Supplemental Mentality

You might be wondering “What the heck is Supplemental Mentality supposed to mean?” Let me explain what I mean by Supplemental Mentality by defining the terms that make up the title. First, supplemental is essentially the adjective form of supplement, which is defined as something that is added to another thing to complete it. Mentality […]

Understanding The Complicated Conflict

Two vastly different nationalities, full of culture and traditions, both at odds with one another. These neighbors, the Israelis and Palestinians, have a long history going back more than two thousand years. This history has rarely ever been peaceful, and both sides have offended, hurt, attacked, and abused the other at one point or another. So when someone mentions the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a complicated issue, it truly is one. Such a conflict that has lasted for that long, begins to blur the lines we see in most political international issues. Commonly described as a conflict with no good or evil sides explicitly apparent, the conflict has only grown in intensity within the past few decades. Full of gray areas, it is a easily misunderstood conflict. In an interview with the CEO of UF Hillel,  Rabbi Adam Grossman describes the issue in more detail. UF Hillel is one of the leading organizations at the University of Florida for supporting Jews and advocacy for the Israelis in the conflict. In his words, “UF Hillel’s role is to be a space of education awareness and advocacy, to highlight the complexities as well as create a much more informed audience.”


Rabbi Adam Grossman and I taking a selfie.

When asked, Rabbi Grossman explained the conflict as a  “A complicated situation.” Complicated is certainly an excellent word choice to describe the conflict. “You have two religious factions that makes claims to the same land. And religion is a very emotional factor.” This religious aspect is extremely important to understanding the conflict, as  both cultures are influenced by thousands of years of religious traditions. One aspect of religion playing a role in the conflict is the fight of Jerusalem, which is a holy city for both people. It contains both the Dome of the Rock for the Arabs and the Wailing Wall for the Jews.

Although the two sides have had an extremely long history, the most recent rise in heated conflict for the two people began in 1947 when the British decided to start dividing the Middle East in their own way. They formed the countries of Lebanon and Jordan, along with some others and set boundaries for them. However, the British didn’t fully understand the culture and its ties to the land, so they didn’t take into consideration where they placed the lands in regards to the people’s culture. In the 1900s, nationalism started to appear in the Middle Eastern world, especially in Israelis. Israel formed a nation state, while the Arabs formed Islamic nation states. Rabbi Grossman has an extensive history on the subject, “Israel was promised by Britain in the Balfour Declaration that there would be a state for the Jews. The British also created deals that basically said the same area would be given to the Arab world. So, it’s complex.”

After World War II, with all of its atrocities for the Jewish people, they yearned for a Jewish state. So, the United Nations came up with a two state solution. The Arab state, and the Jewish state.

“In 1947, Britain was less in control and the Arabs said they’re not touching this two state solution. The Jews said absolutely, we’ll take this deal.”

Attacks and violence truly starting rising in 1948, after the British left the Middle East, and Israel declared itself a country. The Arabs responded by attacked Israel.

“From that point on, you have a constant struggle of war.”

This came to be known as the Arab-Israeli war, or the War of Liberation as the Israelis would call it. Since then, both sides have found more and more reasons to fight one another. In 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike on Arab Palestinians, winning the war in just six days, which is now known as the Six Day War. This led to a huge uproar between the two sides, as Israel had now captured and built settlements in much of the West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip, and had obtained Jerusalem.

“There were some that left their homes, and there were some that, as war happens, Israel took over the homes. So it’s not clear cut anymore, and so you have a refugee problem.”

With these settlements came more reasons for arguing between the two sides. Jews began settling in Palestinian land in the West Bank, even though it wasn’t controlled by their government. Israeli settlements began to creep into Palestinian owned lands.

“Ultra-religious, orthodox Jews are building settlements in places that are typically predominately Arab, which becomes problematic.”

With attacks from one side and a refugee crisis from another, both sides have insisted that the other is being intolerable. The Israelis have complained about terrorist attacks from Palestinians, while Palestinians have complained about Israelis subjugating them and building on their land where they don’t belong.

There have been some forms of peace despite this though, mostly with other Arab countries such as Egypt and Lebanon.

“There were certain peace treaties that were made. Egypt and Israel made a massive peace treaty. Nobody would have ever thought in 1979, that Israel and an Arab country could come together in peace.”

However, Israeli and Palestinian relations have come close to peace before with the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, which was,  “an extraordinary opportunity to create peace.”

When it comes to recent events regarding the situation in Israel, I turned to Matthew Pesek, a religion graduate from the University of Florida who went on a two month trip where he stayed in Israel and talked to many officials and citizens. He spent a month on both sides of the West Bank, and spent time in Hebron and Ramallah, both major cities. He also spent several days in Jerusalem and other cities on the Israeli side of the West Bank. When asked about what he encountered there, and if there was any obvious signs of tension between the two sides, he responded with, “I didn’t really get to experience the traditional tension between Jews and the locals too much, but I was in the West Bank one time, we were out later at night with some of my friends I met over there, and I got accused of being a Jewish spy.”

“It’s just a war of propaganda.”

The two sides are both indoctrinating their people with beliefs about the other group of people, and trying to get others to see their side of the story as well, instead of seeing the big picture. “It’s not as obvious as the government handing out pamphlets,” he went on to say, “and it’s not so much as the government being anti-Israel. Everyone wants peace, they’re just normal people trying to live their lives. Most people over there wouldn’t say they’re anti-Jewish.” Pesek gave a prime example of this when he told of a story while in Hebron.

“When I went to Hebron, I paid a guy 50 or 60 bucks to show me around for a few hours. They showed me the trash the Jewish people threw down at them, and bullet holes and some sad story, that if I didn’t have so much background information, I’d probably think it was terrible, but knowing this, [that] there were thousands of Jews here that got kicked out and killed…I know there is a museum in Hebron on the Jewish settlement side that I went to that showed all the pictures of this stuff. There’s this entire other side of the story that you don’t know about…He’s making it seem like this happens all the time, but no it doesn’t. I know it doesn’t happen, this rarely happens, if at all.”

From the viewpoint of one not involved in the issue, it seems as though much of the violence between the two peoples is a misunderstanding on how and what the other is feeling and going through. Pesek would argue that, “a lot of it has to do with the education system, just not being exposed to the other side of the story, for both sides as well. Different countries have their own versions of history.”

But even with the understanding of the other person’s side of the story, would that be enough to grant some peace eventually? Even with an understanding, there’s more barriers to overcome. “You still have that huge divide of culture, so how do you fix that?” Pesek argued. However, it certainly is a start in his opinion.

“When you understand the opposing side, that’s where solutions come from.”

One huge problem the Palestinians recently have had with the Israelis is the Israelis building a wall to separate the two people, and the wall doesn’t always follow the territory lines that were established back in 1967. The wall has been a subject of contention from both sides, and according to Matthew Pesek, it is unfortunately, “a necessary evil.”

“Neither sides wants to have to put the wall up. But they’ll say ‘since we’ve built this barrier…we’re much safer because of it.'”

This was one of the governments decisions for Israel that led to increased tension, but Pesek would continue to speak out about the government on the Palestinians side as well.

“It’s really the culture and I mean, I want to blame a lot of it on the government just when I see really poor living conditions all around Ramallah, and then I go see the tomb of Yasser Arafat which is like two million dollars, with guards dressed to the nines.”

Part of the solution, Pesek believes though, is the understanding of both sides, and a rise of awareness of the issue for both people, founded on facts rather than emotional stories. In order to do this though, it will take a lot of counter intuitive work for both sides, as it will mean they have to question what they’ve been taught their whole lives.

“It takes a lot of courage to be able to question whether your beliefs are wrong.”

When it comes to peace today, and if there will ever be long lasting peace, Rabbi Grossman says he’s more prone to fall under the optimistic crowd, while Pesek seems to be a bit more pessimistic on the issue.

“If you were to ask in 1948 if Israel would ever have peace with Egypt or Jordan, you would have said ‘When pigs fly.’ So I think that the reality of peace between Egypt and Jordan is indicative that peace can happen.”

Ultimately, Rabbi Grossman thinks that peace might come about, “When both sides realize that the dignity of humanity is real.”

Pesek said that perhaps eventually there might be peace, but, “I don’t really see it, I want to be hopeful, but. Practically speaking, it’s just so difficult to see that happening besides a radical shift in the mindsets of both parties. The change would have to be with the people…”

From a security and safety perspective, Pesek believes that, “you can’t negotiate with someone who doesn’t think a country should exist.”

Ultimately, it comes down to being a complex issue, with no end in near side. This is simply the surface of some of the problems at hand in Israel. In the final words of Matthew Pesek, “It’s just a huge, deep rooted problem, that boils down to cultural issues on both sides.” However, we can be sure to do our best in spreading awareness and advocacy to others in order to help the conflict by letting people know what’s happening there. Hopefully, we can eventually lead both sides into knowledge and compassion, and eventually, peace.




What it Means To Be an Artist.

An artist is a peculiar, particular, and very special kind of a person. I once was called an artist, and it was one of the greatest honors.

First of all, artists aren’t just painters, in case you thought so. Or a musician. An artist isn’t something you do or create. Artists can be musicians, philosophers, writers, painters, sculptors, inventors, craftsmen, fashion designers, developers, and, I would argue, even scientists. So what makes an artist, an artist?

An artist is one in a million. Perhaps one in two million. An artist sees the world differently from everyone else. There’s some layer of our perceptions that we just don’t see, that artists see. They see potential, not just events. They don’t see impossibilities, they see realities. They don’t just perceive things, they dream things. They don’t look, they envision. Colors aren’t just another shade to make things interesting. Colors are what makes life worth living. Small things that are mundane to others become incredible to artists. Memories are precious. Everything they see in life has a meaning and a purpose. They see past what their eyes can see and look with their soul. They breathe and create with every part of them.
What an artist sees as important isn’t what the world sees as important. Artists live to dream. Artists live to create. Artists live to see potential come to life. Artists live to see something beautiful be born out of nothing. An artist doesn’t find their own life or body as important. They relish in the more beautiful things in life. An artist is never prideful, their motives, when they produce true art, is always pure. They love the good things in life. They despise evil. They fall in love with that which makes life beautiful and incredible. Things like grace, mercy, kindness, goodness, zeal and passion, beauty, empathy, laughter, joy, compassion, but most of all love.

Oh how an artist falls in love with love!

An artist finds beauty in all they can. The sad truth though, is the life of an artist is looked down upon. When an artist sees such beauty, and tries to share it with the world or explain it to them, the world simply doesn’t understand. The majority sneers at true beauty. It hisses at an artist’s attempts to reveal his or her world to them. When you realize that only a sporadic few see the world as you do, it becomes a depressing thought. It’s brought some to terrible thoughts. Others, it brings to determination, to somehow make the world see themselves and their surroundings as they do. But alas, as much as they might try, they can only achieve so much. With their creation, for an instant people see the world as they do. Only to forget about it as soon as that creation passes from their vision. As if the way an artist views everything is a pair of sunglasses that can be put on for a moment in the view of such obvious, glaring beauty, but as soon as they can look away, the glasses are removed.
This is why for centuries artists have attempted to create the biggest displays of art they can. The longest, most touching songs. They attempt to put so much of themselves in their art, so that way maybe, just maybe, some people might see the world how they do. The world might see beauty once again. Just maybe, this time, people might leave those lenses on, because there’s simply no way for them to look away from the sun because it covers all of their vision.

Some get close. Some manage to change a few into artists. Others fail. All die. Yet, I see it as living far better than any other kind of person.

I’m realizing that although I’m not sure whether I have the right to call myself an artist, I do see things differently.

I see the world different from how others see it. I don’t enjoy what the world loves. I love things like fresh air. I love hikes and hiking trails. I love mountains and the freshness of the air on them. I love exploring the woods. I love getting lost. I love green grass between my toes. I love giant, open fields that you can run in. I love wheat fields that you can hide in. I love thunder storms, and rainy days. I love the beauty of the stars. I love being alone and thinking. I love the smell of fresh water, or the smell of the beach. I love the feeling of October breezes. I love watching the seasons turn. I love the colors the world can create. Actually, I just love color. I love seeing something new. I love listening to a piano that is being played by someone who’s putting their heart and soul into their music. I love the way sounds are made. I love the sound of footsteps. I love the sound of laughter on a summer day. I love the sound of a child laughing. I love sitting outside and just listening to birds. I love the gurgling of streams. I love the sound of cars driving by in the night. I love things like love. I love simply existing next to someone. I love being able to hold someone in my arms as the world spins around them and me. I love it when people smile. I love kindness and joy and positive attitudes. I love beauty, not just in people, in the world. I love hearing the different way people speak, especially if they have a beautiful voice. I love hearing people spill their hearts. I love the sound of pen against paper. I love the smell of a good book, or a new book. I love the smell of a book that’s been there through everything with someone. I love the smell of flowers. I love just walking, with absolutely nowhere to go. I love being me. I love dancing and swaying to classical piano music. I love singing to myself. I love the way my fingers roll off the strings on any instrument, or the way the notes sound whenever I play an instrument. There’s nothing else like these things. You can try to replicate it, but it won’t be the same. There’s art in these things.

Let me assure you though, that an artist, although different and incredible in their own right and therefore beautiful, is not in anyway “better” than anyone else. Their lives are not in anyway automatically more “successful” in the way the world looks at success. They might see their own lives as more successful because of what they love. Their version of success is much different from the world’s. An artist doesn’t care who sees their art, or who sees them. Their success isn’t measured by the amount of awe they inspire, or the amount of views they can accumulate. Their success is measured by the amount of themselves they put into what they do. If an artist puts themselves wholeheartedly into something, and then finishes that something, that is success to them. To fail is for something of theirs to be artificial, or not of their own design. There’s nothing more humiliating for an artist than to be forced into doing something that has none of their soul in it, whether by peers or to simply survive. As a musician, I would rather not write music ever again than have someone else create my music for me. Even if that music would top the charts. There’s something just fake about it and I don’t see the point in having me perform something that isn’t me.

All that is to say, artists often go unnoticed, unappreciated, and occasionally go insane. However, they’re beautiful in their own right, and they appreciate things that no one else will. The world wouldn’t be the same without them, and their creativity is what inspired many of the most beautiful pieces of art ever. So if you happen to know an artist, let them know that you think they’re awesome. Let them know that you think whatever it is they do is incredible and they need to chase their art no matter what.

If you are an artist, then this is for. You’re incredible. You might not feel like it all the time, but you are. You’re differences are so unique and beautiful, like the things you create. The way you see the world is wonderful, don’t ever try to hide it. Enjoy the things you love that no one else loves. Admit your differences. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Don’t be afraid to share your gifts and vision with the world. They’re a gift that needs to be shared. We all need more people like you. We need you to share the little bit of beauty you have with everyone. Because, for some people, it’s the one of the only beautiful things they may see.

In Artistry,

Josiah Serravalle.

Five Things for an Extroverted-Introvert to Enjoy Before College.

I’ve had a lot of changes happen in my life. I’ve changed a lot as a person in my life. This blog is a testament to that, and it’s one of the things I love about it.  All that is to say, once again my life has gotten crazy. It’s probably been one of the biggest change in my life, and it as a result has changed everything involved in my life. I have officially moved in to a college campus and am attending the University.

I know. College, woo, it’s the best four years of your life, enjoy it while it lasts. The college experience. Take advantage of it, learn how to live, meet people, party until the break of dawn everyday of your life. That’s great and all, and maybe some of that is true. However, for an Extroverted-Introverted/over-thinker/anxiety ridden individual such as myself, people often leave out the stress that also comes from college. When you’re first going to college, you’re stressed from the fact that you literally know none of the people around you. So, you’re forced to make friends, and the way you are going to go about that is quite the burden to think about, at least if you have to think about every little aspect like I do. Not to mention, you have classes, a job usually, you have to pick and decide a major that you may or may not stick with, but will determine the amount of money you end up either borrowing or somehow obtaining, and will certainly determine how the rest of your life turns out. So. You know, no pressure. Just enjoy the best four years of your life partying and having no responsibilities or worries. Because that’s possible in such an environment. Anyways, I’m here to write about several things that I find myself missing already, only a week into this whole college life, and living on campus thing. I’d like to preface this with the fact I’ve had very little experience here so far, and my “dorm” is a hotel room. All this is to say that I’m speaking only from my experiences and from what I’ve seen. Take a note that this is coming from an extroverted introvert’s perspective. In other words, this is my opinion, and it’s not from anyone else’s experience at college.

1.) Enjoy living with your parents and/or siblings.

“But Josiah,” You say to me, “You don’t understand my parents and/or siblings. They’re horrible, messy, and tease me all the time.” You might be right. They might be all those things. But. They’re familiar. You, in some form or other, trust them. You’ve lived with them your whole life, so you understand how they function. You get them. You know what they love, what they hate. How to get on their nerves, how to avoid punishment, how to hide from them, and you can always find one way or another to be away from them and be alone. (Trust me, for an introvert/ambivert, this was incredibly essential.) When it was first revealed to me that I was going to get a roommate, I was actually pretty excited at first. I thought it’d be great. All the sitcoms I’ve seen flashed through my mind, and I thought that it’d be awesome to get to know someone so well and become best friends with them. Sure, that might be true in the television shows, but when you’re given a complete stranger, the chances your personalities are going to mesh well is close to one in a million. Even if you love your roommate, for quite some time it simply isn’t the same. You just can’t be as comfortable around them as you could your family. Not to mention, nothing about them is familiar. You have to relearn how to live and interact with someone. The tedious amount of energy and thought that requires is something that slowly becomes a burden. It makes you appreciate the times when you simply KNEW the person/people you were living with and could be 100% yourself. My advice for anyone struggling with this is to communicate with your roommate and be one hundred percent yourself. I’ve learned already that despite wanting to appear cool or like somebody I’m not so they might enjoy being around me, I realized rather quickly that was pretty much idiotic. THEY LIVE WITH ME NOW. Of course they’ll have to see the real me. At one point or another. So save yourself a ton of trouble and try not to impress them or be somebody you’re not. Also, communicate with them about pretty much everything, because you will disagree with them about something, and if neither of you say anything, then it’ll just rage deep inside until one of you bursts. That would not be pretty, let me tell you.

2.) Enjoy the friends you grew up with.

The friends in your hometown are people that know everything about you. My three best friends in the entire world have known me since sixth grade, and they know pretty much every tiny little thing about me. This ISN’T a bad thing. It means they know me just as well, if not better, than I know myself. They know your parents, your family, what you did in high school, they know your potential, your mistakes and problems, and love you anyways. Going to college, it’s essentially starting all over. Nothing from your past really matters. Nobody knows what you did in high school. Very few people see your potential. Nobody knows the tiny things you love, or the weird little things that you do. You’re completely unknown. It’s so easy, comfortable, and relaxing to be with your friends who understand how you function. They know that sometimes you need to be away from everything, and that you love spontaneous hangouts at Taco Bell. Or that you need adventures into the woods in your life, or that you need to hangout with them and do absolutely nothing besides just being with them. You can hangout with them whenever and wherever without ever worrying about them judging you or not understanding why you do the things you do. For me, the amount of pressure I feel trying to get other people to understand this without taking four years of my life is terrifying, exhausting, incredibly uncomfortable and a bit depressing. As someone who might as well have an anxiety disorder, the amount of worries that go through my head every time I try to make new friends is slightly miserable. I’ve personally found that my friends from my hometown are incredibly special and unique. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever find people quite like them anywhere else. So, enjoy the time you have with them while you can.

3.) Enjoy not having to pay for classes or housing or pretty much anything.

You know that ATM machine you call your parents? Yeah. They won’t always be there. Pretty self-explanatory. I’d also encourage you to save up if you have a job. This can’t be overstated, and is incredibly important. And for those seniors, find scholarships, as many as possible. They’ll get you places.

4.) Enjoy your hometown and discover it fully.

Moving to a new place is exciting and wonderful. Everything is new and fresh and there’s so much to see that you haven’t seen before. I love being new places and seeing new things. But let me tell you. When you first get to a new city, new place, a new home, everything feels slightly foreign to you. You have to rediscover everything. Which is exciting and wonderful, but it requires effort and can be a bit daunting. Your hometown, by the time you leave, if you’ve lived there your whole life like I did, is fully uncovered. If it hasn’t been completely discovered and uncovered, I HIGHLY encourage you to do so. Find every nook and cranny that might have some possibility of being interesting. I highly encourage you to make sure there’s not a single spot undiscovered in your hometown before you leave. There’s something amazing about knowing what’s around every corner and down every street. You know all the secret spots that no one else knows. Places that no one else would even think about visiting, but mean the world to you. There’s also the small shops and family owned businesses that only natives from your area know of. These places are special, and just aren’t the same if you didn’t grow up there. Make memories in these places. Find someplace completely isolated but comfortable. Where you can just be you with your thoughts. I can list at least three of these places that I found in my hometown. Every time I go back, I’m going to want to visit them. In a new town, these secret places are lost and deeply hidden behind the buildings, signs, and lights. It’s hard to find the secret spots when you have no idea where to start.

5.) Enjoy being a kid.

College is a kicker right in the adulthood pants. In other words, it’s really hard to do all the things you could do as a kid when you’re in college. Between classes, a job, getting time and money for food and cleaning up after yourself, it becomes significantly harder to find time to wander around outside. The free time you have as a kid, (yes that includes high-schoolers, don’t be so anxious to be old you whipper-snappers.) just doesn’t exist when you get into college. You find yourself getting stacked with paperwork, homework, and decisions. So please, please, take advantage of your time as a kid with few responsibilities and worries. Obviously, this changes from person to person, but overall, the amount of responsibilities are significantly less. So get together with your friends and learn their ins and outs. Go explore your town, just go walk in a random direction and find a special spot. Goof off and mess around with your friends. Enjoy life some. Don’t be stupid, be considerate of others in all things, but don’t try to have a mask over your life all of you adolescence. It’s miserable. Mess with people when it’s harmless, and help them realize that they need to relax and enjoy life a little bit too. If you’re uncomfortable with something, or hate doing something, but everyone else is doing it and so you feel obligated to do it even though you know it’s a bad for you, or bad for other people, DON’T DO IT. Explain yourself, and just walk away. Don’t worry about trying to be “the popular kid”. Just be the kid who loves life and people. Simple as that.


That was a lot to read, so congratulations. I hope you learned something, maybe about yourself, maybe about, or at least about me. Take all of this with a grain of salt, but make the most of the time given to you. All that being said, I’m going to try and find some quiet, lovely introvert spots around my new town.


Starting a new Chapter,

Josiah Serravalle.


I hear everything.

Paranoia builds with sound. Self conscious thoughts magnify, burning ears and spitting tongues.

Venom spits out of your lips, venom seeps out of mine. Poisonous words become our symphony.

I deserve it all.

I fear for my reputation with good reason, my ears burn.

I know what they don’t, my seclusion brings my self-examination.

Keep me from my own head, though maybe, isolation isn’t so bad.

Keep me from myself.

Keep me from my isolation.

Seclusion haunts me, it taunts with self-loathing.

I’m afraid of myself, but to my surprise, you’re not.

The Graduation Moment.

I’m graduating.

In a single day I’ll be standing on a stage with a over sized gown and a square graduation cap on my head. Last night I gave a speech in which I intended leaving something of myself and the things I’ve learned to the rest of the world. It feels sort of like my entire of life is changing. I never quite realized how intense the emotion was of graduation. Until you get there, I don’t think you can truly understand it. It’s commonly called the end of one chapter of your life. That’s sort of what it feels like, but that phrase simply doesn’t convey the exact feeling. I don’t think words at all can quite convey the emotion and meaning I want to convey, but I’m going to try.

Graduation isn’t just starting a new chapter of your life. It’s more like ending one book in a series. But there’s a sequel, and you’re not sure if it’s going to ruin the story, or be ten times better. You might still be able to look back through the old book, but you can’t just flip through the pages to the last chapter and read everything again. You’ll never relive those moments. The laughter, the tears, the fits of rage, the arguments, the love, the fear, the anxiety, the growth and change and new things. It’s all been done now. All the people you loved so much, they’re there, but it’ll never be quite the same. The summer road trips and adventures, what you did with your free time. It’ll all change. The amount of fear, anxiety, anticipation, excitement, seclusion, joy, and contemplation that I’ve put myself through this past week is beyond words. It seems as though I’m relishing in the last couple pages of this book, so that way I’ll be sure that I got as much as I possibly could before moving onto the next book.

But I’ve already seen the cover and title of the next book, and even sneaked a small peak at a page, and I can’t help but want to rush into this new book as fast as I can, because something inside me is telling me that it’s going to be incredible. I want it to be incredible so desperately. So I’ve been sitting by myself in my own thoughts for a week or two. I’m not entirely sure why. Whether it’s because I’m mentally and emotionally preparing myself for what’s about to happen tomorrow, or if it’s because I don’t want it to happen at all. I seriously have no idea how I’m currently sitting here, typing all this. The countless number of events, words, and people that have brought me to where I am, giving me such encouragement and possibilities that I can’t help but remain speechless that I’m alive. I tend to notice the little things people do for me, and though I don’t always say anything about it, when I contemplate what I’ve done, I’m always able to remember the dozens of people that worked together or separately to get me to that moment. When I contemplate simply my age and graduation, that number of people just grows and grows, and I can’t possibly ever find a way to thank them all. I’ll certainly try to personally talk to as many of them as I can. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about how in the world I became who I am.

I received a message from an old, online, sort of pen-pal of mine. I’ve always loved other cultures, and getting to talk with this person about their’s and their life was always loads of fun and I really got to know them quite a bit. The last message I got from them before this message was in 2013. After the torrential influx of memories that came when I read their message, I started to think back at who I used to be. I went back and read some of my messages, and things I used to do and talk about. The way I said things, the things I thought that were important, the ideas I had. The way I said things was a particular difference that I thought interesting, as it emphasized the different kind of person I am today compared to who I used to be. There’s already at least one blog post of mine that I’ve changed my perspective on some. I’m leaving it there however, because I want to be able to remember where I used to be, and where I am now. I want to be able to look back at the thoughts I used to have, and be able to see just how far I’ve come. There’s a certain special power in writings that capture the author in a way not much else can. Pictures see the physical differences, but the way we write and what we write about captures our mental differences. The different things that have affected us in so many ways are captured in our writing. I can tell small details in who I was back two years ago from some of those writings. Historic documents do this as well on a wider scale. We get a small picture of the way people in that culture thought, though one book only constitutes a single person, if you combine hundreds or thousands of books, you can start to build a bigger picture. Anyways, I digress. All this is to say, I’m glad I’m keeping a blog, if for no other reason than for my own benefit. As I keep growing and changing, I’ll be able to look back at who I was and learn from it. There’s always the possibility I’ll be able to bring back a perspective I used to have that I’ve lost.

I think this year and the events that are about to unfold are the most frightening of all. I’m leaving for University. I’ll be living on my own, (well, with a roommate, but you know what I mean.) and I’ll be living in a city I’ve only visited occasionally. I’ll be surrounded by people I’ve never met before in my life, and taking classes that I have no idea what to expect from. I’ll be essentially living an entirely new life as an adult. So, I guess I’m writing this as a sort of conclusion to this book. I’ll still have all summer, but it won’t be at school, and I’ll be plenty busy during all of summer. So basically, these past years have been amazing, life changing, and at times brutal. But here I am, I made it. So thank you everyone in my life who helped in the smallest way, or just tolerated my existence. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life.


In complete unbelief,

Josiah Serravalle.

A Dimensional Dilemma

A world spins, a gyroscope that needs re-calibration
It’s not drunk, it’s terrified. An escape is a fantasy.
A dimension dilemma deals with me. Nausea fills my dizzy, confused mind.
I’m left reeling, a dimensional dilemma is my trap, my bane.
The empty air fills my lungs as my heart pounds.
I see darkness, the world engulfs me.
I see stars, the world becomes beneath me.
I drift between reality as I’m crushed in my mind.
I can’t help but want to die.
Then I open my eyes

Our Struggle with Being Complacent.

I’ve had a lot on my mind, but for once I seem to lack the words that are required to get my ideas across appropriately and effectively. My life has quickly become a mess of rehearsals, classes, extracurricular activities, and social gatherings. I find myself restless when I’m home, and stressed when I’m rehearsing. I’ve gone from wishing for things to do, to constantly hoping that I’ll be able to fit some free time in. Yet, as soon as I get time to relax for once, I find myself restless. I should be doing something. All this has made me realize that time is something I’m obsessed about. There’s something about it that captures my mind and draws me in. When I try to think of things that leave an impression on me, time constantly comes to mind. I suppose it’s natural. Time wrecks us all.

Time is funny though. It’s something that we have no concept of being without. Life without time is something we can’t process, yet we often wish that we had more of it. It’s tricky, it eludes us. When we’re busy with things we have committed to do, we find ourselves wanting to have more time relaxing by doing things we fully enjoy that require no responsibility. Yet, as I’ve learned, when we finally get an opportunity to relax, we often find ourselves restless. Like we could be doing something productive, or do something more. It’s a weird phenomenon where we want time, but we also don’t. There’s a certain balance that we simply can’t seem to find.

I’ve talked plenty about how I often get restless, in my Spirit of Freedom post. The more time I lose, the more restless I get with the time I have. I don’t fully understand it. Something about myself gets accustomed to the idea of constantly doing something, or moving, or being somewhere that I either feel uncomfortable at or where there’s simply different people there. While I both hate and love the restlessness, I found that it wears down on me on a physical level. As an introvert, I don’t find energy from people. I recharge alone with my thoughts. When I get to this level of restlessness, I lose the time I originally get to recharge. I didn’t even think about this until recently, when, after an especially long day at rehearsals where I constantly was surrounded by people, I found myself beyond the point of exhaustion. I slept through school the next day from sheer exhaustion. I had kept myself from recharging for so long from people, that it physically had a negative effect on me. Yet, even after that, the whole time I was home, I felt restless, like I should be at school. I’m reminded of a squirrel. For example, suppose a grown squirrel falls from a tree and breaks its leg. If left there, it’s left for dead. Fortunately, there’s a family living nearby who decides to pick up the squirrel against its will and nurture it back to health. The entire time it’s being healed, the squirrel constantly seeks to be back outside, even if it would damage and possibly kill the squirrel. Despite the fact that it’s being healed inside, its still restless to be back outside.

At the same time, if a squirrel is kept inside long enough, it grows accustomed to the lack of things to do. It becomes tame. It no longer feels the need to accomplish things outside. It becomes content. I suppose that’s where I was over the summer and the first semester. I grew accustomed and became satisfied with not accomplishing things. This becomes extremely dangerous, as if you don’t feel restless to do things, then how can you be productive, efficient, or even impact the world or people. But as soon as I got that taste of the wind and rain of the nature, I couldn’t stop seeking it. When I get exhausted, I simply needed restoration to go back out into the world. It only gets dangerous when I fall into the trap of being complacent.

There’s a difference to being unhealthily complacent, and healthily content. The word can be used in both circumstances, but one is negative and the other positive. Being content with your possessions and your life is one thing entirely different from being complacent with what you’ve done and where you are. Being content has to do with being satisfied with the things you have, but that doesn’t mean you become lazy and refuse to improve either yourself or the people you’re around.  To be content is a good thing, as it means that if you were to die in that instance, you would be happy. You could survive and find joy in where you currently are. You don’t require more things or more possessions or better, insert-whatever-you-may-want-here.However, that doesn’t mean you don’t try to keep being productive or just do things to barely pass by. You still do things with excellence, and you still pour into people’s lives. You step out of your comfort zone when you need to, because it makes you keep growing in your life. This is so important. You’re not self observed in your own world. Since you’re content with what you have in your life and the place you’re currently at, you’re able to reach out to other people and invest in their lives. You keep encouraging others to grow, and you’ll grow yourself. That way you’re content, but still moving towards where you need to be in your life. We as humans don’t tend to stay still.

To be complacent is different. Being complacent means that you’re not satisfied with where you are, but you’ll settle for it. One who is complacent no longer seeks out growth. They think they have stopped short of their destination and don’t care to try and keep moving. They do their lackluster work with the least amount of effort possible, and simply hope to continue in this way to make it through the day. They don’t try to grow, they hate being pushed out of their comfort zone and avoid situations that make them do so. This is extremely dangerous. They forget the things they’re meant for and simply decide to settle for the life they currently have. They lose sight of their potential and the importance of those around them. They stop influencing people or helping them to grow. They become stagnant in everything they do. There’s nothing quite as disgusting as stagnant water. Stagnant humans are just as disgusting. That may seem harsh and like a bold statement, but it’s true. I can certainly understand a break, or a rest, or a vacation; believe me, I love those. However, when you’re stagnant even in those, which you can be, it becomes dangerous and unhealthy. We’re meant to be involved in each other’s lives, not to get loaded and seclude ourselves on our mental island of selfishness. Trust me, this is coming from an introvert. Keep growing. Keep changing, keep reaching out to people and pushing yourself and others. It’s so much better than being complacent.

Keep growing,

Josiah Serravalle.