A Dreamless Sleep

 

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Isolations – Felicia Chiao

 

The past few weeks I haven’t been able to write, at least not for this blog. Work, homework, work, global pandemic, and more work have kept me from being able to sit down and put words on the page, to spread my thoughts across digital space in any meaningful way.

So what has happened in the course of several weeks deep into a quarantine?

Me sitting at my dining room table, on my computer, having to act as if the world wasn’t falling apart. Seeing fewer and fewer people as the streets become barren, all except those people delivering those much-needed packages to our mandatory hermits. The quiet returning to the city as the people stay situated in their homes. A silent panic that is not communicated in case it may carry the disease along with it. I’ve been watching the world pass by from that chair, day and night as I slowly lose sleep over all the work I’ve been saddled with. Spending my days in a with my eyes burning with no dreams to be found.

I can’t avoid the reality of my situation, but in the same way, I also can’t fully process it. The world is happening but it doesn’t totally fee,l like anything is really moving. Like a world in stasis, waiting for someone to call out surprise, just kidding, it was all just a ruse. But it’s not, none of it is, it’s not some illusion that will be ripped away with time. No, this is real, the damages are real, the people are real, the hurt is real.

I’ve been sitting here, staring at this screen, counting the pixels as the clock strikes 4 and 5am, knowing I should be sleeping but knowing I just can’t. It’s these dreamless nights that I’ve been experiencing because I have not time for dreaming. Life is going too fast and too slow all at once. Nothing is moving but I am still drowning in the work and the things going on. Coming up for air whenever I can but swallowing water just the same. People are scared and for good reason. Not just for themselves but for their family. It hurts, just for me but the people I know, not able to hug or to mend, not able to console or to grieve. It’s not just breaking apart society, it’s breaking apart community and thats the hardest part.

We fight hard against these waves that will keep us away from one another. Soon enough it will all be just a piece, of history we will tell our children. But here I am, at home, for another day, wishing for the world outside, knowing always it can kill me, just a little bit more efficiently this time around.

 

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Shelter In Place – GroundedSpaceMan

It was some time ago, when listening to a podcast about the intricacies of emotion, I came to a deeper understanding of how about how the words shape the experience we have. The ability to describe how we feel goes a long way for how we treat these experiences and the process in how we cope with these experiences.

It’s then I have a word problem, an inability to describe how I feel simply. Maybe it’s because it’s a multitude of many things that are happening right, now but my feelings are stunted and unresolved because of my inability to put my finger on exactly what I am going through.

It mixture, a muddle of things to be honest. A sadness, an unease, an accomplishment, but also a sense nihilism. A confused sort of thing that comes together more like a grey cloud than anything clear cut. I don’t know what to do or what the right thing is, my body and brain are in incongruency trying to get a grip on myself as the world seems to be falling apart. It is then I had wished for the guise of routine to save me from the confusion only to be thrown to the lions, unrooted and left to hoist myself up the best I can.

For now, I used just a place holder of _______, a blank space that will have to do in the meantime as I have to continue moving forward. It doesn’t make the nights easier or the mornings shorter. What it does do is let me acknowledge it exists and to keep moving forward. I may not find the word, but I at least need to spend time healing.

AutoCorrect

 

 

It’s both a strength and a weakness, to look inside oneself and continually tinker with what is found inside. That is because we will never find satiation with whatever configuration we end up on, just a slow and arduous process of trying to make myself more resilient, more efficient, and generally better as a result of continually opening myself to self-improvement and critique, at times though feeling like I need to scrap the whole thing.

It brings up to a couple issues though, continuing to be malleable does lend itself to being able to adapt and change based on my needs for the moment and knowledge I’ve managed to ascertain, still, it doesn’t allow for a strict continuity of self. This leads to problems of identity down the line as I have a hard time knowing who I am, and what exactly makes me… me.

It’s a great question which can’t be answered simply.

As a psychologist, I have to concede these external factors that we constantly contend with will continually contour who we are to ultimately are. There is a sense of automaticity to it, an unknown force that will pull strings to move our arms and legs, leaving us only to make sense of what we’ve done only after we have done it. We defend it so harshly only to come to find no rhyme or reason for our actions or why we spent so much time defending it so fervently.

I found myself here, looking back at my actions, my words as I was dead tired listening to someone else speak. It was the culmination of many conversations that I have had part of in preceding months that surfaced finally in my brain. Moments before I could not tell you what that person was talking about, but everything began to resonate as the words they spoke on a topic I was only half interested became the most engrossing thing in the world. Not for what they were saying but simply because, for that moment, I had a realization about myself, my action, and my history.

I have too many of these moments, which downplays the vibrant and special nature of them. My whole life had come into crystal clear clarity, and moments in memory were highlighting like beaconing these behaviors that I have been doing my whole life. It’s when I finally can see through the fog and smoke that I  understand a new perspective, get away from myself for a moment, and look critically at my actions. It’s taking in that new perspective and see myself and the world from a different place. It feels like expanding.

It’s about choice at the end of the day, to be able to choose which parts of myself to keep and which ones to tinker away. Finding the bright parts of my parents, my friends, and my role models within myself, and taking those unsavory bits and tinker them away into something so much better. I am not perfect but I continue to be better and that quality that makes me, me. The eternal striving.

It’s a pursuit of greater space that I find also the answer to this continuity question with the ever-changing self. I do not matter where their piece of me comes, only that I make them my own as I have them. To move away from the autocorrection in my nature to something much more deliberate in craft and character. To build myself so when the machine runs, it runs smoothly and in the right way.  It’s wanting to move away from allowing things to happen and making them happen. To cut the strings and move on my own, even if automatically, to know it was a choice.

That what it comes down to, that my autocorrect is at least speaking the same language as me, so when I do find fault I know it’s me and not someone else.

A Quiet Courageous Deliberate Distance

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An Excuse to Do Nothing – Pascal Campion

It’s what I want to say that seems to get caught up in my mouth like feet among vines and brambles. A problem that speaks to my apparent lack of the ability to directly speak about anything with anyone. It’s become so problematic that words seem to drop out of sentences and the examples given are only an abstraction of an abstraction. Language seems to be leaving me in such ways that I lose all semblance of what appears to be reasonable and just. It time to reassess this small moment, this difficulty and give myself the opportunity to grow.

I find myself in a pattern of need. One that speaks to a desire to better myself. In the reflection and expansion into this world, I find it troubling as though it seems that there is so much farther to go. As if I require multiple lifetimes to truly understand a single moment of the infinite and the eternal. What is this truth and am I blinding from this reality? There is always room to grow and change with every passing day and I need to take the opportunity afforded by the morning sun to change the path of the oncoming twilight.

A quiet courageous deliberate distance is what I need. To take the words I so hastily speak and transform them instead into ones that are introspective and meaningful. I fill the air to prevent the discomfort with the silence around me which does me no favor as the words them become just a new type of air I have to breathe to survive. To brave the storm and the stressors and cut through both my anxieties and my barriers to seeking what I want instead of what may be easy. It’s to be deliberate about when I speak. Adding value to them with each utterance or abstaining from them otherwise. It’s finding the purpose of each step taken, the weight and drive forward for each action done. It’s to restrict to doing what is then not a grasp into the ever flowing chaos but a reach for the next string in the reality I seek to bring into existence. It’s the need to move back from myself and my circumstances, to be able to look critically at what is going on and determine what I should go from now on. This distance, for which I speak, one which requires me to step back for a moment instead of pushing my way through. To give my self space to consider what those quiet courageous deliberate distances can bring.

I am learning and realizing that again I have so much farther to go. I am seeing myself and rehashing my history and my behavior I see that there are these things that are buried down deep and are hard to reach. That there are things that I haven’t finished or even attempted to fix. I need to spend time to understand how to become better, to find closure, and settle within myself. If I don’t seek this knowledge and face these harder truths I will become fixed and rigid, unable to grow anymore. It’s difficult and uncomfortable but necessary. It all needs to start with the question “why” and ends with the statement “I can do better”.

Its in these times I spend reflecting, 40 days and 40 nights, to bring myself closer and become a better person at the end. The time is an excuse, one made in the pursuit of bitterness.

Get Away From Pain

 

 I’m trying to parse apart the parts of me that are fact and fiction. It’s because I realize how much of what I see is actually just an illusion through a prism filled with many colors.  I want to know what is real and what is imagined so I can guide myself closer to that truth I so seek to find. It’s in the pain of the moment that I realize that the pain I feel, may not be a pain I need or require to move forward. If it’s not what I need, then it is superfluous, as lingers within my head and heart. What does this pain mean, and why does it seems that I seek to surround myself with it over and over again.

It makes me think back to how I used to be. Just a kid who wanted love so badly but was always looking in the wrong places. Wanting in some way to show my devotion, settling on the act of martyrdom and sacrifice that nobody asked for. An empty measure for boy who didn’t care about himself. It was that pain and anguish that I felt comfortable. At least through it all I could scrape by some sort of semblance of worth.

I would throw myself through hell and back, make my heart feel like its been crushed under the weight of the sky, dream and dream until my dreams started to distort my reality. Moments coming and going riding that roller coaster because in my mind that was the way things worked right. The more effort, time, and pain I put into it anything the more likely things will turn my way. I was a fool back then, and it’s in having realized these bad habits that things turned my way.

Old habits die hard though, as lay myself down to feel that pain as proxy for caring. It’s how I deal with these unsettling feelings of the unknown. I feel that pain becomes a place of comfort over the uneasiness and the unknown. An alias for the inability to act but wanting to feel. It’s my tolerance of this pain that is the problem of sorts. It makes me much more willing to put myself through this unnecessary hardship when most people would just let go. Willing to break my hands upon the stone, wanting in some way to break down the walls without weapons or tools. Standing there in the rain, racking my hands against the pavement because at least it’s something.

That’s not to say that there isn’t any merit in the pain. Of course, there is. There are some fights you have to keep pushing through the pain and perceiver until the end. The problem is that at times I don’t know which fights those are. I throw myself headfirst into situations because of wanting and caring that I stick with them for too long. I beat myself bloody because I need to make sense of the effort. Should I let go, let guide me away when I first sense its stings or stick it out and see if there is something on the other side?

It’s my misinterpretation of teachings I received when I was young. That pain was right because if you feel the pain, maybe you can save others from it. This does not mean I should create suffering for myself and disguise it as pain for other people. It’s a process of learning that I am contending with this difference. Determine which situation is which. Learning to treat me better and let myself know when to let go because the pain isn’t worth it. I shouldn’t go through hell because I can tolerate it, I should go through hell only when I know it’s worth it and that’s the difference.

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. Just because it hurts doesn’t mean it’s good.

Lion’s Song

You always told me about the fantasy land I live, that tomorrow reality would come and I would understand. You told me that “Soon you’ll wake up and you’ll be able to feel realities sting and realize what you’ve known from the start but weren’t willing to accept”. Reality doesn’t do what you want just because you want it to, it’s doesn’t warp to our whims or our fancy. That even in being unreasonable and fighting against it, at the end of the day there are some distances you can’t overcome.

You’ve always been more tempered than I, in both action and emotion. Skeptical of what could be because you don’t want to hurt or be hurt. A mechanism that kept you from going to far into the land Oz and Eden, from straying too far without a rope to pull you home. “So much is there!” I always claim, “A world that could be not just the one that is”. You assured me that even if I find something sweet inside doesn’t mean it can be real, at least in the way we want it regardless of how much we try. “What am I to do?” is my question to you “When I can go to fantasy land and find you?”. What am I to do if I want to hold on to that fantasy for one more moment and dream a little longer so that I can see the future I can’t have but want.

Like a dream I don’t want to wake up from, it’s a story of close encounters and missed opportunities. Like to lines growing infinitely close but never to touching. No wonder I want to stay where I am here in this fantasy because, for a moment, I can forget the world and enjoy the time I am left standing with you.

It’s not fair that we can laugh so easily and so often together. That we have fun just by talking and sharing. It’s not fair of all the things that work so well between us that we never get to realize what is so evidently possible. It’s hard to see the strain and reserve in your eyes when you are having so much fun but pull yourself back because you are afraid of being too happy with a dream that, at least for the moment, cannot be.

It’s no fault of anyone, which makes it so hard. It’s the truth that at times when chasing your dreams that you come to realize that the pursuit will tear you away from things you like and love because the world persists not in black and white but shades of uneasy grey. That there are no pure right and wrong choices, and that all things come at a price. That reality is what I can feel so strongly for someone which fate has deemed infinitely unavailable not through means but through circumstance.

So allow me these moments, these fantasies with you for just a little longer. Come dream with me because I know you feel it too. Close your eyes and dream of us because soon the sun will rise and that dream will need to fade.

I wish, and I want to say so much more. To be so unreasonable and try but both of us care too much to let the other go through that sort of pain. At the end of the day, we are still here together, wandering through life like we always have. I might not have all that I want but I still have you. Reality might strip away those rose-colored glasses but it doesn’t change what I see. We are in this thing together even if we can’t be all that we can be.

 

 

Hope, rings, eternal.

 

If I haven’t made it perfectly evident by the continued writings of this blog, life gives us a continued opportunity to reflect on our past and thought about how we want to spend our future.

Almost limitless in the sheer amount of time we can turn from the way our life has been going and turn differently toward a new horizon. It is then on us, the responsibility to rectify these moments and memories which we find ourselves in a state of dissatisfaction. What do these moments mean to us? Where is there value other than teach us to live in a way we would not prefer. 

It is our mind that smooths these processes and makes us satiated by the substandard way we continue to pursue the mounting insanity of monotony. It makes us defend the processes we should then so despise as a way to escape a reality that may have been different if we had made other choices. 

We only progress if we allow these systems that have held up so sweetly for those who had time to buy into the system to fall away for a better way to protect and serve more than ourselves at the cost of ourselves.

A selflessness that pervades to lay down the pursuit of personal hedonistic value and private personal precepts to understand that progression calls for us to examine and be ever vigilant of the problems others face. To move away from scarcity and believe that together we can do more and so we protect that togetherness.

Its in my reflection that I have to reaffirm the values and judgments, not because it’s easy or comfortable, but because it’s necessary. I find this process in some ways cathartic, being able to continue to dismantle my beliefs to ensure that I still have all the pieces to put them back together again. Belief is a powerful thing so I will not take it lightly.

With all these moments, seconds ticking away that indifferent to our existence, we afforded many places to make mistakes and to live the life we so choose. We only break the cycle if we allow ourselves to act differently from how we have previously. It’s in this great fight against the forces of our minds desire continue the patterns we have we have become so accustomed that we can truly grow. The perfecting of the self requires an unceasing willingness to adjust and make better.

I make that promise, like a ring worn upon a finger, that life is a choice made continually and should be lived as such. Each failure a place to learn, each missed opportunity a building block towards understanding the value of life. We are who we think ourselves to be, and our mark is left not by the scars on our bodies but the ability to help the world through action. Our memory can only be maintained by the voice of others and not one spoken by ourselves. Life finds a way, and so shall we.

Road To Recovery: A Reflection On Broken Streets and Highways

It seems as I get older, I have more anniversaries filling up the calendar. More days that have taken on some sort of meaning or symbolism. Deaths, birthdays, marriages, and breakups. All these things begin to fill these seemingly arbitrary dates of the year with represent a life lived.

The reason I think about this is that I’ve been acutely aware of the anniversary of the day I found my self laid out on the concrete. Of the moment I ended up learning more than I wanted to about the processes of our medical system and what it means to be hurt. It’s been almost a year since those moments carved scars onto my body and brain, placed metal on my bones, and began the process of making memories of pain and resilience.

This is what an anniversary means to me, a quiet time to reflect the advancement of a moment in my life that shines out like a beacon on a dark night. A way to categorize and quantify change and progress.  It’s unfortunate that most of these anniversaries are ultimately painted in dark and moody colors. Though that’s what makes the reflection of a spring renewed so stark in its differences.

I learned a lot from all of this. I’ve grown and changed from the experience that no one would readily ask for. My body is healed and moving better than before. My mind has recovered slowly but surely.  It’s through all of the pain that I sitting here, directing my life a new and different way. I now know something that most I hope would never get the chance to know. I was lucky to learn it in a way that didn’t leave me more broken. I find myself thankful for the moments that came after that accident, as they reaffirmed and reformed some fundamental beliefs I had and would have carried with me through all of my days.

It’s in this recollection, this moment in silent thought, that I can appreciate the moments that I now have and experiences that have come from it. It’s been a year away from twisted metal, smells of prosperous, glass, metal, and concrete. I am thankful to have the opportunity to have an anniversary because it ended up not being the end but just the beginning.

A Partially Quantified Life: (Hawthorne) Effecting Myself

 

The journey of self-improvement leads me to this, a task is given then expanded, accountability beyond refutability, what I have begun to do is track, and quantify as many moments of my life as possible.

In the 20th century, with psychology in its infancy so much wanted to be learned about the world and the workforce. Factories and manual labor were at an all-time high and factory owners and managers wanted to boost the efficiency of their workers to maximize the bottom line. Thus began a series of studies to monitor and record how much time it took for workers to complete certain tasks in telephone equipment production facilities. A strange thing occurred though, as the workers were being recorded by these new researchers their productivity went up. Initially thought to be the result of changes in the lighting conditions but when the researchers left so did this new boost in productivity. By simply recording what the workers were doing they become more productive. This was phenomenon was eventually named the Hawthorne Effect.

XXX years late I found myself speaking with my mentor about productivity. The conversation started as he wanted me to start tracking how much time a week I spend working on research as a mechanism to ramp up the productivity in the lab. Now through my struggles as of late it donned on me that I could even take this a step further.  I could track my whole life and how I spend my time to see where my inefficiencies are and why it seems that I can spend hours at work but never get done as much as I would like. Where were these distractions coming from, what was keeping me from fulfilling my purpose? Was I really doing as much as I thought I was doing in the first place?

Information is my tool, my mechanism for work and play but without data, I have no place to start and nothing to learn. I think we all feel that way, we seek out patterns in ourselves and others to understand our world and figure out what makes us happy (or at least figure out what keeps us from hurting). It’s in the investigation of those patterns that we come to a certain truth of which way to live optimally.  I’ve heard about life tracking before but never took the step to actually step into the void and allow myself to see the potentially uncomfortable truth about my life. I’ve been told doing this is akin to eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that I will become aware myself and the unsettling prospect of hours of my life I’ve been wasting. Of course, that is a bit hyperbolic but imagine the insight about these ugly moments of our lives we spend letting us by, making ourselves accountable to them. Those moments we spend scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter knowing full well that we shouldn’t be. Taking all those moments we take to watch, read, work, and play and putting them on a calendar for everyone to see.

These might be extreme measures in some regard as it requires a lot of extra effort to continue to plug away the activities in my life as they are happening but for the potential results I can put up with the extra unease and effort. My hope is that I can be both the researcher and worker in this situation, watching over myself so that I too can increase my productivity. See where I have time and where I don’t.  It will be a learning process but it’s the step I need to take to understand where I can be better. It’s another gaze into the mirror but one I hope will do me some good.