Surrounded in Love

Don’t ask why I decided to stare at the TV for the last 7 hours before writing a blog post. Usually I don’t spend much time playing videogames but I didn’t have work tonight. There wasn’t anything else I wanted to do other than relax and, hey, why do I have to justify myself to you. My brain is a champ though, I’m surprised I’m awake enough to write. *dozes off

Speaking of which, last night I had an interesting dream. Moving away from friends felt a little traumatic and it’s been hard for me to reminisce without feeling nostalgic. It’s been easier to push it all out rather than feel this weird ache for “the good times”. But I dreamt I was at one of my old friend’s house playing board games with everyone. There wasn’t a pit in my stomach, I just felt… happy.

Usually I sleep solid through the night but I woke up after this dream. I laid in bed with a deep feeling of love. I felt content having had the experiences back in Charleston – and I no longer felt the need to go back and mentally relive those memories. It didn’t feel like letting go but I wasn’t desperately clinging to the past. All I felt was love. A love for my friends, a love for the places I visited, and a love for life.

I laid on my back content for what felt like ages. Eventually I rolled over to the nightstand and wrote on a post-it-note, “I’m so lucky”. I believed it too. I deeply appreciated the people who had wandered through my life and the circumstances which had led me to this part of my life journey. I appreciated both the good and the bad that happened to me.

It felt natural to have this experience. There was no desire to go backwards (or to skip forward, for that matter). I was at peace. The only expression that comes to mind is that it felt like “coming home”. I’ve read that phrase through numerous books but never understood it in the way that I do now.

Last night, I came home to myself. I laid in bed in awe of life. I felt my body’s weight and the way the pillow sat under my head. I was conscious of so much. I feel like a restraint within me has broken and I can move freely again. Oh, how wonderful it feels to be surrounded by so much love. I’m so lucky to have friends and to be alive.

Or… maybe my body just realized it’s humpday and the three-day weekend is approaching. Eh? Eh? :-p There’s joy in making it half way through the week without succumbing to workplace depression. ALSO, one week complete of BLOGtober. What on Earth am I going to do when this month is over?!

Day seven of BLOGtober complied with. Over and out.

OH! Go check out Björk’s song ‘All is Full of Love’, totally applicable emotion of the day!

Over and out for real this time. ;-P

‘The Weight of Your Love’

I realized that I loved him weeks after saying goodbye. It took me entirely by surprise. One day I woke up and was shocked at how simple it was. Underneath the mixed emotions, I loved him. It was inexplicable – our friendship was marred with so many negative emotions that I couldn’t see it.

Obsession blinded any rational thoughts. I hated that part of myself. I knew I was obsessed but I couldn’t back away from it. He was in everything. I saw him driving around in every car that passed. Someone would make a joke and I could hear his laugh in the background. I found myself laying in bed at the end of the day wanting to ask him what he’s up to and how life has been lately.

I shunned that part of myself in fear that I was being too much. Too forward, too interested, too loving, too serious, too much of something that he wasn’t. I was afraid that if I was more interested in him, he would run away. I wore an iron clad armor to avoid that vulnerability. That armor was made up of an imaginary distance I drew from him.

When he’d text me, sometimes I’d wait to reply. I wanted to give the appearance of being busy. It was too vulnerable for him to know that he was the only thing on my mind. If I appeared busy, then maybe I wouldn’t look as obsessed or so desperately in need of his attention.

It felt like I was cheating the system by being with him. He was too handsome and cool for me. I was afraid I’d be found out. Maybe one day he’d wake up and realize that he could have someone better. It was like I had escaped the rulebook for the type of person I should be with and as soon as the universe caught up with me, I’d lose him.

So I’d play it cool. Make it seem like I didn’t need him.

When he didn’t text back, I’d fret. In my head, it was like he’d figured out that he didn’t need me anymore. Now that desperate part of me that needed him was in shock and there was nothing I could do. I had been found out. The universe was catching up with me.

Then he’d reply and everything was back to normal. The secret was safe. I could still be with him. I could cheat the universe a little longer. As long as I gave the perception that I didn’t need him, he wouldn’t figure it out.

I found myself becoming possessive of him. If we were spending time together and he was on his phone, I would be become upset. When he gave his attention to others, I became jealous he wasn’t focusing on me. I became marred with so many emotions that love seemed like a far-fetched idea.

After I moved, our conversations stopped and the idea that I could be with him ended. What remained was the neurosis. I didn’t know how I felt about him. There was a lot of confusion and feelings of being let down. The obsession took time to dull. Sometimes I still turn and see his car driving by. There’s a glitter of hope that I can be with him even if I live on the other side of the globe.

The last imaginable emotion I thought I could have about him was love. It didn’t even cross my mind. I’d go from being jealous, to blissful, to angry, to on-top-of-the-world, then back down to the pits. I was conscious of how varying my emotions were and I thought that love couldn’t be like this. It couldn’t be marred with such obsession. Love is supposed to be ‘pure’.

They say that love is a mirror and only those brave enough to face their reflection can love another person. My insecurities were exposed in ways I couldn’t have understood before meeting him. I desperately needed to be acknowledged by him. I desperately needed to acknowledge myself.

But you know what? I wouldn’t change any of it. The heartbreak was a lesson. He taught me love in a way that I’m not sure he even understands yet. The rollercoaster of emotion, the sleepless nights, the endless phone calls to friends to assure me that I’m a decent human being… that was all worth it. I grew through it. Life is a learning process and there’s a down for every up. At least I got to experience the highs, even if it meant sinking low.

This post got deeper than I anticipated. Tomorrow we’ll have something lighter for Blogtober. Oh and the title of this comes from my favorite album by the Editors, “The Weight of Love”. If you haven’t heard of them, click here to check them out on Spotify.

Also, check out my cousin Tabby’s blog for the month of BLOGtober. She’s writing about fitness and health for the month. Today she wrote about her leg workout! Currently her husband is deployed and she’s starting a mini-series about what it’s like living with a deployed spouse. Her situation is somewhat unique because both her and her husband serve in the military. They both understand deployments but it’s still difficult. Anyways, keep up with her here.

Day two of BLOGtober!

Dec 4./

For a moment there were no sounds. A nausea overwhelmed my chest. I felt my blood flowing and my body’s physical reaction to being nervous. Words jaggedly filtered through my head. I knew what I had to say but I couldn’t say it. The nausea worsened as we drove. There was an ache. The words needed to be said. Whether by vomiting them out or carefully constructing them, they had to be alive.

“You’re beautiful.”

His kneejerk reaction, as though he was somewhere between anticipating the words and confused that they were actually spoken aloud, “…but I’m an asshole”.

His smaller frame shifted as he lifted his arm that was out the window up to support his neck. He leaned against it as if taking in a large puff of smoke and exhaling it to the night.

His left blinker clicked on and off. The streets were empty. We passed under streetlights which turned the inside of his car yellow then back to darkness in their absence.

The words echoed in my head, “beautiful… beautiful… you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful.” My god I loved this man and I hadn’t realized it yet.

 

The Cold and Rain (A Love Letter to Minnesota)

Shoveling snow off the car!
Shoveling snow off the car!

Growing up in the north, winter always was the major season. Minnesota sometimes has snow all the way from October till May. With that being said, it’s hard to feel like a northern without mentioning the cold. It defines us – gives us a common distaste. We experience it together every year.

Where I’m from, we’re always talking about the weather. We bond over how we managed to get out of our driveways with a foot and half of snow. I once had my car doors freeze shut and I had to grab an extension cord and hair dryer. Yes, I was outside in the cold, at 6 in the morning, defrosting my car locks. It was awful.

Since moving down to South Carolina, I feel like I’ve lost that social aspect of my life. Here the weather barely drops below freezing. A friend from here had never even seen snow. Instead of winter being defined by snowplows, starting your car fifteen minutes before you leave home, or using a broom to clear the newly fallen snow off the roof of your car, it just gets cold here.

The days get shorter. The leaves don’t change color, they just fall from the trees and rot on the ground. There’s a dryness that keeps the air feeling sharp. When it does rain, it becomes gloomy. There isn’t any jokes about snowfall or any hope about getting school cancelled.

Everyone that I work with comes from different parts of the country. My coworkers are from New York, Alabama, California, Texas, and everywhere else. Winter means something different for them – whether that be holidays or, for my friends in Florida, waves of travelers hoping to escape winter for a few days.

See, in the north, winter isn’t loved. Facebook floods with agony when the first snow falls. There’s a collective groan because everyone knows they’ll soon have to plow their driveways again. Yet, we’re together in our stewing.

In Charleston, we’re caught in sort of purgatory. Winter isn’t loved here either. We no longer go to the beaches on the weekends or walk downtown in shorts. We put on our jackets, in the 40 degree weather, and stay inside. But it’s different from the north.

I think there’s an appreciation for winter in Minnesota. It isn’t loved, by any means, but it’s an inevitable part of our lives. We must face winter each year. In each direction we look there’s either a ‘winter wind advisor’ or, yet again, an incoming onslaught of snow. Greeting the cold is almost a reminder that life has difficulties – we must all face it together. When spring arrives, we know that we’ve conquered something. We’ve grown in a way.

In Charleston, we’re not quite “winter”. We’re between the north, which has mountains and snow, and the south, where we could escape winter’s cold breath. We’re entangled in a mix. The temperature drops but nothing really changes. The days get dark but we don’t really have any struggle. There aren’t many funny stories you can tell about a cold, snowless winter day here.

In the Minnesota, you can go to a Target anytime January through March, and expect to see cars running in the parking lot. It’s so cold that people leave their vehicles running while they shop. Their doors aren’t locked and you can spot each car that is left on. The exhaust leaves a plume of smoke that reminds you how cold it really is.

If you take boiling water into the Minnesotan winter and throw out in the air, it turns instantly into vapor. The water from your cup never reaches the ground, it goes straight into a fog. When you want a drink cooled off, you walk outside and put it into a snowbank for a few minutes. If you own cats, their company at night is invaluable to keeping your feet warm.

While, yes, there is a lot of hate tossed towards winter in the north, I think it’s a lot better than the cold and the rain. Secretly I think we love the snow, broomball, and wearing flip-flops the moment the temperature reaches 45 degrees. There’s something we can call our own about all of it. We’ve all survived the fallout and winter’s cold grasp. We can appreciate sleeping with six blankets on or going for a walk in 5 layers.

It’s bizarre, perhaps that’s the reason we love it, because inside we know that we could leave. We could disappear from the glistening snow. Why would anyone want to go to work in -30 degree weather or wait for their car to warm up? I think we love it because it’s absurd to think about living there. Where else can you freeze your hands to your steering wheel? Where else can you rejoice about seeing the snowplow clear the two feet of snow that had fallen last night?

It’s absurd that anyone would want to experience Minnesota but for those who live there, it’s really something else. The winter is a challenge that we overcome each year in the north, and I miss that. I miss Minnesnowta. Exploded cans of soda in the trunk and all.

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P.S. That picture at the beginning of the post was taken by my loving mother, who mocked and videotaped me while I shoveled.

 

Where our Trails Meet

There’s a poem that talks about how we are all marching to our graves, leaving nothing behind us. Our life is like a dream that happens quickly, and is often neglected or forgotten. We spend so much of our lives in our heads that, in retrospect, it looks like years have gone by in minutes. Our sense of time is deluded and with so little of it, we wash most of it down the drain.

Some days I wonder what the purpose of anything is if we’re going to be gone in 100 years. Why live or have a job or work hard or change the world when life will carry on without us? In blogging this extends; why interview a person if they’re going to be interviewed by other people? Why make art if everyone else already is? Why smile at strangers if you’re never going to meet them again? Why help? Why do anything?

These questions have haunted me for years. With so little time it seems that there really isn’t purpose in life other than to live. But why do we live? Why do we carry on? Why do we do anything if we know that it will all end? Every house will crumble, every relationship will end, and every civilization will eventually cease.

I think the reason we do anything is because we crave experience – we crave life at a deep level. We crave the underlying feelings that can only be accomplished with time. There isn’t anything else to do in life other than to live. We want to experience and discover life, so we choose to carry on and take in as much as we can. Life is fleeting, there’s only so much of and there really isn’t anything to do.

However, falling in love creates feelings that extend beyond the relationship and our actions carry on much further than our lifespan. Sure a romance will end but isn’t it better that it happened? While it’s true that everything will end, it’s also true that everything once existed. Love, loss, happiness, grief… they will all end but their effects continue on.

How you treat someone today may dictate how that person treats someone tomorrow and so on so forth. Each person’s actions ripple forward. Martin Luther King Jr.’s actions changed the world – the effects are limitless. There is nothing to measure the impact of his life, there is no way to see what the world would have been like without him.

Similarly every experience that you go through shapes your actions and how you impact the world. Who was the person that inspire MLK Jr. to become an activist? What inspired them? The root is so deep that it is unimaginable.

If nothing else the purpose of life, in my eyes, is to experience. It is to carry on and feel everything that you possible can. Every high, every low, both the bliss and the depression. Life only flows through our veins for, if you’re lucky, 80 years. Maybe you aren’t the whole story, a century isn’t even a sliver of time, but you are part of something more.

You should experience as much as you can and in every way possible. Have a bad relationship then move onto another one. Take your time if you need. Feel heartbroken or happy or sad but don’t stop feeling. Please don’t stop.

After meeting some of the coolest people in my life in these past 18 months, I can say that life is brief. Some of my closest friends are with people I’ve only known in person for less than a month. Although I don’t see them regularly, their effects have rippled through me and changed me. Their impact is so much greater the amount of time that I spent with them.

I can’t promise anyone time, there isn’t anything I can really give. I don’t know how long we’ll know each other or if I’ll still be here in 3 months. Life swirls in odd directions. I can, however, promise that I’ll give you a unique experience, one-of-a-kind, and maybe it’ll carry on through your life. Maybe we’ll be close for a long time, maybe we’ll move in different directions. I don’t know. I guess I’m walking down a path in life and sometimes that means walking alongside someone else, other times, if the trails separates, that means we’ll walk different ways. I don’t know what lies ahead for either of us but as the saying goes, I think “it’s better to have had and lost than to never of had at all”. Who knows? Life is a bizarre thing.

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17/31 Blogtober

Gentleness and Joy

Yesterday’s post was about being part of a painting, or a greater picture. I felt connected with the world and at peace. That emotion extended into today and there is a gentle calmness in my life. Every moment feels like when you wake up in bed and just relax. There is no commitment to move or to hustle through the day – you can just lay there, in a blissful daze of appreciation.

While I haven’t completely “Walden”, I’ve heard this quote many times and yearned for the same joy that it describes. For the first time in a long time, I feel like this:

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself.” -Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Today I received a package of books in the mail from my mother. Occasionally she sends boxes of books and magazines that she thinks that I would enjoy. This pile made me roll over in joy. Each book seems beautiful and I can’t wait to start reading them.

Tomorrow I’ll write a review of another book that just arrived in the mail! Hope you are all having a wonderful second day of blogtober!

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2/31 Blogtober

5 Books I’m Reading (That You Should Too)

Books

If my mother were to have given me only one trait, it would have been her love of books. Growing up, my house was filled with guides for traveling, biographies of famous singers, books on astrology, astronomy, gastronomy, and everything in between. While I loved reading as a teenager, that passion has amplified after moving out. In only a few short months of living on my own, I’ve managed to fill my bookcase.

Here are the five books I’m reading:

1. Eat. Pray. Love. by Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s taboo to read a book after you’ve seen the movie, but I could help myself with this one. Liz is a recovering divorcee who, after being in a manipulative relationship, finds happiness in the places she travels to. She sets course for Italy, India, and Indonesia to find pieces of herself that she feels are lost. Each country also represents a different aspect of Liz that she needs to confront. Italy is the country of desire, full of pastas, romance, and is truly alive. India is where she finds devotion. Indonesia teaches her how to love again.

I fell in love with this one while flipping through it at a bookstore in Texas. Liz’s style of writing is smooth and comfortable to read. The parts of herself that she struggles with are things I’ve struggle with too. She has the same constant need for newness in her life and a passion for traveling.

While I’m only 40% through this book, I highly recommend it. Liz is easy to relate to and her journey around the world is enjoyable to read. I may not be able to travel now but I think that the traveler in me is satisfied with reading about Liz’s adventures.

2. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

As the world’s most clumsy person, it’s interesting that I picked up a book written by a choreographer. The focus of this masterpiece is creativity, more specifically, how to make it into a usable force. While dance is Twyla’s way of expressing herself, the book doesn’t focus on a particular art medium. Instead it teaches the reader how to work hard and become passionate.

I’ve read the first half of this book already and I’m rereading it from the beginning. Not only is the book beautiful to hold and read, it’s incredibly useful. I’ve come back to it because it’s so easy to digest. The techniques Twyla suggests are profound and have changed the way I view creativity.

I suggest this book for artists who find passion in creating but haven’t made it into a committment. When you’re first stumbling into art, it feels wonderful to produce something but you’re not always sure how much to create or what to make. This book answers these questions about creativity and gives motivation in only a way that Twyla Tharp could.

3. Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!) by George Lois

This is my latest addition to my bookshelf, after I saw a great photographer recommend it. It’s a simple book that you can read in a few hours. Overall, the book totals to less than 200 pages, and there’s pictures!

George Lois is a famous marketing/advertising celebrity that has helped shape our country’s culture. His work has brought Jiffy Lube, Tommy Hilfiger, MTV, and many other organizations, from the brink of extinction into complete stardom. Contributions by him have changed routines and covered our billboards since the 1950s. It’s no surprise that this book is profound.

In this book, George Lois shares a ridiculous amount of advice that comes across as bold and unapologetic. After reading it for 45 minutes, I feel like my confidence has boosted enormously. My art feels much more important, and I feel better prepared to share it with the world.

4. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller

Completely the opposite from the previous book, AWOL is about book about David Miller’s hike from southern USA into Maine. In the early 2000s, David quit his desk job to take a trip across the country, the book is his diary along the way. He runs into bears, sleeps at shelters on the trail with odd travelers, and contemplates life.

I really enjoy this book because it’s written on a very personal level. David shares what happens and it feels like you’re there with him. By reading this book, I feel like I’ve shared his journey through the Appalachian Mountains. Not only has it motivated me to do the hike myself, I feel like I’m more motivated to explore the world.
If you like non-fiction adventure, this book is great!

5. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

While I haven’t gotten far into this book, I’m already in love with it. I purchased it earlier this year with the intention of reading it in only a few sessions. Instead it’s been 6 months and I’ve hardly dented it. Not because it’s a bad book, but because it takes more time to digest.

This book is about Robert’s motorcycle trip across the northern US in the middle of the 20th century. He rides across the country with his best friend, his son, and his best friend’s wife. The journey leads Robert into heavy contemplation about the meaning of modern life. Along the way he relates the journey to different aspects of zen buddhism and the human condition.

It’s a beautiful book about mortality, life, and everyone’s purpose. I can’t wait to get further into it!
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These are all the books I’m going to share with you today! Each has changed me over the last year and I hope that you choose to pick one of them up for yourself. In the future I’ll write more specifically about individual books but today I just wanted to share what books I’m switching between!

Have a wonderful night!

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