Follow your dreams. Do you know who said that? Neither do I. Probably an idiot. Or a guy who wrote a lot of poetry in high school and is happy to read it to you if you want to come over and hang out sometime. Some of it is pretty deep, and he's even been published on this website that sent him a letter saying his poetry was so good, they were publishing it in their yearly anthology. Cool, huh? No. No it isn't.
Dreams keep us motivated, working toward something. Is it a yacht? Is it a vacation? Is it a lady with three boobs? Dreams have no limits. But they can let you down sometimes, and not all dreams are always worth pursuing. Like, say you have this dream where you're on a plane and Donald Trump is sitting next to you and he gets up to use the shitter and then you hit some turbulence and suddenly Trump's ass is right on your face, and he's wearing some weird ass millionaire pants made from octopus leather and it just breaks as you're gasping in horror and the timing works such that your tongue touches Trump's asshole. Is that a dream you want to pursue? I hope not. It's almost as bad as the rest of these things.
Who among us hasn't wanted to be a ninja at some point between age 7 and age 15? Probably most of the girls and maybe 50 percent of the boys. But everyone else entertained the idea of, at some point, becoming a ninja as a means of gainful employment. Your friends would be lawyers or doctors or garbage men, and when it happened that the shogun sent assassins to kill them, they would hire you to out-ninja the killers and save the day. Or maybe you would just be a mercenary-type ninja and travel the greater Milwaukee area ninja-starring those in need of ninja-starring and drop-kicking others. Something would work out.
As you grew older, your dreams of becoming a ninja probably began to fade in the face of life's harsh realities. Ninjas have a poor benefits package, insurance premiums would likely be very high, and what's the deal with unions? Plus, by and large, there are no ninjas, because they stopped existing a few hundred years ago.
None of the harsh realities about ninjas stopped 30-year-old Izzy Arkin from abandoning a masters degree to move to Japan and become a ninja. Because it was his dream. He gave up life as a middle school teacher to move to Japan and train in martial arts five days a week with the goal of becoming a ninja.
"Wax on! Wax off! What the hell am I doing?"
Izzy left the world of non-ninjas in 2009 and now maintains a blog where he posts dream-affirming messages and advice for others who are looking to follow their own dreams but not sure how to start. None of his advice touches on what to do if your dream is to become a nonexistent relic of feudal Japanese culture, but that's OK, because maybe you want to become a dinosaur, or Brad Pitt. Maybe he can help coach you toward the goals.
If you're wondering how close he is to achieving his goal, you'll probably have to email him and ask, because I can't find any information on his site to suggest that he actually is a ninja yet or if there's a ninja timeline in the works, but I do know that if you contact him, you should tell him it's your dream to prevent him from becoming a ninja and see if that makes his head explode.
Have you ever played StarCraft II? It's a computer game about killing bugs in outer space. If you like, you could be the bugs and kill people. For shits and giggles, you could be an alien race called the Protoss and kill bugs or humans as well. As an aside, every time I hear "Protoss," it immediately becomes "salad toss" in my head.
About a year ago, a man on Reddit, the website where cats come from and people jump to conclusions the way hobos jump on errant chicken wings, proclaimed something amazing. He had been a casual player of StarCraft II and really enjoyed it. But as time went on and the demands of his day-to-day job got in the way, he noticed his skill levels fading away like the libido and/or sex appeal of a man who notices that his StarCraft II skill levels even exist.
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"Sex appeal? Nah, I got the whole damn fruit!"
Unsatisfied with the fact that a 40-hour work week had thoroughly buggered his Zerg campaign, Greg "NrGMalice" Risselada quit his job to take up the mantle of "guy who ruined his life." His success in the game was almost unheard of, winning numerous tournaments and taking home massive cash prizes that helped him improve his home system and allowed for him to hone his game skills further, until he rose to the top of the North American circuit and became something of a StarCraft celebrity.
Actually, I made up most of the shit at the end of that sentence, because come on. StarCraft celebrity? Pfft. As far as anyone can tell, he played his little game for a while and then had to quit because life is not a Nickelodeon cartoon and no one lets you have electricity and water for free just because you've mastered a full-on attack with hydralisks because no one in the world who is important cares what that word even means.
A Reddit thread from four months back asks if anyone has an update on Risselada, and people generally agree that he got a job and that most people who quit their real jobs to play StarCraft tend to not become millionaire gamers because few of them had a magic lamp handy.
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Say, do you like rap? Do you think a viral video means you're successful, despite the entire history of the world indicating the opposite? Did you have a viral video of you rapping and decide to quit your job and become a rapper? This entry may be entirely about you!
Mark Grist achieved Internet infamy when a video popped up in 2011 showing him schooling 17-year-old DJ Crumpet in the fine art of epic rap fisticuffs. Like Rabbit in 8 Mile, he spit some mad rhymes and shamed his young adversary into a hole of clever wordplay. And if I'm being fair, I have to acknowledge that he was pretty masterful. If that was literally all off the cuff, Grist is an amazing poet and freestyle rapper, and he laid out one of the best insults about jerking off to Gandalf that you'll ever hear. That being said, he let this one event shape his life from there on out.
Anyone with knowledge of how Internetting works understands that a viral video is popular in the way that an actual virus is popular. Lots of people experience it, sure -- it doesn't necessarily mean people want more of it. And while Grist's fame was of a positive sort, it's not like he recorded "Friday" or anything terrifying like that; he's still a guy who's mostly known for humiliating a pale young lad who sounds like Baby Spice with a cold.
A secondary school teacher by trade, Grist used to use rap to teach his students, kind of like that episode of Family Guy when Brian patronizes the remedial English class, only in real life and I guess with fewer pregnant cartoon characters. Eventually, teaching took a back seat to his poetry and freestyle rap career, as Grist decided to tour with a group called Dead Poets, sharing rhythmic wisdom across the countryside and living out the dream you have to assume Technoviking wishes he could be living right this second.
About 15 years ago, give or take, the very idea of anyone who didn't need adult diapers playing golf was about as preposterous as downloading a 10-minute smut clip with a 56k modem before sleepy time overtook you. And then something happened, and that something was called "Johnny Humpsalot." You may know him as Tiger Woods. But let's be honest, the man parlayed a golf career into mad gash -- who ever would have imagined that happening in the history of ever? No one.
After Tiger, golf became acceptably cool. Cool enough that people who weren't constantly under the shadow of Death's clammy hands would play. And now, today, we have Dan MacLaughlin, a guy who quit his job in 2010 for the following reason -- he believed that, even with no prior experience golfing, if he spent 10,000 hours practicing, he could become a champion golf pro.
Dan had read that 10,000 hours of practice in anything could make someone an expert. So he dropped his job with a plan to play golf, something he didn't even have an interest in. Try to fathom what kind of head space a man must be in to not just drastically change direction in life, but do so to test someone else's theory on something you don't even give a shit about.
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"Welp, I'm a golf pro now. Fuck."
For six hours a day, six days a week, over six years, Dan golfs. This is the important place where we need to stop and take a step back and ask the question that Dan may have never asked himself: Huh?
Dan is only midway through his experiment, and all signs indicate he's become quite a good golfer. Could he topple Tiger in another three years? The bigger question may be does anyone, including Dan, even care? Suppose he proves the theory true, that you can in fact master anything after 10,000 hours of practice. So what, exactly? How many people are now going to dedicate six years of their lives to something, somehow? How many people can afford to do that? Of course you're going to become good at something after 10,000 hours, is this going to make a difference in the world? And what about Dan? He doesn't even like golf. Does 10,000 hours of practice make you love golf or resent it?
I'm no psychologist, but I think that, by the time Dan's experiment is done, he will be one hell of a golfer and one hell of a bored, depressed, directionless man. He will have dedicated six years to becoming the best at something he had no interest in and will now have six hours a day to dedicate to drinking away the memory of spending six years mastering something toward no end whatsoever beyond proving a point only he seems to want to prove.
Probably the shittiest day of the year is Rapture Day, because it constantly screws you over. Even if it goes off without a hitch, it means the world ended. If it doesn't happen and you believe in it, you get made fun of for the remainder of this article.
If you recall your apocalypse misfires, you'll know that May 21, 2011 was supposed to be the end of the world, according to Harold Camping, the perennial downer who keeps wrongly predicting the End Times. Someone needs to buy that dude a new Magic 8-Ball. Of course, Camping predicting the end of the world and messing up isn't so ridiculous on its own; the problem arises when people believe him for some reason and set about preparing to ascend to heaven. And then it doesn't happen.
Camping himself raked in literally millions of dollars in donations leading up to the end of the world (his second of three failed predictions, incidentally), while on the other end of the spectrum you have the people who foolishly believed in him, like Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent his entire $140,000 retirement fund on subway ads to alert people to their impending doom. Adrienne and Joel Martinez quit their jobs to hand out pamphlets to the doomed masses and budgeted their savings so they would have no money left to their name on Judgment Day. Adrienne was pregnant, and they already had a 2-year-old daughter. She was going to go to medical school but decided against it, since the world was ending.
"I have nothing left to live for, bring on the apocalypse!"
A common theme among those who lost everything on a false prophet was that they couldn't afford to doubt. Because what if it were true? That's how they look at the world. The rest of us probably think they're crazies who maybe even deserve what they got, but in reality they're just confused people who need to believe in something and made a poor choice. They were exploited by a rich, old asshole who's still rich and still an asshole and still very much not flying a spaceship made of unicorns in heaven or whatever he told people was going to happen.
In the aftermath, few media sources ever bothered to check out what happened to the bankrupt followers of Harold Camping, other than a few recaps of messages that came into Camping's radio station that included the word "shit" a few more times than you'd expect from religious people. Camping decided the new end of the world would be October 21, 2011, and most of his followers accepted that, yes, that had been the correct date all along, and May 21 was just the day it began ... somehow. Hopefully the people who were all out of money at that point had some good panhandling skills.
Ultimately, what became of Camping's followers was that many were left bankrupt, separated from friends and family who thought they were crazy to risk their lives and their children's lives on the shit-ass prophecy of a man who couldn't predict a boner at a strip club while handing out free Viagra.