Keeping the theme of influences this month, bear with me for a minute. We visited the fish hatchery over the weekend where I shot this video:
These fish are hungry, I tell you! Nothing special about a feeding frenzy but what struck me was in the video, I'm not feeding them anything. Some of them jumped & reacted just by SEEING MY SHADOW OVER THE WATER. Whatever it takes to get a fin ahead of the school!
It reminded me of this show I'm watching called Atlanta, with Donald Glover as cousin/manager of an aspiring rap star. and just hip-hop in general actually -- the hustle of it all & how people are just HUNGRY, sometimes literally, to make something happen. Maybe it's this hunger that allows them to get past obstacles that block so many of us ... fear, expectations, doubts, self-consciousness, etc.
I found these fish hugely inspiring just as I find the hip-hop world hugely inspiring. Don't get me wrong, I barely listen to rap or R&B music & I'm not going to throw trap beats into my music or wear different clothes. I know that's pretty common, like an artist will discover yoga or meditation or Indian music & suddenly, you start hearing sitars & tablas in their music. Namaste.
Understandable, I guess but I always try to go deeper, beyond the surface aspect & into the core of what makes something what it is. What I take from hip-hop is the hunger, the hustle, the grind & the struggle that gives it all meaning. And the open competition of it all ... that's something that really appeals to me.
Coming from my immigrant-cum-middle-class background, competition is somewhat frowned upon in polite company. Even if someone is a clear rival, we're expected to maintain pleasantries & a nice face (in public at least). Unless you were in athletics or something, overly competitive people were seen as basically jerks. This is especially so in the bourgie indie music & art scenes, where it's very much a facade of kumbaya, at least until money starts getting thrown around & then the competitive spirit reveals it's every person for themselves.
It's a quandary put into stark relief as I watch my son grow up, not wanting him to be an overly aggressive punk in his pursuits but not wanting him to get punked either. Where's that line & how to toe it is a challenge. And also, should I let him win or not?
Personally, I feel competition is underutilized as a teaching and growth method. Perhaps us non-athletes shy away from it because of the huge focus on winners & losers, which is one of America's biggest flaws -- this zero-sum fixation on "winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." But competition in and of itself can be a beautiful thing. Even if we compete against opponents, ultimately the competition is with ourselves. In the end, opponents help push us to be the best we can be, win or lose and that's so valuable.
Perhaps if we focused more on becoming the best versions of ourselves, we'd all be winners in the long run.