A Place for Shattered Dreams and Far Off Memories

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It’s a few weeks away now is a deadline which I have been building towards these last two years. I know I’m in a much better place than I was before but I feel vastly unprepared for the applications I must have done in a few short weeks. The applications that will act as a bridge to the place I want to go, the place where my dreams lie.
I am beginning to wonder if that’s on purpose, that my mind keeps me so busy that I have an excuse not to delve deep into the minutia of what could be a pivotal moment in my life.  Maybe that’s why I’m having such a hard time saying no to all these things that come my way. These things that take me away from what I should be doing for myself. It’s easy to make excuses if I am doing it for someone else.  I am not taking time to concentrate on what I want, what I need. I’m resistant to it because I am scared of it, this whole process because I have been burned by it twice before. I’m afraid of falling and wondering where I’ll end up.

I’ve had these vivid daydreams of all of us standing upon a hill, a hill made of broken glass.  Shards everywhere dangerously looming as we climb this hill we trying not to fall. Upon this hill, we climb and climb until we reach a place to stand atop it. Those willing to reach the summit are bathed in this light them and from their heart comes a dream in the shape of an orb as offering to this light.  This dream can carry them high up into the sky, but if the dream is not strong enough or the person two weak the both come crashing down to earth, to be cut by these hills of glass.  It’s for there we find out where we are, as some dreams fall and shatter upon the ground making that hill a little higher with pieces of its broken self.  I have fallen twice now, with a dream still intact, it’s my body which I’m worried about breaking because this time I will have the chance to fly higher than ever before, but that means I also have the change of falling father than I could ever imagine.  I know I shouldn’t be entertaining it but what could happen if I don’t make it if I don’t succeed. How will life find a way, and which part of me will break first my dream or me.

It’s here that I see myself, young and naive of the world I have strived to live.  I see this young apparition unphased by the fear and anxiety that experience brings with it. He is a different person than I but same in ambition. To be something great is always what he dreamed up. This resounding dream is something I carried with me, through time, shaping it to what it is now with experience.  It’s stronger and more well formed but still the same dream at the heart of it.  This young apparition gives me solace as it reminds me that at least I know that if no one else, the kid who I was years and years ago would believe in me. I carry it with because it is me, so soon enough we see how high my dreams will fly, and remember it’s always my choice to get back up again.

Deferred Respite.

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There is a story in a book I read long ago, a story about two monks who devoted themselves to god and cloistered life. These two men though, having seen enough of the world to know of its beauty and wonder craved travel and adventure outside of the monastery walls. For them, it was hard to choose between these two loves, love of God, and love of the world. Even though they were happy with their decision to join this religious order, they both knew that they without the prospect of travel their devotion would wane as it would be seen it would one love taking away from the other. So these two monks hatched a plan, every spring they would plan to travel that following fall, to leave these monastery walls and go out into the world. Once fall came around, they would feign excuses, talking about how it wasn’t a good time to go and plan for to travel in that next spring. Years and years passed without the monks ever leaving, though the prospect of them doing so was always around the corner. They felt content, knowing that soon enough they would travel, without actually needing to leave.

This story came to mind because I’ve been talking about resting these last several months. To be honest, I haven’t been making a really active effort to become rested.  It’s because of love that I don’t sleep. I love psychology, and all that I am doing, so much so that I want to do everything, but in wanting to do everything.  In this want there comes a time to where all there always more deadlines.  Nothing really stops, and since it doesn’t stop, I haven’t either.  I keep deferring this rest, to the point where I feel wasted by it.  Stuck in a daze of work, pushing forward through habit.  I keep telling myself, next month, next month will be the one where I get to take a break and breath easy.  When this magic month comes, I don’t know but I keep deferring knowing that this time I spend will pay off in something. I am tired, both in mind and body, I know I need rest but if I have to keep going to get what I want.

Yeah, if I keep going, good things will happen.

I’ll rest later, once this is all over.

That’s when I’ll get to breathe.

I can keep going.

Rest will come.

I just don’t know when.

A little bit of failure.

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It’s finally come, the moment where the cascade of everything that was slowly stacking up finally came made me lose something. Now, it’s partially due to a series of unfortunate events that led to the personal failure that in some way may have been avoided if only I had taken a moment to consider the world.  In having already reflected on these events what I come away with is something different than I thought I would in the first place. A sense of understanding and realization of maturity in myself.

Some things can’t be avoided, but most things can be tracked back with the realization that it’s usually a set of multiple failures that go unheeded before things like this happen. For me, it was just a bit of consideration.  I keep my most of my life pretty prepared for the inevitable unexpected things that may happen to me.  This is shown best through the weight of the bag I carry with me through my day-to-day.  It’s heavy, full of all things I may or may not need during the course of my day.  This preparation is something I am going to reflect on another time but for this moment, that preparation and routine broke down.  I had been rushing from the moment I woke up because of the fact that I had woken up late and was practically running the rest of the day.  In an attempt to be productive and feel on top of things I decided to upgrade my personal computer while at work, something I’ve never done. This lead to my computer crashing and ultimately losing a months worth of work.  I didn’t remind people enough about running the study in my lab so I ended up having to fill in missing a lecture I wanted to hear.  I spent about 5 hours dealing with the problem with my computer ultimately settling on the only option of resetting everything and starting over from a back up I had made a month ago. This back up should have been more recent but because I decided not to back up before I upgraded, I lost.

I never got mad though, a little exasperated by dominoes falling into place as they did but I felt like I handled it well. I just did what I needed to do and kept moving forward.  The final straw with all the loss of time and files came with an application I was supposed to submit the next day. Of all my time in Graduate School, I’ve managed to claw together everything I’ve needed, maybe sometimes at the last second but it’s always has worked out. This time though, this time I couldn’t scrape by. I wrote and wrote but by I realized several hours before it was due that I had to make a choice. Turn something I was not proud of and blow off some of my other responsibilities or admit defeat. and continue forward.  This time I conceded.  It’s not something I’m proud of but it was necessary I feel for my growth.  I push myself and have reached the limit not of what I can do with talents but with time.  I have too much going on and not enough time to do everything.  This means, something’s got to give and I don’t choose for myself, then my choices will be made for me.  It’s hard for someone who wants to do everything because if I had the ability to I would but I can’t so choices have to be made. Kind of like triage, save what is savable, do what’s important and try all that you might to use the hours that we have to accomplish the things that we need.  Failure is part of that growth.  It allows me to see that there see where I still need to keep going.  I think it’s gonna come to a head soon I think, me or it. Perhaps a month from now we will see who wins and where we will go from there but until then, I’ll keep moving forward.

 

Inside Pandora’s Box

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I’ve always been fascinated with ancient myths and legends, not just for their tales of magic and adventure but with each myth comes with it a belief about how we see humanity and human nature. Tales of valor and weakness, people, overcoming challenges and succumbing to temptation highlight these beliefs. These stories really give us insight in the best and worst of us and what we believe humans are ultimately capable of. I’ve been thinking about them a lot recently, but each time I do I seem to always come back to the story of Pandora’s box.  The story, for the most part, is meant to explain all the evil and terrible things in the world and why humanity is expected to struggle against these terrible evils.  In thinking though, the story shows us something else entirely, the only thing we have to push forward.  Without it, we have been lost long ago.

You see, Pandora herself was created by Zeus as recompense for Prometheus giving humanity the power of fire. The gods were angry that humans could wield this awesome power customarily reserved just for the greater beings that Zeus had a box forged and placed within it all the evils that humanity had never known. The like the evils of war, discord, famine, and sickness.  Zeus gave this box to his new human creation and sent her out into the world with only one command “Never open the box.”  Being human, she was naturally curious, but a while she left the box alone, even at some point burying it in the ground. Day after day, she found herself thinking about the box, “What was inside?” she wondered. That’s when she found herself, overcome with a single desire to uncover this great mystery that was shrouded inside.  She unlatched the box and opened it up to discover she set free all these great evils to forever torment humanity.  Before all of the evils were released, she slammed closed the box saving humanity from the greatest of these evils, total despair – the opposite of hope.

The reason I like this story so much it that it speaks to this belief we have, that as long as we have hope, not all is lost.  I mean sure, I would love not to get sick, or to have arguments, but the one thing that pushes us forward is that belief that things can be better, that a better outcome can come to us if we persist.  Sometimes this hope is misleading or causes us to behave naively, but ultimately it allows us to see a future that is better than the past.  It allows us to see a tragedy in a new light,  to implement change and not accept things as they are. Where there is evil, we have hope, and hope is the catalyst for the change we need to make this world a better place. Without hope, we are nothing.

The reason I keep coming to this story is that I’ve been running a study for my thesis, one I really love and want to work. But pilot study after pilot study, I can’t seem to make my paradigm do what it needs to.   Some sort of unpredictable element exists within it, and I simply don’t understand yet what is keeping it from functioning properly.  I have hope though, that if I keep trying I will make this work, and have something serious to show for my efforts.  Even if I doesn’t, all I learn today will help me for tomorrow, as long as I am persistent enough something will happen.  I have hope and that’s what makes make me strong because I have hope I can keep pushing forward into the deep.

To Catch A Breath.

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In the late 1980s and early 1990s, people did a study about sleep, actually the lack of it. You see, they took these mice and put them on this treadmill, ultimately depriving them of sleep for days and days on end.  The mice walked, and walked, and walked for what seemed like an eternity for them. Of course, they were taken care of, fed, kept in a “comfortable”  environment, they were just forced to stay awake.  After what it seemed like an eternity for mice (11-32 days) they had all died thinner, weaker, full of unhealed lesions. Even though they had everything else, without rest they died.

Now, this is an extreme example, no one in their right mind would try to keep themselves up for that long (unless they were trying to break a world record) but I think this example is a good one.  Through this sleep deprivation happened all at once, how many of us have pushed back this rest, both mind and body.  I do this all the time, little by little chipping away at the amount of sleep and resources I have until by the time the weekend comes I have to throw myself into it just to feel normal again.

That’s what yesterday was. A deep breath. My body and mind telling me to stop and wait. To just be and rest for a little while.

We’re all better when we have time to take a break. I do my best work when I can put 100% of myself into something I love. So for now, let me just catch a breath.

A Quiet Moment Of Car and Clouds

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Earlier this week the road was closed as I was headed to school.  Normally these types of moments would call for freaking out, getting frustrated, and with me patiently waiting for the traffic to push on.  I felt really good though, at that moment, serene to the point where I couldn’t really explain it.  A Los Angeles morning covered in magnificent clouds kept me feeling like I was exactly where I should have been.  Instead of sitting in stop and go traffic I hit the streets, curved my way across a city I had never seen. Drove down roads I had never been.  A small adventure all before 8am. I ended up getting to school when I needed to, but it left me with this feeling.  Serenity, peace, and above all else a sense of happiness.

It’s hard to put my finger on it, exactly what it is I needed that morning to make me feel that so at ease.  I know that it gave me a sense of clarity about exactly what I should be doing with my life.  I like staring at clouds, ones high in the sky that look like ancient civilizations that are returning to ruin.  I like a quiet morning where everything seems to be still and sleeping.  I like a thousand things, some I don’t even realize, but it’s these small things that break up this crazy life I lead. It’s these small things that really show me that it doesn’t take much to be happy.

I know it sounds a bit strange because it is, why would these things really change my outlook on life, especially in the stress-filled existence I have recently been privy to.  The answer is, I don’t know.  Sometimes it’s something that just makes sense to us at the moment.  A thing that is so beautiful we are forced to stop and look.  We all have these things, that fill us with awe and make us realize that the world is both incredibly large and infinitely small.

I wish I could ride on clouds, climbing the mountains of white serenity.  I wish we could all just take a moment to imagine what it would be like play upon the bluffs of the great clouds above.  For now, I’ll just appreciate them from the window of my car and dream about the adventure I have yet to come.

Daydreams of Light And Dark

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I had a dream recently, a waking dream that felt so real but so distant at the same time.

I was floating there, through the darkness, in the infinite darkness that can be.  It reminded me of a calm night without stars, sitting there floating through entropy.  I sat there for a while, in a sense of wallow, what had brought me there I do not know, but all I knew is I was there floating. Floating, but not moving, frozen there in the darkness.

Before I knew right from left a wave a pure bright light washed over this world and exposed my floating. I could see myself, whole and untouched in the great vacuum of just light and self.  A feeling of who I am awoke within this light, in the realization that it had been sleeping. You see darkness has a way of clouding us, and making us lose ourselves because there is no reflection if there is not enough light to see.

In getting my bearings, I looked out into the light that I was now able to see. The world was just as it changed before a void of light before it changed again. The light and darkness began to spin in a great vortex, like night and day, flipping from place to place, circling me and casting shadow on my skin.  It sped up and slowed down, and thought came to me that could control this light, this balance, this ebb and flow. I spun the light around me, filled the world with darkness, then back again to light.  This is when I woke up and knew what my heart had revealed to me in the guise of a dream.  It’s up to us it said. It’s up to us how we want to fill our world and see it. That is the one thing we have power over when all seems to be falling down around us.

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It’s been a long couple months, and it’s so easy to get caught up in my head.  I’ve always maintained that my mind is the most dangerous place for me, especially if I have too much time to think.  I think a lot of us do that, get caught up in that moment, and can’t see the forest from the trees. It’s ultimately up to us though, how we want to view the world and what we want to put out into it.

That’s not to say that everything has to be light, and beautiful, darkness itself has it’s own place in this world.  Without darkness we would not know light, and without light we would not know darkness. It’s when these things seem not to be equal and when our view of the world gets skewed so much. The light itself will begin to hurt us because we can’t obtain it, it will be too bright what would be a world of darkness. This though works in a world of light, if some small darkness is found, we fixate on it and don’t realize that focusing on this small blip in our bright world, we welcome more of this darkness into ourselves. It all seems so far off, especially in a world of darkness, because that’s all you can see, a small star in a field of space.  We need to realize, there is a dichotomy in that, and that truthfully we can create that light that within ourselves.  If we are open, we allow ourselves to be touched by this light it will make us vulnerable to all forces in the world that may hurt us. If we are closed, we cast shadows upon ourselves but protect ourselves from the onslaught of the world and all its evils.  Neither is wrong, but for me I need to trust my heart is strong, that way even if the world seems to be shrouded and darkness, I will at least have the light from within to guide the way home.

I want to be the light, out there in the darkness because I know what it is, to be alone. I want to guide people because I know what it is to be without a guide.  It’s up to me how I want to live my life, whether it’s in light or in darkness. And I know for myself that living in the light is the place I would much rather be.

 

Recording:

Stuck In A Daze Like Dream

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It’s when I push too hard that my body starts to deteriorate.  It takes what would normally be my fast-paced and busy lifestyle and grinds it to a halt.  It’s frustrating, but for current it’s a blessing.   It makes me take a second to reflect on all the trouble.

The is a lack of direction again, an unclear path unfolds before.  In this period of time, leading up the eventual application season again, I feel by far only prepared for the process, not prepared for where the process may lead. I search names, I search places but all that comes back is memories of years ago when the process brought me down and crushed me.  This trouble persists in part because of this inability to put a finger on exactly what I want to be doing for the next five years.  Sure, I want to spend it in a school, pursuing a degree in psychology and technology but that’s as far as that goes. This fuzzy outline with no tangible or actionable itinerary drives me mad in the middle of the night because it stirs confusion within me. If I can’t even put into words what I want to do, then how I am supposed to find someone who is doing it?

Second, as mentioned before in previous posts, I feel this futility in what I do.  My motivations, though initially pure are becoming clouded by a distinct lack of self-efficacy about the world I am about to enter.  Even with everything I am doing, I feel that it is all too little too late and that ultimately I will be passed up for someone much more capable than myself.  It’s hard because people believe in me but in my experience, this belief seems to not persist into action.  I want to make people proud but there is a fear that I will continue to come up short. I keep pushing, hoping that I will bring myself to the level  warranted by their belief, hoping to guide the way and show people that it was worth the effort, but I don’t know, I have to convince a room of strangers that I am worth investing in and the excuse of, well if you only got to know him really doesn’t cut it.

Lastly, I feel this pressure from above and below.  It’s more of jealousy that turned my eyes green.  I see people doing so many cool things and despise myself for not coming up with it first. I feel like I just a child in this great research game, playing with toys and trying to show others how cool the land of make-believe can be while others putting in the work and the time to really push the world forward.  Maybe I’m old enough to finally put away childish things, but it feels like I’ve clung to this conception of what I want that I don’t realize that no one really cares about it. Like I’ve been living in the sky but it’s the ones down on earth who are sending people to the moon.

I want to stop this.

I will stop this. Stop looking out in the world and seeing what I am missing within. No one is perfect and being like this has done more harm than good.  What I really need it eyes up. Looking forward to the future I want, instead of at the ground commenting on how close I am to always falling.  So if you’ve seen me recently fade in and out of dreaming it’s because of this, these feelings that attempting to bore holes in my heart. This process is revealing and the only thing I can say thank you for showing me my demons because now I can learn to make friends with them.

In An Effort To Fly

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Generalities, I speak and write and think in generalities. I’ve always been much more of an idea and concept type person, never straying too far into the deep to remember the specific details of an event, so that when I miss a number or letter through my negligence or misinterpretation, the concept still holds true. My memory is strong, but I’ve never been one for the minutia of it all, just taking the important stuff and folding it into a database of obscure facts and stories to draw out when the proper situation arises. The problem is that my points aren’t as poignant without these details.  Like the idea that technology is everywhere; if I say that, it’s not really all that hard hitting, but I was to say that the number of smart devices outnumbers humans 2 to 1 and that the year 2020 its projected that number of devices will climb to well over thirty billion. There is more of a sense a sense of something tangible, it’s real to us when the details are given.  It’s complicated. It’s not like I don’t want to remember but it’s like my mind doesn’t want to, it’s never been geared to.  Where was all of this when I was growing up in school.  Why couldn’t they teach me early, or perhaps it’s my fault for not learning. Unfortunately, my chosen profession deals much more with the details as details are everything, and if you can’t remember them, then you won’t make it.

It’s one of those things that makes me wonder if I’m really cut out for all of this.  Try as I might I can’t shake this feeling that I won’t fly when it comes time.  That I might come home empty-handed again, beaten and bruised with no end in sight. What will I do when my wings won’t work for any amount of trying. Again and again, I move them, but if the wind doesn’t’ take me, perhaps all I was made for was the fall. I’m supposed to jump, but with each passing year, I see my ability to do so as diminishing.  It worries me, that all this work will be like ash in my hands toward my dreams, crumbling away to nothing.  My dream could be out of reach, should I just settle and hope for a good life. Will I never be good enough to walk among giants and great men?

These thoughts percolate within me.  I see the gaps in my ability and hope that I can overcome them with effort. I hope my arms are long enough to be able to reach, my legs sturdy enough to carry me, and back large enough to shoulder the burden I place upon myself.

The fear arises, that perhaps when I’m gone there will be nothing left. That I’m just a footnote in someone else’s story. That I will fade into obscurity as a ghost on the wind, felt when around but quickly forgotten.  If I fade from memory, just as one would fade from view, perhaps I am no one, to begin with.  I know that sound’s a bit dramatic, but if no one was around to know you existed, does it mean that you exist in the first place. I feel like exploding, imploding, and fading from view. The only thing keeping me grounded is the mad hope that maybe, just maybe I can actually pull this off. Trick everyone into believing I’m someone worthwhile. Thinking that maybe I could be someone great, and change the world.

I want to fly so bad it keeps me up at night. I practice, work to do so, consumed by my dream and consuming it. Like an ouroboros, it sustains me and will continue to do so until there is nothing of me left.  I will show them resolve, and ferocity like no other. Pushing myself as far as I can go so if I’m not known not as one of those greats I’ll at least be known as a man with the drive and will to pursue something he loved with all of his being until the end because after all, I’m only human and that’s what humans do.

Recording Of Blog Entry

In The Gray City

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Here I am, in the city I was born and raised in,  reflecting on how I feel about this place. I’ve never been one to get overly nostalgic about places and things in my past.  Spaces and the people who inhabit them change, legacies are born, grow and die within them. It might be caused by my the mercurial living arrangement but it’s my home though.. I think I’m going to miss it when it comes time to finally leave it.

This city, Los Angeles, is categorized by many things, it’s identity composed of many different synchronous parts that ebb and flow on any given day.  The identity of which is the amalgamation of all of these parts creating a look and feel beyond just these seemingly clashing identities. Like many major cities, Los Angeles has a distinct feel to it. Sure things change rapidly here because the influx of migrants trying to find their own California Gold but even then, Los Angeles remains itself through all of these changes.

From movies to music, art to history, Los Angeles has many things both visable and invisible.   It’s interesting though, because of how Los Angeles is, were all together and separate at the same time. Driving place to place, seeing things and people pass as of the wheels in the cars turn.  People are always going somewhere, even if the destination isn’t quite yet known.

To me this city is gray, the colors of the cityscape and the people who dwell in it are gray.  This city is marked and marred by the overwhelming cascades of concrete highlighting the functionality of a city built in the twentith century.  It’s a place that has far outgrown it’s intended capacity but continually changes to meet it.  The tendrils of this expansive city stretch out hundreds of blocks in either direction highlighting how different each little section of this whole city can be.  The people all relate mixing a matching to one another, coloring light and dark to make a color that appears at first to be boring but deep down it made up of some of the most exciting colors in the world.

It’s like this, I used to hate the skyline here, with its flat tops and square buildings never really adding a sense of character to the view. As time goes on, I can understand this functional beauty, this uniform madness that cast shadows over the streets during the hot summer days.  We all have systems in dealing with the oppressive heat, the dense traffic, and lack of parking.  Once you get used to it there is a sense that nothing really surprises you anymore. This wild and controlled place is constantly barraging you with things to do, people to see, but plays all these unique characteristics off as just another Saturday night, never making a big deal about anything.

This gray, cool gray, highlights it all.   This cruel and loving city, this exciting and boring place, you’re both beautiful and ugly to me which makes me love you.