2018’s Newest Linkin Park Fan

Hey, everybody, I just discovered a really cool band lately!

They’re called Linkin Park, and they’re really really good.

Wait, what? You’ve heard of them before? Same with everyone else?!

Yes, yes, I know. I am highly aware of how they debuted 18 years ago with the smash hit In the End an dominated the early 2000’s with several other hit singles. They were among the most popular bands at the time getting a ton of radio and TV time. But somehow I have only started to listen to their music and truly appreciate them now in the year 2018.

When I was your typical teen, faced with the growing of age pains, I listened to a whole lot of nu-metal with Korn being my top favourite band above them all. Metal was and still is a pretty cool gebre and all, but nu-metal felt more experimentive in terms of instrumentation, and the lyrical content is usually more personal and direct. So naturally, I felt like I could relate to lyrics expressing all shades of angst and anger, all the while headbanging the stress away. (In the air, not against solid objects, of course.)

So how in the hell did I miss out on Linkin Park when their music was ripe with the most authentic and direct lyrics possible?


The Egos of Elitists

When I was 14, I had a best friend who was a passionate metalhead and together we really enjoyed Korn and all the other nu-metal bands coming out on the scene at the time, like Limp Bizkit and System of a Down. Back then, and probably even now, nu-metal was a pretty niche genre. It was indeed popular, but still paled in comparison to pop and hip-hop which continues to dominate the charts even today.

So because of how we were in a small minority of people who loved this kind of music that others deemed as too loud and aggressive, we kind of felt special. Though at times it went a little too far as to denounce all other genres of music, especially if it was mainstream, and even going insofar as to denounce other metal bands if they weren’t heavy enough by our elitist standards.

Yeah, I cringe just writing about it right now.

Now I don’t think this former best friend of mine intentionally conspired to keep me from enjoying Linkin Park, but his elitist mentality sure as hell rubbed off on me and I ended up developing my own ego around music. And since I can’t remember with any certainty if he ever said anything against Linkin Park, I’m going to have to take full responsibility for shooting myself in the back and actively choosing not to like Linkin Park.

Especially since they were so popular, maybe too popular a really ignorant part of me wanted to maintain some sense of true individualism by going against what everybody else liked. Even if I did have moments of enjoying some of Linkin Park’s songs, I wanted to vehemently divide myself from other people in high school that loved them. Because I had this really strange notion that liking Korn made me cooler than all these other people who “fit in.” Being a misfit was like a badge of arbitrary honour, just as arbitrary as some non-existent force in the universe that made it impossible for my teenage self to simply like two rock bands,

Man, I’m really embarassed just writing this…

The Ego Will Always Resist What Can Make It Desist

In those aforementioned moments in which I enjoyed their songs, I particularly remember catching the music videos for Somewhere I Belong and Breaking the Habit on two separate occasions. On both occasions, I got lost in their lyrics and felt like I could relate to the desire to heal from pain both songs express. Not to mention, the intensity of Chester’s power vocals drove that feeling home for me.

They were strange experiences because of course the sonic signature of their music in the early days naturally resonated with me, but instead of having pure rage in their lyrics as I preferred in Korn at the time, some of Linkin Park’s lyrics also expressed a desire to actually be happy.

Which is something my teenage self didn’t want because being a cynical nihilist was just soooo much cooler.

Yeah, no, not really.

But I definitely thought that way at the time.

Listening to Linkin Park now as a 31 year old man as opposed to a 14 year old boy, I can see how much I could have loved them back then. They could have easily been included to my library of nu-metal with more of a push toward a positive direction rather than always focusing on the negative. And that’s not to say nu-metal is nothing but negativity, but when it came to a desire for positivity, I think Linkin Park took the cake.

Unfortunately, as a teen, I actively wanted to remain angry and resentful so I actively ignored anything that could have helped me out of my rut. I truly do feel like if I did listen to Linkin Park back then, I would be influenced to sort myself out earlier in life. Not just because of their lyrics, but also because of the friends I could have made if I had only let myself like them. The band, and the people.

I grew up with the strange notion that popular were all pricks (thanks American high school media), but as I opened up slowly throughout my teen years, I came to realize that some people were popular at school because they were legitimately cool people. And likewise, Linkin Park was so popular because they too were legit cool.

Of course they were!

While there are definitely other factors that affected my capacity to make and maintain friends in high school, I think choosing not to like Linkin Park was a huge component to it, along with what it represents: my close mindedness at the time. Along with my own ego gratification thinking that it was a wise mode of being to elevate myself above others by arbitrary means like music preference.

Which of course is why nowadays I try to keep an open mind to all genres.

I mean for crap’s sake, I’m in love with K-Pop these days!

Oh, if my 14 year old self only knew. Live and learn, right?

Novelty vs Nostalgia

So after getting the first three Linkin Albums a couple weeks ago, it has been an uphill battle in the way I’ve experienced their music. At first, it was a huge slap in the face to find that not only were their singles are incredible, but so are the album tracks. I can listen to them all from start to finish and not get bored for even a second because of how easy it is to listen to them, they really knew how to structure these songs and the song order for the full album experience.

At first it made regret how I wish I didn’t sleep on them after all these years, along with regretting how I closed myself to friends I could have had, or did have, but drifted from due to my elitist ego that had a lot to do with music preference among other things. And of course how their music was exactly what I needed back then, and I missed out.

But did I really miss out?

After all, I am listening to them now.

It all feels so new and refreshing to me even though so many others have already enjoyed their music long before I did.

After a whole lot of listening back and forth, I think I’m finally at a place where I can just enjoy the novelty of listening to Linkin Park and enjoying them as if they’re a new up and coming band only coming out today. Even if they have been around for quite a long time, in my mind new music is always welcome.

Besides, their music seems to have a timeless quality to it. Even if I heard all of their singles before, within the context of accompanying album tracks, they too still feel fresh and new to me because now I’m finally deliberately listening to them and enjoying them fully with high quality headphones and many many repetitions.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get into any of their other albums after Minutes to Midnight, but whatever the case may be, and as it stands now, I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of Minutes to Minutes to Midnight along with Hybrid Theory and Meteora for what I feel is going to be a really really long time.

Who knew letting go of my egoic illusions could reap such great benefits?

 

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The Role of Sympathetic Villains

They’ve been around for as long as stories have existed; bad guys who are just sad guys taking their anger out onto the world.

Now while it’s easy to write off villains, especially stock villains as modes of being to be avoided, what I don’t hear often is how their malice and/or ignorance can very well mirror our own. We are so used to trying to identify with the clearly identifiable hero of a story and live vicariously through their experiences in standing up for what they believe in and triumphing over evil.

So I have a suggestion: next time you consume a story, try rooting for the villain as if it’s you. Because let’s face it, no one’s perfect and we all make mistakes. And while it’s really really easy to say “I would never behave like that,” in regards to whatever evil deed a character enacts, I think the true purpose of sympathetic villains is to have us think “I could have been like that.” Or even better. “I could be like that.”

Obviously, not in a way in which you would want to be blowing up buildings or drowning puppies, but just the simple admission that you have some malice in you, whether large and aching to burst out in a fit of rage, or benign like a tiny flicker in a well lit lightbulb–we are susceptible to negative emotions, thus the possibility of thinking some negative thoughts to go along with those emotions. Some of those thoughts can include wanting to harm others or yourself.

There’s a scene in Daredevil where he and The Punisher have an argument over ethics. Daredevil doesn’t kill or wants to kill any criminals because of his moral code. The Punisher on the other hand has no problem killing them and thinks he’s justified since it does seem to end crime in Hell’s Kitchen, if not only temporarily until even bigger stronger villains come on the rise and challenge the established order.

One of my favourite lines of all time comes from The Punisher when he tells Daredevil, “you’re just a bad day away from becoming me.”

And I think that says a lot for all of a us. Please don’t mistake this as me acting like a priest telling you that you are all full of sin and should repent. All I’m saying is that it’s important to recognize your own capacity for malice, whether you’ve acted it out or not, and view villains as the expression of that malice.

You know you can empathize and sympathize with some of their reasons for causing mayhem, so empathize and sympathize with yourself whenever you catch yourself wanting to run those bad drivers off the road that cut you off or honk their blaring horns at you for tiny little mistakes. How you want to shove your boss’s face through the paper shredder because they’ve gotten your case about your work ethic or how your break lasted two or three more minutes longer than you’re allotted.

Silly examples, of course, but you know what I mean.

Within each and every one of us resides good and evil, whether you like it or not. Some things we do to hurt each other can either be due to ignorance or pure malice. Whatever the case is, sympathetic villains serve as a template of not only how not to be, but also how we bad we could be, just as much as heroes serve as templates of how good we could be.

So give it a shot; next time you consume a story see yourself through the villain’s eyes and see what it does for you. How does it make you feel? What steps have you taken, or should start taking, to avoid being vanquised by those who stand for virtue? Not to say that you don’t, but more often than not, there are dark motivations for good deeds. Something we can discuss another time, but for now let me know what you think and how the little experiment goes!

Trifecta of Tribulations 2: The 60:40 Principle

Welcome back to Part 2 of my Trifecta of Tribulations series! If you haven’t already, make sure to read Part 1 here to catch yourself up on the hefty history that has gone behind my recent revelation.

So in questioning whether or not my optimism was a complete ruse or not, I’ve come to learn something vital about it and its counterpart pessimism:

They’re both real and authentic expressions of myself, and that they are both valuable when one of them is needed more than the other.


Optimism in the Underworld

Ever since I read Awakening the Giant Within by Tony Robbins, I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery. It sounds so bloody obvious now, but back when I first read his book, I was surprised by one section challenging me to try and think positively for a week and see what difference it makes.

As a teen, once again, pessimism was my default mode of operation, so to read this idea of “try to think positively for a week and start over again if you catch yourself thinking negatively,” was actually quite the life changer for me.

And so now for 10 years I’ve read a long list or self-help and personal development books, have gone to workshops, and journalled extensively to get a better sense of myself. For a long time I would write in my journal about how great life is or how great it could be so I can comfort that part of me that has long been withering and toiling away within me.

It took some work, but I think I’m in a place now where my optimism can bring hope in even the bleakest of situations. Whenever I am confronted with personal struggles whether with others or within myself, I try to see what the situation is trying to teach me and how I can grow from it, even when the situation is at its most painful.

Like the friends I mentioned in part 1–my creative accountability buddy and my lovely study buddy–having my disagreements with them were highly charged with emotion. Even though I was having such difficult conversations with them that drained me throughout the week, I stood firm trying to keep myself open to what they had to say.

One of my favourite rules from Jordan Peterson’s best selling book 12 Rules For Life: an Antidote For Chaos is “always assume that the person you’re listening to knows something you don’t.”

So despite of how painful it was and how tempting it was to hold onto my positions, these two friends of mine revealed some glaring flaws in the way I was thinking, speaking, and behaving that I had to improve on. I could get into detail about those in a later post since they’re too complex to fit in within the context of this post–but that’s an example of how my 60:40 principle helped me survive.

These were difficult conversations that could have easily gone sour if I were to fight back and tell them off. But then I would be refusing to listen to anything what they had to say, thus missing out on what changed I needed to make within myself. Likewise, if I didn’t meet them in the middle, I wouldn’t have been able to return the favour to carefully show them where they could improve as well.

No matter how hard things get, I always try to keep a 60:40 ratio of Optimism over Pessimism so that I don’t lose my head, and so that I can focus on creating a more beneficial outcome than what seems possible at the present moment.

Pessimism in Heaven

Now by that same token though, I think it’s also important to engage a little bit of pessimism since it can also be helpful as I briefly touched upon in Part 1 of this series.

While it is easy to write off Pessimism for the obvious evil that is and how it can dibilitate you from taking any action in life, excess of optimism can also be a problem.

The way I see it is that Optimism and Pessimism are two sides of the same coin, or better yet two, sides of a pendulum constantly swaying side by side. The more you swing in one direction, the more you swing back in the other.

What happened to me a couple weeks ago was that I set my sights way too high and had an excess of optimism. I wanted to ignore all the challenges I’d be met with in navigating the writing of my novel and of course navigating some romantic feelings I was developing for a woman I’ve been studying Korean with and teaching English to.

Most pessimists will write off Optimism as childish naivety, and to some degree they would be right, but only when it is excessive and ignores possible roadblocks along the way.

So due to setting my optimistic sights too high I plunged even harder and deeper into the ground. I expected myself to start writing 5000 words a day like I was doing in March, even though realistically it took a few days to work up toward having that kind of resilience. And by then I had been struggling between 300-1000 words so how could I expect to make that jump?

Coupled with that I was expecting myself to become fluent in Korean to understand K-Pop lyrics and my language exchange friends, but then got upset seeing so many of my poorly constructed sentences corrected. And even though the whole point of language exchange was to help correct and improve each other, I started feeling down on myself for still not being as good as I could be.

Then of course there’s also the confusion around the feelings I was developing over the one study buddy I’ve been talking to day and night for about a month now, so there was the added challenge of us trying to express our feelings to and for each other in each other’s languages all despite our limited understanding of each others languages. Like dear God, what did I expect? In regular relationships between people who speak the same language sometimes kind of not speak the same language as they are prone to miscommunications and misunderstandings.

So what the hell kind of romantic relationship did I expect when the both of us still have to rely on translators most of the time to understand each other? Not to mention how poorly translators are in their word choice accuracy which can sometimes cause some hilarious moments, but in our case it caused some serious harm to our relationship due to just two words that were poorly translated from English to Korean.

Again, that’s a whole story for another time and I would only share a few more details about it if I got her permission first as to how much I could share. But in the context of this post, the way I see it is this: it felt like Heaven to have someone to talk and flirt with on a daily basis, and I ended up taking it too seriously than I should have.

Realizing how hard I was falling for her, it actually helped to engage a bit of my Pessimism. It reminded that we live in different time zones, we barely understand each other’s languages, and aside from all the teasing we do, there’s still a huge gap between that and simply having small talk for language practice. It’s a cold harsh truth that the chances of us meeting anytime soon or if she would even want to are pretty slim and again, I’m practicing the necessary humiliation that comes with listening to views that don’t align with what’s convenient to me.


The 60:40 Principle

So thanks to all this I have developed a principle for myself to live by, which is to carefully swing between 60:40 Optimism over Pessimism and 60:40 Pessimism over Optimism whenever either one is necessary.

This means that if things are going horribly, it helps to have 60% Optimism so that I can see the positive outcomes possible for myself. The number 60% is a reasonable median above 50% so that I have just enough of a push forward to seek a positive outcome, while also not being too optimistic as to put all my eggs in one basket. The 40% Pessimism is to remind me that things can take a worse turn and I need to be prepared if it has to come to that. This way I don’t get too disappointed if my first few attempts at solving a problem don’t go the way I plan.

Then on the flipside, whenever things are going too well, I learned to maintain 60% Pessimism to truly appreciate whatever happiness comes my way since it’s ever fleeting. This could be seen as possible self sabotage which is why I try to keep it at 60% as opposed to 70% or 50%. Any higher than 60%, then I would self sabotage, and any lower, then I’m just stagnant. For me 60% is just right. The 40% Optimism is what allows me to maintain the positivity flowing in the present moment, and the 60% Pessimism is what helps me accept that it can be gone at any moment so I don’t get too hurt if it comes to that. This way I don’t get too comfortable when things are going well because I know I will always have more ways in which I can grow and that’s only possible if I allow challenges into my life.

To Be Continued…

Alright, these posts are getting longer than I expected, after all these years of trying to keep them down to 1000 words or below for more digestable experiences.

To take the principle in this post 60% of me is Optimistic that my writing is engaging enough to continue reading and glean value from, but for 40% of my Pessimism is also considering the possibility that I may have bored you with how long winded this was.

Either way, as always, I do hope you have gained some value from reading today’s Meaningful Monday post!

Let me know what you think as I’m always open to any compliments and criticisms, and I’ll see you next time in Part 3 of my Trifecta of Tribulations series…

Taking Stock When You Get Stuck

Have you ever pursued a goal for so long that it felt like you were going nowhere fast?

How about having no goals at all and going nowhere even faster?

Whichever one you’ve experienced, I hope this Meaningful Monday post can help you!

I think I’ve recently started to crack the code on how to handle Goal Setting Anxiety. The key words here, of course, are “started to,” since I don’t think it’ll ever be a fully solveable problem, just a problem in which you can equip yourself with the most tools as possible.

Whenever I feel stuck in an aspect of my life I try to take stock of where I’ve been. It helps put things into perspective when you appreciate all that you’ve accomplished thus far, and the whole journey that has lead you up to that very moment of doubt in which you wonder if any of your hard work and toil will ever amount to anything.


For example, when it comes to writing my novels, I often feel like I may have wasted 10 years of my life not having published anything yet. It makes me regret the time I’ve spent writing several novels and drafts, and not to mention all of the pre-work that goes into writing even a single page word on the actual manuscripts. This includes chapter charts, character graphs, and most especially; all of the time I’ve spent trying to psych myself back up after burning out.

This usually involves a long and intense Progress Journal in which I take stock of what I’ve accomplished so far as to not get too intimidated by all of the work that lies ahead. And the tricky thing is using the exact same thoughts that give me anxiety and transform them into reminders of the time I invested in my work, as opposed to wasted.

It’s not a waste that I did all this work and am still not published. Many writers write for decades before they get published, let alone feel like they can have something worth publishing.

Nowadays I often remind myself to take stock of the fact that while I could have been blowing all my money on mindless hedonism and lied around my house doing nothing, I actually paid for my own education for the past decade. My bookshelfs are chock full with writing guides that cover the basics such as plot structure, to more sophisticated aspects of writing such as style and prose, as well as how to write more emotionally meaningful and impactful stories.

It’s thanks to all those days and nights I’ve spent studying at cafes, libraries, or at the comfort of my own home that I can no longer experience stories the same way as a passive participant. Any movie or TV show show I watch, any book I read, hell even any video game I play that has a story–my experience of stories have been greatly transformed thanks to my studies and make me want to dissect every other story to their core.

In turn, I get to critically view my own work and know what can work better based on what I’ve come to love in other stories.

And furthermore, it’s no joke that I’m writing a novel.

It’s hard work!

I’m on my fourth draft and my fourth year of writing the same novel from scratch.

I could easily waste time worrying about how I haven’t “gotten there yet,” and maybe a bit of anxiety towards that is healthy to make me want to plunge myself forward. But without taking stock of where I already am thanks to my past self putting in those countless hours, I may very well stay stuck where I am, paralyzed by my fear.

 


I think a healthy dose of fear and pride can help you moving forward.

You want to be proud of everything you’ve accomplished thus far and be honest about how hard a lot of it has been. Take pride in the fact that you’ve survived it all and have grown from the experience. But you don’t want to be so proud that you think you’re perfectly fine where you are. Instead, you take where you are as a marker of your capabilities.

Then you also want to be a little afraid of not being where you could be. Know that you have long ways to go to achieving your goals and the zig zagging path’s been laid before you the moment you’ve accepted the challenge. Be fearful of how much regret you might feel in the future if you never give yourself the opportunity to thrive. But you don’t want to be so fearful that you feel like you can’t do anything at all and you’ll never get anywhere. Use your fears as helpful antagonists that push you further and further away from your dangerous comfort zone.

Whenever you feel stuck in life, take stock of where you’re at.

Recognize your greatness that has taken you this far.

Recognize how much more work there is to be done and trust that you can do it.