A Tense Stretch

 

 

There are sometimes when you can’t catch a break. That the world requires much from you, and you just can’t seem to give it all it needs.  I’ve found myself here, looking at the horizon both with for tomorrow to come but also dreading the loss of today. Here where my body tenses up with stress, not knowing where I should go.

I intend to keep this post short, having broken my streak in writing because of work and a conference, I need to return to the other tasks laid out for me.  I just find it so hard to do anything, the list of things to do has grown so large that each subsequent item makes my whole body feel as if it’s pushing hard against gravity. A feeling as if the world itself is turning in on me and attempting to make me implode. It’s then that I stall, feel like I can’t do it all, and that is when I know I must act. Must beat these feelings back.

This list has been made worse by life, needing me to take moments away from work. Though it’s my lack of strength to blame, I can’t help feeling like comfort has genuinely become my enemy.  I enjoy it, those moments away, but they make looking back at the multitude that lays before me all the worse. So there I sit, basking in that comfort, ruminating in that stress, building it up to this vicious monster it doesn’t need to be. It’s as large as my fears and as tough as my imagination, how can I defeat something like that? Piece by piece.

I just need to keep moving forward, keep working towards my goal, working to outrun these feelings because soon enough, I will get to a point where I can manage. If not now, I will grow strong enough eventually to make it, but for now, I have to keep moving. Whittling away at it until there is nothing more but rock and rubble. Even the mountains become rocks and rubble when coming in contact with the wind and the sea.

My tense body needs some stretching, my mind needs a break, but I have to keep on working to make it to the end of where I want to be. This tension will end, and I will be stronger for it, but to get there will be harder than I would hope. For now, I will end, knowing that with this, I have done one more thing that I had hoped to do. Good luck out there, we all have our monsters to fight, but as long as we are resilient and accept help, no beast can beat us.

 

 

In Beautiful Discordant Colors

IMG_0881

Regardless of much introspection we do, we will always miss things, things when made obvious make everything start to make sense.

It was a small observation a visiting professor made, a question about the words that I use, which made me think about my life here. It’s a simple us and them problem, words delineating those lines which I feel in my hearts. Their use can be so deliberate and at the same time, sub-conscious that your ticks and mannerisms become tells for something greater. It might not seem substantial when referring to a building on campus as “their” building, but when you know a little bit more about the way we use our words, it can mean a whole lot.

The second lab I was ever apart of was back in my undergrad did just that. They studied words in the context of relationships. How couples speaking to each other became the basis for determining the quality and connection those two people had. It was based on a long literature about word use and how depending on the circumstance can be a good indicator of your feelings. You might think this is obvious, of course, words would be a good indicator for how we are doing, what other way can we so easily express ourselves to another human being other than words.

Then my question is to you, what words are the most telling?

Are they the ones that are positively covered in emotional content, words like love, heartache, sadness, and misery. Sure these words are telling, but they never give you the full picture because by the time you get to them it’s already become clear something may be amiss. No, it’s theses simple words we use on a regular basis that expose us. Us and Them, Ours and Theirs, Me and We.

It’s simple then, among the things I am struggling with is the identity as a student here at this school.  My school. I don’t yet feel like it’s mine. It’s this feeling of being apart as if this place is a collage of many colors, and in adding my own, it becomes discordant. That my piece just doesn’t fit as I don’t know where it is to fit.  It’s being surrounded by people and coated in a kind of personal silence.

I’m trying, I really am. It’s hard not to miss my friends and that place I felt like I belonged. These places haven’t come to me easily, and so maybe I am feeling the burden of being away from it. What price do I have to pay to take place need from me to feel like my own?  What piece of me do I need to give it to save myself from this isolation?  It would be so much easier I didn’t need other people, need that substantial connection. That’s not how we work though, all my wishing will get me nothing except a painful absence in my chest.

It’s a slow and arduous process, so different than what I knew before. I think about this, deliberate as to where my role is in the lives of those people around me. Do I forsake myself to fit in, or do I endure and hope tomorrow shines anew? Is it I who am the strange one?

Things will get better as long as we work for it. I have to believe that or else I would lose hope and give into that despair that waits for me to fall at any given moment.

Fighting Against The Wall Of Inactivity

 

 

It’s a desire to write, one that comes not paired with the muse of what to write about.  Maybe it’s because my emotions are a bit muddled, confused as they have no form or purpose. This always happens, especially when coming off a few busy weeks. My body and are geared up to act but nothing to work towards. My desire gets all twisted, and I can’t figure out what to do with myself. I’ve have been sitting at this screen for hours, and yet the words haven’t been appetizing.

Maybe it’s my mind and body’s way of telling me to rest, to relax for a moment before the next wave comes to shore. I can’t do that, I refuse. There is so much that I still need to do that I haven’t gotten to in the meantime, the things that I want to have done because they are the things that bring me joy, and yet I feel so depleted at weeks end what am I to do.

I try, fight this current, give it form so I can do what I need to get through this. I want to do great things, and great things require action, so I must snap out of this punch drunk state and keep moving forward.

I think there is merit to resisting this urge to curl up in a ball give myself away to this catatonic hedonism. To throw myself at the wall over and over again, knowing at least I tried instead talked about it. It hurts as my mind strains to find the keys and symbols but at least it’s something.

I don’t have many words left, even now I am scraping the bottom of the barrel. Maybe after a nice night and good sleep, they will return to me, but until then, I will just keep writing on my own. To struggle is to live, it’s the only way to find lasting happiness, so now are the moments that will seek to define me in this long and short life of mine.

Will I Get Fat If I Eat Chocolates In My Dreams

You know I have been dreading to write this post, not because It would be especially hard to write but because I knew it would be wouldn’t be on the day I had intended on writing it. It’s been a long few weeks with a lot of classes and work that has taken me away from these essential extracurriculars. This writing is more than an exercise to me now; it’s a way to realign myself and capture my thoughts relegated to the time at which I had them. I feel bad when I don’t post, hence why I left this post blank for a while, as a means of a place holder, to give me no excuse not to write as it would tarnish the consistency of the blog. A work left undone that can only be rectified by finishing it. That being said, the inspiration for this post has come out of the collective struggle of those around me, whose of whom I love and hope the best for.


It’s the spirit of change that brings wanton heartache.  The long nights of unease and restlessness propagate this feeling of not knowing where I belong.  It’s in this realization that most places in this world believe that after a certain age, you are not to be taken care of anymore. Perhaps it’s the truth, that through all this supposed hand holding I am soft to the quality of needing other people, a reluctant truth I fight so hard against. No man is an island, so be it as it may, regardless of whether or not I feel strong enough to go it on my own that with other people, I will prosper.

But it was just so easy last time, a great fortune that with its absence, I feel unprepared. It’s left a hunger, one that has gone for the most part unsatiated in this new world of mine.  This is no fault of the place I find myself but more so the barrier of entry required to be given accessed the sweet social nector that is needed to sustain me is higher than I remember. Walls built in my mind that make reaching out and touching the tangable all the harder. Life is effortful so the experiences I have in it is in large part my responsibility, but the factors for my success are not as easily obtainable this time around.

I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like if I wasn’t able to lean on the relationships, I have cultivated over my lifetime. Talking with familiar faces and hearing nostalgic voices makes me feel that maybe, just maybe I can do this. It has restored me some semblance of normalcy, allowing me to get to work. To be all I can be.  I can tell you how humbling it is to realize how fragile we are, that eventually we will be weathered away to nothing if we don’t allow find protection in the raging storm.  I found a place to rest my head and find my bearings, only taking months of trying to find that balance, knowing full well how easy it would be tip me over and watch me fall.

That’s why it makes me so sad to see the suffering of my friends. Those of whom have embarked on their own journey outside my reach. I cannot cure all the ills of the world for the people I care about but to see them suffering from afar plagues me. Though I love the encroaching presence of technology’s ability to free us from the need of other people’s help, we have lost something though it, that ability to fulfill that human need to connect. Pushing it away like chocolate on a diet, we try to go through our lives seeing the indifference of our personal universes and proclaiming god to be dead the world to be terrible.  Quietness becomes that enemy when a few months prior, it was a trusted friend.   We find then, in introspection, we must be weak because of our inability to cope with this change. Weakness for needing other people. I dare say, that is not weakness, that is human. It is a calling out there that in your heart you want to connect, want to believe, and part of something more.

I tell you, you are not alone in this. You are not the only one feeling that way. We are not the first ones, we won’t be the last ones but together, it gets easier.  We are all hurting, struggling with this transition into a new world, separate from everything we’ve known, and that’s okay, it’s expected.  What we can do, by knowing this we is fight for ourselves, fight to reach out and build a foundation for ourselves and place to weather the storm.

If we need it, we need not wait to get it, we have to get out there and reach for it. We need to act against those little thoughts that tell us not to, that tells us that it’s bothersome to others. We have so many people that have chosen to be in our lives because they want to be.  Worrying about whether or not you should is like wondering if you will get fat by eating chocolate in your dreams, without action, it’s meaningless, who cares what those little thoughts say, what matters is you will be okay and we are all in this together.

Mono No Aware

 

 

“Mono-no aware: the ephemeral nature of life – the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life – knowing that none of it can last…” – Wiki

It’s a melancholy appreciation for the transience of life, the love of the fleetingness of a single moment that, once occurring, can never truly happen again. That people grow, change, and as such, nothing is permanent. It’s a word derived from Japanese culture that speaks in large part to the appreciation that nothing last’s forever. Even their buildings and culture are created around the idea that there is something more than a simple structure, that there is a greater spirit that carries on a legacy even after the wood has warped, or the stone has crumbled. When this happens, there will come a day when a “hello” will be the last “hello” and a “goodbye” will be the last “goodbye”.

We all have knowledge of these things, coming to us from bittersweet memories that cling like spiky seed pods to clothing.  We face these conflicts and decide what we want to do with them as arise. This state of happy it happened but sad it’s over.  It’s so easy to avoid these emotions, to distance ourselves from any given event, to deny the permanence of forward leaping time but the moment will come nonetheless.

There is something beautiful about these ephemeral things. Would clouds be as wonderous if they never changed shape, or snowflake as magnificent if they didn’t melt when landing on your skin? We can appreciate them because we know what it was like before we had them and eventually learn what it’s like when they are gone.

It takes a lot of courage to face these moments head-on, to recognize there will be an end and keep going through the heartache that is likely to come.  A beautiful pain built on the temporary, with each person having to decide whether or not it was worth it in the end.

It’s only in accepting these feelings that we grow and change as people. If we try to hold to something long gone our knuckles will turn white by grasping at air and dust.  It’s not to forget but appreciate that sometimes some things have to end even if we aren’t ready. It’s death and disappearance,  two things we fight so hard against, are inevitable, but in learning to embrace them we glimpse the beautiful bittersweet appreciation of what can happen after.

A Warm Umbridaled Feeling Of Nothing

IMG_0826

It was a memory the spurred this conversation with myself.  A memory fished from far back in my brain, when coping with the disaster of my life led a realization of myself, a realization that still holds true today

It’s a paradox, rationalized over many years, I have a resistance to people touching me and a yearning to be touched.

I think this became apparent in middle school when I was still a very weird kid – wearing jackets into the heat of California summers. If you asked why a kid would do something like that would probably put on some bravado about being able to withstand the heat.  I liked the warmth, the cloth wrapping my body in a gentle embrace, reflecting the heat I generated back at me. In some way, it felt like being held, being saved from the world and all its evils. It was a proxy for touch, a segregate for being hugged, not that I didn’t get attention from my parents but I just became so wrapped up in these walls I built so high that I wanted someone to come in and break them down.

I don’t know what would have changed someone had intervened at that stage but even to this point, you’ll hardly ever see me wearing shorts as they make me feel uncomfortable. I love touch though, at least from the people I feel comfortable enough to touch me. Almost to the point of fetishism, I obsess over it, derive so much meaning out of it, to the point that the meaning becomes so distorted that it doesn’t even resemble the intention behind it.

What does touch feel like to me?  Well if done right, it feels like the moment of creation, where everything comes into being and life is born.  It feels like a transference of soul and sharing of self. Like spring of sweet serenity that washes over me. It’s so singular and yet so poignant, so particularly focused on the beauty of the moment that lasts forever and yet dissipates so quickly. With these feelings so concentrated on the experience of touch, touches that are unwelcome become equally horrendous to an experience.

I am not saying these things are good, I know they are not but it’s where I am at.  With that realization years ago, about the sensitivity of being in my own skin, I found that I needed to change. Acclimate to a space where I don’t place so much emphasis on touch and being touched. I have made progress but have yet to solve the problem.

I am sure in the future I will come much closer to my goal, but for now, I will appreciate that magic touch can bring and use all my strength to make the miraculous ultimately mundane.

A Hope Of Falling Into Wakefulness

A place between sleep and wakefulness, like a walking daydream, nothing seems real enough to shudder me into existence but not outlandish enough to constitute the believability of a dream.  Like a forced existence or conscious stasis, I am yearning for something to animate me once again.

It’s a chronic problem, this apathy for the reality that makes me wander off into different places looking for something I can’t find within myself, interest.  Sometimes I find it in the strangest places, traveling like Alice down the rabbit hole wondering how far I can go before I wake up.

It’s because of that I consider myself a hobbyist.  In the way that I collect hobbies: cooking, baking, folding paper, sewing, drawing, and writing.  It’s all seated in the desire to learn new things. It’s the dabbling, understanding just enough to allow me a peek into a different world that I enjoy. The craving of seeing the world slightly differently than before. A strange addiction to expanding my perspective, one that seems at least on the surface never to run out. It keeps me around at least for a little while, before it’s not enough and a fall back into this place.

I think that’s why I also like the stress of deadlines, it feels somewhat more like I am alive. It’s a bad habit to rely on to keep me going, but it works.  The stress pushes me to move and keeps me awake long enough to feel conscious again.

To be honest, it always feels as if I just falling through the sky, wind brushing past, but the ground never coming. Like a continual stasis, like I could close my eyes and float forever. I wonder what will wake me from this recurrent waking dream and bring me to life once again. What will keep me grounded, and aware What will bring me back home.

 

Aimless

 

 

There has been this growing feeling of unease inside me, these past couple months have felt different than all those years before.  Something has shifted, aside from the accident and the mourning, it feels like something is missing.  This precious fuel source that drove me wild with want and need after all these years seemed to just dissipate after the accident.  Like ease or contentment has made me run on empty, slowed down my gears, made it feel like the tin man whose run out of oil, frozen. I had started to believe it was all because of these changes, but I realize there is something more going on.

Like a person in a field told to throw a ball at a target he can’t see, how can you possibly move forward in a meaningful way if you don’t know where you’re going? I realized recently that I’ve spent so much time on the goal of getting into a Ph.D. program that now that I am there, I have felt a bit aimless. I mean other than the small goals I have what else is driving me forward?

I need to reassess where I am and what I am doing. I have other wants and dreams, but they are much less clear to me. Like my desire to become a professor at a university and do research, but what type of university and where? Or how I want my life to look like after these five short and long years.

With no clear direction, how can I shoot for what I want?

I’ve spent time meditating over this, this idea of what I want and need out of life.  I asked the world to give me something reflect on, to show me the path and listened. Through my experiences, I was given the answer I was looking for.

First, I listened to a man speak about teaching, with much wonder and zeal.  He spoke of giving kids a chance to learn, believing in their ability to become greater than what they initially thought. That resonated with me, gave me a piece of that want I was so looking for.

Second I found myself to words of those around me speaking out about all these opportunities to work beyond the walls of research and educations. The ability to have rhythm and rhyme set by a schedule every day of the week.  These words tied knots in my stomach making me realize that a least, for now, it was not for me.

Lastly, I found myself talking so pleasantly with others about all these questions we still have left in the world, and I become excited and energized about the possibility of answering them. Finding those truths that will enlighten those who need them has always been the thing that empowers me most.

In the end, I did not come away with a clear goal but at least an idea of what I want.

I want to work in academia, researching people and technology. I want to get the chance to teach the next generation and give my passion for the subject to all those who listen. I want to be able to live life flexibly, throwing myself into my project with no time or place needed to contain me.

I wrote smaller goals to myself in place I will always be reminded, knowing full well things will change as time goes on, but for now I have a direction. A target. A place that all the world wants me to go.

A Long And Winding Road

 

 

Its one of those – be careful what you wish for – moments. Where you look back and wonder why your thoughts something would be easier than what it actually is. All signs pointed to me being wrong, but how could I not be blinded by the excitement of learning something new.

I have an anecdote that I end up repeating when explaining what I do and why I sometimes miss the mark in conversations. It comes from an observation made when I spend too long in my in the weeds of my profession.  My world appears to shift, and the things that would be generally seen as abnormal or esoteric become humdrum. It’s like I live existing in a bubble, causing me to care about only was seems to be relevant to that bubble and nothing else.
I didn’t say it was a good thing, it’s merely what happens.
But when talking to other people, outside of work and my field, I can finally see how far I’ve strayed.  It’s a career that requires me to understand both inside and outside of the bubble but in word and in practice are different.

So why bother telling you this, what was it that I wasn’t prepared for? Well, my new program has been dishing heapings of humility. Showing me how much I don’t know about other fields and how tunneled I’ve gotten within own. It’s a good thing, having wanted to experience different things and have a chance at exploring new areas. It’s hard, though, stepping outside of what I know and being a beginner again.  It’ was something I was envious of others for, those who had learned one thing and did another. It’s a different perspective on life and work.

I don’t know exactly how this new knowledge will help me, but I find solitude in Steve Job’s old story about learning calligraphy.  Noting that as long as we are learning and making the most of the lessons, we can never know when you can bring something unexpected and new to the equation. It doesn’t make it not hurt less but it at least it keeps me on the path, one where I can’t see around the end to the next corner but ultimately knows it will end with achieving my dreams.

And So It Begins – The Golden Boy, Now Stateless

Just as a digression before I begin. A few years ago (when I was going through the Ph.D. interview process for the first time) there was a prospect of me moving to Dallas to attend school.  Though this opportunity didn’t end up bearing fruit there was a beautiful thought of being able to name a series of blog posts – The Golden Body in The Lone Star State – which other than being descriptive of both where I’ve been (growing up in California, and it being the Golden State) and where I was going (Texas is the Lone Star State) would have been a catchy title for process of moving away from home and being in a lonely state of mind.  Though reality ultimately it turned out for the better I did hope that wherever state I ended up in had a nice nickname to make a catch title. Low and behold I went to the one place in the United States that doesn’t have a state nickname… because it’s not a state at all, Washington D.C.  Maybe it was the world’s way of telling me that I need to try a bit harder on the naming scheme, but as it stands now, I’m Stateless.


 

 

I’ve been here for almost a month now, trying to find a home in a new place. Transforming these open spaces into homelike traces wanting so much to find where I belong.

All new things take time, the question is how much time should I take.  It’s easy of course when you have a place you’ve established, it’s easy when the reality is that you are only so far away. Everything is so new, and so different but walks around with the false facsimile of something familiar. You know, it’s a lot of effort to have the chance to find where I could possible stand. It has caused me to lay awake at night, unable to find a comfortable place to lay my head, yearning so much for what I’ve known. There is no break from that reality for me, I am here, and they are there. With thousands of miles of land between us, there is no illusion like there is with the sea, that you might just be there on the other side of the waves. Though we can edge that distance, the truth is that you or I can’t cross it completely.

It’s trying to find that place that is comfortable, which is hard for someone who at times doesn’t even like his own skin.  It was easier last time, I had a group of people that I was thrust into on an extremely regular basis, a community already established, and a community of many who wanted to connect just as much as I. Joined by as shared vision brought on by this beautifully temporary space, connecting not only in dream but in heart.

I didn’t need to prove anything to them, I came in with a much-warranted humility that I need to start from scratch. Start building up from where I was, though experiences not learned. I think my two years have given me a slight complex about wanting to show I’ve learned, to prove that I know, and to know that I am respected.  Respect takes time, it’s not handed out like candy but built like cake. Layer by layer. It’s partially because I’m scared that I use this knowledge to defend myself, to make it seem like I am competent and confident when in reality, I don’t know what the next step it. I’m shaking inside, retreating into my head, thankfully I’ve made friends there since last time, so it isn’t too detrimental.

It’s lonesome, though. I thrive when I am known, and here nobody knows me. I can’t say it’s all that bad, people are friendly here, living their lives to the fullest. Going from place to place with a mission and purpose, and all I’m trying to do is find where I fit in all this. Of course, if I would stop thinking and just do, then I would eliminate most of my troubles. If I were to reach out, and make reality what I want it to be, then I wouldn’t have this problem.  I need not regress to this shy person I was before, the one who didn’t know up from down and didn’t understand anyone including himself. Maybe it’s premature for all this talk now, but it’s hard not to the I’ve awake at night wondering where everyone else in the world is.

It’s a bit troubling, but I have to be resilient to myself. Now is the perfect time to become who I want to be and stand firm who I have been.  It’s that belief in myself that I need to renew and learn to power forward. If I am true to myself, then people will naturally gather. There will be some bumps on the road, but this is an excellent chance to reaffirm what I know and grow even more.

I can’t say it’s been easy, but who really want life to be easy. It’s too dull that way anyways.