Thursday, June 7, 2012

Let's talk motivation and Bruce Lee.

 Another adventure. This one is very recent. It also happens to be very life-changing. At least it has so far. I want to fill you in.

I wanted to talk about motivation in this post today, and in thinking about content I kept coming back to Bruce Lee. See, Mr. Lee is a personal hero of mine. I love his acting, like many others, but I also love him as a motivator and hold him in high regard for his work ethic. I always wanted to be that way, like Bruce, who was never satisfied with his effort on or off camera, but it just wasn't hard wired in me. This is one of the causes that has kept me floundering in college, bored with jobs, and lazy in my personal life. 

In February of this year, I suffered two herniated discs in my lower back. It caused problems at work, at home, and financially. While dealing with this I had a lot of free time to reflect on where I was in life. My sister who is 5 years younger, was on the verge of graduating from college, while I had still four more semesters of classes before I could do so. This prospect wasn't getting any better, as a year before I had dropped out (again) for (another) shitty retail job. This was just another entry on my list of recent failures. I had been kicked out of a band, I took myself off of a webcomic because I couldn't get any fucking thing completed, and I had been passed over for a promotion at work.

I wasn't proud of anything I was doing, and thus worked in a manner fitting the feeling... i.e. shittily.

Like it says under the title of my blog up there, I didn't have my shit together. I still don't, but it's getting WAY better. I'll tell you why.

I'm motivated.

In late April this year, I had just had enough of being mediocre. I was not satisfied, and I knew that I was capable of being way better than I was allowing myself to be. When I awoke that morning I looked right at my picture of Bruce Lee that I have hanging on the wall adjacent my door. I looked for a long time, and made up my mind. I gathered up every last ounce of guts I could find in my belly, and went into work. I didn't go past the front registers. I called the Manager to the front, gave him my keys and a sincere apology, and I quit. 

I'm pretty sure I will remember that moment when I walked out until the day I die. It was the first time I was standing up to myself... for myself.

I went home and changed, and walked over to the college. I never left the town after I dropped out, so it was a short distance to campus. I petitioned for re-enrollment, made some calls and appointments, and a week later I had a letter in my hand stating that I was a student once more.

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't afraid in some small way of falling back into my old lazy habits, but I am sure as hell more confident that I won't. That I can do this. I want to do this. I'm here not for anyone else but me and my future. Like Bruce, I finally have courage, and am taking pride in just being alive.

Like a Big Boss.

I'm not waiting for classes to start to assume control. I've implemented an exercise routine that I do first thing every morning. I've changed my diet. I go to bed at a reasonable hour, and get up early. I clean my house daily. I'm reading and writing again. I spend less time on the computer and with video games. I'm selling things I don't need. 

Bruce has a great quote, "Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own." 

That particular quote has struck me in this journey. I'm interpreting it the way that best fits my life, and so far the results have been liberating. I'm more focused on creating than owning. If I don't need something, it goes to someone who does. Before I purchase anything, I ask myself "Will it be useful?" If the answer is no, I pass it up.

I made an agreement with my good friend Chris to hold each other accountable for at least one productive thing every day via text, facebook, twitter or whatever. It usually ends up that we discuss our individual workouts, but it has also helped keep me on track.

Another interesting side effect is that I no longer fear failure. I'm ready to learn if I do. Fear doesn't drive me anymore. It's... awesome.

Have you always been a doer of things? Do you want to be? Maybe your motivation is out there. Keep looking, and whatever you do... give it everything you've got.

I'm sure this will be an ongoing change, and it will be interesting to see how I adapt when school starts, but I am sure excited by the prospect.

I'm finally feeling a little like Bruce.

Until next time.

Bruce Lee official site
The Bruce Lee Foundation

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Let's Talk Football.

Inaugural post, here we go! I guess I should start with my most recent adventure into the world. The world of Football (of the European variety).

I've lived in or near Kansas City for nearly all my life. We've had FC's on and off since I was young. I can remember when I was very small, Kansas City had an indoor club called the Comets and Police Officers used to hand out Comets cards to kids on the street, which, looking back now, seems kind of odd. I have always been aware of soccer, even played some when I was ten. It turned out to be way too much running for my little fat self. I was dimly aware of it as a world sport. I'd play recreationally with friends as I got older, but that was about the extent of my involvement with the sport. 

Then came the World Cup in 2006. I was unemployed at the time, and for whatever reason, I watched damn near every game that was televised. I don't know what it was; the scale of the event maybe? I was impressed how many nations had representation in the cup. I was blown away by the skill of the men on the pitch, the shots, the defense and the dribbling. Whatever the reason, I had caught World Cup fever. I didn't care who was playing, I just wanted to watch some football (as I was properly calling it, much to the chagrin of my non-soccer sports pals).

As the cup closed, I retained an interest in football, but just couldn't bring myself to follow any of the Euro leagues. It was just too confusing to me. So I went with the inferior American MLS. My hometown had a team after all, then called the Kansas City Wizards. Kansas City had won the MLS cup in the year 2000, and the US Open Lama Hunt Cup in 2004, but I was late to that party. As I took interest, it was more about the team looking for a permanent home than anything else. In 2010, the club opened Live Strong Sporting Park, as well as rebranded themselves Sporting Kansas City in an attempt to align with the more professional overseas leagues. This was the smartest thing they could have done for themselves. Since then, the team has generated an awesome level of interest in Kansas City. Sporting started this year 7-0, and the buzz was at a fever pitch. The team was selling out home games, and featuring some spectacular defense... Which brings me to my adventure.

 My rekindled love of Football, and my first trip to Live Strong Sporting Park.

Home to such chants as "I'm blind! I'm deaf! I wanna be a ref!"

  I have a friend called Red who is a Sporting season ticket holder, and he was kind enough to invite me to game two of the US Open Lamar Hunt Cup vs. the Colorado Rapids. His seats are in something called 'The Cauldron' which he informs me is a bleacher like section of basically the loudest, rowdiest fans in the park. I am fucking stoked.

It's a short drive to Kansas City, Kansas where the park is located, in an area surrounded by shopping, restaurants, and the Kansas Speedway. Prime real estate for this park. We park the car, and begin our trek into the stadium. This thing is state of the art. As soon as you walk into the member's club for the Cauldron, there are televisions everywhere. Above the bar, above tables, and in the team shop. Season Ticket holders are issued cards that yield not only entry to the stadium, but discounts on things, and special points they can accumulate and redeem for gear and refreshments. I turn to one of the walls, and there's a very cool section where they have hung scarves from many teams, US and European. At this moment, I'm getting a very cool vibe. For a brief shining second, I feel like I'm in the U.K., or like a citizen of the world. Not just America, or the Midwest, or Missouri. It's an awesome feeling.

Red and I make our way to a pair of seats, right behind the north goal. I'm amazed how close we are.


As the Cauldron fills up, I notice a few things. One, there's a guy dressed like Jesus standing in the middle of a group of fan percussionists. I soon learn this is the heart of the Cauldrons' nigh-incessant chanting and singing. Two, there appear to be fan cheerleaders (not girls in hotpants, but mostly guys wearing beards and Sporting scarves) at the front of each section, who spend most of their time facing the cauldron and leading chants. That's dedication. Three, everyone is wearing some form of SKC scarf. Except me.

Game time gets finally gets underway, and SKC puts a shot on goal thirty seconds on. They are not fucking around. The Cauldron is already heckling Colorado's goalie... I kinda feel bad for the guy. Kinda. Sporting scores the first goal of the match and this chant becomes the centerpiece, to the tune of Yankee Doodle:

"Come on Sporting score a goal/ it's really very simple/ put the ball into the net/ and we'll go fucking MENTAL!"

They're not kidding either. I have to mention here that we are doing so much clapping that I am convinced my hand will fall off at any second. I don't mind. Everyone is having so much fun, being man/woman children, taunting professional athletes with variants of old standard songs and nursery rhymes, and just generally being violence shy hooligans. I am in love. 

Halftime. Time to get a fucking scarf.

Second half commences and now we have Jimmy Nielsen, the home goalie in front of us. The Cauldron has it's own chant for him. During one of these chants, while the action is far afield, he turns and acknowledges the Cauldron with a quick smile and nod. The bleachers go NUTS.

The Cauldron has identified a 'flopper' in the ranks of the Colorado squad, and individual who seems to fall to the pitch at the slightest hint of a breeze in search of a foul. The chants are quickly aimed at this guy. Every time he flops, we let loose an organized shouting of "BUUUULLLLLSHHIIIIIITT".

Some spectacular defensive plays are made, and a second goal is scored on an amazing shot by Sporting's resident Frenchman Aurelien Collin. Again, crowd, led by the Cauldron, goes mental. They really make good on the promise in that chant. Colorado tries to press late, but the defense of Sporting is having none of it.

Sporting goes on to win, 2-0 and advance in the single elimination tourney. Confetti is dropped onto the Cauldron, and then something very cool happens. Each player comes to the North stands and applauds and gives thumbs up to the Cauldron. Colin tosses his jersey into the stands. Even coach  Peter Vermes comes out and applauds us. I am converted. I am now a full-time Sporting Kansas City fan.

 I feel like part of the fucking team. It is awesome.

I don't want to leave.

But I can't stay there.

Until next time.