An Exhilarating Fear

It’s late on another Tuesday night and I’m sure that one of these days I’ll get to bed at some sort of suitable time for someone rapidly approaching 40. But that night won’t be tonight. I’m too keyed up. Today was the last day of summer school with the kids, and as such it was bittersweet in almost every aspect. Bitter because I did grow fond of several of the students, the ones who tried hard and had a pleasant “good morning” for me most days. Sweet because of the other ones, the kids who liked to swear and pretend it just slipped out, for the sneaky ones I didn’t mind watching leave today and knowing I wouldn’t have to see them again tomorrow. Let summer begin!  Well, the last two weeks of it anyway.

Mostly I’m happy on this Tuesday, though, because while it is an ending of sorts it is also a beginning. See, you may not know it yet but I set the end of this summer as a kind of dividing line between my life as lived with my life as future. Since I am rounding the corner on 40 I guess I need a career. At least people tell me I need a career so I’m going to work on that come hell or high water. And I hope it’s hell because water scares the piss out of me.

But now comes fortitude, and perseverance, because I have no real path to follow. Sure I’ve done my research, and it’s ongoing, but there’s a thin line between research and what will actually work, what will actually be fulfilling for me in the real world. Because that’s where I live, not in the fictional place called Research Land, but in the hard brick and concrete jungle of Reality. And what’s going to work on paper isn’t the same that will carry me through in reality.

And I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I step out on this limb it will break and I will fall to a fate more horrible than death, that this risk will haunt me more than this stale place I find myself in now. But nothing good ever comes without risk, without that rush of knowing that the is no place to land if you fall off that tightrope, nowhere but the cold, hard ground. And that feeling, that exhilarating fear, is what keeps you moving forward. Because it’s better to try and make it to that far ledge than to cower in the relative safety of your familiar corner.

I don’t want the familiar anymore. I want to make things happen. I hope they will be good things that move me forward but even if they aren’t they are still guaranteed to shake up the status quo. And my roots need shaking.

Sam

They Look Like Me

172ed83726173dc62f915b2c297cdfafHow do we recognize others? By a walk, by a tone, by a cadence in their bones. By a feeling we get when they enter a room, or the smell of them, like cologne or perfume. By the way their smile reaches their eyes, and how seeing them makes the time fly. By the reflection of them we see in ourselves, or the hope that blooms, the spring that wells. Do we recognize others in the things that they do? Or do they all just look like you?

We spend our whole lives walking around in a world full of people who are as different from us as night is from day. We talk to them, and laugh when them, and cry with them too. They do us favors, and we return them. We connect with them on a certain level, and depending on who they are as individuals, they relate to us on the same level. And while we are all different, it is human nature to search for ways of connection, for the ways we are the same, and we cling to those similarities because those are mirrors that reflect ourselves back to us. Because human nature is also selfish.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that every person in the world is selfish. Many people work extremely hard to be selfless, or to care for others above themselves, and that’s highly admirable. It is those people we usually recognize because they’re different. Their souls resonate in a different way to us because their caring is evident. But the vast majority of people we come in contact with aren’t that way, so we can relate to them, we can dissect them and find the parts that work like ours. They are familiar, and that’s comforting. Continue reading “They Look Like Me”

Diatribe

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Quit looking at me!

I have a wooden duck in my living room. No, seriously. It sits on the high shelf and looks down on me while I’m watching television. And I can’t help but feel like it’s judging my actions, that it’s telling me I should be out in nature doing something active instead of sitting here watching what my father always referred to as the “idiot box.” But I shut out his stare and focus on my programs instead, telling myself I’ll exercise later. Of course you and I both know I won’t, but maybe the duck will be easily fooled.

Being sedentary is a problem in our society, isn’t it? With all the screens around, our culture is geared toward sitting around, or standing around, and watching one thing or another. Sometimes it’s the laptop while we read and compose blog entries, and other times we’re staring at the TV. Still other times it’s our phones (yeah, it’s mostly our phones anymore, isn’t it?), or our tablets, or our iPod Touches. That sounded weird to me, iPod Touches, but I guess that’s the plural. Anyway, my point stands.

We don’t even talk anymore. In work just the other day during lunch, there were seven of us in the break room, and every single one was on a cell phone messaging, or texting, or trolling on Facebook, or tweeting, or Snapchatting, or any other variation of application available or popular to the masses right now. For a solid 20 minutes there was absolute silence in the room. I know, I counted. A room that used to have sound booming off its walls was absolutely silent for 20 minutes. That’s crazy.

But we do exercise, don’t we? At least sometimes we do. For about a month straight I was totally religious about it… in 2011. Every morning like clockwork I got up early and did my various routines. It got my heart pumping, I sweated out some toxins, and it made me feel better the whole rest of the day. But I stopped for whatever reason, and one of the worst things you can do when you’re on a regimen like that is stopping for a day. Because it’s so easy once you’ve stopped to stay stopped, to go back to being a sedentary creature. If I only liked nature, it would be easier. Continue reading “Diatribe”

New York to California

DSC01292“No mountain’s too high. No stone is too small. I’ll build a bridge through the fire. For you I would crawl from New York to California.” -Mat Kearney

Have you ever felt this way about another person? I know, it’s easy to say you have, but did you ever take the time to truly consider it? I remember the first time someone asked me if I would die for her, and I have to admit I didn’t think about it first. I said sure. I mean, she was a girl I was seeing, and I knew it would just break her heart if I thought about it before I answered her. But I have since thought about it, and in myriad detail too, and I’ve come to a conclusion. Maybe we weren’t really built for self-sacrifice, at least to that extent, or maybe just some of us weren’t.

When we say “I would do anything for you,” what do we mean? Does it mean we would stop watching our favorite show because you don’t like it? Does it mean we would go to church if you asked us, even if we hate religion? Or does it mean anything at all? Because the average human being will only go all the way for one other person in their entire lives. And they don’t even know it, because they never have to do it.

Maybe that’s the true gist of it after all. Until we are truly challenged to go farther than we’ve ever gone before for someone else, we never really consider it. But think about it now. If you have a significant other, would you be willing to crawl from New York to California for her or him?

Sam

Water Cooler Musings: On Co-Dependency

codependencyI’ve often asked myself why so many people stay in destructive relationships where they aren’t appreciated or treated as equals, and where they’re often either ignored or taken for granted in some way, shape, or form. And the answer comes back loudly and clearly: because they’re afraid to be alone. So many people will accept so much less than they should because they don’t think they’re worthy of anything else and they can’t face the thought of being by themselves. That was the topic of discussion around the water cooler this week.

Tracy: My sister was with this guy for two years who treated her like shit. He was always talking about how she had to gain weight, how thin she always looked, and how he liked a little meat on his women. It gave her a complex.

Me: No wonder. How did she survive two years with him?

Tracy: He wasn’t like that at first, or at least he didn’t seem like it. I think it came out later.

Yeah, later, when he got more comfortable speaking his mind, or when he figured she was so into him that she would do what he wanted anyway. And for the most part he was right because she didn’t say anything against him when he started railing against her weight and how much food she “should be eating.” As I listened to Tracy talk about this guy, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of loathing toward someone who could treat a woman that way. Then we got down to the source of it all.

Me: Why do you think she put up with it after he started showing his true colors?

Tracy: Well, I think it’s because he looked good, and because she just never was alone, I guess. Not since first year of high school when she got her first boyfriend. That was… eight years ago.

Me: And how many relationships has she been in since?

Tracy: A ton. I lost count after six, and this guy counted as six. But she’s never been alone. She’s with another guy now who I think is better.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? She can’t stand the empty feeling of not having someone in her life, of doing anything by herself because she’s never learned how to do it. For her entire adult life she’s been in one destructive relationship after another simply because she can’t NOT be in a relationship. For her own sanity. And that’s sad, but she’s not the only one. Continue reading “Water Cooler Musings: On Co-Dependency”

Pillow Talk

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I guess I’m a side sleeper.

You know how it is when you’re shopping for a new pillow, right? First, you have to determine what type of sleeper you are. It’s crazy all the types that are out there, like side sleepers, back sleepers, and stomach sleepers. For some reason I don’t remember all of that when I was young. I remember it was just all about hardness or softness of the pillow, and every single one of our pillows was hard. I guess hard meant cheaper, but now there are all these ergonomically correct pillows, this memory foam that adjusts itself to your normal pattern of head placement. And those types of pillows are $35 dollars and higher! Wow, I don’t think those cheap, hard pillows did that much damage to my head that I would consider paying that kind of money for one single pillow.

Except, I did buy one of those pillows. Let me explain. Continue reading “Pillow Talk”