distracted in a time of need

I picked up a book today called “The Feeling of What Happens.” It is about body and emotion in the making of consciousness and speaks on consciousness on a scientific and biological level. Being someone who is often caught in the thoughts of my mind, I thought it would be refreshing to read about the whys that are behind the workings and knowing of the mind in a more structured and scientifically observed manner. Rather than going off of feeling and emotion, I need a little real-life explanation behind the topic of consciousness, big words and all.

So, here I am reading the introduction which is constructed in such a way that I feel the author, Antonio Damasio, is speaking directly to me, like he knows me. Except he’s challenging my comprehension with elongated sentences and complex definitions. The text is something worthy of focus and requires my brain to work a little harder as it shifts out of my Netflix mind melt. Damasio maneuvers the thought of consciousness around my brain like malleable clay. He proposes insight into “an emotion, the feeling of that emotion, and the knowing that we have a feeling of that emotion.” So, with the content being very dense and purposeful, I actively try to accumulate all my focus and attention to it.

But, this is where I realize how distracted my mind is. So distracted that as I am trying to dissect what the hell Damasio is saying, my mind wanders mid-sentence to somewhere in my external life. My mind shifts from a comprehensive state to a pondering distraction. It is obvious to me, this shift. I put the book down and let it rest in my lap as my mind rests on a far away thought. Looking from the other side of this, I become frustrated with myself that I am unable to focus on the task in front of me. I am reading about consciousness and the underlying perpercitves that exist with it, and yet my own consciousness seems to float about. This got me thinking about my future. A thought ran into my mind, and I held onto it so much that it compelled me to put the book down and grab my laptop to write about it.

I long for a time in my life where my mind is not distracted, when I can sit down and read a book—actually read it through without thinking of anything else. I yearn for the time where my life is simple enough that my mind has nowhere to wander to, where I can easily fall asleep. It goes beyond contentedness. Focus is something I strive for, and it was at this moment that I realized how important it is to me.

Just as precise as this thought, this longing for less worry, less chaos, less mess in my brain, I also felt this deep appreciation for it all. I have been in a state of ambiguous emotion where I find myself unsure of everything, externally and internally. I act in the moment, but it is still preceded by worry and contemplation. Anxiety is something palpable in my life, something that I have been ignorant to as of lately.

With my personal life, I am guarded and aware of my actions. I know I am hard to read, and it’s because of my handwriting, I don’t make it easy. I’ve known this for years. But, something that I didn’t know existed has come to my attention. It’s the wall I made for myself within myself. While protecting myself on the outside, I have skillfully built a wall that fools even my own thoughts. I’ll tell myself I’m ok, but my body tells me something different. I’ll tell myself that I’m focusing on a task, but really my mind is somewhere else. I think I am being strong, but I find myself tripping over nothing. My consciousness is super aware of certain things that it blinds everything else.

I do long for simpler times. I wish worrying and anxiety were not apart of my being, but being in this whole thought thing on my own, since my mind is the only mind I know, I feel I should be appreciative of the inner workings of my mind rather than intolerant. I am distracted for a reason. I have a lot going on. There is a whole lot of things up in the air, and thinking about it all is overwhelming and scary. But, really, I guess I would rather have a lot going on than nothing. I would rather worry about something than not have a worry because worrying means I care. The day that I stop caring is when I give up the being of myself, and I am not ready, nor hope to ever part ways with everything that makes me, me.

This internal battle has given me insight into a part of me that I didn’t realize was there, has been there, and has been contributing to the turmoil I feel in a time of change. Conflicting thoughts take swings at each other and I still don’t know how to win. But, I’m glad there’s a fight in me, it seems like a worthy cause.

So speaking on understanding consciousness, I think I just have to let it be what it is, pick up the book, and read it. Distractions and all.

I like your bowtie

Bullshit is the little bow that holds the present together. When you untie it, the present is exposed, and the once pretty bow is now an unraveled ribbon pathetically falling to the ground.

What is now, what we find comfort in living amongst is held together by a whole lot of pretty bows which are easily able to be torn apart and undone. We let bullshit hold our lives together. It makes us look pretty, put together, intentional, and meaningful. We hide behind the bows because we think it’s what people want to see. We think people want us to always be put together. We want to feel put together. It’s part of our hierarchy of needs. It’s funny that self-esteem lies just under self-actualization. It’s so close to the top, yet can be so astronomically far away from the truth. We start to believe the excuses we make are valid. We begin to think that our caked on face is prettier than our naked one. It isn’t until we reach the tippy top of Maslows pyrimid that we can see things as they really are. We can see the creases from the liquids and powders we cover ourselves with. We can see the chunks of mascara clotting our eyelashes together. We can see our dark roots growing in under our bleached hair. The view from the top shows a unique truth that pierces through us in the most painful yet beautiful way.

You’ll know when you reach it because it’s so damn hard. It’s like blowing out your birthday candles, only they were trick candles, walking away and then finding out that they relit and burnt your house down. Truth hurts like a burn, and they say burn victims endure the most pain imaginable. So if you’re having trouble reaching your self-actualization, remember that that’s part of the shitstorm. We have to ache, we have to become fed up, transparent, naked, true, and vulnerable.

We want to avoid answering the seemingly easy questions because “what do you want,” “how are you,” “what are you doing,” are actually the hardest and most complicated questions to answer. We follow the guidelines of a made up rule book that keeps getting passed around by other self-conscious, yellow-bellied, amicable conformers. We just can’t help it—doing what we really want, saying what we really mean, just isn’t polite.

Stepping back from the glass sliding door I’ve had my face pressed against for so long that my nose still has a resemblance of a snout, I can finally see the real view of my backyard. I can see those pretty little bows holding myself together.  The imprint of my face glares off the glass just so that the sunlight shines right onto yours too. I see those bows, and boy, they are pretty.

 

Does IQ matter?

I read this article that was part of a pre-interview process for a tutoring program I’m interested in getting into. It contained research findings pertaining to learning specifically for children and the youth, but it got me thinking about adulthood and the lack of learning there is. When we attend school we are constantly working our brain which is actively adding to our intelligence. The main point in the article was that IQ is not a static position, it can grow. It showed that learning mindsets affect the progress and success of learning. So, for example, when one says “I’m just bad at math,” it is viewed as a static statement implying that one has always been and will always be bad at math. There is no perspective of improvement, thus creating an excuse for continuing to be bad at math. It was proven that students who were taught growth learning got higher scores than students who were taught study skills. The mindset is what makes the difference. With growth learning, students are taught that learning is a process and can improve with effort and dedication. Thinking, “I may be bad at math now, but I can improve” is the mindset that is set forth. Understanding that the brain is a muscle and needs to be worked to get stronger is a key step in growth learning. Also, understanding that there is time and room for improvement helps students view themselves as successful.

There are goals set forth. Goals specifically pertaining to learning. When I think about adulthood I see a lot of hoops that we have to jump through. Whether it be the job search process, acclimating to a new career, or gaining experience, we lose the mindset of growth learning. We forget to actively learn, and it’s because society has made it easy. It has set certain goals that we think we have to meet and gives us a satisfaction that isn’t necessarily productive for our learning. Make this number of calls, send these emails, make this amount in sales, memorize tonight’s menu offerings, etc…But do these actions contribute to the growth of our IQ? I’m not saying that people don’t learn from these experiences because we do, and they are important. But it’s the kind of learning and the mindset that we accustom ourselves with that will make a bigger difference.

The first year after I graduated from college, I felt this void that I contribute to my lack of learning. I focused on finding a career and enjoying life as it was thrown at me. I never thought about expanding my mind more by continuing to educate myself. My mindset was, “ok I graduated, I know a lot now and got through the hoops I needed to get through to get to the next step in my life.” But I found myself missing studying for tests, I found myself missing learning new things and having the mindset to improve my brain. I got lost in improving the social and emotional aspects of my life, which are just as important, but realizing now that my lack of intentional brain growth may have been the foundation of my struggles. We find satisfaction in watching documentaries, watching the news, or reading articles because we think it makes us knowledgeable. And it does, and it keeps us relevant. But, often we get lost in our relevance as we are filling our brains with information rather than setting goals for ourselves to improve the strength of our mind. It’s like when Einstein was asked what his phone number was and instead he grabbed the directory and said, “why should I memorize something that I can find in a book?” It’s the idea that clutter takes up our mind power. It creates deceiving learning growth and contributes to the excuses we make as to why we aren’t at a certain point or level. It’s part of why we end up settling.

Now, this is me dissecting the article and kind of running away with it. The focus was on youth learning growth and the positive impact it has on overall success and IQ. But being an adult, I can feel how this is true throughout life. Once you give up on the idea of actively learning, your brain, as a muscle, will not get stronger. Now, I’m not saying you get dumber, but to get smarter you have to have the perspective and understanding of learning, of working out your brain, and what is entailed to grow.

You hope it isn’t you

I’d hate to burst your bubble so let me elevate you to a level of understanding.

You’re so quick to the tongue that your teeth are in the way for words to find a landing.

 

You are a tie-dye kept together with the rubber bands of someone else’s bindings.

 

You spit out words of a person before.

It’s so quick that you don’t even notice their reflection in your mirror.

 

I bet that rotten taste in your mouth

is left over from when you went south.

 

You have your bubble and world of mime.

Let’s play bumper cars, I know I’ll have a good time.

 

That damn twitch

So my right quad muscle has been hurting recently. I ‘ve been working out every day, probably to an excess, and when I took a week off of going to the gym I realized that my leg was sore even though I was doing diddly squat. It also would do this weird twitching thing when I would lay down in a certain position. So one night sometime around two in the morning I’m trying to fall asleep and my quad won’t stop twitching. Now it’s not like an aggressive twitch, but I can feel it and my mind already has a difficult time falling asleep as it is. So, what do I do? I blind myself with my phone as I googled “why is my leg twitching?” Ooo this did not help me fall asleep. It came up with a whole lot of reasonable answers but I focused on one. I came across a very rare disease where leg twitching is one of the symptoms, and right there at 2am, I diagnosed myself with a “death in 2-5 years” disease.

So, I laid there for another 30ish minutes letting my leg twitch. Feeling every minute of my “last 2 years.” Gah so dramatic. The next day I continued my google searching and continued to over-worrying to the point where I couldn’t concentrate on my job. Good thing serving has become completely second nature to me, I only forgot about one table. It got to the point where I would intentionally bend down so my leg would hurt so I’d think “yup, there’s the disease.”

Ridiculous, I know. I put this disease in my head and I couldn’t shake it. It got me seriously freaked.

The next day after I talked myself out of this improbable rare disease, I looked at my “scare” and saw something else. No, not that life is short blah blah blah blah...

…I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’m going to make the wrong decision and I’m going to miss out on something that could potentially be exactly what I’ve been looking for. So when I thought that I wouldn’t be able to make any decision, good or bad, right or wrong, I freaked out. I over obsessed.  I thought of literally the worst scenario and ran with it. So now I’m annoyed with myself to the point where I have had enough of the goddamn worrying. In fact, I’ve had enough with a whole lot of things. Geeze, this is getting out of hand. I”ll wrap it up…

I’m done. When it comes to my happiness I’m done waiting for something to happen, for the time to be right, or to feel a certain way. I’m done pretending I don’t care about something when I really do. I’m done saying I’m ok when I’m not. I’m done being nice to people who don’t deserve it. I’m done laughing at the slightly sexist dumb old man golfer jokes when I still get that 15% tip they’ve been giving me every golf season—cheap bastards. I’m done saying “no thanks, I’m good” when I’m offered a cookie or something from a stranger that I actually really do want. I’m done being the person I don’t want to be.

Because, there it is again, that damn leg twitch.

The down damned and dirty

Facing yourself, the down, damned and dirty. You feel the soot, the sweat, the oil on your face at night. You feel the cracks, the calluses, you pick at the gunk under the fingernails of your fiddling hand.

Facing yourself, the down, damned and dirty.

You know your ugly. You know your regrets, your hate, every unethical thought you’ve had, you spit at yourself in spite and shame. Oh, you know your ugly.

You execute yourself, so willing you put your head on the chopping block, you even cut the damn rope of the guillotine. Facing yourself.

But afterward, you pick up your head and place it back on your shoulders just so as to avert any suspicion of your crookedness. And you walk on.

Your foe, the eyes looking back at you in the mirror, mocks you because they see right through the makeup, the BS, the excuses.

You know what’s real and you know what you fight for. Which is why you walk with that load on your shoulders.

What you expose is your beauty and your strength. Your ugliness, bent, surrenders to the better parts of you. You know your ugly which is why you look so damn good.

Murphy, you motherfucker.

It’s freaky how accurate my zodiac sign is. Today my horoscope warned me of the power of Murphy’s law. Its power not being much of a power but a warning in of itself stating that “what can go wrong will go wrong.”

I laughed at this.

Murphy’s law is a joke I have with myself. I feel Murphy. I feel him good and often. He’s the one who taught me to expect the worse. He’s the one who showed me what the back of my head looks like.

While he takes almost everything, he gives one thing.

Strength.

He’s given me strength in ways I never wanted nor expected. Preparation for a downfall—doesn’t get more romantic than that.

He’s stripped me down to just my skin too many times to count. No matter what I decorate myself with he’ll get his long fingers on me and rip away what I think I know. He’s shredded my conceptions, cut my legs off at my knees, and replaced my eyeballs with grey ones leaving me to look up watching the pieces of my life scatter across the sky.

It would be easy to name him my enemy.

But in its definition, an enemy is a thing that harms or weakens something else. So while Murphy’s ability to harm is uncanny, his power to weaken carries a more complicated definition.

Murphy is no enemy of mine. He’s a companion who walks beside me showing me what there is to see. He has no bias, no opinion, and no voice. He walks discriminating against no one as he carries the truth.

He is the threshold of fairness whether we like it or not.