The memory of days and nights over the longest weeks of my life – Part 2

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The memory of days and nights over the longest weeks of my life – Part 1

“Keep an open mind and open heart, you are here to attack the problem” I told myself. There I found myself once again on the other side of the screen waiting for this cataclysm to be lifted. For me to take the pain and the punishment that needed to be dished out as was a natural part of the learning process. It was there though, staring at me with its red eye that I knew this was no longer ab,out listening and understanding, this was about commanding and accusing. I sat there, listening until there was nothing left to say, and talking when words needed to be spoken but no more. The sentencing for my supposed crimes came crashing down and washed over me. These words were fatalistic, having already given up the hope of a future, or the respect once held.

No sooner had it started did it finish, but this time, these words left me not in a place of sadness and despair, but utter fru, station. A fuse was lit as the arguments and comments made echoed through my mind. What was clear is that this wasn’t over, but I didn’t know where to go. After it all, I sat there on my front porch calling the people I knew I could trust, trying to figure out what my next steps were.

The long days and long nights continued with finals making it all the worse. My eyes continue to burn as I pieced together all I could to make my life work. Even when the weekend hit, if I wasn’t resting I was working trying to find shelter in this hailstorm. I found solace in the voices of my friends but the music of the night was one of discord and difficulty. Those late-nigh,t hours were there for contemplating my circumstances, and that early morning sun to question my existence.

By the time Monday hit, I was ready for what was to come and what I had to do. It was in those moments that the final piece of validation came through, that all of this pain and anguish was not the result of a normal sequence of events but from a downpour of extracurricular madness. I spent the next few days organizing myself, working, and steeling myself for what might come. Tests and papers kept me busy, and life kept moving. Soon enough the day had come for a second reckoning, a moment to face the music once more. I walked in there the best I could, as brave as I could because I found my reason to keep on fighting.

Life hardly ever gives us clear cut beginnings or ends, and though things continue beyond when we would like what is important is finding the reasons to keep moving forward. I can’t say that I’ve recovered fully from my experiences or that they are truly over but I can say that I will keep fighting. Lessons are not always easy but with an open mind they will never be wasted.

Here are to the long days and nights to come, and the fighting spirit we all hold inside.

The Amorphous Day

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Days and nights move through the sky as if they are both everything and nothing. Time itself may keep its count has become meaningless against the amorphous quarantine period. Dates fly by but hours take forever to pass, I am never sure where I should be or how I should feel through it all, but all I know is that muddle mixture of emotions have meaning even if the world seems to be falling apart around us.

It, in a way, reminds me of how time passes used to pass in videogames when I was younger. Days and night seemed to blend, and events and happenings would change depending on the sun, but the protagonists never cared whether it was day or night just that they were moving forward.

It’s been hard, I’ve sorted through my own troubles in this time we are all stuck inside. Needing to work through those moments and memories that I’ve hadn’t had time for. Work keeps me busy and stressed, though, at times, my body and mind fail me at the altar of the screen.  I think the answers to most of my questions is I don’t know, and maybe eventually.

It’s given me time to reflect more on what I see for myself in the future. The ways I want to go forward and be treated. What I should expect from the world and how I should go about pursuing it. It’s a quiet existence until I fill with thoughts and music.

It doesn’t help that I am tired all the time, though the occasional sun does help. I sit waiting for the world to pass me by moving forward slowly and surely until I can get enough done so that I can say that I am proud of myself and go to sleep.

I do appreciate all those voices I hear over the phone. Those sounds keep me sane when stuck at home away from it all.

I am fighting back, fighting back against all that craziness. I fight against the formless days and nights. Those thoughts of letting myself drift away into the abyss, hoping to return once this is all said and done. We must fight together, holding each other accountable and giving support so that when things are finished,and we can return, we know we still have the foundation of ourselves and our network to rely on.

I will keep this brief, as the day has taken a lot out of me. It may not be over, and the darkness still lingers, but we together can make this work. It’s who we say we want to be in this time that matters. How do I want to look back at myself and remember this time, stuck at home? Will I be the one who lost to the amorphous days or one who made something out of them.

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.

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.

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.

My Ugly and Beautiful Daughter

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Princess Mononoke – Hayao Miyazaki

I have these moments, these wonderfully terrible and beautiful moments being crushed by the humility of my weaknesses. It’s when I am tired that it becomes more apparent, when everything taught simply refuses to be retained. These fantastically tragic thoughts lead to one amazingly cataclysmic conclusion, one I come to often. I am simply human.

I’ve talked about this before, this empowerment of being human. It’s the knowledge of the human legacy that gives us strength. We stand on the shoulders of giants but we ourselves all have the makings of a human colossus. This time though, I can see the amazingness of those around me, feeling the strain of their strength against my inability and weakness. It’s bittersweet but motivating as part of me needs to do tough things, things no one thinks possible, all so I know anyone can. I’m not special in design or function. I am a bit strange in operation, but outside of my experiences, I really am like anyone else.  That’s why the power I give in the words of advice is not talking in any way to distance myself or make it seems that I stand above. No, it’s the simple fact that I want people realize too that this idiotic smart person managed to stumble his way through life and found an answer on the other side. An answer which given may at the allow you to struggle much less than I have.

It’s in this constant contradiction of wanting to both eviscerate myself and all that I am and desiring unrefutable immortality that life’s absurdity and our place within it become perfectly crystal clear. The looking for purpose but living in an uncaring universe, divining of our own lives but being tied inexplicably to the forces beyond our control. The culmination of all things and thoughts up to this point have happened before and are purely original. When accepting these things that I find peace within our humanity. The struggle of those who are much greater than I could ever be fighting against this constant onslaught of unknown chaos, edging out a sense of peace and order in this crazy world we live. It’s these unceremonious baby steps that allow us to make large leaps. These conversations that only a few experience that send waves through history. It’s the quiet moments that pass by that resonate within our soul, allowing for the cacophony of spirit to arise.

It’s the existence of the duality of man, the ability to be capable of all things that drives me. We are peace and destruction. We are savior and sinner. Within all of us lies that history of all things and a blank slate to begin anew.  We can be anything, darkness, and light. It’s then our choice as to which side of the coin, which hand to extend. Our lives are long, and millions of choices are made, each one with the opportunity for any answer. We are all human, and there is nothing simple about it, but there can be simplicity within it. This brings me peace as it means all of us are capable of anything and nothing at all.

Home (Bitter)Sweet Home

3 weeks, I was given 3 weeks to make good all on all the things I left behind. So for those few precious weeks, I haven’t stopped, not even for a moment, trying to jam in all that I can so that by the time I return home to DC, I feel full enough to make it those next several months without all their presence. From the moment I touched down, I have kept moving, to the point of tire, to the point that my eyes burn and my head’s gone fuzzy, sprinting, trying reach, touch, and hold onto anything and everything I have so longingly missed in my days across this vast land. It’s my days, counting them down like the New Years’ clock, moving desperately to try to hold off that zero-hour tic before the clock resets and, I start again.

I only have a limited time left here, cobbling together all that I can do, filling days with people, and unfortunately not a lot of work. Each day moving so quickly that it feels as if days are racing to the end along with me. A feeling emerged that this trip is both too long and too short.  That I am always counting down the moments, knowing that there is not enough time to settle myself, especially with no room to return to or a familiar place to lay my head. It’s been trying, both emotionally and physically, though I hope to find solace and closure within it. Ending the strife and getting the answers regardless of how hard it might be to hear them.

All in all, I am happy to be home but I just never realized how hard it could be to return. I’m battling time and emotions, but it’s a learning process, doing something that I have never done before. Never time will be easier as progress is made, and routine is established.

Soon I will go back to my home in DC. Reiterating that I have no problems with where I live now, in some ways I rather do like the space. It’s been hard, though, transition, as leaving the familiar, is no easy task.  Even then, I recognize that part of me was left here, under the grey and clouded sky of Los Angeles, a part left unresolved and wanting.  That’s what I am here to clear up so that when I go back I feel like it will be different, easier. The space will be more familiar as more who I am transitions with me. I am not starting from scratch anymore, I have friends and spaces I know to belong. More of me will go, and less will stay, but that’s life, and it keeps moving along with me.

For now, I will keep racing the clock, filling my time and making the most of the moments I have while I’m here no matter how hard they may become.

Happy New Year.