on the subject of a best friend.

We learn early in our lives about friendship: having friends, making friends, fighting with friends, getting in trouble with friends, good friends, bad friends, childhood friends and fast friends… the list could go on and on. Included in this category of friendship that we learn about is a bond that can be easily made and can be terribly broken, like an anchor holding a ship steady amidst a raging storm: the bond of a best friend.

I have recently taken to watching a show called Psych. It is about a guy named Sean who fakes being a psychic as he solves cases using observation and deductive reasoning—a modern day Sherlock. In the show, Sean solves cases with the help of his best friend, Gus. The two are a comedic pair and their friendship is true example of the sacred bond of best friendship. They fight and bicker but always have each other’s backs; they stand up for the each other; they know the most embarrassing things about each other; they go way back; and they work in silent tandem, like only two best friends who know each other’s moves can. They are my favorite example of two best friends.

This term “best friend” can be defined in various ways. Too long to list, I would say. I’m not sure how to sufficiently describe the term best friend either without using best friend. At the easiest, offhand definition, I think that a best friend can be defined as someone (notice the singular) who is the paramount ally who you think the fondest of trust the most. I think that will work for starters although you and I both know that there is much more to a best friend than that.

For me, the term “best friend” was not something I used often. I never really had someone who I called my “best friend” and I told myself that it was okay—I had many great friends and I thought that was better anyways. But as I grew up I found myself hearing more and more phrases like “oh, he’s my best friend” or “my best friend and I were hanging out the other day”  and I wanted to be able to say that, to mean it wholeheartedly about another person and to receive the title as well.

I knew people who would grant that name of “best friend” to a lot of people and they were also the ones who threw around “I love you” very loosely. I nodded my head at those persons and continued on my way. But there were those few lucky, honored ones who said the word “best friend” with reverence, as if it was a word of power, of magic, evoking memories of laughter, secrets, sadness, fights, fun, late night talks, sleepovers, special handshakes and all the things two people can share on a deep, platonic level.

To be honest, I would imagine having a best friend Sean or Gus, working together to accomplish something awesome. Or remember Shawn and Cory? Or like Arnold and Gerald, who never did anything of particular renown, they just lived life as best friends.  I even consider Batman and Robin a form of best friendship, except that in real life two best friends are both sidekicks to each other.

Having a best friend is a great thing, something I didn’t admit to myself for a while. Luckily, I think I finally found someone I can call my best friend. And although we may not talk or hangout all the time, when we do get together we become something like Sean/Gus and Arnold/Gerald and Shawn/Cory combined.

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killing creativity.

So again, I am a little late on the uptake. But Ally shared a video with me of a speech in 2006 about the education system and creativity. I couldn’t figure out how to put It is a speech given by Sir Ken Robinson and you can read more about him here. The speech is kind of lengthy but quite funny and worth watching—plus listening to an English accent is always lovely.

To put his speech into one sentence, his main idea is that “creativity, now, is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.” I think this is a novel idea, one that should really be taken to heart in our education system. I wouldn’t say that Robinson bashes the system when he does this but he does present a better way of teaching that might ruffle a few feathers. He really does say it best and I can only comment on his ideas. So please watch it, if you would, by clicking on this link:

Ken Robinson speech on killing creativity.

I do see teaching as a career down the line in my future and I find myself agreeing with what Robinson is saying. It was mind-opening, in a way, to take a step back from my fourteen years of education and look at it through the lens he suggests.

Also,  I found the crushing of creativity in children upsetting, which I know happens today, however unconsciously it may come from the older person because I have seen it happen to young kids and I remember those moments of berating myself. I’m sure everyone has been told to “not do it that way, do it this way” and now that I think of it, although it may sound cliché, it is almost as if “coloring inside the lines” was another way of stifling creativity. It sounds kind of dramatic, I admit, but it gets the point across.

I don’t think Robinson is seeking to accuse any one or any system of failing society and the generations because of the education system. No, I think he is more advocating the awareness of the subject and seeking to share his ideas and thoughts in hopes that one by one, teacher by teacher—because, in fact, we are all teachers in some capacity—we strongly promote creativity by allowing more opportunities for being creative, instead of subtly smothering it.

Sex God.

I’ve finished a book written by Rob Bell titled Sex God that is about “exploring the endless connections between sexuality and spirituality.” I grabbed this off a bookshelf and started to read it, though I was a little embarrassed by the title.

"exploring the endless connections between sexuality and spirituality"

It came out in 2007 and was a bestseller for a while so I am a little late on the uptake I suppose but it’s new to me. It was an awesome read and I definitely recommend the book to anyone.

I really enjoyed the writing style of the book as well. Bell writes very conversationally, as if he is standing behind the podium, speaking to an auditorium of listeners. Altogether, the pages number 175, not counting the endnotes, and the chapters are very brief making it a quick and easy read. The content is immediately and immensely thought provoking. I am itching to dialogue about it with someone.

On that note, there was one chapter in particular that interested me the most.

“Angels and Animals” is the third chapter in the book but I feel like each of the chapters could stand alone as a lesson of some kind, which is also another reason why I liked the book so much. Although there is a lot to glean from this section in particular, the conversation about the opposite ends of the sexuality spectrum intrigued me the most, especially because I grew up in the church with parents who were mainly conservative and traditional.

In this chapter, Bell presents two categories of people though I will be very blunt and paraphrase some of what he writes while still keeping the same idea. First, he paints a picture of the animal world that operates on “pure instinct,” without regard to a “higher plane” or “transcendent purpose.” He compares this to the party scene where consuming large amounts of alcohol and hooking up and having sex are the norm. He writes that

“These scenes aren’t just about partying and having a good time and hooking up with someone, they raise questions about what it means to be fully human. The temptation is to ignore your conscience or sense of higher purpose, sacrificing what it means to be human. Which leads a person to act much like… an animal. Are we just the sum of our urges?”

The life of hooking up and having sex with lots of people is comparable to that of being “an animal”, very primal and instinctual, feeding desires and urges but in the end leaving an individual unfulfilled and helpless. When I read this, I recognized with familiarity this common speech that was given to me by preachers and speakers alike as something to avoid in life. But I never really thought about the other end of the spectrum until now.

Bell then describes the opposite living this primal, “animal” life as being “an angel”. He gives an example of a boyfriend and a girlfriend he knows of who have no physical contact in their relationship although they have been dating for years, a son who was raised in a home “where sex was not talked about at all,” and a father who found out that his young daughter had been having sex with many men without his knowledge. He has some other stories that he uses as support for this main idea that “denying and stuffing and repressing never work because it’s a failure to acknowledge what is central to being a human being.” And what is central to being a human being is our sexuality: “Angels and animals. There are these two extremes, denying our sexuality or being driven by it, and then there’s the vast space in between.”

What was most interesting to me is the connection he makes between this and creation. In the book of Genesis, animals were created before humans and in the book of Job it says that angels were also created before humans. Now, before God created the world the earth was formless and void, in chaos and disorder. God brought order and harmony as he created more and more each day, creating more order in this way. Bell concludes the chapter with this:

“Angels were here before us. Animals were here before us. When we act like angels or animals, we’re acting like beings who were created before us. We’re going backward in creation…the wrong way…toward the chaos and disorder, not away from it… nothing involving sex exists independent of and disconnected from everything around it… which means we aren’t angels. And we aren’t animals.”

In my opinion, I think that what Bell talks about holds some truth, that behaving in a way that causes us to be driven by sex is not good and living a life that ignores it is also not good. And here I am speaking as a Christ follower that has grown up in the church. I think that the church, especially in my own life, has put a sort of taboo on the subject of sex and even any physical contact with the opposite sex.

And as I read the chapter, it dawned on me as to why I remember being so confused and distraught during my years in middle school and parts of high school. I think it was due to the mixed messages I was receiving from inside and outside my body. I felt as if I was being told not to feel as if I should hold her hand or hug her or like the smell of her hair or anything in fear, but I couldn’t help but feel that way sometimes and so I felt so ashamed sometimes. I’m not saying to accept sex and physical contact, but I mean, definitely not ignore it.

And I know it is a matter of personal choice and a little irrelevant to matters concerning salvation but still, I think it is quite an important matter, one that I feel the need to explain to those that come after me in hopes that I can calm some of the confusion. And I’m not saying that the church or my parents were wrong or bad for teaching me that—in fact, I am glad for it, because it definitely saved me from the hurt I saw many of my friends go through. I am saying though that maybe there should be some consideration in teaching about this dichotomy of “angels and animals” because I definitely think I will be teaching my kids something along these lines.

I admit to my little rant but we still have much to talk about. Please, I welcome discussion and conversation.

oh, just be yourself.

Lately, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with new, wonderful people that I have met within the past semester. And with heavy influx of new individuals in my life, I have noticed something about myself.

When I meet someone for the first time, one of three things usually happens.

1.) I end up hiding parts of my personality

2.) I try too hard to be myself, or

3.) I become completely silent in the fear of the previous two pitfalls.

It’s not that I don’t know who I am or that I’m struggling with a false sense of identity— I am still growing in my identity I admit, but isn’t everyone?

What I mean to say is that, when I meet new people I repress myself in hopes that they like me. But the “me” that they interact with during that first meeting—or even after that—is not completely the “Daniel James Araujo” that I am. I do not act like something I am not, to be sure. Instead I repress parts of myself so as to not scare people away.

But I’m not ashamed of who I am. Just sometimes my behavior can become unusual—especially during the late nights after 11 p.m.—and my oddities seem to frighten those that have just met me. At least, that is the impression that I am under.

I will confess that I am louder and more raucous than is usually acceptable in calmer society, and also kind of weird and nerdy. I have weird habits and tendencies that my family and especially Ally can attest to. So I repress this side of me due to an irrational fear that I will alarm someone I have just met. It’s as if I am walking alone in the woods, staring down a fearful deer, which would run away if I should break eye contact or make more disruption to their world than absolutely necessary.

So I become silent, impassive almost, smiling unnecessarily while noticing how often my shoe laces become loose and need retying.

Then other times, I decide to “be myself” and I end up “trying too hard,” which is yet another cliché. This method usually brings about the same results and I feel quite foolish at the same time.

And I know I’m not the only one that deals with this because I see it in the people I know very well, as I introduce them to a circle of my friends they don’t know. They go through this same internal battle and I observe them to see how they handle the situation.

Admittedly, I might come across as a tad over analytical or too sensitive but either way I look at it, this “be yourself” thing is easier said than done.

nice to meet you.

"Failed Social Interaction"

In social circles, there is admiration for an individual who possesses skill at making smooth conversation, flowing from subject to subject with ease, navigating topics, avoiding jutting pauses or silence; basically, someone who is charming—especially when concerning first impressions.

Sadly, my expertise in that area is limited.

It gets hard for me to think of things to say after I’ve exhausted the subject of name, origin of birth and age. No, I know that there is a lot to talk about but plastic conversation is something I try to distance myself from. For example, I make a strong conscious effort to never talk about the weather—which is harder than I thought it would be.

As is usually the same with everyone, it is easier for me to talk to the same gender. I usually hit the topic of sports first; step over to music for a while then about movies and maybe eventually, actresses or models or female singers.

Actually, I don’t really know what I talk about with guys when I first meet them—usually sports and music. That’s usually first because most of them time one or both subjects applies to their life in some way so I feel it is the safest gamble for me. I end up making a comment about the beauty of a female celebrity because I feel like it is expected, as if to prove masculinity. But that’s another story… moving on.

With girls, it’s harder. I find myself just stumbling in a crowded room of subjects, with a flickering flashlight that works for about a minute then turns off, causing me to trip my way around the conversation hoping to stumble on something worth talking about. This happens when I talk to guys too, but I don’t feel as lost because I know he’s feeling the same way. With girls, I can’t help but think that more than 99.9% of the time, she’s thinking “he’s hitting on me,” and/or “weird, creepy guy go away,” although that is my own speculation during those situations. Either way, it just gets awkward.

Or at least, I just get awkward.

I heard it said once that “it’s only awkward if you make it awkward,” which I immediately rejected. I later realized that it does hold some truth so my mantra I would mentally murmur was “it’s not awkward, it’s not awkward,” like a broken record. I admit it helped but not completely.

I’ve found that although I may convince myself a situation is not awkward, the other person’s belief in its awkwardness still makes it awkward.

In response to this, I have grown to embrace awkward situations with open arms. I still refuse to talk about the weather but I welcome conversations that are filled with pauses, silence and overall white noise.

The broken record was thrown out and a new one replaced it, also repeating one line:

“I love awkwardness, I love awkwardness…”

 

twenty-eleven.

A picture I took from my phone, while visiting The City for the first time this new year.

It’s the 7th of January so I’m a week late for this but Happy New Year. I haven’t had time to write very much—or be online for that matter—this past winter break but now I start anew.

Truthfully, I would like to write a post about my experiences in 2010 but as I sat down and started to list out the things that happened to me, I eventually realized two things:

1.)    I could not remember everything.

2.)    If I couldn’t remember everything, I wasn’t doing the year justice and I couldn’t let myself do that.

But briefly, the year was wonderful.

I tried to write out a quick summary of the year after the above sentence but I ended up “backspace-ing” the text as I remembered more and more events and tried to add and delete moments based on relevancy, basically having the same problem I did before. So, I will just leave it at that: the year was wonderful.

I am excited for 2011. It will definitely be an interesting year with some upcoming milestones that I will be sure to post about. 2010 seems ages ago already, a warm memory that causes me to smile.

As I get back into the swing of things, I will definitely be posting more regularly. So, keep this site bookmarked or somewhere close and check in on me periodically.

Until later then.