Fanboy Friday: Can I Interest You in Some Zen?

Sometimes we need a solid and swift kick in the butt.  Sometimes we need an injection of inspiration into our veins.  Sometimes we need this sort of thing to come from an unfamiliar voice.

I found Zen Pencils last April and have been hooked ever since.  Gavin Aung Than adapts famous quotes into cartoons.  A simple concept, yet powerful.  If you haven’t seen his work before I suggest you go through each cartoon and if you have, it is something worth revisiting.  Below I have narrowed my ten favourite cartoons from the website and explain why they resonate with me.

10. On Technology 

Full confession: I worry that my life has been too easy.  That life hasn’t punched me in the gut enough or kicked me hard enough when I’m down.  I’m afraid I don’t appreciate things and am too conditioned to get what I want.  I’m scared that I’m the fat guy in the cartoon.

9. We Don’t Think About the Way we Talk 

I love Louis CK and the fact Gavin made a cartoon using one of his best bits is the perfect marriage.   Every quotes on this list makes me think but that doesn’t mean it can’t make me laugh either.

8. There Are No Limits

I have this quote on my bed room wall in Calgary.  It’s a reminder that we don’t have to accept the limits set by the things outside of our control; even though things are outside of our control, we still have a choice.  Do we accept our new ceiling or do we push to see how far it’ll go?

7. Air and Light and Time and Space

Being ready is overrated.  If you wait for the perfect moment, you’ll spend your entire life waiting.  If you want to do something, you’ll devote time and energy into it regardless of what else is going on in your life.

6. A Giant Among Men

I’m not sure how to explain why this cartoon makes my stomach want to do a back flip.  Maybe, the quote reveals that we aren’t the center of the universe, that we’re not the stars of our own perceived movie, that, maybe, just maybe there is something bigger than us.  Accepting this truth is to give our own egos up entirely.  We’re all we’ve got.  Maybe, it is a tragedy that not everyone else realizes this and you wish everyone did.

5. What Teachers Make
4. Graduation Speech

I’m lumping these two comics together, and it’s not because they came out in succession.  Rather education and school is one of my favourite topics to discuss and think about.  I remember the morning when I first read over the Graduation Speech.  I was waiting in my car outside of my cousin’s house ready to go to work.  The cartoon floored me, I immediately clicked the link and watched the video of the speech in full.  After work I went home and watched it again.

The next week What Teachers Make was released.  Same situation as when I first read the previous installment and again I was floored.  I find the contrast of the two cartoons intriguing.  The two comics paint the education system as two extremes.  One where it is a soulless institution where you follow mindless instructions and take tests.  While the other gives the system personality and the unsung heroes of school a place to shine.

So why does the Graduation Speech get the nod over What Teachers Make.  I wish someone told me those words when I was in high school.

3. Eleven Ways to be Average

I, like most people, go through life wondering if what I’m doing with my life on a day – to – day basis is right or not.  The definition of “right” meaning, going to class, which will lead to good grades, which will lead to me graduating, which will lead me to finding a secure job.  I spend plenty of time wondering if that is the definition of right for me.  There isn’t a straight forward answer and at times it is frustrating and confusing.  Because if I’m not sure where I’m going then how am I supposed to get there?

2. To Love At All

Love is my favourite topic to write about because it’s so rich, deep, and the possibilities and combinations and types are boundless.  It’s messy, it’s imperfect, and can be the most painful emotion.  And yet it is the most uplifting and essential feeling and powerful emotion.  It drives people crazy.  I believe you are the most human when you are in love because all of your public masks are down, your guard is dropped, and you’re exposed for who you truly are.  All of the good, bad, and everything else is on the table.  To grow and develop as a person you have to discover what it is like to love someone more than yourself, because you find out how far you are willing to go and what you’re willing to give up for another.  You can only accomplish this through love.

1. Advice for Beginners

I feel like I’m at the stage described in this cartoon.  My skill does not match my taste.  It is beyond frustrating some days.  However, it’s not frustrating enough for me to stop.  We’re nearing our 50th post and we will be posting plenty more after that.  We’re still beginners but everybody is at some point.

It’s Like I Have ESPN or Something – Nicole

We are total rookies at blogging.  I’m a total rookie at academia and adult life and responsibility and maturity and writing and creativity and laundry.  But, as I stumble my messy way through all those things, I like to sit, read, and think with people who remind me that we are fluid, we are happening, we are becoming, we are nothing, we are everything, we are dust, and we are the universe.  This slaps me into thinking big and thinking small and thinking old and trying to think new.

I’m a total rookie at thinking new.  Like, how?

Irving Chong (@Irving_Chong) and Nicole (@_nicoliooo) are co-creators of This is Why we Can’t Have Nice Things even though it doesn’t make sense why they’re friends.

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