Politics, Lawns and Deep Space

1 07 2017

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There are three things that have been swirling around the brain space today. They all seem pretty innocuous but they all keep dancing around each other as if they belong in some way – like ingredients to a stir-fry or witnesses to a crime that each saw only one part of it.

Or it could be nothing.

  1. I posted a question on Twitter and Facebook: “Just one serious questions for Trump supporters – is there anything he could say or do that would cross a line for you?”
  2. I finished a TED Radio Hour Podcast, “Peering Into Space”.
  3. I mowed my lawn while listening to Spotify.

Let’s start with answering the “why” for each of the above:

  1. I just need to know. I have a good friend (among others) who voted for the guy. I actually get it. I even can accept it though I don’t agree. I just can’t accept the behavior of this person any longer. There has to be a threshold even for supporters, no?
  2. I have been intrigued, fascinated, mesmerized and overwhelmed by space exploration since I started writing NASA letters as a kid to get cool glossy, planetary photos back.
  3. It was time and I had to cut the grass before the rain fell and music makes it go faster.

Now, the deeper insights – what did I learn?

  1. Out of over 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, not one answer relative to the question. Is this such an unsafe topic that we are now a society that can’t stand up against something without fear of compromising how we will look to others? Do we not have enough confidence to separate the man from the party and call it what it is? Are we now at a point where we can’t admit maybe we got part of it wrong without feeling like a failure? I learned that, sadly, we are.
  2. Jill Tarter, astronomer discussed our “common cosmic origins “, the bond among all living things, regardless of birth place (on this Earth or otherwise), that makes us part of a “billion year lineage of wandering stardust…an intimate connection with the cosmos”. Consider that the molecule of hemoglobin in your blood which equates to a significant amount of iron was created in nucleosynthesis inside a massive star that exploded about 8 billion years ago! As she put it, “we have the remains of a stellar explosion in our veins (and)… if we got that concept in our minds….and take a few moments in our day to take a step back…earth is one tiny planet in corner of one small galaxy in one big universe – all of us are the same.”
  3. I can’t listen or explore new playlists when distracted – by loud mower engines or even louder thoughts. This was the goal but I reverted to my own playlist instead of a new one, which I listened to after I was done so I could give it my full attention, like days gone by where people used to actually sit and listen to an entire record while reading the lyrics for the album sleeve, and nothing more.

So what? Is there a connection?

Yes. I can’t stand living in such a myopic world where taking sides is the new “can’t we all get along”? Whether you want to believe it or not, we really are all connected. If, like a good (or not so good) Will Smith movie, Earth was going to be attacked by another alien society, we would not be Democrats and Republicans, or Americans or Syrians, we would just be Earthlings. It sounds silly but it’s true. This is why banding together to protect this place from environmental damage should be a no brainer and yet we divert to what is easy, what is based in fear and what has nothing to do with the connected stardust coursing through our veins.

And we have to start somewhere. We can’t bring our own playlist with us every time there is an uncomfortable situation, discussion or person in our midst. It deserves our full attention and this takes work and time, patience and listening. That’s all this nonsense is really about – different playlists that we hold on to because we feel it defines ourselves and we have to identify with it. I don’t like some of my son’s playlists (though it has introduced me to a new vocabulary) but they are his and it doesn’t mean he doesn’t respect that I have my own. In the end, we both love music.

Can’t we be the same with our individual social, economic, cultural and personal playlists? After all, we are just one tiny planet in one small galaxy in an enormous universe. We better get on the same page soon because we have bigger things coming our way – like asteroids, comets and unruly lawns.

Until next time,

Marc

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Reflections, the Serenity Prayer & 2016

4 01 2016

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2015 was about control. 2016 is about wisdom.

I have been attempting to write a blog post for the past week or so, thinking it is the right time for reflection as one year closes out and another begins. This is my third attempt and regardless of whether I feel it is worthy or not, I am going to post it, if for no other reason than to put me out of my (short-term) writing misery.

In trying to frame what I wanted to write about and what I thought might resonate with anyone reading it, I kept asking myself the question of “what have you learned this year that can be applied to not just the new year but also the way in which you structure, approach or otherwise navigate your life in general?” Pretty simple, right?

It finally occurred to me that the good old standby of the Serenity Prayer is probably the best way to organize my thoughts. You are more than likely familiar with this one. The basic gist is “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is really the best advice I have ever come across.

So here it goes:

The things I cannot change (and am still learning to accept):

  1. People judge by appearances. They just do. This doesn’t mean that their perceptions can’t be modified, and even, in some cases, relatively quickly, but take it from me, when your hair is longer, people think of you differently than when it is shorter. When you’re at the airport with jeans and a t-shirt, security looks at you differently than when you’re wearing a suit jacket.  When you’re divorced, some people treat you differently. It just is.
  2. People will have preconceived notions about you and what your capabilities are based on nothing that has to do with reality. Whether at my day job or on the comedy circuit, I have come across people who either thought their work was too complex for me to understand, the comedy business was too messed up for me to have a place in, or personally, lawyers were too “in charge” for me to challenge them. These were based on nothing other than a) what was (or was not) on my resume or what they thought I actually did or knew, b) something someone “heard” about me or c) pure ignorance. Let me repeat – almost every single time this happened, it was relayed to me on behalf of someone who barely spent any time speaking with me. I cannot control this. Maybe it’s a function of our 140 character, twitterized society or maybe it’s human nature. I don’t know. I am also no longer angry about it. I can, however, control the way in which I respond which is best when it is in the “no response” category. The best way to prove who you are is to just do it. It won’t happen in time for someone to give you that work assignment, that gig or even acknowledge that you caught a huge mistake despite their law degree…but it happens.
  3. Time will not stop or slow down – ever. The idea of capturing every moment as time moves faster and faster will not stop the fact that kids and parents grow older, not to mention ourselves. You will look back and wonder where time went. You will see a picture of yourself and think “why was I so hard on myself?” You will reflect on something and wish you did it differently. You will think about your future and wonder if you have time to do something grand. And as you do this, another minute, 5 minutes, day or even year has passed. It’s great to be organized. It’s helpful to have lists. It’s good to have a plan. But it’s even better to just do something – anything.
  4. Some people do have an easier time of it than others. Maybe it’s because of their DNA, their upbringing, a better perspective or luck. It doesn’t matter. This is not in our control. We have no control over anyone nor their situation any more than they do over us; even our children – we are simply here to guide as best we can. We can start to control the degree to which “ease” can enter our lives. Do we react or respond? Do we do the hard work of exercising and watching what we eat, at least a couple times per week or do we put it off? Do we challenge our thoughts and how we judge ourselves or keep playing the same script over and over? This is a lot harder to do than looking at the relative ease to which others seem to navigate the world compared to ourselves. But it’s the only control we really have, not to mention a lot more realistic as we never really know what someone else is going through.

The things I can change (and am finding courage to do):

  1. Relationships – with others and with myself. Disappointment is a difficult prospect for me. I enjoy helping people, being part of a team and generally, seeing people succeed. However, I have come to learn that, regardless of whether it is deliberate or not (and it usually is not), being around people who cannot keep their word is a source of profound disappointment for me. This goes for me, as well. I feel especially bummed when I have made a pact with myself to complete something, respond in a certain way or manage something positively that did not go the way I had intended. I am finding the courage to be more vocal with those that I may not have been vocal with in the past and respectfully articulate my feelings while taking responsibility for the fact that they do belong to me. This is hard for me because it may compromise friendships or prospects, but it is required. I also am trying to find the courage to both hold myself more accountable for learning when things do not go the way I had planned as well as being kinder to myself for failing, or perceiving to have failed.
  2. Moving toward minimalism. I am not joining a cult or about to embark on a process to cull my belongings down to whatever I can carry in a backpack but I am purging like never before. Throwing things out doesn’t necessarily take courage but throwing out associated feelings of the past does. This is a delicate balance in acknowledging those parts of you that maybe you are not as proud of or wish were not there but were and then saying, “it’s ok.” I have a quote that was sent to me hanging on my bathroom mirror that represents this perfectly. It is from Eric Roth, who wrote the screenplay for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It is as follows: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
    3. FOMO – You may be familiar with this. It means “Fear Of Missing Out.” For me, I realize that social media has played into this fear a lot. I have written about my love/hate relationship with Facebook (actually, just hate) and over the past 2 weeks, I have significantly reduced my time on Facebook to maybe twice a day and for just a couple of minutes to see if I got any messages. I can absolutely control the amount of time I spend on social media AND the FOMO attitude that kept drawing me there in the first place.
    4. Where I live, at least metaphorically. I am tied to where I am living right now until my daughter graduates, which will be here sooner than it may seem. I am eager to move geographically, for many reasons, and spent a lot of time in 2015 lamenting about how if I could only move physically, I might get the fresh (or fresher) start I was longing for. I realized last year that where I reside had very little to do with where I spent my time, with family, friends or alone. Without sounding too “new agey”, there are people who live in big cities and never leave their apartments and people who live in small towns and have networks with global reaches. I know I can change the scope of my network and my capabilities by focusing less on where I live and more on what (and where) lives within me.

    Now…as for the wisdom to know the difference…that’s a big part of 2016.

    As an aside, since I keep long lists on my cell phone of books, movies, articles, music, etc. that I want to get to, I thought I’d start a “Recommendation of the Blog” section at the end of each blog that you might want to check out, also.

    So, here is the first one.
    Recommendation of the Blog – If you haven’t seen it, check out the documentary “Inside Job” about the 2008 financial crisis – by far the most clear, organized and thorough explanation of the players, dynamics and history that led up to the crisis and how it was all connected.

    I wish for you a serene 2016 and until next time,
    Marc

Thanks for reading and I hope you consider subscribing to my blog and following me on Twitter @MarcKaye1. 





Face (reality) book

6 01 2015

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Someone posted a great video vignette on Facebook the other day that got right to the point – Facebook is great at creating an alternate reality based on perception where every relationship is an amazing night out on the town, every other night is an incredible conglomerate of friends old and new and every post is #blessed (and every comedian is “killing it” – though I just threw that one in myself).

It is called Facebook for a reason – it’s like a Yearbook. No one is going to see any of my angst filled nights, posts and frustrations that made up most of my Class of 19…(well, never mind – you get the point). No! It’s just a bevy of photos and fond farewells commemorating “all the good times we had”. Yes, there were good times but you couldn’t pay me to go back to high school.

What I’d like to invent is my own version of Facebook called Realitybook. Each post would establish the user as he/she really is and instead of “Likes” there would be “Amen” buttons or “MICR” (“Man, I Can Relate”) buttons for those who may be atheist or agnostic.

I could have used a Realitybook tonight. I had amazing hopes for today. i had “new year, new you” type of hopes for today. I should have known better.

I had my work list from 7AM to 6PM, which I just completed by the way (it is now 10:26 PM), my personal list and I even meditated this morning. I found my inner core beam of light. I watched it grow inside me and then engulf me to extend to the outer universe so I could establish my connectiveness. I counted backwards. I breathed. I stretched. And then around 4 PM, I lost it.

In Oprah terms, I was definitely not the “best you that you can be”. I wasn’t even the “the presentable you”. As a parent, I did just about everything wrong a parent could do. I carried my work day into my personal day. I was impatient. I showed my frustration for petty things (do I let them leave their drawers open all the time because, thank God, they still have their health or do I continue to bang my head against the wall to instill some standards in the house?) and I became a stress monster once again. How could this have been? I mean, this was my 3rd day of meditating after all? Shouldn’t it be a habit by now?

I also did not exercise and gave into a glass (ok, two) of wine at dinner around 7 PM. I am not sure but I am pretty confident that I saw both kids look at each other with relief when they saw me bring the wine glass to the table.

I did have a conversation with them and told them that while I am not sorry for what I was frustrated about, I did apologize for how I communicated it. This parenting thing is tough. I just don’t know if I should stop the college savings plan and go right for a therapy savings plan, instead. With a dad like me, it may be the better bet.

If Oprah is reading this (that’s a good one), I will work on being a better me tomorrow. I’m doing the 20 minute meditation instead of the 6 minute one so those extra 14 minutes should do the trick.

Until later,

Marc





What I learned from my dentist.

18 07 2013
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Was it the Novocain or did I get some wisdom during my inlay?

I had a dentist appointment today. I was told “It’ll be an hour – max”. So, three hours and $1000 later (to be paid in installments), I walked out of there with a little more drool than when I came in, a little more difficulty speaking and a little more wisdom. 

As an aside, my dentist told me: “there was nothing more you could have done to avoid this – it is just mechanical – the structure of your teeth”, which was as close to a break-up “It’s not you, it’s me” speech I have ever had at the dentist.

He was talking to me (he was doing all the talking) about how much more difficult it is being a business person today with all the social media and distractions. Sure, it can be a huge help but he had said that some major investment he made a while ago would never have been done today because he would have had so much anxiety from reading and listening to what everyone else, including the competition, was saying.

A while ago, I wrote about how I felt I was the only loser on Facebook who hadn’t opened for someone big, was on the verge of a development deal, won some contest, etc. It’s all noise. It’s all a distraction. Dentist, comedian, tinker, spy – it doesn’t matter. Have faith in what you are doing, where you are going (even if it is undefined) and resolute that you have what it takes to keep plugging along.

If that doesn’t convince you, I highly recommend the Novocaine.





TOP TEN TOP TEN COMEDY LISTS (or What I did on my summer vacation)

13 07 2013
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Because nothing says “I can’t think of anything to write” more than a Top 10 list.

 

 

It is raining (again) here in the Northeast of these great (ok, let’s downgrade that to these “hangin’ in there”) United States of America. 

Not sure why but seems like the perfect setting for a Top 10 List. The first that comes to mind is “Top 10 Commercials for Depression Medication” but I like to keep my expectations to a dull roar – you know, under -promise and over deliver. Or, in my case: under-promise and see what happens.

So, without further adieu (or ado…or a dew), from the archives of me, or as some say it “from my archives” which I think just sounds too grammatically correct, here are THE TOP 10 TOP 10 COMEDY LISTS.

1. TOP TEN Funniest Stand-Up Comedians (AKA “TOP TEN funniest stand-up comedians that appeared on the 1st page of an older Google search, followed by the next 190 funniest)

http://www.thetoptens.com/funniest-stand-up-comedians/

2. TOP TEN Funniest You Tube Comedians ( who are more than welcome to look me up and give me a chance)

http://www.thetoptens.com/best-youtube-comedians/

3. TOP TEN Mistakes New Comics Made (#11 was reading Top Ten Lists)

http://rockinjoe.hubpages.com/hub/Top-Ten-Mistakes-Made-By-New-Comedians

4. TOP TEN Tips for Becoming a Successful Comedy Actor (clearly, I should have waited on that  boob job)

http://www.backstage.com/advice-for-actors/acting-teachers/the-top-10-tips-for-becoming-a-successful-comedy-actor/

5. TOP TEN Tips for Comedy Writers (I’m more of a comedy typer, myself)

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/10-ways-to-improve-your-writing-while-thinking-like-a-comedy-writer

6. TOP 10 Essential Comedians (NOTE: these are not “best”, but “essential” for the way they marketed themselves (see my previous blog in a shameless cross-plug of my own blog)

http://comedians.about.com/od/top10lists/tp/10essentialcomedians.htm

7. TOP TEN Tips for Your Comedy Open Mic (two words: clean underwear)

http://www.taltopia.com/articles/36/

8. TOP TEN Tips for Being a Great Comedy Show Host (can you say “brand new car giveaway?”)

http://www.bigbencomedy.com/blog/archives/ten-steps-to-become-a-great-emcee-host/

9. TOP TEN Ways to Increase your Facebook Fans (AKA “How to take your procrastination and time suck to the next level”)

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/02/29/10-powerful-tips-to-increase-fan-engagement-on-facebook/

10. TOP TEN Considerations for Writing for a Late Night Show (note: there are 11 but 11 is the new 10 so get over it)

http://saraschaefer.com/2012/12/things-to-consider-when-submitting-to-write-for-a-late-night-show/

 








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