Tag Archives: universe

Gobbling Gratitude

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the eve of another Thanksgiving that will be spent volunteering with an incredible organization in Los Angeles called Gobble Gobble Give, I can’t help but reflect on what can only be described as a momentous universal shift in luck, opportunity, and resources.

As history has proven during my last decade on the left coast, life is generally a series of lofty surprises and roller coaster dips and dives. The unpredictability is enough to summon madness, while the discovery of hidden coins in the corners of the carpet never ceases to inject carefully-calculated doses of hope and possibility into creatively-dehydrated veins.

The last couple of months have been so cosmically summoned, it would be impossible to believe some unbridled forces of focus and intention weren’t at play. The juxtaposition between gasping for air and getting strapped with an oxygen mask in a matter of weeks not only made me contemplate the untapped potential of my influential energy, but shone a spotlight on the frivolity of spending any time or effort fixating on flaws.

This is not to say I’ve slowed my growing obsession with economic and cultural inequality, or that I’ve abandoned the various doomsday scenarios that cycle through my mind like a broken horror film reel on an unattended projector. I’m simply recognizing the gifts being delivered, disguised as happenstance, and I’m accepting them with a smile.

I am healthy and fortunate and loved. There is no greater reward than that of authentic, reciprocated care and respect, and I count myself legitimately lucky for the small corner I’ve carved.

But, I almost cried building my donation care packages for tomorrow—realizing the scope of suffering that exists for so many— and the light that glows inside eyes that have no reason to shine will forever be a reminder of the relative nature of this journey. Those who have so little, saddled with an almost impossible climb out of despair, can still find faith to walk into the unknown, without hesitation.

We may be a broken society with warped priorities and blind, detrimental ambition. But, some of us are still holding tightly to tubes of glue, waiting for a chance to mend the fractured pieces.

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Brotherhood

Monkey HuddleI’m one of the lucky ones.

I may not have found the perfect partner or landed the dream job. I don’t have a personal relationship with my tailor and there are no smiling toddlers belted into the back of a BMW. I don’t take exotic vacations to places where people see their feet underwater, and the odds of anything even remotely resembling a storybook ending to this narrative dwindle further with every passing year.

But, I wouldn’t trade what I have for three rubs on a genie’s lamp. The bonds that have been built within my core collective are stronger and more resilient than Hollywood’s latest, feeble attempt at “friend fiction.”

There is a carbyne foundation supporting the weight and lifting the shoulders of men I’ve known for almost half my life. We made our introductions in the east, and then settled with the sun. A universal breeze could have easily blown us all just slightly off the mark. But fate dictated that our subconscious lassos landed on complementary cattle.

Regardless of the days spent apart or the interference of squabbling schedules, we never fail to come together in time with the beat, toe-tapping our way to the next wild theory, social observation, or wordplay marathon. The rare balance of unconditional support, unwavering loyalty, and relentless vulnerability makes for an exclusive club. We don’t expect you to understand, and we’re not asking you to join.

But, I am beyond grateful every day that I landed in Ithaca and found a counterpart who, in turn, led me to the missing pieces of my complicated puzzle. I would be a fractured shell, searching for connection and purpose without the lacquer and love of my “brothers.”

Thank you, gentlemen, for every moment passed and each minute waiting to surface.

Coincidentally Cool

coolCoincidence is “the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident, but seem to have some connection.” But, how much of what we believe is accidental is simply an energetic or universal pull toward a specific outcome? Can we manifest results through the catalyst of our subconscious and its ability to focus so throughly on some predetermined consequence that we are fooled into believing we are the orchestrators of our own fate?

There are strong arguments on both sides of the debate because what we deem to be coincidental can be so unfathomably absurd that we’re left searching for explanations to justify the illogicality of anything that appears to dance in the space between hard-nosed facts and dreamlike fantasy.

Mystics will look to the Earth’s more magical properties, just as religious zealots  will point to their blind devotion and faith-driven divinity as justifications for anything that sits outside of conventional knowledge.

But, what if we all harnessed the ability to construct our destinies? What if, somewhere in the untapped territories of our brain, existed the tools necessary to write our own blueprints, and build individualized templates? Could we avoid a life of pitfalls, blunders, and misunderstandings?

Irony is a powerful concept and the bevy of impossibilities that consistently defy probability is part of what makes life worth exploring. If walking in the sand was only about following footprints, we’d likely feel the void of uncertainties and a desperate lack of adventure.

Until we resolve the dispute of whether or not we are merely mice on a maze, running tirelessly toward preordained cheese, let’s marvel in the coincidental nature of the human playground. Maybe we are assembled with safeguards to protect ourselves from excessive rates of evolution. Maybe we’re not meant to know anything more than how many monkey bar swings we have left in our limbs…at least for now.

The Human Life of Progress

EvolutionA large part of my day is spent observing and asking questions. This isn’t necessarily the most carefree way to spend my time, but I shuffle the cards I’ve been dealt.

Lately, there has been one particular concept rattling around in this crowded cranium that I find interesting and, most likely, impossible to resolve. Is our species inherently made to feel like we are constantly evolving? Do we possess some programming imprint to make us believe we have learned from our past mistakes, and are now rigidly embracing the present?

I bring up this question because it seems like we are inundated with messages about the latest “thing” being the only important commodity to consider.

Musicians talk about their new sound and its grand departure from their previous efforts. Writers wax philosophical about inspiration crafting their work in a more powerful direction. Filmmakers preach about their past catalog helping to usher in a new landscape and motivation for their art. Painters eschew earlier efforts, claiming they can finally see the canvas with honest eyes.

But, the creatives aren’t the only guilty ones. How many times do you hear someone in his 30’s reminiscing about his wild 20’s? Just as often as someone in her 40’s lamenting the wistful wandering of her 30’s. The retired look back at youth with a detached disbelief, and the elderly study the middle-aged with a perplexing mix of envy and pity.

We always think we are precisely where we’re intended. Obviously, on a microcosm, this notion is brought into question on a daily basis. But, when we step outside the narrow focus of our lives, we rarely yearn for  experiences had or roads traveled. Moments exist in specific times, for specific reasons.

On a quest of self-evolution, there is a part of us that is content with the progress we’ve achieved and open for the possibilities of what lies in waiting.

We trust that the decisions we make today come from the learned lessons of yesterday’s stumbles. We try to smile at the past and not pine for it. We see the present as a culmination of errors and triumphs and dreams of what once was, sprinkled with aspirations of the future. We allow hope and resolve to fill our mornings and the pledge for a better purpose to usher in our nights.

We ask a lot of ourselves, and demand movement and growth. Believing we’re evolving is the easy part. The real challenge is floating in space at 1,000 miles an hour, trying to stay grounded.

Beneath the Heft of Hourglass Sand

mother_and_child_by_wakeupfantasy-d5au6fy

“The sweet is never as sweet without the sour.”

A few days ago, I woke up with the unfortunate impulse to reach for my phone for some helpful advice. Still half-asleep, I found myself dropping into a familiar Google search sinkhole of facts and opinions, unsubstantiated claims, and broad generalizations. But, between the lines, I found pieces of heart-wrenching truth.

See, I live with an incessant worry about the future. Now, I’m not speaking about the glorious, hyper-technological, world-revolutionizing future. All notions of our impending singularity do nothing but paint a Jack Nicholson-sized joker smile across my mug.

What I’m referring to is a future of dwindling time, limited resources, and the daunting prospect of uncontrollable aging. I don’t sit, wrapped in a panic poncho, because of concerns about my own mortality. I never much feared or questioned death. I see it as a necessary component of the cycle of life and I will face it with as much bravery as my age and mental capacity can muster.

My fear and—more specifically—my sadness live under the weight of losing my partner.

It’s always been just Mom and me. I don’t have any siblings and I reside in a city 3,000 miles from any member of my family. I only get major holidays and my annual summer trip to connect through a means other than Skype, and her 30-year head start is beginning to feel like a lead I can’t catch.

So, I thought I would research the notion of caring for an aging parent as an only child. It took less than three results for me to realize I had bitten off a much bigger quandary cookie than I wanted to swallow. It was fear wrapped inside of speculative projection. This was no way to start a day and, contrary to popular belief, streaming tears don’t help lubricate a sun salutation.

The role-swapping will be one of the more difficult transitions. As I’ve mentioned before, I often feel like a young kid walking around playing pretend in a grownup world. To not only own the idea that I am an adult, but to take full responsibility for the physical and emotional well-being of the one person who wore those gloves so perfectly seems like some Copperfield-level form of deception. I’ve been awarded the job and I’m utterly unqualified.

But, I can’t say all the literature was discouraging. One story emphasized the sense of relief the author felt being able to control the care and health trajectory of his mother. He wasn’t lost in sibling bickering and he didn’t harbor the resentment that can arise from feeling like no one else is pitching in to help. He was able to direct every aspect of her treatment and could ensure her best interests were protected. Obviously, bearing the full brunt of responsibility isn’t easy, but knowing that each detail is carefully coordinated can help avoid a messy meal made from too many cooks in the kitchen.

Reading this information wasn’t a relief. I still walk toward the future like an ice skater checking the depth of a frozen lake. But to know that there are people out there grappling with the same doubts and fears made me feel less alone and momentarily quelled my trepidation.

This isn’t painless. It’s not supposed to be. When you care about someone else’s life more than your own, there is an inherent price tag on that love. If something is worth preserving, it has value. If that value is greater than the premium you place on yourself, all your cards are on the table. It is the very meaning of vulnerability, and it’s terrifying. But, attempting to control the uncontrollable is an exercise in futility.

Enjoy each and every shared moment, and savor the small stuff. The rest is just an illusion.

Now, it’s time to take my own advice.

Weightless and Waiting

hd-wallpaper-earth-from-space-104

Although I was fast to find every available screening seat for most of this year’s Oscar contenders,  I’ll admit I was a bit late to the “Gravity” party. My aversion to 3D technology, coupled with a reluctance to see a film that would almost definitely cause a violent case of vertigo, significantly delayed my time at the ticket window. But, last weekend I finally watched what I can only describe as a mind-bending, perspective-shifting cinematic experience.

Unfortunately, I had to travel deep into the Valley to find one of the only 2D presentations of this film. But it was worth the drive, and well worth the wait.

Lately, I’ve had a hard time shaking a feeling that has been lingering for a long time. It has been increasingly difficult to find solid ground. There’s an ever-present sense of floating, in both the figurative and literal sense. I’m continuously searching for the elusive sand beneath my toes.

A variety of factors are fueling my personal levitation, but adding the terrifying truth that we are literally suspended in the middle of infinite blackness, peppered between stars and solar systems, forced an instant pause and evaluation session.

A frame of reference is a powerful thing, and sometimes the picture we meticulously paint over a lifetime is merely a brush stroke on the canvas of eternity. Our insignificance in the universe should be a liberating, shackle-breaking sense of freedom, but somehow I feel caged by it. It would be so much easier to wander through the days with my head buried beneath the sand, but my wiring is not programmed for blind compliance.

I want to know more about the reason we’re weightless and waiting. I want to know why we’re left alone with thoughts that keep us awake, with spinning minds and nervous hands. These are impossible answers to impossible questions, I guess. We are an infant species with an endless chasm of uncertainties at our feet. But, the idea that everything around us exists in a bubble of questions is unsettling.

Maybe I’m just a maniac. Maybe it’s time to stop wondering why, and just find a way to be happy inside the microcosm. Maybe time will provide the solutions and justifications.

But, as Jodie Foster famously said, “The universe is a pretty big place. It’s bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So, if it’s just us…seems like an awful waste of space. “