My Father’s Hands

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My hands are becoming like my father’s hands. I’ve been looking at them as I have aged and they have had these lines I always admired, the veins and creases have started to show up. There is a significant difference though, between us, his hands are worn and beaten from years of work.  They are darker and rougher than mine from all the years out in the sun.  I have watched his hands all my life, and sometimes wonder what it would take for my hands to become like his.

There was a lot to them, a complexity that they seemed to both be visible but invisible. A hidden modesty of hard work.  I remember, they were always big and in watching him type away at the keys of a keyboard that always felt a little too small for his ideas. There were like magic, making all that hard work and long hours look like a walk in the park.

Now I sit in the car, hands on the steering wheel and can catch a glimpse of you, of all those hours we spent in the car, hot or cold with your hands on the wheel driving us both place to place. I remember the summers with the windows wide open, hoping to flush out the heat of the season, driving along the highway listening to news or music.  Hours of time that we couldn’t avoid but neither of us complained about the company.
I remember your hand in the winter, which stayed warm from all those years of having to fight back the cold while I was bundled up and whined being able to see my breath.

Large hands made to hold many things, mainly the responsibility of raising two stubborn kids who couldn’t seem to get along.  They were both the peace maker and the hands of logic and reason. I remember them because they were always cast out in aid, hands made to help others before they helped themselves.

I look at my hands, and I see a bit of you, my hands don’t hold as much, are not as worn or beaten, but in some ways, I hope they will be because I’ve always wanted to have hands just like yours.

Mind Melt

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There it is again.
That nagging voice telling me that I am not doing enough, that I’m not good enough, that I will amount to nothing.  I am so tired of it constantly whispering into my ear these insecurities that I can’t seem to part with at the moment.  I know I’m not alone but I think it’s the consequence of feeling like time is running out, and in the life lottery I might not be a winner. I keep buying these tickets, tickets to hope or future, betting on both chance and my unique abilities to show out at the end of the day but I can’t tell the future, and my numbers don’t feel like they are coming up.  I see the world moving and look myself up and down in the mirror and see stagnation and hesitation. It’s aggravating, but all I can blame is myself.

I know I am lucky, I have the opportunity given to me by the sacrifices of others and myself but each story I come across make me feel like everything I do is merely a half measure.  The desire to pour myself solely into one flask to capture my wide away of interests is missing and all I am left with as many unfilled glasses that are unappealing. The idea of a jack of all trade just seems out of place in the world of specialists.

I want to rise up to the top, make a difference and yet these small voices in my mind seem determined to win this war not by combat but by attrition.  I am tired, each day I awake.  Half energy for a full day doesn’t make for a productive time as I try to navigate my surroundings and make the most of my life.  Maybe I need sleep, and I don’t have time. Maybe I need variety, but I don’t have money. Maybe I need… no, what I need is more discipline, more spirit, more determination.

I am worried I am not made up of the stuff that would make me one of the greats. I am afraid I am not cut out for making a difference. But I can not worry any longer I need to act and act and act.  To do rather than sit, to decide rather than hesitate.  I will find what I need, and if it’s not there, then I will create it. I will have trouble, I will fall, but I will get back up again. I can do it because you know what I am just human and that’s enough. I might not be made of any special stuff, but the stuff I got is good enough. Anyone can be great with enough practice. Excellence is what we do, as so our life prospects do not come from out ability but our actions and our habits.  I will make this world a better place. I will leave my mark. I will find and help everyone I can, and if that goal seems too big for one person then I will grow as strong as two and if that’s not enough then I will look to my neighbor and ask for his help because we live in a world of infinite possibilities and I don’t have enough time to listen to the little voice that keeps telling me that I am not good enough.

Duality: The Search For Meaning

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Meaning is derived from what we believe, from our own values and the values of the society at large.  It’s it is born within and manifests itself through our emotions, are a desire to both create and preserve.  There are some things that hold intrinsic value to them, old photographs, mementos, objects in our lives that matter to us.  Where it gets a bit confusing is when you must choose to give something value that would typically not hold any value at all.  Old toys can be given away and thrown out if there is no intrinsic connection or meaning to them anymore. It’s like putting away childish things, the memory then is the thing that may hold a sense of pricelessness to it.  The interesting part is when we put meaning and value into things we can’t hold or touch.  The value of values. They mean nothing unless we choose to believe in them. They carry no weight unless we give weight to them. What does it say then, are they just a figment of our imagined psyche, or something more that comes from within.

I have trouble sometimes with the idea of value.  What is it? Thinking about it plainly, it’s an agreed upon a statute, one that acts like a monument but folds like an illusion.  It is the same idea behind laws. Laws are an accepted set of rules, that we (and the people that came before) have set up to create a society that we feel is fair, and just in its own way.  Laws work then in the interest of those who have the power over them.  Laws though have a consequence, and thus it is born with weight to it. Without the consequence, the law becomes just a set of words upon paper.  Only followed by the people who believe in it. Those who are not afraid of the consequence, or are truly unaware of it have sort of freedom to act beyond it.

This works too with the laws of a community. What is made to be wrong, or taboo is agreed upon, and the community will take its own sort of justice out on those who break it.  Each community will have its own rules that govern it, with its own sense of punishment and reward for those who abide by it.  Even then, if you are unafraid of the consequences or unaware of it, then the rules have no meaning, and you can act beyond it.

It is then, the values you place upon yourself, what you make taboo, or meaningful retains its value because you believe it too.  You associate value with it, and so it is worth protecting. If you break them, you will feel guilty or in some way punish yourself, but if you are unafraid of the consequence or unaware of it, then these values lose all its meaning.  A rule becomes a statement, and something important may just become a motion.  So then, what value does it have, if it can be broken so easily, is there a value to value.

To find meaning in life, sometimes we create it.  We all have different ideas about what should matter, and what shouldn’t.  From person to person, this will change. Varying wildly in degree and circumstance.  It gives our lives motion, a thing to fight for, without these internal laws we are just an existence that heads towards the end without ever trying to get better. Given meaning, there is a constant evolution of what we hold true to ourselves. So should we change our values, according to the laws of community, generation, and society, or hold steadfast to them. Can we be the rock on the shore or are we doomed to be the rock in the river, slowly eroding away as time ticks by?

I honestly don’t know the answer, something deep down inside tells me to believe, and that’s all I got… maybe that’s enough for me.

The World In The Life Of A Guy: Part 5 – Courtesy Conundrum​

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There’s an interesting juxtaposition of being courteous and being modern. Not that I think these two things are opposing each other, but at times they lay on opposite sides of a very fine line. Let me explain.

Growing up, boys are taught to be forward, to go after what they want.  To be gentle, and kind but in some ways more aggressive. To protect and to fight.
It’s in these things where the social dynamics take an interesting turn.  Imagine this, you go out on a date, to for a guy, a lot of the time, it’s engrained in us to pay for the meal. Not a bad thing, or a thing I am complaining about, but something to be very aware of.  If we don’t, we are thought of as cheap or stingy.

It’s just strange to think about, the system or manners have a certain non-contemporary nature to it.  Most of the rules are in assuming a certain power dynamic between men and women.  With the rise of modern feminism, we need to take a brief look into how these manners manifest themselves.

Paying for a meal, now the best suggestion I have heard about this is either to split the bill or whoever does the asking does the paying (now that does lead first dates to usually lean on the guy but that’s a whole other issue).

Asking people out.  Though it falls primarily on the guy, I feel like now is a time where girls can feel comfortable (not that asking someone out for the first time is easy) asking.

Opening the door for people.  A little bit goes a long way, plus, I would be happy for people to open the door for me but maybe that’s just because I am a bit lazy.

Driving people. This goes according to comfort and vehicle.  I feel like this should just go to whoever feels least comfortable about things. Though it can be a good exercise in trust, meeting someone at the location has never been easier.

Not talking about politics or religion. Probably a good idea in general unless tha’ts what both people are bonding over.  Its great to know people and that is always a fun topic to talk about but the conversation has a lot of other places to go too.

Of course, the easy way to go about things is, just to follow the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have done unto you”.  This makes things very simple in the long run and can prove to be an effective way to approach pretty much everyone you come in contact with. Here’s the kicker though, people appreciate when you enact old time courtesies (the appropriate ones).
The difficulty stems from what to do and where in this environment its sometimes hard to gauge how familiar you should be with someone.  Each person is different as is each relationship.  Learning how to navigate it is going to become more complex as time goes on.  I think as long as you go in with good intentions and the other person well being in mind we will do okay.

I don’t think it will make things any less confusing but it will certainly make it so you know exactly where you stand.

Kiznaiver : A Clash To Empathize

I was talking with my dad recently, talking about life and the feeling of being able to go back to school.   The part that I am started to get excited about the most is the fact that I will be surrounded by people who I might be able to connect with in some way. The conversation changed in tone when he told me that life is about finding your people. The people that understand you in some way and that get you.  This phenomenon is kind of a strange concept. A group of people that will understand me in my entirety seems kind of like a funny thought. I had talked about this before, in a way that used an analogy as a tree and its branches signifying how my life stratifies as time goes on reaching out in all sorts of directions. It about that connection, the empathy between two people that really matter.

Now I wanted to write about this for a while, this show I had watched many months ago, it’s called Kiznaiver. This show happened to resonate with me because of the topic that it covered.  The ability to connect people through empathy, now since it was a sci-fi anime its premise was that a group of people had their pain was connected, and through various events, they were forced to come together and understand one another.  Each participant out there struggling to connect with another person in some way but a lot of the time fighting to keep themselves from exposing too much.

It made me think about all of us nowadays.  We are throwing ourselves out into the world using social media and yet the way that the research goes, that it doesn’t make people any happier to do so.  It’s like a shout to be seen but only in a way that there is so little of us is showing at a time.  It’s troublesome because I think it’s these pain nuances that we tend to manicure out of our lives that really allow us to connect.  Though it seems strange, it’s our pain a lot of the time is a glimpse into this part of ourselves that doesn’t see the light of day. It’s touching of the core of who were are so people seek pain to feel real.  The question is if we keep acting this way on our social media, are we hoping our lives will follow the illusion or is it that illusion that sustains our lives. Will we finally be able to connect to one another if we make ourselves like all the celebrities we see or is the good ole’ fashioned way of being present and real with one another the key to living a happy life?

The reason I was talking about finding my people, was because I want to have a chance to connect with people. Sometimes in my day to day, I feel like it’s always I am a fish out of the water, gasping for air, expecting to break. The question is if I act as I do, will I gain the ability to breathe, or perhaps I should find other fish of the sea who might just be a lot more like me. I know when I have found these people in my life, I feel at ease and the suffering for air seems to slip away.  Who knows where all of the people who will impact my life will come from, but I can honestly say, I hope when I find them, I feel at peace because we will know we finally found a kindred soul to connect to.

More Money, More Calculations

Money becomes a huge focus when you seem to have run out of it.  It gets me thinking about the function of money in my life.  I work and I work, then I get paid a certain amount depending on what I put into it.  Now since I work hourly, my time is being bought, hour by hour.  Now that time as a quotient of my day and life is essentially putting a price on both the work that is being done and the person who is doing the work.  Once I have that I start to measure the cost of things in hours rather than dollars because it’s much easier to conceptualize.

Now, take for instance standing in line for lunch, should I go after that sandwich, that will cost me about half an hour, maybe I should pick up those chips, another fifteen minutes, drink will cost me twenty and I can make it a meal for the added cost of ten.  I wish when I came up to the counter they rang me up and said, that will about about an hour and fifteen, but thats usually what I try to do.  It makes me understand how I want to spend my time and money.  Unlimited music a month for one hour of my time, hell yeah!  A nice book, usually runs me about two, same with the interent.  My apartment costs me about 70 hours which is worth it but it does take up a lot of my time. Thats when I get to the problem at I don’t have enough hours to do the things I want to do or I might literally not have enough time.

It’s a strange exchange none the less but I find that there is a great motivation through it. I either find things that will take up less of those figurive hours that I sell or maybe I find that there is more value in the hours I have.  Our goal is to maximize our time output while minimizing the percentage of our time that every day expenses take up.  That way we can reach an equalibium where we feel comfortable with how much time we spend to fuel our lives. That way, we don’t have to worry about about the small things like how much time do I have to work to get a sandwich but think about how many hour we have to work to spend the time on memories, which ultimately are priceless.

The Storyteller

I sit behind this keyboard regularly thinking about the various progressions and places my life goes.  All formatted and written in a way that I hope comes across easy and accessible.  I figure, if I can at least tell you all a story, then maybe it would make what I have to say more bearable.  I’m not a very good storyteller, at least in person I struggle with it.  There is something about proper storytelling that is mystical and enticing to me.  Great storytelling makes you feel what the teller is feeling, see what the teller saw, and understand the story that they are building right in front of you.  It grips you and takes you on a journey, only to put you back to where you were before right at the end.

I think we all experience storytelling, it permeates our lives in the small, telling people about our day, to the large, reliving a major event in our lives.  It’s how we go about getting updates and information about the people around us.

But for me, I always have a hard time with it.  I get bogged down with trying to explain everything, and if I miss something, I’ll go back and correct the record.  I don’t know where to start or end, the rise and fall that feels more like a plateau than the mountain it should be.  I get tripped up by the words and am compelled to go through the every minute and irrelevant detail.  A story people suspect should only be a couple minutes turns into a marathon full of tangential information and excessive need to correct.  The format to which feels more like a report than story, like the telling of facts than an adventure.

I grew up with them though.  The first storyteller in my life was my dad who used to tell me from the bedside, both reading from great books aloud right, and telling bits and pieces from his own life over the years.  There was always something exciting about it, it was then not strange that I picked up listening to others as a habit.  I relish the stories they decide to weave right in front of me.  That’s probably why I also feel so comfortable listening to the background noise of talk of radio and have filled my phone to the brim with podcasts spinning stories and narratives.
It’s just my hope that I can somehow capture the magic storytelling has locked within.  As with all things in my life, its work in progress.  I’ve been told to start with a place and a problem.  Both things that are hard for me, because my problems usually happen over many nights and many places.  It’s hard to pinpoint where there the breakthrough happens, so my stories muddle together and lose its meaning like a trying to transport a puddle with your hands.   It’s something I hope to work at for the future, so when it comes to my turn by to tell my story, people will be happy to listen.

The World In The Life Of A Guy: Part 4 – Hair

In a way to stray from the normally serious and at times heavy nature of this blog I decided to cover something a little bit lighter this month. Hair, and it’s not just because I have beautiful flowing locks of brown/black hair, but its just something that people honestly don’t think about all too often and yet it takes up so much of our lives.

You see, just like for girls, puberty is a very strange time for us.  Other the hormonal cocktail coursing through our veins, hair, and body growth are two things we have to face.  Now growing taller, getting deeper voices was never something I felt self-conscious over, quite the opposite, I enjoyed every second of it.  The hair, on the other hand, was a very different issue.  For guys, hair becomes thicker and more noticeable. This is usually when things start to change depending on your genes and a bit of luck. I still remember vividly when this began to happen.  Changing in a locker room and looking down at my chest to see darker more pronounced hairs take root.  Before I knew it, it was everywhere, and for the most part, I was the only one who had it in spades. It was very strange, and for a while I was a bit embarrassed of it.  Even now, its at times a very funny thing to me.  If I wanted to go through the regular effor to remove it (which I have done with shaving and an attempt with my friends at some amature waxing (don’t ask, and yes it was as painful as it sounds)) it seems as time goes on it gets more difficult and time consuming.  It took a while not to feel uncomfortable with my shirt off, and its not like hollywood is known for having hairy actors.

But that’s not even the half of it. Learning to shave my face at first was a very exciting time, though it was nothing more than peach fuzz, by the time I was a junior in high school I was doing it regularly enough for it to become an inconvenience. This is given the fact that since it comes in patches, its like a jigsaw puzzle of epic purportions hoping the right pieces come together so you can actually make something cool out of it. I was lucky, I had more complete hair than guys my age but it also came with the price of having to shave more. So I grew out a goatee, and like all the other subsequent times I have grown out my facial hair, more guys comment on it then women.  Not to say that it isn’t nice to hear you have nice facial hair from a dude, but it isn’t exactly what I was going for when I decided to stop shaving for a while.  Doing it regularly is bothersome but necessary, but I count the minutes as I take in front of the mirror doing this repeatative task.

Lastly, its always strange, how many different styles of hair guys can have, depending on how the hair on their head compliments the hair on their face. A stereotype is that guy can have one hair style that lasts him a lifetime. Now the current generation has a little bit more fluidity of hair style but the traditional cuts are seen as more professional or clean.   I have to say though it really comes into perspective when there is a chance you could lose your hair, hair becomes very important.  Now, it’s something I have thought about, my dad is partially bald, and no matter how much I look I can never get a definitive answer as to which side of the family tree that gene comes from and to be honest, unless its good news I don’t want to know.  So I take the time to have a variety of different types of hair styles and types to make the most of what I have.  Who knows where it will end up but I realized that embracing what you have is really the way to go.

A lot of our lives are devoted to some form of hair management, and it show when there isn’t a lot of effort we put in.  I know guys don’t take as long or use as much product as girls but there is still there is a lot of hair in being a man, trust me, a little too much sometimes.

embracing the quiet within

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Imagine the scene of sitting out watching clouds and the world on that park bench during a beautiful summer day.  The shade of the tree keeping you nice and cool.  The day is lively, coming and going with life busying itself around you.  How long do you think you can hold that moment?  How long can you just take in the world around you before you have to stop?  It’s been bothering me lately, that I can’t seem to find that peace enough to stop long enough to matter.

I’ve never been one to be able to stay still for long, taking in what I can and busying myself with the goings on in the world.  I might only get a few spare moments that my mind allows me to stop and say that I should just take it all in.  I don’t know if my attention span needs a little work, but I feel like I am not at rest, not letting myself relax. It’s a perpetual movement that drives me to go from task to task for the sake of doing so. I will take the time to capture a moment like a picture, but then I am gone on to the next onto the next one without skipping a beat.

What bothers me most, is that silence seems in some way to be the enemy.  It’s most telling when you are left alone with someone, someone you know, and there is a lull or natural stopping point within the conversation.  I can’t stand that silence, it’s unsettling to me so I fall back to words and conversation breaking what could be a real moment.

I’ve been trying to find that silence, that rest during my day, and yet the time I spend doing it, though only a moment, feels like an eternity.  I think it may be that I am not comfortable sitting with myself.  Not comfortable with allowing myself to stop and to catch my breath.  I try to sit and meditate but the task isn’t one that you can just check off a list, it’s something that requires waiting and patience.  To actually sift through a moment.

Personally, I find my solace in the loud, discordant undertone of life, the constant reminder that the world keeps turning and life keeps moving.  I want to work at embracing the small moments that I have of quiet in my life.  To just sit and ponder without speaking.  To listen without interruption. I think then I might find that I have matured in a way that I embrace life in all of its forms, loud and quiet alike.

So if you could, take a moment and wherever you are and just sit without anything else going on, and see how quiet can be.

Genuine

I don’t know how to express it properly, this feeling about the world.  I find that out there, there are so many ways that people act, ways that are only a shadow of something else, someone else’s purpose and rational.  An act that a merely a motion in a machine of how people believe the world should be or just is.  The process we go to for learning how the world works keep us confined in the way we might have learned to be right.  It keeps us on in a perpetual motion towards and an end goal that we do not understand.  These actions we participate in, do we truly believe in their message or is it just a lesson we are not to question.  This basis for how we act is in direct relation to how to feel within.  So if there is something we do that is so incongruent to what we believe we create a resonance within ourselves, a detachment from our action and have to rationalize behavior we might not even truly understand ourselves.

We subtract the resources of our personality and use it the brick and mortar to build a wall around our hearts.  The problem with a wall is that it is a fixed thing, a settling down in space for the long night ahead.  It becomes hardened, a separate piece from ourselves as we hope to cultivate the fertile land of the being within.  A wall works both ways, though, it might keep the danger out, but it also keeps us in.  The higher the wall that we build, the more labyrinthian we create our protection, the more we isolate ourselves from the outside world.  There then is a sense of irony as we build the wall to keep others out but inside is a quiet hope for people to come in.

We can’t assume that someone will come to break down those barriers, find their way through the labyrinth and finally be able to share in harvest in your heart that you so meticulously sowed.  We have to act, spend time leaving the confines these castle walls and explore the world in a way we feel is right.  We must have the courage to act as at times we feel we must, not worried about how it might look or seem.  To ask the important questions about why these walls are there in the first place.  Our spirit asked not to be confined, so keep those doors open and keep our curiosity strong. One day I hope for the vine and weeds overtake the wall, return it to the earth, allow to see this rich land all around.  A land that we freely wander in our own way, and see with eyes unclouded, it’s beautiful out there, and wall only stands in the way of that.  It’s then we must realize that the only way we can truly be free is to believe in what we do and do what we belive.