WORDS, MY ETERNAL STRUGGLE WITH LANGUAGE:​ Revisited 3

I never really know what’s going to come out when I sit down to a page. I might have an idea about what I want to touch on but the words themselves only appear once I am sitting in front of my keyboard typing.

I have been thinking about this type of chaotic flow that bursts forth, this stream of conscious type of writing. While it has its benefits I find that the flow and quality of the post are lacking in some ways because of it. Without this plan, it sometimes feels like I’m stitching together an elaborate asynchronous quilt hoping that at the end of the day whatever comes out is coherent.

This form of writing stems from this frustration of not being able to put what I am thinking down on a page.  Regardless of how much I plan, there is a strange disconnect between my brain and my hands preventing the perfect prose from pouring out.  The compromise I’ve come to is that if my thoughts happen at the exact moment of my writing then there is no way I can mess it up.

I think the progress I have made in the last several years because of this method is evident in the way I put these words together but I feel like there’s another step I need to take. I want for my words to flow into sentences, which flow into paragraphs, which flow into one cohesive story.  A unit that is greater than the sum of its parts. This would require more planning and forethought I have been putting into my posts, what it will require is more time than I have at the moment. What it will require is me planning and preparing for this each week so that I can progress. I want this because if I continue to practice I may be able to go from a decent writer to a good one. One that people look forward to reading.

Ultimately, I’ve taken this year and used this blog as a means to cope and contend with the struggles brought on by going back to school. I’ve filled posts thoughts and feelings about this process in return, this blog has provided me with a sense of solace and grounding. I want to expand its reach, overcome these challenges growing week by week until I am where I want to be.  It’s this slow process that ultimately brings change, and change is what I need. At the end of the day I’m just an inquisitve piglet so thank you for sticking it out with me another year, I promise this next one will be even better.

Here is a link to my previous posts, I went back to read them and I am happy to see my progress over these last three years.
Year One | Year Two | Year Three

Clench.

I feel tense, my whole body feels as though it is still holding on to stress from this application season.  Most of what I need to do is behind me, but I don’t have the feeling of being complete or relaxed. I am stuck holding everything rigid, like a ghost is still there haunting me.

This feeling is like when I used to ride my motorcycle long distances through traffic.  Though it looks like motorcycles taking it easy and passing between cars it just the opposite, during traffic we are most tense. Going in between cars we have to watch for any little indicator of a potential of trouble that is to say it’s hard being invisible when there thousand pound vehicles that wouldn’t think twice to roll over you. It’s after these especially tense trips that I feel it. I would peel my hands off the handlebars of my bike and no matter what I did it would still feel like I was there, riding between the cars.  

I’m trying to let go, relax and feel alright, but I feel like this will be a process of recovery.  I have been going non-stop since the beginning of summer culminating to these past couple weeks.  My body doesn’t even know what to do now that the stress is technically over.  

Maybe I’ll take it easy, but not likely, I am sure after a couple days that feeling of needing to work will come over me again. I just hope that by the time that comes, I will be okay again.

On The Edge Of Uncertainty

There is really no way to know the future for certain. Even within statistics, the study of whether or not something may happen, the probability of certainty will never reach one-hundred percent. Yet we try failingly to see out the world in front of us.
We try and try again to predict, control, and pursue the fixed outcome but in this world, there are too many variables to take in account, too many lives and experiences to know anything honestly for certain.  In this world when we are shrouded in the fog of the future, it easy for us to break down and lose ourselves in all of the unknown.  

I had trouble this week because something that should have been made certain a long time ago was made uncertain for me again.  You see if nothing else I am persistent in my pursuit in higher education so in having gone through this process of applying for schools I should know by now exactly where the best place for me would be. But just like like a mirage in the desert, I saw what would be an oasis give way to only more sand.   I’ve come to this place where I must find my future in a sea of unknowns and yet once again before my eyes it seemed like that I knew evaporated before me.   It’s hard to act when I don’t know where I am going, it’s hard to push forward when I don’t know where forward is.  It was starting to twist my heart and bog me down. It is hard and stressful and I didn’t know where to go.

Now I don’t know if I am lucky or unlucky but I’ve been in these situations before and each time it doesn’t feel any better.  This crippling feeling of unresolved anxiety starts to consume all my thoughts and feelings. I get up in the morning and it’s right there sitting in my chest feeling like the whole world weight is concentrated in my heart. Throughout the day it feels been cast a bleak shade of grey to emphasize the hopelessness I feel.  Finally, at night it stirs in my brain keeping me up only to finally give me some reprieve when I eventually get to sleep.  I’ve realized that the for the most part, the reason all of this is happening is that a decision is left to be made. That through this indecision I freeze up and because I freeze up I stay trapped in this prison of uncertainty.

After much time like this, I was finally able to able to see the light and choose for myself how the path would go. It’s hard because we never know if we are making the right decision, or if we have all the informaiton.  We get trapped in the prospect of something new coming along that may change how we feel about everything.  All it takes is to make a decision about which way to go forward. To know that it’s okay to make a decision and change my mind later. Though I can’t say that all this anxiety and worry is gone, I can say that I am moving forward in a way that works and is functional.

I think what kills us about this uncertainty is that standing on the edge keeps us stuck between places.  This life in-between doesn’t work because we dont know where to go. It’s like dangling our feet off a cliff, the fear comes from what might happen and not what is happening. Sometimes just making a decision to jump to the waters below will allow us to be free of this suffering, instead of always worrying about whether or not we will fall in the first place.

Drowning In The Storm

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There is a sense of unease, too many I don’t knows, a perfect dash of insecurity, and a lot of bad experience to create this perfect storm that’s raging through my life right now.  It’s got me held up, frozen in place with no end in sight. Hunkered down, I’m scared of this storm and the destruction it may bring as I hope these walls I’ve built will be strong enough to weather the winds and the rains.  I am trying to hold myself together but I can’t, it feels like I’m coming apart at the seams, not even able to cry out this frustration I feel.  My hands are failing, my head if failing, I try to carry on, but I fold back into myself with every step. I try to collect that power within that I have been honing the last several years, but there is a scar there, a scar that has built up over many years of perceived personal failure.  This fear of failing again holds on tight as I ponder what that failure would mean.  I know it’s not fair to myself that I spend so much time worrying about what may never come to pass, but experience has got me trained on the idea that maybe all I am striving for won’t become anything. This part of me feels that I am not specific enough about what I want so I can never obtain it, that I am not worthy of it because there are so many better candidates for the position.  I worry because I see myself in the mirror sabotaging my future, destroying the very opportunity I am trying to create.  Part of me doesn’t want to know, it just wants to sleep until it’s all over with, push off this burden until this insanity ends, but I know it won’t, not unless I give up my dreams.

I keep coming back to this story, one I have told a lot recently as more as a funny anecdote from my life than anything really substantial.  This is back when I used to ride a motorcycle.   During the cold dark nights of the winter months, I use to drive from my parent’s house back to college in the early hours of the morning much to the chagrin of my mother.  There was this freeway I would ride on my way back that was a perfect kind of empty that time of night. With is more than a gentle slope, it would be the perfect place to pick up speed.  At times I would ride down that hill quickly accelerating, opening up the throttle to see how far it would go. Sixty, seventy, eighty the speedometer would quickly rise until I would hit speeds of well over a one-hundred miles per hour.  When you get to that speed on a motorcycle all you can really think of is, if I fell now, chances are I would die.  Nothing frightening about it, in some ways calming for all the wrong reasons as this was just the fact of things as I whizzed by, some kind of truth that gave kept me in the moment.  A thought that made all the other thoughts disappear because that’s all there was, just a fact.

I am missing that clarity, that straightforward feeling.  I just don’t know, and yet I have to push forward somehow.  It bothers me because I don’t want to be stuck in a place I know I won’t be happy but what does that mean for the alternative. I feel like I am slowly breaking down, dissolving piece by piece wanting to destroy this world around me and myself to give this pain I feel in my heart a physical presence.  I wish it were just a cut or a bruise, something that I can point to and see but this pain is permeating through to my core, unreachable and untouchable sitting deep with my chest making my whole body ache. It feels like I’m underwater gasping for air, with this burning in my lungs as I slowly lose the the air I need.  The piles of water above pushing me further into the deep, and all I want to reach the surface and see the sun.  I keep swimming as a way of fighting through just like I fight through everything else.   I know things will be okay in the end if I keep pushing to reach the surface, but it’s just hard to feel that way right now.

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.