Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photo of the Day: Traveling Back in Time

Not even a ridiculous alice bow can make this book a fun read.

For this photo, I tried to get a ridiculous old-photo vibe going on with the image in terms of color, focus and all that good stuff. I think perhaps I went a bit overboard, but I'll go with it for now, because it actually suits the topic of the ramble I'm in the mood to write. I've been mulling over this a while now, and it's time to get it out of my head and into the keys.

I have a really bad habit of tearing myself up when I'm down. When I was in college, I used to joke with my friends that that was the only thing about me that would get up when I was down.

A lot of people respond to stress and pressure that way, by beating themselves up over what they can't fix rather than trying to fix what they can. They become pessimistic, reactionary. Lately, I'm trying to be more positive and avoid the pitfalls inherent in my my present situation. Unfortunately, I have more time to think than I'm used to, and keeping busy non-stop can be exhausting.

I decided the other day that reading a bit of my old text books might get me back into a proper mindset for new beginnings, and keep me from falling prey to pessimism (which I'm already good buddies with).

I've been suffering a bit of a mental block on redesigning my website and portfolio, so I thought it might help to get back to the basics. For the last year, I haven't been doing much "creative" work, so I've fallen out of the good habits I built in the past and have adopted some really bad ones.

Err. Maybe that's a bit of an extreme. I'm not yet to the point of using Papyrus or Comic Sans willingly. There are some cases where I haven't been able to avoid them, though: I had a CPA request Comic Sans for her letterhead, professional documentation, mailing labels and business cards, and a photographer give me print files with Papyrus for his business cards. But that's beside the point.

I just definitely don't have the same edge as I did upon graduation. So I thought rereading the things I read when I first started would be good for me! Re-educating as it were.

I chose the wrong book to start with, however.

The Universal Traveler is an outdated hippie text from 1973. In spite of having had multiple updates since then, the book still shows its age. If you look up reviews for it, virtually none of the people advising its use will be under the age of 50 (I didn't find any, anyway).

It's a rambling, poorly-written book on how to think creatively, solve problems and achieve your goals. For reference, pretend that I took this blog and turned it into a volume on self-help. You'd get about the same effect, really. It's a book written by people who aren't writers, trying to help people who can't think creatively to think the way an artist would.

That is to say: it's complicated.

In general, it reads like the sort of pamphlet you'd give a kid suffering with bullying or self-esteem issues. Very touchy-feely, self-help and inner-love sort of thing. Add a lot of metaphors (most of which are left open-ended), and you've got The Universal Traveler down. The key to understanding the book is very simple! Don't let the man get you down, maaaan.

When it was assigned to me the first time, I didn't make it past page five. Now, I'm remembering why on rereading it.

So why am I going to finish this dratted thing?
Admittedly, the has some good advice in it, particularly on the topic of working through things logically as well as emotionally.  Getting the advice out of the text itself is sort of like smearing antiseptic cream on an open cut, though. It burns like hell, and you really don't want to do it, even if you know it'll do you some good in the long run.

I'm only on page 30 (out of about 120?), and I'm ready to dismiss the book as nonsense, return to my fluffy Wodehouse novels, and get on with life.

But (my God, three letters never looked so big).

Sometimes, doing what I least want to do is doing what is best for me.

I've determined to finish the book, and see if any of it makes (clearer) sense when I've reached the end of it. Maybe it'll be worth it. If not, I won't have wasted that much time.

It is a rather short book, after all.

Plus, I can't say I haven't gotten something out of it already. I've been struck by inspiration! It involves cowboy boots, sepia, and a shotgun. Hopefully, that one will come to fruition with a bit of planning.

Also, working on getting some actual content back into these posts... I just ramble so much.



I quite like this picture, despite the hippie text of the book haha

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