December 10./ Ready to Go

Alrighty… well… I think everything is back up. 7 years worth of blogs. Hard to believe that much time has already gone by. It hasn’t been consistent but it’s always been there. If you feel like gandering through, there’s a lot of miscellaneous content. My first blog was a dream journal. Then it turned into a travel blog while I was staying in Europe. Then it became a blog about… well… anything that was on my mind. If there’s anything I’ve been consistent in, it’s definitely inconsistency.

That being said, it’s the end of the year and I’ve feel like writing again. I haven’t really written since joining the military. Or well, I haven’t really written with any mention of having joined. I’m sure there’ll be a post about that later.

It’s a shame too. I live in the tropical state of Hawaii with my beautiful boyfriend Cory. I’ve been fortunate in the last couple years to have had the opportunity to travel. I’ve spent a lot of time hiking around the island and exploring. Most of which has been undocumented.

Oh well, I guess it’s just another opportunity to get started. Here are few pictures from the last few months:

 

 

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December 10./ #getyourassintonature

2017-04-01 10.21.23Six months ago, I participated in the #getyourassintonature tag on Instagram. I’ve had a lot of different feelings about participating – but I’m glad that I did.

At the time I took this, I felt like others in my life had started to put me into a box. People were treating me like I was reserved or quiet but I’ve never felt that that those word described me. I never wanted those words to describe me.

In struggling with those ideas, I felt the need to do something different. Something that challenged my internal perception of who I was.

I saw the movement and felt the need to participate. I needed to show myself that I was free to move beyond the constraints that I felt society had placed on me. People always speak about nudity and liberation but I didn’t feel the freedom came from shedding clothes. It came from leaving self-perceptions behind.

I felt like that no matter how I molded myself, I could always change. I felt that my life was my own and I could move in the ways that I willed.

It didn’t come from the nudity or doing something taboo. The breeze on my balls didn’t change who I was. It was the will to challenge who I saw myself as. I was afraid of becoming quiet or boring. And this was an act to say that that doesn’t have to be so.

January 23./ Leaving Social Media (again)

Staying off social media has been an interesting change in my life lately. A couple weeks ago I decided to deactivate my Facebook account and remove SnapChat, Instagram, and a couple other apps from my phone. The motivation for this decision was a bit blurry and undefined.

A few times each year I get frustrated at something. I struggle to define what it is exactly. Not only in communicating this to others but I struggle to understand what it is within myself. Sometimes it feels like loneliness, other times it feels like a desire to retreat from others.

There were various reasons for this withdrawal; social media’s inability to duplicate one-on-one relationships with other people, how distracting it can be to wonder if I have any notifications (or that I can neurotically check them at any moment), the onslaught of memes that deliver humor but lack substance, or finally how blindly this can consume large pockets of my life.

Perhaps it’s out of nostalgia but MySpace will always feel like the original social media to me. It didn’t have an instant messenger and there was no infinite NewsFeed to scroll through. Although it supplemented relationships, it never felt like it was replacing them.

With live video on Facebook, Messenger installed for texting, and customized NewsFeeds, it feels like Facebook has deeply ingrained itself in how I maintain relationships with my friends and family. Leaving social media has felt like I’ve hacked away at those relationships.

One relationship that’s particularly damaged at the moment is the one that I have with myself. Empty moments where normally nothing demands my attention have disappeared. Between tasks, I pull out my phone and check for updates. It’s not that I’m desiring news but that I’m filling periods where I’d normally be doing nothing.

For example, when I wake up I silence my alarm and check my phone. When I go to the bathroom, I’m scrolling through a newsfeed. If there isn’t a conversation going on in the car with friends, I probably have my phone out. Sometimes when I’m walking I’m looking at Facebook more than I’m looking at my environment.

What am I looking for? I’m not sure exactly. Exciting news? To cover moments that I would feel bored? To stay ‘connected’? Maybe a mixture, I haven’t really figure it out. What I do know is that the cost of looking for these things is my attention. And my attention, unfortunately, is limited.

The content of social media is mostly white noise. My Facebook NewsFeed consisted of  only a couple stories relevant to my friends and family when I left. It was mostly memes, politics, recipes, lots of ads, and irrelevent short videos. There was no central substance or social expression of my friends other than sharing someone else’s content.

Don’t get me wrong, this content can be interesting and expresses what a person likes – but it does not foster social connection in a way that justifies how much time I spend using it.

It isn’t like binging a TV show on Netflix where you finish a season of your favorite show and wonder where the weekend has gone. It’s so much more subtle than that. Those empty moments I spoke about before; rolling over in bed in the morning, riding in the car with friends, even walking down the street; they’re valuable.

It’s hard to define their worth because these moments are empty. Normally we would be doing nothing in their absence. But emptiness itself is valuable. It’s filled with possibility and needed transition time.

In the car with friends, maybe I’ve missed conversation because I’ve been on my phone. Or maybe there’s a bond that happens when multiple people are together, not distantly looking at Facebook, even if nothing is said. When I’m out walking and looking at my phone, maybe I’m too zoned out from what’s actually happening around me. Maybe I need to let my mind idle for a few minutes before I get where I’m going.

I just know that I’ve felt restless and unable to define why. I’ve felt busy, though I’ve accomplished nothing. I’ve felt lonely, though I’m connected to many people. I struggle to balance this and I know that many other people feel the same way and perhaps they don’t understand it either.

So disconnecting myself hasn’t ultimately changed my life. I still wake up and go to work each day. I’m not filled with tranquility or any other emotion. But I do notice the empty moments now.

When I sit at work and everyone around me is on their phone, I open my eyes and look around. When my alarm goes off in the morning, I stretch in my bed and begin the day without taking on the burden of knowing what’s happening somewhere else. I can sit down with my breakfast and gaze out the window at the bustling world – knowing that ultimately I’m here. There’s no notification, no urge to fill the empty moments with empty content, no reason to neurotically try to strengthen relationships with others. Just here and now.

 

January 19./ Routine

It feels good to be writing again – like stretching old muscles that I haven’t used in a while. From time to time I get the urge to sit down and type for a little bit. It gives me an opportunity to look back at the last few months and reflect on what’s going on in my life. This blog seems to mirror that. I apologize for the sporadic postings.

Today I’d like to take the time to look at a mechanism called routine. It seems that my life has been a series of changes and reactions to those changes.

The most recent change has been moving. I’ve finally hit a point where I can say I’ve gotten used to living on the island and I’m no longer caught up in it. I don’t feel as anxious about living in a new place. My work environment feels the same way. I’ve adjusted to the people I work with and the routine of the day.

The feeling has been serene. I didn’t know that I was anxious or uncomfortable until the emotion disappeared. The calmness crept up out of nowhere. Since then, I’ve been looking at the other things that I’ve gotten used to… like living out on my own, the places I frequently go.

What I’ve noticed is that I desire the calm, adjusted feeling. I mean, who doesn’t? I want to have places I regularly go and to feel comfortable with where I live and where I work. On the same note, I’ve noticed the anxious feeling when the routine is broken – like when the freeway I take to work is closed or when I get assigned a new task at work.

The strange thing is that while I desire the familiarity and calmness of routine, I also desire newness and the unknown. I want to see new places and try things I’ve never done before. And I want to be calm and comfortable with the new things that I try. Of course it doesn’t always work that way.

A side effect of entering the nice, relaxed routine is that I don’t want to break it. I feel lazy. There’s little drive to go out and do when I can relax at home. This isn’t to say that I’m afraid to go out and explore new places but I’m sinking into lethargy.

Now, routine is nice and all but there has to be a balance of it and freshness. Not enough adjustments and the water grows stagnant. We want to keep the water moving so it doesn’t start turning green.

Lately I’ve just been feeling more cognizant of how I react to routine and breaking it.

August 1./ What’s been on my mind lately

My nightstand is 11 books deep and over half of it is about Zen. Paper enlightenment isn’t always good for the soul. Too much reading and you’ll get stuck with ideas and no practice. That’s where I am at the moment. I’ve just finished a book on Zen Master Hakuin, and now I’m reading translations of Dōgen’s Shōbōgenzō and Mumon Ekai’s Mumonkan.

It’s wonderful to encounter different perspectives and to take time to understand them. Although I cannot claim to fully comprehend their complexity (or perhaps simplicity), it’s nice to sit with them.

In fact, it’s been nice to sit with myself too. Lately, there have been a lot of passing thoughts that I didn’t notice I have. Many of them are ideas about the world and some of them are about me. For example, one of the ideas that’s been on my mind lately is about masculinity.

It sounds unusual to talk about this because I didn’t know that I held this idea until recently. Or well, I didn’t have a solid understanding of it. Being out of the closet (as gay) at age 11, I spent a lot of my younger years introspecting about who I am. Much of that time was spent with women, exploring topics that society deems as more feminine (i.e. emotions, empathy). I did this instead of developing traditionally masculine parts of myself.

Most of these traditionally masculine parts are heavily tactile. I never learned sports, fishing, or how to fix cars*. Instead I adopted the idea that these areas were mysterious or innate in some way (i.e. some guys are just naturally athletic or mechanically minded). And I was sure that I was not one of them.

I completely abandoned these topics and paid no mind to them for a very long time… well, until I joined the military and was suddenly surrounded by guys. Areas that were once mysterious started fading. Last year I started to spend a lot of time outdoors hiking**. This was a random growth. I started exploring tactile activities that I hadn’t enjoyed or thought about when I was younger.

As I’ve spent more time sitting in meditation recently***, I’ve noticed this subtle change. Lately I’ve been craving a long list of traditionally masculine activities. I know that’s a strange way to put it but I’ve been wanting to go rock climbing. Last week I worked on my car without feeling terrified I was going to break it. And I want to know more and do more. I don’t feel exhausted of it.

To someone who doesn’t feel this divide, what I’m writing about may not make any sense. Masculinity isn’t inherently about turning wrenches and femininity isn’t about emotions and social skills. Society places these generalizations on the genders and everybody feels it in some form. If you’re a dude and you don’t know how to work on your car, maybe you feel ashamed or embarrassed. Even if only a little bit. Or if you’re a chick and you’re one of those gals who scales those crazy upsidedown rock climbing walls, maybe you feel rebellious****.

I know this is basic Gender in Society 101 but I feel that sometimes I forget it. And often it feels like an invisible wall that confines me unknowingly. My car is mysterious and I avoid the thought of maintenance. I don’t think about why I’m avoiding it or why it feels so mysterious to me but I just push it out of my head.

Maybe that’s what I’ve been getting from my stack of paper enlightenment; these mysterious invisible walls are just mental constructs. Whether about gender or about my own limitations, I build my own confines. I think that everybody knows this but we’re not always conscious of it. We run into these invisible walls accidently and turn back around automatically without examining why we’ve put the walls there in the first place.

The cliché ending to this would be: “go off, do whatever you love, #noconfines #teardowntheinvisiblewalls” but I don’t think that’s quite the right answer either. Instead, I think it’s important to remain conscious. When you want to explore a new interest, whether it be in woodworking, kayaking, or maybe even the introspective stuff too, pay attention. Notice if you encounter a roadblock. Feel your way around it.

Get excited about new interests*****. Car maintenance isn’t that mysterious – well, actually it is but that’s okay too. The mystery isn’t bad. It’s all about exploring and learning.

Anyways, it’s getting pretty late here. Please forgive my generalizations about the genders. I know dudes that are very emotional and chicks that could beat me up. The masculinity/femininity was just to illustrate the most apparent invisible walls we build. These walls can be incredibly complex and difficult to deconstruct. I guess the first thing is to notice them. Anyways… I should get going. These are just the things that have been on my mind lately. Have a wonderful day/night wherever you are!


* This is to grossly undercut both femininity and masculinity
**Seriously, if I wasn’t out in the woods physically, I was there mentally
*** This sounds much more mysterious and exotic than it really is, promise
****Why would you feel rebellious? What status quo are you breaking? Oh, and P.S. I’m jealous that you can climb those funky walls. I want to be like spiderman too!
*****WOOT! YEAH! ROCKCLIMBING! EMOTIONS! WOO! FOOTNOTES! YAY!

July 23./ Laying out Excuses

Writer’s block has hit me hard for the last year. To break out of this period of inactivity, I want to do an exercise that I saw in Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit”. In it, she lists the excuses she sometimes makes to avoid creating. Afterwards she provides commentary about how she can move past them. In no particular order, here are my excuses:

  1. I’m not a professional / I don’t want to mislead others
    Excuse: A few years ago, when I was hyped about blogging, I often tried to motivate friends to start writing. I heard every excuse in the book. One friend though, said she didn’t want to start blogging because she didn’t want to contribute to the noise. “There’s too many people on the internet shouting their opinions” she said.This was hard on me because I had to ask myself if I was actually contributing online or just shouting my opinions. I’m not a professional on any topic. I don’t have a degree. Most of my knowledge comes out books or experiences. This excuse could be summed up by the introspective question all artists face: “What qualifies you to do this?”

    Rebuttal: Honestly? Most of the internet is filled with people who are not qualified to do what they do. But they do it anyways. For the most part, nothing could really qualify a person. Who says that someone is qualified to walk down the street and vlog their life on their camera? Or toss a bunch of mentos in coke? Or to do anything for that matter?

    As for the ‘shouting opinions’ portion, everyone is going to come across in this way. If you want to share, it’s inherently noisy. You don’t make the noise any louder by producing or any quieter by not writing. If you’re heart is telling you to contribute, go out and create. It’s bound to be noisy.

  2. I’m unclear about my intentions about why I write and what to write about
    Excuse: Often when I sit down when I sit down to write I don’t have a particular topic that I want to discuss in mind. I only have the feeling that I want to write. Without direction or drive, I spin between possible topics for too much time before giving up.The process of choosing a topic is… long winded? Usually this part is intermixed with the other excuses; “what qualifies you to write about this?”, “why don’t you write about a personal experience instead?”, “that’ll take too long”, et cetera. Without a topic, I don’t have clear intentions to create a good product.

    Rebuttal: The obvious solution to this excuse is to take time to define why you write and what you want to write about. Find what topic you want to discuss and stick to it. The first step you should take when sitting down is defining why you’re here and what you’re going to do. Going with the flow is a great skill to have but if you do it too much here, you’ll exhaust yourself wandering through topics with no direction. Pick a topic and hold to it.

  3. My writing skills are rusty and it’s embarrassing to read old posts
    Excuse: While this one is easy to counter, I often find myself faced with my old writing. Not that it was particularly good, but when I was writing daily, my skills were much higher. Now that I’ve stopped writing for almost two years, I automatically compare my current work to that which I was producing during a creative “height”.

    Rebuttal: Comparison will eat you alive. If you spend your time sulking in how you’re not as great as you once were, you’ll never do great things again. If the feeling is nagging you that bad, just work through it and continue to produce. With time and persistence, you’ll hone your craft again. Maybe it won’t be in the same way, and that’s fine, but you will get better as you work.

  4. It’s time consuming and there are other things I could be doing
    Excuse: Without skills, it takes feels like it takes forever to write. I spend 4 or 5 hours writing a short blog posts, then I over-edit it, question myself about whether it’s “good enough to post”, then ultimately log off for the night without sharing it.

    More than anything this make me feel like I’m wasting my time. It takes me a long time to sit down and produce something. “Is it worth the time if the product isn’t great?”

    Rebuttal: All art takes time to produce. You can’t go into it thinking that you’ll be able to jump in quick and come out with a fantastic product. You have to put in the time to create something awesome. Even with greater skill, you’ll still have to put in your hours. Suck it up buttercup, everyone goes through these stages of writing too much, overdoing it, and questioning if it’s good enough. It’s part of the process. Keep going and push passed it.

  5. When it comes down to it, I’m scared of judgement or being held accountable for what I write
    Excuse: These “writer’s blocks” usually boil down to a fear of being judged for expressing something. Whether it be a personal topic or a judgement based off what I choose to reblog or share. “If I write ________, will I come across as too (gay, masculine, feminine, showoff-ish, dumb, know-it-all, irrelevant)?”

    On the same note, I’m afraid that if I write casually, down the road someone is going to hold me to what I wrote. My opinions change as I gain understanding. What I wrote two years ago may not be true about me anymore.

    Rebuttal: No matter what you do, people will always judge you for it. And that’s okay because it really doesn’t matter what others think about you. You’ll always be too gay, too thin, too dumb, for somebody. So what? Create anyways. Have confidence in what you do. You feel driven to create and share. Not everybody can say that.

    The same is true about being held accountable for what you produce. People will always hold things against you. You’ll always be too much of something. Even if it was a past you. Create anyways. Be radical, then contradict yourself. Who cares? You’re allowed to change. You’re allowed to be obscene and different and too much. Do what you love.

Hey y’all, thanks for reading this. I apologize for how long this post has gotten. Brevity isn’t my strong suit. Plus, it’s easy to complain and write excuses! 😛 I hope that if you experience any of these same excuses, maybe you’ll let them go. I’d love to see what you produce. If anyone gets this far, let me know in the comments what excuses you face and how you get passed them. Have a good day/night and I’ll catch ya later!