Archive for February, 2007


Initiative

There are, I believe, three great traits above all others that a human being can possess. These traits are Initiative, Passion, and Charisma. Every human possesses at least one of these traits in abundance, and some possess more than one. I, for example, have an abundance of Passion, but I lack both Initiative and Charisma. The Runner is an example of someone blessed with Initiative, while the Mediator possesses Charisma. Some people possess a combination of two of these traits, and, in incredibly rare circumstances, the world bares forth an individual with all three. These are the people who end up becoming the most influential people in the world. They are the ones who often will go so far as to change the course of history. We will discuss these people later, however. For now, we discuss the first of the three great traits: Initiative.
 
For my whole life, I have heard the phrase: "Take Initiative."
 
I’ll be honest with you. I have never been entirely sure what that means until recently. According to various dictionaries, Initiative is the ability to act and make decisions without help. The true definition lies deeper than this, however, or else it wouldn’t be one of the great traits.
 
Many people, including myself, have a problem with rejection. No, not the type of rejection that occurs frequently between members of opposite genders, although I suppose that sort of rejection would be part of it. The rejection I refer to is simply the rejection that occurs whenever someone says no.
 
"Mom, can I have a cookie?"
 
"No."
 
 
 
"Uncle Jerry, can I play on the Super Nintendo?"

"No."

 
 
"Dad, can you take me to Toys R’ Us?"
 
"No."
 
 
 
So many of us, from a very young age, learn of rejection, and we don’t enjoy it. Sometimes, the reaction to this is to throw a tantrum, as all of us have at some point in our lives. However, after a while, some of us learn to simply stop asking, for fear having the unpleasant experience of being rejected, and looking like a fool.
 
Further on in life, this has implications. We may fear asking our friends to come over, in case they say no. We may fear organization, lest we do it incorrectly and a superior disapprove. We are afraid of asking questions of strangers, lest they think of us as stupid. I confess that I personally have a modest fear of calling stores, companies, and the like and asking for something as trivial as their business hours. It really is a cripple, and one which I have never been able to escape.
 
The great paradox associated with this trait is that Initiative is one’s ability to accomplish tasks alone, and yet the tasks we accomplish alone tend to involve other people, because no one is entirely independant. Because of this, those who have initiative tend to be better at dealing with people than those without.
These people are able to coordinate very well. Take the example of a celebration. Someone with abundant Initiative could organize the entire thing single handedly. They could call their aquaintances and invite them, confirm guest lists, decide on events, phone up for reservations, and coordinate designated drivers, all without breaking a sweat.
 
Some of us are simply incapable of doing that.
 
But not always.
 
During this week, I have taken it upon myself to show Initiative. Why? Well, there is nothing more motivational than desperation and a lack of time, after all. I can say that I have seen a surprising amount of success with this experiment, and so I encourage the rest of you now to attempt to do the same. Initiative is the first of the three great traits. Use it well, my friends.
 
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It was there yesterday and now it isn’t and isn’t. But maybe it wasn’t there the day before yesterday either, all dynasties die, but rarely in a day. And so his forces, Bellij’s, that is, conquered all. The Infection? Nah, The Infection is nothing compared to Bellij’s group, the Decline. Aye, the Decline had weakened the Screwup before the Infection killed him. Decline, Decline Decline, and I live in Decline. Aye, it arrived in Apr. 2005, and so of course I’ve been in Decline since the beginning, and it was only a matter of time. I have little left to do here before it ends, but like Kak before me, I shall prepare. Yes, prepare.
 
 
 
Ride, Pale Horse, ride. We have had a good race, my friend, and I have outlasted you for quite some time. Yet the Infection has ravaged me, and the Decline eats at the leftovers, and I am a shadow, a spectre, a ghost of what I once was. Catch me if you can, my friend, let us race until the very fabric of time unravels. You will not catch me yet, I have 3 tasks to accomplish yet…
 
 

The Runner

Another individual who I believe deserves special mention here is the Runner.
 
He, more than nearly everyone else I know, is an inspiration to me, and he does it through ordinary means, not extraordinary.
 
 
 
Now then, I am part of a very special club at my school. It is called the 8:30-2:30 club. We enter school at 8:30, leave at 2:30, and that is all. No extracurricular activities, no other clubs. I am, unlike most, quite proud of my position at this club.
 
This past Wednesday, however, I found out that, due to a snowstorm, I would be stranded at school until 5:30, 3 hours later than usual. Needless to say, I was annoyed. However, I found out that the Runner was also going to be at school until that time, and so I decided to spend the time with him.
 
The first thing he did was put on his tights and gym clothes.
 
"What are you doing?" I asked.
 
"Going to run." said he.
 
"Why?"
 
"Because I have to."
 
(Now, the Runner was on the Cross Country team – something shocking to me because where I came from, school teams were almost entirely made up of the upper class, and the Runner was a middle class individual.)
 
"Ah, so you’re running with the Cross Country team or something?"
 
"No, just by myself."
 
"Then why do you HAVE to run? Who’s forcing you?"
 
"No one, I just have to run."
 
Here is what constitutes "running" for the Runner:
 
Forty minutes of stretching.
Forty minutes of running.
Forty-five minutes of stretching.
 
Repeat every day.
 
I couldn’t believe it.
 
 
"How long are you at school every day?" I had to ask.
 
"Between 5 and 5:30, depending if I have hockey or not, why?"
 
Once again, the Runner had surprised me. Not only did he run for several hours, but he did it alone, and he does it every day. He seemed thoroughly pleased to have some company on this day, just as I was equally pleased to learn from him.
 
The Runner is someone who I simply cannot explain. He is by far the most determined individual I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, to be sure. He defies the hierarchy with the many clubs he is a part of. He seemingly does everything, and he does it in such a modest way, as if everyone does it. It is my intention to one day accompany him on one of his runs. It is the least I can do to pay tribute to this great man.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Mediator

Every now and then we come across a person who we feel compelled to tell the world about, for whatever reason. Today I will share with you the story of a man called the Mediator, and what he does. If nothing else, he deserves to have his story told
 
 
Way back in the Good Old Days, a hierarchial type setup existed at the school which the Screwup attended. It was a three tiered system; there was the lower class, a middle class, and an upper class. The lower class made up about 10% of the population, and was looked down upon by all. This story doesn’t involve this class, however. This story involves the two larger classes; the middle class and the upper class, the former being the Screwup’s niche. Of the two, the upper class had a slightly higher population, and so this class tended to dominate in all matters. The middle class and the upper class simply did not get along. At best, relations between the two were unfriendly, while at worst they were openly hostile, with the upper class being responsible for most of the hostilities. It was difficult for the Screwup and his friends, not knowing when the next attack would come, where it would come from, or what form it would take. Overall, conditions were rough. Not horrible, but rough. Then I came into existance, and I quickly accepted the conditions as they were. Sure, they hated us, but we hated them too, and that made everything fine. What none of us understood, however, was that we envied the upper class. We hated the way they looked, the way they spoke, and the way they laughed. We hated their guts and their brains and their girlfriends, but through it all… we envied them. They had something – I’m not even sure what – and we envied it. Perhaps it was their ability to not have to think before they spoke. Perhaps it was their overall apathy towards everything. Perhaps it was the fact that they were incapable of looking like idiots – no matter what you said to them, you couldn’t humiliate them. They could simply respond with some snappy comeback that they made up on the spot, and it would make you look like an idiot. So for whatever reason, we envied the upper class.
 
Then I changed schools. At my previous school, you could identify who would be part of what class just by the way they looked, and in one day, I thought I knew everyone already. I sought to make friends out of those who looked like they would be middle class, because I knew that despite my best efforts, that would be where I would end up. We went on that Wanakita trip which I wrote about some time ago, and I found it odd that out of the 7 random strangers who I shared a cabin with, there was no one who hated me, nor anyone who I hated. "It’s too early in the year for bad relations to develop", thought I, knowing somewhere inside that this was impossible, since about half of those on the trip had already been at the school for two years.
 
As time went on, I discovered that the hierarchial system was far looser at this school than at my first. Eventually, a lower, middle, and upper class did develop, but there was no brick wall dividing them like there used to be. The lower, middle, and upper classes were at worst, mildly unfriendly, but typically they were tolerant, and even friendly with one another. Not only that, but some of those who would have been lower class at my former school simply based on how they looked turned out to be upper class individuals, and vice versa. The fact that such things were even possible was shocking to me. No individual, however, shocked me more than the Mediator.
 
Coming from a school without much ethnic variety (95% were of the same ethnic background, and the minorities assimilated quite nicely), I was surprised to find that someone of a different background could even make it to the upper class. However, the Mediator was not merely another upper class citizen. He was a bridge to the middle and lower classes. It was as if he didn’t even recognize the existance of the hierarchial system. He spoke to us as equals and friends, but he did more than that. He showed us how to acquire the things that we envied of him. He would go out of his way to involve random individuals in whatever he did, so that we could learn to do it for ourselves someday.
 
I recall an occasion at one of the school sanctioned dances, where once of my friends wanted desparately to dance with a girl, but couldn’t work up the guts to go up to one. While I don’t much enjoy these events, I (along with a mutual friend of ours) tried to pursuade him to go dance, but his shyness overtook him at every turn. Over two hours were spent trying to get him to dance, but to no avail. Then the Mediator showed up, and he understood the situation without us even explaining it to him. All he said to my friend was "Follow me." As if mesmerized, my friend followed without hesitation, while I followed close behind. Without speaking, the Mediator approached a girl from behind, glanced at her ass with a look of approval in his eyes, danced with her, and after about twenty seconds, motioned for my friend to take his place. And he did. Without hesitation. What we had failed to do in two hours, he had accomplished in thirty seconds. I was absolutely dumbfounded.
 
Another time, the Mediator had gathered a small following, including myself, and prepared a plan to steal a box of Oreo cookies. Again, the Mediator had some sort of power over us, and we felt compelled to help him. Unfortunately, the plan never materialized, as we were caught before we could execute it. The next day however, I saw the Mediator running towards me at full tilt with a box of Oreo cookies. Someone who was evidently quite pissed off at him was chasing him. As he passed me, he handed me the box and continued running. Confused, and slightly frightened that the owner of the box had seen me take it, I dropped it on the ground and fled. As it turned out, the owner of the box hadn’t seen me take it, and hadn’t seen me drop it either. He only saw the box a minute later, and which point he reclaimed it, and was gone. Later in the day I saw the Mediator again, with a look of disappointment in his eyes.
"Why’d you drop the Oreo’s?" he said.
 
"I thought that the guy saw me, so I-"
 
"No, what you were supposed to do was take the cookies into your cabin. I would’ve been back in a minute, and then we would’ve eaten most of them, and then thrown the box the box somewhere."
 
"I’m sorry…" I said.
 
And I meant it. The look of disappointment in his eyes was scolding enough for me. To this day, I regret not taking the box with me into my cabin. Why? I don’t even know. I don’t even like Oreos all that much. The realization that I had failed him was saddening, for some reason. I supposed I felt as if I owed him something simply for the fact that he spoke equally to all the classes, and was not prejudiced towards anyone, regardless of whether or not society told him to.
 
The world could use more Mediators. He is one of the people who inspire me and give me hope in the world. It is because of people like him that people like me are able to live a little more freely. Mediator, I salute you.

The Greatest Weakness

Throughout the ages, wise men have told of many different kinds of weakness.
 
Some have said that our reliance on a Supreme Diety is our greatest weakness.
Others have spoken of our imperfect nature as our greatest weakness.
Still others have stated that inhabiting the human body, which is weak by nature, is our greatest weakness.
 
 
 
In saying this, all three of these wise men have demonstrated what I believe to be our greatest weakness. Indeed, it is a weakness which I demonstrate quite frequently, and am doing so right now.
 
 
Our greatest weakness is our tendancy to share. The urge we have to share our knowledge, to share our friends, to share our discoveries, our glory and our sorrow.  
 
If something exciting happens in your life, do you not have the urge to tell someone about it? If something terrible happens, do you not seek a shoulder to lean on? Of course you do. It is human nature. Irrepressible. 
 
Being human nature, it is not entirely a bad thing. Nothing ever is. Through our sharing of knowledge, we have advanced immeasureably in every field, most notably medicine and technology. These are, of course, good things, and I do not deny that.
 
The drawbacks of this come to us on the social scale.
 
When we share what we are feeling with others, we make ourselves vulnerable. When we trust others, we trust that they will not abuse the information we have shared with them, and countless times, people get hurt because the information is abused. Sometimes it is between two young lovers, other times between two close friends. As Kakunaman would tell you, it is both fun and easy to screw someone over who trusts you. Murders where the victim and criminal know each other are the most common, after all.
 
It all boils down to risk. When you trust someone, you take a risk. It is a shame that our nature forces us to take this risk quite frequently, but it is inescapable.
 
 
 
 
The biggest problem occurs not when we share knowledge, but when we share people.
 
Yes, I have spoken of this before. The Infection.
 
 
Mutual friends do not work on a wide scale. Ever. Once a group of friends expands past 4 or 5 people there is always one who will be the outcast, and will not fit in with the group.
 
 
 
Of course, it matters not how long this person was in the group for. All that matters is that they are no longer needed within the group.
 
Think of it in this sense:
 
Person 1, Person 2, and Person 3 have been friends for the last 5 years.
 
Person 1 has three main personality traits. We’ll call them traits A, B, and C.
Person 2 also has three personality traits: B, D, and E.
Person 3, similarly, has traits C, F, and G.
 
One day, Person 1 meets Person 4, who posesses traits A, D, and F. They become friends, and Person 1 decides to introduce him to Persons 2 and 3. Person 4 becomes close friends with Persons 1-3, and fits in well with the group.
 
After a time, Person 1 begins to notice something odd. It seems that Persons 2, 3, and 4, have been leaving him out of their plans lately. ‘Surely an oversight,’ thinks Person 1. ‘After all, we’ve been friends for ages.’
 
But of course, the condition worsens, until Person 1 hardly speaks to the others at all. He has become yet another victim of The Infection and of the boiled frog theory. He didn’t really notice what was happening until it was too late.
 
Persons 2-4’s favourite discussion topic?
 
"Hey, what a faggot that Person 1 is. I can’t believe we were actually friends with him."
 
 
 
 
You see, Persons 2 and 3 could find everything that Person 1 was within their other friends. As such, Person 1 naturally faded into obscurity. He was replaced. He became obsolete. 
 
 
 
 
Here’s where it gets complicated:
 
 
 
Person 4 one day introduces the group to Person 5, a close friend of his. Inadvertently, he makes himself obsolete. Persons 4 and 5 remain close friends, but Persons 2 and 3 no longer speak to Person 4. He has been replaced, after all.
 
 
Persons 2 and 5 grow to find that they like each other, and end up marrying later in life.
 
 
 
Now then, how does Person 1 feel about all this?
 
 
Surely he should be incredibly happy! If he had not introduced Person 4 to the group, then Person 4 could not have introduced Person 5 to the group, and this miracle of love between two people would never have occured. It was Person 1 who made it all possible…
 
 
 
But at the cost of losing two of his closest friends?
 
 
 
 
Person 1 helped one of his friends find love, by sharing his friend with him. How was he thanked for this? He wasn’t. He was cast aside, like a secondhand garment.
 
 
 
 
 
 
My friends, do not for an instant have the delusion that this situation does not exist.
 
 
Human beings are expendable. We can all be replaced by our friends in an instant. This is a terrible, terrible truth, but a truth nonetheless, and it is the fact that we are so easily replaced that is our true greatest weakness.