Monday, July 31, 2017

Journey into the unknown

With so much of the world being mapped, explored and paved, the truly unknown regions of our lives are largely non-existent...externally speaking. The true mystery in life now lies within. Our minds represent vast unexplored regions of life, unavailable and inaccessible to anyone but us. It is as though we are lost inside of our very own amazon jungle, left alone to explore - or not - the vast expanses of wilderness.

When life stresses us out, worries us, causes us to fear or to get excited, we only see the surface of one piece of that jungle. We experience the rises and falls but are blind to the underlying cause of happiness. Why do we react that way? Why does the thing that makes me cry cause no reaction from the person next to me? Why do I get excited about cars driving through the desert when my kids only get excited about Pokemon?

Life on the inside - no, not prison - is a mystery. Do we explore it? Do we simply live life in reactive mode with no true understanding of the why that triggers our surface emotions, reactions and actions? For the most part, the answer to these questions is the same - humans have historically not explored the inside because life on the outside - "in the real world" - demanded too much of our physical and mental energy to truly penetrate our motivations.

Yes, there have been some exceptions to that but by and large, we have only had capacity to react. To experience. To be boggled by our own actions and reactions that are rooted far deeper and broader than we could possibly imagine.

So when I say I was stressed, lay that thin layer of reaction out on top of the vast unknown of my mind if you please and understand that I am all too aware that the reaction is not completely logical or rational but that it stems from something deeper. Those reactions are important. Listen to your gut, they say. I just knew, he said. It felt right, I was afraid...the list goes on. For me, it was stress.

Stress manifested itself in many forms. When I went back to work, I rather immediately felt the weight of stress on me. It was as if a constrictor went to work on my chest, making it difficult to breathe. At first it would be when I logged into my email then it backed its way out to the entrance to my office area then to the gate. Eventually, it would find me on the freeway heading to work then to home then into my sleep which it would ultimately consume. The constrictor became an ever present component of life.

It knew no weekdays or weekends, it simply was. Then it started pulling tighter and tighter. It made my head throb. The lack of sleep it caused encouraged a closer friendship with the coffee machine at work. The coffee machine introduced me to the restroom on a more regular basis where each glance into the mirror reminded me just how tired I was, sending me back to the coffee machine.

Stress is a vampire. It leeches the life out of even the most persistent forces. It pilfers our passions, tosses them to the curb and into the gutter, to be trampled on by passers by. It consumes our energy, our wit, our passion, our drive, our logic. It is also extremely persistent.

Stacking stress on top of a physical constitution that was not fully restored made for a very challenging day and week at work. Studies show that when stressed, we make worse decisions. Worse decisions with regards to food, financial, work and social aspects of life only compound on each other, creating a vicious cycle that feeds on itself. I eat more to help me feel better about the stress then I gain weight. The extra weight takes away more energy throughout the day and on and on the cycle goes. Stress, to steal a phrase from one of my favorite movies, is the mind killer (except it was fear in that scenario).

Compounding all of those factors is the high bar I had set for myself. Perhaps more accurately, a high bar that my supervisor had set for me. I was aligned to it. It was stretching and I wanted to stretch. Not stretching encourages complacency, a lifestyle I abhorred...but at the time, I simply did not have the capacity to do the work, let alone do it well. Obviously, not doing well does not improve the situation, nor does it reduce stress. It stacks. As do many (most?) other areas of life. The bastions of love, peace, support in life begin to dwindle as the castle walls crumble.

The natural response is to curl up. To tuck up and to protect oneself. I suppose I went through that phase though I honestly don't recall it. I soothed myself with humor and made light of the situation. I was in disbelief that people could actually live in conditions so clearly unhealthy and toxic. Perhaps not so much that they could live in those conditions but that they would continue to live in them. I am not a rebel but I found that when pressed with certain forces, I do not lie down. I rebel. I bite. I snap my head back and frolick about. Frolick sounds playful but in this case, it was a violent, intentional action. Wreckless on the outside, its intent was to break the hold of that which constrained. Bruises were incurred. Some mine, some for others. Life is messy.

Fuck.

Thinking back on this time is not pleasant. Wine, please. Jack into the headphones. Music is a solace in times of distress, times of blank emotion, times of rage. It comforts, it soothes. Music is one of the most therapeutic, shaping, tuning, intense forces on the planet. Find what soothes you. Find what evokes an emotional response and feel it out. No, I'm not talking about her. It's the things. It's the whats and the whys not the whos.

Within music, there are different flavors, different textures, different emotions and concoctions. Each plays differently at different times in our lives. Some music is morning music, gently ushering in the day or lighting the fuse that will carry us out into the world with a bang. Some brings us down and smooths over our rough edges. Oh, we do have rough edges. Make no mistake about that.

Two long pulls of wine, 5 minutes and 4 and a half minutes of resonant piano and I'm back off the edge. No, not the edge of life but the edge of emotion. We react to that which rises to the surface. Again, life is an intense balance of evoking and rolling in the sheets with the violent emotions we are tuned to react to...the resonant frequency of our lives, if you will...and the peace of the day to day. Being happy with who we are but also able to dance in the rain when the weather is just right.

I love dancing. I love music. I love that I am every so often able to throw off the oppressive bullshit that we are overcome with if we let ourselves. Do not be constrained (DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT!)

aside for a passionate monologue

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
/aside

we are built to dance in the rain. we are built to react to the music and to find the chords that resonate to our core. we were tuned from the outset for specific reactions to trigger specific actions. not predestination but to be present on the way towards your ultimate destination. do not let your life pass by as if it were something to get through but instead, grab that bitch by the sensitive parts and jump on for the ride of your life. chase that which seems worth chasing whether it at first appears unattainable or not. truth be told, if it feels attainable, you are likely shooting at something you already know you can hit. aim higher, aim at that which scares you. aim at the target you would love to hit but don't believe you can. stretch yourself. allow others to stretch you and similarly stretch and encourage others to do the same. find likeminded people that encourage you, and pour your everything into encouraging them as if they were your life's mission and hope for the same in return. live with passion. eat fresh fruit, smell the fresh bread then deep into it with vigor, though it may be hot at first, a life that is always fresh out of the oven is the one best lived.

RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF YOUR PASSION
THIS IS YOUR LIFE, LIVE IT TO THE FULLEST
GET A TATTOO, QUIT THAT JOB, TAKE THAT NEXT STEP




Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Too much stuck in my head

Lately, way too many things have been swirling around in my head. It's like my conscious brain has been reduced to limited functionality while my subconscious throws a rip roaring party, eating and drinking everything in sight. On top of that, it seems that my subconscious has decided that it's not too interested in sleep while my physical body and conscious mind are both exhausted.
why?
Well, quite honestly, it's really straight forward. Working through major work changes again and truly considering putting this book away in favor of another. Often times, we get so comfortable with one aspect of life - work, in this case - that we put everything else in submission to that thing.
when that thing is work, things can easily go awry as work doesn't care about me. It doesn't understand what my hopes and dreams are, what I'm passionate about or, and maybe most importantly, my work life balance. Work can consume thoughtlessly. incompetent leaders can overload under the guise of "ensuring we're contributing at our potential", unwilling or unable to see that capacity is finite.
I'm personally very proud of my career at that place I spend so much time. I've learned a ton, done some great work, matured, realized a lot about myself and become much more organizationally competent. In my sleepy brain, that all makes sense. But truly, I'm freaking exhausted. I've been burning every candle I can find with a flamethrower, just walking around wrecklessly spewing out my energy as fast as I possibly can in order to speed the process, to move the change along but I'm coming to realize that change often happens slow.
If I were watching survivor or any other reality TV show for that matter, it would be at this point that I would expect - even start looking for - the twist. Oh, he thinks he has it figured out. But he has no clue what's going to happen tomorrow at 8am. That's fact, actually. I'm a bit worried about 8am. I was worried about 1230pm today and that's done and gone...on to a new fucked up milestone. pardon the language. Civility requires effort and this is my dumping ground, my vulnerability, my...ugh, I'm freaking tired.

Umm...now that I've purged this very basic, very mindless set of words, I have to agree that I'm just exhausted. Feels like I can't stop (won't stop) working. I'm not a workaholic but I've convinced myself that if I can scale up to two jobs, I can drop the one I like the least. What if I just said that I was going to drop the one I don't like and make things work on the other front, regardless. I'm worth more than this bullshit stress.
If there's one thing I learned from cancer, it's that life can be short. It can change in an instant. One visit to the doctors office...and maybe more importantly, we shouldn't let that scare us, but rather, motivate us to live more fully, more engaged, more relaxed each and every day. Why stress over cash? that shit doesn't last. Live for the moment. Live for your family. Live for those precious moments that you know you're skipping because you're working too much or too stressed or *insert the current excuse here*. That's lame, man. Life is too short.
Hmm.
I don't know that I've resolved much but consciously attempting to extract that which lies just below the surface is often the best exercise. The best way to get it out...to move forward, to realize what we already know instinctively. Maybe I should just quit and let things solve for themselves. Life has a way of doing that.
Set some milestones? Do taxes this weekend. Sell the car. Buy a cheaper one that's paid off. What else...there's like one or two more. Pay kids medical bills. Hmm...That all should ease the mind and the monthlies. Should be pretty dialed in, actually.
Tired, yo.

I don't understand people who live to work. Basically worshiping work as if it's the meaning of life. Like succeeding in work is succeeding in life. I don't buy that crap. Life is way too badass to give that shit to work. Some stuff at work is awesome, is fun, is something I can get excited about. I love working with awesome people on innovative stuff. Maybe I'll just do more of that.
Quit. Write. Contract down to what matters both financially and life-wise...then start playing again. God, I love playing. Work should be play...otherwise you're doing it wrong. So glad I pulled myself out of my role today. Best.decision.ever.
I don't know how many times I have to say that I'm not here for the money. I'm not here to make a million bucks per year. I'm not here to move up or any of that. I'm at work because I enjoy it and when I don't, it's time to move on.

This last paragraph or two was great. Processing this helps me calibrate and relax. It's not a big deal. It's just a paycheck at times. I'll still be able to pick up my kids after school. I'll still make plenty of cash (it's never enough anyways) and we'll adjust our lifestyles to our new incomes....and enjoy life a bit more. Nice premise. I figure I'll give it 3 months...and maybe just walk out sometime in the middle there when things look like they're ready to take a turn for the worse. Dunno. It will be interesting.

Bring the popcorn, please. I might forget.


Wednesday, February 08, 2017

On a Mission

We have recently decided to leave our home church where we had been for almost 10 years. In the season of life that we are in, we want a church that prioritizes kids...and leading them (and others) to Christ. Ultimately, Sokny and I have already made our decision to be Christians...they have not so that's the priority. 

That whole journey really started me thinking about church. Many churches have been framed up to feed into Christians. Doesn't sound too terrible, does it? What triggered was when we attended a "seeker sensitive" church. Almost every week, the message calls out to people who aren't Christians and basically asks if they want to become a Christian. Coming from a very theological, deep teaching church, the teaching felt very basic at first. 

Then I started thinking about it. Boiling Christianity down to the nuts and bolts, if we have already decided to follow Jesus (we have), the great commission compels us to get out and share: 

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you."

On top of that, it's love. We are called to love on others. Actually...spreading God's love is more important. That's the foundation for what we do, why we do it and who we strive to become as we follow Jesus. 

If those are our key tasks...and let's be frank - we suck at actually living those out for the most part...why not focus the church on advocating for, supporting and actively pursuing these two core actions? Reach out to those who are 'seeking' God...and get busy loving on folks through actions, finances and the like. 

It doesn't say in the Bible that we should continually seek to improve...continue fine tuning the engine that is the human life but never actually take it out onto the streets. It's the opposite. It says we should get out on the streets...do the good work that we are called to do...and while you're at it, follow Jesus with everything you are which compels us to be better. 

I'm not saying that one church is better than another but the stark contrast between the handful we have been looking into forced the discussion. To each their own, onward and upward :)