I find my fists clenched when I think about my future, what it looks like, playing out scenarios in my head. It’s when I feel my fingernails dig into the inside of my hands that I realize I am trying hard to grasp onto something that is not, and may not ever be real. Holding onto this pretentious reality does give me the feeling of hope, and I keep my fists clenched. I think I want it, I like the feeling of it. I feel a part of this far off reality, and I am doing all I can to stay in it. But soon, I notice the hold in my thighs, the curl of my toes, and the clench of my jaw. I begin to feel my tense muscles ease as I become aware of them. I let out a breath as all my muscles relax and I sink back into the bed I am lying on, the fan vibrates the wood floor, the heating unit hums with the music that is playing softly from my speaker across the room. I lie in my real reality as my daydreams fade out of my mind like smoke. As it clears, doubt stands before me, even as I close my eyes. He stands there like a brick wall, tall and strong. It’s when I try to shove him away that I notice he is more like rubber, strong and sturdy, he sways slightly but bounces back into his place. Hope and doubt live in the same room, and I feel like I need to get out of there. It’s in the corner of my eye where I see a way out, away from doubt, away from hope. They both present me with questions that I don’t know how to answer. It’s in that corner that I find the truth, or what I think it should be. I walk around doubt and make sure I don’t raise my gaze too high in fear I’ll catch a glimpse of hope and get lost in it like a plane in the clouds. Walking forward toward what is, now, is the only thing left I can think of doing. I find the place where I can live far enough away from the two that I almost forget they’re there. It’s in the now, that’s where I choose to be.
A prompt. I’m always looking for one, hoping to stumble upon something that will get my ass moving in a particular direction. A prompt to do something, make a move, think a certain way. I could call it inspiration, but that word itself is daunting and often is seen as aloof when the lack of inspiration is what is causing the distraught disposition. So, a prompt is something more obtainable, less threatening.
Give me a word, I’ll expand on that.
Give me a feeling, I can expand on that too.
Maybe through a prompt, I can find, feel really, the inspiration that I want.
I want something to prompt my writing, I want something to prompt my motivation to workout, to eat healthily, to find a new mindset, essentially, to be happy. Because I’m finding happiness comes and it goes. It’s something I have to be mindful about. Because when I find myself not doing so hot, or letting my emotions get the best of me, I realize that I let my happiness run away from me. And that’s ok, sometimes I need to feel things other than happy to get a real grasp on my reality in order to live in a perspective that shows me what’s real, where I need to go, and how I should handle certain things. Because even though I can try to constantly be happy, life has its own agenda that sometimes does not match mine. When that happens, I realize happiness is not what I need to hold onto, but rather perspective. Just like happiness, perspective changes—it comes and goes and has different forms. It is what shows me new happiness, it helps me feel different, good. Good or bad, it definitely presents both, and in that perspective, I can realize that happiness doesn’t have to be stable. Realizing that happiness shifts makes the downs and the emotional rollercoasters easier to handle. Easier to navigate around.
I’m hard on myself, I know this. I constantly feel like I should be doing more, which boosts up my stress levels and I find anxiety is the only hand I’m holding.
I talk a lot of talk, preach a lot of preach, and struggle daily trying to hold myself up to my words. I find myself in a catch-22 often, or at least I feel that way.
Perspective. That’s one word that I really do think makes the entire difference. It’s what makes things important. It’s what makes things make sense. It directs happiness and shows you where you place your joy. In search of the perspective that I need, I often find myself aware of the lack of such a view and find myself grasping onto what I believe is true without realizing the possibility of an alternate reality. This is where we find ourselves getting taken out at the kneecaps, where our breath gets beat out of us, and we feel like we’re in a well with walls 1000 feet high. We get stuck in something that seems perpetual and we take it as so. Our ignorance keeps us from seeing past the walls that we put up. Our misery keeps us there, whispering sweet nothings into our ears until we feel that where we are is where we belong. It’s not until a passerby comes along to get some water that we realize there was a bucket and rope hanging right above us, we just had to look up.
I get these urges to change everything. It’s like an energy runs up my body from my toes. My feet start to move and once they do I’m gone. When I make a decision, I MAKE a decision. In college, when I would lie in my bed cozy in warm sheets contemplating whether or not I should make it into class, it’d take just a split second where I’d think, “nope!” turn onto my belly and let my face fall back asleep into my pillow. No regret, my mind was set and I’d fall asleep HARD. When I decided to quit a job, it was something I let tumble in my brain for a while, but the actual decision of it came quick and resolute. Like super resolute. A hefty raise, provided housing, and altered hours couldn’t get me to stay once I told myself I was done. When I decided to move across the country, I thought about it for about three seconds, then told my family I was leaving in a month. When I decided to follow my heart, there was literally nothing that could sway me. I make spontaneous decisions and I pronounce them as my new law. I’ve often wondered if this characteristic of myself is something I should worry more about, but then I decide, naw it was what I wanted and I don’t feel bad about it. I am where I am and I’m happy for it all. For the most part…
Decisions are big. You put one foot ahead of the other sometimes not knowing where your next step will take you, but still, you take that step. Thoughtfully planned and intentional, or impulsive and uncharted, decisions show that you know what you want, but more importantly, that you care enough about what you want to do something about it. Doing something. That is huge. Whether it be a verdict on an ankle sock, or a moving across the country type, celebrate each accord as their own.
Fight for what you want. You know what you want. You do. If you don’t think you do, well then you’re just scared, scared, or scared. Make decisions. Tell your significant other where the fuck you want to eat. YOU KNOW.
Being true to yourself is really where it stems. We make up excuses. And damn, they’re usually pretty good. But they are what they are. Excuses hide your intentions.
Love yourself enough to make the choice to decide. Love yourself enough to leap to that rock you’ve been staring at above you. Love yourself enough to run towards what you want. Love yourself enough to walk away from what is not good enough. If it doesn’t give you butterflies, leave. Love yourself so you can give love. It starts with a kick in the ass, water thrown at your face, a slap in the face, a kiss, a laugh, a good song, a view bigger than you, and a conversation with a crazy stranger. It starts with something that inspires you to make a goddamn move. Make the damn move and follow the urge in your gut. It’s probably right, and worse comes to worst, it’s wrong. But at least you did something. Doing nothing is a waste of your time, and it’s a waste of my time. And I hate my time wasted.
It’s what you feel when you aren’t doing anything. You feel parts of yourself that you forgot were there. It’s in the moment that you feel the wind blowing your flyaway hairs, you hear a quiet that is louder than the world around you. The world where people are yelling, cars are honking, and machines are machining. You realize that quiet is the thing you have been running from, or hiding from. Because once quiet finds you, you find yourself consumed in its loudness. You see the dust floating in the air in the beams of the sun. You hear those thoughts in your head that haven’t had the chance to come forward with all the other noise going on up there. You scare yourself in that way. Seeing something that has always been there, right in front of you, shows you that you are more ignorant, more distracted than you prefer.
It’s a necessary thing that is more underrated, forgotten, neglected, and relied on least when it comes to self-care. Thinking that the noise of life, the sounds of people, of music, of traffic, of nature, of games, of movies, of cooking, of conversation is more substantial to our growth than what quiet, what slowness, what reflecting on what has happened to us, is the kind of thinking that causes us to stay in an unnoticeable rut. We become ignorant to things in life because we actively portray our lives through the noise, the happenings, that we go through.
But when the happenings are over and we find ourselves naked we find ourselves in a place that meets us with either familiarity or hostility with a pushback that we filter with drugs, alcohol, and Netflix. We neglect ourselves of the quiet that we need, that others around us need us to have. We lie to ourselves, or more we don’t get to know ourselves. The time we are offered to familiarize ourselves with the why’s, the how’s, and the hmm’s become a mind-numbing buzz that becomes detrimental to the foundation we stand on.
The quiet can be where you find out what is important to you. It’s where you realize what you want. It’s where you see what you don’t want to deal with anymore. It’s where you see through the bullshit of the world that you surround yourself with. Or, it’s where let your mind wander. You may find nothing in the quiet, and that’s part of the deal.
The thing about this quiet though, it’s not only part of the auditory sense of the definition, but really all the senses. It’s the stillness you find around you. It’s the taste that you find on your tongue. It’s what you see beyond the bullshit.
It’s what you notice.
Taking time to notice things is more rare than I think most are aware of. So easily we are distracted by the touchscreens we have so close to our fingertips. So quick we are to jump into a conversation just to be a part of it. It’s hard to stand back because, shit, what if somebody notices?
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.
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.
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.