Losing Your Meaning

We attach to memories in any way that we can. Internally, we’re scared of forgetting. We always want to remember the good times we’ve had with friends and the moments that we think have made us who we are. This attachment is so strong that we obsess over objects that remind us of our memories.

When someone dies, it’s common for loved one’s to keep clothing or anything that still smells like the person. We keep birthday cards, old letters, mixtapes our friends made, anything. We attach because we don’t want the memory to fade; we don’t want to forget.

Last year I had a rough time for many months. Music was one of the ways that I got through each day. I’d put on world’s end girlfriend and just listen. There was something chaotic about it that seemed to calm my mind. It defined my day-to-day life because in every free moment I had, music was playing.

Those old songs have come back on shuffle occasionally and the memories flood back in. I remember how hurt I was, how long the days were. Even more, I can’t stop playing the songs. I want to remember it all, to feel it again but to experience it in a different way.

The thing about these objects we attach to is that they are just object. They physically mean nothing. It’s just old clothing, paper and ink, and songs. At a base level, these objects have no significance – they’re just placeholders for a greater emotion.

What’s interesting is the more time we spend experiencing these objects, the more that they just become meaningless objects. That’s why the the more you eat your favorite meal, the less significant it becomes. The more you smell the clothing of that person you love, the less that you can smell it. It fades. The more that I listen to this music, the more that the old memories disappear.

I don’t know our relationship with objects and memories. What I do know is that I don’t want these thoughts to go away. I want to remember these emotions, the smells, the happy and the sad. The greater that I desire them, the more elusive they become. You can’t experience one emotion forever and you cannot live completely in the past. You can only look backwards, never walk backwards.

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Men with Fire in their Eyes

Last year I wrote a poem called “fire” on my old blog. It was created immediately before starting this 365 project and perhaps it was a catalyst to begin writing. At the time, I was deprived of the artist community. I lived with no creators and had no one to talk about art with. I was lonesome and wanted someone to understand me. Here’s the poem:

“I want to see
men with fire in their eyes
blinded with their passion
lost in it

consumed by it
they forget
or maybe they remember
time is nothing to them

nothing has value
all is equal
it’s worth
ten thousands pounds of gold
or a single piece of coal

the fire that burns in them
doesn’t run on fuel
it breaths
and with every exhale
they consume themselves again

i want to see men with passion
and fire in their eyes”

I feel silly sharing this part of myself but I feel like everything I create is a piece of who I am. To remove this from my blog or to un-publish it would be to remove part of myself. I am definitely not a poet.

However, I do believe that what we want most from the world is what we desire most inside of ourselves. When we seek a funny or adventurous mate, we’re really seeking those traits inside of ourselves. We want to be funny or we want to be adventurous. Instead of finding it within ourself, we look to others for their traits.

When I wrote this, I wanted passion. I wanted to look myself in the mirror and see someone who was dedicated to his craft, who was defiant and brilliant at the same time. In many of my other posts at the time, I wrote about trying to find inexhaustible inspiration. I was looking for myself.

I wrote about wanted to see people with fire in their eyes. With such strong desire to create and with utter confidence. Those words couldn’t define me in November. It’s taken a year to become that person with fire in his eyes. I love creating. It’s an inexhaustible passion.

Looking back, there are things that only time can change. I wanted to become a passionate person – and the 365 project was a path towards it. By forcing myself to write daily, I found the men with fire in their eyes, it was inside of myself. No where else. I had to find that. This poem was just a reflection of that desire.

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Self-Actualization

Social psychologist Abraham Maslow created a pyramid that defined what a person needs to do to achieve what he called “self-actualization”. This is basically a state of “being the best that you could possibly be”. He saw this state as what leads an individual to lasting happiness. However, this wasn’t a state that was achieved once and continually provided happiness. The state was a constant building of self to be the best that a person could be at any given point. For example, my best for today is different than your best for today. My best for today may be better or worse than yesterday’s best – but it’s the best I could possibly do at that time.

As I look back at this pyramids, I look at what builds the individual towards self-actualization; fulfillment of physiological needs, safety needs, love/belonging needs, and esteem needs. The individual needs sustenance like food to survive, while also needing a sense of security and belonging  to feel happy.

The trait that define a self-actualized person are a sense of morality, creativity, spontaneity, acceptance and so on. There are moments in my life when I feel maximized and at these traits. The more I look at them, the more I can see myself fulfilling them. However, when I get into relationships it seems that I shift out of self-actualization.

When I’m around others, I tend to neglect my own needs. I forget my need for esteem and exaggerate my need for belonging/love. Without feeling like I belong with others, I lose my self-esteem and thus, my creativity and spontaneity suffer. When I spend a lot of time alone, I seem to be able to organize my needs and focus more on self-improvement.

For some reason, it seems that these are the moments that I’m happiest. The moments when I feel like I’ve accomplished something or improved myself. My need for intimacy seems to be dramatically lower than my need for self-fulfillment. I’m not sure how much other people suffer through this but it’s a little disorienting to be with another.

The moments that are the clearest are after the water has been shaken. As it stills, you can see deeper. Right now I feel like I’m a glass of water that’s been shaken and you can’t see into it. The surface is stilling but it’s still blurred. As I look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I see where a lot of my suffering comes from. If you ever have the opportunity to read Maslow’s work, I encourage you to read into it. It adds a perspective that you couldn’t find otherwise.

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What do we want?

Sommersault” by Zero 7

Sometimes in life we run across things which bring great meaning into our life. We meet people who make us more more and want to be more. Maslow would write that they help a person actualize, or become the best possible version of who they could be.

This song, which I ran across last week, brings that idea to mind and reminds me of what I’m looking for. I want drive, I want passion, I want enthusiasm. I want someone who makes me desire to be more than I am.

Then again, what we seek most outside of ourselves is usually what we should be seeking most internally. If I want that drive, maybe I have to find it within myself – not depend on another person to supply it.

But what is the value of another person other than to supply these traits? Why do we go into relationships? What do we seek out of people other than physical intimacy?

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Let go of the outcomes

Perhaps the most important lessons in life are to be in the present moment and to detach from the outcomes of your life. We spend so much time struggling with the flow of life that we don’t realize that usually what we struggle against is just ourselves.

We spend so much time dissolved in thought that we distract ourselves from living our lives. Without paying attention to our lives, we get swept away and lost in possibilities. We could have had that happen if we had done this, or we could become that if we did this. The truth of the matter is, usually the outcome doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter if we get the white picket fence, what matters is the journey to the picket fence. The family we build and our relationships with them. If we have a dysfunctional house, does it matter if we have a nice appearance to everyone else?

If our dream is to become rich, we may become so preoccupied with the outcome of being rich that we miss the things we want to be rich for. We may want money to go out and have fun with friends but, in the effort of getting money, we lose all of our time. We trade one thing for another.

That’s why we need to detach from the outcomes and let go of them. We can want the white picket fence without needing to have the white picket fence. We can want to be rich and find a balance between working and having free time.

Being present is just as important. What good is an adventurous life if you’re always dreaming up your next exploration? Position your sails to go in the direction you want but don’t spend all day staring out at sea to see if you’re going in the right direction. Be here and now and experience life.

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Let it go

Take a moment to think of what you want most in life… what couldn’t you live without doing?

Have you ever thought about how much conflict this brings to our life? Our desires conflict and cross and orient our lives in directions that are illogical. They drag us in one way and we get tunnel vision for the end result.

Think of the most beautiful person you’ve ever met and how much you wanted to get to know them. How much you focused on them and were compelled to do anything to know them further. Think of the one-mindednesss that you got when you looked at this person. Everything else faded.

This is true of material items too. When you’re window shopping and you see that item that pulls you in. It may cost too much money but you can’t help reading everything about it. Envisioning yourself wearing the item, maybe driving the item if it’s a vehicle, or just owning it in general.

Looking back at the item it may seem illogical that you spent so much time looking at it. If you own it maybe you are disinterested in it now or if you didn’t, you may think “why did I even want that”?

Desire holds true for experience as well. Personally, I see skydiving posters, movie ads, and travel maps; all I can do is think about experiencing these things. My mind goes into tunnel vision and all I can think about is what that experience would be like.

The difficulty with this is we’re comparing what we currently have (no other person, no nice item, or no experience) and imagining having more. This obsession with wanting more fuels our distaste in our rudimentary lives. Nothing satisfies us because we’re always wanting more. More money, more time, more things, and more everything.

Because we don’t have what we’re seeking, we become unhappy. We are dissatisfied and we know what we want. We want thing that we can’t have. That is why Buddhism regards desire as a poison. It can taint a full glass of water with a single drop. All the things we have cannot satisfy us. That glass of water will no longer refresh us.

That is why we need to learn to let go of our desires. When we let go of wanting things we don’t have, or anything at all – we are free. By realizing our desires we can choose to let them go. The tunnel vision may last for a while – but it will fade. You’ll be able to see clearly when you aren’t narrowly focusing on one item.

Desire is a difficult thing because we can so easily want more. All we have to do to satisfy it is do whatever we desire. It is much more difficult to learn to love what you have. To be full with what your life already is.

Think of what you desire most in life – a happy life, a healthy life, 3 kids and a dog, a new car, traveling to exotic locations – then let them go. Let your desire for the perfect body or the latest trendy item. When we pursue happiness, it evades us. When we seek what we don’t have, we become unhappy.

Let it go and satisfy yourself with what you have.

This doesn’t mean orient yourself in the opposite direction. Don’t turn away from happiness. Just let things be as they are and adapt your mindset. Change your inside mind set and choose not to acquire more things.

Have a wonderful night WP.
Eric Albee

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Day two was busy! I went through all of my old clothes, visited one of my old favorite teachers to catch up, learned how to cook mussels, just baked some cookies, saw my brother for the first time in 9 months and played racquetball with him for a couple hours. Very crazy but fulfilling day. The cookies turned out perfect and it’s just nice to relax for the first time in what seems like the past year.

Over the next few days I want to focus more on writing on here and the other blogs as well as exploring more! I want to explore Minneapolis and cook a bunch of new food while I have a kitchen! Maybe try taking some photos and stuffs.

All is well. All is so perfectly, damnably well!

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