book burning. There is so much more to this work by Ray Bradbury. For me, this book raises one question...What would you be willing to give up for knowledge?
The main character of Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag, works as a fireman in a world with fireproof buildings. His job consists of burning the belongings of people who are found to have books that are on the restricted list, which are most. The people with books are arrested. Guy starts to show a change of heart when he meets a neighbor girl who appears very peculiar in the way she acts. He also witnesses a woman who will not leave her house as it is burning, because she does not want to leave her books. This all comes to a climax as we find out Guy's true heart and what he is willing to give for knowledge.
This seems to be a great fear among literary types as there are many different works that address similar themes. I can think of the book 1984 by George Orwell and the movie Equilibrium for a couple of examples from my lists. What would we be willing to give or do if the simple freedoms that we enjoy as human beings were threatened or taken away? Would we be willing to fight against the powers that be for the right to own a Bible, Koran or other religious book? Would we be willing to die for the right to feel emotion and passion?
Please let me know if you can think of other examples of this theme that I can add to my list.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

The first thing that impresses about this movie is the performance of Dustin Hoffman. He plays a toy store owner with longer than normal life and a flare for the eccentric. Evidence of this can be found in his pet zebra named Mortimer and that he believes an accountant is a cross between a counter and a mutant. Natalie Portman plays Mahoney, a gifted musician who has lost her ability to progress. Through the movie and Magorium's strange method of inspiring Mahoney, she learns to live life for the beauty that it is and find the magic around her. The Counting Mutant also learns that life is more than numbers and work.
I would love to own a magical toy store. Children are so full of life and are interested in anything. Life for children is magical. If only it could be so for more people/adults. Disinterest causes people to stall in their progression. If we can not see the wonder in the world, we can not dream of things bigger than ourselves.

"Mortimer, fetch! Stupid Zebra!!"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Sandlot

I've watched The Sandlot about 15 times and decided that it needed a rewatching since summer is on the way. Its got great lines and is pretty hilarious and there are few boys that can't say they wish their childhood had looked like this. The story centers around a group of boys that spend their time playing baseball at an old diamond they call The Sandlot. A new boy moves into town who wants to play with them but does not know how. After the initial joking and mocking one of the boys helps the newcomer to be accepted. The new boy's knowledge of baseball is quite limited and when they find themselves without a ball he runs home to his stepdad's trophy room to get the baseball signed by Babe Ruth to play with. Of course he then proceeds to hit a home run over the fence where a ferocious beast of a dog awaits. The rest of the movie shows their attempts at getting the ball back.
The inspirational part comes when Benny, the best player of the boys, has a dream where Babe Ruth comes out of his closet. Babe tells him he should just hop over the fence and get the ball. He also tells him that most people have one moment of greatness but that most don't realize it when is in front of them. This is Benny's moment for greatness.
We should all pay attention for our moment of greatness. We also need to be prepared with the ability to complete the task. We are all meant to succeed,we just have to make it happen. "Heroes get remembered, but legends never die".

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

August Rush

I've been anticipating this movie for a long time. I love the work that Freddie Highmore does. The basic plot of the movie is that two musicians have an intimate meeting, that turns out to be a one-nighter thanks to her father. Well, a child is soon born and again her father intervenes and makes her believe the son has died and he places the boy in an orphanage. The boy's name is Evan and he grows up believing that his parents are out there. He feels that he is surrounded by music and that if he can learn to make music, his parents will hear him and come back. With the help of an understanding social worker and others who teach him, he learns to use his musical talent. As usual I will not give away the ending, but the impressive part of this movie is the journey that Evan goes through in his quest to find happiness with the parents he knows are out there for him.
As I watched this movie I could not help but be inspired by someone who has nothing in life, but knows that there is something for him to accomplish that will bring himself and others joy. It seems to me that everyone in the world has a mission to accomplish during their lifetime that will elevate their soul and everyone around them. We get lost in the noise, which if we listen closely is really music pushing toward our goal. Take the time to listen to the music and learn from those around us who are willing to share their experience with us.

"You know what music is? God's little reminder that there's something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, every where, even the stars."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I am Legend and Bob Marley

I did not go into my viewing of this movie expecting to be inspired. I was pleasantly surprised to find a great message. The basic plot of the movie is that a disease has taken over the world and left all but one man, Robert Neville (Will Smith), as mad zombie-like freaks trying to destroy their last shred of humanity. Neville sees it as his duty, as the only one immune to the virus, to try and cure it. At one point he discovers that he is not the only human left and he takes the opportunity to explain the music behind his attempts to cure the disease.

He (Bob Marley) had this idea. It was kind of a virologist idea. He believed that you could cure racism and hate... literally cure it, by injecting music and love into people's lives. When he was scheduled to perform at a peace rally, a gunman came to his house and shot him down. Two days later he walked out on that stage and sang. When they asked him why - He said, "The people, who were trying to make this world worse... are not taking a day off. How can I? Light up the darkness."

Amen, brother!

The Star Spangled Banner

Wow, this is the most inspiring rendition of the National Anthem I have heard in a long time. I was amazed and got chills and misty eyes. Enjoy and keep the tissues close.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm a Believer

Few songs have the pure emotional charge that this song by Christina Milian has. Believer received most of it's attention by being a major part of the movie "Be Cool" in which John Travolta helps Christina Milian rise above mediocrity and attain her dream of becoming a famous singer. This song speaks for itself. Listen to the passion in her voice.

I am Sam

One thing that I've noticed about humanity in general is that we tend to complain about anything that we don't see as perfect in our lives. Most of us let that be a debilitating factor in our lives that stops us from attaining the goals we've unconsciously set in our minds.
I was very refreshed to finally watch the movie "I am Sam". The main character is a mentally disabled single father who is fighting to keep custody of his daughter and raise her the best he can. He acknowledges that he doesn't always know what to do and that at times he feels terrified about his inadequacies. Sam is much unlike the rest of the world in that he does not complain. Even with most people telling him he cannot do it, he finds a way to get it done. If he is unable to do something himself, he finds a friend who can help him make up the difference.
Few of us are born with the disadvantage of being unable to progress mentally past a certain point. This incredibly inspirational movie proves that "all you need is love" and you can conquer anything. With whatever disability or disadvantage you may be facing, with the right friends and the will to fight for what is right, anything is possible.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Inspired by the Matrix

I recently watched the third installment of the Matrix Trilogy, Matrix Revolutions, yet another time. I know that most people would say that the Matrix movies are just violent and crazy sci-fi. This movie, however is quite motivating. One of the main characters, The Oracle, states while talking to Neo, the unconventional savior character, that there is no need to make choices, since we have already made them, but to understand why we made that choice. In thinking about the quote I realized the truthfulness of the statement. When we arrive at a certain situation, a crossroads if you will, we have already decided which road we will talk based on our cultural and/or moral programming. A teenager who decides to try drugs already made the decision previously that were the situation to present itself, he/she would give it a chance. If there is a decision you make that you regret the only thing to do is discover why the decision was made and change your "programming" as it were.
Another idea I love in this movie is that each one of us is in charge of our future and has a mission to complete. Other people can only point us in the right direction and help (or hinder) our efforts. Our mission may not be to save the world, but if we do not discover and complete our part then others may have a more difficult time attaining their goals.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Legend of Bagger Vance

One of the most interesting movies I've seen in a while. The story revolves around a man who had an amazing golf career before going off to war. Due to the horrors of the war and what happened to the men he was leading, he lost his "swing", both literally and figuratively. This is really a story about redemption. He is given a chance to turn his life back around and regain his "swing", through the help of an adolescent boy and a mysterious man named Bagger Vance. Bagger seems to be an unintelligent vagabond whose self-proclaimed job is to impart seemingly useless tidbits of wisdom. Those bits of wisdom help the man to realize the importance of letting go and finding oneself.
One of the best quotes in my mind was this: "Look at his practice swing, almost like he's searchin for something... Then he finds it... Watch how he settle hisself right into the middle of it, feel that focus... He got a lot of shots he could choose from... Duffs and tops and skulls, there's only ONE shot that's in perfect harmony with the field... One shot that's his, authentic shot, and that shot is gonna choose him... There's a perfect shot out there tryin' to find each and every one of us... All we got to do is get ourselves out of its way, to let it choose us... Can't see that flag as some dragon you got to slay... You got to look with soft eyes... See the place where the tides and the seasons and the turnin' of the Earth, all come together... where everything that is, becomes one... You got to seek that place with your soul Junuh... Seek it with your hands don't think about it... Feel it... Your hands is wiser than your head ever gonna be."
I hope that we can all get out of the way of the perfect shot there is for us and let it take our lives where they will be the most amazing.