A World Of Possibilities: Ramblings On Ambition And Contentment

If any of my readers know me personally or have ever read my blog, they know, with certainty, I love my job. I feel like a fish in water or a pig in slop. My job is just so, well, meeeee.

When anyone asks me how to find out what they would like to do for a living – and I do get that question quite a bit- I respond with another question; “Who has a job/career that are you jealous of?” By jealous, I do not mean the horrid relational and destructive type of jealousy; rather I mean who has a job you would really like to have -a job you covet. When you answer that question -provided the job is at all realistic and not respond with stating you want to play center for the Lakers as an overweight, 5′ 2″ 36 year-old, well, then, you have the answer. (On second thought, have you seen the Lakers record this season? I may have to rethink my unrealistic job example).

Since the age of 18 I have envied Communication Studies (then Speech Communication) professors. When I sat in their classes, I would think to myself  ‘they are teaching the stuff I absolutely love and center my life around while GETTING PAID.’ Bastards, I thought -easy money for hanging with me. Yet make no mistake…they were teaching me loads in the process.

Then, years later, after wading through the waters of “other” endeavors, I became one. A verified and certified true Speech Teach.

This was a dream come true as I always thought I was not qualified.  I had to pinch my new speech ass to make sure I was living in reality.  I never lacked self-esteem though I did lack self-confidence. I suppose I loved and believed in myself yet somehow always seemed to set my goals and expectations far too low, never believing I actually possessed the skill set for such a position.

Damn was I wrong. I do. I really do.

So I have enjoyed the position of a full-time, tenured Assistant Professor for about 10 years now. I have heard it said that the occupation of professor has one of the highest job satisfaction rates. Duh.

On a personal level, we, essentially, have an empty nest as well.  I now have time in my life I have NEVER had. No more kids to run to games, coaching, parent-teacher conferences, etc…the list goes on. So now I find myself in a bit of a dilemma, tension as it were.

Do I now just lay in my deep tub of professorial contentedness and wallow in the waters of safety, comfort, and security? Or, should I extricate myself from the lovely tub and begin striving for bigger and better things, even within academia? I have blogged on similar topics before, yet this time I am specifically referring to the seemingly contradictory state of contentedness versus the process of creating some ambitious goals and objectives for life.

I am a firm believer that those who accomplish some of the greatest feats of humankind are those that possess an intense drive and hunger to succeed. They have internal motivational motors that dwarf the normal person. They are never satisfied with what they have and continue to strive and drive for more.

I am not that guy. Not even close. Never will be. I love being in the moment far too much.

Yet now I find myself asking the question as to whether or not I should take take one foot out of that aforementioned warm tub of contentedness and begin creating some more ambitious goals for myself.  Can one be both completely content in the moment and simultaneously ambitious and eager to strive for bigger and better things? Let’s face a hardcore truth about human beings: The more comfort and security one has in life, the more difficult it is to set ambitious goals that risk upsetting the contentment cart. Why eat when your not hungry? Why run when you are happy walking? Why wake when you can sleep?

I have heard countless stories (I guess ’cause I was not counting) of people who tragically lost their jobs…and it was the best thing that ever happened to them. Why? Cause it got them off their ass to begin the process of finding comfort and security once again, and they usually end up in a better place.

Now, hear me out. The last thing in the world I would want to happen to me is to lose my job -a job I love. Yet can I, can WE, have the gumption and fortitude to strive and drive while being so comfortable? I suppose every individual has to answer that question for his or her self.

In his excellent article on the same subject, blogger Brian Kim suggests that when we find ourselves in a state of personal contentment, a state I currently enjoy, it is time to take it to the next level and begin the process of striving to help others in need. He observes and asks the rhetorical question, “What if Ghandi strove for a million dollar paycheck and a beach house in Hawaii?”

Point taken. I guess we would have one less movie (I’ll be here all week!). It is time to be ambitious in a quest to make the planet a better place.

I like that.

I will now begin my journey to discover what ambitious role I can play in healing the planet. I realize I am only one small man in a vast universe and perhaps my role may be considerably small -even if it is just continuing to train others how to use their voice. Who knows?

In the meantime, it is a blessing to bathe in the warm tub of professorial contentedness as I begin to seek out a world of possibilities. My suggestion box is open.


Women Are Crazy And Men Are Assholes: A Closer Look At Logic, Emotion, and The Human Antenna

I have experienced strange phenomena nearly my entire adult life.  It seems whenever I have a female friend who has just broken up with a male significant other, the reason is due to the fact he is an asshole of some variety. Yet when I have a male friend who has just broken up with a female significant other, it is because she is crazy- though the word is typically preceded by the adjective, ‘batshit.’

So, if my relatively small gender sample study logic is correct, according to women, men are generally assholes while, for men, women are typically crazy.


Hmmmm. Just coincidence? Do I just happen to attract female friends whose exes are jerks and male friends whose exes are virtually insane? If so, what does that say about me and the people I attract as friends?  Perhaps you may disagree, though I will assume, for the moment, that my experiences in this regard are quite the norm. Please understand, I realize not EVERY female or male describes the opposite sex in this way and I only refer to my personal experiences- understanding the limitations of my myopic life.

Let’s take a closer look at those words.

The word ‘asshole’ is an interesting one.  Technically, of course, it means an anus or rectum. We all have one and some of us actually are one. The way most people use the word in describing the essence of another person is defined on dictionary.com as “a stupid, mean, or contemptible person.” Therefore many men are assholes or jerks or mean. I guess.

Not so fast women, your description may even be worse.

The word “crazy” is fairly straight forward as this word has no literal corresponding body part.  The dictionary describes crazy as “1. mentally deranged; demented; insane. 2.  senseless; impractical; totally unsound.” And if I take many a man’s word for it, many a woman fit this definition to a tee (just imagine if we met a crazy asshole and then tried to figure what they would call their ex).

I am in tension…why is this?

During a recent drive to Las Vegas I thought long and hard about this interesting social labeling practice while gazing out at the long stretch of Interstate 15…I knew then I had to write a blog –and I may have discovered the answer…or at the very least a half ass theory.

Most masculine men are wired to value reasoning and intellect over the touchy feely stuff generated by women. Can men be emotional? Of course.  Yet, consider when you ask the typical man the typical therapist question, “How does that make you feel?”  you will get the look of a “deer in the headlights” or a golden retriever with head cocked to the right and ears up, nonverbally asking, “Huh. What…the hell?” We male assholes just love to trump and beat the bejesus out of our high- feeling crazy female counterparts with our reason and logic –because we are defenseless in the war of identifying emotions.

Most feminine women are wired more for relationships and nurturing. Do they possess logic and reason? Of course…and in many cases much more than men. But why is it when I have an issue, particularly of a relational nature, and I really need to talk to someone, I will ALWAYS turn to my female friends? It feels to me like women actually care and practice empathy while men are just trying to figure out a logical answer to the problem…if they are listening at all.

I have said it before and I will say it again. The left brained, logical doctor may know how to sustain physical life, but the right brained and high feeling artist knows how to make life worth living in the first place.

A friend of ours, Geoff, was over the other night and he had a very interesting observation that got me thinking. I was discussing with him the fact that I instruct my Critical Thinking courses NOT to think of everything in a strictly logical sense. We all have what I call a human antenna, or that part of our brain that may sense something is wrong, off, or askew but our reason and logic cannot explain why. Should we ignore the antanna as we cannot back it up with formal reason? My answer is no, rather listen to it.

Our human antenna needs to inform our logic.

This is when Geoff, a very successful Hollywood sound designer who owns a sound studio, and who knows a little sumpin sumpin about electronic signals, said that we may all have antennas but every antenna is wired to pick up different signals. For example, my Chevy Camaro antenna picks up signals that, say, my Ipod antenna is not wired to pick up. My car picks up Sirius XM signals while my Ipod picks up FM radio. All antennas are not created equal. Our personal human needs drive the signals we pick up with our human antenna.

For example, if I have a deep need for acceptance by others, I will probably pick up signals that either affirm or negate my great need for acceptance.

So it goes with the sexes. Perhaps the female is wired (or socialized, no matter) for nurturing relationships and picks up sensitive signals concerning behavior that do not fit and are incompatible with her wiring.  When logic and reason trump nurturance and relationship, the antenna interprets asshole.

When the man, wired for logic and reason, observes behaviors that suggest relationships and emotions come before intellect, then the man’s signals go off as “batshit crazy.”

So, men, perhaps some women are not as crazy as you think they are and, women, some men are not the assholes you make them out to be.

But what do I know? I’m just some crazy asshole with a blog.