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Lately I’ve begun to re-think it all. Despite my human inclination to over-celebrate my ideas and aspirations, I feel more and more a mere pixel in the grand picture of humanity. And not like a pixel in some important place, but more like one of those pixels in the vast background, far removed from the subject, maybe close to the edge and likely to get cropped out during editing.
Even so, I can’t help wanting to find that authentic and spontaneous zest for living that seems to come and go on its own. I crave it more and more. And I think I’m finding it more and more. So if you care to read about my pixelian life with all its desperation and moments of glory, read on.
Let’s start with some armchair philosophy. I fancy myself on a mission to #SpreadGoodness by encouraging creativity and productivity. I thoroughly enjoy myself when creating or producing. And I think it happens to be the great panacea for what ails societies. When a whole bunch of people start finding what they really want in life and start using their imaginations to make things and build things, lots of good starts to happen.
And then there’s the Zen thing. Zen is amazing. But I was always confused about it reading books that describe it. I finally realized that it’s simply the lack of awareness of the moment before and after the present moment. I realized this because I’ve experienced it in many creative moments such as singing, teaching, listening to music, writing, and creating pieces of art. It’s other name is the creative experience. Or the “zone” in sports. I always want to find more Zen. But too many things worry me and it goes away. Such are the struggles in my pixel.
I started into couchsurfing with as much enthusiasm for people as can be imagined. I was in the middle of a major change in life, and found the community to be full of hope. Then I got bogged down in life and also observed the not-so-attractive underbelly of humanity. Now, older and wiser (relatively speaking), I’ve chosen to live in that hope again. Full-tilt faith in humanity while keeping a sharp eye out for nihilistic creatures I’d rather banish from my personal world.
I’ve also leaned to enjoy myself. It feels weird as an extrovert to say that. But I found things I really like - like reading a good book in a hot tub for two hours. I enjoy so many things. Some alone; some with anyone who’ll join in.
Travel. It’s no cliché to say it if it’s true. Travel is an intoxicating activity. I have a new favorite quote on travel: “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” - Samuel Johnson
Food. There is no perfect food. Just an endless string of tantalizing experiences, one seemingly better than the others before it. It’s a quest to find more and more discoveries. A new flavor that excites the palate is one of the five most enjoyable things in the world.
Writing. It’s become something cathartic for me. I once wrote a poem for a host while on a subway in New York City. The burst of an idea into the mind and the process of refining it by writing it down is an act of self discovery that is rarely rivaled.
Photography. Sometimes I think I have a stunning shot. Then I realize there are endless possibilities and I’ll always be finding a better shot. Capturing these shots is like entering the private world of the subject - whether it’s a bride and groom on their day or an undiscovered waterfall. It’s always an intimate exercise.
Singing. I used to perform professionally. For thousands. Maybe I will again. But these days my favorite experience is finding the sweet spot in the voice, manipulating the emotion of the song through the control of the breath - all for myself in my car driving down the road.
Teaching. Some days I feel I’ve arrived. That I have mastered the art of teaching. Other days I realize I have so far to go, I feel I’ll never master the art. But along the way, it’s incredibly satisfying to see the profound changes I’ve helped students accomplish. I’ve had vocal students win national competitions. I’ve taken a pianist from a raw beginner to performing Beethoven’s most difficult sonatas in just over two years. I’ve helped students cure life-long lisps and begin to overcome clinical anxiety. Teaching is thrilling and humbling all at once.
Eh. It’s the pixel life for me. But I’m gonna enjoy it in every moment I have.
I've visited 43 states and three foreign countries. Guess which countries and I’ll buy you a beer. Or a tea. Not a coffee. Coffee is gross.
I’ll probably never talk myself into skydiving. But I’ll try almost anything twice. The first time there are too many native biases in the mind to know if I enjoyed it or not.
I’m as accepting a person as you will meet. Also I think I’m both gregarious and reserved. I’m trying to prove a friend wrong who said a person can only keep up with five close friends.
I love studying history and philosophy. I’m a xenophile and a proudly patriotic person at the same time.
My tattoo stands for two concepts that I find I value above all others: Love and Liberty. If we meet, I’ll be happy to explain what they mean to me.
One of my favorite quotes is from Game of Thrones (which I was introduced to while couchsurfing in Chicago): “Look with your eyes.” Humans tend to see what we want to see, and I find this counter to that bent a refreshing reminder to think honestly.
I respect philosophers who are genuine skeptics. A current example is David Berlinski. He rocks.
Cynics are not skeptics.
Spontaneous adventure is better than over-planning. Serendipity is better than attempting to manage circumstances.
Why I’m on Couchsurfing
HOW I PARTICIPATE IN COUCHSURFING
I've been surfin the USA since June 2013, and it's been a sweet ride! And now I'm happy to say that I've added international experiences.
I organize Eat Ups (local ethnic food forays), Sunday morning hikes, and help with the Couch Crashing USA awesomeness! If you haven't yet been to a Charleston Beach Crash, Greenville Lake Crash, or a Comfort Crash...come to one. Fun times!!
Amber and Manny
Heidi and Max
Alex, Julie, and Kyle
Michelle and Ralph
It’s about meeting a stranger who becomes a friend. Rinse, dry, repeat. Sometimes they instigate some spontaneous experience I’d never have dreamed of. Sometimes they are willing to go along with the crazy ideas that pop out of my head. It’s the never ending variety that makes it all so amazing.
Music, Reading, Food, Cities, History, Watersports, Camping, Kayaking
- salsa dancing
- swing dancing
- massage therapy
- live music
- classical music
- short stories
- short films
- live concerts
- creative writing
- street photography
Music, Movies, and Books
Movies: Serendipity, The Last Samurai, Shawshank Redemption, Bandits, The Artist, The Princess Bride, Ever After, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Inception, The Fountain, way more...
Music: Jason Mraz (early recordings), Beethoven, The Leftover Cuties, Yo-Yo Ma, Train, Chopin, Mackelmore, Four Voices, Evgeny Kissin, Bach, Dave Matthew’s Band, Rachmaninoff, Sinatra, and too many more to list...
Books: The Art of Singing (Jennifer Hamady - and check out her newest book The Art of Singing On Stage and in the Studio and look on page 18 to find a quote by someone you now know), The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho), How We Decide (Jonah Lehrer), This is Your Brain on Music (Daniel Levitin), Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Betty Edwards), Team of Rivals (Doris Goodwin), and of course too many more...
Ask me about all the others I didn't mention.
One Amazing Thing I’ve Done
I quit a "safe" job and started several businesses that inspired me.
Singing, I have moved people to tears, laughing, and shouting (not at the same time ha).
I've given a five hour massage.
I've spontaneously driven an hour and a half to take a piece of cake to a near total stranger - at 3am.
I caught a shark with my bare hands and then threw it at friends swimming in the ocean. (I still get postcards from the shark from time to time. When you save a shark’s life, you’ve made a friend for life.)
I left a "safe" life to pursue my dreams.
Teach, Learn, Share
I can teach you about your voice...how to sing and how to be comfortable in your voice. I can teach you a little bit about starting businesses and shooting photography and cooking.
I want to learn about what motivates you...
What I Can Share with Hosts
Might write you a poem. Take your picture. Cook for you.
Countries I’ve Visited
Canada, England, Mexico, United States, Wales
Countries I’ve Lived In