- Acoustic guitar
- Dave Matthews Band
- The stars
- The moon
- Zodiac signs
It’s 5:18am on February 1st, 2017, and I’m working the overnight shift at the hospital once again. I have to get vaccinations once I’m off and am dreading coming back tonight for round two. However, things are a bit different this morning. I’ve upgraded from my usual cushioned stool to a full-blown wheelie chair. Dave Matthews Pandora station is wafting over from the doctors’ area. I’m smiling at the nurses who glance my way mid-laughter. I’m drinking ice water.
Today I realized (and partially accepted) how much my life is about to change.
This summer, I’m moving to San Diego. I’ve wanted this for quite some time. I’ve wanted to move out west, see the mountains, the ocean, the sky, the new horizon. I want to experience the freedom of my mid-twenties in a place entirely mine; a place that I chose. A place where I can start this next chapter fresh, with such an open road in front of me. A place where I can freely explore my passions and pursue my career. A place full of new beginnings.
And after 5 years in Tampa I have started to come to terms with eventually leaving. It’s funny how things work this way. I’ve noticed it many times in my life, actually. How things start to fall into place once you’re about to leave. How you finally feel “right” and comfortable where you are and who you are with. Maybe this is the mind playing tricks on you, but maybe this is the universe making sure that you are ready. Right now I don’t feel ready. I don’t feel comfortable leaving those I am closest with; those I consider family. I don’t feel comfortable adjusting from having ten best friends in close proximity to zero. I don’t feel financially secure. I don’t feel mentally stable enough. But that’s life. I’m never going to feel completely ready. I’m never going to be at peace with up and leaving when I finally feel like I’ve found my place here. But life has taught me that only good things come from leaving your comfort zone.
Today in the car I cried numerous times. I cried about change, unrequited feelings, goodbyes, and change. But mostly I cried at the beautiful story I’ve created here. The good and the bad. The love and the heartbreak. The crazy nights and the peaceful ones. The questions I might always have. Tampa, you were good to me. The memories I made here I know I will have for the rest of my life. And as I continue these next months approaching my transition, I will do my best to look ahead with excitement without letting the impending nostalgia dominate my present moments. Letting go is painful, but there is so much good ahead. So many more beautiful moments. So much freedom. All that’s left is to look back and smile.
It should not be denied that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations. Absolute freedom. And the road has always led west.
I have always had a passion for playing the guitar.
In the past 5 years of my life, I’ve completely forgotten this. I was so caught up in the day-to-day tasks of everyday living that I also forgot about the things that I actually found joy in and added substance to my life
Yes, we are young. The majority of our friends are in college or have recently graduated. I moved down to Florida 5 years ago for college and spent most of my time studying, working part-time jobs, and drinking like an insane person. I have now upgraded to the glamorous post-grad lifestyle of working two jobs while barely being able to afford a full tank of gas. Though recently, after delving into the possibilities associated with this era of uncertainty, the age of 22 has evoked a series of changes in my life (or at least have started to).
Here is what I’ve learned so far:
1. Newton’s law of inertia is not a joke
There are so many thoughts, plans and ideas inside of us that are waiting to be acted upon, and I have yet to find any solid reason as to why they should remain merely thoughts, plans and ideas.
We are so young. Younger than we think and feel we are. Ironically, graduating college does not make us feel this way. We feel rushed to jump into the first 9-5 we can find and as well as an immense pressure to have our lives “figured out” (whatever this means). We want to show everyone that we are good to go. That we’ve made it. To some degree, it is healthy to feel this way. However, it basically involves jumping from point A to point Z with our eyes closed and our fingers crossed. It also involves figuring out what “making it” even means because I don’t think that is actually a real thing. The key here is to keep it simple. Put one foot in front of the other. If you keep waiting for the “right moment” to make significant changes in your life, you are only letting the roots of stagnation secure you deeper into your current situation, maybe even to the point of comfort. This is dangerous. I know and see too many people stuck here. The secret is to accept that there is no “right moment” and that the Universe is never going to put its hand on your shoulder and say, “Today is a good day to start.”
Newton’s first law of motion says this: That an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. So start today. Start right now. The sooner you identify your source of unhappiness, the sooner you can begin to make the changes necessary to move forward.
2. Be uninhibited (to a certain extent)
Emerson once said, “People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.” I resonated deeply with this, being that I was probably reading it while sitting at work plagued with the anxiety of my future (just like any typical day).
If you’re feeling stuck, ask yourself “What do I want?” It’s that simple. And then once you know, go get it. Yes, you still might feel unsettled, being that “getting what you want” isn’t as easy as it sounds, but let yourself bask in that unease and soak it in. It will probably be there for the rest of your life. Learn to embrace it.
So be uninhibited. Life is short. Move wherever you want to live. If that fails, move somewhere else. And if that fails, move home and start over. Do exactly what you want to do. If that involves dropping everything to move across the country, do it. There is always time to start over, but you won’t know until you’ve tried. Take advantage of the opportunities you are given. Be uninhibited with your life, but especially with your emotions. Start your search for whatever you’ve been looking for and do not settle until you know you’ve found it.
3. Keep in the sunlight
This “it” I mentioned above is different for everybody, and probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to explain in my life, so this might be pointless. To put it simply, I think that we are all looking for something pertaining to a sense of meaning, or even looking for this “meaning” itself. We see this in a lot of thrill-seekers. For me, this meaning has never been found but is encompassed with the greater things of the universe, such as the stars and nature. For you, it could be something as small as the details in a grain of sand, but the thirst for gaining clarity of the enigma of this universe we’re stuck in is all the same. Meaning is meaning, whether it is surface level or five-dimensional. And now I realize that I either sound like the aftermath of an LSD trip or am just weird in general. But I think that something we can all relate to is that the search for this meaning will fill us with a sense of it. A more annoying (but true) way to say this is, “the journey is the destination.”
When I say keep in the sunlight, I mean to keep in those brief moments of clarity in your search; those moments that fill your soul with a greater sense. For me, it is sometimes the night sky on a cold night, the shadows on my walls from the 5:00 sun, a certain note in a song, and running as fast as I can. Like I said earlier, it is different for everyone. Maybe for you it is something bigger like falling in love or religion, but maybe it is in a sense our own religion. That “something more” that we feel and believe in but can’t see. And maybe we’ll never know because then what would be the point of death? Is heaven the tangible embodiment of this sense? Maybe this yearning for fulfillment is so unearthly that the Universe is smirking at us, saying, “Guess what? You don’t know. That’s the whole point.”
And once again, we remain unsettled.
4. Practice gratitude
In the midst of the disarray of our present-day lives and society, it is hard not to sweat the small stuff. I get like this on a daily basis; so caught up in minuscule problems that it requires an “ah-ha!” moment to refresh my perspective. Taking up yoga has helped lessen that occurrence. So does drinking a few glasses of wine, but that’s messier. Take a quiet moment out of your day to give thanks in any form. We really don’t know when our last day on Earth could be, and the reality of this should be inculcated into our minds every single day. To have friends, family and loved ones in our lives is a blessing too often undervalued, especially when we are young and seemingly invincible. We get caught up in the little things. That’s okay. What isn’t okay is submersing yourself so far into that insignificance that you live in it. I could go on about this insignificance, but I trust that you know what I mean because we have all been there, and will probably be there again in a few hours.
I wrote something last year that was mainly a personal introspection following wine and a bubble bath, but I feel that it applies. We have these moments (usually late at night) where out of nowhere comes a familiar memory. Music especially provokes this. We remember a vague period of our lives and we see these times as “better”. This is most likely a false reality that our minds have tricked us into, being that we tend to only remember the positives while the negatives hide away in our subconscious. We considered ourselves “truly happy” in these times, and wish we could go back. We were so caught up in figuring out who and what we were with people doing the exact same thing that those relationships consumed our entire world. We remember these times as “the good old days”, when in reality those days probably weren’t all that great and are probably happening right in front of us and we don’t realize it. And in the next 5-10 years we will find ourselves back again, in the bath tub with that song playing in the background, thinking of these times. The ones that we are living right now. And I know it seems cliche, but it takes willpower to realize these moments as they are happening. It actually takes training. We’re too busy looking back to find gratitude in the moments that are right in front of us.
So here’s to those moments. Find your yoga. Find what roots you. Find a mantra that you can repeat. Instill a sense of gratitude so deep within you that your thoughts may never meander their way around it. Practice something that acts as “zoom-out” button and forces you to take a step back and smile at the beautiful, messy picture that is your life, and take it in as it comes.
5. Play the guitar
Don’t actually play the guitar if its not for you, but find out what is. If there’s anything I can prove to be true, it’s that there is so much joy in simplicity. In the little things. So play the guitar. Play it as loud as you can even if it sucks. Open the windows. Take a trip to the mountains and see the northern lights. Explore. Find friends to love and things to look forward to. Buy candles and sit near fireplaces that remind you of Fall. Find your home or a sense of what home is to you. Work towards your happiness and do things that contribute to only that: happiness. Find poetry and acoustic songs and lots and lots of red wine. Enjoy moments of clarity and more bubble baths. Continue your search towards what you’ve been looking for; that “something more” that you’ve always felt. I know that we don’t know what this is, but who cares. Our existence might also be a bizarre coincidence so why not enjoy it?
So if you’re feeling stuck, think of Newton’s law of inertia. Take the first step of your forward motion. Be uninhibited. Keep in the sunlight. Practice gratitude. And most importantly, play the guitar. Do these things in order, and you might find that life as a 20-something isn’t actually the insane, anxiety-filled conundrum that we all feel it is. Take it day by day, starting today. Start by pouring yourself a cup of coffee and taking a seat outside with something to read. When you can sit down for awhile, reach for your coffee, look out the window at the sky or the birds on the trees, then back down at your book, everything might feel right for the moment. Maybe these moments are all we have.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Chris McCandless and his death inside of bus 142. Along his journey he mentioned that joy does not come primarily from human relationship. Later, while in the bus, he came to a realization that happiness is only real when shared. He then tried to trek back into civilization but was unsuccessful due to the melting of the glaciers, causing the river to become a raging death trap. He then turned back to the bus where he was plagued with starvation and ended up dying alone.
This made me think. One can spend their entire life driven and consoled by the fact that we do not need human relationship or even interaction for that matter, only to come to realize that we actually do need it. It is how we feel real happiness. It is how we connect and understand. It is how we find meaning.
Today I found out that my uncle died. He spent his life tactfully planning every move only to be diagnosed with an aggressive skin cancer. He was kind, compassionate, caring, and had an extremely loving heart. From the memories we shared, I know that he had a fond love for the stars. We would spot the planets and stand outside to watch the satellite’s pass over. Of course he planned this as well. But I loved it.
It’s 1:15am and today is Thanksgiving. I am thankful for what I have learned. I am thankful that my uncle did not have to suffer a slow and painful ending. I am thankful that he finally has a front row seat to the night sky.
I am especially thankful for my family, both blood and non-blood. Tonight on my way home from work I drove past a group of friends walking down the road with their arms around each other’s shoulders. To me, that was an image of Thanksgiving. That was family. We need human relationships. As Ram Dass said, we’re all just walking each other home.
On March 7th, 2016, I wrote about how the Universe will always have its’ way. Maybe we don’t know what happens after death, and maybe that’s the magic of life. Maybe Uncle David is watching down on us all, pitying the fact that we are crying about his death. Maybe he is catching up with his parents. Maybe he is nowhere. Or maybe he is where I think he is; sitting amongst the stars.
Write more. Play your guitar as loud as you can until it feels good. Sing in the car. Wear your sunglasses. Wear what you want. Do yoga. Exercise. Drink water. Eat healthy. Plan your trip to San Diego. Let it consume you until the “looking forward” self is your authentic self. Fill that part of your soul that longs. Look at the stars. Go outside. Run. Play even more guitar. Get those new strings you’ve been wanting. Read more books. Classics. Highlight them. Post new things. Post what you want to post. Get the tattoo. Grow a plant outside. Look at the sunlight. Keep in the sunlight. Especially when you become overwhelmed with doubt and uncertainty. Especially when depression hits, if it does. Blast the music. Open your windows. Be in the moment. Be what you’ve been wanting to be.
What is the point of being unhappy? The sooner you realize you are, the sooner we need to make the changes necessary to get out of the situation causing unhappiness. The key words here are make changes.
You are in control of your future. It is never too late to start creating the reality that YOU want.
I have been at a stagnation.
I have so many thoughts inside of me. So many plans and ideas waiting to be acted upon. And honestly, there is no valid reason as to why they have remained merely plans and ideas.
I have come to realize that stagnation is toxic. The longer you wait for the right moment, the longer you let that toxicity grow inside you…maybe even to a point where it becomes so familiar that you find a comfort inside it. I have known and seen too many people stuck here. But the most important thing I have learned is that there is NO right moment. There is no time the universe is going to tell you “It is okay to start. Now is the perfect time. Everything is good now.” You are the only force in your life and only you can create the change you want to make in your life at any given moment you have on this earth.
Stagnation is toxic. Staying in the same place for too long is toxic, whether that “place” is mental or physical. The time to manifest change is right now, and that is what I am doing.
I want to move to San Diego, and I’m going to move to San Diego in 9 months. I want to feel at peace with being across the country from my mom, so I will know that if I am happy, she is happy. I want to accept and embrace my dad’s new marriage, so I am going to accept and embrace my dad’s new marriage with open arms. I want to come to terms with past struggles, and I am going to do even more than merely “coming to terms” with them. I am going to use them as the strength and inspiration behind the great things I will do with my life. The great things that come with starting now.
Today, I want to re-string my guitar and play without fear of being too loud, so I am going to play as loud as I can. I want to exercise every day and run all of the toxicity out of my system, so I am going to sign up for 5K’s. I want to feel beautiful again, so I am going to feel beautiful to the point of knowing no doubt. I want to build a future and a career, but first I will start with the adventure and opportunity that awaits.
There will never be a right moment. Start now, or spend your life waiting.
You create your own present and future. The world and the people in it owe nothing to us.
“It is better to be prepared than it is to be hopeful.”
That’s what my mother said to me earlier in regards to my Uncle’s cancer. It made me think. So much of my time here has been about trying to be optimistic..hopeful…to keep the grand perspective and the goodness of the world in mind. But isn’t some level of reality necessary? Some degree of accepting the darkness of this world?
Maybe the trick is finding the balance. We cannot understand or appreciate good in this world without first knowing the bad. That’s a given. I think that those who have known and felt a decent amount of “bad” in this world tend to either be pessimists or optimists. I wonder what defines that line? Could it be the degree of bad that they’ve experienced, or the perspective that they’ve learned to integrate into their lives afterwards?
Sometimes I am overwhelmed at the amount of questions I have when it comes to suffering and our approach on life. I feel that it is yet another grand ideal to add to the mystery of the universe. We can never really know. We’ll never know why good things happen to bad people or why good things happen to bad people. We’ll never know why the guilt-free rapist lives a happy life surrounded by his loved ones while the caring family man who spends his life planning each move to ensure safety and comfort is suddenly plagued with an aggressive cancer. Why the poor mother who never found reciprocal love has to watch everybody around her leave, only to be left alone wondering why.
Maybe the universe has no reason. And maybe we have to be okay with that.
Lately I’ve been feeling the need to learn to not be mad at myself. Just keep doing what I’ve been doing by working on and bettering myself, and the rest will fall into place. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it’s always worked for me, but why is it so hard this time? Is it because I need to make more drastic changes?
That is what I am in the process of figuring out.
Also, I need to stop worrying about the people who are supposed to be my best friends who are bringing me down.
Stop. Worrying. About. Them.
No progress is made there.
It is only made in what I do, with myself and with the forward motion of my life that will result in progress and positive change.
And yes, it is a back and forth struggle consisting of 5 steps forward and 6 steps back on a weekly basis. But that’s also life. I will get there one day soon.
This lingering sense of darkness. It hides away in the corners of your mind while you go on with your day-to-day activities, but will always find a way to peek through. When I’m driving. When I’m laughing. When I’ve just eaten lunch and I get that “feeling” of impending dread that I’ve never been able to explain. When I’m with a group of friends. When I’m in an airplane. When I’m walking from the stairway of my apartment complex to the front door. It lingers and then it peeks through. Maybe once a day, maybe a couple times, or maybe it decides to stay for a while. How are you supposed to know when it’ll come? And even more, how are you supposed to control it?
Sometimes I have the best days and the best moments and a good overall outlook. Other days, it’s just darkness. Not the kind where I physically can’t get out of bed, but the darkness that tells me “I’m not good enough”. “Nobody will ever understand me”. And “I don’t need to be here”.
What scares me the most is the comfort I find in this darkness.
Will it every go away? Do I choose to get help, knowing it will just return a couple of days, weeks…months later?
Sometimes nobody gets it. And sometimes that’s okay.