Travel Time and a Brief Hiatus

What’s up everyone? Just a quick post to let you all know that the family and I am traveling internationally for a couple of weeks and, as such, I won’t be posting much, if at all. I was hoping to have some guest posts lined up, but alas that did not work out as planned. 

(That said, my man Avtomat Khan of Hidden Dominion was game enough to submit a guest post a few weeks ago that you can read here, and my reflections on it are here.)

Anyway, I’ll try posting when I can, but in all likelihood I won’t see you crazy people until May. 

In the meantime…

…check out Sword & Flower by my friend Rawle Nyanzi.
…listen to some Frank Zappa.

…stop by my friend Dylan Cornelius’ new blog.

…sign up for Alexander Cortes‘ mailing list if you’re into fitness

put down the devices and spend time with your kids like my man Neil White suggests. 

And in general, be excellent to each other. 

Take care. 

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

And check out my Instagram here

Be My Guest: Introducing Guest Posts on Amatopia!


Exciting news everyone! I am hosting my very first guest post here at Amatopia, this one from an interesting guy I have gotten to know on Twitter, Avtomat Khan (aka AK).

AK runs a blog called The Hidden Dominion, which I took a liking to immediately because he, as I try to do here, covers a wide range of subjects–culture, philosophy, economics, survival, personal finance, politics–but with a strong focus on achieving independence in all facets of life. Interesting stuff!

AK goes deeper into the news-of-the-day, and covers topics that I don’t here, like self-defense, but there is enough overlap and similarity of overall philosophy about life, particularly a mutual sense of curiosity, that we thought it’d be fun do some guest posting.

The way I plan on doing guest posts is to start with an introductory blurb like this, give each writer their entire own post with none of my writing, and then later publish my own post reflecting on what they wrote and why I thought it was a good fit for this blog. Amatopia is all about learning and curiosity, so I hope you find these guest posts as interesting as I do!

So here he is, writing about an oft-discussed subject–staying authentic–but I think AK offers a better explanation of what that means, and an interesting way of thinking about the concept, than you might have read before.

So a hearty thank you to AK for writing this! Hope you enjoy his post as much as I did, and I highly recommend you check out The Hidden Dominion!

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade and Gab.ai @DaytimeRenegade

And check out my Instagram here

True Truthiness

Today, for both Eastern and Western Christians, marks the start of Great and Holy Lent, the 40-day fast culminating in Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But this post is not about religion per se, and is intended for a universal audience regardless of your religious proclivities (if any).

I’m inclusive like that.

You see, what strikes me about Lent and Easter is its thematic link to most other major Christian holidays in that they all seem to be about renewal and rebirth.

From Christmas–the conception and birth of Jesus–to Epiphany–the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist–to the Transfiguration–the Revelation of Jesus’ true nature to John and James and Peter–these events involve humanity being able to overcome its fallen nature and put on a new form, new wine in new bottles.

But if this isn’t a religious post, then why am I writing about religion?

Because this focus on rebirth can also be seen as a quest for truth. And as a blogger I very much enjoy named Insanitybytes22 put it recently, absolute truth is difficult to come by, but us Christians like to think we have a starting point:

However, human flaws aside, objective truth and Absolute Truth are still real things in the world. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” -John 14:6. The truth is important in the Christian walk, and it is an objective, tangible thing, outside of and beyond ourselves, our feelings, and our sentimentality.

This is what I try to use as my starting point as well: If you are going to have a standard, it’s better for that standard to be as immutable and true as humanly possible. And since “humanly possible” is not always best, I think the teachings of Jesus Christ–who us Christians consider to be God on Earth–are a good place to start.

This all still sounds religious. Where am I going with this?

I am going to a place that may seem disproportionately mundane when compared to the resurrection of the dead: My own life.

Specifically, my purpose.

Specifically, what am I doing here.

And by “here,” I mean blogging. Writing. Anything. Continue reading “True Truthiness”

Go With What You Know

I know, I know, some hiatus, right? Not even a week?

Whatever. 

I never said I was quitting, just that I was rethinking what I want to do with this space. 

And I’ve been thinking. 

Ultimately, I don’t want to write anything that a) rings hollow, b) is hypocritical, or c) is not coming from a place of expertise and experience. 

I do not want to be a generic “self-help” guy. 

I do not want to merely write about “stuff I like”…unless it has a point. 

So the thinking lead me down the path of wondering what, exactly, it is I have to offer. And I have done to a sad and yet oddly uplifting conclusion:

The two things I know the most about in my life are mistakes and regrets. 

It is not good to regret the past, but I am a man who had made bad decision after bad decision–with a few good ones thrown in there just to keep things interesting–and ended up living a life I would most certainly like a do-over on. 

Let me digress for a second: Maybe this IS the life I was “supposed” to lead. God is all-knowing; who am I to judge how things turned out?

Ah, but contrary to popular belief, is Christians do believe in free-will, so I’m in a bit of a conundrum. 

And I think the best way to get out of said conundrum is sharing these mistakes with you all–primarily young people–and help you avoid the same mistakes I have made. 

This definitely fits the bill of “going with what you know.” Continue reading “Go With What You Know”

Fare Thee Well


The funny thing about blogging is you’re supposed to demonstrate some sort of skill or expertise about something. Otherwise, a blog is kind of a diary you share online, and if that’s what you’re into, then I guess that’s what Live Journal is for. 

Or, a blog should demonstrate insight into something, an uncommon truth or lesson gleaned from both the extraordinary and the mundane. 

I enjoy reading these things, and I enjoy (attempting) to write them. But I noticed something interesting, and even slightly annoying, lately:

Everybody is an expert. And I mean everyone. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve discovered a lot of fantastic, useful information and motivation on blogs, social media, and so on. It’s just that–damn!–the braggadocio levels are out of control. 

I know that if you don’t promote or believe in yourself, no one else will but my God man, over the Internet, anybody can say they’re anything! Why should you listen to anyone or swallow advice whole without thinking critically?

There are people who pass the sniff test, of course–professional athletes and trainers, business people and parents–who have a proven record of success, have clearly thought their ideas through, and show themselves, warts and all. Take them more seriously. 

There are others I’m missing, of course. But a lot of blogging seems to involve words with little action behind them. 

Which brings me to me. Sorry to say, I have no expertise in anything. It sort of makes me wonder why I’m keeping this blog, beyond liking to write. 

I mean, my most popular posts tend to be a) book, movie, and other product reviews, amd b) posts about religion. 

So my audience–whatever that is–likes to a) read about stuff before they spend money on it, and b) God. 

Does this mean I should focus on those instead of the other stuff I like to write about–culture, music, the law (booooring), fatherhood, a little politics?

Maybe. That’s A/B testing, right?

And maybe that’s the way forward. My problem with blogging is this: I don’t think I really have any great insights into anything.   

I’m not saying this to get sympathy, because that’s pathetic. I am just being honest and self-reflective

I harbor no illusions about being particularly good at anything or writing useful “self-improvement” type stuff. I have a very short track record of proven success, and it seems silly writing as though I were THE MAN. 

What I am is a guy who has made a lot of mistakes in life and has spent almost a decade trying to undo the damage. I’m a guy who doesn’t like where he is in life, but doesn’t really want to blog exclusively about that. I’m a guy who’s trying to get some writing published and thought a blog would be a good way to a) get my name out there and b) get practice (it is).

But mainly, I’m a guy who just wants to matter in the world

The weird thing is that I do. We all do. What I’m referring to is external validation. 

It’s funny, right? No wonder I’m into music: There is nothing like the affection of a crowd. There is no other feeling. From professional to amateur, we’re all a little cracked in the head like that, I guess. 

And yet, I have God, so I really don’t need this. It’s a weird push-pull, and I guess having both is what keeps me sane. 

I also have my family, and while the situation hasn’t been ideal for over a year, it’s still better than not having a family. 

So what’s next for my little on-line adventures?

I don’t know, but I am going to take a blogging hiatus and really think about what I want to do with this. 

Rebrand/redesign? Refocus? Start a new one? Keep plugging along?

I don’t know yet. That’s what a hiatus is for. 

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Gab, and Instagram. Say hi; I do write back. 

And as always, thanks for reading. God bless. 

-Alex

Find Your “Why”

Thanksgiving Centerpiece (2010)
Energy is everything. How much you have and how you channel it is the difference between success and failure in any endeavor. Some might call it passion, others might call it a calling. Whatever the term, it all boils down to one powerful verb: drive

So what happens if you’ve lost the drive you used to have for a particular end or activity?

Now is as good a time as any to point out that I have an Instagram account. There’s mostly travel and nature photos on it, but you’ll also notice some of my artwork on there. 

Trust me, there’s a point to this. 

I found some drawings I did back in the 2009-2010 timeframe, and they really made me want to break out the pencils and get going with it again. 

But moreso than the drawings themselves, I was interested the particular time in my life these drawings represented. 

Losing the Drive

I made these drawings shortly after a musical project I had been in decided it no longer needed me and gave me the boot. They then went off to find modest success, a sensation that’s not wholly unfamiliar to me

I was crestfallen in that aggressively annoying way that millennials can get. But somewhere in my piles of stuff as I moped around my apartment I found a pad of paper and a set of Derwent pencils. For some reason, I get compelled to start drawing pictures of random stuff around the house. 

I had always loved drawing, as a kid dreaming of breaking into the comic book industry. At this point, though, I probably hadn’t put pencil to paper in over five years. 

The first picture I drew was of a teddy bear I had gotten my then-girlfriend and now wife for Valentine’s Day. I stuck a leftover Halloween eyepatch on it for no reason in particular. I flexed my fingers, gripped my pencil, and started drawing. Continue reading “Find Your “Why””

Amatopia: A Tale of Failure

Hello. My name is Alex, and I’m a failure.

And that’s okay.

If you’ve never failed at anything, that probably means that you haven’t tried anything.

In this case, I failed at blogging. But it wasn’t my fault. For real.

I built a blog here on WordPress. It was about my job search during a three-month long period of unemployment. This story has a happy ending because I eventually got a job, but the blog had served its purpose. I made a few attempts to add to it, but I felt that it was time to move on.

So I moved everything over to another blog, also called amatopia. The problem was, after a week of blogging, WordPress decided that I had never registered the domain, and my site ceased to exist. So did all of the content on both sites, old and new.

Oh well. I still like WordPress. And I still like blogging.

So I think the name of this blog says it all:

Amateur: A person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons.

Utopia: An ideal place or state.

Put them together, and what do you get? Continue reading “Amatopia: A Tale of Failure”