Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Does Time Really Equal Money?

Fun fact: the saying "time is money" is attributed to the late Benjamin Franklin, inventor, elder statesman, ambassador and the face of one hundred dollar bills in America. However, as much as Mr. Franklin (or Benji depending on what era of rap you've last heard) accomplished, I take issue with this statement. Time and money, while sharing some characteristics are most definitely not equal.

Money and time are alike in that both can be spent, either wisely or foolishly. They are both commodities that many of us would love to have more of. However, there is one major difference between time and money, a difference that really sets them both firmly in separate leagues. Money can be saved. Time, however, cannot be. As much as we like to talk about time saving devices (the internet, the cell phone, text messages, etc.) the truth of the matter is, even if we used time saving devices every day, at the end of the day, we have as much as we would have if we hadn't used any. Time has to be spent. Money however does not.

I know that this seems like I'm splitting hairs, but we have to spend our time. Most of the "time saving" techniques aren't so much saving time as freeing up what we have to spend our time doing. E-mail removes the time we would spend waiting for correspondence, as does texts, cellphones, and fax machines. Remember what research was like before the internet? I have a vague recollection of giant buildings filled with books, and a decimal system invented by some guy named Dewey that only made sense if you were named Dewey as well. (that I do remeber the .700's were the fine arts, and that's where the comic book collections could be found) Research is now as simple as typing what you want to know into Google (or some other search engine that works almost as well but not quite as well) and sifting through the top ten answers to your query.

Why are we so obsessed with time? Well, clearly it's because we have a finite supply of it. Side note: there's not a finite supply of money. Or at least I don't think there is. If you disagree, Bill Gates is actively working every day to prove you wrong. Our short supply of time ensures that what we choose to do with it reveals much about ourselves. There was a time when that type of knowledge wasn't commonplace. But now, in our era of social networking and increased personal sharing? Now we all know what we do speaks volumes about us.

Why else would there be so many people actively living lifestyles that proclaim their viewpoints? If you go to the gym at noon, you'll see the young professional, walking into the gym in wingtips or heels and a bag full of workout clothes. He or she is telling everyone that they're in control of their career, of their bodies, and of their lives. Swivel a bit to the left, and you'll see the extremely muscular young man in the cut-off T-shirt sipping water and stretching. What is his time use telling you?

How we spend our time says a lot about us. Who we spend our time with, what we spend our time doing, and ultimately, how we allot the time we've all been given. The real question then is, what does the time you spend say about you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why Can't I Just Be Me?

I wish I could start every blog off with a disclaimer. Something that would read along the lines of, "what do I know, I couldn't even spell negro correctly". That wish is built upon my desire to say whatever I want with no consequences. I'll even go a step further and say that I'm pretty sure everyone would love to be able to do that. For instance, Governor Mitt Romney has been plagued throughout his bid for the presidency by what he's been saying.

Of course, there are consequences for what we say, and there's not much we can do to avoid them. I personally try to pick my spots to say things, in essence concluding the less I say the less I'll ultimately be responsible for. Life has taught me that some times, in fact, most times, you should just shut up.

This often back fires on me, since the less I say, when I do say something, it carries far more weight. It's the ultimate catch-22. But every so often I see something and I just feel like I can't keep quiet. I'm sure no one will be surprised to hear that I am at such a point right now.

Last night, while killing time before falling asleep, I saw and interesting tweet on Twitter. It read: "Men. Be men. Do that and I promise I'll treat you like the KING you are." Kind of a sweet sentiment isn't it? All we as men have to do as men is be men. Yay. I should point out it was RT'd (retweeted for the non-twitter savvy) by multiple women everywhere who apparently have dealt with men not being men.

Needless to say, as a man, I have a few problems with that statement. First, isn't that a tad ambiguous? What makes a man "a man"? I can hear the backlash now as millions of women scream at me about being responsible and treating other people with respect, and being open with their emotions, and just considering the other person for a change. There's no argument against any of those things. But isn't that just being an adult? Why is it so necessary to make that being "a man"? I'm not a perfect human being, but I'd like a woman to do all of the aforementioned things in a relationship, namely because I want to date an adult and not a child, or a cleverly constructed facsimile of an adult.

In fact, I tweeted that the statement should read "Men. Be the man I want you to be. Do that and I promise I'll treat you like the KING you are." There's nothing inherently wrong with that statement either. I'm sure every man wants to be a king. I'd love to be one. I could have people beheaded any time I didn't agree with them, I could own land and people, and taxation without representation all day. That doesn't make me crazy. Even Nas had a "if I were king" platform. It was just as preposterous too. Sending all the convicts to Africa? Really Nas?

Most would like to point out that they would treat their man as a king, and therefore they would be a queen. To which I point to history, and specifically to King Henry VIII, a man who started his own church just so he could divorce his queen. My point is, don't treat anyone like a king. Respect them. Love them. Consider them. Let them be, well, them. There's no actual way to change a person, or mold them into what you want them to be. All you can do is accept them or reject them. That's it.

Ultimately, there's nothing wrong with wanting a man to be a specific type of man for you. Nothing wrong with that at all. But be willing to tell men what you want in clear and certain terms. As a man, I'm proud to say that I have no clue what every single woman in the world wants from me in a committed relationship. What I do know is that I'm willing to ask, willing to listen, and if I can fit the description I will. If not, no harm no foul. I'm sure you'll find what you're looking for if it exists.

Look, there's no hard and fast rules anymore, I think we all know that. All I'm saying is instead of resorting to cliches and societal standards for what you want, actually sit down and consider what it is that you require to be happy, as well as what you offer in return. Then go out there and find someone who wants what you have and has what you want. And yes, I did just end on an O'Jay's lyric.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Be Willing To Fail

I'm always thinking. Sadly enough, it's normally about myself, my behaviors, my actions, how I look, etc. I believe the term that best describes me in the communications world is "high self-monitor". For instance, I'm still torn as to whether or not to leave my blog named "Full Time Knee Grow". I can't help but think that "knee grow" or even the properly spelled "negro" and professionalism don't go hand in hand and I have to be honest and admit that I feel a bit like a conspiracy theorist when I contemplate why I have that thought.

I also find myself wondering about how my actual abilities compare to how I perceive them. For example, when I run alone, it feels like everything is standing still and I'm a pure mecurial god floating through time and space. In my mind, I'm not just fast, I am speed itself. But then the inevitable happens. Eventually I run with someone else towards a common goal. It's usually one of us has possession of a ball of some sort and the other one of us is trying to physically oppose holder of said ball. That's when reality hits me. That's when I realize that just about everyone alive is faster than the 6'6", 290 pound guy. 

Of course, this realization doesn't mean I'm slow. Quite often, my friends will tell me that I'm actually quick (say it with me) "for a guy my size". Which is like saying that a 1998 Volkswagen Jetta is spacious for a compact. If you have to add a qualifier, it's probably closer to an insult than a compliment. But that's okay. I take it all in stride. Pun intended.

I might be wrong, but I honestly expect almost every endeavor in life to be exactly like that. In theory, it should seem as if there is no obstacle you can't overcome. I'm a planner, and in my head, my plans all lead (eventually) to some form of success. Granted, as a slightly more obsessive than normal planner, I have contingency plans for failures and backup plans but ultimately the statement still holds true: I plan for success, not for failure. 

Our plans don't always work out though, do they? Oftentimes, because of our own inabilities and imperfections, we find that our plans, though carefully laid, are dashed by time and unforeseen occurrences. What separates the successful from the unsuccessful however, isn't the quality of the plans, but it is in fact, the willingness to fail. 

You've heard it time and time again. Successful people aren't afraid to fail. I'd take that statement a step farther. Successful people are not only unafraid of failure, but they are willing to fail. You could accuse me of merely playing with semantics, and quite frankly, you'd be correct. But the rhetorical choices that we make inwardly tell us a lot about ourselves and our motivations. Think about it. When you say to yourself, "I'm not afraid to fail," what are you really saying? 

"I'm not afraid to fail," in my opinion is acknowledging that failure can happen, but that it's not necessary. In many cases, that's just not true. Think of a pharmaceutical researcher and all of the clinical trials and failures he or she must endure to find a working solution to a medicinal problem. There is a level of failure that's expected and acceptable in many cases. In fact, sometimes, we have to be willing to go and fail so that we can be successful later.

That first marketing plan may have taken you forever to conceive and put together, but it could possibly fail in three seconds. The very first business you start, the one you put your heart and soul into could tank horribly, despite how much affection and care you pour into it. 

The point being made is that you have to be willing to take that failure, learn from it, and then get back out there willingly and stare that failure in between the eyes as you try again. The old adage, "if at first you don't succeed, try try try again" applies to everything in life you want to experience success in. In some cases, that phrase might better be, "if you never succeed, try try again." I say in some cases, because there are instances where that motto will get you a restraining order and quite possibly some jail time. 

If you really feel as if you need to be motivated more, here ya go:

Go out there and fail.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Blessings Don't Come With Disguises

Being a minority in America isn't easy. There's a fine line to be walked. On one hand, it's easy to point fingers and bandy blame about while not taking any responsibility for various self-inflicted ills. On the other hand, there's statements like the ones made by John Hubbard recently in his self-published book, which read, in part, "the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise".

First, let me say that before I even begin to refute this statement, I'd like to point out an interesting rhetorical choice made by Mr. Hubbard (who coincidentally is running for a public office in Arkansas).  In the statement, "the black race has long believed" Mr. Hubbard does two interesting things rhetorically. He lumps all of the black race into one entity and then proceeds to take a superior stance in knowing more about the plight of that one said monolith. This leaves me, as a black man in a weird place. Let me elaborate.

I honestly believe that each person has a unique standpoint or view of the world. That unique viewpoint may have some similarities to others who have the same similarities, but ultimately, since we're all unique, each of our viewpoints are unique. As such, there's no real way to truly completely understand someone else's plight (Standpoint Theory) So while I don't really completely understand someone else's plight, such as what it's like to be a frustrated white American male, I refuse to believe that someone who has so little in common with me can understand anything that me or my race have ever gone through. 

Secondly, Mr. Hubbard implies that black Americans are better off than they would have been had they not been taken forcefully from Africa. On what is he basing this assumption? Who knows what might have happened if slavery had been seen as unethical and contemptuous? What if instead of treating blacks as property to be used and disposed of, black immigrants had been embraced as coworkers and cofounders of this country? What if, instead of providing hundreds of years of free labor, black Americans were paid honest wages for their work and had the same opportunities as their European counterparts?

What did slaves really gain with their hard work? Many of them struggled to survive in a country that for decades refused to offer them the same brand of justice that their counterparts enjoyed.  In fact, over 3500 black Americans were lynched between 1882 and 1968, and that number is likely much higher, since for many archivists of that time period, the loss of a black life didn't even merit the use of paper and ink. 

But life got better after 1968, correct? Black people are 13% of the American population, yet somehow they make up 33% of the prison population.  Fifty-five percent of black Americans go to college, but of that percentage only 42% actually graduate. While the standard of living may be higher here than in some parts of Africa, it's abundantly clear that if this is what black slaves gave their freedom for, they severely overpaid.

What really bothers me the most about this statement is that it's allowed to be made with no real repercussions. Clearly, this statement was made with the intention of being divisive, inflammatory and offensive. I'm not disparaging the idea of freedom of speech or of the press, but the lack of outrage concerns me. Many people probably just wrote this off as merely just being another ploy to gain notoriety. This type of language isn't okay, and I personally think that the only thing that would make this write is to remove the speech from the public eye (i.e. edit the book to be politically correct) and a public apology.

Finally, I would like to say to Mr. Hubbard, that in the future, when thinking about speaking about the plight of black people and how it makes him feel, please, stop and THINK next time. 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

New Adventures Are Fun...Right?

One of the most cliched, overly done scenes in every Western is the end, let's-ride-into-the-sunset-towards-unknown-and-undocumented-adventures. It's really an amazing transition, which probably why it's used so much.

The real question is how does the person riding into the sunset feel? The sunset represents so many unknowns, and the cowboy, like any truly masculine character rides right into it, unflinchingly. It'a obviously a powerful metaphor for boldly facing the future, despite how unknown it may be, simply because it's bright. I say all of the above simply to say that I am scared. It's not the first time, though it is the first time that I've actually admitted to it. I'm riding into a sunset and though it looks pretty cool, I'm actually pretty terrified.

 My "sunset" is a future move to South Korea. I'm currently in the process of securing a job. I should be moving in November. New surroundings. New job. New people. New everything. I've never moved more than 20 miles away from my original home. There's a good chance everything will work out and I'll have the experience of a lifetime. But that bit of positive thinking doesn't make me feel too much better. Either way, I'm going. I'll be riding into the sunset. Hopefully I won't end up like young Will Hawkins.