What can I do that no one else can do? How can I be bettering the world? What kind of voice and perspectives do I have that is is unique to me? I remembering asking myself these question about a year and a half ago during an acid trip. As an artist, the answers would give me direction. As a human being, they would give me understanding.
I have three cultures inside of me: Canadian (American), Korean, and Christian. And at different times in my life, I’ve oriented myself towards the Greek (frat) life, musician life, stoner life, rapper life, and one-true-love kind of life. And the thing is, each of these has their own merits and positive influences in the world.
One of my closest friends subscribes to pick up. While I continue to find the general concept of pick up appalling, I now have the understanding that in today’s culture, many men seek out these teachings in order to learn how to pursue meaningful relationships, sex being an aspect of this in varying degrees. And this depends completely on the individual, which make sense. What I didn’t realize was that for many, this approach has allowed them to come out of depression, find self-confidence, and overcome personal fears.
I think I would have liked pick up back in high school, when movies like the American Pie series looked really appealing. The male pandering view of college life was something to look forward from my repressed living situation at the time. I mean, it was completely selfish and immature, but I guess that’s where I was back then. But to be fair though, the reality Greek life, at its core, is a community of brothers and sisters who commits to support and care about each other.
What something actually is, and how it is expressed can look radically different. Feminism is about gender equality. Black lives matter is about racial equality. And hip hop is actually a countercultural and an alternative lifestyle from violence and oppression. Stoners gravitate towards having a peaceful life, seeking a constant and attainable state of pain relief and and enjoying life from a different perspective. Drugs literally pull you out from your current state of experiencing and can help you to feel differently about the current circumstances. Whether this is good or bad is–obviously–complicated. But speaking from my experiences, it can be an incredibly eye opening experience to be taken out of what is a sober but toxic world view.
With music, as I’ve mentioned earlier, I have thought, at one point in my life, that I could maybe try to make it in a rock band. Expressing your passion and having the limelight to make other people excited seemed totally amazing. And the sort of ‘do whatever you want to do’ kind of freedom seemed empowering. Compared to this, jazz is entirely different. It’s about pursuing virtuosity and accepting practicing music 8 hours a day as your life. Jazz musicians… they’re a weird bunch. They really do it for the music. But there is an aspect of jazz which is a life of music and drugs masked under prestige and class.
Hip hop is interesting because it has always been more than a genre. Coming from sample based music, it naturally embraces diversity and celebrates differences. While at this it’s found mainstream success in its trap age, there are still wordsmiths out there pouring out their hearts. And their words inspire life. On the outside, however–and understandably–it looks like the epitome of materialism, sex, drugs, and pursing power.
When it comes to positivity in sex… I feel as though it’s almost a waste to have sex that wasn’t great. And how can you have great sex without knowing that the other person is enjoying themselves too? Maybe think about it in terms of investment–like doing a group project. Wouldn’t you want to be paired up with someone who actually wants to contribute? Sex can be a beautiful balance of giving and taking, serving and being served. And apparently many pick up teachers preaches this.
When it comes to the anime I enjoy, it’s is all about the ideal. It’s a life of innocence, simplicity, and companionship. And I enjoy Japan’s culture of respect, service, and trying your best, as well as its collectivism attitudes compared to the West’s individualism. I mean, honestly, there’s good in both. It’s more of knowing the balance.
I used to think of myself as a romantic. While pursuing love is certainly not a bad thing, the romantic idea of love is apparently a new thing. Disney portrays this heavily in a very specific way, with the mom is always frustrated and condescending, and the dad always dumb. It also portrays that falling in love is the best thing that can happen to you. It’s the idea that there is someone out there who will love you for who you are. But then I wonder then if you would be able to love them for who they are. Even at best, romance is sort of a ‘life will be okay as long as we have each other’ and a “us vs. the world” thing.
Cultures are essentially cults at large. Traditions, norms, acceptability and so on that have established themselves over time. But Christianity I think, as a culture, is kind of different. In its core is Jesus, and it’s the idea that we can’t do anything without Him. We rely on Him, and form a community based on Him. He is the tree and we are the branches. And our intrinsic value and confidence comes from the fact that He loves us so much that He died for us. There is something transformative about orienting yourself to see life this way.
I still don’t know what my voice is. But maybe I can rely on Him for wisdom. Once again, Philippians 4:8:
“… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Image is from Le Petit Prince