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.

Breathe

I don’t know
I don’t know what I should do.
Ripped and torn from direction to direction
My life asunder
Tired each time I wake up
With no easing as the day presses on
So many things
It makes me feel as if everything needs to be done
But nothing really does
Just a swirling
A flowing of an ever growing
I know what I should do
I know what I actually do
And sometimes hope aligns them
Time escapes me
It hopes for me to duplicate
To be two or even three
Maybe then I can get things done
Maybe then I can I can finally catch up
That’s all I want
To finally get my head above water
And see the sky again
And breathe
Like I used to

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.

Aware

I hate it
that you made me aware
I was perfectly content
focused and driven
now
you showed me what I had purposely put aside
it’s not your fault
I should have been more careful
now I am left
with an ache
that I can’t resist
I don’t know if I should thank you
or scorn you for this
it’s on my mind now
I can’t shake it
I am losing my drive
my focus
to this feeling
I will fight it
tooth and nail
until it’s time
but now is not the time
so I hate it.

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.

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I was walking through the night air

Puffing steam with every breath

The only sound around me were my shoes

as they would clap at every step

I needed someone to talk to

but no one was around

so I called out to the moon

and what I found made me frown

She just ignored me

As I missed her gaze

She just ignored me

and I didn’t know who to blame

She so bright and so beautiful

And yet I got no reply

So I called out to the stars

And be it a surprise

No one up there would answer

me or any of my cries

There are so many of you up there

How could this be

So many of you up there

How can’t it be just me

As I walked through the earth and pondered what may have been my mistake

only to come to the realization

My plan was half baked

That is when to a degree,

I knew what ultimately must be

It is I who stood and talked to the sky

But here on earth is where I must try.

It’s Okay To Be Grey

I don’t remember what compelled to take a thread and tie it around my wrists four years ago, but I’ve had them ever since. For me, they are a constant reminder to remain balanced. Left and right hand, black and white band, left is black because it is is the hand that I write with, the one that knows my thoughts and does its deeds. My right is white, because its the one I take action with, that knows my feelings and offers a helping hand.
Ever year, when one of the breaks, I spend the time to consider how my life fairs on the grand scales.  This might seem strange from the outset, but there is a great solace in knowing that I am a mixture of both.

I realize anytime I look down at my wrists is that I am as equally capable of doing good as doing bad, but it is up to me to make a choice as to what I do. Left or right, black or white, wrong or right is the choice I know I must make. I am then the gray, the piece of the puzzle that can see the intricacies of the two decisions at hand. The one who must make a choice and has done the best we can with it.

I don’t think people are made innately for balance, there are some people are more sure-footed than others, but it takes an effort to get to a place where this balance can exist.  Each day we can decide to break with this structure, throw ourselves to one side and hope not to tip the scales too much out of our favor. It takes energy to continue to fight for it and the whole universe is conspiring to bring about the grand entropy of life, to break down the systems we put in place.  Life takes a sense of effort, a sense of work to be able to support it the way we do and yet we throw ourselves into situations that are lopsided, unbalanced because of how it makes us feel.

This world we live in is getting better and better at giving us weights that take away our balance, compelling us to keep weighing ourselves down to compensate.  Forces push us to let go, let our world return to disorder because it’s so much easier not to care and let ourselves lean to one side.  It does this quietly, easily, through the messages of pleasure and avoidance.   There can be too much of a good thing when it starts to take away from us being functional.  It’s a hard line to draw, having fun but also knowing when to sit down and work.

We are all capable of finding balance in our lives, and it’s almost essential if we want to be healthy. It’s a life long struggle, and at times I don’t even realize things are off kilter. I think it’s important to take a second and reevaluate where we are, realize that we are capable of both right and wrong and it’s okay to be somewhere in the middle.

Depression

A cacophony of chemical course through the cords connecting your mind at any one moment.  At a slight imbalance our mood, perceptions, and lifestyle can be irrevocably disrupted.   We find ourselves in an endemic epidemic of the first world.  More than ever are being diagnosed with the potentially fatal condition to which there is no consensus about the proper treatment and cure. This is depression, and it’s a problem.

What you need to know is that depression not fully understood.  The brain remains a large mystery that we are still working to uncover.  It is in some ways believed that depression is linked to certain brain chemicals such as serotonin reuptake in the brain. The lack of serotonin receptors in the hippocampus (the part of the brain which helps regulate mood) making it harder to control negative moods though this is just a working theory.   The question remains why this happens in the first place. It could be life stress, an unfortunate batch of genetics, medication, chronic pain, or chronic disease. There are many other reasons as well, but it’s said that everyone in the modern world is likely to have three bouts of major depression in their lifetime.
How can something that affects so many of us not be understood?

Mental illness such as depression has plagued humanity for as long as we’ve had the words to write about it.  The problem is, the science of psychology is under 150 years old making it a relatively young science, and the biological study of the brain, neuroscience, is even younger than that.  It’s only in the last 50 years that we started to develop the technology to map the living brain.  The ability to pinpoint depression is difficult and to find a singular cause is almost impossible with the knowledge and technology we have today. Each day people are pushing forward towards the understanding depression completely and curing it quickly.

One of the big issues with studying depression and other mental illnesses starts with the diagnosis. The symptoms of depression include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in your activities
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day
  • Feelings restless and agitated, or else very sluggish and slowed down physically or mentally
  • Being tired and without energy
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide

One of the most telling signs I’ve heard is a loss of vibrancy in the world, everything is just clouded by some sort of fog that keeps you in this negative space. From the outset, these symptoms are hard to identify in passing, which makes it even harder for people to get help.   Mostly internal feelings that have to be spoken or they will go unnoticed. This leads to fewer people being diagnosed. You may ask yourself how do you solve a problem that stems from emotions and doesn’t have a common cause?

There are some widely used methods of managing depression.If going to see a Doctor, they may prescribe you antidepressants.  Antidepressants act on the brain to increase the amount of serotonin and other brain chemicals that are diminished during depression.  They do not work immediately but taking the over the course of many days and weeks they can lead to improvement and disappearance of symptoms.  These medicines don’t work forever and should be used in conjunction with other types of therapy.  In the cases of severe depression, they may attempt to use electroconvulsive therapy as a means to reset your brain and the chemical production within.

Other less invasive methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapies concentrate on relieving people of life stressors and working to reframe moods and life events.  They work by allowing people to redefine and re-engage with life in a different way and are useful to finding the linchpins that keep you in this depressed state of mind.  Each different type of therapy comes with a different approach to the problem and finding the method and tactic that works well for you is important because it’s you who has to follow through with the changes.

These types of therapies are by no means miracles cures, they take time and effort but are ultimately still the best way of curing depression over the long hall. Each person needs something different to manage their depression so it’s important to choose the method or methods that works best for them.

I’ve made it no secret that I have experienced some form of depression in my life.  For me it came it came in the guise of a constant feeling of tired and desire to sleep all the time, a feeling of a loss of control over my environment, and feeling negative emotions (sadness, anxiety, feeling numb to life events, and crushing self-doubt) almost continuously.  Depression is not something that happens overnight but is a well you fall into over the course of many days and weeks.  The problem with mental states like these are that they change so slowly we start to accept depression as the new norm without knowing any better.  By the time we realize something may be wrong we are might be in the middle of it. It’s like having flu-like symptoms and not going to the doctor, sure you still might suffer through the flu but if you get help earlier chances are it will be shorter and not as bad in the long run.  By the time I have my second bout with depression I knew the symptoms so it was easier to recognize and make an effort to avoid the worst of it. The problem with depression is at times it takes away the motivation to act upon your life.

Like with all mental illness, there is always a social and personal stigma that people associate with having the condition. A lot of misinformation and lack of understanding has fed that fire.  There are significant efforts to destigmatize, but there is a still a ways to go.   The way I see it, if something is preventing you from being all you can be, and every day you wake up and feel worse about life there may be a problem, and regardless of how you feel about it, you should seek help, because it’s not the ‘you’ of right now but the future ‘you’ who can finally live their life outside of the cloud of depression that will thank you.  It’s okay to ask for help, no one is perfect and that’s okay, your health is more important.

If you or someone you know might be suffering from depression, reach out, sometimes it can mean the difference between life and death.  If you don’t know where you can get help, start with the basics, go to a doctor or trained licensed psychologist for a consultation. If those options are not readily available, consider.
Talk Space or Better Help: These services offer online and mobile messaging of therapists allowing you to get in contact with help at any time of the day.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, thoughts of doing something drastic or know someone who does call the national or a local suicide hotline or visit their website.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line
National Suicide Prevention Website
International Suicide Prevention Website

Depression is not a life sentence, it can be helped, it can be managed, and it can be cured. You have the power, you can make that change, you can beat this. Good Luck.

A Sense of Grace and Happiness

There is something to this world, its strange comings, and goings.  I might be strange to say that I have fallen in love with this world, and things in it.  Every day is a new adventure, some novelty that arises from the ashes of yesterday.  I find myself looking at the sky and its magnificence knowing that in those few moments that I capture in my memory the glorious magnitude of all that I see that the heavens had had never looked quite like that before and will never look that way ever again.

There is a great solace in the world, and its ability to continue moving unimpeded by the minuscule moments that rule our lives.  Its ability to continue to change, I can imagine if the whole universe was ruled by us that time would stop at every moment because someone wished it to never end.  It makes you appreciate the moments you have, and when we take it for granted, we find ourselves on the other side of a bitter regret. Our curse of walking through our collective time with only emphasizes the clock we have hanging above our heads.  People around us are all experiencing time at the same rate, but they started at different places.  Around us we see where we were as well as where we want to be in the eyes of others.  I’ve decided that I want to sit down with the clock, appreciate the time it reads, know that the seconds that tick by are ones I can never get back, so each one becomes more precious than the next.

There is a lot of beauty out there, ones we need to take our time to see. Slowing down for a moment and actually looking into the great void.  There is a hope that we find something to appreciate. Like the cloud in the sky, or just a nice drive to work, a pleasant smile from a perfect stranger. It’s a state mind that we fall into, one that becomes unreceptive of the world around us.  We think of bad things and thats all we begin to see.
I realize that there is a really ridiculous nature to life.  We can explain away life’s events and find out all the reason why things happen, but that won’t change the fact you might be on your way to potentially the most important life event you have ever come across and yet you are stuck going 5 miles per hour on a freeway as the seconds tick away.  How can we not smile and laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation you find yourself.  An easing of our hearts and minds is in order.  To find that peace in the world, that graces that seeps into our sink.  That’s what I want, just to allow myself to be happy.

In the phrase “the world is what you make of it” you can find a particular truth of this happiness, but when I was younger, it meant hat world can be changed into whatever I want it to be.  There is an infinite nature to that idea, the ability to bend the world to yourself.  Anyone who has tried knows that doing so makes the world a hard and frustrating place, where failure is all but guaranteed. As I’ve gained more perspective that it’s changed its meaning to see the world and choose how I should feel about it. We in some parts only in control of ourselves completely so in us that we must change to make us happy.  As long as we are willing, we can feel the grace of the world, and be satisfied with all that is in it. I choose to look up and see the

I choose to look up and see the splendor that the sky has to offer and be happy.