The Passion Dilemma

A title written, never finished. Perhaps, now, a fitting time to add words to a page and bring an article to life. As part of my ongoing project, I’m taking old posts never published and breathing new life into them.

This article was started October 24th, 2017 and the last timestamp shows 10:49pm And given the title, it’s fitting. A question without an answer and in fact, the question that produces more and more questions than it ever has answers.

A little while back I wrote “The Happiness Equation” as an update post to simply put thoughts to paper and try to make sense of my ever changing world. A reflection piece and one that I’ve since reflected upon.

As I translate my jumbled thoughts, a clear picture begins to emerge and while it’s still incomplete, it’s better than what I had before.

In a matter of speaking, I hit the emergency brake while I was still driving.

I let the stepping stones sink into the shallows of the river for one last glimpse of childhood and I’m glad. I’m not ready to drop my flame just yet, the real question is figuring out how brightly it burns and where.

Career wise, I’m in a good spot. I’ve moved laterally within my organization and my role is keeping my life fresh. I’m slowly learning to relax and take a breath.

My career goals have become increasingly a checklist. Every time I talk, it sounds like I’m trying to tick my box. Good or bad? Hard to say but I need to chill. My lifelong problem has been I always try to skip a few steps. I see point A and point B but tend to miss everything in between. So now it’s time to deconstruct and analyze. No more talk about College and where I was, the conversation must turn to where I am.

So, where am I? My passion is I enjoy helping others. I love the process of learning and sharing to those who might find what I have to say interesting. Outside of that, I can’t really say who I am. Writing as a hobby? Great. Photography? Enjoyable when I get out and take photos. I learn skills only to see no end, the constant acquisition of progress for the sake of progress. I stay relevant for the sake of being relevant and that is concerning. I said my career was a checklist when in reality it applies to my life as a whole.

I keep building and then breaking, to what end? Instead of thriving, I am simply struggling to survive. I can’t find my “why” even if it hit me across the face. Perhaps I’ve reached a point of insanity, trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results yet I keep trying.

I change the angle and still see the same road. I will be the first to admit I am broken and where once I repaired, now I begin to fracture. And that’s the beauty of life, riding the highest highs and lowest lows. The fact that my heart feels ready to burst at any moment and spread its warmth like confetti all over my cubicle is a good thing. It means I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone. Too fast? Too soon? Too Much? Ain’t that always the case.

My anxiety has ensnared me and I wonder as the chains break, that they weren’t holding the foundation underneath. I’ve been short of breath and my body wants to freeze, however, I’m not going to let it. My list is ever growing shorter and the page is about to flip unto a new chapter. As I learned in cross country: strength, confidence, and desire. I haven’t come this far only to fail now.

I am learning to trust once more and opening my heart (queue the eye rolls). No more paranoia and no more fear. I breathe and feel my heart beat, and if I’m alive, I can move forward. One step, one foot, slowly (if only, I’m running at this point), and with a map in hand. I now know where I’m headed and where I need to go.


Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed my content. It’s been ages since I’ve finished an article and am glad I can hit the “schedule post” button for this one. A fun little ramble as I go through my life and try not to vibe “hot mess”. Next month I’ll try to have one article published regarding mental health and the topic I’ve picked is anxiety. When will that be? God only knows. Outside of that, expect more poems and short stories sprinkled throughout the year as I reach the next chapter in my life and after I’ve had some time to swallow a few more chill pills.

cheers!

– Mike

The Happiness Equation

I’ve often wondered where I’ve wanted to take this blog. When I started, it was nothing more than an outlet to navigate the chaos in my life. The goals I set were distant and as such I needed not worry about the future. And then the future came and went and here I stand. At a crossroads. I suppose we’re always at a crossroads; and each choice we make, we are pushed further in one direction.

It’s been a bit since I’ve written and as I work towards producing more content, I find myself at a loss. I come home, exhausted from work and my go to is video games. I spent 5 years in College constantly improving my skills and I find myself more often than not wishing I was there, not here. A different time, a different place.

By the time I was graduating, my standard of living was wonderful. I wasn’t rich by any means, however, I was happy. And like a ghost, this is what remains. My sanctuary among a world that when it becomes certain, becomes rather dull.

I was always taught that this was the way to live; to make a steady paycheck with a great organization. However, the more I walk, the more it feels as if I’m being dragged through the sand. So I’ve pulled out the jumper cables and try to feel for a beating heart and sure enough, I can hear faint echoes.

My life needs lightning and I am comfortable with saying that I have failed myself. I have come to terms with mediocrity becoming “good enough” and excellence a pipe dream. And I am comfortable with saying that I am not satisfied, that I hunger for more. I miss the articles I used to write, my “learn and apply” method. Deep, thoughtful, and engaging.


It’s been interesting to see this article develop. I started writing this a few months ago; gutted the draft and then stopped. In an update to my “happiness equation” I’ve started making changes just this last week. I am juggling the old with the new and it is no longer enough to adapt, I am beginning to modify. Imagine your life as a canvas and since the world is far from perfect, imagine each moment being painted with broad strokes. What you once saw as imperfection you are now going over with fine strokes and precision brushes; the broad strokes are still there but the painting takes on new life and a completely different form.

I’ve started taking pride in my work and while I was initially opposed to subjecting myself to anymore grit in my life, I have now begun to embrace grit. I used to think I had enough grit for a few lifetimes over, however, working at a call center for the last 7 or 8 months has quickly changed that, My skin is thicker and that’s not a bad thing. Most of the time I thought I was stuck but after taking time to look back, I can see how much I’ve grown on an individual level. I used to think the growth was turning me into something I didn’t want to be but I realize it has turned me in what I need to be. I have the confidence now to tackle problems head on and finding myself run less and less. I have ran my entire life and only now realize that I do not trudge through the mud out of weakness but rather to gain strength.

It does not matter where I’m going, so long as I’m moving forward. As far as my goals for the year, I’m excited. I’ve been walking everyday and hope to begin intensive exercise soon. I have scheduled PTO and am thinking of camping for my first vacation. The money I’ve saved in the last 8 months has put a smile on my face and I finally have the means to start moving forward with my life.


I had an interview for a promotion the other day and that was a perfect time for me to reflect. I mostly talked in regards to my college experience and realized that was almost 2 years ago and most of the situations I referenced were around 4 or 5 years. I was hesitant to reference my current work experience, because, as much as I hate to admit, not quite the resume builder I had hoped. How do you quantify excellent customer service after a center point and how do you illustrate a portfolio with no projects under your belt? The response then becomes, by default, “I did my job and I did it well” or the equivalent of saying “it was just a job.” I chose to focus on personal growth in the interview, but it did make me think about my future and where I want it to go.

My main takeaway is that I am an acting again in my life and every situation I find myself in, is ultimately, when boiled down, a choice. I must receive some perceived benefit for myself and if I’m not, then the cost will ultimately lead me to other opportunities. The issue I think most people struggle with, then, is quantifying the cost-benefit. If a situation is neither good nor bad but simply is, you could, in theory, spend a lifetime being miserable. And perhaps, the equation is not so much in avoiding the bad but rather understanding that “happiness” lies in the highest highs and the lowest lows. When life sucker punches us and we’re able to stand, is that not a piece of the “happiness equation”?

In addition, how could we possibly appreciate when life is good without first knowing what we don’t enjoy. Yes, perhaps for some they have only ever been blessed with good fortune, but life has a way of eroding our best laid plans and I’d rather have a gradual build towards greatness than to have that given. We need to know how to manage the highs when we’re in them and temper the lows when we eventually fall.


Happiness does not simply lie in shifting your perspective. One can change ones mindset and while this helps for a while, if a person is not living to their full potential, then “good enough” is not simply “good enough”.

A prominent aspect of happiness is time. We’re constantly telling ourselves “if I had more time…” and once we find the time, we end up wasting it. But then the question becomes, was it truly a waste?

A prominent aspect of happiness is money. Yet once we acquire wealth, we keep working and acquire more and more. For some reason, the wealthiest among us are the most miserable.

We try to find meaning in our work and we work ourselves to death. 90% of the people who work won’t stop and what I’ve seen is work become all-consuming, as if their soul is slowly leaving their body until they are a husk sitting in a cubicle, with their skeletal remains grinning in what one might make out to be a smile. I however, opted for PTO.

So then, what is happiness?

The truth is, I don’t know. Happiness is a speculation, a pursuit. Almost everyone I’ve met has their own answer and those who can’t articulate why they’re happy are perhaps the wisest among us all. Happiness is a jumbled mess and is pathos at it’s finest. To truly smile and live, that is a feat; one our economists didn’t think of measuring when they designed our society. Happiness is beautiful, happiness is fleeting, and if you have it, then hold on and be brave enough to let go. For nothing last forever and it’s best to adapt and keep moving.


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That’s it for the article. With that said, what is your “happiness equation”? What makes you happy and what has your search looked like? Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below!

Mike Cole’s Year of New

2018 has come to a close. And it’s a year best left buried. While I found “success” I’ve struggled. I feel my soul slowly seeping and what was once new has become routine. Now is a time for me to define 2019 before 2020 rolls around all too soon. To look at my life and see where I want to be in a year.

Last year I had written an article and meant to post it in January, to declare to the world “How to New Year Properly”. And the moment came and past. And I did not “New Year” properly. I played it safe and while I kept some goals for a time, most fell through and I was left to the mercy of the world.

So ultimately, my year is themed and having a month to reflect, I don’t think the “Year of New” is enough; I want this to be the “Year of Finishing” as well; A “Year of New Beginnings” so to speak. To clear out the clutter and find stable ground in an unstable world. In addition to a theme, I have chosen a word to represent the year, “Forward”. Forward can mean many things to many people but my focus is towards progress and being up front; not bottling in my emotions and saying what’s on my mind. It’s a year to stand up and put my foot down.

Goals for 2019

Language

I have not been diligent with my practicing. I am off and on again with my languages and in addition to Learning German, I have also decided to pick up French. Obviously I feel it’s important, however, I have lacked the motivation to maintain consistent practice as I am unable to see the long term benefit in the short term. I’ve tried fixing this by joining the Duolingo clubs and time will tell if this works. It’s the first step, but it is my hope to join more communities for my interests and ultimately expand my network.

For specifics at this point, my goal is to practice at least twice a week on Duolingo for both French and German. I would also like to start watching more shows in German and eventually watch a show in French.

My tangible goal for the year is to be able to help with translations for both German and French.

Run A Half Marathon

More and more I am realizing I respond well to what I can see. I need tangible goals to create the framework for improvement. So what better way to get back into shape than to start with a distant goal, one that will require training and discipline? As I write this, it sounds absurd and I think that’s exactly the point. This is just right outside my comfort zone.

So it boils down to this: Exercise 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes and it can be whatever I want it to be. I can go bouldering, running, or even do push ups as breaks when I’m playing video games.

My tangible goal is to sign up for a half marathon in my city and hopefully race close to January of 2019.

Learn to Program

This has been long overdue. If I want to move forward, I will need skills that position me as an acting agent and further my ability to create. I am starting with the basics; Javascript and Python. From there, I might branch out, but I do not want to bite off more than I can chew.

I’ve already started with Codecacademy and I’m trying to sit down to watch LinkedIn learning videos. However, each time, I have fallen short. So now, I have a long term goal in mind: to design a video game. This is the challenge I need and the goal to really push my ability further. The game will be either 8 bits or 16 bits and could be a minute or 60 hours, so long as I have something tangible to show by the end of the year.

Writing

This is the big one and perhaps the goal I’m most excited to achieve. Over the past couple years, I’ve been working on my creative writing and think it’s at a point where I can start pushing my comfort zone even further. My writing goal for this year is to publish a book.

As far as specifics, I am starting with Poetry. The goal is to have 30 poems written and once I have done so, I will publish (most likely on Amazon). Right now I am playing with different formats and trying to add variety to my writing.

My other goal is to re-imagine my posts never published and bring the majority of them to see the light of day.

Cooking

As the list grows longer and longer, I should be worried; however, this is the most excited I’ve been in a long time and I can’t stop writing; I had forgotten how great it feels to set goals to achieve.

For cooking, it is simply to cook a dish once a month. To go out, buy groceries, and make anything. Ideally, I’m cooking to be healthier and to find what I enjoy; cooking relaxed me in College and I should’ve never stopped.

The tangible goal is to make cheese sticks (weird, I know). I tried once before and had a breaded cheese blob and it has been my greatest cooking regret.

Painting

Truth be told, it can be painting or drawing. I am in need of relaxing hobbies that soothe the soul. I need a hobby where I can catch my breath and create more than just vivid descriptions; I want to see what I create.

I’m starting out small and small is all I need; I want to attend one art class and have one painting I can be proud of. Online tutorials are great, but for this, I feel the need to go out and be part of an art class.

Road Trip/Camping

I do not consider myself a great driver. I can get some bad anxiety and figured I could kill two birds with one stone. The goal for this is to get me out of the house and more comfortable with adventure. When I did study abroad, I nearly had a heart attack but I grew so much. This goal is of the same mindset. I already have a trip planned in May and am taking a week vacation at the end of February so things are already shaping up to be better than the last two years.

My measure of success will be if I bought the sleeping bag and tent I’ve been saying I was going to buy and to not only go on a trip to the beach but to go camp overnight or for a couple days.

Epilogue

So that’s it, I now have my goals in writing. A basic roadmap to get me started with the catalysts I need to jump start my life. In addition to these goals, I want to get out once a week; whether that’s getting drinks downtown or trying a new restaurant, seeing an art display, or visiting a park, this year is about stepping out and creating the environment I want to live my adulthood in.

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As always, thanks for reading! What are your goals for the new year? Have you started? Are you happy with your year so far? Let me know in the comments below.

One-Way

Perhaps it’s time that I talk about something long buried, that I’ve hidden from the world in the hope that over time, it would vanish.

That I am afraid. Our lives have defining moments where we are left with two options; do we climb or do we fall?

Each decision a branch on our tree, creating endless ripples of what could of been and what will never be.

 I move forward and at the same time I stay exactly where I was, unmoving. I watch as the branch next to me crumbles and cling to my branch for dear life.

The wind begins to pick up and I pray that the branch chosen is strong enough to withstand any storm and should it begin to crack, I find the courage to keep climbing. That I will one day touch the sunlit canopy, and look back to see the branches I chose still standing strong; reaching their hands to catch me should I fall. And should I have stood upon a branch filled with rot, to have the knowledge to nourish the branch till leaves begin to sprout and the strength to severe the limb should the rot spread. 

Should I reach the top, I hope to see the forest and look far beyond the canopy of green that lays before me. To look at the thick roots down below; an intricate network of connections that keeps the forest alive. For if one tree suffers, the whole forest begins to die. And it is true that the strong nourish the weak but it is also true that the weak nourish the strong. And should the forest burn, from the ashes life begins anew.


Content from the Grave

When I found this draft, all it had was the title and the first line. So I expanded. This post was always meant to be a reflection of life and I wanted the words to be up to the reader to interpret. What is the forest? What do the branches represent? Is this referring to the individual or the group? Both?

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Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading! Thoughts? Comments? Sound off below and I’ll do my best to respond.

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