Role Playing and Fantasy Football

A lot of people talked about how I should have mentioned that sports fans are just as fanatical, if not more fanatical, than us geeks. However, Rather than just talk about that (because most people seem to realize this point) I wanted to talk about something that is deeply important to a lot of sports fans – fantasy football – and how it represents a shift in mentality where long term role playing games are becoming more and more acceptable.

Happiness and Passion – Doing the Things You Love

I’ve been somewhat estranged from what I originally meant this blog to be lately.  The Miracle of Mindfulness and Conventions was a post that wasn’t really related to the Geek/Nerd community except in its loose connection to conventions.  But more so, the post was about being happy and how we can take the unique experiences that we have as Geeks and Nerds and apply it to being happy.

Today I want to talk about a TEDx Video that I saw – “How To Find And Do Work You Love” by Scott Dinsmore.  A little background – Scott Dinsmore worked for a Fortune 500 company attempting to build his resume.  He quickly realized that he hated his job and decided to quit.  After quitting he became a “self-expert”, an expert of himself, and he read.  He then started Live Your Legend. He then networked and talked with as many people as he could and made a dream of his come true – he did a TED Talk.

This whole idea of Living Your Legend is about finding what you are passionate about and finding the work that you “can NOT do.”  When I hear this phrase I’m reminded of so many people that I have met through Steampunk and Conventions.  Silversark Clothier, Eric Larson (AKA Lord Bobbins of TeslaCon), Joseph CR Vourteque of Steampunk Chicago, Corvus Elroy (creator of Bhaloidam), and many others.  I admire these people for doing the work that they love and for pursuing it so passionately.

What I have learned from all this is that there are so many people out there who are completely unhappy with the job they’re doing.  A lot of what I’ve read recently and have watched on intellectual channels such as TED is that people, in order to be happy, should be doing work that they no only have passion for, but gives them purpose.  Work you love is not only work that you are passionate about, but when you’re done at the end of the day – tired and exhausted – you know that you’ve made a difference somewhere that you want to make.

I think that this ultimately holds true and that we should be trying to make our own dreams come true by pursuing the work that we not only love but by pursuing the work that gives us purpose.

Comment and let me know – if you could quit your job and do anything that you wanted to do, what would it be?

Best,

Your Resident (not really) Anthropologist

Note:  This got accidentally published (I’m not entirely sure how).  When it was published it was unfinished and I was somewhat embarrassed, but people liked my post despite the fact that it ended in mid-sentence so I decided that I had to finish the post.  I’m glad that I finished it.  I’m changing up the website and might be getting a new theme (might even purchase one!).

The YouTube Learning Community

John Green, author of Looking For Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars (among other great novels), was recently featured on TED Talks in a talk called The Paper Town Academy.  This talk is phenomenal and you should watch it here. He talks about cartography, fake towns, fake towns turning into real towns, and (most prominently) the idea of a Learning Community.

John Green’s talk focuses on the idea of being a part of a learning community.  A learning community is a community which heralds the idea of intellectualism and the act of learning new things.  There is a new learning community developing on YouTube and that is what I’m going to talk to you about today.  I believe that the YouTube learning community represents a shift in the mentality of, at least, some people.  A mentality where we no longer feel insecure about our desire to learn and be intelligent.

The reason I think this community is so special is because of the way I was mocked for my want to be a part of the learning community.  I was once at a bar with some friends.  We were all chatting and they were all talking about music – a passion that my friend holds above all other passions.  I was relatively isolated and alone as most of the people there were friends of friends.  I was like an 8th wheel (which is weird because with 7 others around you would think I could engage someone in conversation).  We were talking and someone mentioned something – I use vagueness here because I cannot remember what the subject was.  What I do remember was popping into the conversation saying “Wow, that really reminds me of the thinker.”  Before I could even elaborate, speak further my friend responded, and  I will never forget the response I got.  “Really?! You’re talking about art and the thinker in a bar? Really?” And then he continued to ignore me.  And there I sat – sad and even more alone than I had been before.

I share this story because I wanted – oh so desperately did I want – to be a part of the community that wants to learn.  He did too, but he wanted to be a part of the music learning community.  But because he viewed the community of learning I wanted to be a part of as “intellectual” and as (I somewhat assume) “pretentious” he would constantly shut me down, mock my comments of intellectual attempt, and disengage me from any group I was a part of.

I believe the YouTube community of learners can change that.  Do you love physics?  Check out Minute Physics on YouTube.  Do you love slow motion and want to learn something unique?  Check out Smarter Everyday.  Do you love History?  Check out Crash Course (Done by John Green).  Science? SciShow! These are all YouTube channels that cater to the YouTube Learning Community.

However, this doesn’t solve the problem entirely.  I didn’t just want to learn, I wanted to engage in the community of learners.  I wanted to talk, discuss, and engage in deep discourse about the world around us and how we perceive said world.  While I found some of this in college, I also found that students more often would just wait for me to answer questions in class (because I rose my hand and engaged in classes) rather than engage each other.  They merely wanted to achieve a grade (not even necessarily a good one), an arbitrary hurdle which dictates apparently how smart we are.

If you look at the channels that I have put above, you will see that the comments section is actually filled with engaging and encouraging comments.  People ask questions, answer other people’s questions, and generally engage each other as a learning community.  This is how YouTube has helped me out of the alienated funk that my friend put me in.  This is a place, sacred and secluded from those who don’t want to engage the learning community, where learners can engage with each other about learning.  Learning thus becomes about learning the things that you want to learn, understanding the answers to the questions that YOU want to ask, and not jumping through the arbitrary hurdles set forth by school districts who decide what you should learn, how much of it you should learn, and how proficient you should be at it by testing you and assigning a symbol which represents your perceived intelligence.

I hope that this community will continue to grow and that learning, in any capacity, will be completely acceptable – whether it be understanding literary works of art, the deep rooted history of Batman or Superman, the ability to recite poetry, the laws of economics, the laws of physics, etc.

Your Resident (Not Really) Anthropologist

The Miracle of Mindfulness and Conventions

This post is a journey of thought, talking about happiness in everyday life in relation to happiness at conventions – TeslaCon in particular as it was this weekend.  Today I want to talk to you about my own happiness, my own life, and how we can use conventions as a way to understand happiness in everyday life.

Over the weekend I was at TeslaCon – talking with people, socializing, having a great time all around – and after such an fantastic weekend I was worried that ConDepression would set in.  However, when yesterday came I worked from approximately 8:30 in the morning to 8:30 at night, with sporadic breaks in between, and found myself just as happy as when I was at TeslaCon despite being alienated from the great people that were there. Some might just say that I was still riding the wave of happiness from the convention but I think it’s something different.

I have this morning off, and when I woke up I was surrounded by all these memories from TeslaCon.  I’m always worried about ConDepression because it hurts my work performance and my motivation for the day (and can often spiral into motivation for the week).  In line with a new event I’ve added to my daily routine (reading for an hour every morning) I picked up The Miracle of Mindfulness to reread and bring my mind away from the fact that TeslaCon is over and I miss it dearly. I read for about an hour, this book which I haven’t picked up since high school, and realized something.  The happiness that I achieved yesterday was the same happiness that I achieved at TeslaCon.

In the Miracle of Mindfulness, Mindfulness is all about keeping one’s mind focused and in the present.  Rather than focusing on what will happen after we finish a task, what will come of the future, we must keep our mind focused on what we are doing and think of it as a great thing.  The example used by Thich Nhat Hanh in his book is washing dishes.  We should focus on washing dishes when we wash dishes, not the cup of tea which awaits us when we are done.

Now, how does this have anything to do with TeslaCon?  At conventions we are focused on the present.  We are entirely engaged and engrossed in the present.  We are no longer thinking about the e-mails which may be flooding our inbox or the deadlines our bosses have given us.  We are only thinking about the present moments which we are experiencing.  This is arguably a way to happiness – it has been heralded in the East for a very long time in many of their religious ideologies and Western studies are beginning to emerge which show the same.  The happiness that I achieved yesterday, despite the fact that my favorite convention of the year is over, was because I was focused on the present and focused on my daily tasks in the same way that I was focused on panels, events, people, and the immersion experiences at TeslaCon.

TeslaCon offers us a place, a time, a history, and people in which we can engross ourselves wholly and entirely.  We embrace the moment and we forget about the past and future by living in the present.

So this is one reason that Conventions are so great.  We become entirely consumed by the moment, by the present.  Rather than worrying about our social relationships, our work relationships, the things we have to do, the things we ought to do, and the normal everyday worries which plague our minds, we are consumed only by the joy presented to us by living within the moment.

Some may think this is all bull honky, and if you do then you are welcome to think that way.  But I urge you to think about your experience at conventions (if you have had one) and remember the worst time you had at the convention.  It was probably that moment in which you stopped thinking about the convention, stopped living in the moment, and allowed your mind to stray back to worrying about work, worrying about relationships, and worrying about the future or how past mistakes were going to hurt your future.

We should apply these living in the moment experiences that we all have at conventions to our everyday lives.  Rather than consuming our thoughts with the worries of past mistakes or possible failures of the future, we should be working hard and focusing on the present as we do when we are engaged at conventions.  We should bring Mindfulness into our lives, focusing on what we are doing now to create the future we want, rather than worrying about what might go wrong or turn that future on its head.

Your Resident (Not Really) Anthropologist

One thing to be noted – I am not saying that we should abandon all thoughts of our future or all thoughts of our past.  What we should do is make thinking of our future a task, something which we can focus on.  We should set time aside to think about our future, rather than allowing those thoughts to randomly set up shop in our mind.  As for thoughts about our past – we should be focusing on the moment and the only thoughts of our past should be when they apply to the present (this includes when we are dedicating time to thinking about our future).  We shouldn’t dwell on the past and, as Tim Sanders says, poor experiences and failures should be learning experiences where we shed the experience but keep the lesson.