Archive | December, 2011

give a damn

19 Dec

It’s the holiday season, aka –if we are being completely honest– the season when we shed a bit of the bullshit and show people who we really are. Just a bit. If we’re secretly a bit ravenous and cut-throat in a street-fight kind of way, we show it when Wal-mart or Macy’s has a sale. If we’re a bit of a cornball, we crank up the jolly Christmas music and hum along to it at work. If we’re genuinely trying to be a decent human being (or at the very least are honest enough with ourselves to have realized that we really could do better [I mean, come on]), we carve out some time to spread goodwill.

I am trying to be a bit better at the latter, and actively looking for opportunities that help me get rid of some of the more hollow consumptive tendencies and become a man who cares about grander things (i.e the type of stuff that makes up college admission essays ).

(A relevant aside: look around at your colleagues, your friends, your family, and most importantly, your reflection, and tell me: do they give a damn about other people? I mean, do they try to help others carry their cross in life? Isn’t that all that matters, trying? Not everyone has the means or even the emotional stamina to help every hurt soul we encounter, but just by trying to help we can do a lot. That easy to dismiss awareness, that others need help and we can actually try to be that help, is not found in every man or woman. Only those that give a damn are aware and only they are bothered by this, even if just a bit.) Continue reading

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silly changes

12 Dec

Why does a shift impact us so much? Life is full of changes, abrupt and planned, and you’d think that by the time we are considered adults (a sketchy term, indeed) we’d all be used to this by now. Nothing is static and everything changes, even slightly. We change, everyone around us changes, and sometimes, with little forewarning, our reality changes. And yet every time it happens we lose our balance, in varying degrees. Come on: even after a few months we know how to ride the Metro without flopping around the cabin, right?

I had a wonderful weekend planned with my girl: drive off to a location close enough to not require intense planning, but sufficiently far away to make us pay attention to new surroundings. “People dress funny here.” “Cute little town, no?” Our bags were packed, the car was ready, the road and a lovely few days were ahead of us. We drove for a couple of hours, eagerly awaiting a few days of relaxation and disconnection from the everyday: no internet, no errands, no taking work home. Upon arrival I realized something truly important: I had forgotten the keys to the lodge; I clearly visualized them laying on my nightstand in my apartment. To label my reaction as pissed frustration would be to use the mildest of euphemisms.

I have realized that I am a planner. I like to know what is ahead of me and prepare accordingly. It took me awhile to acknowledge this, mainly because I often bought into the delusion that I was a spontaneous man with no need for a compass: a man, of the most romantic, Indiana Jones-sort. But that’s a lie. I need an Outlook calendar, I need reminders, I need a map, and I need action items. I can do well enough with just a skeleton of a plan, which is better than nothing. Even knowing that nothing is planned is better for me than not knowing what to expect/or not. Knowing there will be no guidance at least offers me the necessary expectations: none.

The little things get me the most. The movie is sold out; I forgot to buy a new pair of socks while at Target; I overcooked the salmon. I know these are minor things, that my fussing over them makes me both a bit silly and a bit capricious (maybe a lot of both, actually). People outside my bubble are suffering much greater tragedies than my lack of socks. Thanks to meditation, perspective, and a little something else, I am getting much better at realizing how silly my personal “tragedies” are in comparison to others’. (This comparison is actually quite helpful. Knowing that your issues are comparatively petty helps bring the boil down).

Then the romantic weekend snafu happens, leaving me stewing and seething the entire drive  home.

The morning after the keys incident (of which we shall never speak of again–although my girlfriend can keep this one in her pocket for quite a while, and deservedly so) we managed to give it another go. It actually turned out to be just as meaningful as we had originally planned…and that’s the point. Nothing changed from one night to the next morning, except my frame of mind. I had put the silly incident behind me and nudged myself to realize I was still about to have a great little vacation. This little bit of nudging is hard, mainly because we all like to be the dramatist of our own lives, and turn our daily disappointments into tragedies worth of the Classics. It’s easy to say Woe is me!; it’s much harder to realize your life’s not that too shabby after all.

I am a planner, and that’s not a bad thing. It gives me moments of Zen. What really fucks things up is when I see my plan (or non-plan, even) change, tell myself that I shouldn’t fret, but then do and piss myself off for acting like a planner. If I only I accept that yes, I do get upset when things change, and surrender to the fact that that is how planners react when shi(f)t happen, I will do a much better time of keeping my balance, little pebbles be damned.

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