The Inoculation

HEY GANG!

I have been absent recently, for which I apologize. It has been strange, this infection. Maybe a series of them. Not in the typical sense, but in the metaphorical. For the past few months I have been incognito because I have been working on my thesis. The huddles to jump over, just in paperwork, is staggering and daunting. I have been locked up for so long and bogged down with the pressure that I forgot some things about life. About living it and enjoying it. About how to do it.

I was in this tumbling vortex of nothingness. Absent of light. Merely tasks. I truly enjoy graduate school, but after the past few months, I feel suffocated by it. It changed me. Molded me. I didn’t know peace until I was beginning to write this (kudos if you get the Dark Knight Rises reference).

Sometimes, we get infected by something. It attaches to cells and lives in our blood as it propagates.

I was down for a long time. It was strange. My house was in disarray, literally and figuratively. Worst of all I lost the will to write. I consider myself a writer but what happens when a writer does not write?

They cease to be a writer.

Look yourself up in the dictionary. Define yourself and delete it. You are no longer what you were; you are the absence of what you were.

So, call me Absence.

Absence continued to slug its way through life. Working out drifted away. It merely cared for one sweet, tiny Chaweenie named Eleanor Rigby. Absence moved through the motions as the virus of a muted life took hold.

This became even more prevalent when Absence was used as a punching bag for his mentor. A trusted individual who destroyed the white blood cells of gratitude. Absence was troubled by this. Absence drifted away for a long time.

Absence secluded itself and began to think of all the possibilities of anything else but what has occurred. What if it had continued at Habitat for Humanity, What if it had chosen another form of school, another mentor? What if this? What if anything?!

Anger raged in Absence. The virus spread even furthers as it consumed Absence. Every waking moment was devoted to hate, fear, and sadness. Unable to define itself, its motives, or its place in space and time, it began to devolve.

This was until Absence got perspective. It realized that it was no longer going to be affected by the words of another. It was going to strive to get better. He was going to remember what it was like before the viral catharsis of a hypocrite. Before became now and It became he became me.

Absence faded and with this simple blog post I fill the absence with six letters:

W

R

I

T

E

R

This is my inoculation. I will refuse to be torn down by others or anything in this world. As you should say to yourself. I no longer accept the virus of others. That is theirs and theirs alone. Love yourself because you are the only you that will ever exist…but that is another post.

Best regards in your own inoculation,

-Chris

It’s Kind of a Love Story

Hey Gang!

I have had weight issues most of my life. I call them issues because it is not really a problem in the sense that an issue is easier to fix than a problem. You solve a problem but you address an issue. I guess this is the culmination of my address. The one to myself and all of the versions of myself that I have been. All those roads that led to this place. This position where I find myself. But first, let me take a selfie….

Kidding. I do want to go to the beginning.

I was in a terrible car accident when I was four and I had thee unfortunate circumstance of remembering it wholly. The glass and twisting of metal. The ways the car bent around me and compressed my mother’s body. The screams thereafter. It all haunts me to this day. That trigger when you hear screeching tires in the distance that bring you back to that day. These memories in the periphery that somehow engulf us. Mold us and shape us. Molded me. Shaped me.

I got older and I blamed a lot of the crash on myself. Probably because I was only in traction for a year and hold only a two inch scar and yet I see my mother’s scars. That guilt I still have. It caused me to go into a deep depression at around 13 and the way I coped was food. Plain and simple. I ate and got depressed and then ate more. I never wanted to think about that day and that was my coping mechanism. How do you tell someone that they remind you every day that you should be mangled and ripped like them? How do you say to someone, “I am sorry that the crash was so unfair. That you have so much metal in you and I only have a few scars.”

Visible scars I suppose.

It’s funny to think about now. There is this terrible cycle that becomes a part of you. You become depressed. This depression causes you to eat. One day, you see yourself and how much weight you have gained which makes you even more depressed and so you cope by? YOU GUESSED IT!!! EATING! This cycle is one of sadness and disgust but within an individual. There is so much that people whom hate overweight people have to say about it all. They say, “How can you let yourself go?” and things of that nature that somehow suggest portion control. However, it is my contention that being overweight (or underweight) is a symptom to another problem and not the problem itself. Take, for example. during the renaissance, individuals that were overweight were seen as beautiful and important not because being overweight is beautiful but because it was a sign of wealth. You had the money to eat and you did. So you gained weight. The reverse is now a reality. The less money you have the less healthy food is available.

Empathize with me for a moment. You have to pay the bills. You know you have two kids and $650 rent due in a week. You also have the light bill and the cable bill plus gas. You know this leaves $20 for the next two weeks. Do you think buying salmon is a great idea? Do you think buying a large box of quinoa is going to put food in three people’s bellies for two weeks? Or maybe go to mcdonald’s and make it last off the dollar menu.

Being overweight taught me quite a few lessons. I met people whom were completely facade driven. They saw you and made snap judgements. You see how you are judged and you begin to judge yourself. This is commonly known in communication as the “looking-glass self”. I see what the world tells me I am and I did. I looked an saw this overweight beast in the mirror that I did not recognize. Until i was about 23. I started a job that forced me to be in shape. I started losing weight and really started to see something better in the mirror. I started to look in magazines and see these muscular adonis-type figures that were becoming more hallow. This body image was being forced on me by people in a room somewhere in L.A. who thought that this is how I should look.

I hated the way I looked up until then. But then I made a promise to myself. Each week I would look in the mirror and say what I enjoyed about some physical part of me. The first week i said, “I like my eyes. I have nice eyes.” The next week I said, “I like my lips. I have nice lips.” Years go by. I had the support of my friend Nate, luckily, and my adventure continued. I liked more and more of myself. I began working out and eating right. No more fad diets or weight shakes. It was about me. It was beautifully about me. I would treat myself at each milestone. I would buy an album I always wanted. I would by myself shirts and ties. New shoes. These material things were trophys. Each one was representative of a goal I had met.

Now, I have lost quite a bit of weight and I am almost at the lowest weight I have been at since I was 14. This is sad but true. However, it doesn’t matter what size I wear, i always carry around that weight. The weight from the accident that ignited the physical weight I gained. I have forgiven myself for not being as injured as my mother. I now look in the mirror and see myself. All those parts I said I liked combined into what I am. What I have become. Now when I see myself in the mirror I see all of those liked pieces that have become an individual I love.

So, I guess when you love yourself you become open to loving other people. Such a beautiful world.

I suppose gaining all of that self-efficacy and self-esteem makes you someone you can love and who wants and deserves to be loved.

All in all I guess it’s kind of a love story.

-Chris

The Forest Beyond The Wall Of Happiness

 

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Hey Gang!

 

I was walking around Barnes and Noble after having bought a delicious Pumpkin Spice frappucino. It is life changing! Okay, maybe not life changing but still very good. My brother and I were just meandering around, as we always do. We went through the fiction section and discussed Hemingway. We walked by a display table of Harry Potter novels where my brother lamented that his childhood hero’s journey had come to an end. We moved our way through each section like sharks swimming through a school of fish. We would pick up a chosen food source in the biography section or, my personal favorite, the philosophy section.

I perused through the philosophy section and we talked about the concepts of heaven and hell, right and wrong, existence and perception until our cups yelled with every sip from the straw, signaling its emptiness.

We decided to call it a day and we started to leave but I had to stop. I looked in front of me and an entire wall, maybe 40 feet, was dedicated to self-help. One section was about finding your identity, another talked about how to get ahead in a lackluster job/relationship/life, and another was filled with books that all managed to say the same thing: “How To Be Happy.”

I was dumbfounded; however, my brother couldn’t see the point and walked on.

I looked at these books that were yelling at me through large titles on their covers. “The Happiness Project” was one that interested me most. I think I have become a bit cynical about happiness. Not in the fact that it is an important emotion but that it has a formula. I am a firm believer that there is no formula for happiness.

I understand this woman went through a series of events that she transcribed and used to help her get closer to happiness. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn’t.

I looked further on at all of the titles and I kept thinking, “Are we really this unhappy?” I thought, “Are these people telling us they know the secret that we don’t?”

I thought, “Is this me they are speaking to?”

I must admit that there is a struggle between two realities. The reality of being a grad student and the one of being a Graduate Teaching Assistant. I focused more on being a good teacher instead of being a good student and it cost me a good grade on a test in one of my classes. I haven’t had a poor grade in years and this came as a blow to my self-esteem. I was upset for days. I wondered if I was capable of this. I wondered if I was in over my head. I wondered if this was all a mistake.

There is always that part of you that keeps asking your subconscious mind, “Is this it? Have you finally found your limit?” I think it is only natural, I suppose.

My mind was preoccupied hour after hour about it. That was until I saw a picture of my best friend’s baby girl. She is a beautiful bundle of cuteness. I think it finally hit me then about the old saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”

Throughout the next few days, everyone was using the metaphor. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was some sign from above. I thought long and hard about the metaphor. I was fascinated by it and consumed by it. That is when the lens that was out of focus began to stabilize. I finally saw the picture clearly.

I was so wrapped up in these few sets of trees that it caused me to miss out on the rest of the forest. This poor grade and how hard all of this is pales in comparison to the other trees that surround them.

I look at the vastness of my forest and it excites me and entices me. The trees; I want to climb them all. I want to run through my forest from edge to edge but I know I must seek life one tree at a time. Right now the leaves are beautiful and green but one day they will turn amber and finally bare.

I stepped back and realized how much I have outside of this problem that preoccupied me. There is a life that is here and meant to be lived. I may allow myself to be bummed about a bad grade but I have to wonder what its butterfly effect will be. Is this going to cause me to be unable to meet “the one”. Will I not own a house because of this or backpack around Europe?

Will this burn down my forest?

I am proud to say: no.

I look back on my life and see the trees. Each one represents just how well I have lived it. The good and the bad. I want to make this forest a national park. I want to make it the Amazon rainforest. Not every tree is good but from them comes the seeds of future trees.

Those books on the wall of happiness tell you some sort of formula that you should employ to become a happier person. Better than you are. Yet, they wrote and published these books about finding happiness and they sell them to those that truly need it for profit.

Some look for happiness and how to find a mate by way of the written word but I would say that you should look at your own forest. Not the tree in front of you. Climb out of the redwood you are stuck in and plant a new tree. Then step back and watch it grow as you add on to your forest.

Life is about…

I was going to write something up there but that would be hypocrisy, wouldn’t it? Maybe those three little dots say more than I can here. Yeah, I like that.

Life is just about.

I hope you find a way to let go of those small events and see the big picture because acceptance of self and life are what make it all worth living.

Let go. Just let go and you can begin to see it all. Happiness comes not to those who seek it but to those that accept it. Happiness never leaves you. It is nowhere to be found in some formula. Accepting that it is okay to be happy in your situation is what is important. You have no reason not to be happy except the one you give yourself. It is always there in the forest.

Let go of those trees and accept it.

Happiness just is.

And life is about…

– Chris