Tag Archives: philosophy

New Chapter

beginning1Whenever it feels like a fresh start is on the horizon, I can’t help but be reminded of my friend Diane’s email signature. Each message concludes with “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Most people probably only remember this as a line in Semisonic’s “Closing Time.” But its origins are a little older. Roman philosopher Seneca was first credited with the quote in the mid-1st century. Still, the timelessness of the sentiment rings just as true today.

I’ve spent the last decade flying high, scraping the bottom, or generally anticipating what grand inspiration is waiting to send lightning bolts to a barren mental field. It’s an odd life and not one that I would readily recommend, but each time the door handles lock and the gates slam shut, a tiny string attached to a rising balloon seems to find my fingers. I’m set back to start with renewed energy and open eyes.

Once again, I stand at the precipice. Looking out at a vast expanse of maybes, I’m invigorated by potential and promise, hope and heartbreak. I never thought I would spend so much time on the tightrope, but I’m learning to love walking on the wire. My dough doesn’t fit inside the cookie-cutter mold and dancing to a different drum was inevitable, no matter how much I tried to conform.

So, with some unique fuel sources and a universal pinch on the cheeks for good luck, I’m strapped in for the rocket ride. The stationary bike is off its trainers and there’s finally some rubber on the road. Whether or not I put any miles on the odometer is left to be determined. But I’m confident the sun will still shine on planted seeds, regardless of the rain.

A Ghost at the Gate

gate1“We should not fret for what is past, nor should we be anxious about the future; men of discernment deal only with the present moment.”-Chanakya

I look at this quote and I’m shocked by how thoroughly misaligned my life is with this concept. It’s a popular notion, and philosophers and spiritual advisers have preached the benefits of “living in the now” for almost as long as we’ve been questioning the purpose of existence.

Fear is a funny thing. It’s hardwired into our survival brain, enabling us to avoid potentially life-threatening situations. But left unchecked, it can significantly hinder our growth, fulfillment, and sense of adventure. Factor in a dash of trauma, and we’re reduced to rats spinning circles in the corner of a cheeseless maze.

My car was hit two weeks ago by another vacuous LA burnout. There weren’t any injuries, but I was subjected to the thrilling roller coaster ride of insurance company phone calls, repair shop appointments, and rental car confirmations. There was also a hovering tension that the other driver would devise a nice piece of fiction to wiggle his way out of responsibility, and at the conclusion of the proceedings…there was the fear.

It’s typical to be jittery behind the wheel after a smash, but I’ve realized that this gun-shy, knee-jerk reaction never sits too deeply beneath the surface, regardless of my station, environment, or circumstances. I walk through the world with a wary eye, untrusting and cautious, nervous and neurotic. I want controllable variables in an uncontrollable game, and the desire to maintain that power puts me in uncomfortable positions. This recent situation falls under a much larger umbrella, and lands in line with a trend that appears to be growing only more potent with each passing year.

As an introvert, I gain energy from my own fuel cells, as opposed to needing someone else’s power pack. I’m self-reliant and feel most at peace when I know that nothing will disrupt my carefully-calculated balance. I’m more productive and relaxed when I’m not watching for curveballs in the batter’s box.

But how far will I go to maintain these systems?

Will fear and trauma always hold the pen, charting my course from point A to point B, or will I regain the sense of freedom I found as a younger man, chasing a future of hope and potential? Is it possible to uncover a layer of my psyche that’s willing to bend and morph to accommodate surprises and the hidden gems waiting in the wings?

These are questions not easily answered, and there’s no definitive proof that one lifestyle is necessarily more optimum than another. But fear is a sturdy beast, and it will take some strategy to murder a monster that retains residency in the mind.