Filled with Feelings

Back on day 36 (January 6th, 2014) , I wrote a draft. I never published what I wrote because I didn’t think it would contribute to my blog.

“I feel lied to, charred, cheated, lost, broken, cowardly, burnt, angry, incomplete, injured, isolated, lonely, invisible, nervous, addicted, poisoned, oblivious, regretful, sore, confused, blind, black, gone, frozen, halted, tricked, unloved, cold, darkened, alone, defunct, useless, unintelligent, “fine”, helpless, dead, unhappy, wilted, drown, choked, drunk, depressed.

Right now I don’t want to talk to anyone. There’s a tornado inside myself and I’ve been avoiding it for the last two months. A conflict that I’ve ignored but it needs addressed. It’s two clashing opposites that are damn near evenly matched. I want this to be resolved and I keep looking for other people to solve it. To give me answers that they can’t answer for someone else. I have to make decisions right now and I can’t ask anyone for assistance from anyone. I have to sit with myself and ask the questions to myself

After 254 days I feel like I can look back and add on to what I was saying. Perhaps in response to how I was feeling back then. To gives some context, I moved from Minnesota to Texas (May-July), then Texas to Mississippi (August-October), then Texas to South Carolina (October-March), and now I’ve settled down in South Carolina. In January, when I wrote this, I had just moved between three states.

I left my family in May and saw them twice (end of July, mother in December). Leaving the people that I know and love was extremely difficult. Well, leaving wasn’t but living without them was. In January, I felt hopeless. As evident by the first paragraph, I felt many emotions and none of them were positive.

Looking back, I understand that confusion. There was a lot of chaos in my mind. Life can be difficult. However, I see that I contained all emotions. At any given moment, we can feel anything. It’s like we have a color wheel inside and we can show any shade of any color. If we are surprised, we can show excitement. If we are shocked, we can show fear. Those emotions are already inside of us.

The trouble was that I believed all those colors were mixed. That they were out of my control (a tornado is out of control), and that others couldn’t help. I thought that I only contained sadness and I feared that I wasn’t capable of feeling anything else. Even more, I thought that these emotions came from my life conditions. If only _______ happened, I would be happy or feel better. And so I became tangled in my mind.

Nine months later I see that I contain all of these emotions and circumstance doesn’t make me feel a certain way. Internally I feel the way I do because of me. Not the circumstance. There’s an old Buddhist idea that “nothing is worth becoming upset over”. Ultimately the phrase points to our response to events. We do not have to become upset over anything. It’s our own choice.

While it often doesn’t feel like this, we can learn to understand our responses and alter them. When something happens, you control your response to it. You do not have to become angry, nor sad, nor frightened, nor excited. You can be however you want to be.

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Take Charge of Your Emotions

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that everyone acts what they feel inside. A person who is at peace internally, will act peaceful to others. If a man is angry with himself, he will act angrily at the people around him. Happy people are internally happy and extend it outside of themselves.

We reflect our internal world and attempt to actualize it. However, we have control over ourselves (and our own mental world) but not the physical world. We can choose to be happy or sad but we cannot make another person happy. Only they can make themselves happy.

It’s difficult to believe this because we think “she made me angry”, “he wanted me to feel sad”, and we think others can control emotions. This is not so. No one can make you angry, only you can make yourself angry. You can beat me up, hurt my family, take away my things, but you cannot make me angry. That is inside of me, it’s my own choice.

The same is true for you. Take notice of your emotions and responsibility for them. When you feel happy, it’s not because of anyone else, it’s inside of you. Someone can buy you roses, but it’s not the person or the roses that make you happy – you make yourself happy.

When you take responsibility for your emotions, you realize this. You cannot blame anyone else for how you feel. Nor can you justify acting out of an emotions because of another person. You feel, that is you. Take everything in, feel your emotions. Take notice of them and realize what you feel.

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Moods and Circumstance

You have to be in the right mood to take in certain parts of the world. If you’re having a rough day, you’ll understand only the rough side of life. When you’re having a good time, you may only know the highs in life. It’s important to note that there is no “perfect state”, the equilibrium is always moving.

To reach certain understandings in life, you have to be in the right mood at the right time. If you were feeling adventurous, and were to walk past a poster on skydiving, you’re more apt to doing it. In that situation, if you weren’t feeling adventurous, you may just keep walking.

While I know this is a rudimentary explanation of something we all know, I think we don’t pay enough attention to it. Our mood is what creates our life situation, because we see the world through our emotions. We act through our perception. If our emotions are limited, or restricted, we essentially blind ourselves to particular aspects of life. When we find a mood that makes us feel fully alive, we participate in life.

Finding that feeling is key in life because it’s an emotion we can all return to. If you realize that your life is dull, maybe you need to change your attitude. This shift will make you make your life less boring. Again, there’s no perfect states but there’s one that makes you more authentic. It makes you alive and participate in life and strive to meet your goals. That is what you should pay attention to; how you feel about the world. Does it line up with how you want to experience life?

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In a side note, yesterday a rule of mine was broken: I watched a movie before I read the book. Despite already owning the book, I desperately needed to watch Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road”. There is some deep rooted desire to travel, and for the time being I can’t leave here. Kerouac quenches that desire, if only a little bit and for a little time. I highly recommend the the movie, I’m starting on the book next week! Here’s the trailer if you want to know what the movie is about!

Why you should stop saying “I’m Fine”

The more that I blog, the more I realize that words often negate the deeper meanings in life. Instead of feeling an emotion, we like to label how we feel as “happy” or “sad”. While language is great, the real range of emotion is much more than what a simple word can describe.

How many variants of “I’m fine” can you think of? There is the shallow one, spoken quietly and reserved. While the next could be stern and show the speaker doesn’t want to talk about their emotion. Often at work I pass coworkers in the hall who ask me how I’m doing. Neither of us stop to continue the conversation but instead reply with “I’m good” or “I’m fine”.

What does “good” mean? When you say that you’re doing fine, what is “fine”?

When we say this out loud, it’s to simplify conversation. Saying that you’re doing “great” is easier than explaining why you feel great. However, many of our conversations aren’t spoken aloud anymore. When you write that you’re doing good, you negate a greater meaning.

Let’s take a look at a simple conversation:

“Hey, how are you doing?”

“I’m good, you?”

“I’m doing fine.”

Now that we don’t have body language, we don’t really know how you are. Are you “fine”, meaning that you don’t want to talk about it? Or are you “fine” as in your day is neither good or bad? This is why it is important to use a wider variety of words.

Personally, when somebody asks how I’m doing, if I’m in a good mood, I say that I’m doing wonderful. This shows that I’m happy. If I said that “I’m good”, I could be alright, fine, mediocre, or a wider variety of other emotions. By using a word that is slightly less common, I’m able to better communicate with others.

Online, by using a broader vocabulary, you are better understood by other people. You can fill your writings with “everyone”, “anywhere”, “a place”, or generic substitutes like these, but your writing will be uninteresting.

Don’t write “we went to a new place today”, say “Today, for the first time, we went to _____ (specific place)”. Instead of writing “my sister’s friends came over”, word it like this, “my sister’s friends _____ and _____ came over”. While too much specificity is boring, when you write with greater detail, you make it much more personal.

Now that I’ve explained this to you, notice it in your own life. When you’re waiting in line to check out and the cashier is asking the person in front of you about their day, watch their interaction. Maybe they’ll say “I’m doing well” or “I’m alright”. When it’s your turn, switch it up and describe how you feel; “It’s hot outside, but I can’t complain” or “My sister came to visit, so I’m doing great!”.

What you’ll notice is that when we use more uncommon replies, people better understand how we are. They’re more likely to respond and interact with you and to talk about themselves. It stimulates conversation and makes like flavorful! Just try it and you’ll see a change in your life!

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Foreign Emotions like Foreign Languages

You know how they say that blind people dream don’t dream in images, they dream through their other senses? If a blind person dreamed of an image, would they know how to interpret it?  When you hear a foreign language, you can’t understand it because you haven’t learned how to interpret it. When a painter walks up to the canvas, they are translating from a blind man’s dream. The feeling they possess is intangible and they bring it from gibberish to something that is hopefully comprehensible. An artist simply wants to evoke or express that unintelligible thought.

The difficulty is that many artists don’t understand that they are trying to translate something that doesn’t have a set way of being expressed. There isn’t a correct way to express happiness or love or confusion. Essentially an artist tries to replicate a feeling but cannot perfectly match it. They leave their personality and interpretation instead. It’s like a child trying to forge their parent’s signature, perhaps it looks generally the same but it’s noticeably imperfect.

However, if you learn many languages, you can understand a new language faster and more efficiently. If a painter learns how to draw, play guitar, sculpt, and dance, he will be better able to translate his emotions. Sometimes a feeling can be best expressed with a certain type of art. If I know how to write, maybe my emotion would be best expressed through words. Only knowing how to write would severely limit my expression.

On the other side, inspiration comes in a myriad of ways. As I’ve branched away from photography I’ve realized that art is very fluid. Paintings express memories in a different way than a photograph does. A song from a particular time in my life can hold more emotion than a photograph.

Why is it that we, as artists, always crave inspiration? Is it because we aren’t able to express things we don’t understand? We have these emotions but we don’t know how to show them to other people. It’s as though someone is yelling at us in a foreign language and we’re desperately trying to understand what they’re saying. We want to reply or do what they’re asking but we simply don’t understand.

Lately I feel like I’ve started learning new languages. The emotions I go through can be understood better even if I don’t know that language. I can somewhat make out what I’m feeling inside and how to transcribe it into something to share with others.

The point of this post is to say that don’t try to force inspiration. It will come and go through your life and in different ways. I don’t paint or draw but I feel emotions that could only be felt through painting. There are days when words feel like the best way to express myself. Just learn to be receptive to the world and you’ll see the elephant in the middle of the room: everything in life is inspiration and everything is an emotion. You just have to be receptive enough to take that feeling in.

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P.S. The layout is changing again, so please be patient with me as everything settles down!

 

Losing Your Passion

Question a man’s happiness, and that man is lead to the realization that he’s not as happy as he could be. Similarly, if you bring up questions of love, man often realizes that he doesn’t have enough of it. Our concept of emotion is that we believe we could be experiencing more than we are right now, and therefore our current emotion isn’t enough. Unless we are experiencing something euphoric, our lives feel rudimentary and dull.

For the last year I’ve struggled with having a concept of my own emotion, especially love and happiness. The more I sit and think about it, the more depressed I become. At the same time, these emotions are things that I feel like I cannot ignore. How could I ignore my own happiness? How could I neglect myself like that?

These are fundamentals of self-confidence and self-assurance. The less confident we are in what we’re doing, the more we question our happiness and require others to assure that we’re going the right direction. We don’t think about happiness when we’re absorbed in what we’re doing. We don’t think about love if we’re out there loving the people around us.

With moving around four states in the past year, moving out of my parent’s house for the first time, and starting a full-time job, my life has changed significantly. Being gay and moving to the south has also changed my ability to find lover. When you leave your own group of friends, sometimes it’s hard to find new ones.

Joining Grindr was a way to take my mind off of myself and to focus of finding someone else. I wanted reassurance that where I was leading my life was the right direction. If only someone understood me well enough, maybe they could answer the questions I was asking myself. The difficulty with this comes from two angles; Grindr is not for finding a lover and nobody can reassure you that you’re following your own dreams.

Our existential questions in life can be dulled by asking the opinions of others. If someone else thinks everything is alright, then it must be. We don’t have confidence in our own views or we can’t handle the answers we have for ourselves. Instead, we seek them in others. Would it be alright if I followed my dreams?

It was almost six months ago that I first started using Grindr. When I moved out to Mississippi I wanted to see if there were gay men in the south. Although it’s silly looking back, I didn’t think there were going to be as many gays as in Minnesota. What I found on Grindr was a crowd of horny men, when I all I was looking for was someone to reassure my life was moving in the right direction.

Although it appears backwards, many people seek the same things that I did. We don’t find passion in our lives, so we feel the need to live it out of somebody else’s life. We want to find someone who is happy and can cheer us up because it’s easier to have someone else do it for us than for us than to do it ourselves. We want to find someone who is passionate because we ourselves want to be passionate.

The guys that I met gave me this passion and reassurance that I was seeking. Not only that but the compliments and ridiculous amounts of messages I received definitely didn’t reduce my confidence. I didn’t realize how often I was checking my phone for new messages and how dependent I was becoming on others.

When we seek these feelings outside of ourselves, we create false images of who we are and build weak foundations for our emotions. When we’re dependent on others for reassurance, what happens when they don’t deliver? Our self-worth diminishes and we feel unsatisfied with our lives again. That foundation we should have been building for ourselves crumbles.

Two months ago I finally settled down for my job in South Carolina. Unlike before, the men on Grindr weren’t changing and the crowd that had been giving me attention shrunk dramatically. Around this time I had started building my life in the areas I wanted to. I started vlogging, taking photographs again, and becoming incredibly involved in the art community again. When I started doing things I was passionate about again, I felt an immense happiness that no one else could have given me. I was becoming the person I wanted to be.

Self-Actualization was a word coined by social scientist Abraham Maslow in the 1940s. It describes a state where a person is the best person that they could possibly be. Rather than comparing individuals to each other, Maslow defined it as fulfilling one’s potential. Maybe my best isn’t as good as yours but everyone seeks reaching their own potential.

Around this time, I met a guy on Grindr who shared one of my passions. Since I was already doing what I loved, I had become self-actualized. This other person I found amplified my passion and thus my happiness. Being around him was almost intoxicating because I felt completely authentic. When I was around him I felt like I was more.

The danger in all of this is our dependency on others for our emotions. When someone else makes you feel intoxicated, it’s difficult to be away from them. All you want to do is drink up that feeling and just be around them.

In doing exactly that, I gave up on the other things I was passionate about. The projects I started working on ceased, my vlogging ceased, and my photography ceased. All of this was fine because I enjoyed spending time with him and sharing our passions. However, remove that intoxication and you’re left with only what you’ve built.

Somewhere along the lines it becomes easy to abandon your goals. It’s much better to spend time with someone you enjoy than to sit alone and slave away at something you love. The world is much more enjoyable with with two people.

During the few weeks of talking with this guy I decided to give up on Grindr. It wasn’t giving me the satisfaction I wanted anymore and frankly, I was tired of getting messages from old hairy men. Then the guy and I stopped talking and I wasn’t getting reassurance from the old hairy creeps anymore.

All of the building suddenly needed a foundation I hadn’t built. The passions I had were left neglected on my part and I came to a realization; there needs to be a balance between doing what you love and sharing that love with other people. I had spent way too much time sharing that love and not enough time cultivating it within myself.

When you ask a man if he’s happy, he’s suddenly forced to question what makes him happy. He starts to wonder if he could be happier or how things would be if the conditions were different. Am I in the best situation I could be in? Man forgets his happiness when he does what he loves. Instead he exchanges his happiness for bliss and self-actualization.

When you ask a man about love, we often think it’s selfless. We have an idea of love where we lose ourselves into the relationship. Our concept of self is given up to the other person. Our passions are exchanged for mutuality and we neglect ourselves.

When we find these things that we are passionate about, we stop asking the questions of love and happiness. We find ourselves in bliss and we stop thinking about if situations could be better. I want you to find that bliss and lose yourself in it. Share your bliss with those around you but don’t give it up. There is nothing more valuable in life that your own happiness and feelings of satisfaction.

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Unsettled Static

After great amounts of electricity, there’s this sort of static that permeates the area. The energy disperses but the feeling is still there. It’s in the gut and deeper than the surface. It can’t shock you but it can distract your mind.

This unsettled static distracts me from my life. It pulls me magnetically in directions I don’t know if I want to go in. My mind moves like a current with waves that drag it. There is no resistance, there is nothing to stop it.

The only thing that can calm this static is both distance and time. Two elementary properties that are simple in concept but difficult with application. They are the only things that can put this sleepy mind to rest and calm the electricity I can feel inside myself.

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