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.

Purple Rain

You think she is just a happy girl eating ice cream. She has a smile on her face as she walks through the crowd of happy people watching the outdoor concert. So yeah, you wouldn’t question where her smile stems from.

But there’s something else to her story, like there usually is.

She wishes her story could be as simple as it looks. She wishes that moment in the crowd was an easy smile.

What you missed was the person walking ahead of her, the person she was following. The distance between them grew. She couldn’t see his face, so she held her own expression. She wore a smile, and she remembers it felt good.

As his strides got longer, she felt more alone. But, she realized she was on her own the whole time anyway, so she continued to smile.

She decided to feel the grace of the moment around her. When she passed other people, she saw a joy that she couldn’t help but smile with. She felt the passion of the music being played on the stage behind her and she couldn’t help but sway with it. She had a smile on her face and as she looked at the people she was passing by, they smiled back at her. She was living in a moment, and it looked easy.

But the person walking ahead of her must have had a different determination. When she turned to watch a song that caught her attention, he didn’t follow. With a hard face, he stood his ground. Maybe it was because he couldn’t hear the same piano she heard when she was a kid and feel the joy that song always gave her. He didn’t feel the sacred melody that moved through everybody else in the crowd. Even so, why did he have to stay back?

She turned back to him thinking he’d be by her side, but instead found him 5 paces away standing there, waiting for her. She gave him a playful smile inviting him to join her, but I guess he didn’t see it. He only came up to her to tell her “c’mon let’s go.” She bit her lip, held her breath while she took a spoonful of her ice cream, took one more gaze at the stage, and turned around to go with him. It was the pivot of her foot that sent her in a direction away from that moment. But she didn’t protest. She took another bite of her ice cream and continued to sway with the music as she walked behind him. She swayed and sang up the steps, through the entrance, up the elevator, and to their door. She stopped when the door shut behind her and she found herself in the quietest room in the whole building.

He doesn’t even realize what he just silenced.

The man who walks ahead of her doesn’t seem to care. He couldn’t know her because he never turns around to see her.

He says she’s crazy.

He doesn’t know that is the worst thing she could hear from him.

She’s become exhausted, over time. Exhausted trying to show him the good, what she sees. She feels like she’s screaming at the top of her lungs, but no, she’s standing in front of him struggling to get the right words out. With him like this, her heart feels like it drops into the acid of her stomach, over and over again.

You see, it’s not an easy smile.

Travel guide to homelessness and happiness

Today I starred a bunch of big girl jobs on Craigslist. Jobs that seemed interesting enough that dealt with marketing/pr—things around my degree, jobs that come with security—401k, health insurance, a salary. Because jobs like this is what I’m being told I should take. Being told by society, my student loans looming over my head, my family, the voice inside my head when I think about my future, my money problems, and my adulating self. I found myself getting exciting, saying “hmm that could be cool, I could do that.” More times than that though I did find myself thinking I’m not qualified enough for that one, or I would never get past the first round of the interview process. So, I moved on, I moved through, job after job, not starring anything lower than $15/hour.

But then I starting thinking of something else, like my brain usually does when forced to focus on a particular task. Damn.

I slowly, but quickly, started realizing that maybe these types of jobs are what I don’t want, shouldn’t have right now. I am in a place in my life where I feel pretty lost, wandering in a familiar path, looking for something that can prove itself as new to me. Thinking, if I land one of these security jobs, what happens when I realize years down the road that I took the job too soon. I fell into a life that I swore I wouldn’t ever stumble into, because of well, health care.

I found myself saying “shit this job wants me to commit to a 2 year program, NEXT!” I cannot, in every cell in my body, commit to something for over a year at the moment. Love is the only thing I can see as an exception. I simply am just too goddam unsure, ok, more like scared that I’m going to make the wrong decision and send my life into a direction of tripping in puddles and looking up to see that I am nowhere near anything familiar. Hell, when the gym guy was signing me up for my membership and asked me if I want a lower-priced committed plan vs a higher monthly priced non committed plan I pretty much screamed OH I DO NOT WANT COMMITMENT.

I know that right now, in my 25 year old self, body, and soul that I aggressively am against putting myself into anything that I am not passionate about. Yes, I know I need to start setting myself up for the future, and I know that can be seen as an incredibly selfish and naive statement, but if I am setting myself up in a way that will actually put me 5 years back when I’m 30, is it worth it? Because I know myself. I know that I can’t allow myself to settle and feel ok about it. Is it worth always wondering if I could be doing something I actually enjoy, something I made for myself because of the giant risks I took in my 20’s? If I put myself in a position right now of setting my creative 20’s life away, where will that put myself in the future? Is now the time when I need to be taking foolish jobs, wandering even more, falling in love even more, feeling even more scared, and jumping into some not so lucrative creative things?

Recently a coworker was just talking about how almost everybody out of college gets a job that pays over a 30K salary—not sure how valid that point is— and it got me to thinking that, damn, I really don’t want to be in a category of people that go into the fucking “job market.” Right now, I don’t want to picture myself saying, “yeah I never saw myself marketing ceiling fans, but damn I’m sure good at it and its makes me a make a hefty salary.” No, right now I want to picture myself standing strong on my own in my own art studio in painted overalls sipping on tea while a soft jazz number plays in the background. I want to see myself as someone who made her own path. Made something of HERSELF. I don’t want to market SHIT. I want to find a passion, run with it, and be proud of it because it is a part of me. Ceiling fans will never be apart of me. I don’t care how good I could be at it, I don’t even want to imagine myself in that god awful position no matter how good looking that salary looks. Label me crazy. Hell, I sure feel like it. I think it’s an inner battle that I’ve been having with myself for awhile now. I just haven’t realized it. I know what I should do, aka get a security job. And I also know what I want to do/should also do because it’s something I want. And I sure know, I do what I want.

Listen,

I’m not sure what kind of decisions I’ll make, nor what I’ll base them off of. I do know I’m nervous, and I also know deep down that whatever decisions I make will be the right ones, because life has a way of working itself out. I truly believe that. It’s all perspective.

It’s the ducks!

We’re all a bunch of phonies. As Holden Caulfield might say.

It’s about this time of year that I re-read my favorite book, Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger.

I can’t really tell you why it’s my favorite. Maybe it’s my copy of the book, which is older than me and the print looks like it’s been stamped on. Its spine is all cracked and the pages have turned a bit golden. The book is kind of about nothing, but then everything at the same time. If you’ve read it, you know what I mean, and for some reason I’m compelled to pick it up every year.

I think it’s because of Holden, the main character. I like the way he talks. He’s real, you know? Like he sees things as they are. No bullshit. Just people, life, and ducks— A conversation about ducks I think is the most interesting thing in the book. And I’ll let you in on something, it’s not that interesting. Like at all. BUT. It makes you think. About, ducks. About, why ducks? And then, usually, the next thought you have is something profound. It’s weird. It’s a weird book. Real though.

And let’s be real, people need to be more real. I see it everywhere all the time—people putting on faces that aren’t theirs. Cover ups that aren’t covering up shit, only making it more obvious. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Know what you’re saying. Original thought is often easily misplaced when having a conversation. We react how we think we should too often rather than how we really feel. We reply with “I’m good,” when asked how we are because, well hell, what else are we going to say? This is us. Phonies. Because we are never just “good.”

So, learn something from Holden. Go find out where the ducks go during the wintertime, maybe.

 

 

 

 

Hot Tamale

She sat there, staring at her newly painted wall. This color made her feel good, happy. The boldness of the color made her feel strong. Despite the murmurs from her mother about how it’s “too much,” she smiled, happy with her decision.

She got up from her bed, the wood floors were cool, the air heavy. Summer nights in this house were hot and humid. Old windows allowed little air flow. Only a breeze of chilled air whooshed out from her mother’s bedroom. The window air conditioning unit made the air smell cold.

Tired, she turned into the bathroom. It smelled of toothpaste and bathwater. The bath mat was damp on the ground. Her hair felt the humidity. She looked in the faded mirror, and splashed her face with cold water. It felt good, so she did it again. Eye closed, she grabbed for the towel hanging beside the sink—water dripped off her face onto the floor. She held the towel to her face for awhile, rubbed her eyes with it, and hung it back up. Her reflection showed a red spotty girl. Eyes puffy, skin shiny, she was ready for some sleep. Exhaling, she removed her contacts, a ritual that had become an annoying habitual bed time routine.

She walked back into her “hot tamale” red room. The room glowed like a quiet candle. Eyes blurry, she spotted the outline of her glasses on the dresser. Placing them on her dewy face, everything came into focus. Her room felt new. Now, opportunity is not a characteristic typically offered from a tiny cramped bedroom, but indeed, that is what she felt from it. The color. The god damn crazy hot tamale color—it was what she wanted. In that moment and in every moment after that she loved that color. 

She turned around and flicked the light switch off. She stood there for several seconds in the dark. Letting her eye adjust, she felt her way to her bed. Feeling the coolness of the sheets, she threw the covers to the floor. Throwing both legs onto the bed at once, she exhaled, laid her head back, and closed her eyes. For once, in a long time, she immediately drifted off into a dream. She could feel herself sinking into her bed, her pillow, as she drifted further. Darkness took over the colors of her awake mind. But soon new colors emerged as her reality slept.