Chapter 3

At first, moving to California felt like the ground had been ripped out from beneath me. There isn’t a word I could choose to describe what it felt like waking up the morning of August 5th, 2017. Most of the 5 hour drive from Phoenix to San Diego was spent biting my nails and anxiously trying to figure out which song I should play, but nothing could ease the anticipation of entering a city I’ve never been to before knowing there was no turning back. This was it. I had committed before even seeing the place. I barely even knew where it was on the map. When I arrived, though, it was beautiful. Just like I’d imagined.
I remember sitting in my car for the first few days crying, wondering if I should pay another $25 for parking or drive around aimlessly. The answer was almost always found in feeding myself. Actually, that’s how I started to make progress. After the crying, I took myself out to lunch. I sat down on a stool near the window and applied to jobs for hours. Eventually I heard back, and that’s how I made it to where I am now. A routine, as much as I hate the word.
I spent the next few weeks buying furniture, finding affordable parking, fixing my car, taking the train, hiking, reading books, and making friends. I went to my first Padres game and swam in the freezing Pacific ocean. I got drunk at the bars downtown and walked home to my apartment.  I even got a tattoo and stripped off my bathing suit at the nude beach. I did these things, and San Diego started to feel like the right choice.
I realized that this is what you try to do. When you feel lost, you ground yourself. When you feel unsure, you find a reason. You can even make one up. I spent so many of my first few weeks wondering what I was doing and why I was here. I brought myself here, so why am I upset? I made this choice, so why am I questioning it? The thing is, things are never exactly as we imagine them. I didn’t expect an easy, peaceful move across the country to a place I’d never even visited before. I didn’t expect things to magically “work out” in the way everyone imagines it’ll be. But I did, however, expect to feel at home right away. And looking back at my life I understand why I had that expectation. It’s what I’ve been looking for all my life. I think it’s why I came here. And so what if that doesn’t make sense to anyone else?
Now, I find myself in a cycle of progress. Some days are great. Some days I wake up before sunrise, make myself coffee, do a quick yoga flow, listen to music, drive myself to work, eat, run, and go to bed content and fulfilled. Other days I wake up exhausted, drained, depressed and questioning things I never thought I’d question. It’s a process, but it’s one that I’m proud of. I’m sick of thinking, “someday I’ll get there” because someday is now. Don’t look forward to what is ahead. This moment is what the “looking forward” previously was. I will embrace every part of it.

Thoughts During Shavasana

It’s easy and even habitual to fall into those low moments. Sometimes they last for a few days. Sometimes a few weeks. Sometimes a few months. We think that these moments define us. We think that it will always be this way, even when the feelings let up for a while. Even when it passes, it lingers below. It waits to surface. For me, I’ve realized that it surfaces on its own terms. Whenever it feels like it. It engulfs me and sits on top of my chest and fogs up my brain until I can’t see 5 feet ahead. “Ahead” is too heavy to think about. I’m too tired to think. To be.

And I take a moment to breathe. I take a moment to set an intention. Grounding, gratitude, balance, stability. Something to focus on. I realize that nothing actually matters. Our existence is enough in itself. Yes, I may be anxious for no reason. I may not want to move or speak or get myself out of bed. By taking a minute to zoom out, I regain an understanding of existence in itself. Maybe this isn’t a way out, but a way in to what really matters.

October 15, 2017

It doesn’t matter where we are or who we’re with or what’s happening. Our true selves are behind the mask of the reality we see. We think this reality is it. We think it’s what shapes us. What dictates our future. What our past consists of. This is not real. Things happen in cycles because we weave in and out of the mindset we’ve worked so hard to create. Let it sink in. This is not reality. We are not stuck here forever. We are not connected to anything. When things are hard, we go through the motions. We ride out the wave. It’s time to jump off the wave and observe. Be aware of the wave, but know that this is not all there is to it. We can observe our thoughts and what is happening around us. The mere act of observing sets us back into the grounding realization that there needs to be an observer behind the observation itself. That is where truth lies. We are immortal. None of this is permanent.


It’s that feeling that hits you mid-laughter.

It’s the quiet place in your soul that nobody has seen.

It’s the self-doubt; the “I will never be good enough”.

It’s looking out the window of the car.

It’s the hollow feeling in your gut after eating lunch.

It’s the black hole we spiral down into once again.

The hole draws you in. You find comfort here. You know this place well. The familiarity feels like you’ve come home.

When you’re here, you stay. You sit in this hole and let it consume you.

You know that you will only come out when time allows.

Sometimes, you control the time. Other times, the time means nothing.

Sometimes it’s all nothing. Sometimes it’s all everything. Sometimes it’s all too much. Sometimes it’s not enough. We let it wash over. We find release. We realize that it doesn’t get better. We understand that life is full of cycles. Bad, then good, then great, then bad. We punch and cry and scream and blindly grab on to anything that we can. We give in.

But the sun still rises. And we try again.

Brand New

“Every next level of your life will demand a different you.”

The goodbyes, the hellos. The process of letting go while starting anew. Every new minute in your new apartment in your new city spent proving to yourself that you’re meant to be here. Wondering if the proving defeats the entire purpose. Making sense of change.

It’s all a part of life. And what is life without experience? Isn’t experience what makes up a life? Experiences on top of experiences, shaping your reality.

The red tint of my wine glows in the Sunday night city lights. I sit here listening to music from this time, one year ago. It feels like yesterday, but it also feels like a different me. I’ve never been more alone, but I’ve never been more at peace.


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.

A Letter To 20-Somethings

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.