Mono No Aware

 

 

“Mono-no aware: the ephemeral nature of life – the quietly elated, bittersweet feeling of having been witness to the dazzling circus of life – knowing that none of it can last…” – Wiki

It’s a melancholy appreciation for the transience of life, the love of the fleetingness of a single moment that, once occurring, can never truly happen again. That people grow, change, and as such, nothing is permanent. It’s a word derived from Japanese culture that speaks in large part to the appreciation that nothing last’s forever. Even their buildings and culture are created around the idea that there is something more than a simple structure, that there is a greater spirit that carries on a legacy even after the wood has warped, or the stone has crumbled. When this happens, there will come a day when a “hello” will be the last “hello” and a “goodbye” will be the last “goodbye”.

We all have knowledge of these things, coming to us from bittersweet memories that cling like spiky seed pods to clothing.  We face these conflicts and decide what we want to do with them as arise. This state of happy it happened but sad it’s over.  It’s so easy to avoid these emotions, to distance ourselves from any given event, to deny the permanence of forward leaping time but the moment will come nonetheless.

There is something beautiful about these ephemeral things. Would clouds be as wonderous if they never changed shape, or snowflake as magnificent if they didn’t melt when landing on your skin? We can appreciate them because we know what it was like before we had them and eventually learn what it’s like when they are gone.

It takes a lot of courage to face these moments head-on, to recognize there will be an end and keep going through the heartache that is likely to come.  A beautiful pain built on the temporary, with each person having to decide whether or not it was worth it in the end.

It’s only in accepting these feelings that we grow and change as people. If we try to hold to something long gone our knuckles will turn white by grasping at air and dust.  It’s not to forget but appreciate that sometimes some things have to end even if we aren’t ready. It’s death and disappearance,  two things we fight so hard against, are inevitable, but in learning to embrace them we glimpse the beautiful bittersweet appreciation of what can happen after.

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.

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.

 

Let’s Go To The Stone Age: A Slight Digression Because Of Internet Problems

Originally I was going to do a slight digression from my more moody posts to talk about the fact I have gotten back into reading more but before I got to crafting said post my Internet died. Now I know that the period of time that I was writing was a bit later than when I usually do, and maybe this is just some sick sense of universal karma here to exact it’s revenge for not writing sooner but I think more just highlights how reliant I am on the internet. Without it, I twiddle my thumbs and play that silly dinosaur game on chrome hoping for the Internet to return.

It’s in that I find this reflection of me in the empty

screen somewhat humorous, this 21st century man who is simply stopped by a technology that has been birthed within the last 50 years. I mean there are millennia before this amazing invention and my ancestors did just fine on their own for me to have made it this far.

What is there to do except think of a world where the Internet just disappeared, where technology reduced itself to that of the Stone Age and for us to start all over. How would people manage? How would I manage? Let’s be honest, my training in Psychology doesn’t exactly make me the most useful person in the skills department. I am pretty scrappy, and easy on the uptake but it’s that first part I would really need to get through, when everyone is scrambling around trying to figure things out. Maybe I’ll be drafted into a tribe, never really been part of those before, or maybe I’ll just be a lone wanderer, going from settlement to settlement trying to looking for my true home out there in the post-internet wastes.

But back to the point, I think this also a lesson in humility, that my life is so reliant on these tools to work that I am pushed to this standstill without it. I don’t know if this is a good lesson at the end of the day or one that I should just get more reliable Internet but it’s a lesson just the same.

Maybe I should take this time away from my devices and allow myself to really delve back into my imagination. Create something unaided with my mind as the only resource. It always feels good to be able to imagine different worlds and scenarios, something pure from all of the muses I have come across in my lifetime. What do I have time for though, will I just drop it once it becomes inconvenient to continue because my technologies have come back online? I mean I still do have work to do, so maybe I won’t go too deep or I might just never find a reason to come back out.

What can I say though; I have become accustomed to these conveniences so that not having them just feels strange. Maybe it’s okay to rely on these things because they are so cool. What I think to leave you with during this unexpected posts is that if there is a will there is a way so there are really no excuses unless you really have put yourself out there and tried everything… or maybe that’s the lack of internet talking.

A Current State Of Dissatisfaction

It was there, gazing out the window at the world as I realized that I couldn’t really appreciate what laid beyond the glass. It felt like a violet sunset on the horizon, and my emotions were setting like the sun only to give way to the cold and dark. Dissatisfaction is what rings out; dissatisfaction with where I am, with what I do, and how much I am able to do.  If you have ever read my past blog posts this should be a familiar theme that persists through the paragraphs.  Why should this be such a big problem now of all times when it hasn’t been a problem before?

My problem lies as there is no reason to be dissatisfied, in fact, I should be elated and yet it feels as if my body and soul are hesitant to this.  Waiting for the day when all can be right. The unknown keeping me from really feeling happy because I know happiness may lead to more sorrow in the future.

It’s a lack of control with all these forces whirling around me sucking the oxygen out of the air as I feel my breath trying to choke me. There are too many things up there in the sky above so when I get a moment to catch my breath all it feels like is that I’m wheezing. I tossed them all there when I had the energy to fight but now I am trying to catch them as they fall, hoping nothing breaks,

Days after days I keep on with this lingering mood, attempting to break free of it’s hold but as look above it appears the clouds are following me and that I should prepare for rain.

It’s when it gets cold that it I really seem to notice things. The chill of the relationships around me as I push them away for space and a supposed peace. All I want to do is sleep, even when opening up my eyes in the morning, it seems all I want to do is rest which I can’t seem to get.

This dissatisfaction is pulling me down with all its might. Like ice below my feet, I am getting stuck within its waters. I don’t know why I feel this way or made it happen so I’m waiting for the sun to rise to regain my strength… or maybe I’m just waiting for something to distract me long enough to make me forget that I am freezing.

WORDS, MY ETERNAL STRUGGLE WITH LANGUAGE:​ Revisited 3

I never really know what’s going to come out when I sit down to a page. I might have an idea about what I want to touch on but the words themselves only appear once I am sitting in front of my keyboard typing.

I have been thinking about this type of chaotic flow that bursts forth, this stream of conscious type of writing. While it has its benefits I find that the flow and quality of the post are lacking in some ways because of it. Without this plan, it sometimes feels like I’m stitching together an elaborate asynchronous quilt hoping that at the end of the day whatever comes out is coherent.

This form of writing stems from this frustration of not being able to put what I am thinking down on a page.  Regardless of how much I plan, there is a strange disconnect between my brain and my hands preventing the perfect prose from pouring out.  The compromise I’ve come to is that if my thoughts happen at the exact moment of my writing then there is no way I can mess it up.

I think the progress I have made in the last several years because of this method is evident in the way I put these words together but I feel like there’s another step I need to take. I want for my words to flow into sentences, which flow into paragraphs, which flow into one cohesive story.  A unit that is greater than the sum of its parts. This would require more planning and forethought I have been putting into my posts, what it will require is more time than I have at the moment. What it will require is me planning and preparing for this each week so that I can progress. I want this because if I continue to practice I may be able to go from a decent writer to a good one. One that people look forward to reading.

Ultimately, I’ve taken this year and used this blog as a means to cope and contend with the struggles brought on by going back to school. I’ve filled posts thoughts and feelings about this process in return, this blog has provided me with a sense of solace and grounding. I want to expand its reach, overcome these challenges growing week by week until I am where I want to be.  It’s this slow process that ultimately brings change, and change is what I need. At the end of the day I’m just an inquisitve piglet so thank you for sticking it out with me another year, I promise this next one will be even better.

Here is a link to my previous posts, I went back to read them and I am happy to see my progress over these last three years.
Year One | Year Two | Year Three

Deferred Respite.

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There is a story in a book I read long ago, a story about two monks who devoted themselves to god and cloistered life. These two men though, having seen enough of the world to know of its beauty and wonder craved travel and adventure outside of the monastery walls. For them, it was hard to choose between these two loves, love of God, and love of the world. Even though they were happy with their decision to join this religious order, they both knew that they without the prospect of travel their devotion would wane as it would be seen it would one love taking away from the other. So these two monks hatched a plan, every spring they would plan to travel that following fall, to leave these monastery walls and go out into the world. Once fall came around, they would feign excuses, talking about how it wasn’t a good time to go and plan for to travel in that next spring. Years and years passed without the monks ever leaving, though the prospect of them doing so was always around the corner. They felt content, knowing that soon enough they would travel, without actually needing to leave.

This story came to mind because I’ve been talking about resting these last several months. To be honest, I haven’t been making a really active effort to become rested.  It’s because of love that I don’t sleep. I love psychology, and all that I am doing, so much so that I want to do everything, but in wanting to do everything.  In this want there comes a time to where all there always more deadlines.  Nothing really stops, and since it doesn’t stop, I haven’t either.  I keep deferring this rest, to the point where I feel wasted by it.  Stuck in a daze of work, pushing forward through habit.  I keep telling myself, next month, next month will be the one where I get to take a break and breath easy.  When this magic month comes, I don’t know but I keep deferring knowing that this time I spend will pay off in something. I am tired, both in mind and body, I know I need rest but if I have to keep going to get what I want.

Yeah, if I keep going, good things will happen.

I’ll rest later, once this is all over.

That’s when I’ll get to breathe.

I can keep going.

Rest will come.

I just don’t know when.

Inside Pandora’s Box

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I’ve always been fascinated with ancient myths and legends, not just for their tales of magic and adventure but with each myth comes with it a belief about how we see humanity and human nature. Tales of valor and weakness, people, overcoming challenges and succumbing to temptation highlight these beliefs. These stories really give us insight in the best and worst of us and what we believe humans are ultimately capable of. I’ve been thinking about them a lot recently, but each time I do I seem to always come back to the story of Pandora’s box.  The story, for the most part, is meant to explain all the evil and terrible things in the world and why humanity is expected to struggle against these terrible evils.  In thinking though, the story shows us something else entirely, the only thing we have to push forward.  Without it, we have been lost long ago.

You see, Pandora herself was created by Zeus as recompense for Prometheus giving humanity the power of fire. The gods were angry that humans could wield this awesome power customarily reserved just for the greater beings that Zeus had a box forged and placed within it all the evils that humanity had never known. The like the evils of war, discord, famine, and sickness.  Zeus gave this box to his new human creation and sent her out into the world with only one command “Never open the box.”  Being human, she was naturally curious, but a while she left the box alone, even at some point burying it in the ground. Day after day, she found herself thinking about the box, “What was inside?” she wondered. That’s when she found herself, overcome with a single desire to uncover this great mystery that was shrouded inside.  She unlatched the box and opened it up to discover she set free all these great evils to forever torment humanity.  Before all of the evils were released, she slammed closed the box saving humanity from the greatest of these evils, total despair – the opposite of hope.

The reason I like this story so much it that it speaks to this belief we have, that as long as we have hope, not all is lost.  I mean sure, I would love not to get sick, or to have arguments, but the one thing that pushes us forward is that belief that things can be better, that a better outcome can come to us if we persist.  Sometimes this hope is misleading or causes us to behave naively, but ultimately it allows us to see a future that is better than the past.  It allows us to see a tragedy in a new light,  to implement change and not accept things as they are. Where there is evil, we have hope, and hope is the catalyst for the change we need to make this world a better place. Without hope, we are nothing.

The reason I keep coming to this story is that I’ve been running a study for my thesis, one I really love and want to work. But pilot study after pilot study, I can’t seem to make my paradigm do what it needs to.   Some sort of unpredictable element exists within it, and I simply don’t understand yet what is keeping it from functioning properly.  I have hope though, that if I keep trying I will make this work, and have something serious to show for my efforts.  Even if I doesn’t, all I learn today will help me for tomorrow, as long as I am persistent enough something will happen.  I have hope and that’s what makes make me strong because I have hope I can keep pushing forward into the deep.

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.