Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's Complicated

I have a friend who lives in a less than pristine part of Houston, where gang activity runs rampant. The cops visit her apartment complex at least ten times a day. Coming from a small rural town in a relatively safe area, it’s a little jarring for me to be in such an environment. To see people “posted up” wearing the same colors, hearing fights get out of hand, it’s a bit much. However, I was just beginning to be as comfortable as I could with it--maybe comfortable isn’t right--more like I had accepted it as a reality.

Then one night we are sitting around, my friend and I, watching a movie in her apartment. I’m not sure what time it was, but it was after dark, probably around 11 or so. Suddenly, just as I am about to leave, a tirade of gunshots rings out, must have been twenty or thirty, evenly spaced, from several guns. While this is happening, and afterward many people are yelling, and generally hysterical. The scariest part was, it sounded like it was very close, like a few doors away. Needless to say, I waited a while before leaving, and even then I was pretty nervous.

Then last weekend, I was over there again. Again we’re hanging out, it's after dark, this time the balcony door is open a bit. Again, an outburst of gunfire, this time you can distinctly hear both a pump shotgun, and at least one handgun. It sounds a little further away, but still really close. Then wheels screech off, and just like before I am left trembling, a little from pure shock and fear, but mostly because I couldn’t help but think about innocent people, or children, or bystanders. People--maybe wives or girlfriends of these guys, or their kids or family members--who were caught up in this life.

Some people are quick to judge. I am not necessarily one of those people. I won’t do what many well intentioned liberal-minded folk do and put myself in their shoes, and say I understand why they do it. Why they join gangs, or sell drugs, or kill each other. But I know it is more complicated than most people are willing to admit.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Whale Dreams (or To the Surface)

" The quest is to be liberated from the negative, which is really our own will to nothingness. And, once having said yes to the instant, the affirmation is contagious. It bursts into a chain of affirmations that knows no limit. To say yes to one instant, is to say yes to all of existence."
--Waking Life

I awoke and was pissed, another day of monotony. Another day of coffee binges, and dumbass drivers. Of costly car repairs, and feelings of going nowhere. I‘d been dreaming so vividly through the night. I was swimming with my sister in the ocean. Suddenly all around us were these beautiful whales. It felt so real, and I loved it when they snuck up and surfaced inches from me. I could reach out and touch their blubbery skin. Every once in a while they’d playfully spray water up in the air like kids with a water hose will do in the summer. As always though, reality broke in and fucked it up. I sighed a deep existential sigh, and vigorously rubbed my eyes to get the crust out of the corners. They always say life is but a dream, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Life is only memories of dreams. Life is the interruption of a dream. I felt as if I could just lay there forever, that it didn’t really matter if I got up and did it all over again. I looked up the whale as a dream symbol, and it was commonly associated with deep emotions surfacing, and getting more in touch with one’s intuition. Interesting, and incredibly appropriate.

I had to get up, I told myself. I was being childish. Life isn’t that bad.

But she left you, she betrayed you I retorted. The two people you were closest to, betrayed you together. She threw you out after taking everything, after you had given up everything to make her happy. Even after forgiving her for fucking your best “friend.” She took your heart and pureed it, then handed you the blender and took off, in search of another conquest. You were left with a mushy heart smoothie. Left to find a way to put it back together. For weeks afterwards you didn’t really have an appetite, eating only because you knew your body needed it. You couldn’t sleep well.

The only thing that saved you for a while, that gave you hope was church, was God. But after awhile you became disillusioned, and realized it was a joke. These people faithfully attended each week, thinking they were scoring some heavenly brownie points. They’d walk in the doors smiling, saying “God is good, all the time,” or “Bless you, brother.” They believed what they wanted to believe, what made them feel good. They hated gay people, then told people not to hate. They judged, then said “Don’t judge.” You got so tired of saying you believed, trying to convince yourself more than anyone. The feeling of belonging and purpose it gave at first eventually wore off, and you realized you were just trying to cover the pain, but the pain remained.

That one day, that moment is what haunted you, when she said with such anger, “I don’t love you anymore.” What a terrible feeling it is to give yourself completely to one person, thinking they are doing the same, only to find out they never meant a word. They were simply biding her time, hedging her bets. You were a bridge from the last guy to the next guy. Used like a second-hand bike, a temporary fill-in, until they could get a better one. Yes you may have been a little overbearing at times, and in your naivety often got jealous. But this was your first real relationship, didn’t she understand that?

You gave her the power to validate your existence, and she denied it. Now you’re finally beginning to heal, to see the folly of your ways. You got a taste of her body and were insatiably hooked. You deceived yourself into thinking you couldn’t live without her, so when you were forced to, you just stopped living as much as you could. You stopped pursuing anything but strict survival. “What was the use?” you asked yourself.

Sometimes, what you thought was the worst thing possible, turns out to be the best. I am who I am now because I had my heart broken, and put it back together. I am grateful to her in a way. I also learned things about myself, that I was far too needy. I am taking control of my life again. I am developing my own individuality. I am working toward the point where I don’t need someone, so that I can choose to be with someone, rather than them becoming an addiction. An extension of my ego that exists to boost my self-esteem. I am who I am, and I won’t hide behind the scenes anymore. Yeah, the world isn’t fair all the time. Sometimes, the nice guys get taken for a ride. Sometimes justice doesn’t prevail, and sometimes your hopes are dashed. But giving up isn’t the answer. It’s going on, it’s taking the cards you’re dealt and playing them. I’m ready to play the next hand.

I groggily flop my feet off the side of the bed. When my feet hit the floor, and I stand up, I notice suddenly my body feels considerably lighter. The oppressive feeling I had every day prior wasn’t there. I felt free to love again. The mushy heart smoothie had finally hardened into a solid organ again. For so long I told myself I wouldn't be hurt again, but strange as it may sound love is worth being hurt. Worth risking being hurt, because it's the only way to truly find it.

Happy V-Day all you couples.

***all you readers out there(all four of you :) ) who may be thinking, man this guys so cynical, and whiny, I just wanna say I know. This post was my attempt to release that cynicism and negativity. I've realized that it's so oppressive and just kills all joy you may have, not to mention being childish. Bear with me and please don't stop reading. Look forward to more positive posts, or at least less negative ones. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's In a Name?

I had to watch the movie Shane for American Lit, and I don’t really know why but I was under the impression that I had been named after him. I seemed to have a distinct memory of being told this, but didn't recall who told me or when, so I questioned it's veracity. I happened to mention it to my professor at the end of class the other day when he reminded us about watching the movie. So today we discussed the movie, and at the end of the class he asked me to come talk to him. He was curious to know if I had indeed been named after the character. So I decided I'd check with my mom, and see if it was true. I was so curious I wanted to call her right after class but she works in the bus barn of a high school, and it was like 2:30 so I knew she'd be busy. So just a few minutes ago, I called her while I was on break. I asked her, "What made you name me Shane?" So I was thinking she was gonna say the movie right, confirm that I wasn’t crazy. But she was like, “well you probably won’t like this….but..” (immediately I knew it was a guy she actually knew) “there was this really hot guy in high school, who died in an accident senior year. I just always liked the name because he was such a sweet guy, everyone liked him.” Then I proceeded to tell her how I had somehow gotten the idea that it was because of the movie Shane, and she told me that she wasn't even sure she'd seen the movie.

So, I am still curious as to how I got this idea in my head that she named me after the movie, but I am somewhat grateful that it found its way in there, because it was an interesting moment with my mom where I learned something about her I never knew. I could also detect a hint of sadness in her voice when she mentioned him dying. These are the moments I enjoy, moments where truth is shared between souls. It's so strange how the weirdest things can bring about moments like this.

We only talked for like 11 minutes, but it was one of the most intimate conversations we've had in awhile. I told her how I felt like I seriously needed psychiatric help because of my problems with worry and anxiety. She was frank with me and said she didn't think so, she said she thought that's just the way I am. My brother is the complete opposite, completely carefree for the most part. She reminded me of something I learned awhile back. Things can be positive or negative, depending on how you look at them. She said "It is a good thing because you think things through." This is so true, I often think them through too much, but that doesn't mean I should throw the baby out with the bathwater, I should embrace the gift I have of foresight, and try instead to harness it, to focus it if you will. To get back to the movie Shane, after trying to give up being a cowboy and a gunslinger, at the end, after once again putting on his six shooter and killing the bad guys to save his new friends, he says "A man's got to be what he is, you can't break the mold." Words of wisdom, Shane.

Now I am curious about this guy I was actually named after, what was he like. What did he look like. I mean apparently he was attractive, what color were his eyes? His hair? What kind of accident was it? Was it his fault, was he a victim of a tragedy? When she saw me as a kid did she think of him. Is that why she called me by my middle name? Interesting how new info can alter the way you see the past.

Mountains of Gold

How I long to fall apart, I am daily plagued with the desire to break up into tiny pieces, dissolve my rational mind into the trees, and grass, and sky, to no longer be I, striving and straining to have my needs met, to make something of myself. Each time I hit some new point in my life that I thought would make it better, it's about two minutes later that I realize nothing has changed. But there's still this faulty concept that one day, one fine day, Ill be well-off, with no worries, and it's so difficult to keep the awareness that this dream, this American Dream, is a lie, it's puffs of smoke, it's mountains of gold, and conformity.

At times I love individuality, the freedom it offers, and the tapestry that is all of our various personalities intermingling and making music...but I'm such an idealist, and often it just seems so futile...I can see Im chasing the wrong dreams, but it seems to be universal, always looking ahead, trying to be better, trying to improve our situation. We spend so much time trying to "make it" that by the time we learn there's nowhere to make it to, we're at death's door, wishing we would've just looked at people, taken a second to GENUINELY connect more often. We sit alone at the top of our imagined mountain, WE MADE IT, but we look around, and there's no one to share it with. We abandoned all of them little by little to realize our empty, vain dreams. Then we think to ourselves where is this gold they promised me, they said it would be here at the top. Frantically, we run around the summit, only to find a few pieces of pyrite, that catch the light just right, sending a sparkle to the boy at the bottom of the hill. He starts climbing...He must make it.


I drive an hour to meet with an advisor, to discuss my future, trying to be optimistic that he'll give me a few bits of wisdom, or at least a little direction. Then as soon as I step in his office and he says two words, I know he doesn't care, he has his own future to plan. I am simply a name in a folder to him, a person who is interrupting the task he was working on, and whom he'd like to get out of his office as quickly and painlessly as possible. I am alone in this world, even when surrounded by people, because no one really knows what I desire, and if I try to tell them, even if they want to hear, they can't. Their mind won't let them, they only see what they would want in my position, and try to advise me on that basis.

I love Walt Whitman's poetry...if you haven't read him check this out, my favorite of his so far

O ME! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I,
and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the
struggle ever renew'd,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see
around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me
The question, O me! so sad, recurring-What good amid these, O me,
O life?

That you are here-that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

* had a slight epiphany when I first read this*

Monday, February 1, 2010

Facing Myself

I can’t even write a word, without disagreeing with it. I analyze to the nth degree, and then analyze some more. I try to plan my life out, and then all these fears start getting mixed in with the plan, like when I think about what will happen after I get my degree. I don’t know If Ill be able to find a job, but is that really something I should worry myself with now…of course it isn’t. But for some reason my mind wants to know ahead of time that the future will be ok, well mind, get ready for disappointment. If the past is any indicator, things aren’t going to be smooth. They won’t be OK. But….all of it together, the good, the bad, ups and downs. The worry and the assurance…somehow all of them create a beautiful dynamic picture. Precisely because the bad times are so bad, the good times can be appreciated for what they are. All of our perception is based on oppositions. The opposition of light to darkness, heat to cold, fast and slow, hard and soft, good and bad. The journey is about learning to balance the opposites I think. “Worry” in a sense can be useful, if focused, for instance on anticipating the future for some goal, in which case it would more accurately be described as forecasting or predicting. But it must be balanced with a healthy sense of peace, a quiet inner feeling that though the future is uncertain, we will make it through. We all have this feeling to some degree otherwise we could not sleep at night, or do anything functionally. We must ruminate on this idea though, that come whatever may, it nevertheless is going to come. We may as well make the most of it, and enjoy the ride. Fall not too far to either side, one extreme being worry, the other complacency. Worry is a misuse of imagination; complacency is a misuse of rationalization. We rationalize that things aren’t likely to change so nothing really matters, we believe the future is determined. This leads to quietism, to defeat, to death. I must take responsibility for myself, as if my choices did matter, and to the utmost degree. They are creating the future I will live. I need to stop treating them as if I shall always have another day to reform. As if for now I shall slack off, be lazy, but tomorrow, I will whip myself into shape. I don’t know how I feel about the bible lately, but I recall a story about this dude who had a vineyard, and he liked to nap instead of work. Eventually, of course his vineyard was overgrown, and nothing was being produced. The moral being that a little folding of the hands, a little slumber, can eventually lead to ruin. Not to say of course we can’t rest, but only so much as is needed for us to get back at it. We are goal-striving organisms, and without goals we have no direction, nothing guiding us. We follow the winds, obey its beckoning, and are tossed about by a happenstance dance orchestrated by random choices we make on a whim.

When will I learn that I cannot run from myself. Wherever I go, there I am. For far too long I’ve been in a state of suspended animation, drifting along aimlessly with no real goals, except to make it through the day so I could go home and dull the pain. The pain of not living life fully, of being afraid to be hurt again by having hopes and seeing them dashed. For a long time I mistook the numbness for peace. It’s a deceptive alternative to peace, and lately it has been my only semblance of security. I must not fall into the despair and self loathing that I find so tempting when realizing the time I’ve wasted. The past is done, it cannot be undone, but the next choice can be different. The past doesn’t have to predict the future, at least not where my will is concerned.

I am so quick to accept defeat, to give up without a fight. I’ve failed so many times after telling myself this time would be different. This time I would be determined. The moment you think you cannot be vulnerable, you are indeed most defenseless. But we must, after failure, stand back up, dust ourselves off, and continue to fight the parasite within..the one who would have us destroy ourselves, waste the potential we‘ve been given….where does this instinct for self-destruction come from? It seems reasonably tied to the fact that we don’t accept ourselves. We are always trying to make ourselves better, always dwelling on our faults, telling ourselves we are no good, that we don’t have what it takes. That one day we will have fixed ourselves to the degree where we can accept ourselves. Where does this ubiquitous lack of self-esteem stem from? Maybe that isn’t what matters, as much as how we come to terms with ourselves. I guess it is a process, I feel as if my journey has at least begun. I have made progress, and I have given up ground. But that is no reason to retreat, instead its reason to fight harder, or let all the rest be in vain. If I can accept myself now, if I can begin to alter my self image, I can reach great heights. I know it. I just believe it. I don’t want to be famous or rich, I just want to use the potential I have been given. I’m tired of wasting time waiting in the wings. Waiting for some divine inspiration to hit me on the head and give me the big picture. As that isn’t likely to happen I have to act on what I have now, and continue to learn along the way. Who I am now isn’t who Ill be when I get out of school, so the fact that I’m worrying about that shit now, is like me worrying incessantly about someone else’s future career.

“The torpedo accomplishes its goal by going forward, making errors, and continually correcting them.” Psycho-Cybernetics

“...your creative mechanism operates below the level of consciousness, and you cannot “know” what is going on beneath the surface. Moreover, its nature is to operate spontaneously according to present need. Therefore, you have no guarantees in advance. It comes into operation as you act and as you place a demand on it by your actions. You must not wait to act until you have proof--you must act as if it is there, and it will come through. “Do the thing and you will have the power,” said Emerson.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Plan for Ultimate Awareness of Self

*this was a comment I left on someone's post about self love, I got so into writing a response that i thought it would make a good post*


You may think this is juvenile or sophomoric, but I find myself reluctant to use the word love recently, becuase Im not convinced it least in the way we conceptualize it as this never-ending euphoria inducing trance between two the case of self-love however, I think we are all inherently born with this ability...what i mean is that you don't have to teach a young child to lie and say it wasn't him who spilled red kool-aid on mommy's priceless egyptian rug...he will do it naturally to save his skin...the problem comes when we look for ultimate approval or validation of our identity in something external... this is what leads to low self esteem and a lack of "self love". Actually i think the problem is twofold:

1) looking for validation from outside
2) Lack of awareness of one's true identity

because we look outward for someone to tell us who we are or what our purpose is, we are constantly trying to force ourselves into some mold, whether it's societies' or our parents' or our prospective spouse...we strive to make ourselves fit their idea of what we should how can we embrace and love ourselves when we dont even really know who we are, i mean really are at the core of our being?

1)constant increase of awareness of one's true identity and the courage to follow what one finds regardless of obstructions or warnings
2) constant decrease of impact on self identity by outside forces

this will liberate us to accept who we are because it will allow us to--day by day, moment by moment--discover pieces of who we really are apart from who we should be. Then slowly, we can begin to shuffle the pieces around, looking for the edges that line up, and eventually (I'm hoping) a clear image of our true self can emerge.

"Every human being is intended to have a character of his own; to be what no other one is, and to do what no other can do."

- Channing

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Want It All.....and I Want It Now!

Got a cheap espresso maker from my mom (she is aware of my affinity for caffeine), and I must say I am enjoying learning this new art. And when I say Im enjoying it, what I mean is I am becoming increasingly frustrated with it.

A few days ago, I had NO experience whatsoever making espresso, and I almost wish I could go back. I know now that I've opened a can of worms, the likes of which Pandora could probably relate to.

Now may be the appropriate moment to mention I'm nearly (98.5%) sure I have severe OCD. Nowadays everyone seems to have their own idea of what that means, so Ill elaborate. When I start something, making espresso, or yo-yoing, or playing guitar, or writing poetry, or any of a million other things, I have this weird need to amass every bit of info on the subject ever spoken, written, or thought of...enter Google.

Now this seems at first like a good thing, to be well informed, and is a product of the way my brain works. However, the problem is when to stop amassing information, and start doing. When to go from theory, to action, a problem I run into in various disciplines, and one to which I haven't made the slightest headway in finding a solution.

It's as if I want to "figure it all out" and then start, do it perfect the first time.

I can understand that this is foolish, that a thing must be practiced routinely to be developed over TIME....WHAMMO! there it is, I've struck the heart of the issue, I believe. Time...

I am soooo impatient, I want to be an exceptional poet now, I want to make good espresso now, I want to play guitar like Jimi now, I want it ALL, I want it ALL and I want it NOW!!!

In relation to making espresso this has gotten me in a pickle. There's all these techniques, and tools (some of which I don't have), and not only that but there is contention about all these techniques and tools, and im sure there is contention about these contentions....

So here I am with modest tools, some of which are missing, a less than modest know-how of the art of brewing this rich goodness, and limitless ambition to achieve excellence...o and apparently lots of time to figure out how to meld the two.

I guess Ill update you on my search for the holy grail....a modestly priced cappuccino. Until then, Ill be amassing more info, and trying my damnedest to take a break and practice from time to time.