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I See You

I remember my dad mixing cement. Something he could do himself.

I remember him building our garage. A few times I remember some of his friends coming over to spend the day and help, but we never hired anybody to do things. My dad could do it all. Almost anything.

As a kid I didn’t realize until later that some families just call somebody and pay them to fix or build or repair.

Just like any person, it is interesting to watch your father change as they go through the ages.

When we were young he worked from the morning until the afternoon, and sometimes into the evening or night. Whatever time he was finished with work, he would come home and keep working. As was the life of having a family, and kids, and a house in the woods. Things always needed to be done. My mother and he divided and conquered.

We were a young family with a single bread-winner. He worked on the weekend. He brought home used equipment to remove the copper pipes that had cash value. He didn’t fail to make an effort. He and my mother did what they could to make money or save money.

Due to their combined efforts over the years we reached a certain prosperity, enjoyed greater comforts and sometimes even small luxuries.

I hope nowadays my father is seeing things start to slow. I hope he’s finding more time for enjoyment.

He loves his family and gives them so much. He lives his life being a good friend to friends and good family to family.

His parents were my last remaining grandparents for my adult life. My mother’s parents passed away some years ago now. It has only been a few years and a couple Christmases where we had to celebrate the memory of them instead of celebrating with them. I know at times it has been hard for him.

The more time that passes the more I want things to be easier for him. He deserves it.

A life well-lived warrants a life complete with rewards and enjoyment, especially as you move away from your youth into your later years.

He’s not old. Not by mind, not by body.

But he probably feels old sometimes. I know I do.

His family loves him. I know I do.

He has been the greatest father-in-law to my wife that I could have ever hoped. She is as lovable a person as I have ever known. She’s open and caring and I think he is always as happy to see her and she is to see and spend time with him. She loves him too.

We both think about him and talk about him when he isn’t there.

He is good.

When I look at him I see him.

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There’s a certain type of sadness that runs so deep that it fills every inch of space on the inside of your body. It starts in your head and then creates a lump in your chest and goes on to rush out to the tips of your toes and down your arms to the ends of your fingers. When I’m depressed or sad for myself or my own situation, more than ever those feelings feel shallow, like they’re limited in some way from reaching total infiltration and no matter how down I may be feeling for myself I know it’s not that bad. The sun will come out tomorrow and probably by the time I go to sleep tonight I’ll have found a different perspective to latch on to and brighten my soul again.

This most penetrating type of sadness though can only be felt for other people during their low moments in their life. I feel overwhelmed by friends and family who are sitting, cross-legged in the dirt drawing a circle over and over with their finger and trying to hold back tears.

More than ever do I know and have people in my life from other places and many of them are feeling crushed over the slap in the face that actually is America. It’s not a story, it’s actual lives of people who thought America was actually one of the greatest countries, because of our diversity. Because we have people from all over the world who come here and can not only be successful but be treated with respect and dignity – icons of acceptance. The American Dream was something that brought people here from all corners of the Earth.
I feel pain for the people who have changed their lives so much to come to this country to find it isn’t what they’ve been told. To learn that people here are so unknowledgeable and unable to relate to people from other cultures that they can only put them down, or make jokes about their differences, or treat them as lesser people is a hard spoon to swallow and for good reason. The people I know who have said “If we can go… we should go” breaks my heart.
America The Despicable. America The Narrow. Where white people cling for their final hopes to isolate themselves from the rest of the world and strive to inherit status and positions above everyone else – but for what reason? To what purpose, or end, should white people be allowed and supported to act in this way? To treat our neighbors like strangers and not brothers. To claim to be a Christian nation yet act nothing like it. To claim to have freedoms while encroaching on the rest of the people’s around us. The problem with minority groups, identifying them and imposing the idea that they are somehow different or lesser is a mentality that only works for the majority. Unless you are white everyone is a minority. And that doesn’t make you anything lesser. To identify as a minority is a self-defeating lesson. It’s not a competition. If there is any purpose to identify any group as being the majority then the only purpose in doing so is to assign which group should be the sole protector over those with smaller percentage of population, or representation. We should all be winning except the majority seems to be on a tangent focused on oppression. Of weakness and of fear.
The real people I know feeling they are the target of this real-world turning of the table, the turning back of time breaks my heart. Whoever thinks they won something this week have no idea what they’re losing – and that’s often the case.
As a country, if we can’t act respectful we will lose respect.
If we can’t continue to include, we will be excluded.
If we don’t continue to help, we will not be helped.
If we continue to hate, we will be hated.
If we build walls for others, people will build them for us.
If we don’t help the poor then one day we will be poor.
eyescrying.jpg
If we want to boast about our greatness we must first prove that we are great. The second doesn’t come before the first. If we are going to protect ourselves it doesn’t have to be at the cost of everyone else. To be bold in every endeavor is a fool’s strategy. There is a time when water needs to be ice, and a time when it needs to be soft and flow gracefully into all things. To show you are strong at all times shows you have a great weakness in being weak. A hero can stand quietly and listen. A strong leader takes the back of the line knowing they will eat last. A leader refrains from accepting every praise and instead directs it to those who helped make it to the goal. There’s a wisdom that has escaped us at this point in time. One that isn’t only a figurative entity but something real people around me are feeling. Their concern is my worry. Their grief is my pain. Their unacceptance is my demise.
There’s a sadness that is so deeply channeled that it can only be felt for others. Humans, as we developed into sentient beings who feel love and empathy for our family creatures of our own species, born in a communal image to work with one another for an easier, better life than if we were alone and by ourselves. I was made to build a fire so when you grow the food we can both eat. I grew taller so I could reach the things you cannot. You taught yourself to be smarter so you can watch out for me when I cannot watch out for myself. We are such a connected species that it is unnatural to behave in such separatist ways. We are created so equally that it is painful to see the effort some take to try to hoist themselves above the rest.
It could be such a bright, brilliant, beautiful world if we could take the time to realize it. We create divisions where we all lose instead of creating unities where we all win. Is this naïve? Maybe a little. But this way of thinking doesn’t make people feel the way I know many are feeling right now. The actual majority of people are not white. That shouldn’t be scary to anybody. If you spend your life building bridges you’ll be happy when people come across them to join you. If you spend your life building prisons you’ll fear for your life when people escape them.
After a moment in time these feelings will subside, but I’ll remember them even after they go away. So will the people I love who are feeling at such a loss of support and feeling of oppression right now. Their pain will diminish, but knowing American can be this way is something they won’t soon forget.

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Life

It’s understanding planning one step
and mastering the running
it’s refining what you’re writing til the rhapsody is stunning.
It’s practicing a skill til your hands worn withered
then it’s keeping your health balanced and your inner-self centered.
It’s to go against gravity and demand your elevation
it’s the time that duty called and didn’t have a reservation.
It’s the morning after midnight, the time you missed your calling
it’s the crying, it’s the balling, it’s digesting what’s appalling.
Life
It’s practicing the action of what you’ve been saying
it’s the houses that you built while perfecting brick laying.
It’s the sedentary life that I’ve become so well accustomed
it’s the diamonds in the rough that’ll cut you if you touch em.
It’s your turf and now it’s mine, it’s Nikes on the power lines
it’s how to find the brighter side and hold it during sour times.
It’s making the most of lemons and deciding how to do it
it’s calling it a night when you’re under the influence.
It’s living life for joy and loving living with your princess
it’s sharpening a blade and putting edges on your skill set.
It’s faith love and empathy surviving through the misery
it’s smiling whether or not you’ve had the benefits of dentistry.
It’s sweating til you’ve rid yourself of any ounce of water
then it’s filling up your cup and later working even harder.
It’s the pen and how it always knows exactly what you’re thinking
it’s the nausea on your conscious when you see that you were sleeping.
It’s the million ways to die and only one that’s going to come to us
it’s listening to nature even when the sound is thunderous.
It’s life in such variety from many different views
it’s the times we pick & choose and get enthused to walk in different shoes
It’s life and how you shape it in the time that you were given.
Life.
it’s arriving at the finish line and knowing you were driven.
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My Sorrow, My Sparrow

It makes perch upon my shoulder and digs its needles through my skin.

Sinks beneath my being silently to let it in.

Beacons to the shadows growing strong with dim light.

Scarcity of nutrient, cloaking darkness over sight.

Its gaze can see in front of me, its eyes aside my own.

It knows the past behind us. Hollow as its bones.

It walks along my stanzas unknown to ever rest.

It plays me like an instrument with reeds that know me best.

It’s silent on my arm except when pecking at my soul.

Its claws are born to ridicule and turn a body cold.

My sparrow soars through wind and flesh and digs between the seems.

It lays its eggs at night to haunt tomorrow from my dreams.

It’s light as half a drop of rain but perches like a rock.

Its pupils soak in glory stole from time, it bleeds my clock.

It holds the present captive weighed in stone and built from ice

And stands upon my body never interested in flight.

My sparrow’s healthy as a sunrise with its warmth to glow and spread

But it’s dark as night in color wound eternal is its thread.

It feeds and breathes and grows its grip and sinks its toes persistent

It leads from its tumultuous heart unknown to be repentant.

2015-01-11 14.16.12-2

 

My True Joy, My Blue Jay

It rests upon my shoulder and holds tightly to my skin. 

Sets deep into my being quietly to let it in. 

It casts away the shadows growing stronger from the light. 

Abundance of enjoyment, taking darkness from my sight. 

It flies through sun and glory and offers it to be my own. 

It’s weight beyond existence light as feathers to the bone. 

It sings along to stanzas unknown to take a breath. 

It plays me like an instrument with reeds that know me best. 

It’s welcome on my arm with songs that illuminate my soul. 

Its feet are warm and radiant that turn me from the cold. 

My blue jay soars through summer breeze and nests along the stream. 

Its eggs in morning slumber rest at night to feed my dreams. 

It’s light as half a drop of rain with veins as strong as rock. 

Its pupils show me past events hung sweetly on the clock. 

Its back as soft as cotton holding colors blue as ice

and stands upon my body while it’s resting from its flight. 

My blue jay holds a miracle that’s bound to glow and spread

with loving mercy drenched in color strung across our thread. 

It feeds and breathes and grows its grip and sinks its kiss persistent.

It leads from its abundant heart displaying life’s incentive.

Blue-Jay-painting.jpg

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4

I got 10 digits twisted around the sum of my accomplishments

I’ve counted every mountain where the summit shows my signature

Higher than the clouds without assistance of intoxicants

I’ve mounted every doubtful outcome shown throughout the literature

I’ll never reach the peaks beyond my natural capacity

cause actually I’m boundless in my reach to grasp heights

My effort’s never bested by an ailment or a malady

higher than the ceiling feet are standing on stalactites

I’ll examine any planning in the conquest for ascension

I’ll build my own equipment if the tools are not invented

I’ll elevate the pro’se and con’text with better diction

My targets more like comets than a star in your dimension

I carry medals from lesser battles strapped in leather sacks

and add them to the weight I’m proud of having press upon my back

I shift from precipice to precipice and never rest or finish

cause what’s a precedent that doesn’t press the others to the limit

I’m an ardent rider hard survivor climbing for the atmosphere

to rest my brain amidst the rain when there aren’t any cabins here

My footsteps more like meteors that pound a crater beautifully

I question answers to the test and sentence thoughts to greater scrutiny

I warm my feet by embers from the king of the hill contenders

and all the second place performances that nobody remembers

I’ve realigned tides to rise in sequence to the weekends – see

the swells collide in time & readjust the season’s frequency

The hill’s alive from where I stand with music as my favorite thing

the bells beyond the heavens shower blessings when I make them ring

I’ll serenade the spring until I fall on summer’s innocence

and carry blossoms to the mountain in the winter of my discontent

Stand on tops so high my knees are sunken into freezing snow

above the island seas I watch the tropics in the breeze below

My looking glass is focused on the farthest planet’s coordinates

I hope its huge with mountains grown abundantly proportionate

I’m running out of anything to challenge destined escalation

It tests my patience waiting to advance the final destination

 

5

I’m running out of virtue, my patience is getting thin

and from these pages, if the word’s true – these stages is giving in

letting anyone in the ranges come to grace it’s planked construction

I’m pro-human life involvement and blind from blank consumption

Keep your water buckets handy this disease needs curing

ensuring wording going deeper and darker than your Keurig

I spit the spark that split the crystal brought the Mystics out to venture, shift

the dark and shared a light they’ve never seen because of censorship

I’m the best to press the pen against this world of cells and chemicals

and conjure up a spell creating life between the syllables

Ya wanna bet on innovation not accept the simulation

my success is not a threat it’s a pending situation

Put words into the canon like a puddle on the tide

cover carousels with clover wish you luck along the ride

I’m a house divided from the attic with academic papers

and the basement where the bass is sent through psychedelic vapors

I’m tasteless in pursuit of who’s the freshest on the avenue

cause flavor’s just a part of what I’m bringing better after you

Any star can shoot the moon and get a minute of attention

but few can steady carve a path committed to ascension

I’m a 49’er rhymer dropping nuggets out my pockets

my budget’s like the cockpit, don’t ever try and top it

I’m digging gems and dropping wisdom from my golden ground deposits

my shine’s applied to true letters while their hands are glued to goose feathers

I’ll battle the Bell Witch without the bayonets and helmets

my saber rests embellished in the blood of those who fell quick

And life won’t say I’m sorry for the hardships you’ve uncovered

that’s why your heat continues even once your fire’s smothered

So I leave ’em looking clueless standing lone and holding papers

and there’s nothing else in evidence than holes and smoking craters

My speeches show the weaknesses that makes your columns crumble

with the knowledge of the greatest minds that keep your college humble

I’m the first to burst your bubble and walk away with goals accomplished

while you’re waiting for your turn to bat I’m on another conquest

 

6
I chased truth down a rabbit hole and stole a pelt for honesty

my Wonderland beneath assumptions functions from the oddity

I thought that if I kept it there’ll be hell to pay eventually

but knew the path to happiness is built upon simplicity

I’ve never bested challengers with fire from my verbiage

but I’ve shrunken mighty fighters with some words of chosen purpose

Some think your violent furnace is accepted with a warning

turning wedding cake relations to a case of global warming

So I never break the paper wrapping presents for the morning

til the pressure’s off the rapier that the fire poker’s forming

How’s a crucifix addiction measure up to common wisdom

if mother nature naturally would go against convention

Is there life beyond existence when the seconds get to millions

is there hope for any future if you’ve second-guessed the children

There’s opinions when I think and breathe and anything my tongue hits

I’m biased when I’m done with judging other people’s judgements

The same song repeats and turns in circles as it plays on

if words are worthless than I’m giving yall the finger all the day long

And if that’s the case no feelings were ever hurt in my performance

cause my rabbit cut the chorus growing rapidly abhorrent

I’m the spokesman of my company for the times that we’re enjoying

reinvesting every earning taking care of my employee

I’m sweating from the mission, bleeding love and dripping intimacy

or is it vision vividly perceiving wicked wizardry

eclipsed with bickering literacy

and masked in sibling idiocy

No man can be an island but from the end of the peninsula, you wouldn’t know the difference

-so I know your mental image

and if it’s isolation any islander desires

don’t blame your fellow countrymen you’ve sunken through the mires

Better beg for silent mercy, bend your knees and what have you

but only once you’ve found the truth can life be truly valued

 

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I came along at a bad time. Those old songs sing about being born under a bad sign. I didn’t used to think that way, like everything had been preset for me, just based on when I came along – but I’ve learned timing is everything.

I used to think I was the reason my parent’s split up. They were happy with my brother. I never did anything that bad I didn’t think, I couldn’t even spell my name back then, but again, the sign… it had set things in motion already. I rent this small room now. I work. I’m happy. People leave me alone. That’s all I ever wanted. When I’m alone I don’t get pecked.

I remember childhood, which is also a curse. I had friends. Not as many as some, and it took a stroke of luck and a little bit of effort, but the friends I had were good. The rest of it is a blur. But it comes to me in my dreams. Christmas was a good time. Some of them were magical. My birthdays were fun. But I grew up with a bully. My older brother set the pace. We played, and we fought sometimes. We would share toys and play video games, and we would start to get excited, or impatient, and we’d argue. I would yell and he would yell back. I would get mad and he would match it. But he wasn’t the bully. After an hour, or later that day my brother and I would go back to normal. We would return to equilibrium and find something else to play. My bully showed up one day and took over. When I fought with him he didn’t reset, he calmed down, but he remembered each time, and built off of it. I’ve forgotten nearly every time my brother and I fought, but I remember every time he and I did. He was a hundred times bigger than me it felt, so I wouldn’t call it a fight, but each time it felt like I had been in one. Even though I rarely had a mark to show for it I feel like I know what it’s like to be beat up. Not at school or somewhere else, but at home. People who have never fallen off a cliff still can know the feeling of falling to your death. I’m very familiar with the feeling of almost hitting the ground. It’s not the impact that kills you. That would be a release from the torment of falling. It’s that queasiness, over and over, that’s the real torture.

He would bother me. He would pick on me and tell on me to my mom. Sometimes I would be minding my own business in my room and he would come bother me. He was so big. And he could be so loud. There’s so many times where there was nothing I could do. Because sometimes I was already doing nothing. I know my mom knew, because she was there. But she didn’t do anything. Well, she showed up and kept things from going, what do people say… from going too far. As if the end point is the moment where things become bad, or dangerous, or hurtful. As if up until the final moment things are okay, they’re actually fine. “I stopped him”. Yeah, you stopped him from exploding onto me, but you didn’t stop the fuse from burning down so close it burned me. You didn’t stop the fuse from blowing sparks in my face whenever it got hot. You didn’t keep the fuse from getting shorter every time.

But I couldn’t stop you either.

I couldn’t stop you from growing short with me either. I couldn’t stop you from slowly putting him first, before me and my brother. I had to remind myself, it wasn’t me. It was my sign. It looms over me like a raven, rapping at the door to its tenant who slowly creeps into madness and can eventually do nothing but let it in. As a kid I couldn’t escape this raven.

There were times when I couldn’t sleep at night because of him. Sometimes because he would watch TV or make noise while I was trying to go to sleep, while I was supposed to be asleep. I couldn’t disturb him but he could disturb us. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because my mind was so reeling over something that had happened that day, or the day before, or the week before. Or earlier. Most people complain about how hard it is for them to remember. That’s not my problem. I wish we could trade, and they could conjure up images of summer time, weekends, and holidays. Happy memories they think were the best times of their lives. I’d give anything to be able to forget them. There were times when I couldn’t have friends over because of him. Most of the time I didn’t want to have friends over. A lot of the time I didn’t want to be there myself. He would play tricks on me and get me in trouble. He said one time I was going to be a handful when I grew up. Not like when people say this new promotion or project at work is going to be a handful, but more like he knew I was going to be some sort of problem that they’re not going to know how to deal with, kind of handful. They told me it was okay because words are just words. But we all know that isn’t true. They told me words can’t hurt me, but what if your words are telling me you’re going to hurt me…

They said I had troubles. I didn’t have troubles. I was placed into troubles. Trouble was given to me like free samples in the food court. I stayed quiet, which meant I could hear what people said from a mile away. Walls are thin. Skin is even thinner. All things relative, having been born to another family, at another time, I would have been their prize and joy. A family who isn’t into sports but likes literature, a family who sits and plays with thoughts and ideas, one who likes to explore not just accept. I think about alternatives. I create stories in my mind and step from the path because sometimes the grass is much softer. It’s hard for me to fit into a box, and it took me a long time to figure out that I had to walk into that room, that room of boxes, and even though I could choose any one I wanted, I did have to choose one of them. There’s no box for me. The big wide box doesn’t fit me any better than the small square one. Whatever my walls are I will want to explore them. I want to see what’s on the other side, what they’re made of, how they’re made, and wonder if I can make them myself. If I can then I’ll make a better one. I’ll make it out of something else. I’ll make it in a shape I like, because the only box that fits me will be the one I make myself. I’ll leave a series of new boxes for the next kids to choose from. Some people need to do that. Some people fit perfectly into boxes, others make new ones.  The more popular the box, the better. I don’t need my box to be popular, I just need it to hold me.

My raven couldn’t understand my problem with boxes. I thought he just didn’t like kids, until I watched him bring another boy to our house. And just like the way he had shown up one day and taken over so did this kid. But we liked him. I let him have my bed sometimes. It seemed like the thing to do. Everyone liked him. So we went along with it all. We made our own jokes and laughed and played too. But he spent a lot of time with the new boy. They laughed and he invited him to come do all sorts of things with him. I didn’t understand why this other boy could bring out such a nice side of him. Why he didn’t always act angry towards him, or why when he messed up he didn’t yell at him, or get in his face, or push him around. They said he was family. Which was okay, because we liked him.

So then I thought, well maybe my raven and I, maybe we’re not family. And it made sense. He isn’t there when we do family things. My mom would take us places and he didn’t come. We’d spend the night or go away for our birthdays and he didn’t come. We’d see my grandparents, we’d go shopping, we’d go to plays or visit my greater family, or have yard sales, and he wouldn’t come. The best memories he wasn’t there for. I think that was fine, because no one was being mean to me then. It was easy to stay away from him when there was a lot of people. I could escape to my grandparent’s house. They loved to have everyone together to eat and spend time. Which usually was a good chance to get away. My raven didn’t spend time. When he wasn’t flying all he did was eat, and peck. He would show up to eat, soon before, and leave soon after. He had to get back to flying. He would come home and peck later, and it made me wonder, did he not come to the best memories or were the best memories because he wasn’t there?

My mom asked for this raven, I never did. It first flew into my house and perched, and now the whole house lives under its wing. My family, kids, old men, friends of the family, nobody was out of reach from his pecking. The shadows he made can be so dark. I had to wait for years to be able to find a light. I can’t take back the first part of my life, I can’t get over some of the things that happened, but finally I’ve been able to move on. It’s easy to sit on the words on the pages that are already written, and it’s harder to step onto that slippery clean page and write some new footing, but I’ve learned to do that. I’ve found my happiness. The final page was to break away. I had to escape it all, even my mom. That last time my raven had me in the corner, screeching and pecking at me was her last time she cast her vote for him and made me the lame duck. Since then it’s been easier. When you cut out a cancer you end up taking some good cells with it too. But it’s worth it if I’m going to live. I could say anything I wanted but there was always excuses. I didn’t get excuses, but then again, I wasn’t in charge. I wish I could have grown up to be so much bigger and taller than I did, but it isn’t in my genes. There’s that sign again. If I wasn’t so small I could have made the rules. I could have acted however I wanted and no one could have controlled me. I could have said “Hey kid, you better have some respect” and then I could have acted disrespectfully. I could have set rules for everyone else that didn’t apply to me. If I was big I would have had the physical power as well as the political power, and no one would be able to control me. I could vote against everyone else’s interests. I could horde funds in the treasury, and let the roads fall to disrepair while I buy new cars. I wouldn’t have to contribute. I wouldn’t have to act the way I’ve been taught if I was bigger. People would make excuses for me. I’ll never have that life because, well, I’m me. I was taught if I live right then I’ll go to heaven. Some other people say if I live right I’ll be reborn and come back to Earth as something better. Some people say we don’t know what happens. I wish I did know, because I hope next time around I can be born differently, at a better time.

I know it’s all not my fault. It’s because timing is everything.

 

2012-05-07 13.06.17

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It rests upon my shoulder and holds tightly to my skin. 

Sets deep into my being quietly to let it in. 

It casts away the shadows growing stronger from the light. 

Abundance of enjoyment, taking darkness from my sight. 

It flies through sun and glory and offers it to be my own. 

It’s weight beyond existence light as feathers to the bone. 

It sings along to stanzas unknown to take a breath. 

It plays me like an instrument with reeds that know me best. 

It’s welcome on my arm with songs that illuminate my soul. 

Its feet are warm and radiant that turn me from the cold. 

My blue jay soars through summer breeze and nests along the stream. 

Its eggs in morning slumber rest at night to feed my dreams. 

It’s light as half a drop of rain with veins as strong as rock. 

Its pupils show me past events hung sweetly on the clock. 

Its back as soft as cotton holding colors blue as ice

and stands upon my body while it’s resting from its flight. 

My blue jay holds a miracle that’s bound to glow and spread

with loving mercy drenched in color strung across our thread. 

It feeds and breathes and grows its grip and sinks its kiss persistent.

It leads from its abundant heart displaying life’s incentive.

Blue-Jay-painting.jpg

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2015 wrap-up

During the last seconds of December I was messaging my girlfriend.

I started this year at the strike of midnight with some good friends,

texting to Canada.

In February she was magically here

again.

We met in June.

She left in August.

She returned in February.

We got engaged in March.

Married in April.

Nothing has ever been so right.

This year has been the year of getting back to what’s real

and ironically nothing has been more like living in an epic dream.

I wanted to disconnect from all the giftwrap and think more about the meaning of things.

To focus on happiness in its different forms.

To think about what happiness is

and try to live in ways that best cultivate it.

This required some physical changes to my actions and surroundings.

It required more changes to my thoughts

which changed my actions and surroundings.

I tried to criticize and micromanage my daily habits

both physical and mental,

routine actions,

external stimuli,

television,

and my choices of what to watch,

print media,

and my choices of what to read,

social media,

and my choices of what to see.

There were also all sorts of other living interactions I wanted to qualify

in an attempt to break down fundamentally what introduces positive, joyful spirits into my world.

This showed me the things I do out of habit,

or even the things I do that I supposedly like,

because some actually cause me grief instead of contributing to happiness.

Which investments in my time

or energy

give me greater peace, and lead to happiness.

On what things do I spend my time

and energy

that actually take away from my happiness.

I wanted to think about the people in my life who have done so much.

I have so many people that contribute

by lending a shoulder

by being there with jokes

by giving me an outlet

by helping me lift

by giving me ideas

by showing me new things.

How do you compose a more positive future?

You make today a more positive now.

I started with Facebook.

My Facebook was going to be a happier, more positive place.

I would scroll down and see people’s pet’s birthdays,

children’s first days of school,

teacher’s summer vacations,

new cars,

marriages,

beach trips,

concerts,

and everything else true to life.

No opinionated memes.

No politics.

No rants.

Even causes I cared for I would set to rest.

This was not the place anymore.

I can support an organization by going to their website and reading their updates.

Their fight doesn’t have to be in my face each day.

I tried to create an experience of pleasantness.

Free of ignorance.

Free from images and posts about exclusion.

I don’t want to see fear.

I don’t want to see Obama.

I don’t want to see how Christian some people want to appear.

I want to skip over the hyper-awareness of forgettable moments in news.

Most of that isn’t news,

just negativity.

Hatefulness.

Things that aren’t going to change.

Things that should but aren’t.

Things that are but shouldn’t.

In doing this I found that most news is positive

because most of life is positive.

Out of a hundred negative posts

many of them I found can be rooted in just a few events.

But a hundred positive posts can come from a hundred different uplifting stories.

And that’s life.

People telling their stories

are different than all the people sharing, distorting, and adding bias while telling the stories of someone else.

I don’t need that.

I didn’t want to live the next 30 years letting someone else point my telescope.

Some might say I’m less informed,

but less informed about what exactly

is the question.

I cleaned Facebook of pages.

Companies.

Artists.

Musicians.

Causes.

I’m down to 100 or so.

I un-liked about 500.

My friends list was slaughtered.

I changed it from a collection of people who I met a few times,

took a class with,

had a drink with,

went to a cookout with,

friends of friends,

people I used to know,

people I used to work with,

and people who I never see anymore.

Out of all these perfectly fine and good people,

so many of them lived and stayed in chapter 16,

chapter 25,

or chapter 30.

I’m on chapter 36.

Anyone who has a connection is welcome to stay walking these pages with me.

I didn’t do a disservice to anyone who might miss me.

I didn’t hurt any feelings.

Just cleaned out the cobwebs.

I would call my friends more,

text my people more,

and see my family more.

I wouldn’t limit how much time I spend on Facebook

but the more I got back to what’s real

the less interest I had in anything related to it.

Even as it became a refreshing,

more positive experience,

it was becoming increasingly thin.

Increasingly superficial.

Increasingly unnecessary.

My friends and family know what’s going on with me.

Anyone who cares can know.

But not everyone cares,

so everyone doesn’t need to know.

My personal glories

don’t need to be public.

My thoughts are more meant for conversations,

not Facebook posts.

Robert Pirsig said “You’re not a fan about something you know.”

If I’m rooted in my good feelings,

I don’t have to be a fanatic about them.

You don’t run around shouting the sky is blue,

and I don’t need to publicize an image of how I want people to think of me.

I would feel happier.

I already did.

I felt healthier.

More able to sort out the garbage made by someone else’s points of view.

More able to sort of the things I put in my body,

which includes my mind.

Poison can come into the body and change your health.

It can enter through the mouth, ears or eyes

and change everything.

So all these portals would be clean,

not convoluted.

I slowed down.

I gave my microwave to my friend because theirs broke.

I liked to cook

but the microwave kept me from it.

It wasn’t healthy.

It reduced the quality of the food I ate.

It reduced the nutrition in the food I cooked in it.

I increased the value of what I made for myself.

Isn’t that its own reward?

I came home and took a deep breath everyday.

I went to work and enjoyed the now.

I woke up thinking about all the things I would do before I went back to bed.

I sold things.

I threw things away.

I gave things away.

Now what I have has more meaning.

Now that I have less

I also buy less.

I see wastes of money all around me.

I see things I don’t need to spend my time worried about.

I see things I don’t need to spend my time wanting.

I see people’s lives who I don’t care to envy.

I don’t know anyone I would rather be than me.

I still have bills.

I’m still building.

I’m still working on being better,

doing things better,

and living better.

Hopefully I’ll always be working on these things.

I’m still fixing situations from the past.

I’m still slowly ameliorating errors in my ways.

Hopefully I won’t always be doing that.

But for now, I have moments where I feel each month that goes by

I am in a better place,

a happier place,

and more advanced place,

than I had been.

Life never gets fixed I don’t think.

I don’t think it ever gets tied up with a bow, stamped and labeled perfect.

But each consecutive time I check-in with myself

and see that things are better,

and each time in a row that I feel like I’m in a happier way of life,

I feel accomplished.

I feel more productive steering towards the sun than I do by painting the boat.

I wanted to cut out some of the distractions and handle what I think is the real business.

What’s important.

What’s real.

In Howard’s End Forster says “It isn’t size that counts so much as the way things are arranged”

and more than ever I like how I have things arranged.

I share more because I have more to share.

I used to spend more money on people,

now I spend better time with them.

I see a lot of people less,

but I see them better.

I know a lot less people,

but per capita I know a lot better people.

I do less things,

but I do more meaningful things.

I have more patience for the time it takes to sail this craft

and less patience for the things that weigh down the sails.

Everyday is maintenance,

because it’s not easy.

I’ve been on a diet from the junk food of society.

The desires that cause suffering.

The superficialities.

The advertising of happiness that might just degrade it at the same time.

If I’m truly happy right now

why has it become that I need to be telling somebody?

I text someone a funny story

or photo

instead of putting it in a bottle and floating it out into the sea of Facebook.

Life is simple.

It is only ourselves who make it complicated.

I like simple people.

I’m attracted to positivity,

because it feeds the soul.

A drop of it falls into the water and spreads to the edges.

Likewise I’m more sensitive than ever to negativity,

to what brings you down,

what brings me down,

what brings another person down.

I’d rather build.

It’s hard to shed a little light on all the different things I’ve done,

all the little ways I’ve readjusted in this pursuit of happiness,

because it’s everything.

This year has undoubtedly been one of the happiest of my life.

It had down’s that make the up’s feel even higher.

I’m thankful for those.

It had quiet moments, still moments that make the rest seem like a rollercoaster.

It had loneliness that makes my companionship that much more enjoyable.

It had fears.

Real fears, not the ones you see on TV.

Not exaggerated claims that exist to serve someone else’s purpose.

Not fears you have to convince me to be afraid of.

It was also saturated with happiness

like water pouring out of a sponge,

that doesn’t fill every space

but does make it appear as if the entire things is soaked.

And for this I’m grateful,

because it isn’t a passive process.

It’s something a person conceives,

builds,

and maintains.

So personally

you become proud of it.

It’s easy to make a mess.

It’s harder to clean it up.

And even though some stains might be there if you look closely,

you’re happy for the reminders of the progress you’ve made.

I’ve found that some people aren’t comfortable with speaking positively.

It is such a shift in gears from the comfort of complaining

that it feels unnatural to some people, I think.

I like to share gratitude.

And if those around you can’t understand it

then change your environment.

Some people don’t like to see happiness.

Some don’t like to acknowledge your happiness,

or can’t relate to embracing happiness.

So leave them as they are.

You can’t save everybody.

You can’t save anybody who isn’t ready.

You can’t make people be ready.

Just live your life.

You don’t live in the triumphs of other people, enjoying their spoils,

so you don’t have to live in their unhappiness, sustaining their negativity.

This year I have more

and I also have less,

but because the right things are in the right places

happiness is achieved.

Not fairy tale happiness,

that’s an imaginative novelty.

Real happiness is balance.

The glass is half full of good things

and the space above it is full of appreciation for what’s not.

The people, places and things in my circle are welcome.

Everything else has a small distance.

They still exist,

and require addressing sometimes,

but they’re away from my target.

They’re removed from the center of my life,

and the emotions that drive me are guarded from them.

They’re knowledge, not life.

They don’t help anything,

so they don’t belong.

What sounds like naivety

is actually more like clarity.

I feels like things are more real than they’ve ever been,

made of wood, not plastic.

Full of actions, not words.

Surrounded in love, not hate.

I have no time for hate.

I cut out a lot of hateful things

that appeared normal on the surface.

I embrace a lot of positive things,

that appear benign on the outside.

Those are for me to sort for myself.

Find your own equation.

Do your own math.

It’s not universal.

It’s personal.

Finding your right formula helps the world

because you started with yourself.

I didn’t want to be another virus

spreading conflict or sickness invisibly to those around me.

Inspiring silent thoughts that will lead to widowed actions later.

A lot of people reap discontent in their life.

I see how they even seek out the things that bother their happiness,

or disrupt their peace.

If I wanted to be happier than I was, I had to try to look more clearly

and live more cleanly.

None of this is meant to put another person down.

Like when people share pictures of their weight loss

isn’t to boast but to inspire.

To help.

None of this has anything to do with becoming perfect,

it’s silly how one feels they might have to say that,

but the path to happiness is important to every person.

If we’re not individually seeking a happier life,

how will we collectively have a brighter future.

This year life changed in ways that I hope will never be undone.

Not perfect,

but happier.

I plan to make next year another round,

not trying for more,

but more of the same.

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MPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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The Divine Comedy

Comedy. Laughing… is something incredible to the human experience. Kids grow up wanting to be comedians and study their idols, learning about the art and the science of making people laugh. The wondrous part about the experience of the audience is that the moment of laughter is perceived as something inexplicable, unpredicted and almost magical in its conception. The direct relationship between the person acting and the person laughing is ostensibly that of a donor and recipient, much in the way a child believes their Christmas present was actually from Santa Claus. The audience member doesn’t see it coming and believes they were less a result of study, learning and practice than a blessed recipient of a random, unprecedented moment of hilarity. The comedian laces sentences and surprises in traditional patterns disguised to look like completely original conceptions. They’ll provide this gift over and over, venue after venue, sewing the same magic over audiences. Something that appears entirely original under the guise of an impromptu interaction with the audience but actually an art of mastery and commitment. Truly amazing and as close to magical as anything else we know.

Audience watching a show in a small theatre

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The clock winds down after moving slowly all day.

Tucked into the sheets in the corner of a room.

Squeezed in tightly to a wrap of clothes and blankets.

A new bed.

The imagined clamor of solitude fills my ears.

Missing my room.

Every night I lay against the edge and miss my life.

I reach and hit the pale sheetrock draped in cold shadow.

Every night I knock the wall.

 

 

Wrapped up in a constant hug with myself.

I spend most of the day on my feet because getting up and down is hard.

The nurses check on me always.

The sound of their keys sounds like music to me now.

If they only knew the greatest fear I ever had was of being alone.

My arms keep me warm while I’m tied.

At night I fall into the corner of my room and collapse into the floor.

I lean in and bump my head against the padding settling in for night again.

Every night I knock the wall.

 

 

It’s a hard climb to the top.

I live my life taking elevators to floors not on the keypad.

Now that I fly more I’m barely ever near the ground.

My penthouse surrounds me with walls of glass.

Seeing liberties that only the powerful know.

A sea of networking corporations and back scratchers.

Invisible entrapment. Alone. Wanting to break free.

I pound a fist into the glass that confines me.

Every night I knock the wall.

 

 

The darkest streets are always coldest.

Lonely, I stand in hopes of business.

I want to be inside or at least in a car where I can feel warm.

Girls my age normally keep busy.

I end up being knocked against the headboard or thrown against these motel walls.

I try not to disturb the people in the next room.

Every day is full of moments. Each moment is survival.

Weary.

Every night I knock the wall.

 

 

Hot sand in my clothes, I try to keep it out my sheets.

The cabin’s quiet and my team does their routine.

Somehow no one died today.

I hold onto texts from my family, but no words can bring them close to me.

I lay down and try to clear my thoughts from the day.

I quiet my mind and struggle to find peace.

This tiny cot against the wall is all the relief that I’m allowed.

I pound my fist against the camouflage and rattle this cage.

Every night I knock the wall.

 

 

These walls keep us all in.

They keep us all confined.

They keep us all in check.

These walls act as reminders,

good or bad.

Every night we knock the wall.

Every night we find ourselves up against it.

Every night we look at ourselves in our current position.

Every night we’re reminded how the world sees us.

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