Tag Archives: instinct

Twelve Years

12years212 years. 144 months. 624 weeks. 4,380 days.

105,120 hours. 6,307,200 minutes.

These are much more than numbers. With each rotation around the sun, I’m reminded of my station. Every year is a bookmark in a story I never want to finish. These tallies are visual representations of the time spent away from risk, pain, and peril. They are universal stamps of approval, affirming that I made the right decision to carry on with this crazy experiment called life.

It would have been easy to wave that white flag during the downpour. When every ounce of optimism was depleted, when every cell screamed at me to stop, and when the self-inflicted psychological torture far exceeded any physical pain, I could have stepped off the train. I didn’t have to subject my body and brain to an uncertain future on a path laden with land mines.

The impetus to fight instinct came from those hidden recesses we haven’t quite been able to classify. It’s grit and gumption mixed with tireless tenacity, and the sum total of those efforts is twelve years of health, hope, and possibility.

Perspective is a funny thing. A life-or-death seesaw frames the simplest joys as monumental, celebratory occasions. Laughable moments of triumph—like walking unassisted in a hallway or finishing a full meal—demand a chorus of applause. Existence reverts to its most basic form. There is an appreciation for every waking second without pain.

The further we travel from that precarious road, the more comfortable we become taking everything for granted. Health becomes something expected, and pain takes its residence in layers of memory. Stress is assigned to daily worry, future projections, or mundane tasks on infinite checklists. The brain is designed to recover from previous trauma, so it feels easy to forget what is truly important…until we are reminded again.

I rode that boomerang for a long time. As difficult as things have been in this carnivorous city, and as much as my time is occupied by the weight of wonder, there is no comparison to the very real and immediate threat of losing everything.

So I am grateful for all twelve of those planetary revolutions, and I will continue my search for greater peace of mind inside that perspective.

Adolescence Interrupted

Fatherless, Childless

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I recently realized I am in a fairly unique position. There is no paternal bond left in my life. Both of my grandfathers are gone, my father is deceased, and I have no children. I’m sure this is not a wildly rare situation, but it’s one that lends itself to some introspective examination.

I wasn’t raised with a father, so I can’t speak to the notion of men needing other men to cultivate a fully-formed human. There wasn’t a bigger, harrier version of me handing over a playbook with keys to the testosteronic kingdom.

I’m sure I may have missed a few lessons along the way. I probably can’t throw a solid jab. There is no desire to attend strip clubs, kill animals for sport, or sit at a poker table, and I’d rather intentionally collapse my trachea than sleep outdoors in a tent.

But from a macroscopic level, there may be a fundamental disconnect when the bloodline comes untethered.

The long-lasting psychological implications germinating in a mind left alone to wander the world are above my pay grade, but there is certainly something absent. Finding a sense of peace as the calendar pages are torn becomes more of a priority than second-guessing specific decisions made along the journey. The “what ifs” are heartbreakers, but “what’s next” is fuel.

This stage will be tackled like all the rest, and I’ll find my footing on an icy staircase leading to some version of actualization, however faded that picture appears when I finally (hopefully) arrive.

We are driven by our core instincts and the only job we have is to listen. The answers come from the quiet voices in the shadowy recesses of our mind.

We simply need to remember that those whispers are screams.

Adolescence Interrupted

Razor Sharp

RAZORIn the absence of empirical evidence, the most logical explanation is most often correct.

This principle seems like common sense, but it is rarely used in a modern world built on assumptions. We have a tendency to arrive at wild conclusions based on complicated speculation, as opposed to shaving away unnecessary levels of conjecture to uncover the truth. It’s easier to presuppose something because of our own biases and prejudices than it is to take a rational, more simplified slant.

Gut reactions, intuition, blink responses. These are tools given to us to better navigate the jungle of ambiguity we wrestle with on a daily basis. We are trained to rely on instinct. We channel our most animal impulses, avoiding potential dangers by listening to that little voice inside. Screaming at us to run or suggesting we buckle down for the fight, this angel in our stomach is the best gauge of good and evil, truth and deceit.

Removing the greatest number of variables illuminates a path toward the most rational bottom line. This can be incredibly helpful for predicting the future actions of people based on past behavior, but it can also cut through the fog of flawed hypotheses and exaggerated forecasting. It’s a way of twisting the rabbit ear antennas to clear away the static.

Assumptions are dangerous things, but studied prognostication may just be the sharpest dart we can throw at a carnival panel of question mark-shaped balloons. When we learn to see the world behind the wall and the souls beneath the surface, we’ll find a paradise of peace and transparency that’s severely lacking in today’s dogmatic society.

Take aim, but remember your target.