Bahram's Thoughts

As with most things, I'm going to wing it and see how this goes.

Guts

Imagine this scenario: you’ve known what you want to do with your life since you were five or six years old. Not just an idea or an inkling, but really genuinely known. And you didn’t just day dream about it in your spare time, but you really worked towards it; for the last fifteen year, day in and day out, it has been at the forefront of your mind and you’ve worked every one of those days to get there. In elementary school, you read every book about it you could find, in middle school you started working around people doing what you want to do, in high school you took every class you could to follow that dream, and it dictated every step you took throughout college.

And then one day you finally get that letter – you’re in. Everything you have worked for, everything you have done has finally payed off; but as you are sitting there reading the letter that finally affirms you, only then do you realize that you’ve changed. Its not what you want to do anymore. Do you have the guts to just walk away?

Today is my brother’s 25th birthday. About a year ago, he went through exactly this. He had always wanted to be a doctor, right until the day he was accepted into medical school. Only then did he realize that his true passion was biomedical engineering. I don’t know if I would have had the guts to walk away – I don’t think most people would – but he did. That is why he is my role model. He turned down medical school, worked for a year, and applied to school again. He’s now getting his Ph.D. and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him happier in my life.

To one of my best friends, my role model, and the biggest influence in my life, happy birthday. I hope I have a fraction of the guts you have.

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Love

John Legend gave Penn’s 258th commencement speech recently on the topic of love. Not just romantic love, but the larger human condition that encompasses everything from passion, drive, and dedication to selflessness and understanding. Before you dismiss it as cliché or overdone, give it a quick listen – it has a strong message.

One of the points Legend made was about love’s capacity to be the tool that reaches across boarders, language barriers, and history to connect people by seeing them as human rather than simply a product of their circumstances.

I’ve had the fortune of experiencing that type of love, and it may be one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever experienced.

In August of last year (2013) a friend and I traveled to Kyrgyzstan to climb Lenin Peak – the 94th tallest mountain in the world. We didn’t have enough money to higher porters or guides, so we did the trek alone. Before we left the advanced base camp (ABC) to cross the most treacherous portion of the climb for the first time, people at camp begged us not to go. A wealthy Greek-American even tried to pay us not to go and offered to hire a guide for us.

We were only gone for 48 hours on an acclimatization assent, but when we returned, almost everyone at ABC poured out of their tents to greet us. I had never seen total strangers be so genuinely happy to see me. People I had only ever exchanged nods with hugged me like it was the last hug they were ever going to give. The love completely passed though all language, cultural, and social barriers. It was a special feeling and one that assures me of the power of Legend’s point.

Respect

Occasionally I get the feeling that showing respect towards others has become an optional activity.

Part of my physical therapy involves me balancing on one leg on an upside-down  bosu ball and throwing a medicine ball against the wall. I was doing this at potruck gym when I dropped the ball and the guy standing next to me picked it up to hand it to be. Before he did though, he held the ball back, and with no introduction said “Maybe you should go somewhere else. You’re clearly not very good at that and I’m working here.”

Technically he is right, I’m not very good at it. But maybe that’s because its not an easy exercise to begin with, and I’m trying to do it 10 weeks after surgery while keeping my knee from giving out. Who knows.

I would have loved to blow up on him, but I have to choose my battles.

I had never met the guy and yet he decided to begin and end his conversation with no respect or common decency. To be fair, I don’t know his story either, so maybe he was having a terrible day.

My point though is when did this become the norm? It wasn’t an outlandish story – it wasn’t even a particularly good one. For me, its just sad that we live in a time where behavior like that may not be commonly accepted, but its certainly not out of the norm.

Bring back the mixtape

I was reading this article on the habits of happy people when I got to “They value a good mixtape.” It struck me that mixtapes mostly died with the birth of the iPod.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how portable music is now, but do you remember back when burning CD’s with all of your favorite tracks for your friends was a thing? Or even before my time, the labor and toil one would go though spending hours and hours making a genuine mixtape on a cassette for someone?

Yeah, yeah, we have iTunes playlists, and 8Tracks and Spotify, but its become so easy and so quick that its almost meaningless. Anyone instantly gets access to the playlist and because it only exists virtually – after a few months, its forgotten about and left to waste somewhere in the great cloud in the sky.

Maybe I’m just feeling a little nostalgic, but there was something beautiful about the effort and one on one interaction of making a physical mixtape for someone that they could always keep. I still have all of mine.

Before the year is up…

This is the fifth year now that I’ve made myself some sort of long term goals for personal improvement. I’m constantly inspired by people like my next door neighbor. Three years ago he decided to learn to become a helicopter pilot, two years ago decided to start traveling the world with his wife, and last year decided to learn a new language. He’s nearly 70.

In the same spirit, I set three personal goals that I will fulfill before the year is out. I’ve never really publicize my personal goals, but here’s to change:

1) Cut excuses out

I’ve always hated excuses. I make them just like anyone else, but it always leaves a hollow taste in my mouth. Even if its a legitimate excuse, its an easy out. I have a friend who likes to say there are people who complain, and people who search for solutions. Of course, its a spectrum, but I am moving towards the latter.

2) Break 160 lbs

If you’ve talked to me for more than thirty seconds this year, you probably know I hurt my knee pretty badly in February. I like to complain about it a lot. In the ~50 days after surgery, I lost 10-15 lbs of muscle to atrophy and got pretty mopey. I’m done with that. By the end of December, I will have gained the weight back plus a little and by the time the one year anniversary of  my accident rolls around, I will be a better skier and rugby player than last year.

3) Call people by name

I hear all the time that a person’s favorite word is their name – and with good reason. Its one of few things that sticks with you your entire life. I’ve never been very good with names, but I’m going to be using mnemonics to start remembering people’s names and calling them by name.