Thursday, March 19, 2015

Learn to Love. Fight for Freedom.

I can do this.

I always think the moment I open up one of these damned white pages that something that runs onto it must be beautiful, or passionate, or at the very least original.  But it doesn’t have to be.

Not right now, maybe not ever.  The point is that I wrote it.

Today I watched a TED talk about coming up with new ideas.  A Japanese toy inventor started playing an idea game to help himself think of new toy ideas.  A word association game.  Evolution.  Neptune. Elderly.  Yesteryear.  Ran.  Norway.  And it keeps going on like that until you think of something you never really thought of before.

I thought, I should do that.  But who knows if I ever will.  Then I thought…just write.  Write like you used to.  I used to write.  I used to get everything down, even publish it, remember livejournal?

Thank God that stuff is lost in the ether somewhere, but I realize now that I used to write journal entries, livejournal rants, school papers, and stories.  At some point I thought that if I focused all of my energies into writing stories then there would be so much more I could do with them.  But I’m beginning to think that’s not how writing works.

You have to get all the crap out before anything good comes out of it.  So this is where the crap will go.  All the rantings of my underdeveloped, understimulated brain.  Maybe I should stop re-reading, over-editing, this crap stuff so I can spend all of that energy on the things I care about.

Regardless, here are some things I’ve been thinking about:

I’ve been thinking about my High School friends.  Or more accurately, the ones I don’t have anymore.  Either because I gave them up, or because they gave me up.  Regardless, most of them are faded from my life.

I don’t speak well of High School, but lately I’ve been thinking about a couple of people I’m sad I lost.  I miss Emily and laughing so hard my abs and cheeks hurt.  I’ve still never laughed like that with anyone else.  I miss Jake and those incorruptible hours I had with him in that stupid college art class we were forced to take.  I miss Steven and the absolute love he showed me, when no one else that age knew what love was.  I miss his forgiving and sassy gentleness, and the fact that I could give him any piece of information and know it would be kept safe.  I miss Cynthia, and being able to trust someone with my writing who would love it, and write all over it and discuss characters with me; I’ve never had anything like that since.  I miss Joseph and his laugh and knowing that at the end of the day he was just as bad at holding a grudge as I was.  I miss a lot of other people who deserve a word; but I’m glad to say that although these people don’t have much of a presence in my life anymore, none of them have ever been replaced.  I think that’s important.  A lesson perhaps I needed to realize—you may have to make a calculated decision to give someone up, but it doesn’t mean the good they did you will ever be replaced or forgotten.  I hope that goes two ways.  I still pray for these people to find peace, happiness, love, success.

It doesn’t do much good to dwell on the past, but I don’t think it does much good to trudge forward without regards to it either.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that seventeen year old girl lately, and how much she knew that I don’t know anymore.  I’ve also been thinking about how glad I am to know I’m not her anymore.  A little wiser, a little more educated, a little kinder, a little fiercer, a little more of all the things I always wanted to be but was too afraid to take on.  I know that as you grow, sometimes you outgrow your current spaces.  Others must never feel obligated to inhabit those places with you, and you must respect their decision to leave.  But one day, I hope that depression stops destroying people and instead starts helping us understand each other.

That girl.  What did she want, anyway?  Other than for someone to love her, and to get out of those high school walls and feel free?  I’ve certainly had some moments of freedom, but it’s not an every-day feeling.  Sometimes I think of the people in this country who have never had a single moment of freedom.  Hopelessness is all-encompassing.  God, I know that feeling too and I don’t even have a good reason for it.  I remember one day, waking up early in the morning and going downstairs to the boulangerie across the street from the jardin du Luxembourg and getting a pain au chocolat (even though that’s terribly fattening to do every day so I did it rarely) and walking into the garden and sitting down on one of those green benches under the trees in the coolness of 8am on a summer morning and eating alone and breathing, thinking.  That was freedom, just those few moments, allowing myself to do whatever I wanted.  In the last couple weeks of Paris, I cried every night knowing that I’d found someplace that actually felt like home.  That felt like freedom, even knowing it would end.  Why don’t I always live in that hour between sunrise and the day starting?

Everyone’s freedom looks a little different, but I think essentially it’s all anyone really wants.  But something so hard to come by must be fought for.  Have I ever mentioned I believe it to be one of the points of life?  Learn to love.  Fight for freedom.  Those are two of my truths.  And Miracles happen, or in other words, there is a plan with your name on it.

So here's to subjecting the world to meaningless rantings so that maybe, maybe one day, something of worth will come out.  Today.  Yore.  Everything. Girl. Left.  Tiger.  Rain.  Nope.  Ether.  Random.  Messy.

“Ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you.  Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.  And behold, I prepare you against these things for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea and winds which have gone forth and the floods which shall come.  Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


From a TEDtalk
Ricardo Semler: I always come back to variations of the question that my son asked me when he was three. We were sitting in a jacuzzi, and he said, "Dad, why do we exist?" There is no other question. Nobody has any other question. We have variations of this one question, from three onwards. So when you spend time in a company, in a bureaucracy, in an organization and you're saying, boy -- how many people do you know who on their death beds said, boy, I wish I had spent more time at the office? So there's a whole thing of having the courage now -- not in a week, not in two months, not when you find out you have something -- to say, no, what am I doing this for? Stop everything. Let me do something else. And it will be okay, it will be much better than what you're doing, if you're stuck in a process.


I feel very strongly about this word.  In many ways this concept has been the only concept on my mind for years.  I keep coming back to it, keep asking the questions about whether or not I have it.  I keep wondering when it is I will be allowed to act on it.

I was doing some reading about courage in January.  This year, for my year goals, I decided to work on 25 things I wanted to BE, instead of 25 things I wanted to do.  25, because that is how old I am at the moment.

Number One, was Courage.  I want to be courageous.  So I thought of goals that I believed would help me work toward this attribute, and for me courage always seemed about leaving everything you thought you knew and start off on a new adventure so my goal became, "Move across the country."  In my past the only times I had employed courage were in my decisions to travel abroad, so I erroneously assumed that the only way I could be courageous in my present was to leave the known for the unknown and travel to foreign lands.

I can't really blame myself for thinking this way.  Traveling to "foreign lands" certainly made me more confident, and while confidence doesn't necessarily make you more courageous I think its a step in the right direction.  And so I thought, "The more confident I become, due to my experiences with new places, new people, and new cultures, the more able I will become to make courageous decisions."

It didn't work out that way.  I didn't take the courage with me the way I thought I would.  My courageous decisions made me more confident, and I've taken that confidence with me and applied it to many parts of my life.  At risk of expressing just how anxiety-ridden I was BEFORE I made the stupid and courageous decisions to travel abroad, I will say only that, specifics aside I have more confidence in myself, my body, how I dress, how I speak, what I know, who I am, and what I think of myself than I might have on a different life-path.  But all of these things, all of this confidence I've earned (which is still only a modicum of the confidence most men are born with) still hasn't made me more capable of being courageous.  So apparently I had to go back to the drawing board on courage.

While doing my studies about courage, I came upon a some readings that posed courage as the absence of fear.  But I don't think that anyone can truly live devoid of all fear, so I decided courage was performing actions that were absent of fear.  Or in other words, doing something even though you were afraid of it.  For everyone this would look different, obviously.  But for me, I knew exactly what it would look like.  It would look like me quitting my job which has run its course, and spending my days forcing myself to write, and trying to get something published before I go to grad-school in the Fall.  But I don't have the courage to do that, and I realized why.

Courage is not acting in the face of fear.  Courage is acting knowing there's a possibility of regret.  Acting in the name of courage that may become 100% certified stupidity.  That's something to be afraid of.  I know there's the adage, "Well at least you tried!"  But isn't that even more disheartening?  To know you tried, and failed?  
Courage is looking at all that hopelessness and doing it anyway.