Posts tagged ‘proactivity’

January 12, 2009

from Rembrandt to Jack Daniels – doing vs. wanting to do

Nikola: “Hey, there’s an exhibition of Rembrandt’s work in Zagreb, wanna go?”

me: “I don’t listen to hip-hop.  Yeah ok, but it’s not like I’ll understand it.”

Nikola: “Yeah, me neither, but can’t we at least give it a try?”

True. And besides, I’ve been having a growing desire to understand art. Until recently I was pretty much part of the “What’s the big deal with Mona Lisa anyway?” crowd. Ok, I still am. I’d like to understand art, enjoy it etc. but I don’t really know how. All of my attempts to get to know art had ended in my looking at paintings and going “Oh look, a naked lady, drawn nicely. Oh, a guy sitting very still, thankfully not naked, drawn nicely. Booooriiing”.  I’ve never felt the je ne sais quoi you’re supposed to feel when in front of a masterpiece.

And don’t get me started on abstract art.

However, after a few years of an on and off relationship with drawing, combined with an awesome high-school art teacher, my art sense finally started tingling. It’s not something I can really express in words, other than, well, I’d really like to stand in front of a large picture and finally understand that je ne sais motherfucking quoi.

So, off I went to Zagreb.

A little back-story. Nikola, who invited me, is a friend I’ve known since we were kids. Since he’s from Split, our friendship for the most of our lives was  “that cool dude I see once or twice a year” i.e. whenever I go to visit my mom’s family from Split.

That was until one december evening of 2005 when we were chatting and he suggested we could walk across Spain. I took him up on the offer, and next summer we spent one month walking some 800 km, from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela. It was an amazing experience, and one of a number of examples of Nikola and me motivating each other to, simply put, do things.

Because Nikola is one of those people who do things. If they want to do something (and they often do), they usually make it happen. Spain is one example. Another is a several thousand miles long trip across land and sea from Croatia to Japan (Croatian only, but lots of nice pics). Or a group of creative people he organized which made several satirical and Monty-Pythonish sketches which were a small sensation in Croatia (homepage is in Croatian only).

A lot of people have ideas. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we did a road-trip?”. “I have the bestest idea for a best-selling book ever” “Being an interpreter is awesome, all I have to do is learn 4 languages.” And stuff like that.

However, when it comes to making those things happen, it’s oh so easy to postpone them. “I’ll start tomorrow, honest.” “I don’t have the time now, I have to study for exams.” “It’s not like I really wanted to do that anyway.” And stuff like that.

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August 10, 2008

Beating Tolstoy

Are you consciously and constantly becoming a better person?

And I mean better in every way – smarter, healthier, more skilful, more moral (whatever “more moral” is for you)… Are you on an upward curve towards the goals you’ve set? If not, what’s stopping you?

Although through the things I’ve done I’ve brought myself in a situation significantly better than that of most young people in Serbia, I was still unsatisfied. I simply wasn’t mustering the will to live the way thought I should live. Yesterday I quietly decided to change that.

This blog is a place where I’ll write about my path to becoming a person who not only knows where he’s headed, but is also unfalteringly heading there. I believe that an essential part of that is being proactive.

I like the way Wikipedia sums it up:

The word proactive was originally coined by the psychiatrist Victor Frankl in his 1946 book Man’s Search for Meaning to describe a person who took responsibility for his or her life, rather than looking for causes in outside circumstances or other people. Much of this theory was formed in Nazi concentration camps where Frankl lost his wife, mother, father and family, but decided that even under the worst circumstances, people can make and find meaning.

This is what being proactive truly means: finding meaning and making a decision, no matter the circumstances, and sticking to it; changing when you decide that change should happen; accepting the chaos of everyday life and the myriad random experiences both good and ugly which you can learn from.

It’s amazing to me how little the vast majority of people is proactive in the way I described. I’ve read that the “We only use 1/10 of our brain” claim is not true. I beg to differ; looking at humanity today, it seems to me that most of us are using even less. I am amazed to what levels of lethargy so many have sunk, but are constantly failing to get out of their status quo, even though the solutions are so obvious. But no; it takes effort to change, and we’re afraid of effort. Only when we completely break down and we can’t take it anymore do we decide to change ourselves.

I paraphrased Tolstoy, who observed this perfectly:

It seldom happens that a man changes his life through his habitual reasoning. No matter how fully he may sense the new plans and aims revealed to him by reason, he continues to plod along in old paths until his life becomes frustrating and unbearable – he finally makes the change only when his usual life can no longer be tolerated.

Well, I think that we humans can do better than that. This blog is the place where I’ll try to prove that.