I proudly own three books of poetry, one being the complete collection of Robert Frost. I've thought a lot lately about the events that led to my move to Austin. At the time, choosing Austin in light of other options was a bit counterintuitive. After three months here, I couldn't imagine any other road to take. That just so happens to remind me of my second favorite Frost poem...
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Thanks to a friend's recommendation I've been listening through the recently released Youth Lagoon album. If you can acclimate your ears to the guy's voice, I think it's a pretty incredible listen. Check out one of the tracks below and a music video for another below that.
Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Between 750,000 and 1.5 million bats, depending on who you ask, live beneath the Congress Avenue bridge spanning Town Lake. A few weeks ago, accompanied by two of my siblings and my cousin, I had the opportunity to watch this colony make their nightly emergence at dusk in search of food. It's quite a sight to see.
Austin is also the current home of the CowParade, an art exhibit of nearly 100 uniquely decorated cows spread throughout the city. One such cow is decorated as a bat and hangs beneath the Congress Avenue bridge. You can read more about this particular cow here. As you can see above, the Batcow has gained enough attention to warrant its own poster. If you look closely you can see the bats flying out from beneath the bridge.
For most of my life, I've been driven by the fear of failure. I created unrealistic expectations for myself and was terrified at the idea of falling short. I most motivated not by the opportunity to succeed but from the terror of failure. What a terrible thing, I used to think, for everyone to realize I was anything less than perfect? How ridiculous that sounds now. Failure is such a fundamental part of the human experience.
I read an op-ed in the Washington Post today that discussed the benefits of failure. The author pointed to Steve Jobs as a prime example. Before the MacBook and the iPhone became worldwide successes, Jobs bounced from couch to couch in an effort to make ends meet financially. At one point he was even fired from Apple, the company he co-founded. How humiliating.
It got me thinking about how many other influential figures have failed miserably. Abraham Lincoln's run to public offic began with a nervous breakdown and one election defeat after another. Reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers began his college football career in junior college. He was invited to the NFL Draft festivities in Madison Square Garden only to sit alone in the waiting room hours after every other player had been drafted. Walt Disney had difficulty finding work as a newspaper artist and was even fired once because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."
The article (link below) I read discusses how the American obsession with success, and fear of failure, has trickled down to affect people of all ages. Yet, in reality, so much of the world's greatest successes were products of profound failure. Failure isn't something to be afraid of but to embrace. It's a lesson I'm learning ever so slowly.
I snagged an EP this evening from Nick Waterhouse. If I didn't know better, I would think I was listening to something straight out of the 1950's. Check out the opening track below. I'm a sucker for the old school sound.
I'm a sucker for oldies tunes. I'm also a sucker for modern covers of oldies songs...unless it's a Beatles song. Those are off limits in my opinion. They are perfect as originally written. Check out Tennis covering a track from The Zombies below. You can also hear the original below that.
I've never pre-ordered a book...until now. Today I'll receive my copy of Chuck Klosterman's The Visible Man. Apparently the novel is set in Austin, Texas, which is a fun coincidence. Klosterman will be in Austin for a book discussion in two weeks. I'm going to do my best to finish the book and attend the discussion. This will be the first book I've read since starting law school - other than my case books - which is a sad fact.
If you're interested in a preview of the book, go here to read one of the chapters. Also, making book trailers is apparently the new thing to do. You can check out the trailer for the book below. Watching it actually makes the book seem a little creepy. But Klosterman always makes me think, so I'm betting there's more to the book than the trailer lets on.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
This week Feist released the follow up to her blockbuster album The Reminder. The new album, Metals, reminds me a lot of some of the more raw cuts from her previous effort - "Intuition" and "The Water" most especially. It has a choral element reminiscent of Ryan Gosling's band Dead Man's Bones. Yet Feist puts her own unique fingerprints on the dusky folk/rock sound. These songs may not wind up on an iPod commercial, but they are great to study to. Check out the album's opener below.
Yesterday my co-ed flag football team lost 6-0. We had the ball on the 2 yard line with one play remaining and couldn't score. I hate losing. I have the annoying tendency to wrap my identity into the task presently at hand - even if that task is co-ed flag football. Thus losing is more than losing; it is a mini-identity crisis. It took some some heartbreak a few years ago to realize just how crippling this tendency can be. Slowly I'm learning a better way to live, and I think I'm finally becoming an enjoyable person to be around.
Yet it's good to know that I'm not alone. I just read this article on Jerry West, and we seem to have a lot in common. I wish we shared the same athletic prowess, but alas we share the same dysfunction - perfectionism. In spite of unparalleled respect in NBA circles, West says, "Self-esteem is something I still battle. People look at me and say you've got fame, you've got admiration, you've done this, you've done that. As far as I'm concerned, I haven't done anything." In spite of 14 All-Star appearances, 7 appearances in the NBA Finals, and 1 NBA Championship, West says, "All I did was learn how to lose... Go in that other locker room and see what it's like. It's the worst feeling in the world. You feel like you're lost. You hate yourself. You can't stand yourself, and we praise the winners."
The article is a fascinating, surprisingly honest take on one of the NBA's greatest stars. It reminded me of the pitfalls of defining myself by my performance. But beyond the psychology, it's a great read.
My favorite album so far this year is Mute Math'sOdd Soul, which officially drops today. My brother gave me a leaked copy last week and it's been on repeat since then. To me, the album's sound bears fingerprints of 70's funk and classic rock. It's certainly a different sound than Mute Math has produced in the past, and I am enjoying their evolution. Check out the title track below. Surprisingly and much to my chagrin, the band doesn't have a show scheduled in Austin.
French songstress Mina Tindle released a self-titled EP yesterday. This song is the highlight from what I can tell. If she was shooting jumpers rather than dancing around the basketball court in her video, then she'd be the perfect girl...other than the fact that she's French.
This is a pretty incredible video. I'm sure there is some metaphor to be made about how life mimics nature - things are happening all around us but we rarely have the patience to be still and recognize what is happening. Anyway, I think you'll like the video.