Dreams. We have them; conscious and unconscious. Sometimes we realize them, sometimes they never walk in reality. Some dreams are held constant throughout our life. Some dreams are kept in a perpetual state of evolution. The word “Dream” can refer to our goals and aspirations; it can also refer to the adventures and experiences we have while we slumber. Let’s ruminate over the latter, shall we?
Some would argue when we dream, our brain is processing through all the shit that has cluttered the nooks and crannies of our mind. Our deepest fears and most passionate of yearnings come out to play. Our unconscious mind acknowledges it all and tries to piece it together into some sort of cohesive answer; our mind defragments so we don’t crash. Is that all it is? Dreaming is just unclogging the filter? That sounds so…so…what’s the word that I am looking for? Sorry. I’m usually pretty good at this. “Lame”? Yes, the word I am looking for is “lame”. Let’s actually throw an “Über” in there too. Über Lame! It is Über Lame!!!
Much like how most of us believe there is more to life than just the grind or acquiring pretty, shiny things, I think there is far more to dreams. There is meaning beyond the psychobabble. Perhaps there is even a bit of magic within them; prophecy. In the ensuing, I will share with you three dreams that I have had. Each produces a distinct feeling deep within the very depths of my being: Fear, Calm, and Intrigue.
I had this dream back when I was little; maybe four or five. I’m in a white room. The space is so expansive, there is no indication of windows, walls, doors, or even corners. I am a child, and remain a child every time I experience the dream. If memory serves me, I am clad in white. The dream is void of sound and speech. At some point in the dream, I am presented a ring. The hands that slip the ring on my finger are disembodied; I have yet to see the face connected to them. The ring provides me abilities. Specifically, in the dream, it allows me to pile up large bags of sand. At first, I find the task enjoyable. It is simple, and expectations are not grand. Suddenly, I begin to pile the bags faster and faster. It dawns on me that my mind is unable to keep up with the task as my body moves at a faster and faster pace; inhumanely quick. Back and forth, back and forth, backandforthbackandforthbackandforth!!!! I no longer have control of my body. A prisoner of my mind, forced to only witness myself perform this task over and over, with no hope of an ending in sight.
I recollect waking up in my parents’ bed as a child, in tears. My heart pounded in my small chest. I was gasping for air as the heat about my face receded to let the cool air wash over me. My mom, obviously concerned, asked me what happened. Being so young, it was hard to articulate what transpired. The dream had broken and dispersed throughout my mind, and, with it, the necessary details to string together my little horror story. It was not until I was older that the dream pieced itself together, and burned itself into my mind so that I might remember it in my waking state.
It still puzzles me as to what it could mean. Have I gone through hard times? Will I be going through hard times? Will I lose control? What will I lose control of? Will I know true suffering? Perhaps it is only mental anguish. I did not suffer physically in the dream, after all. I don’t know, and the very fact that I cannot claim purchase to any satisfactory detail breeds a special brand of fear in me.
I was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It was a bright day as I strolled down the hallways on the second floor. Yes, I knew this place as Michigan Avenue, but, in reality, it was this odd mash-up of heaven and a really swanky mall; all clad in what looked like golden marble. There were few people on the Magnificent Mile that particular sunny afternoon. The sun was low with blazing beams. I turn into a store and find myself in…
…my room. It is the room I grew up in since I was six. It had my old furniture, the same kind of furniture Elliot had in the movie E.T. This room was different than my real room. Yes, it had the same furniture. Yes, the walls were the same color of Malibu Blue. The room was sparse; the knick-knacks were missing; the books were nowhere to be found; any evidence that I lived in that room were stripped away.
I looked over to my desk, which is placed beneath my window. There was a woman there. She faced the window, observing the world outside.
I knew her as God. I have no evidence that this woman was God, mind you. It was this innate feeling. God was not rocking a name tag. God was kind of short; maybe my height, so about 5’ 8”. Her skin was a soft bronze, and her hair fell in thick, loose curls about her shoulders. She wore a serene look on her face. (Of course, right?) It was this look that said, “Everything will be okay.” I got the sense God had skipped to the end of the novel and read the last few sentences.
It’s a bit fuzzy, but I don’t remember having a long conversation with God. All I can remember is asking, “When will it happen?”
God looked back at me, a small smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. She simply said, “Soon.”
I do not know, for the life of me, what this “it” is. I am not sure if “it” has happened already, or, again, if “it” is still lying in wait to come to fruition in my future. Also, what does “Soon” mean from God’s perspective?
The last dream is only a small fragment. While I was in the dream, I was confident that I would remember every event that happened when I woke up. In reality, the dream slowly faded away from my memory. I was only able to cling to one, small fragment.
I was speaking to someone. I do not know who. They told me something significant. It was about a person. This person carries some important impact in my life. I don’t recall what exactly. The only tangible shred of this dream I have is that this person would be wearing green. Upon receiving this information in my dream, I remember feeling light. Like all my stress was eradicated. I was truly and purely happy; relieved. So, I know this person is a source of good.
I am both elated that this person is in my life, but frustrated that I do not have more information. The answer was right there, RIGHT THERE, in the dream. Maybe I was not meant to have the answers; not yet. Maybe the dream was an ultimate cheat code, but maybe knowing that information would have the opposite effect, and the events that should, or need to, happen would never come to pass. Heavy, right?
Who is this person in green? My true love? My best friend? My soul mate? Someone in a less significant role? Hell if I know.
The thing is, I’ve met this person already. The moment the door opened, I saw the green, and it made sense. It wasn’t the fact they wore a green sweater, it was this little “ding” that went off in my mind. So, I know who this person is, but I do not know who this person is. Does that make sense? I’m being cryptic, but I have my reasons. I’m not ready to share, and now you know the pure frustration I felt upon waking from this particular, shattered dream.
I hope these dreams are more than just mental junk. I hope these is a mystical thread that is woven through each of them. I hope that in time I do find out what each of them means. If anything, they make for good stories. That’s something isn’t it?
If you are having a bad day remember this: At least you aren’t that guy trying to avoid direct eye contact with the cashier as you purchase a mop and toilet paper…
…in the same transaction…
We frantically shove our fears, shortcomings, and embarrassments under our own beds and the far corners of our closets, only to realize too late that these are prime breeding grounds for demons.
What is love? (How many of you just answered with “Baby don’t hurt me”?)
In all honestly, though, love seems to take on many different forms. We love our favorite movies. We love our favorite TV shows, which include a selected “love so hard” episodes. We love our hobbies; be they reading fan fiction or running marathons or cooking or writing a blog for yourself and your tens of followers. You don’t love your mother the same way that you might love deep dish pizza…at least I hope not. I believe, however, that it is safe to say that love is equivalent to passion.
As human beings, we crave understanding; to add structure to our personal world. After all, if we did not do so, would education, and all the subjects that act as its pillars even exist? Mathematics explores our world in a “perfect” setting (and please stop saying that there is no point to it), which in turn creates the opportunity for the different branches of science to analyze and experiment in our “imperfect” reality. History and Anthropology record and seek to understand the lives led by those before us, perhaps so we are not doomed to repeat the past. We have Psychology and Literature to examine the individual, emotional charges, perceived worlds. (Apologies to anyone in these fields, should my definitions be off.)
We seek understanding and tangible definition with every detail of our existence; love being one of them. There are several definitions out there already. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 did a great job by telling us what love is:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
If you’ve been to a wedding, odds are this has popped up in a toast to those crazy kids. Or, perhaps, it was included in at least five cards attached to the wedding gifts.
We also know, thanks to Chaucer, that love is blind. I do not believe in the legal sense; more along the lines of who you fall in love with*.
[*Note that you can fall in love with anyone regardless of age, race, ethnic background, gender, religion, education background, socioeconomic status, height, dietary preferences, whether they are a righty or a lefty, or whether or not they agreed with the ending of How I Met Your Mother. Ironically enough, these are the same grounds that must be omitted when one is being considered for a full time position anywhere. Yes, even the last point. It’s there. I promise. They just added it. Moving on…]
Moreover, apparently love is never having to say you’re sorry, according to Erich Segal. I wrinkle my nose at this, though. I’m not so sure that it’s truly love that means one doesn’t have to apologize for past transgressions; no matter the degree of insult or injury incurred. Isn’t that pride?
Which brings me to defining love further. Love is either acquired, lost, or unrequited. Walk into any Hallmark or down any greeting card aisle, and you will find a multitude of definitions for love. If memory serves me well, they all, more or less, are addressing the same type of love: the kind of love between people. We see these themes repeated in fairy tales. Seriously, put on a Disney movie or watch some Once Upon a Time.
That’s not all love is though. Go on Tumblr and you will see all kinds of love and passions that people have. There are posts showing love for food porn, love for beautiful places and nature, love of self-image, love of fitness, love of cat and dog gifs, love of butts, even. Needless to say, Bibles and greeting cards aside, I believe this opens the floor for me to step in and provide my own musings on what love is. Like the notions of perfection and beauty, love also harbors a unique perspective by everyone out there.
Love Isn’t Getting Into Someone’s Pants
Let’s get this one out of the way, shall we? This one should be self-explanatory, but just in case…
Love and sex are NOT the same thing. In this particular instance, love is caring for someone else on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Sex is just what writers throw into a story because they don’t have anything with substance to write about. Are we clear?
Love of the Things
This subtitle is a little misleading, but ties in with what I was alluding to earlier. I was listening to Fall Out Boy’s “Save Rock and Roll.” There is one line in particular that both Patrick Stump and Sir Elton John sing. It goes: “You are what you love, not who loves you.” I recollect having to take a moment after hearing this line. Ultimately, we are at our happiest when we are doing what we love. For me, that would be teaching and writing. On a broader spectrum, I love being creative. I love and crave interaction and the intellectual challenges that come along with it all.
When placed in this light, the non-person, “what you love” thing seems a tad less shallow. Why wouldn’t we love the things that help to the different facets that comprise the unique beings that we are? When there is love of self, there is a willingness to embrace these different aspects of ourselves and share them with the outside world…instead of locking them in that proverbial basement like a surrogate mother in every single Lifetime Original Movie. I dare you to find anything to the contrary.
Well, that most certainly took a turn…
Moral of the story?
Do what you love, and don’t give a flying (insert expletive of choice here) what anyone thinks. You are unique. That uniqueness is what qualifies you to be loved…not how many “followers” or “likes” you might have.
Love Is Not Having to Read Between the Lines
In my experience of
dating observing other people date, there is a lot of game play. Some (me) have likened it to job interviewing. While it is important to see if someone is the right fit for you, I think we take it to the level of extreme sporting. We begin to pick apart what love interests and dates say and text to us. They said, “Yeah, sure,” but did they really mean, “No, that’s a terrible idea, and you should be smart enough to figure that one out on your own.” When she said, “I don’t care,” does that really mean she wants pepperoni over sausage on the pizza, and what will she think of me if I choose the wrong one? This little head game will continue to devolve until you’ve convinced yourself that the relationship will go nowhere, damning your unborn children to a broken home.
Sometimes what a loved one says to you is, verbatim, what they really mean. You don’t have to analyze voice tones or word choices. Why do we make life so difficult? Are we not entertained enough as it is, that we have to concoct a poltergeist of drama?
In reference to a romantic love, Bea explained it to me as two partners being a unit. “That is your person,” she stated firmly. If you are fortunate to have a “person,” someone who shares in the many intricacies of your life, a lot more goes into it than hand holding and butterfly kisses. It is only when you both expose all your vulnerabilities, and cast aside your inclinations to judge, that the foundation of the relationship gains strength. You don’t complete each other. As my English teacher, during my senior year of high school, stated, “That’s bull crap.” (It was a Catholic school.) I think your person helps you to continually explore who you are; ever expanding the definition of you. They offer a fresh perspective. You do the same for them. The protective walls are down. I think it’s okay to go poking around in there and see what you find. If you do it right, you’ll be able to communicate telekinetically. (Refer to Marshall and Lily from How I Met Your Mother.)
Of course, what do I know…I’m single. Not that this should invalidate anything I’ve said. Remember…it’s just a different perspective.
Love Is Not Always a Two Way Street
Love is tricky, mostly because if you start to get the feels for someone, you automatically assume that they reciprocate this like/interest/care/love. Yyyyyyyyeeeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhh….
I truly believe that you can love someone more than they love you. Well…or you can outwardly display your love for someone more than others. Situations vary.
The worst case scenario is that love only resides in your heart. How many of you have continuously been there to lift a loved one up when they are down, only to have to drag yourself out of the muck when you fall…alone? I hate to tell you this, but take a minute to think while you’re in that gutter and pose the question if the love is gone or if it even existed. You may not like the honest truth of it all.
Love Is Honest
Love cannot flourish without honesty. When you’re in a relationship and you begin to shroud certain aspects of yourself because you’re afraid they’ll be turnoffs, well, then you’re not being you…all of you, to be more specific. I guess there is something to be said about displaying your own, special brand of weirdness in doses, but that also sounds like you’re playing games. If someone needs to gradually brace themselves because you would be deemed to “off the wall” otherwise, then maybe he/she is not for you.
Ah, but this goes deeper, doesn’t it? We can turn this back on you because you’re not really concealing your devotion to cosplay, nor your Betty Ford level addiction to ice cream to spare the person you are smitten with. Nope, you’re afraid you’ll be judged. You hide these characteristics to spare your feelings, when you should be proud of them because, after all, they make you you.
Suddenly, we have moved away from relationship love to love of self again. So, go ahead and proudly display that replica of Smile Time Angel! You know, the episode where Angel gets turned into a Muppet? No? Season 5. The episode is called “Smile Time.” You’re welcome.
Love Is a Molotov Cocktail of Fear and Courage
Love is honest and forthright, but love is not always so kind. Sometimes you put yourself out there, and sometimes the best case scenario does not play out. To actually express feelings of like and love to someone takes an immense amount of courage…and some deep breaths…and a little bit of stupidity. We allow that emotional front to come down; we strip ourselves of that emotional armor. We are rockin’ our emotional birthday suit. That takes courage. And that courage sticks with us for about three and a half seconds, until reason creeps back into the forefront of our minds and we realize, “Holy shit! They can see the real me! And…what if they don’t like what they see? What if I’m no longer accepted?? What if they leave forevers???”
These, among a plethora of others, make up the fear. We wait as the seconds sluggishly sloth on by for friends and lover’s reactions. We begin to project what we think they think of us. (A rather dangerous and difficult game of mental tennis…only that heavy, sexual grunting as these anxious thoughts are lobbed back and forth is replaced by our inner voice shrieking at the top of its lungs.) Yet, we cast aside this modified, socially acceptable version of ourselves, and let a few people in to see the real us. Why?
Maybe it’s because it’s too hard to maintain this shiny somewhat perfect version of ourselves. We seek a comfort within our own skin, and are doing some market testing to see what those close to us think. We seek to be honest (oop, there’s that word again) with ourselves and the people we want to hold an important place in our hearts.
When we get to that point, it’s quite liberating; especially when that other person reaches it with us. It’s expressing feelings for someone, and not feeling devastated when it’s not reciprocated. After all, is it the worst thing in the world for someone to hear they are loved…in a non-creepy way that is. It’s being able to say to your friend of the same sex that you love them, without feeling compelled to end this declaration with “No homo.” Seriously, be a person and grow some fucking balls…or ovaries. It’s being able to look at yourself and note all points of awesome and not all self-perceived shortcomings.
It’s a cycle, really. Without courage, we cannot get past the fear. Without the fear of losing someone, we would not have the courage to express that love. I’ll admit that I am not the best at this; showing love or emoting period. I will say I am seeing the value in being open and honest; it’s just a muscle that needs to be stretched.
Love Is Not Easy
Sometimes love hurts. It can cut deep and stop us dead in our tracks. Whether you really are in love, or just think that you are, when the truth of things comes through loud and clear, and you find the fantasy is just that, that you are alone, you just shut down. This seems to be the glaring roadblock of love. It’s usually a neon yellow wall that crops up on the notorious road of life, complete with flashing lights, that tape that reads DO NOT CROSS, and a couple of traffic cones with reflective tape for good measure.
We wallow in this pain. It hits us above in our hearts, and below, with a direct hit to the gut. We forget to love as well. You no longer concerning the person who broke your heart. I’m talking about those around us who already love us. They see a friend, sibling, or child hurting, and they immediately comfort us. They come to give us hugs. They come to make us laugh. They come to give us sage words. They come to dull the pain. Yet, we are so wrapped up in this heartache that we, like those who slighted us, forget how to love…if only momentarily. We fixate on the love that we lost, or never actually existed, and blind ourselves to the love that radiates from those who were always closest to us. It seems that we hold romantic love in a higher regard than any other love out there. I wonder why that is. Is it because romantic love is supposed to be deeper than any other kind of love out there?
I’d argue that point is fallible. My thoughts on this are simply that we inexplicably move romantic love to a higher pedestal. It begs the question: How do we quantify these different types of love? Not to go all hippie on your asses, but love is love when it comes to human relationships. They are all important and all necessary. If you can give me a counterargument, I’m more than willing to listen. I do, however, require visual aids in the form of charts and graphs clearly quantifying and ordering the different types of love ranging from least to greatest. The use of color is a bonus.
Love Is Magical and Exhausting
You may argue that love is only giving; none of this taking business. “That’s true love,” you say with confidence to me, and a firm nod of your head.
Love and relationships take work on the part of both parties. You can fire your heart on all cylinders, but I guarantee that it will only lead to burnout; a broken heart followed by a frustrated mind. This kind of “love” is mere child’s play. True love is open and honest communication, compromise, and effort. This, I think, describes mature love. Which sounds better? A love that rolls over and believes deep down that all things will work themselves out, a love that relishes in the good and cowers when things get “real”, or a kind of love that gets up and fights for what is important? One of these things is not like the other. One of these things is passionate. This may not be the passion that everyone claims to crave in a relationship, but it’s a passion that is vital.
Love is too vast to truly nail down and describe. After all the time it took to compose this entry, I’m probably more confused about the lot of it. I started this post so sure of what I was going to say. What you are reading is actually a hodgepodge of fragmented thoughts that cropped up on the pages over about a week and a half’s time.
There is not a doubt in my mind that love is a strong emotion that permeates into our actions. Love can make you do stupid things, and sometimes generates a mess; a mess that only honesty will clean up. (Seriously, are you all sensing a theme here?) Love is more than romantic relationships. Love connects to friends and family and strangers and things and even a sense of self. Love is belonging and acceptance and support. True love, hence, harbors true strength.
Love is magic. Hear me out on this one. Love can break spells, or restrictions, as we refer to them in the real world. Where there is love, there is acceptance. Where there is acceptance, belonging must be found. If we believe that we belong, we find comfort in others and courage to be our weird, slightly less than perfect selves. That’s powerful; no doubt in my mind. Of course, this magic isn’t instantaneous. Sometimes it will hurt before we come out the other side for the better…if we let it.
Love cannot be destroyed; only displaced. Where we believe love is lost, I believe that love never existed. Rather, what we felt was only an illusion of love. Actually, this poses a good question: Where does love come from? Does it come from anywhere, really? I don’t have the answer.
So, what is love? (Shrug.) Your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully there’s some good stuff in this post though…
I was out for dinner with Ken and Cooke one night. The pizza place that we were at was packed to the gills. As a result two pretty, young women came by and asked if they could sit with us because we still had room at our table. One woman, Tara, was tall with shoulder length, brown hair and round features. She was very sweet and was genuinely interested to get to know the three of us. The second, Erica, was this short, bespeckled, wisp of a thing that was more interested in the raucous bunch of Canadians seated next to us. (They’re another story for later.)
So, while Erica was most likely learning about hockey teams, loonies, and poutine, Tara engaged us in conversation. Now, being an introvert, Q & A sessions can be brief moments of torture, especially with a brand spankin’ new person. For Ken and Cooke, it was different. Cooke has a big personality, and has this uncanny ability to bring out the good times in any situation. Ken is just so freakin’ nice…but in a good way. That kind of genuine nice that radiates positive energy all around; none of that faux nicey-nice bull.
“Do you speak any languages other than English?” she asked.
Ken answered that he speaks Spanish, mentioning that he actually resided in Spain for a year. Cooke explained that Vietnamese is his first language.
Then it came time for me to answer. I took three years of Spanish back in high school, but can barely recollect what I had learned oh so long ago. Still, I can think pretty quick on my feet, and will always go for the punchline, if I can find one.
“I’m fluent in sarcasm.”
Nailed it, I thought…
I had a little 3x5 card that hung up on my closet door at my apartment ever since I started grad school. It contained a wish list of sorts of who I want to work towards becoming. These six items were:
- I will become an excellent, passionate teacher
- I will write frequently and be published
- I will move out and grow
- I will believe in myself and find confidence
- I will heal and think positive
- I will live in the now, try new things, and put myself out there
It’s been about two years since I hung that card up. I would only glance at it every now and then as I would reach into my closet for a shirt, jeans, or a pair of boots. The day I was cleaning out my room, I took a moment and read through these six points. I guess I surprised myself. While I did not completely accomplish all of these goals, I had changed for the better. I got closer to this new self. That’s what makes it worthwhile. This led me to ponder the question:
Where do I see myself in five years?
This is a pretty loaded question, I suppose. You’ve probably asked yourself this same question, or, at least, been asked about it in a job interview.
It’s also a pretty dangerous one in my opinion. I mean, it seems harmless enough. What’s so wrong about the future? The future is not being called to the carpet. This ideal self is. We obviously want to see ourselves fitting snuggly into our definition of perfect. We see our future selves as being good people, sidestepping anything and everything ranging from a glazed donut to a toxic relationship. Our five-year-plan-selves have it together and glide through life…unlike now where our psyches have fumbled and stumbled over clumsy limbs, and remind us of this every damn day. We’re black and blue and scarred. But, hey, we still have 30% of our teeth, so, yeah, there’s that.
Still, it’s good to have goals; to strive to improve; to be better than we once were; to slay our inner demons…and maybe mount their heads on iron pikes as a warning to any other gremlin or gnome who gets a little too ballsy. (I’m talking to you low self-esteem. Don’t think I don’t see you over there…hugging the wall looking all awkward.)
This five-year-plan-self crops up during big changes. I see these big changes as stepping through an open door; the light emanating from the other side is blinding. The catch is, the light does not represent something shiny and new and perfect. Sometimes the light is a harsh fluorescent light to let us know every flawed nook and cranny of our soul. We see how asymmetrical we are. We see all the blemishes, saggy bits, and creases. (Ew.) We realize that maybe we don’t like ourselves all that much. Maybe we never truly will. (Again…ew.)
These white light doors open up more and more frequently than you think. Sure, they come up during those big moments: graduations, engagements, weddings, kids, funerals, first jobs, second jobs, and that job you just know you were meant for, until you realize it’s not. My doors usually open up around birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s…and sometimes Sundays. See what I mean? I think I’ve desensitized myself to fresh starts. There’s sometimes only a week’s wait to start over and really get it right from here on out. Straight and narrow after I get through this crap week. How many times have you told yourself” “This year is gonna be my year!” or “I’m going to make today my bitch!” Now, how often were you right?
I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again (because it’s my blog), but I’m just starting a big change, and we are still waiting to get into the eye of the storm. I’m transitioning from grad school to real, adult job again. (I chose my words carefully here. As Ken pointed out, we’ve been living in the real world ever since we started college back in undergrad.) This means I will have work obligations to balance with the other hats I wear. Admittedly, I grimace because transitions are messy. They’re like toddlers, if you think about it. They run about your ankles trying to trip you, all the while putting sticky and dirty handprints about the white walls of your soul. (Deep right?) “Tsk. I just washed the smudges off not fifteen minutes ago…and stop jumping on the sofa! How many time do I have to tell you!? (Groooooan) This is why we can’t have nice things.” (Proceed to weep openly.)
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes dwell on the future because it’s an escape from the harsher aspects of reality. It’s much easier to look ahead than to deal with the thing that’s squared up with you, nose to nose. You just have to take everything you foresee with a grain of salt when you hop into that imagination of yours and take it for a spin. (It’s good to exercise that mind’s eye of yours. Would be a terrible thing if it seized up on you.) These goals that you see for yourself should act more like fluid guidelines…really, really fluid. You cannot control every detail of your future, and you wouldn’t want to. You’d go crazy and bald and alone and to the point where you barely have control over your own bowel movements. Frankly, the world has enough hairless nut jobs living life by the seat of their Depends.
Remember that transitions change you, so what you think you need now will not necessarily hold true in the eyes of future you. This is not to say you wait, twiddling your thumbs, for life to come find you with a handout. No. If this is your view on life, here’s a razor and a coupon for adult diapers. A copy of How to Speak in Tongues will arrive at your address in two to three business days.
There’s that saying that idle hands do the Devil’s work. Idle minds just go dumb. So while I can’t predict my future, I still make plans so that life can happen. As I gaze into that murky crystal ball, I’m careful to keep that saltlick close by, because I know five-years-from-now me, while hopefully improved, will still be flawed. I realize now that this is not a bad thing.
In five years, I wish to be still passionate about my profession as an educator, and not be jaded. I want to never forget why I do what I do, which falls under the category of helping others fulfill their dreams. I don’t want it to be just a job, which is synonymous with obligatory soul-suck. Perhaps I’ll further my education. (This detail is still shoved in the way back…I think. It’s shorter than the other guidelines crammed in there. Standing room only.)
A second career would be nice. In five years, I’d like to have one of my novels published. I’m not asking for a New York Times Bestseller (those are earned); a cult following will satisfy me just fine. Of course, this means I have to focus and write more frequently than I have in the past. (Note to self: Stay off of Facebook. An intervention is not too far around the corner. These are the things that keep me up at night…while I’m updating my status.)
I’d actually like to try this whole dating thing. For an introvert like me, to accomplish this is right up there with discovering the key to world peace. It is feasible (both my dating and world peace). I’m an introvert, but I’m a witty introvert…and fucking adorable to boot. If I’m feeling really ambitious, maybe I’ll even be married in five years. My mom would also want kids in the picture. I tell ya, once her friends started getting grandkids, she just had to have one too. (She’s gonna call and yell at me now.) If this all actually happens, that would increase pressure on the older cousins. They currently field questions of marriage and family expansion plans at every family function…including funerals. You may be thinking right now, “Jeeze, is nothing sacred? A funeral?” If you think about it, though, this is prime real estate to discuss family additions. After all, a spot just opened up. (Don’t look at me like that.)
In five years, even though I will be flawed, I want to basically be better than the man sitting here writing this blog post for you. I want to be a better friend. Sometimes I don’t think I listen as well as I could. I want to be more invested, especially since I sense that life is going to add a few hurtles. We aren’t in high school anymore. Plus, I want to make sure that the people in my life know how appreciated they are. My goal is to go full Leslie Knope on them. They will feel the love.
I’d like to be more charitable. Plain and simple, I’ve been focusing on figuring me out. I think I have enough info to be a person now, and really do want to do something good for others.
There is a lot of work to be done to become the five-years-from-now me. Casting off my self-imposed rules of what I can or what I should do is the first step. It is very apparent to me that these rules I have made for myself, while a way of seeking personal control, are simply fear disguised as something more acceptable. These rules/fears were assembled so that I maintained good standing in the eyes of others, not to really help me grow. It’s sad to think, I have stifled myself. This has probably made my journey thus far much harder. Still, maybe I wouldn’t have learned all that I have. Instead of restricting ourselves, I now think it is better to believe we are limitless. Instead of asking ourselves, “Why,” we need to posit, “Why not?” It’s a much more exciting question to ponder. Let the hilarious hijinks ensue!
I want to stay strong; physically and mentally. I have, it seems, only just discovered that I am in charge of my own life. (Not an easy lesson to learn, even though it should be.) I create my opportunities. If I fail, it is most likely because I stood in my own way. For all the rules I made for myself, one of the worst was allowing others to make the decisions because it was easier to disappoint myself than those close to me. I sometimes falter, but I try not to think that way anymore; that my happiness must be tied to the happiness of others. As hokey as it sounds, I can be my own force of nature…if I continue to believe in myself, like so many around me have told me till they were blue in the face.
Five-years-from-now me should be more comfortable in his own skin. Hopefully, five-years-from-now me will be more flexible and roll with the punches; enjoy the journey and the impromptu adventures. He will love fully, be self-assured, and never lose faith in his dreams, whether they come to fruition or not.
All these guidelines are wonderful to have because they provide a blueprint. Things change. We make additions and reductions and structural modifications, and that’s okay. That’s what life is. Life is going down the wrong path sometimes and making the best of a crap-tastic, shit show of a situation. Never look at five-years-from-now you and become despondent because you resemble nothing like him or her. You are the better version. No other argument holds water. If you are better than past you, then you’re doing just fine. Clap if you believe in yourself. I can’t hear you! Louder!!
Does all this make sense? Have a five year plan, but don’t put it up on a pedestal. Avoid the self-hatred when the prophecy shifts and morphs. It just means that future was never meant to exist; something better will come along, so long as you are holding true to yourself and your beliefs. Understand that five-years-from-now you never truly exists, but present you does. Admire what you can become, and believe that you have the strength and power to embody these yet to be obtained virtues. Even with a concrete mindset of who you can and will become, your book still harbors blank pages to be filled that only present you can record.
Another thing, idolize the crap out of this future you, but don’t ignore the amazing and fantastic person that stares back at you in the mirror every day. Yes, they do have flaws, and maybe a deep, dark secret or two or fifty. Even with these burdens, they still get through the day successfully. That’s the definition of true strength. This is the strength that will help take you from point A to point B; your five-year-from-now self.
So, where do you want to be in five years? Who do you want to be in five years? But, also, who are you now, and how is present you going to get yourself to that five year goal? Will you chose to sweat your ass off working to get there, or will you swaddle it in self-pity and entitlement? How’s that for a mental image? I think I can do better…
These journeys that we take, they are a lot like making confections. In order to experience the sweetest of lives, we have to add a bit of salt to the batter in the form of struggle, trial and error, and loss. These make a resilient heart; a heart that can stand against sadness and pain, but fully embrace the joy and happiness…and truly know love in its purest form.
That being said, I hope you get crackin’ on creating a stellar life that only your flawed, present self can take you. Best of luck.
Ken had mentioned to me that he really liked this quote from one of my posts: “It’s Not Permanent, But You Can Take It With You.”
I’ve seen others on Tumblr post similar sayings and thought I would take a crack at it. All of this was done with a tablet and a piece of art software. I think it came out pretty good, if I do say so myself.
Things change. More specifically, things end and things begin. Things happen in-between. It’s cyclic, really.
I’m graduating soon, and with it comes change. There’s a job, a move back to Illinois, and apartment hunting, just to name a few. There are going to be goodbyes (none of them being forever) and hello agains. Change is scary…but change is inevitable. Change can also be good…mostly, change is confusing.
This post is more for those who have shared in this two year journey with me. This is a thank you to all of them, and it is important enough to be stated publicly. You all played a role in helping me grow; helping me change for the better. I hope you like it. (If you don’t, just pretend you didn’t read it. I’ll never ask.)
As things come to an end, we should not focus on the finality of things, or so I’ve heard. As I said, things change. Really, though, isn’t it more important to look at how we got here, and not solely on the end result? So, let’s take a glance back to make sure the memories we have made are securely packed with us…
There are a multitude of things I will miss from my time here in grad school. They come in flashes, memories do, almost like sparks off of a dying firework. We see them in fleeting seconds as time steadfastly ticks on, to comfort us; to remind us who we were and are; to remind us why we do what we do.
So, sit back and enjoy, friends. This is my little gift of words to you. This post is not meant to be award winning. It is, however, from the heart; like one of those art projects you make out of macaroni and glitter. (Warning: Most of these memories are comprised of inside jokes and may not make sense to the outside reader. For those of you not privy to the punchlines, just let your imaginations run wild!)
- My first roommate abandoning me, then getting a new one…and the “hilarious” hijinks that ensued. (I can still see the ants. **Shudder**)
- Ken saying “hi” to me every day at the office.
- Brady, the best roommate ever, cooking dinner whilst watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. (The characters on that show really are terrible people…but in such a funny way.)
- Yoga with Ken and Morgan. (I will do that headstand someday. COME HELL OR HIGH WATER!)
- Meeting Audrey. (We’ve only hung out for a couple of weeks, but I hope we stay in touch.)
- Learning not to put restrictions on myself. (Thanks for that, Aggressive Bea.)
- Discussions with Sheila about the tangled web of family over some really good ice cream.
- Discussions over chicken and cucumber sandwiches from Subway, with Rosemary, about Abstract Algebra and Learning Theories. (Of course, the best chat we had concerned her explaining an interesting conversation she had about natural family planning at a Knights of Columbus dinner, while we watched some tenants steal all the furniture from the apartment across the way.)
- That time I realized everything will be okay. (Aw, that was a good day.)
- The never-ending inspiration my students gave me.
- Anna’s and Jon’s help on Stats homework. (I owe you both forever.)
- Morgan’s malicious hugs.
- Rosemary’s steadfast perseverance.
- FISH TACOS! (I will never find any better than the ones here.)
- Ken having a good day when the Mariners are winning.
- The birth of a new persona and novel idea that I would not have cooked up on my own. (Coming to a bookstore or e-reader near you, thanks to my co-writer, Ken.)
- Playing in Seattle, and vowing to be back. (I would consider this to be my first real, Spring Break.)
- The honky-tonk bar. (Us math people got rhythm, y’all.)
- Actually setting out and attaining what I wanted to do…and I’m not done yet. (Determined face.)
- My car talking in tongues. (I should have never told Ken and Morgan it could read text messages. Then again, driving wouldn’t nearly be as fun.)
- Taking the best final exam ever with Rosemary. (I have never laughed so hard as when she pretended her swiveling desktop was a turn table. Squeaky –squeak—squeak—squeaky.)
- Anna’s wit against Cooke. (Honestly, he doesn’t deserve it sometimes…sometimes. He’s a really good guy. Anna is a wonderful protégé, and shall carry on my reign of sarcasm after I am gone. This, I have no concern over. For serious, everyone.)
- Late night talks with Brady about the future, love, girls, and friendships. (He has one of the most genuine hearts I have ever encountered.)
- Grad school stress sessions with Lucy. (“Sometimes it’s hard to be a person…caring is hard.”)
- To anyone and everyone who shared in my weirdness.
- How I Met Your Mother mini-marathons and talks of bad Ted Mosby, dad jokes.
- My inability to not fall for “That’s What She Said” jokes. (Damn it, every time!)
- Being honest with myself, and somehow coming out stronger as a result. (Who’da thunk.)
Like anyone at the Oscars, I know I’m missing something, but the music is starting to play. So, I should probably wrap things up.
Thank you to everyone who made this experience amazing and beautiful and weird and awesome. You are all important to me.
That being said, if you need a reminder of all your best qualities, I am a phone call away. I have a way with words, I think; a way to clearly show someone that they are not alone, and a way to quell those pesky inner-demons. It’s my superpower. It’s my own special brand of magic.
Here’s to this ending. Here’s to the fact that it happened.
Taking a moment to reflect on the aforementioned, all these things must have been good because…because I am sad to see them end, but honored to have been a part of them.
Post completed. Life to commence once again…
So, here’s the thing…we go through this life, I’ve noticed, and there are all these changes. If you’re a writer, you predictably refer to them as “chapters.” When you’re little, you anxiously anticipate these changes. What am I going to be when I grow up? Who am I going to marry? How big will my house be? How many kids am I going to have? I can’t wait to grow up, so I can buy and do whatever I want because adults have complete and total freedom. Life seems to be this immense, blank book, just waiting for you to fill it up with adventures and documented proof as to how cool you are.
What changes then when you grow up? Do we realize that life is fleeting, and that big ass book is starting to look like a pamphlet? Do we convince ourselves that we are not actually that cool; that we wasted too many of our pages filling it with mundane stuff? Do we focus too much on why the reality does not mirror the fiction?
As with past posts, this one comes to you because current life situations have been banging about in my head. I am on the cusp of finishing up a master’s degree, job hunting, and, as a result…wondering what the fuck is around the corner.
I think, as human beings, we talk a big game. It is so easy to live in this fiction of having a job that we love, living in a spacious, rent controlled apartment that we pay WAY too little for, while experiencing a social life so storied that, well, your next book tour is coming this fall! Question is, how do we make it from point A to point B? We work and struggle. While we are working and struggling we make new friends, make new routines, and seek comfort…because working and struggling is real hard, y’all. Just sayin’.
I suppose this is where the crux of this article comes in. I am about to take another step towards point B. I’m leaving grad school and the comfort that I, somehow inexplicably, was able to create for myself. Now, I am wondering where I am going to get a job? Do I really interview well, or is it more the case that I think that I interview well? What if I’m not deliriously happy after this? What if this was the best that it will ever get? Do I really have any control over this at all?
“You’re being way too overdramatic,” you tell me.
“I know,” I reply, “but, if I wasn’t sensationalizing these little life moments, I would have nothing to write about. So, shut up…but tell your friends to stop by my blog. Thanks.”
Admit it, though, even if you are not where you want to be in life, you have points of comfort: Shooting the shit with officemates or co-workers, sharing fat kid food with the bestie, just simply not feeling like you are on the bottom rung. And then, it ends…
It’s hard to let go of that comfort. More specifically, it’s hard to leave behind the friends that you’ve made. In the back of your mind you wonder, “Will it ever be the same?” We definitely won’t talk everyday…because we’ll have actual jobs that may or may not be in other states. Will we relegate each other to that dreaded Facebook friend status? Will all those meaningful and beautiful in-depth conversations and moments of shared vulnerability be boiled down to “Liking” something on a monthly basis?
“If it’s a friendship that is meant to sustain itself, then it will do just that. Stop worrying about things you can’t control,” you whine.
“Okay. You clearly don’t know me,” I’ll retort. “Plus cut the Hallmark crap…”
With these immense changes, people do lose touch with each other. You just do. It’s reality at its most cruel. You’re right, and it sucks the big pickle. I have two friends from my first stint at graduate school. I stayed in the Midwest and they moved to the Pacific Northwest. It has been about four to five years, and we just met up in person again. Before that, I could count on one hand how many times we either texted, emailed, or Facebooked one another. They did call me once. Well, they actually dropped their phone and it somehow dialed my number. Point is, these are good friends and beautiful people, and it was hard to stay in contact with them. I wish I could say that I was doing much better things with my life, and we simply lost touch. It’s true, I eventually started to pursue something that I wanted, but, for the most part, it was blah…plus, if anyone tells you they lost touch with friends because they were simply “too busy,” that’s a lie…they’re just a douche bag.
So, what do you do then? Do you really just be happy that it happened, and let it go? Do you just say, “Mm, some people are reachers and others just aren’t.” Are you really just too busy, and you’ll catch up with everyone later…until it feels too late? Do you say, “We’re going to make a pact to have actual conversations every other week,” until it suddenly starts to feel like a job? (Never let a friendship get to that point, because then…it just isn’t one anymore.) Of course, we can’t forget that life will happen. There is always the chance things can and will end. Maybe you and/or your friends will move on. You’ll meet new people, fall in love, and create a family of your own. (We can only hope. It would be unkind to not want that for yourself and your friends. Think about it.) Family obligations and time and distance, they all work to stretch a friendship to their limits. Of course, so does stagnation.
Again, I wonder, “What do we do then?”
I don’t have the answer. (Gasp! Shocker!) And if I think about it too hard, then it just gets all depressing up in here.
Perhaps I can conjecture. I think that time will tell. We are so quick to thumb to the back of the book and get to the ending sometimes. We don’t want to put in the effort and work to create these fantastic events and adventures because we are afraid it will all fall apart before we can get to the good stuff. Because it’s hard. We just want to know, “Is all my effort going to pay off? Should it make it into the ‘Book of Life’?”
We don’t want to think about it too hard…or at all.
I know we’re not supposed to, because every self-help book says not to, but take a look back at all those times with your friends. Would you go back? Would you want to just keep it the way it was forever? I have to say “no” because the really, truly meant to be friendships get so much better, if you try. Would I opt to just be classmate acquaintances with one of my new friends, Rosemary? Nope. If that were the case, I would not have had the privilege of knowing about the poor use of Venn Diagrams and coon kitties. Would I just want to continue to exchange pleasantries with Ken? No, because then I would not have had these deep, reflective conversations with him about life, and the fact that life contains so much good in it, if you don’t let yourself get in the way of it. Would I just have wanted to have lunch with Lucy in the high school lunch room and call it a day? Hell no. She instilled in me to have a sense of adventure and bravery and how these two things make for a fierce friend. Who would want to pass that up? What about Bea? Come on. Bea made it okay to rock the weird. Bea is a soul mate. You don’t get to have soul mate friendships by keeping things the same. What I’m trying to say is some people not only mean the world to you, but they eventually become a permanent part of that personal world in some capacity.
It’s understandable that it’s hard to let them go out, and do their thing, and not be a constant. But you have to. You have a life to live, and, frankly, it’s not fair to live in the past. You have such big dreams in order to get to point B; in order to have an epic conclusion to you book. Don’t you owe it to yourself and loved ones to figure out how to get there? (Stop counting the pages till the next chapter. You’ll get there.)
Here is what you do: Do not pour your self-worth into these friends. You gravitated toward each other because you all had something interesting about yourselves. Maybe it was a quirk, an inner fire, an undying, positive outlook, just a different way of looking at the world, or the fact that you are fluent in sarcasm. Let them be who they are. Let them be interesting. You do the same. Otherwise, you’ll resent them. It’s like them moving on with their life is a slap in your face. They’re doing it without you, and, clearly, they are much too busy to expend any more time on you. (It was fun while it lasted.)
For me, and I’m not proud of it, but these thoughts come in. I am a human, and I am an introvert. These little demons get the best of me sometimes. And sometimes it is easier to embrace these lonely, empty feelings that are shrouded in hypotheticals, such as, “They don’t need me anymore,” or, “I’d just be bothering them.” Instead of just picking up the phone, I wallow.
Maybe it’s all in perspective. Isn’t that what inspires the greatest debates on a really good book? “You either love it or hate it,” some people say because not everyone agrees or gets the message in the same way. Yes, I think it’s all in how you look at it. Life does change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. We can’t predict these things. People move away. People move on. Friendship is a two-way street, and our guts clench when we see these changes as a test. We may not see it (there’s that perspective again), but we subconsciously create a rather depressing self-fulfilling prophecy. We victimize ourselves, and the friendship takes the beating. We’re no longer in the loop with these friends, who are now in different states and time zones. We listen to a lot, and I mean a lot, of Civil Wars, whilst silently crying into our laptops…as we stalk our friends on Facebook. “I will never forget you,” you whisper to no one in particular. We feel shabby…because you no longer see what your friends saw in you. All the interesting parts of you were written out, when you no longer can see these strengths reflected in their eyes.
I hate to break it to you, but that is not friendship. It is a security blanket. FUCK. THAT. Your friends are not your self-esteem drug of choice. They are your friends. Change your perspective.
I love my friends fiercely. Seriously, I use the phrase, “they would never find the body,” as a term of endearment when I talk about how I care for their well-being. I admit, I have clung to my friends for constant validation, when I should have just appreciated the awe-inspiring individual who counted me among all others to share moments with them. That’s the wonderful thing about friendships, and why you should never want it to be the same forever, they are comfortable, yet always new, if done right.
The wonderful thing about friendships is that you can take some things with you…all the good times. Friendships have histories, there are road trips and way too much wine, all the food, and points where you are laughing so hard that you cry. There is love. No one can take that away from you. And like wine, I’d like to think these memories get better with time. For when life does get complicated, these are a source of joy; when things seemed simpler, even if they really weren’t.
For anyone who is my friend, I want you to know this: I want what’s best for you. I want you to be happy, even if I don’t get to be there all the time. (This sounds a tad selfish, but you know what I mean. All good things. All good things…) I still want to share in your weirdness and awesomeness. I still want to have those deep belly laughs with you. I still want to share stories, both actual and fictitious. I still want to have those good for the soul chats. Because each of you offers a different perspective that is unlike any other. You all inspire and motivate me in your own way. On a basic, human level, this is vital. As a writer, this is just good to fend off those nasty blocks. These, among infinite reasons, are why I like you.
At the same time, I am afraid to lose touch with you, and there will be days that I will miss your physical presence to the point my heart hurts. Maybe that particular pain means I’m doing something right, though. I promise to not wall myself off, like I have in the past. I will call, Skype, and visit. Please do the same. You are in my life because you are important. That importance does not go away or diminish when major changes and plot twists come sweeping through. You’re too loved for this friendship to lose its value.
This post started very bleak. Let’s end it on a high note. To all my friends, I’m giving you a hug. The kind of hug that sticks with you; the one that makes your ribs momentarily closer together. I’m holding on tight, but only for a second, because I know you have to get back to being awesome. I have a little phrase to leave you with, until we see each other again. I borrowed this one phrase from Parks and Rec because I think it’s beautiful, and I use it when I sign off of a texting match with Bea: “Like you. Love you. Miss you.”