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.

Advertisements

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.

 

an exchange of creations.

This Christmas, I got what I asked for: an awesome photograph of The City. I’ve grown more and more fond of The City by the Bay and I wanted a personal picture of it. I grew up in Daly City, a stone’s throw away, and I do miss The Bay when I am away. The culture and style of the hustle and bustle of life there is very unique to the area and I am proud to be a native. Ally was able to travel to Treasure Island, take a picture of it and print it out on canvas for me. I love it.

In return, I thought I would make something for her and so I wrote a short note/story and painted it onto a canvas. A bit sloppy (I misspelled a word! Argh!) and I was nervous with the expectation of giving it to her. I was relieved when I finally gave it to her and watching her reaction was priceless. Anyways, here is the story, I thought I would share it:

“Barefoot in the sand we walk down the length of the shore, the midday sun shining bright as you run your fingers smoothly through your hair. I quickly squeeze your hand then look at you, hoping that I won’t wake up so this dream will last a lifetime. Curious, you meet my gaze and I pause, the sea tugging at my ankles. Laughing that little nervous laugh of yours, you ask, “Is something wrong?” but in this moment everything is right, so I don’t even answer. Instead, I twirl a silky lock of your dark hair and hug you close. You separate within the next second, just in case anyone saw that on this beach full of strangers, but I keep you within reach.

Then, you smile, stunning me speechless.

And there’s something behind those deep, brown eyes that perpetually intrigues me so I look into them trying to peer through those wonderful windows into the well of your soul, hoping to find the answer to your beautiful mystery. I gaze intently trying to see; until you look at me funny and query me yet again—but this time, you know the answer. Now, I smile as you bury your face into my arm, wholly content because You and Me are We.”

Now, what to get for her birthday…

 

 

finish your food.

Since the days of my childhood, eating all the food off of my plate was never a question. I spent more than a couple of hours at my seat after dinner, not excused from the table yet because my plate was still riddled with clumps of rice.

Sometimes it was not that I had a full stomach, unable to eat more. No, I just did not feel like spending more time at the table, as there was a pressing matter of building a city with LEGOs or defeating M. Bison finally. During these times, finishing my food seemed a chore and I was bored of sitting at the dinner table while fun was to be had elsewhere. I think my parents knew this at the time so they kept me at there in my seat—actually I am sure they knew.

But there were other times when I had served myself too much food and unable to eat anymore, I would try to escape. Still, their adamant commands held firm and my hands were chained to my spoon and fork until the food in my stomach had digested enough to hold the remaining scraps on my plate.

I thought it cruel at the time but my dad would tell me horror stories of his attempts to leave the table with food still on his plate. Once, he had somehow managed to scrape the food he did not feel like eating onto the floor. At first, I was impressed but then he went on to tell me how my grandma, my sweet old abuelita, had made my young father scrape the food back on his plate and eat it. “I always finished my food after that,” he told me “so don’t think about doing pulling that kind of a stunt.” And I never did.

My mom had a different outlook on eating food, but to the same effect. Her stories were of how back in her country “all we ate were vegetables and soup” and how “having meat and rice is a privilege.” Guiltily, I would chew the remaining morsels of food I had left alone. Growing weary of her tales, I once asked her if she walked to school uphill both ways in the snow; that night, finishing dinner was not a question because I had none.

In my young mind, I did not understand why they were as stiff-necked about eating my food at the time. What made me eat my food when I was young was the fear of discipline. So there I would sit and despite my perpetual efforts to spread the food thinly over the expanse of my dish, it was eventually scooped together and I was told, “See? There’s one or two spoonfuls left there. Finish your food.”

Finish your food.

It is a statement that still sticks with me today. My parents did more than just get me to eat my food, they taught me not to waste. At buffets or in the cafeteria now, I take small portions instead of piling heaps of food so that although I may take multiple trips to where the soups and salads are, I always eat what is on my plate. In my home still, there are always leftovers from nights before. Even at a restaurant with my friends, I gladly eat their unwanted food to save them from the trash can. Sometimes I force the food down, overfilling my stomach or other times I take their food home, to eat later as leftovers.

I admit, this may seem to be a little bit overindulgent but it is more than that; I cannot and will not let myself waste food—it has become a question of personal integrity now.

Today, I cringe at the sight of wasted food, thrown away by the pound. I do not know the statistics on the amount of food wasted in the world and I do not really want to know because the number must be immense. I am blessed—we are blessed—to have more than three meals a day. And when men, women and children are suffering and dying every day from starvation and malnutrition, I take finishing my food very seriously.