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.

Hope, rings, eternal.

 

If I haven’t made it perfectly evident by the continued writings of this blog, life gives us a continued opportunity to reflect on our past and thought about how we want to spend our future.

Almost limitless in the sheer amount of time we can turn from the way our life has been going and turn differently toward a new horizon. It is then on us, the responsibility to rectify these moments and memories which we find ourselves in a state of dissatisfaction. What do these moments mean to us? Where is there value other than teach us to live in a way we would not prefer. 

It is our mind that smooths these processes and makes us satiated by the substandard way we continue to pursue the mounting insanity of monotony. It makes us defend the processes we should then so despise as a way to escape a reality that may have been different if we had made other choices. 

We only progress if we allow these systems that have held up so sweetly for those who had time to buy into the system to fall away for a better way to protect and serve more than ourselves at the cost of ourselves.

A selflessness that pervades to lay down the pursuit of personal hedonistic value and private personal precepts to understand that progression calls for us to examine and be ever vigilant of the problems others face. To move away from scarcity and believe that together we can do more and so we protect that togetherness.

Its in my reflection that I have to reaffirm the values and judgments, not because it’s easy or comfortable, but because it’s necessary. I find this process in some ways cathartic, being able to continue to dismantle my beliefs to ensure that I still have all the pieces to put them back together again. Belief is a powerful thing so I will not take it lightly.

With all these moments, seconds ticking away that indifferent to our existence, we afforded many places to make mistakes and to live the life we so choose. We only break the cycle if we allow ourselves to act differently from how we have previously. It’s in this great fight against the forces of our minds desire continue the patterns we have we have become so accustomed that we can truly grow. The perfecting of the self requires an unceasing willingness to adjust and make better.

I make that promise, like a ring worn upon a finger, that life is a choice made continually and should be lived as such. Each failure a place to learn, each missed opportunity a building block towards understanding the value of life. We are who we think ourselves to be, and our mark is left not by the scars on our bodies but the ability to help the world through action. Our memory can only be maintained by the voice of others and not one spoken by ourselves. Life finds a way, and so shall we.

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.

In Beautiful Discordant Colors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Would If I Could

 

“The clouds are beautiful,” I think to myself looking up at that soft blue sky outside my window.  The moment though is brief as my brain can only resist the urge to work for so long before the guilt sets in. It’s sad to me that no matter what I do, I never capture these serene scenes for long enough. My mind prevents loitering on anything for too long, wanting to move on or delve deeper, so the appreciation of a moment is only that, a moment before I find myself moving my personal perpetual motion machine once again.

If it isn’t apparent at this point, I will state it plainly – I am terrible at resting – lingering only long enough for my brain to process and move on to the next thing.  I even tested last night with now avail, listening to some soft music in the darkness of my room only to find I was restless. Even with nothing to do but stare at the ceiling, my brain won’t just stop.  Instead though the desire to try and put a pause on my mind, I end up being filled with the meta-thought, “I just need to relax now.” That’s why sometimes I appreciate those things that make me lose myself for a moment. Those events or objects that have an incredible implicit draw to them that I can’t help but be swayed by their influence. The ones where I lose hours without realizing. Maybe what I need is someone to bash me over the head every so often to let me sit still for a while. Even then though I am sure, I would feel guilty after waking up.

After my accident, I made friends with the thoughts, working in tandem towards a speedy recovery. The thing is, if you thought I was talkative, you should hear my brain. It prattles on nonstop about everything.  It keeps me on task, and remembering all the details but even when I am supposed to stop thinking it keeps going. Maybe that’s just me and how I am built, but it makes me wonder if that is at all healthy. It can’t be good for it to keep running all day nonstop. Though I am sure it has the stamina of a marathon runner at this point, it doesn’t change the fact that it shouldn’t be running marathons all day.

Either way, soon I will be thrown into the thick of it again, working day and night for my dream.  With all this work, I hope I have enough time to stop and rest so that I may not become burnt out from all this effort. Sometimes I wish that my brain would take a break, not for me, but for itself.

 

March Toward Matriculation: Sixth March – A Call For Closure

 

When faced with the dramatic inevitability of monumental change, the necessity for closure becomes tied directly to the ticking of the clock. Life’s scale becomes a tangible, finite figure asking for motion or silence, telling you that whatever happens is in some way, locking itself into a certain state of being. Not that life works that way, but it feels like there is a sort of stasis, a checkpoint reached. It’s when the world takes a picture to capture a moment, a being of self that can look back readily without provocation and not wonder but know where we were during that period of time. Life has an inevitability of change, but as moments pass and memories are made comes the realization that opportunities are fleeting and those we hope but wait to capture fly beyond our reach. It’s then our responsibility to capture these moments when the opportunity arises or forgo them forever coping with the unquenchable curiosity of a question that lives in our hearts.

It’s in this change that I am looking back on the memories that I’ve had, the moments that have shaped my existence with the realization that the things I haven’t done have shaped me just as much as the things I have. I’d like to say that I’ve lived without regret, but that would be untrue in some ways, living without them is so hard, especially when learning to live a proper life. It takes courage and tenacity to do so, traits only tempered in the memories that can so scar us like a moment not captured. Regret may not be the right word, as I have come to terms with these moments, having realized that they are essential to my very present being. No, it’s more like reflecting on an old scar or wound, wondering then if it is possible for them to heal fully without losing what they represent.

Maybe it’s a sense of nostalgia, one that is tugging so tightly against my heartstrings hoping that things would change and wondering where all those moments went. I have found myself dreaming about that time machine that we all envision, one that lets us go back to moments in our lives allowing us to relive them, retry them with the memories and lessons we have learned since then.  To go back to a time with the self that knows better, or at least is stronger than the person we were. We would see anything different with the power of perspective gained from a hard-fought self-awareness? Would we allow ourselves to go farther, stretch out longer, or perhaps utter those words unspoken?

Like an old friend, I walk with these moments in a comfortable silence knowing that though life has passed, and there are somethings lost, there is more ahead than there is behind me. A journey is only as sweet as the challenges we experience needing these bumps and bruises to mark our growth. What hero could ever return home triumphant without overcoming something?  I look back so I can look forward, knowing I will change.  I hold these little questions in my heart, filling it up so that there is already too much in there to let these moments pass me by again.

In the end with Coping or Closure, when given the choice it’s always better to do something than nothing at all.

March Toward Matriculation: Fourth March – Busied Steps On A Windward Path

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It always happens, when the time finally frees up all of a sudden I get busier than before.  Maybe it’s a miscalculation on my part with the amount of work that I’m doing, but Summer and Winter seem to be those times of the year where everything starts to move again.

The problem being it’s a lot like triage, where I have to figure out where the priority should be and what I should be working on any given day. Like trudging through snow, every step is labored, and all I wish I could do is sit down with a sweet drink and relax for a little while.
Progress is slow, but progress is still progress. I mean not to put off anyone, but this is what I get for being so involved, people rely on you to get stuff done. People keep telling I should take a break and disconnect for a while. That’s not my destiny, though, nor should it be.  Work is part of who I am, regardless of what I am doing at least I am doing something.  There is a fear though that with all this marching that I am going to burn out before I even make it. I don’t know honestly, I haven’t really burned out before, but I’ve gotten that nagging feeling where my muscles become tense my brain grows dull from the lack of extracurricular stimulation.

I don’t know if I can reasonably disconnect, it’s been such a long time since I’ve done so. I presume it would take a lot to distract me from the comings and goings of the world back home with unfounded anxiety burrowing into my brain causing me to become preoccupied with things I can’t even control.

Right now the days might be getting longer, but they feel like they’re all too short.  It’s only a couple months away from me being gone in some far off place that is more indifferent to my arrival, and yet I still feel like in the thick of home still drawing me in.

I wonder when these bonds will loosen, it could be when I start to finish things, and perhaps that’s why I’m having such a hard time doing so.

 

Drinking Bitter Waters

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I’ve never been much of a fan of coffee and other bitter drinks. Something about having to acclimate to the taste doesn’t agree with me. Why would I go out of my way to learn to like something that has such a negatively visceral effect on my tastebuds? People do it every day though, guzzle down these bitter drinks, learning to love the taste that can from the outset be so unpleasant. Maybe it’s in growing up that we learn that bitter in some ways can be just as good as sweet. Maybe it’s in growing up that we can understand that just because it’s bitter doesn’t mean it’s bad.

We spend our whole lives in a flow, a flow that seems to spin around and around, making us confront our past and future at the same time.  It’s when these to points cross that I understand that I’ve grown, mature in these years of unending experience pushing me forward into the unknown.  It’s when confronted by these seeming repeated events that I understand where I am and who I am.  That these cycles we pass through in our lives show how we can take another path, a better way than the one we had before.  It’s only having gone down that path that I can understand the road that lays before me and choose perhaps a higher one than before.  These cycles though are painful, and maybe I can avoid them outright but to do so would be asking myself to stop genuinely living.
It’s in this unwillingness to deviate from that pain that I know I am stronger. It’s in this statement, one which I don’t know who taught me, the places you won’t go are the ones that ultimately control your life. It’s in strength that I persist forward, it’s in learning that I take the other path. If I were to lay down before these forces and events that call my name and make me remember past wounds and scars than I would give too much power to those forces that are indifferent to my destruction.

It is now that I am willing to drink these bittered waters, ones that before would give me so much anguish to consume.  It’s not that I take pleasure in them, but I don’t avoid them knowing now that drinking them can set me free. I know it’s not the failings of my emotions or callousness of my approach that I am unable to taste the bitterness of my life anymore. No, it’s a change in perspective, an understanding that life though indifferent at times to my wants and desire, is not an outright malicious force. Life is just a tangled web of lives, and stories passed between all the people we meet.  Though they sometimes weave together in ways that we wish, it’s not anyone’s fault when these lives don’t seem to match up. It’s understanding that there may be a better way that requires us to be uncomfortable at times and feel pain when served these bitter waters, but as long as we don’t shy away from it, everything will turn out okay.  It’s then that we can decide what we want to do with these moments, do we build upon them accepting the blood and tears, or destroy them hoping that the memories of our hurt go away along with it. I can tell you that destroying has never left a good taste in my mouth.

Life has a way of serving us these lessons in ways that may not be pleasant. I don’t regret drinking these bittered waters or the path the lead me to do so, my only regret is that I never learned to do so sooner.

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.