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Say Anything…

Say Anything…

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Hey Gang,

It has been an insanely long amount of time since I posted. A lot has happened in my personal life and professional. I graduated, you may now officially call me Master Chris, and I got a job. Here is the thing that I have learned in a relatively short amount of time.

Lesson: You are youer than you.

You probably recognize this from a quote by Dr. Suess. I know most people wouldn’t quote Dr. Suess in a fashion such as this, but I find that it is true. There is a point when you have to reevaluate the steps you have taken in life, the baby ones and the strides. This can be as simple as what you ate for breakfast (Was that too high in calories?…Great, straight to my butt!) or it can come from a deeper place (Is this the ‘forever’ person?….Am I fit to be a parent?). Either way, there is something that we all have to do when we come to crossroads such as these. I did this as well.

I am working at a relatively easy job, with decent pay. It is actually incredibly relaxed as it is a non-traditional role. However, I must admit that something is missing. One of my favorite musicians died not too long ago. BB King had an amazing record called “The Thrill is Gone”; this is how I feel about this new job at this new point in my life.

I ask myself, “If it is all so new, why does it feel so old.”

I am sure you have experienced this too, dear reader. Maybe even as you are working and reading this. Whatever activity you did today, there may be that feeling of deja vu. This feeling of being lost in the woods and suddenly you see a tree but it gives no solace as you have seen that tree multiple times but you are still lost. You realize you have just been going in circles. Maybe this melancholy harkens to you now or some other time.

It is funny to think about it. In this new role, I watch the person who does my same job work fervently as they get things done, a rigorous pace that is on track to cause hypertension, anxiety, and even death. I try to speak of life and things that follow but they talk about work. To everyone, they speak of work. I know that work is their life but it is a fairly simple role. It is only made difficult because you seek a challenge where none can be had.

I realized not too long ago that I need stimulation on a deeper level. It is much like dating in that way for me. You do a job and you find out it isn’t the right fit for you so you have to have an awkward break-up with them. (“I’m happy working this organization but I feel like we have grown apart.”, “I’m sorry but there’s some employer else…”, “They’re not better than you, just different…they have dental.”)

I have chosen the next step. To get my PhD. It just makes sense for me. I loved teaching, as it was the only thing that made sense to me. It is a far cry from the professional role I am in now that has some esteem to it. I realize now that money is meaningless. Fact: Joy can only increase, due to income, until one reaches $75,000 annual salary. After that, it levels off. I realize that money is meaningless to me. You can’t buy the feeling you get when you see a student finally understand a concept. Work dozens of hours and get those worksheets done, but you have missed the silent beauty of the world. You missed some incredible even in a forrest. You missed watching the sun rise and set on a day that will never return. The inescapable cycle we experience regarding work is the hardest pill for me to swallow.

Say “mirror,mirror on the wall, how can I be happiest and end this living life withdrawal?” I think once you hold that mirror up to yourself and you see the person you are, you are able to say, “This is the person I am trying to be” or “This is the person I hoped I wouldn’t be”. The latter is mine. However, remember that the person in the mirror is tentative, fleeting. Tomorrow is a new day but you are youer than you and that is truer than true.

Being you should be a gift. You are all beautiful. Be organic and be truthful. If something isn’t working, make sure you look in the mirror, as I always do, and be honest with yourself. The person in the mirror waits for directions, it waits to be what you feel you want to be. All you have to do is speak the words and put it to task. A job, a love, a longing, an addiction, anything. Just say it. Say something. Silence kills the thing we want to become, the reflection in the mirror stale if you neglect the nectar of life, which is the true you.

You have to say something to that reflected you.

Say anything…

 
 

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The Inoculation

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

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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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

 
 

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Where The Stars Dwell

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Hey Gang!

I sit in my convertible as it flows down the asphalt veins of the back roads of Illinois. I bifurcate myself. Sitting in the passenger side, just outside myself, I feel the cool air whipping around the other me. Darkness is all around except for the fluorescence of the headlights and the neon glow of the odometer, speedometer, and other displays in the Solara. I see the surroundings, or the lack there of, and look up.

I notice I do not pay attention to the road ahead and swerve somewhat as I am enamored with the stars above. Out there, where there is no light pollution, where fields are random from below but from above have so much purpose, that place is where stars dwell. I see myself looking above at the massiveness of it all. The beauty of the stars and surprising absence of the moon. The stardust all around. The feeling that at the horizon is the end of the earth and beyond it is infinity.

The driver hears “Take Me To Church” by Hozier and turns the volume up as the piano keys hit hard. The passenger reflects. The passenger reflects on the past few months when he wrote papers exploring postmodernism and bystander effect. Empathy and socioeconomic status. Hyperrealism and commodification. Race and gender. So much theory and so little time.

The passenger recalls the writing and stress that kept him from writing. The work that kept him from doing those things he loved. The times when he could not recall what he had done day-to-day as time became a measure of tasks and not guided by sunrise and sunset and the time set by generations before. It had become relative. Relative to tasks accomplished and tasks needed.

The driver looks to the road as he laments a truck ahead. It spoils the emptiness that the driver enjoys cutting through in the blackness of the night.

The passenger ponders.

It is weary from lack of sleep. It breathes for the first time since January. The passenger reflects on the cookout he had just been to where one of his best friends had invited him and only him to come. He talked about life and its changes as hamburgers and hotdogs grilled and caught fire, laughing at the memory. He remembers seeing his friend’s wife and child and how exterior it all feels. Remnants of a lifetime ago and yet closer to reality. He sees them struggle with the child and how much trouble they are having financially and yet how they have a family unit. This tight cell that somehow becomes an antibody that attacks incoming diseases; money issues, illness, car trouble, time apart all of them taken down by the antibody.

“Ordinary Love” by U2 comes on in the vastness of nothing and the driver turns it up. He comes to a stoplight that seems blinding in juxtaposition to what he has just gone through. This is the first sign of civilization. The first sign of reality coming back.

The passenger looks away as the driver takes off, gravel spitting behind the vehicle. He thinks back to his friends. They were struggling, fighting to keep the cell, the antibody thriving and it was working. Where so many people would see that as miserable, they were truly happy. The passenger reflects on those around he and the driver and sees none of this. There ship is a vessel that goes through such turbulence in the sea and yet stays whole. The grand ship always reaches ports intact. However, others around him have boats that sail among, not the rocky waters of happiness, but the placid waters of content. Those waters where the boat does not bow to waves but is a steady course.

The large buildings come into view as the driver slows the steel and fiberglass horse.

The passenger realizes how his is a boat on waters so still and calm that it is not moving. The mountains high are beautiful but familiar. Just beyond the horizon he sees the large ocean of happiness as waves crash somewhere out of the cove. The passenger grabs the ores and starts to paddle away from where he sat and all of those others that float along with him.

He realizes that he is not happy but content. However, he wants to be closer. The two become one as the roar back into reality under yellow lamps overhead and trees are replaced by stone buildings that tower in the orange sky of night.

I may go into uncertain waters where the high tides of happiness are met with the low tides of sadness but where the highs and lows are better than the void of feeling. The highs and lows are what I crave. The void is left for the darkness in the country where the stars dwell.

–Chris

 

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The Fall

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Hey Gang!

It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. This came into direct opposition o the few hours that preceded when tornadoes whipped around the state leaving dozens homeless and thousands without power. I was walking in the large grassy backyard at my mother’s house. My dog ran back and forth enjoying the sun about as much as me. I recently got a Canon t3 and was using it feverously. I looked all around and saw everything as a potential subject. I found piles of leaves that were densely packed against the fence as wind held them there.

Sticks jammed into the ground during the storm.

Rain dripping from evergreen needles.

Sofie looking into the distance as the sun shined through her calico fur.

My mother as she took no notice to me and my antics.

All these things surrounded me and I was in awe of it all. These beautiful moments that fade with the click of a shutter. It was all so beautiful but never meant for me. It just happened. It made me think about a person I work with who could not understand me. He needs concrete and data to understand things. To understand life, he needs directions. He could not understand the way I am and I believe he judges me for that. He does not take me a sincere because I refuse to see the world in one solid plane.

He asked me once why I was so calm about a situation. Why was I not freaking out? How am I able to travel alone and so. I looked at him and I said, “I don’t know. I just am.”

I wonder about that exchange some times. Why do I look at things and see them as they are. My interpretation of the event is met with the ideology of, “This is how it is. How do I adapt?”

This idea of living life came to me that day while taking pictures. I suppose it began a few years ago when I read this book. It was insanely disgusting and I had to pretend like I had not read it but there was one line that makes me think about life and all that comes with it every time I bring the verbiage to the forefront of my thoughts.

“Like the rain, I was born to fall.”

This ominous passage is more grave in the story than what I intend it for. For me, it reminds me of life. Oscar Wild once said that youth is wasted on the young but I believe that is false based on the simple fact that our bodies are perpetually falling. Youth is a state of my and we are never young. From the moment of conception, or whenever you believe a being is created, we begin to deteriorate. We grow up and hit puberty but we are aging. We are all in a different stage of the fall but still falling.

I think there is some sort of tragic beauty in that thought. Once you realize that you are falling and always have been, it becomes easy to accept everything.

What is it that makes it easier for a calculated person to handle life? Is it the routine? The belief that stability is tangible?

Is it the idea that life is something you build? These bricks you lay with mortar slathered around them. Mortar made of reason and caution. Knowledge of peripheral concepts. Knowledge of the fringe of what it means to be.

I talk a lot about life because it means a lot to me. I always thought the way I think is how everyone does but it is not. I love to question things. I love the idea of something new and foreign.

I look at that and I look away because it is something so scary to think about. To believe that I know everything or that I have life figured out is an insult to myself.

If a child says that they are as tall as they ever will be at age 5 and never measures themselves gain is missing out on all that growth until they realize that they are taller than they thought. Then there is the surprise that comes with this acceptance of the new you.

Us. The Immortal Jellyfish drifting somewhere far away from the certainty of land. We reinvent ourselves because we go back to our youth. That feeling of being younger but never attaining that because it was never meant to be attained.

Live long.

Live well.

That day I was taking pictures. I saw something extraordinary. Things happen. They are either about to happen, happening or happen.

One person may see the wind blowing a road sign, the next may see the road sign blow down, and the last may see the blown down sign. Rarely do we see all three. Those events, much like seeing people reunite in an airport after a long time and their tearful reunion, were never meant for us. Somehow, we see it in its entirety and we know it is special.

I looked up at a branch and I watched a leaf break away from the branch as the wind blew furiously. All other leaves fell directly to the ground and tumbled along as the wind blew, this one was different. It slowly drifted and turned, flipping over and over as I saw vibrant orange and earth brown flickering at me. It hovered and dropped quickly then rose again as it continued the show. I watched in fascination.

Finally, the show stopped. The leaf came to rest on the ground and was blown along with all the other leaves but for a moment it danced in the air despite the wind or maybe because of it.

Just like the leaves, we too dance in the winds of change. That is what he does not see. He does not see the wind for something that can be used to dance and to sing praises of. He does not see that the wind is meant for us. The fall is natural and the winds are constant but fluctuate.

When you realize that you cannot get back to the branch, you begin to understand the fall and how beautiful it can be.

-Chris

 
 

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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

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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One more thing

Hey gang!

This is a short one but I actually just found out that I got in to the master’s program I applied for and will be a ga!

I only say this because I was deliriously happy and also because you all were there with me through all of the ups and downs these past few months. You read my mental catharsis and rants and you are still here and still able to join me in this, my most crowning achievement.

Thanks for the support and much love!

-Chris

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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