Monday, April 27, 2015

Shuffling Along



I tend to have trouble understanding that I have a long life ahead of me. It's nothing prophetic like “I don’t think I’ll live much longer”, nothing morbid like that. It's just that I think about life a lot...a life, my life, what do I want to do with my life? where am I going in my life? what is the purpose of my Life? etc... 99% of the time I'm only ever thinking about birth all the way up to now and maybe forward a few months. Any span of time beyond a few months forward all looks like mist which grows denser until I can see nothing at all. This view of life feels, well, very short-sighted. 

It is a rare and relieving thing when I finally remember that so much of my life is a very long way away. It isn’t over yet and I haven’t wasted it. I have many more places to go and purposes to fulfill. Remembering my long life ahead of me is wonderful but rare, so most of the time I live shuffling along, only looking a few feet ahead of me.

In this way I move relatively slowly through the years. Or more accurately, the years move relatively slowly passed me. They have been respectful, bringing with them only a few sudden movements and unforeseen glitches. Any great heartache usually comes with its own numbing balm to soothe me. It's baffling: I am almost unaware that any time has passed me at all, save for the changing of the seasons and the date in my journal. I journal and I date the pages. Those incremental changes leave me awed for a few moments but not much more.

...Until I’m struck again by those relieving moments and I remember that - or realize that - perhaps, I have been seeing time backwards.

Yes, that's right - backwards. Why do I have to see time as a thing that has happened to me? It is better, I think, see it as a thing into which I advance - a thing, unto which, I happen. I am the thing that happens to Time. Isn’t that a wonder? How lucky Time is that I bestow myself unto it, allow it to receive me and cushion me through my days. And O! What a loyal companion is Time! 

That is actually how I talk in my head.

I have a girlfriend. This woman for whom no title seems to completely encompass. I love her so much, but she is not long enough nor even deep enough for “girlfriend”. Not simple or manipulatable enough for “my girl”. I can’t call her “partner” or even “sweetheart” comfortablyWe lack the past time.

And yet some of me, some heartbreaking part of me that I can barely see or have ever seen (I think this is the part that dreams only forward) loves her the most, with all of its little being. For the sake of this dear part of me, who has always struggled for its share of the sunlight (and who perks up when I talk about hope), I am calling this woman “my future”. I hope to find the balance of it soon and walk with my eyes on the horizon, a little less afraid.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

EXCITEMENT!


I've been dating someone for a few weeks now. Despite my impulses to push away from all the good she is bringing to my life, I've kept myself in the game and actually managed to stay surprisingly present in the relationship. Impulses, man, they're a devilish thing. Neither good nor bad, they only exist to change the speed and direction in which we're traveling. For example, I can impulsively buy a pair of beautiful shoes and be happier and poorer for it, or I can impulsively punch a guy in the face and be happier and jailed for it. Impulse - neutral, merely a thought; action - completely in my control. So when this girl told me she's selling her car soon and I suggested a road trip - we rather impulsively decided the ideal destination for a one day/one night mini-vacay on the third week of knowing each other was Canada. NYC to Montreal. 6.5 hours drive. 372 miles. Haven't met her cat yet. Totally doable.

And then we diverged considerably. She's a go-with-the-flow who didn't book our Airbnb until the night before and (to my knowledge) didn't second guess this idea for a even a minute. I, on the other hand, said "yes" and then immediately began worrying about gas prices, food prices, could I make it back in time for work?, was it smart to put 750 miles on her car before selling it?, do I like her enough to give her my Montreal virginity?, what if we spend the ride up in complete silence then have to survive all of Canada together and then the miserable drive back down and what if it was just all a waste of time, energy, and money????!

"GAAAAAAAH! I feel like my mind is going to explode!"

I wrote that bit of poetry last week. (Right after I posted the entry about boredom, go figure.) Because despite appearances, despite all my doubts, and the highly refined mental flip flopping I put her though, I was actually really fucking excited for this adventure. OOOOOOH, CAAAANNAADDAAAA!

Many years ago an acting teacher of mine taught me that nervousness and excitement are practically the same thing. Same feelings of hope and fear, anticipation, disbelief, hesitancy, levels of mischievousness, varying degrees of anger, frustration, and determination, growing amounts of joy and doubt, and hopefully, eventually feelings of expansion, trust, and taking big, big breaths. The difference is that nervousness harbors a constant buzz of dread right beneath the surface. Excitement fills that dread-space with the buzz of curiosity and the assurance that everything is going to be alright. Switching from one to the other requires only that we smile and remember a road trip ain't the end of the world, and that excitement feels so much better.

We got to Montreal and had one of the most romantic date nights I've ever had. It was cold as hell, we ate cheese and foi gras with the locals and got really tipsy, our Airbnb was adorable, no one cared that we were two women cuddled up at the bar or that my passport was expired. We laughed through the whole drive and listened to Joni Mitchell and Justin Timberlake and we had only one extremely close run in with an empty gas tank. Our road trip couldn't have been born on a better impulse.



2015 is here and I've asked you for your New Year's Resolutions. I hope they're as thought provoking for you as they have been for me...

Learn to relax more. Say yes to invitations. Cherish my loved ones actively with more involvement. Continue the process of learning not to take things personally. Finish my screenplay!  
Let go of what does not serve me, keep on cultivating love in my life, listen and follow my intuition  
I've led a happy, incredibly fortunate life - taking each day as it comes - and counting my blessings. I have no Resolutions. I'm never going to be a size 8 - until ager I die with wither away - I'm never going to be a lawyer, pleading a case in front of the Supreme Court, and I'm never going to be an astronaut. Yes, I did have dreams along those lines at one time. But reality is, well, reality. I can only hope that 2015 brings good health for me and my loved ones. 
Abandoned all regard for 'political correctness'... not that I actually ever had any in the first place  
Recommit to health and exercise after the Holiday Excess, like last year  
Pick up heavier things.    
600+ pound deadlift 
I have given up on "resolutions"! I hope that this year I will focus my energy on my own health and wellbeing. Making changes in my life to better support my emotional/mental/physical health as I do deserve to take care of myself 
Pay more attention to my health: eat less processed foods and improve fitness. Stay out of the spiral of gossip and backbiting that can make my job miserable, esp since it is a job that I love. Be present.  
Please God...I need patience, lots and lots of patience...I guess I have to learn it somewhere 
To continue to challenge myself to be better...to be Mindful, to get things done rather than over thinking and putting off...Confront fears of being. 
Let go of my fears, wake up earlier, go to bed earlier, and continue attempting to be the kind of husband and father my wife and kids deserve. 
Bring life into the world. 

Happy New Year, Everyone! - K.

    Friday, December 26, 2014

    Are YOU a Glass Half Full..?



    I've been thinking a lot about mindset lately. The one I have hasn't been serving me and I wanted a new one. It is hard thinking about the mind. It's possible to have a great thought and then a doubting thought about that thought, and then another doubting thought about that thought, and so forth until the mind short-circuits. The mind is doing all the thinking and it's only capable of so much. And still, it usually out-smarts us. I've been reading Eckard Tolle, hoping to find my "true self". I've also been listening to Tara Brach's guided meditations, to calm my mind and connect to my Being. I've been driven to fix myself, fix myself, fix myself for so long, all the while a little confused by which "myself" needs fixing.

    I'm going to pause right here and confess that I've become totally confused again while writing this. There are too many "minds", too many ideas of what "I" actually is, and can I know what that actually is while I'm inside my mind anyway? I'm going to back all the way up and say that what I know for certain, is that for one who claims to be an optimist, lately something feels half empty and I'm pissed about it.

    "Do you see the world as a glass half empty, or half full?" 

    I hate this question. I'm hurt by it. It's usually asked by someone, who - lest we should ever doubt his proud prosturing - first confirms loudly that he is in fact a Glass Half Full Person, then leans in with his barrel-chested ego and asks, "What kind of a person are you?" It's manipulative, condescending, not to mention a little creepy. The question is engineered so that the asker leeches what small confidence is glowing in the other person to elevate himself. The implication of the question, "half full or half empty?", is that we're supposed to choose one perspective or the other. Already this is ridiculous! No person would choose to be a glass half empty, and if he did, wouldn't he be happy with the decision he choose and therefore be a glass half full person? (I feel like there's a mathematical method of explaining this impossible thought. Like the square root of -1 or something. Just call it out if you've got the answer.)

    What sticks with me is the impossibility of maintaining one or the other perspective on life. I so badly want to be as positive a half full person as I know I can be. Positivity for me means ease, joy flowing, connecting, it means breathing deeply, it means feeling secure in my own abilities to survive whatever madness life decides to throw at me. But dammit if I can't stop myself from feeling half empty sometimes. You know, emptiness is one type of discomfort, and it's manageable enough. For a striving optimist, a passing pessimistic outlook is never as bad as the guilt that follows for having failed at optimism.

    My dad says that all of our strengths have their equal and opposite shadow sides. A firefighter, for example, who is incredibly brave and will risk his life to save others' lives might have difficulty telling his wife he is hurting. A free-spirited woman who is in touch with her creativity may be easily hurt by her coworkers' teasing. And this is life. This is how it goes. We can't be perfect at everything. Believe me. I've tried. In fact, the harder we try, the harder we fall into a glass half empty mind set. Striving for only perfection - in this case, only optimism - denies ourselves the shadow side of our optimism, the vulnerability we feel when faced with a bit of madness.

    I am going to try to let myself be a glass half full and a glass half empty. I don't want to be mad at myself any more. I'll move gently. What matters more than perfection is that I am sincerely living and striving for connection to those around me.

    Sunday, December 7, 2014

    Fie, boredom! En garde!


    “Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?” 
    Friedrich Nietzsche

    I like to think of myself as an adventurous person. Much of the time I feel a pretty mean mischievous streak running through me. The kind that shoots up from the ground, through your toes, and out your eye balls. Adventure. Mystery. The Great Unknown. It's pretty sexy actually. And boy, do I have stories! When I lived in Juneau, Alaska I helicoptered onto a glacier, drove by a bear on the side of the road, and counted 18 bald eagles in a single tree. In the Dead Sea in Israel I stripped naked with 1200 other people from around the world to be photographed by a famous photographer as the sun rose. I ate a lot of "street meat" in Shanghai. Last year I went sky diving. This last September I produced a TEDxTalk with over 900 people in attendance.

    All this have I done, but nowadays I feel my mischievous streak running dry. I feel the adventurer in me shriveling from neglect. I spend a disproportion amount of time in the morning curled in bed and glued to my phone. I suddenly find myself leading . . . <gulp> . . . a boring life.

    A boring life is predictable, it's measurable. Living the boring life, I wake up as usual, barely get out of bed as has become habit, let the hours pass by and then it's nighttime, which means it's bedtime and I've read all of Facebook twice or more and I haven't showered, just like the day before. Sometimes the biggest challenge is not enough milk for my coffee. This sort of boring life is scared of the risks that come with even the smallest adventure. Risks, as you know, can be very scary. A boring life is really just a safe life - and an empty one.

    Sometimes it can be a hell of a challenge to break my boredom spell. So I asked y'all, How do you make your life more interesting? Here's what I got:

    ...when I was a child, at the dinner table, my father would ask me, "What did you accomplish today?" And I had to have an answer. So, each day, I found new things to see, do read, etc. - and new people to get to know. It got to be a habit, which has led to a very interesting life. 
    If you open your heart, your eyes. Your mind and are curious, you will live an interesting life. Most of what makes life interesting is below the surface and must be mined with the above attributes. 
    Think less, do more. 
    By actually doing the things your heart tells you to. 
    Embrace everything. 

    At the center of this boredom question lies that pesky issue of self worth. Add enough self doubt to any scenario and I watch even my greatest passions go completely limp. (More on limp passions another day.) But I'm finally beginning to outsmart myself! I believe that doubts and other emotions are real, I also believe that they are self-made. You know the saying "there are two sides to every story"? Well there is more than one way to view a day. Victim or conquerer, beloved or not, curious or numbed. Staying adventurous is about perspective. In the end I believe that we are responsible for giving ourselves interesting lives. It is how we see, not what we see. Then, if we choose to seek more outside the rooms we are in, or the beds we are in, we shall go to them. I think the solution is "Think more, do more. Be more." Be kind to yourself. And for godssakes, doubt less!

    So En Garde, Boredom! Fie, fie! I no longer have any use for you!

    Oh and by the way, when you find that Dead Sea picture, look for me. I'm front and center ;)