4 min read

New Year, New Approach

New Year’s Eve is meant to be a time to connect with friends and family. Not so for me. I have been at home cleaning up my office, doing dishes, and settling down on my couch to catch up on some reading that has been collecting. Reading about what people are up to on Facebook/Twitter, and starting to see some of the drunken shenanigans on Instagram makes me wish I was out enjoying myself like in years past.

But not entirely. You always read about how you have to be happy with yourself before you can be happy with someone in a relationship. That’s true, but it’s also important when wanting to be around others. At least for me, it is. I always find I enjoy myself better when I’m out and about and not having to worry about some other problems going on in my life.

There are moments when it is appropriate to sit down over coffee and get things off your chest, try to make sense of what is happening around you. Times of celebrations are not really a good time to be talking about your problems – inevitably, they seem to happen towards the end of the night with someone sitting on the toilet crying with a few people trying to comfort them and the rest wanting that person to move out of the way. I know by now that if I go out somewhere, I am never going to fully enjoy myself because my mind will always think about everything but that moment I am experiencing.

Leading up to the end of the year, I started to explore more about the Zen Buddhist way of life and have a better understanding of the philosophy. I am going to have to destroy a lot of my way of thinking to understand it completely. For now, it has been a good guide in developing a new approach for the coming year. Becoming a bit more empty in my mind and being more present with who I am with and where I am, living life without expectations.

The thoughts and ideas I have throughout the day need to be refocused into positive energy within me, not the negative pulses of wants/needs/what-ifs that are pushed through my mind currently. Instead of the ideas being bottled up in my mind, I need to get them out. Writing here helps, but I am starting to wonder if I need to find some other outlets for my creative energies.

Merlin Mann was talking a bit about this in one of the recent episodes of Back to Work where he says that people need to stop saying they aren’t an artist. Everyone is and can be an artist once they discover their medium to work in and communicate their ideas. The photography I capture (apart from the pictures of my daughter) is a synthesis of my mindset at the moment and where I am. I need to practice photography on a regular basis and perhaps capture some words at the same time to visualize my ideas better. I need to discover a better way to show the story of my life, whether here, Instagram or Tumblr.

That is becoming a little more evident to me as I rekindle a love for comic books. I was never a die-hard comic lover growing up. It was too expensive to follow along with all the story lines being split up between multiple series with the same characters. They were also almost exclusively about super heroes. Series like The Walking Dead didn’t show up until I was in University – no way was I going to spend my precious dollars on comics then.

With my iPad, that world has reopened itself to me through the ComiXology app. Subscribing and downloading digital copies, archiving them and letting you discover new series to follow easily is incredible. Merlin Mann has been raving about this one series, Saga, a lot so I thought it would make a good choice to explore. The first issue was free, the others only a few dollars. After the first issue, I bought the second to see what happens, and then again, and…

So far, it is a compelling story and highly recommended, and I will write more about it, but it made me start thinking about story and how we share it with people. Everyone has a story to share, thoughts that need to be communicated. Reading through Saga has given me a better example of what happens when words and graphics come together. It is completely opposite of the responses I have when I see a lot of the inspirational graphics that flood the Twitter and Facebook. The artwork and words compliment each other rather than a random image being pulled to correspond with the words. Those graphics politicize the images, in my opinion, changing our emotional response to the image through the words rather than building a stronger argument together.

I want to avoid that.

I want to discover myself by practicing Buddhism. And through the discoveries I make, I want to develop my own style to express myself and the stories I want to share.

A new year, a new approach.

Reading List

For those interested in the books I am reading about Buddhism and trying to find direction in my life:

Through explorations of the three pillars of Zen–teaching, practice, and enlightenment–Roshi Philip Kapleau presents a comprehensive overview of the history and discipline of Zen Buddhism. An established classic, this 35th anniversary edition features new illustrations and photographs, as well as a new afterword by Sensei Bodhin Kjolhede, who has succeeded Philip Kapleau as spiritual director of the Rochester Zen Center, one of the oldest and most influential Zen centers in the United States.

Three Pillars of Zen

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