Saying Goodbye

balloon1At this point, it’s probably pretty obvious that I’m not a big fan of saying goodbye to the constants in my world. Chasing an elusive dream of stasis has proved disappointing and disheartening, and this latest realization has added another slap to an already-bruised face.

I have built a core group of friends that I can say without hesitation is the most supportive, open, caring, and genuine collection of males you will ever find in our modern, self-obsessed, and apathetic society. These men have been in my life for the last 12-17 years, and we are a circle that has defied all male stereotypes, rejecting the notion of “bros,” eschewing emotional safeguarding, and almost always choosing hugs over handshakes.

We have been an intricate and intimate puzzle with interchangeable pieces, falling in and out of the picture when love, work, and commitments dictated our level of contact. We welcomed new members and did our best to embrace rookies into the fold. But, the foundation was constructed from memories and moments, and regardless of connections made later in life, there is a finite number of people who have genuine shared history.

I have been guilty of taking these relationships for granted, assuming they would always be waiting for me when needed. I wanted to believe the band would look and sound the same, regardless of time. The comfort of knowing my most valued friendships all resided in the same city was like a giant security blanket. Even when I wasn’t around it, I was still protected from the cold.

Now, a vital member of the collective is leaving. The news was a mild surprise, having known the prospect was on the table. But, the sadness and nostalgia accompanying the announcement are more than I expected. Some of my earliest and most cherished LA memories and experiences are directly credited to the bond we built and the easy alliance born from the most unexpected common ground.

Those tennis days and music nights were some of my happiest. Even when I was barely working, struggling to navigate the financial hills and (mostly) valleys of this city, he was the one person who visited me each weekend. Breaking the loneliness and monotony of those stress-heavy weeks by hitting some forehands and sharing a quick lunch meant the world to me. I don’t know if he ever knew that. I hope he does now.

People grow and change and move. Life is lived out of a box, and there are adventures waiting for this wide-eyed explorer. But, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to honor the transparency of this blog and admit that dry eyes have not accompanied this post.

Losing some comfortable life consistency is nothing compared to losing a friend.

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An Undisturbed Life

undisturbedLately I’ve been running a little cost-benefit analysis. Is the sanctity of an undisturbed life that seeks to iron out potential wrinkles worth the loss of occasional cage rattling, spawning growth inside of chaos?

It’s a quandary I’ve circled for a long time, and I’ve yet to find any definitive evidence pointing me in one particular direction.

Woven into my central fabric is an organized, detailed, contemplative pragmatist who pays close attention to dates and deadlines. That’s undeniable. I take great pleasure aligning my ducks and creating systems to prepare for unexpected speed bumps. I’m rarely blindsided or put in awkward situations, and I relish recording the minutiae of my surroundings.

But, on the occasions when I’ve been rudely ejected from this stainless sanctuary of a comfort zone, I have found that the lessons learned and the connections made have been exponentially rewarding. The experience was never as daunting or painful as I anticipated and I generally emerged from the other side relatively unscathed.

It is an internal battle that has been raging for as long as I care to discuss. My brain doesn’t process life in the same way as the majority of people in this world, so watching the wheels of daily behavior spin in the opposite direction has added significant weight to these already-rounded shoulders.

Ruffled feathers, detonated plans, and unexpected visitors are nerve-inducing, neuroses missiles. When I lived with roommates, I was in a state of perpetual panic, waiting for someone to walk in the door without notice. Living with a significant other was even worse. But, the hours of conversation you never thought you’d have, growing in the spur of the moment, are the treasures born from those pins and needles. There was often a yang waiting for its yin. I just couldn’t pull myself back far enough to see the big picture.

So, I’m sitting at square one, battling instinct and hardwired tendency to allow the possibility and space for the unforeseen. It is a dance I’ve learned to stumble through for most of my adult life, and it doesn’t sound like the music is stopping any time soon.

A tranquil, still pond is a peaceful, beautiful thing. But, every body of water needs a few waves.

Grass That’s Greener

courtHaving watched an inordinate amount of Wimbledon this year, I couldn’t help but draw some strong disparities between real life and “superstar life.” There seems to be a widening chasm between the haves and have nots, and that trend is harshly reflected in society. But, maybe this microcosm lends itself to some further investigation.

As I observed these incredibly gifted athletes achieving feats that I dreamed about as a boy, my mind drifted into a mode of nostalgic possibility. I thought about how different my path would have been if I had the means and discipline required to compete at that level. I contemplated the ceaseless mental stamina and physical training, and I wondered if I could have survived the harsh rigors of a perpetual world tour.

But, inside the bubble, the perfect painting has much less sheen. These professionals are subjected to a barrage of interviews, public appearances, press conferences, endorsement obligations, travel tribulations, and the balancing act of living each moment under a microscope.

Anyone who is able to attain the highest levels in a particular field is scrutinized, but it seems athletes’ and actors’ shoulders are saddled with the heaviest loads. There is a stiff price to pay for the privilege of standing in the spotlight, and many people don’t realize how hot that beam can burn.

So, far and away from the mountains of money and elite social gatherings, I am grateful to be able to preserve my anonymity. Yes, there are countless benefits to being hyper successful, personally fulfilled, and globally revered. But, those don’t come without a significant price tag.

It’s easy to sit in a current state of mind and gaze longingly at someone else’s world. The irony is that they may be staring right back.