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Thoughts for 2014

December 29, 2014

Every year, on the thirty-first of December, I try to look back at the entire year and see what's changed and what's remained the same in my life; everything from personal relationships to the things I've learned or experienced to the events around the globe that somehow impacted the world to improve upon itself. This year, the most dramatic change in my life has consistently been that I'm involved in many more activities and projects that I was in January of 2014, from simple, personal DIY-type projects to relatively big-scale video projects to long-term goals. And looking back at those projects (as well as looking forward to more of them in 2015), I came to ask myself why I was doing them. They're incredibly time consuming and tiring at times, where I could be using those resources to catch up on schoolwork or other aspects of my academics for the future. But I'm constantly driven towards these projects instead. I've been thinking the past week to figure out why that is, and I want to share some of it here, on TLT.

2015 is almost upon us, and so are the New Year's Resolutions. But before we all jump in, I'm taking a look back at the last 365 days to make for a better 365 to come.

The first reason I enjoy making online video, writing songs, blogging, coding, and drawing is that through these forms of expression, I have the privilege to become a part of something greater than myself sitting in a room, staring at blank screens. When I write a song or think over something to myself, the idea goes nowhere. It just sits in my brain, produces more ideas and questions, then evaporates. But by sharing them not only here on TLT but on YouTube, on Facebook, and on Twitter, my thoughts and ideas are no longer a monologue but a part of a conversation. And when that perpetuates, that makes a community. Ideas are powerful, and the Internet in particular gives us voice that we can use to spread our ideas. If they're good, the ideas have a place and a chance to grow. But with barely half of the world connected to this wonderful and colorful resource, not everyone has a voice. Even if they have the resources, because of the pressure from the culture or the society, some may not have the confidence or the support they need to use the voice that they have. While I have a way of sharing my ideas and my thoughts with the world, I want to take as much advantage of this privilege as I can. Making things and sharing them online, I think, is a good start, and I've definitely done much more of that this year than I have in the past. If you're able to do so, I want to encourage everyone to be a part of the online community, wherever that may be for you. If you have a smartphone, you have all you need. The technology in our pockets allows us to be everything from daily vloggers to independent journalists to serious activists, and that's a powerful tool that our generation has that nobody in the past did. I think we should do our best to make use of it.

The second reason I enjoy making stuff is that it gives everything a purpose. Like many of us, I believe we should ultimately try to be happy as much as we can in our lives. Not everything may go according to plan, and you may end up spending a weekend you dreamed of having to yourself by fixing up a computer or cleaning up a mess you made on accident instead, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for a little smile. And to that end, having a project (or a few) to which you can devote yourself helps tremendously in giving me (and you) a purpose every day. Sometimes, people ask me* why I work so hard on this blog, on designing and writing for it, when each post gets page views barely reaching a hundred. They ask me why I pour so much time and effort into my piano songs and my videos, when they only get a few dozen views each time. They ask me why I spend so much time dreaming up ideas and project plans that ultimately never comes true or ends up being a failure. Regardless of how many people are driven to think a little outside the box from my blogs, regardless of how many "likes" I get on my songs, and regardless of how many times my projects fail, I keep trying because working on these ideas and projects gives me a purpose, and more than attention, I share ideas because I enjoy writing about and making the things I'm passionate about. So anytime anyone leaves a positive comment on my posts or videos, I'm thrilled. But even before they go live, and even before my ideas take shape, I enjoy the process of making stuff, of being a part of something with purpose, and that's why I love everything that I was a part of in 2014.

By sharing them, my thoughts and ideas are no longer a monologue but a part of a conversation.

The final reason I do what I do is actually quite unremarkable. I do them because I'm passionate about what I do. I like learning about new technology and writing about their potential. I love the power of online video that's emerged in the past few years. I love music, and I love writing music. The fact that I have the ability to take an unassuming set of pitches and somehow connect them in a way that means something to me and to others is both exciting and humbling, and that's ultimately what motivates me to do the things I do. I may study math here and there, and I've avidly buried myself in books about physics in the past, but none of that actually has practical value unless I can apply the things I take away and make something truly valuable to me and to others, and that process of taking some idea or theory and making it into reality has a unique appeal that I can't get enough of -- it's actually quite addicting.

In trying my hand at quite a few things, some that you may call a flop, others still waiting for the verdict, the first and the most valuable thing I learned is that the value of your time is almost never dependent on what you're doing. That will never be as important as who you do it with, and whether or not whatever it is that you're doing makes you happy, even for a little while. If it does, regardless of how you spent that time, I think it's never a waste of time. I'll continue to push myself to try new things, and hopefully, that's enough to make 2015 worth the wait.


* You know who you are, if you are reading this in the first place...