?

Log in

Previous 10

Jul. 22nd, 2008

Freedom from Normality

I just realized...

The title of my blog is something that Mr. Tolle talks about: getting away from the "normal" thought-full existence. Freeing oneself from the Normality is just what is discussed in his books.

There is a freedom in living life in the non-normal way.

The world really does have a way of guiding you...if you are willing to listen...

Words and Images...

Okeh, so this was a bit different from the last post, but it still deals with something that Mr. Tolle has been talking about. Living in the now has really made me realize how much we name things and then just assume we know them. He talks about how we use words like "tree" and "human" to symbolize things. How many "trees" have I walked by in my life just calling them a tree? I don't know all about how they work and what they do, nor do I know any of them "personally". It's like when you teach a young child to draw and you show them that you make a brown stick with a "w" on top and some green leaves. You tell them that's a tree. Some people never endeavor to draw any more than that in order to get the idea of a tree across. Most of us never endeavor to really look at a tree to understand what it really is either. We walk by, we call it a tree, and we move on.

But there is so much more than that. No tree is the same as another. Each one has unique patterns, each one has limitless possibilities of what it could look like. I know that I'm going on a lot about trees, but the point is, we do this for EVERYTHING. Imagine how much we miss by doing this. We do this to fellow humans. But, not only do we classify them as humans...that may be better...we narrow that down even more depending on our experiences. How many times have you met someone and said, "oh, she looks like a *itch"...or, "he looks like an ego-maniac"? Or a thousand other different things you could think of someone. I know that I've been proven wrong again and again, yet it rarely slows me down to judge very quickly again the next time.

Learning to live in the now has helped to stop that in me. Instead of living in my past life so much, I try to just be. I try to give everyone a neutral vibe...a vibe that I am open to receiving them as they are -- without the need for masks or roles. I believe that if we show someone that we feel some way about them immediately, they will sense that. Most of the time when doing this, people are friendly and kind.

I guess the entire point I want to get across is that "stop and smell the roses" thing. Not everything is the same. A tree is not a "tree". It lives, it changes, it is unique. The same can be said of you and me. Of all of us.

Slowing down...

As an offshoot from my last entry, I would like to write about a few books that I've been reading lately. I've become quite the fan of Eckhart Tolle. I know, I know...Opera did a huge thing...anyway...

The few things that I've learned about my life is that I'm never living in the present. I'm not sure that any of us really live much of our lives in the present. We're either very overcome with the past or the future that we actually forget that the only time that matters is right now. Right this minute. Do you really think that the future can save you? Or that the past has it's grasp on you? I mean, think about this for a minute. The future isn't even here right now. It's NEVER going to be HERE. Can you really ever make a decision or take action in the future? No. If you are looking for something in the future to save you or to make your life better, that, in reality, is impossible. I've spent years of my life trying to find happiness in the future. Thinking to myself that next year will be better, or that I'll do this next week or that I'll finish this task next month. Whatever the case may be. The fact of the matter is, either you make the decision to do something NOW, or you decide not to. But we have to stop assuming that things are just going to happen for us later. Future-thinking only promotes more future thinking. The ONLY moment we have in this life is the present.

It's really such a simple concept, but unless it's shown to you, you can't see it. Mr. Tolle does an amazing job of showing us and telling us why. I'm not going to try to rewrite what he has done so well, but I will try to show the point a bit and perhaps lead others to, at least, give the books a chance. Now is all that you have in your life. You can either sit back and enjoy it, or you can live a life that is never here. There is the other alternative, also. The past life. You can live your life according to what has happened in your past, and you can define yourself by that life. But why? Should you define yourself by what has happened and is over, or by what is here and now?

It's starting to sound complex here, I think, but it's really a basic idea. Your life is now. Carpe diem. There is a reason that saying came to be. Seize your life now. Don't seize it two days from now...for you will never really get your grasp if you're always thinking two days ahead. And you'll miss so much going on around you. Be present. Be in the now. Enjoy your life. If you really think about all the things that you worry about, most of them haven't arrived yet. Or most of them are over. It's okeh to feel sad or to miss things, but don't let that define your life. Allow yourself to feel them, and then you'll naturally move past it...if you live your life in the here and now. If you keep thinking about things over and over, you'll keep living the same life and the same emotions over and over. You'll be addicted to them. So many of us are. But, life is now people! That doesn't mean that you should party and live like there may be no other days left. It just means to slow down a bit, focus on your life now. It's really not that bad. Mr. Tolle mentions at one point something like if you really focus on your life RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT, most will realize that there's not really anything "bad" going on. Are you worried about making that credit card payment? Is that life now, or is that life in the future. Most of the time, that's a future worry. And you'll deal with it when you come to it. It's not to say that you shouldn't plan for things. Plan your life so you have money to pay that card, or make a budget so that you'll be able to. But make the plan NOW, and it's done. No need to worry. If you cannot pay, realize that you can't. Allow that feeling to be, and realize it's not the worst thing in your life. Make a new plan NOW and you'll be in better shape to pay it next month.

I'm getting off track here, but the entire idea is that if you live in the now, you'll worry less and you'll always be you. You won't be some past version of yourself, and you won't always be expecting yourself to become something "better" later. You are the best and worst that you can possibly be RIGHT NOW. That may seem weird, but it's sort of comforting. Especially once you realize that life isn't so bad in the here and now.

Gadgets in our lives...

Well, it's been quite a long time since I've posted anything here, and I've had a lot on my mind lately. The second coming of the iPhone has happened, and it has had me thinking about a lot of things lately. Along with the iPhone 3G, we have gotten 2.0 operating system software for the phones, and also Mobileme. I'm a huge Apple fan from years back. I've been using the Apple brand for 11 years now. My first Apple computer was in 1997, and I loved it just as much back then. In any case, there has been a huge change in the past few years concerning where our lives are going. I realized this just a few moments ago when I plugged my phone into my speaker system and was able to access the radio via the internet over that speaker from the phone. Now, I know that that internet radio has been around for a long time. But the fact that I can take my phone, use it as a phone, use it as an iPod, and also use it for internet radio is quite remarkable to me. Not only this, but I'm playing Pandora Radio over my phone. It's a personalized radio station. I rate the songs it gives to me, and it tailors the music to me. I can listen to this on the go, or from my home.

I don't think the point that I'm trying to get across is coming across so well. My life is very connected. That's what I'm trying to say. And I think we're taking things more and more for granted. I sit back and think about the days in my childhood when I had to listen to radio stations full of static and commercials. Now, I get music tailored to me and without commercials...FROM MY PHONE. I remember when I couldn't even call friends if I weren't in the house. Now, not only can I call them from just about anywhere, but I can text them, I can IM them, and I can email them. I no longer must wait to get home to look at the dictionary or encyclopedia for something. Nor must I wait till I get home to use my computer to do the same thing. My most important documents are accessible from not only my own computer, but also online from any computer that I sign into. I can even take a picture on my phone and email it or display it on my web gallery in a matter of seconds.

I don't know how much we really take the time to look at these things. We just assume that we have a right to have this information and this technology. That we have a right to access these features and conveniences. And what happens when something doesn't work just quite right, or a program doesn't have enough features for us? We no longer are thankful for what it does let us do, but we're ready to move on and complain about how we'd like to be able to do more! We're all a bit insane, I think. We're losing a bit of ourselves and what makes us enjoy our lives. We're waiting too much for the next best thing.

I used to live a compulsive life like that. I used to have to have the newest and best gadgets. I'm still a little that way, but as I get older and as I have been forced a bit to slow down my spending and hunting/gathering, I have learned how unnecessary some of it really is. I'm using a computer that is now nearly four years old. I didn't buy the new phone just for the sake of upgrading. I haven't gone crazy downloading new apps for my phone. I'm picky about what I think I'll use and what I won't.

I guess what I'm getting to here is that, for once, it was really nice to plug my phone into a speaker and be a bit amazed and taken aback that I can now do this. I wasn't sure it would work. I didn't EXPECT it to just work. It was a pleasant surprise.

Sometimes when you slow down, you ARE pleasantly surprised at the outcome...

Mar. 4th, 2008

Guilt...

There has been such an insistence in my life for me to do well that I don't think others can really comprehend the amount of sheer stress that I put myself under day after day. I don't say this to sound uppity or to sound superior, I say this so that others can maybe understand why I am the way that I am.

Growing up, the focus in my life was academics. My mom wanted me to do well in school. She wanted so much for me to have a good life, and she pushed that. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, and she always did it in a loving manner. The problem is how this became to be in my own head. When things with my father started going downhill, I grasped onto this. I saw that me getting good grades made her happy. I wanted her to be happy with me. I didn't want to be a disappointment to anyone in my family. I didn't want to be another version of my father. I pushed myself hard. Every test that I took stood for another piece of my future. It's enough stress sitting in a classroom thinking about a test that you're going to take let alone having to think about how it's going to have ramifications in your entire future. And I know these are distorted views, but just tell that to a bulimic or to a person suffering some form of narcissism. It's odd the way a mind can alter such views.

So, college came. I pushed myself hard. Rarely did I ever miss a class. If I was out partying the night before an early class (which sometimes happened later in my college career), I was still 99% of the time up and at the morning class ready to go. My mental processes never stopped. As time grew on in my life, not only was school the focus, but bills, finances, personal conduct, balancing the gay issue with certain members of my family, etc. My mind lives and breathes these things whether or not I'm desiring it to or not. I can't tell you the amount of pressure that I feel standing still on a clear day with nothing to do. It's like bricks overcome me. And after years of all of that, after years of never having a "light" day, it gets to a person.

That brings me to my present day situation. I'm not working right now. This is supposed to be a relaxing time in my life. This is supposed to be the time that I'm enjoying the most. I have no staff to worry about, I have no one peering down over me ready to tell me how I'm doing things wrong, or how my staff is doing things wrong. But yet, I feel pressure. I feel guilt. If I want a day to myself, then I have to worry about my boyfriend thinking that I don't want to see him. And this isn't any type of fake guilt that I've made up. He says these things. I live at his place more than my own. Sometimes I just want to be in my own place. To have my own things around me. Sometimes I'm much too emotional from my day and I know better. I know that if I see people, it's going to lead to weirdness that is unnecessary. He's seen me in those states. Sometimes I can feel them myself. Sometimes I'm emotional and just need a break from my own thoughts. Oftentimes the best way to do that, for me, is to be alone with those thoughts and to parse them. It's not because I don't want to see him...that's crazy. He's been the best boyfriend I've had in many, many years. Sometimes I just need my own time, and I wish that I weren't made to feel guilty just because I need that. Just because I'm not artistic in some ways does not mean that I'm totally put together...I'm a Pisces afterall...I'm emotional. Sometimes, I need my own time.

And with this job search. I feel guilty enough if I'm not doing anything about it. I've never been without a job. Not since I was under the legal working age...and even then, I was doing odd jobs. And all my life, I've done with jobs just what I've done in school. I give them my all, and I upgrade all the time. If you don't continue to improve then you are just failing right? That's the way I see it. There is HUGE amount of pressure on myself every time that I do a job search. Yes, a lot of it is self-induced, but if you don't understand this pressure, then you can't possibly know how it affects someone like me. Every job has to be better than the last. And that's usually determined by a monetary value. If the pay doesn't continue to get better and better, then I have failed at upgrading my life. That is the pressure I usually put myself under. I'm trying to fix that. I'm trying to use this time to make myself understand that that kind of pressure is unnecessary. I want to be the type of person who doesn't rule his life on how much money he makes. But that's hard for me. So, if I'm taking this time and not being as active as I could be looking, forgive me. I may look like I'm not doing anything, but in reality there is more going through my mind than you'll ever know. I fight with myself every day. If you're not a perfectionist, then you don't understand. If you've been allowed some slack in your life, then you don't understand. Having slack has never been an option in my life. It was, thus far, a very driven existence that I've lead.

It's hard trying to reteach yourself things after so many years of training and perfecting something. While on the outside it may appear that I'm semi-easy-going with things, don't let that fool you. I'm insanely structured. And if you read anything about perfectionism, it's a trait that can often stop a person from doing just about anything for fear of failure. "Oh, Will, you won't fail; you never fail at anything". Exactly. What happens when/if I do? What happens when I can't find the next best paying job? What happens when I have to tell everyone I know that I've taken a less paying job than my last? To most people, these are easy questions to answer. To me, they are not. I'm frozen at times in a world of fear. Fear of failure...fear of things not working out perfectly. It's not an easy thing to live with. I'm trying to change that. Everyday I analyze so much of myself and my thoughts. I try to do things to rewire my brain. I'm making progress. It doesn't happen overnight. It makes me very emotional, and it sometimes looks as if I'm being lazy. Well, you know what? For once in my life, allow me to be lazy in these areas. I'm probably doing enough mental exercises to make any person mentally drained. I do them everyday.

That's one thing I wonder. Do other people think as much as me? I'm not saying that I'm a genius or anything. Don't take it that way. See, that's what I'm talking about. Even before I wrote that, I knew that I'd have to defend it in case anyone dared to take it the wrong way. Most people wouldn't even probably think that. They wouldn't think that I was trying to call myself highly intelligent just because I say that I think a lot. Minute after minute, I think weird and bizarre things about life. I think about going on the subway and what every single person on the train that I look at might be thinking. I analyze what they are wearing, start wondering where they came from. I think about what their job may be. I think about how they interact with others. What they are thinking of me if they happen to look my way. I defend myself in my own head against them should I think they may be thinking thoughts of attack. My brain is never at rest unless I'm watching a movie or tv. That's probably why after a long day at work, I need to watch hours of it. I know of no other way to stop my mind from pushing me to the limit second after second. A steady stream of my thoughts would probably be enough to make most people quite nervous around me. They are often odd and unjustified, yet they are something that my brain produces day after day. I wonder if other people are like that. Do others have that same desire. When they are sitting on the train, do they just zone out? Or are they constantly always moving in their mind?

These are things that I may never know. These are possibly things that I can never expect anyone else to understand. All I know is that sometimes I need the time that I take to do things that are important to me. Just because you don't understand them doesn't mean they aren't real. And just because you don't understand doesn't mean that I'm not doing something productive. Please, let me do things at my pace. I thank everyone for the support that I have around me, but I need to do things my way in my own time. I finally have a bit of that luxury in my life; please, let me take advantage of it.

Mar. 2nd, 2008

Little Pap

On February 28th at 12:50 am, I received a call from my Mom telling me that my little pap had passed away. "Little pap" was the name that my grandfather on my father's side was given. I don't know how this came about, but my father's parents were Little Gram and Little Pap, and my mom's were Big Gram and Big Pap while I was a kid.

Pap Jones was quite the man. He lived a hard life, and he pushed others into leading a hard life, too. He was not known to be the most compassionate or fair person, and he wasn't known to have the best temper in the world (quite the opposite). The way he treated his children was really rather harsh and cruel from what I've heard. He was very religious, and perhaps this had something to do with it, or maybe this was just adopted as a way to justify the means. I don't know. What I do know, however, is that as a child, there were times with him that were very good.

I can remember sitting on his knees while he'd sing some little ditty and bounce his grandchildren up and down until we'd fall off. This was extraordinarily fun as a child. He'd always be playing some sort of musical instrument, and he'd always have some way of singing something that was hilarious and we'd request it over and over again...oh, how I'm sure he tired of playing the same tunes to us...yet, he always did. He was good with jokes, and he always knew something to say to make you laugh when he really wanted to.

These were the good things that I like to remember about him. I'd be lying if I were going to say that they are the majority of my memories about him. I'd always be lying if I said that I didn't have to dig quite a bit to remember a lot of good times with him...I often do. There are just some things that are said at times that really take such a strong hold on young minds. In the end, I think he was very much at conflict with himself and life. I don't know anything about his childhood. I don't know how he was raised or what happened to him when he was young. What I do know is that a man with such differing personalities from one period to the next has to be a man who suffered within himself.

It's not my place to judge, I can only recall events and how they made me feel. But, I was lucky that I got to see him one last time after years and years of not seeing him. I went to visit him in the hospital. The first day I saw him, he wasn't doing so well. The next day, he was really back to a cognitive state. He knew who I was. He knew I came in to see him. He held my hand and I held his. He squeezed my hand. He winked at me...he was always a winker. At that moment, the harshness that I had felt for so many years went away. And, although I didn't say it to him (for I believe it was understood as much by him as it was by me), there was love there between a grandfather and his grandson.

Wherever you are now...wherever your energy has gone, Little Pap, I hope you are content, and I hope you find your way. You were a strong man in this life, and you showed that all the way up until your dying day. Thank you for the memories.

Your Grandson,

Boo

Thankful...

This is my second entry this morning, and I've cut these into two because, although there is some connection, I feel that they really required two different entries. Lately, I've been thankful for a lot of things in my life. Firstly, as always, I am so thankful for my family. They have been my number one supporter through everything in my life. There is so much that can be said about them, and lately, I've really been thinking a lot about my brother. We used to fight quite a bit when we were younger, and I don't think that's odd. But sometimes, you really focus a lot on the fights and don't focus on what you did together. Tonight, everything sort of came together and reminded me of what he and I had shared. I've never been one to show emotion. It's been something that's been very hard for me to do. But, I was thinking about all the things that he and I used to do together when we were younger, and I must say that I really enjoyed having him around. I used to tell people that we were never really that close, but in thinking about it tonight, I honestly think that we were quite close. I guess that time and age has a way of uncovering things that you really didn't see before. At least there is some point to this whole getting older thing!

The second thing that I'm really thankful for are my friends. Some of my friends I've had since I can remember. Those are the ones that you've grown up with...the ones that know about nearly every part of who you are...the ones that can tell you that you're being an ass, and you still can't get too upset with (other than the fact you really know they are right). Then there are the friends that I have that I've not known for too long. The ones who are there to share your most recent times with, but still aren't as close as others. Those are the friends that you may not see as often, but when you have an event to go to, or are getting together to do something fun, you give them a call. I have many friends in my life. I'm thankful for that.

Thirdly is Andrew. He has come to mean so much to me in this short time that we've known one another. I have a very good feeling about this, and I really think it's something that will continue for quite some time. He makes me really happy, and he's shown me that it's okeh to open up. I'm still getting used to that, but he's so supportive and he's quite the wonderful person. I don't tell him, in person, that enough. I try to show him, and I know that sometimes it doesn't come out that way, but I'm working on that. I can see a life with him; I don't know where that life will take us, and I don't know the details about it all, but I can see us spending a lot of time together. The first night I met him, I rode the subway train home thinking "he's the one", and I honestly believe that I was right. He stands tall and strong where others have only faltered.

There are many other things that I'm thankful for that pretty much go without saying. My health. I've always had good health, and that's a wonderful thing, and something that so many people overlook far too often. My being made unemployed. I know that isn't quite the most positive thing in the world, but having now been through it, I have realized that life isn't so bad. I shouldn't be afraid to falter a bit myself because should this happen again, it's not the end of the world. Life won't end. I won't fall into a huge pit and die. Life goes on, and it goes on quite well.

Especially when you have so much to be thankful for.

XGJV

Reflections...

You know, there are times in your life when it seems that you are forced to view the past. Sometimes these are pleasant times, and other times, they are harsh and rather unforgiving. The past few nights for me have been spent thinking about the past. For me, this has done a great deal to show me a way to review my world.

I guess you could say it first happened a few nights ago when I realized that the first step to really allowing oneself to live their own life is to stop the inner argument. This may seem like an easy step, but, while most of us realize this is a step, I don't believe that it hits us profoundly enough to realize what an impact it has on us...and over us. There is constantly an inner argument that we have with ourselves. It's nothing that's abnormal (at least I hope not). It's that little voice that tells us we have something wrong with our body when the rest of the world doesn't see it. It's that voice that tells us we shouldn't be eating one more cookie because that's what's going to push us over our limit. It's that voice that tells us that if we wear white socks with black shoes, no one is going to ever look at us the same again (let alone forgive us). Whatever it is that your voice tells you, it's there, and it governs so much of our lives.

Stopping that voice is not easy. It's an argument that you play out every single day. The worst thing is, it's not one argument like the kind you may be having with your best friend right now, it's about a million arguments every single day. Okeh, so I exaggerate, but you know what I mean. Sometimes these arguments are necessary. The ones that guilt us into not taking that drink when we know we can't. The ones that tell us that today isn't the day to pick up that cigarette again. Those are the good arguments. You can have those. But it's the needless ones that are ridiculous. The ones that we have with ourselves for 20 minutes after someone says something rude to you on the train and you play them out in your head over and over and over telling yourself what you SHOULD have said. We're all guilt of it, and we all do it. The thing is, we need to stop it.

Let's face it. In today's world, you have to work hard to just make an honest day's living. That kind of work is strenuous enough without your mind battling itself over eating that last bit of cake or not. Or, even worse, beating yourself up for actually having eaten it...that fight goes on much longer. So, that's the first thought that I had...stop the inner battle.

I had that thought the other night, as I've said, and for the past few nights (really culminating this night) I've realized how much that inner fight has ruled my life. From the time I was quite young, I can remember having that battle with myself. I began to allow it to let me feel inferior to other people, so it started to determine how I acted around others. I became quite introverted (I was not so much as I child that way). My imagination began to slip away...OH, yes, I still imagined things, but instead of creative, wonderful things, I began to assume I could imagine what others were saying about me. There has been, for quite some time, issues with my self-esteem and appearance. They are nearly gone now, and I work on them daily, but my inner conflict allowed these problems to escalate. They began to tell me how to run my life. How to conduct myself in public. How to "behave". While all these things have some merit, and while I do like the way that I can be polished and finessed in the way I work and the way I am socially, it's also something that, for so many years, I couldn't shut off.

I remember going to my brother's baseball games. Instead of just being there with the family to enjoy the game, I'd always be half irritated about having to be there. Now, you see, I wasn't irritated really about having to be there...as I learned many years later through introspection. I was irritated that I wouldn't allow myself to fully enjoy what was happening. While tons of others were yelling around me and cheering people on or yelling at the ump for a bad call, I was staying calm and collected. I had to have this persona about me. While I thought this was the best way not to be noticed and not to look crazy, looking back on it, I'm sure it made me stick out like a sore thumb. Baseball is about cheering on the players and telling the ump that he's made a lousy call. That's the spirit of the game. And sometimes, just a few times, I would actually yell for my brother and support him that way. It felt good. Yet, my inner arguments kept telling me that people were probably looking at me and asking "what is Will doing now?". This coming from my family members and people around. Never once did it enter my mind that maybe they'd actually be relieved to see me lightening up a bit.

Well, this type of inner argument has carried through my life. Whenever I'm attempting to make a change, I worry that people around me are going to see it and make a big deal about it...this, of course, would push me back into my little world. Why? I don't know. When people make a deal about anything, it sort of makes you really self-conscious of it all. And, if you aren't ready to deal with that, then you really have a hard time dealing with it. The truth of the matter, however, is that people usually aren't that concerned about changes people make. I mean, yes, sometimes people have a hard time dealing, but those who are your friends are going to stick beside you come what may. They may think you've gone off the deep end if you make sudden large changes, but, as long as you aren't putting yourself in danger, they will probably enjoy the ride with you. That's what friends do.

I'm getting really long winded about something that I'm not even sure where I'm taking it to. All I know is that the past few nights that I've stayed up way too late (which has caused me to sleep for the majority of the daytime), I've realized a lot. (I do my best thinking, and always have, around 4am). We only have one life to live. It's ours. It's not theirs. It's not your neighbor's. It's not your best friend's. It belongs to us and only us. My life is mine. It's there to do with as you want. It's there for me to make of it whatever I desire. Yours is there for you to do the same. You can live it your way, or you can live it their way...that, too, is your choice.

It's not an easy move to make to change it all. Anyway, you'd probably not want to change all of anything. But, I know that there are some large parts of my life that I'm living in a manner which is not befitting to me. Those are the parts I seek to change. Those are the wall that I must tear down (or, at least, put in windows). I know that many people don't read my blog. So, it's not like I'm talking to the masses here. But, if somewhere down the road, it seems as if I've change my viewpoint, or taken a different path, go with it. I could change it again sometime later, and I could end up (let's hope not) back where I started. But, as with everything in life, this is a journey, and it is a journey which must be taken...

Here's to plotting the map!

XGJV

Feb. 26th, 2008

One Lucky Guy...

It's been awhile since I've had something so good in my life. I must say that for the longest time, I started to believe that men were all bad -- that they all had some desire to cheat or manipulate. But after meeting Andrew, I'm finally able to relax a bit. I'm still paranoid because that is part of my being. It's who I am.

This past weekend was my birthday weekend, and we went out with Brandon to The Ritz Bar and Lounge in Hell's Kitchen. I wasn't uneasy about the whole thing at all. Normally, when I'm out with someone I'm dating, I feel this need to keep my eyes on him and make sure he isn't trying to sneak away or anything. And being out with Andrew, he was at my side at all times, and if he wasn't, he was looking for me, too. It was so nice not to have to worry about him looking at other people or wondering what he was thinking. We danced together (something I rarely do with anyone I date because normally I don't like dancing with people). All in all, it was a very good night for the three of us. I had a really great time, and even though I know he was anxious, for some reason (maybe the same reason I normally am), about it all, I'm glad he came out, and it meant a lot to me.

But that wasn't all. He had work the next day, but arrived home (I had stayed at his place) with three dozen roses (1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 yellow with red edges), a steak frites dinner for me, and dessert from Max Brenner. It was amazing. He's so special, and he's quite amazing. We just sat in and ate our dinner watching movies.

So far, we've been dating for 3.5 months, and things have been going very well. Sure, we have our little moments like any other couple should, but all in all, this is the best thing that's happened to me in a long time. I really feel like he's in this with me, and it's nice to see that not all men are jerks.

I'm one lucky guy to have found him (or have him find me), and I can't wait to see how things continue :-)

Jan. 19th, 2008

Just some thoughts...

You know, I was writing in my journal this morning (yes, it is 7am and I'm awake...very odd for me) and I've just had a lot on my mind lately. Andrew and I are doing really well. I'm grateful for that. He really does treat me well, and I'm very happy with him. David jokes that we should just be attached at the hip to make things easier on the both of us! I spend a lot of time at his place now, and at times, he comes over to visit me at mine (usually on Project Runway evenings since he hasn't a television). He's a sweetheart, and things really seem to be going well. It's nice to finally have someone in life who understands, and is willing to be there for you nonetheless.

But what had me up thinking tonight is the idea that our lives are just stories. We work and slave and in the end, all that we have to show for all of this hard work are the stories that we can tell. And the weird thing is, I work all my life and every day to try to make things perfect and to try to be the best person that I can be, and when I look back on things, I forget probably more than half of the actual details of the experiences that I've had. I mean, the mind is fallible and when things like this happen, we have nothing left to do but fill in the cracks with something that seems right. In essence, we make up our lives. So all that work, and all that struggling gets reduced to something that is imaginary anyway. And while the made up story may be close to what actually happened, it's still not the reality of the situation. And yet, it is reality. It's the only reality there is because that moment lives only in your head now. And whatever you make of that moment before you tell it to someone is how that moment will be portrayed to them. They will (unless they were actually there with you) know nothing but what you communicate, and in this way, you are making up your life. All the years spent fretting through school, and all the exams that were studied for, and all the time crunched in for just a few moments with friends...these are the times that may be remembered, or may be forgotten. The old saying that life is what you make of it is really true. Life really is nothing but the details that you remember. In the end, that's how you are going to look back and see your life.

Have you ever had a memory that you weren't really sure that happened? I've done this a number of times. Sometimes I have very vivid dreams and they are things that stick with me in my mind. Sometimes years later, I reflect on these memories and wonder if they were really part of my life or if they were all dreamed once upon a time. Places that I recall in my youth that I'm not really sure existed, times spent with people that I'm not really sure that actually happened...these are the types of things that I'm talking about. And I think the older we get, the more we confuse these things. Yet, at the same time, I think often times we tell ourselves that we'd know the difference between a dream and the real thing, so we count these things as reality. I know that I sometimes do. Maybe I'm alone in this, and maybe I'm a little bit crazy or absent minded, I don't know, but it seems to me that it's perfectly normal. I see all these things clearly in my mind (or not so clearly, however you want to look at it), and I include them in my story. My question then is this: If all we have are memories of our lives to tell our story and really fall back on, aren't these memories every bit as real as anything we've actually experienced? If I believe that way back when, I found this little path in the woods near my house and I explored it and had a campfire there with some friends, and in "reality" that never happened, but was rather just a dream, isn't that experience just as real as anything else? I mean, it's how I remember it, and I remember it happening just as much as anything that actually took place. To me, it's real.

That's the funny thing about our minds. We like to tell ourselves stories to get us through situations, and sometimes these stories become more real than anything else that we can remember. To me, this is reality. And this is also why our lives are what we make of them. If the stories that we tell to ourselves are self-defeating and self-punishing, then that is how we will look back on our lives. If we tell ourselves that we are in love with someone to the point that we are convinced, then we will look at that person adoringly no matter what they do to us. Sometimes our stories override what is really in front of our eyes. That is the danger of the mind, but also one of its best qualities. I have a friend right now who is going through a lot of pain because of a break up that he's suffered. I've been there. We tell ourselves that the love we feel is real or the feelings we have are this way and that. Oftentimes, they aren't what we really think they are. Most of the time, if we'd just open our eyes, we'd realize the whole thing was not as great as we made it seem. Or the person we were seeing was not as special as we had made them out to be. But sometimes, you just need to feel that way. You need to feel that you're dating someone very special, and, I think, a lot of times it's because we need to feel that we're worthy of dating someone that special. Or worthy of dating someone who cares that much. Or worthy of dating someone that powerful. Whatever the case may be, we need to convince ourselves of that, and that's exactly what we tend to do. In the end, however, the story that we've told ourselves is not real, but it's what we're left with. So we are crushed when they leave us, and the hope that we had of feeling special now is doubly self-punishing. Not only did another person leave us, or another relationship fall apart, but it was this one that was so special and the turning point in our lives or this or that -- whatever the story was that we told ourselves. But that's also the great thing about memory. We have the chance to rebuild anything that has taken place. We can "learn" (for lack of a better word) to accentuate other details to fill in gaps or replace things that we had emphasized previously. Anything that we had told ourselves can be retold and those are the things that we can hold on to. Any relationship we've had is usually able to be told in two different ways be the two people involved. Rarely do the two people tell the same story...even if they are both madly in love. The entire relationship is how you perceive it in your mind. And if my friend is reading this at all (which I doubt he is), I hope that he gets something out of this and understands that. We all use our mind to trick ourselves sometimes, but the wonderful thing is, we can use these same tricks to recover.

I'm not saying it's easy to lose someone, or that all this can happen overnight. But, in the end, there are usually things there that we just didn't want to tell ourselves. Things that we conveniently left out of the story to make it even more wonderful in our own heads. Times we still felt alone, or times that we wanted our own space, or times that we were so upset we couldn't even speak. Those are all the things that we tend to overlook when we're "in love". But they are still there. It wouldn't be a relationship if you didn't have those times once in awhile. We have them with coworkers, we have them with friends, and it would be ridiculous to say that we don't have them with lovers. But, when we're still with those people, and we need/want to feel that feeling of being in love and euphoria, we tend to not tell ourselves those stories.

I guess, in my long-winded way, I'm trying to say that our lives are just the images that our mind keeps hold of. There is really nothing else that matters. Of course, you can't sit around breaking the law and saying that you never did it. The fact that you'd be in jail would be an in-your-face reminder of the fact that you did (although, there are those who despite being there tell themselves that they didn't do it...and to those people, it becomes reality).

I always say that I don't regret the things that happen in my life because they are the things that made me who I am, and I very much like the person I am. Sure, I have things that I would like to work on and improve, but, in time, I will...or at least I'll tell myself that I have ;-) And, I think this is the positive way to look at life. You can sit around telling yourself the bad stories and making them what your life has been, or you can relive over and over the good things and decide that has been your life. I tell myself that my life will always work out. It's true, and I really believe that. It always has. It's probably because of the way I look at things. I've always learned something positive from each difficult situation that I've been in, and I've always used that as a means to a better place. My life does always work out, and I feel that will be the way things go until my dying day. There are too many stories left to tell, and too many things left to discover to allow ourselves to constantly think differently. Sure, we all get sad and we all get down-trodden once in awhile. It happens. We can't always think positively about everything or it would no longer be positive...it would be status-quo. But if you make the idea of everything always works out the status-quo, then you can have bad times, and you can have good times, and in the end, the story that you'll tell is always one with a good ending. That's how I'd rather live my life.

Well, this has been another long, long entry, but I think that's okeh. I've not included one here in awhile, and I should have much more time now to write more often. Things have happened in my life, and perhaps I'll get into them in another entry, but that's for another time entirely. I will just say quickly, for my own record, that things with Andrew are going wonderfully, and he really does make me happy. Sure, we have our things that sometimes we have to discuss and work out, but that's what is so great about it, we do discuss them and work them out. I have very high hopes for this, and I think it's going to be something really great. In any case, that's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-)

~XGJV

Previous 10