A Warm Umbridaled Feeling Of Nothing

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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.

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.

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.

March Towards Matriculation – Third March – Heavied Breath and Lungs On Fire

 

A setting night, the pounding of shoes against the cold pavement, a hoarse heavied breathing of the lone runner gives life to this quiet night.  Running around that track without an end in sight, just another lap going round and round over and over again. Their breath on fire, bellowing slowly from tired lungs working to sustain their body and keep it from collapsing. Why does the runner keep running? What are they running too? Or what are they running from?

 

It has come with time, a busied schedule that has not allowed me to sit and process these comings and goings, just enough time to do what is placed right out in front of me and that is all.  It’s not a strict weariness that throws me, but a lack of standing to even know where I am or how long I have been running.

It’s of several major events, important tasks, priorities that make my head feel like it’s in a spin, always trying to take in as much air as possible to calm my straining self. It’s even in sleep that I have suffered, jumping from sleeping well because of my accident to sleeping poorly because of the work that had mounted in the interim. Slowly breaking down like I used to but without having regained my full strength to fight the onslaught of these immediate side effects.

That’s not to say that time will not march on, and reality will not continue to move forward.  It is what happens, an inevitability of change that comes with age and progress. It is in that change that a small flame has been born.  Lit by this most recent trip to the school I will be spending my next five year attending. A spark that makes me excited to follow through, to really enjoy the journey, to keep on running. I want to see this journey to the end because I know wherever it lead will be a beautiful sight to behold, I just have to keep at it.

Soon I hope I will like this runner, be able to stop, rest, and take in all of where I’ve gone but until then, all I can keep doing is run, run until my body stops, because at least through running I know I am still alive.

 

March Towards Matriculation – Second March – To March Forward and Look Back

Over the last several weeks I’ve been working towards a degree, a degree which I have spent the better part of the previous two years working to obtain. Through a lot of long sleepless night, stresses, and work I have at least on paper achieved this goal, a Masters degree. It was in looking back though, I find I do not feel satisfied or proud of my ”accomplishments.”

Hindsight is 20/20 but to see clearly is not always a blessing. It was in recollecting in what I have done, the research I proposed that an unsettling feeling set in.  An abject look as the lack of importance or substance to the projects I have creates and carried out.  They seem silly, so unimportant on the grand scale that the rationale for why these things seemed so important to carry precedence in my life has fallen away.  What I am left with is aa lesson in humility and a detailing of a path forward which I will need to change if I want to avoid an unsatisfying future.

To be honest, I feel like a child, but not even a child, like teenage who still engaged in making bad decisions but at least has the wherewithal to understand that these decisions were bad in the first place.  At least a child will give into the silliness, not allow it to bother him, still able to go through life unlimited by the ramifications of the action. It’s in knowing myself and seeing this reflection for the first time that pains me. What have I been doing? Is there anything I should really be proud of at this moment. There is a culmination of experience but with this experience what I see is what I am lacking. I have underestimated the science and overestimated my understanding of it, to which I apologize to the craft.

It’s fear and frustration that fills me. Seeing where I could be if I had been more diligent or had more self-awareness. I see this self, one I seek to avoid, an expert of a craft but a wasted talent doomed to settle for obscurity. It’s so clear to me but each year that passes the path thins, to that of an edge of a knife, which to be had will require adjustment early and swift or throw myself down upon it as the cost of dreaming.

I see the path ahead, the choices and growth reflected behind me. My future is bright, and here I stand on the lessons of yesterday, not wasted but reflected in my journey. As I learn I find I know less and realize more that there is a long way to go. In growing through these experiences, I know what I want, how to get it, and not it’s up to me to make the change to do it.

The Great Wind Down

I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone to say I have been stressed the last several months.  I think it’s been apparent in my writings and my actions outside of them.  Like a candle burning slowly through the night, I feel exhausted now that everything is said and done.  I have finally finished all I have to do before the holidays,  but now that things are over I feel.. well… not as I expected.

Everything is over, sure I have lingering projects that I have to do over the break and my job is still going to be there on Monday but I’m done, I made it through the end of this section. I thought I would be happy, overjoyed at this accomplishment and yet I just feel so… empty about it all.  Like I have been putting so much of myself into this endeavor that when it came time to submit I forgot to put anything back in.

This emptiness has been manifesting itself throughout my everyday. Things like sitting in chairs listlessly staring into the white of the walls around me, sleeping like a madman who found the meaning of his life in dreams,  and a general sense of apathy.  These feelings have been following me for days now, and maybe it’s part of the recovery process, but it bothers me.  For someone who has been depressed multiple times in his life, these symptoms are worrisome, and if they persist I feel like it will spell trouble. I might be overly sensitive to these things but I can tell you being depresses is something to be wary of.

I think this is all part of a great wind down, this recovery from fried nerves, long nights, and so much worrying.  It’s hard to stop after so much frenzied activity, to the point where I am almost more comfortable working at hurried pace than the silence that comes after.  There is no gradual tapering off in this season, it’s just all and then nothing.

It’s in recognizing these feelings that start the process of healing, knowing that it’s okay to be not okay for a little while as my spirit returns to me. These feelings of anxiety and lack of productivity will be fine for some time, as long as they aren’t keeping me from what I enjoy.  That I have to express my frustration and emotions as they come and be content with the things that I have. To know that things will return in time, and I have to keep pushing forward. In recognition, I have the ability to fight against this and rise above.

Today marks the day to start to recover from this crazy rollercoaster I have been on for the last 6 months, which is a coincidence because it is my birthday too. 

Clench.

I feel tense, my whole body feels as though it is still holding on to stress from this application season.  Most of what I need to do is behind me, but I don’t have the feeling of being complete or relaxed. I am stuck holding everything rigid, like a ghost is still there haunting me.

This feeling is like when I used to ride my motorcycle long distances through traffic.  Though it looks like motorcycles taking it easy and passing between cars it just the opposite, during traffic we are most tense. Going in between cars we have to watch for any little indicator of a potential of trouble that is to say it’s hard being invisible when there thousand pound vehicles that wouldn’t think twice to roll over you. It’s after these especially tense trips that I feel it. I would peel my hands off the handlebars of my bike and no matter what I did it would still feel like I was there, riding between the cars.  

I’m trying to let go, relax and feel alright, but I feel like this will be a process of recovery.  I have been going non-stop since the beginning of summer culminating to these past couple weeks.  My body doesn’t even know what to do now that the stress is technically over.  

Maybe I’ll take it easy, but not likely, I am sure after a couple days that feeling of needing to work will come over me again. I just hope that by the time that comes, I will be okay again.

On The Edge Of Uncertainty

There is really no way to know the future for certain. Even within statistics, the study of whether or not something may happen, the probability of certainty will never reach one-hundred percent. Yet we try failingly to see out the world in front of us.
We try and try again to predict, control, and pursue the fixed outcome but in this world, there are too many variables to take in account, too many lives and experiences to know anything honestly for certain.  In this world when we are shrouded in the fog of the future, it easy for us to break down and lose ourselves in all of the unknown.  

I had trouble this week because something that should have been made certain a long time ago was made uncertain for me again.  You see if nothing else I am persistent in my pursuit in higher education so in having gone through this process of applying for schools I should know by now exactly where the best place for me would be. But just like like a mirage in the desert, I saw what would be an oasis give way to only more sand.   I’ve come to this place where I must find my future in a sea of unknowns and yet once again before my eyes it seemed like that I knew evaporated before me.   It’s hard to act when I don’t know where I am going, it’s hard to push forward when I don’t know where forward is.  It was starting to twist my heart and bog me down. It is hard and stressful and I didn’t know where to go.

Now I don’t know if I am lucky or unlucky but I’ve been in these situations before and each time it doesn’t feel any better.  This crippling feeling of unresolved anxiety starts to consume all my thoughts and feelings. I get up in the morning and it’s right there sitting in my chest feeling like the whole world weight is concentrated in my heart. Throughout the day it feels been cast a bleak shade of grey to emphasize the hopelessness I feel.  Finally, at night it stirs in my brain keeping me up only to finally give me some reprieve when I eventually get to sleep.  I’ve realized that the for the most part, the reason all of this is happening is that a decision is left to be made. That through this indecision I freeze up and because I freeze up I stay trapped in this prison of uncertainty.

After much time like this, I was finally able to able to see the light and choose for myself how the path would go. It’s hard because we never know if we are making the right decision, or if we have all the informaiton.  We get trapped in the prospect of something new coming along that may change how we feel about everything.  All it takes is to make a decision about which way to go forward. To know that it’s okay to make a decision and change my mind later. Though I can’t say that all this anxiety and worry is gone, I can say that I am moving forward in a way that works and is functional.

I think what kills us about this uncertainty is that standing on the edge keeps us stuck between places.  This life in-between doesn’t work because we dont know where to go. It’s like dangling our feet off a cliff, the fear comes from what might happen and not what is happening. Sometimes just making a decision to jump to the waters below will allow us to be free of this suffering, instead of always worrying about whether or not we will fall in the first place.

A little bit of failure.

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It’s finally come, the moment where the cascade of everything that was slowly stacking up finally came made me lose something. Now, it’s partially due to a series of unfortunate events that led to the personal failure that in some way may have been avoided if only I had taken a moment to consider the world.  In having already reflected on these events what I come away with is something different than I thought I would in the first place. A sense of understanding and realization of maturity in myself.

Some things can’t be avoided, but most things can be tracked back with the realization that it’s usually a set of multiple failures that go unheeded before things like this happen. For me, it was just a bit of consideration.  I keep my most of my life pretty prepared for the inevitable unexpected things that may happen to me.  This is shown best through the weight of the bag I carry with me through my day-to-day.  It’s heavy, full of all things I may or may not need during the course of my day.  This preparation is something I am going to reflect on another time but for this moment, that preparation and routine broke down.  I had been rushing from the moment I woke up because of the fact that I had woken up late and was practically running the rest of the day.  In an attempt to be productive and feel on top of things I decided to upgrade my personal computer while at work, something I’ve never done. This lead to my computer crashing and ultimately losing a months worth of work.  I didn’t remind people enough about running the study in my lab so I ended up having to fill in missing a lecture I wanted to hear.  I spent about 5 hours dealing with the problem with my computer ultimately settling on the only option of resetting everything and starting over from a back up I had made a month ago. This back up should have been more recent but because I decided not to back up before I upgraded, I lost.

I never got mad though, a little exasperated by dominoes falling into place as they did but I felt like I handled it well. I just did what I needed to do and kept moving forward.  The final straw with all the loss of time and files came with an application I was supposed to submit the next day. Of all my time in Graduate School, I’ve managed to claw together everything I’ve needed, maybe sometimes at the last second but it’s always has worked out. This time though, this time I couldn’t scrape by. I wrote and wrote but by I realized several hours before it was due that I had to make a choice. Turn something I was not proud of and blow off some of my other responsibilities or admit defeat. and continue forward.  This time I conceded.  It’s not something I’m proud of but it was necessary I feel for my growth.  I push myself and have reached the limit not of what I can do with talents but with time.  I have too much going on and not enough time to do everything.  This means, something’s got to give and I don’t choose for myself, then my choices will be made for me.  It’s hard for someone who wants to do everything because if I had the ability to I would but I can’t so choices have to be made. Kind of like triage, save what is savable, do what’s important and try all that you might to use the hours that we have to accomplish the things that we need.  Failure is part of that growth.  It allows me to see that there see where I still need to keep going.  I think it’s gonna come to a head soon I think, me or it. Perhaps a month from now we will see who wins and where we will go from there but until then, I’ll keep moving forward.

 

A Quiet Moment Of Car and Clouds

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Earlier this week the road was closed as I was headed to school.  Normally these types of moments would call for freaking out, getting frustrated, and with me patiently waiting for the traffic to push on.  I felt really good though, at that moment, serene to the point where I couldn’t really explain it.  A Los Angeles morning covered in magnificent clouds kept me feeling like I was exactly where I should have been.  Instead of sitting in stop and go traffic I hit the streets, curved my way across a city I had never seen. Drove down roads I had never been.  A small adventure all before 8am. I ended up getting to school when I needed to, but it left me with this feeling.  Serenity, peace, and above all else a sense of happiness.

It’s hard to put my finger on it, exactly what it is I needed that morning to make me feel that so at ease.  I know that it gave me a sense of clarity about exactly what I should be doing with my life.  I like staring at clouds, ones high in the sky that look like ancient civilizations that are returning to ruin.  I like a quiet morning where everything seems to be still and sleeping.  I like a thousand things, some I don’t even realize, but it’s these small things that break up this crazy life I lead. It’s these small things that really show me that it doesn’t take much to be happy.

I know it sounds a bit strange because it is, why would these things really change my outlook on life, especially in the stress-filled existence I have recently been privy to.  The answer is, I don’t know.  Sometimes it’s something that just makes sense to us at the moment.  A thing that is so beautiful we are forced to stop and look.  We all have these things, that fill us with awe and make us realize that the world is both incredibly large and infinitely small.

I wish I could ride on clouds, climbing the mountains of white serenity.  I wish we could all just take a moment to imagine what it would be like play upon the bluffs of the great clouds above.  For now, I’ll just appreciate them from the window of my car and dream about the adventure I have yet to come.