Coherency at Night

I won’t lie, tonight I’m tapping my face to stay up and try to write. Switching shifts can be difficult and it feels weird to be up this late! What’s interesting is how the mind works when the body is tired. Why is it difficult to write or think straight over time? What is it that the body really requires from sleep?

Typically when I write in such a state I forget prefix and suffix on words. I’ll go to re-read them in the morning and I’ll realize that I forgot to but “ing” to make running or “‘t” to make can’t. I wonder if this can be explained in terms of psycholinguistics. Do we know words as a base “run”, then add “ing” to it, or is “running” it’s own word? If we only remember base words when we’re tired, why is that? Or if running is a different entity, why do we drop the “ing”. Either way I’m tired. I’ll write more tomorrow!

329/365

24/31 Blogtober

Advertisements

Oct. 19/ Forgive Me

Nights like tonight I can’t sleep. I’m haunted at the last year and I can’t get it out of my head. I’m forced to relive moment by moment what happened. It starts with an younger version of me swimming in a pool everyday. I feel all of the last year in the pinhead of a needle. There isn’t room to breathe it all in because there’s so much that’s happened. I can’t refine it into single pieces. It’s all of it – at once. This insanity ensues and I find myself holding my knees in my bed and gasping for breath often. I can’t contain it, it’s too much.

One day it starts, and I’m living some part of the year. I can’t start there, it’s not the beginning, so it rewinds even further… back to the pool. The nausea of driving to the recruiter in the mall. Failing Broadcast journalism. Driving to Milwaukee and meeting with Greg for the first time in years. Walking around the mall with him. There isn’t a way to filter the details from the overall message. I feel the details and I can’t hold them all. There’s only so much mental room. It’s like I don’t have enough RAM and the memories lags.

Meeting Blake, relaxing with Caleb at Basic, Keesler, and Sheppard. The feeling of the October wind in Texas. It’s too much, god it’s too much. Sobbing at the pet fair in Biloxi. Walking at the ocean. Meeting others. Moving. I’m holding all the details and at a loss. I’m trying to contemplate the entire ocean, every crest and wave break. Each drop and the darkest depths. I feel its motion inside me and I’m entranced. There is too much to hold onto and not enough to let go of.

Connections through Dreams

Before starting this, realize that this is all dream talk. It’s more of a digestion of thoughts than a concrete post. I wanted to explain how I make connections in my head but the mind is a difficult thing to explain. We each think different and therefore this may be hard to read. It’s basically a 1,000 word digestions of thoughts!

This post was also written a few months ago. I’ve been taking time to look back through drafts and to start posting old content. There’s a lot of things that I’ve chosen not to share and I suppose now is a good time to share them. As this 365 draws near to an end, I’ve realized that sometimes the purpose of content isn’t to be perfect – it’s just to share or express. Emily Haines said in an interview, “The point is to express a feeling. And there are a thousand witty things that you can say a thousand witty ways, but the idea is not to be impressive, but to be emotive.”

____________________

For the last week I’ve been having weird dreams. Not that it’s uncommon for me to walk on walls or remove gravity completely while I’m sleeping but there’s been something more. The transitions between my dreams have become apparent and I’ve started to realize how my mind connects ideas.

It started around three or four years ago when I first started traveling alone to Spain and Denmark. Before then, most people I knew lived within 100 miles of my house. Once I began crossing the ocean, my friends were on the other side of the planet. Therefore, when I had a dream that I biked to Spain, then over to Denmark, in a matter of hours, I knew it was fake.

Over the years I’ve become lazy in my dreams. Instead of biking considerable distances while I sleep, everything exists on one island. One location that leads to all of the others. It’s interesting that these locations blend together seamlessly and it’s difficult to notice anything unusual while I’m dreaming.

Lately, this island has become defined and I remember it in my waking life. I want to say that the island is perfectly round but I’m not sure. All I know is that there’s a giant building in the center. When I first “wake up” in my dream, I walk from the ocean to the front door. There isn’t a door as much as an 8 foot tall by 5 foot wide opening into the building.

Inside, there is a large kitchen that reminds me of Japan. It’s a flat stove that looks like a hibachi grill, and there’s many tables in front of it. I haven’t been to Asia yet, but it looks like a food place I liked in Seattle. The room is always full of younger kids, with the exception of the cook, who looks to be a weary 35-year old Japanese woman. Steam rolls off from the grill and there’s always a noticeable amount of humidity in the room.

Next to the kitchen is a staircase, there’s nothing unusual about it other than that it leads to a small doorway. The gap is covered in a curtain and the children run up and down the steps. Once up the staircase, there is a hallway that is filled with various doors. I can’t remember what each door leads to but there’s one that leads into the Spanish apartment I stayed in for the years 2010-2013.

The gaining apartment varies between the place I stayed at on the ocean, and the one that was in Bilbao (a Basque city). The point of this door seems to be to send me across the ocean. Rarely do I stay in that apartment, it just gets me over to Spain.

If you continue down that hallway, you’ll find a staircase that leads outside. There’s no door and it connects directly with a beach. The sand is rough and blown into very small dunes. Around the beach there’s grass growing and fencing similar to the Danish beaches I’ve seen. This is my gateway to either the ocean or Denmark.

If I continue down that beach, there is an unusually tall building in the midst of a city. In that city there are only 5 or 6 buildings, and none of them serve a purpose. The tallest building had an elevator inside that leads around 50 floors up. At the top, my friend from Denmark lives.

The layout of this dreamscape is concrete in my mind but when I’m dreaming, I easily get lost. That door that leads to Spain is often ambiguous and hard to find. I usually get too entangled in the Danish beach to find that miniature city. I ask directions but the children in that kitchen are Spanish and don’t speak English.

Everything is bizarre about it but there’s one thing that makes sense: this is how I connect very distant locations into one area. Instead of biking for hours in my mind, I can just walk down the hall into Spain or elsewhere. This island functions as a mental airport where I can deliver myself to any location.

Perhaps our mind connects ideas in the same way: we create shortcuts between ideas that are difficult to get to. We can tie one scent with a location so that we can easily remember it. We store information in these connections so that we can tie recurring information with information that we don’t commonly access.

For example, we may tie the feeling of carpet with a particular memory. Each time we step on that carpet, we’re reminded of that memory. In a more complex example, that carpet may tie to something more intricate, like the feeling of seeing your parents after a long trip. Not the visual memory but the feeling. Every time you step on that carpet, you’re reminded of that feeling when you saw your parents after a year separation.

We commonly experience this with smells: I have days that I walk into the bathroom at work and it smells like the summer camp I worked at in 2008. Each time I walk in there, it’s like I’m transported back to then. This tie hasn’t been used in a very long time and it’s very rare that I think about 2008. Therefore, connecting the two is very important. When I smell that, I remember a basically dead memory. If there was no connection, I would totally forget that memory.

If any of you reading this have taken psychology, this would be the connection between the neurons. To keep neurons strong, you connect them. However, it seems unusual that an old connection could still be awoken.

By placing all of these locations nearby in my dreams, it’s like I’m able to skate down these old paths. Instead of having to explore through my whole head, I’m able to go straight to Spain. I don’t have to imagine driving to the airport, going through security, finding my gate, getting on the plane, et cetera. I just walk through a door.

What’s even more interesting is that I use a door to get to Spain while getting Denmark by walking down a beach. In my head I must retain the concept of a door: to connect two locations. For some reason, Denmark isn’t this able to be traveled to so easily.

I guess the lesson here is that dreams are weird. I feel like I have greater understanding of how my mind connects locations now. Anyways, that was really difficult to explain. If you read this far, I’m impressed! The human mind is such a weird instrument.

321/365

16/31 Blogtober

Cont. “Language as a Barrier”

Yesterday’s post was about language and miscommunication. I explained how language is imperfect and a substitute for more tangible experiences. For example, when I say ‘street‘, a picture appears in your head. You imagine what you remember as a ‘street‘, which limits our communication. Your version of a street is different than my image of a street.

Then we moved onto less tangible words and moved onto emotions, like ‘good‘ and ‘happy‘. Again, these words are placeholders for a memory of an experience. Therefore, inevitably, your ‘good‘, is different than mine. We tried to define what ‘good‘ means but we couldn’t arrive at a conclusion without using other empty words.

We then moved onto internal dialog and discussed thought patterns. To have a conversation, we must have at least two people. We are always talking to ourselves and labeling the world. The conversation we’re having is between two ‘people’; the experiencer and the examiner. At your core, you are the experiencer, you experience life. But another part of you is the examiner, where you label the world as ‘blue‘ or ‘beautiful‘.

Today I wanted to further this discussion and say that it’s important to turn down the voice of the examiner. We use words as placeholders for memories of experiences. We remember what ‘hot‘ feels like or rough‘ food tastes like. Rather than experiencing, we live through our memories.

When we focus on wordlessness, we begin to feel more. There’s no reason to internally label a food as ‘spicy‘ because we know it. The words are useless because we’re directly at the experience. It’s like jumping into a pool of water and thinking ‘wet‘; it’s a useless thought that reduces an indescribable feeling into something that it isn’t. You can’t fully explain what it feels like to be immersed in water, nor can you explain ‘heartbreak’. It’s just a feeling you have to experience.

The reason I felt obligated to write about the same topic is because I wanted to simplify what I wrote last night. It became many words longer than I originally intended it to be. I wish that I could write this in a simpler way but language is limited. The table is… there are no words to fully describe the experience of stubbing your toe. You can try but you can’t fully communicate it. Language only passes a certain amount of information, not all of it. So instead of trying to label the world, just feel the world. When you need to explain something to another person, you can, but know that it’s limited. Perhaps you already understand this, it is simple but complex. Nonetheless, strive for wordlessness.

281/365

 

The Mind is a Tool

The mind can be dangerous if not used in the proper way. I once read something by Eckhart Tolle that labeled the mind as a tool. It is precise and, when utilized properly, it can improve life. However, when you’re done using a tool, you set it down. After all, it serves a specific purpose and should not be used in all circumstances. You wouldn’t use a hammer to screw in a bolt. Nor would you use a saw to measure the length of an object.

Why is that we try to use the mind for tasks where it is useless? You cannot rationalize emotions and sometimes there are no answers. The simple question: “does he like me?” is not something the mind can fully process. You’re using a screwdriver to cut wire – it may work but it’s going to be messy. If you try to use that wire, it may be broken and imperfect. That’s what happens to the mind when you overuse it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful tool for solving problems. But it is not a master tool, or something that can solve all problems. In fact, it causes many problems. You can over analyze or think too much. No matter how much you try and use a hammer to screw that bolt in, it’s not going to work.

The biggest misconception about the mind that we try and live our life with it. The purpose of the mind is not to live, it is to analyze, store, and recall, data. By only using our mind, we process life instead of living it.

To solve this problem, you need to set the mind down when you don’t need it. All day you should be taking in your environment through your five senses. You should be tasting food while you eat it and hearing the breeze outside. The mind poisons these senses because it compares. It says, “this food tastes good, it reminds me of last week when we ate out. That place was really nice, we should go back. I wonder if anyone will want to go…”. That is not living, that is processing. You’ve forgotten the real taste of the food and you’re no longer focusing on it.

That is a great shame because there are so many beautiful things around you but you cannot see them with your mind. You have to stop thinking about what you see and just see them. Don’t even think about what they mean or what they are. Just take it all in. When you’re walking down the street, look at the grass but don’t think about it – just let it in. Don’t think “grass”, because you’ve already lost yourself. Instead, let it be.

Eventually you can notice your breath. But again, don’t think about it. Allow it to happen and continue without change. Simply observe it without the desire to take a deeper breath or lighter one. These “breaks”, where you set your mind down, don’t have to be long. They can last 30 seconds or 5 minutes, it does not matter. Just begin to focus on your experience of this moment.

With time, you will begin to naturally go back to this state. You’ll forget yourself and the other moments you could be experiencing. Instead you’ll feel alive. The tastes will be more tasteful and the colors more vibrant. Life will become more. Don’t abandon your mind, you’ll need to think at certain times, but set it down when you aren’t using it. If the purpose of life is to live, then this is how you do it: simply by living!

267/365

P.S. Eckhart Tolle is a fantastic writer with brilliant ideas. Definitely check out his book “The Power of Now”. It’ll blow your mind!

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.

195/365

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

 

Writing with and without Purpose

As I read further into other blogger’s method’s and styles I keep running across the opinion that all content should be well thought out and planned. The idea behind it is that it will create greater quality material and generate more views.

However, I think there is a lot of value in spontaneous posting. Writing what is exactly on your mind without fully developing it. Allowing the viewer to be somewhat a part of the thought process.

One thing this generation isn’t short of is opinions. Everyone has one. By writing spontaneously you keep some of the processing of the idea – it’s not definite. It’s not fully formed.

It also keeps things fresh. Writing with purpose definitely has its value. Sometimes you want clear information and things that cut to the chase. But with bloggers and vloggers, I seem to want more from them. Their best content seems the most real and down to earth. It’s like they’re having a conversation with you and their speaking their mind. Other times it just feels like it’s out of script.

What’s your opinion? Do you think spontaneous posts are better? Do you like your content to be well thought out?

Sorry for the ramble, today’s been a long (but good) day!

132/365