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Buridan's Donkey Contemplation


Jean Buridan was a French philosopher who theorized that if a donkey was placed between two equidistant bales of hay, the donkey would, in turn, become paralyzed by indecision.


I think we can all relate to this theory in more ways than one. We have, at one point or another, been faced with challenging circumstances that entail rewarding and scary consequences. Do we choose the lesser of two evils? Do we go with what past experience has taught us? Do we just make a choice without really thinking about it and see how that plays out?


The bottom line is that if you spend all of your time trying to choose between the two, you'll end up choosing nothing.


The way I deal with contemplating Buridan's Donkey is that I give myself an allotted time to think over a situation. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, a day, two, or a week. If by the end of a given time I can't make up my mind, I randomly choose something or flip a coin and let my fate rest in the hands of a new experience.


As Russell Brand says, "in justifying our misery, we are doomed to repeat it." In the same way, if we justify every potential good or bad that may come with a choice, then we just prolong just making a choice and allowing life to take its natural course.


Sometimes, all you have to do is stop thinking and start doing, no matter how scary it may seem. After all, your success is measured in your willingness and ability to face uncomfortable situations and take risks.

An Interview with Jenny Kirk

Today, I’m excited to share with you all, an interview I did with Jenny Kirk, former world junior champion figure skater who now has a Master’s in Social Work, spreading cheer and helping others. This interview was originally conducted on January 19, 2019.




Q1: First off, tell us a bit about yourself.


Thank you for having me on your site! I’m originally from Boston and spent the first half of my life as a figure skater. I had a slightly unique childhood in that I lived away from home during the week, starting at age 11, to train on Cape Cod and then came home to my family on the weekends. It definitely taught me to grow up quickly! I had a pretty full career as a skater — and learned a ton of life lessons — before retiring at 21. I then spent the next decade figuring out my next step in life and worked as a skating coach for a few years before starting my MSW a couple of years ago. I’ll be graduating in the spring and am really looking forward to continuing the work I’ve recently started with clients in both a coaching and clinical role.



Q2: You honestly have such an amazing story. Formerly, you were a figure skater — a World Junior Champion! That’s a huge accomplishment! I’m sure it must have been extremely challenging, so what gave you the strength and courage to push through that difficulty and discomfort to come out on top? Were there any moments where you felt like giving up? Ultimately, what pushed you to continue until you succeeded?


First of all, thank you for your kind words! There were definitely times when discomfort outweighed the pleasure that comes from skating your best under pressure and reaching your goals, and there were definitely days when I thought it was all too much.


As a teenager, whenever I’d have a rough day, I would always lean on the other aspects of my life that didn’t have anything to do with skating — school, friendships, family, activities outside of the rink — and would let myself get lost in those for a little bit. I found that this helped me maintain balance, particularly because skating never became my identity; there were always other aspects of my life that held importance along with skating. That said, deep down I had such a drive to succeed, and I loved skating. Even on the hardest days, I was willing to stay at the rink and push through injuries or setbacks to feel like I accomplished more that day than I did the day before. Loving what you’re doing and having a clear image in your mind of the goals you’re trying to accomplish is something that has always helped me to push through hard times.



Q3: On ‘And I’m An Athlete’, you write that you’re a figure skater turned coach and a soon-to-be therapist. That’s such an interesting change of career, can you tell us a bit about what inspired and led to this change? As a coach and soon-to-be therapist, what’s your goal?


Sure! While I was able to maintain balance during my early teen years, when I was 17, my mom passed away from breast cancer. Suddenly I had to grow up extremely quickly, and I didn’t have the emotional tools and resources to help me manage a successful career as an elite athlete and cope with the loss of my mom. I remember the day after she passed away, I was back on the ice skating because I had a show that I had committed to the following weekend and needed to train. My mom passed away in August, which was right before the start of the 2002 Olympic season, and at the time, I felt like there was really not time to pause training and allow myself to “be a human” and grieve. And, to be honest, even if I had been granted the time to grieve I wouldn’t have known where to start.


Like so many athletes, I had never learned how to effectively experience and manage my emotions. I knew how to handle pressure pretty well, but beyond that, I didn’t know anything about my needs a person — I just knew how to be a good athlete. Because of this, I learned how to push aside my emotions for years, which led to developing an eating disorder the year after my mom passed away. The eating disorder became a way for me to regulate my emotions and feel control over the pressure I was feeling from my career as a skater and a lack of balance that I had during that time in my life. I was no longer going to school; skating had become my life. I started to believe that my self-worth was predicated on every competitive result, and my world became very small.


This ultimately led me to retire from skating a couple of months before the start of the 2006 Olympic season. Since returning to the sport over the last couple of years as a coach, I have been able to form a new relationship with skating and have seen that a lot the experiences that I went through as an athlete are experiences that the skaters I have worked with have also experienced. Whether it’s been trying to find balance in their lives, learning how to experience and effectively regulate their emotions, handling the pressure that comes from performing, achieving a healthy relationship with their body and learning how to achieve personal goals, I realized that there aren’t many behavioral coaching and mental health resources available that are catered specifically to athletes. I see a need in the figure skating and athletic world for this resource, so it inspired me to go back to school for my MSW to use my degree and personal experience to help all individuals (not just athletes) to achieve their goals, better understand themselves and thrive.



Q4: I read a quote somewhere recently where Jim Carrey said: “So many of us choose a path out of fear disguised as practicality.” I agree with this quote, and found that so many people were able to relate. What do you think? What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to make some change or accomplish a set goal, but is afraid to do so?


That’s such a great quote, and I also agree with it! I think so many of us live our lives with fear in the driver’s seat — without even realizing it. I know I’ve lived like this in the past. We do what we feel we “should” do because it seems like the most practical, easiest route, even though deep down we know it’s going to make us miserable. We stop listening to ourselves, and often because of this, we become depressed, resentful and feel empty inside.


My biggest piece of advice for anyone who wants to accomplish a goal but is feeling fear is to just take one small step today. Just one. You don’t have to change your entire life or try to accomplish the goal today, but just take a step towards whatever it is that you want. It might be a baby, tip-toeing step, but take it. And then tomorrow, take one more. And the next day, take another. There is such power in just getting started. We often think that we have to have the entire plan mapped out to accomplish a goal — and, yes, that helps — but I’ve found that just starting to generate momentum is even more important than a clear plan. Once we start to take small steps towards our goals, we gain confidence, and then the steps become bigger and we realize that the fear we were feeling was just a story we were telling ourselves. We can really do anything we set our minds to, but we must be willing to take the first step to make it happen.



Q5: If there was one thing you could change about the world, what would it be?


Wow, this is a hard question! This answer may sound a bit odd, but nothing :) There are things that I am always looking to change and improve about myself, but part of that is realizing that trying to change anything external is wasted energy. I believe that if we were all to focus on improving ourselves, and becoming the best version of ourselves (which it really seems like you’ve been doing through this blog!), the world as a whole would improve immensely. Any external change is always a result of what happens within :)

Thought-Provoking Quotes That’ll Help You See Life Differently

Here’s a collection of thought-provoking quotes that I keep in my “Inspiration” journal that’ll help you see life differently.


With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose. — Dr. Wayne W Dyer


You can’t design your life like a building. It doesn’t work that way. You just have to live it, and it will design itself. Listen to what the world is telling you to do and take the leap. — Lily Aldrin


Physical strength is measured by what we carry. Inner strength is measured by what we can bear. — Someone


Because sometimes, even if you know how something’s going to end, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride. — Ted Mosby


If you’re not scared then you’re not taking a chance. And if you’re not taking a chance, then what the hell are you doing anyway? — Ted Mosby


You can ask the universe for signs all you want but ultimately we’ll only see what we want to see… when we’re ready to see it. — Ted Mosby


We’re going to get older whether we like it or not, so the only question is whether we get on with our lives or desperately cling to the past. — Ted Mosby


The great moments of your life won’t necessarily be the things you do, they’ll also be the things that happen to you. Now, I’m not saying you can’t take action to affect the outcome of your life, you have to take action, and you will. But never forget that on any day, you can step out the front door and your whole life can change forever. You see, the universe has a plan, kids, and that plan is always in motion. A butterfly flaps its wings, and it starts to rain. It’s a scary thought, but it’s also kind of wonderful. All these little parts of the machine constantly working, making sure that you end up exactly where you’re supposed to be, exactly when you’re supposed to be there. The right place at the right time. — Ted Mosby


I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustrations were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy. — Tony Robbins


Here’s the secret, kids. None of us can vow to be perfect. In the end all we can do is promise to love each other with everything we’ve got. Because love is the best thing we do. — Ted Mosby


You can’t cling to the past. Because no matter how tightly you hold on, it’s already gone. — Ted Mosby


I used to be in such a hurry all the time. Everything was so urgent. Now I figured out, if it’s going to happen it’ll happen. — Ted Mosby


Never forget that any day you could step out that front door, and your whole life could change forever — HIMYM


You may think your only choices are to swallow your anger or throw it in someone’s face, but there’s a third option: You can just let it go, and only when you do that is it really gone and you can move forward. — Ted Mosby


I am done trying to plan the unplannable — HIMYM


You can always find problems with any decision, but you can’t let that stop you. — HIMYM


Sometimes wonderful things come out of horrible situations — HIMYM


For the most part, if you are really honest with yourself about what you want out of your life, life gives it to you — HIMYM


Never underestimate the power of destiny, because when you least expect it, the littlest thing can cause a ripple effect that changes your life. — HIMYM


That’s the funny thing about destiny , it happens whether you plan it or not. — HIMYM


The past is never where you think you left it. — Katherine Anne Porter


Your past doesn’t define who you are. It just gives you the starting point for who you’re going to be. — Agent Carolina


Look at the stars, Clark. Some of them have been extinguished for thousands of years, but their light is only reaching us now. The past is always influencing the present. I can’t change that. All I can do is try to understand it. — Lex Luthor


Clark, love isn’t about playing it safe, it’s about risks. Unless you’re willing to put yourself out there, you’ll never know. — Lex Luthor


There’s nothing wrong with a good fight. Just remember, the man of tomorrow is forged by his battles today. — Lex Luthor


My father says you learn more about yourself when you lose. — Clark Kent


Mercurial doesn’t do you justice. — Lex Luthor


That, my friend, is the key to leadership. Not only knowing you’re right, but convincing everyone else. If you can do that, the world’s your oyster. — Lex Luthor


Oh please. You think I don’t see the way your parents look at me? The way half the town looks at me? You’re no different. Friendship’s a fairy tale, Clark. Respect and fear are the best you can hope for. — Lex Luthor


Napoleon’s mother couldn’t make it to his coronation. But when he commissioned it, Napoleon told David to paint her in as if she were there, right in the center. Even though she couldn’t be there physically he brought her into his life through sheer force of will. There to share in his greatness. — Lex Luthor


I once read about a rich man who survived a hotel fire. He hung onto the ledge for an hour before the fire department rescued him. Afterwards he bought the hotel…always stayed in the room. When they asked him why, he said he figured Fate couldn’t find him twice. — Lex Luthor


If you look at history the great men and women of the world have always been defined by their enemies. — Lex Luthor


You can quit if you want, but just remember that quitting’s a hard habit to break. — Lex Luthor


Just because I’m moving ahead with my life, that doesn’t mean I’m letting go of everything that came before. — Martha Kent


We’re all confronted by trials, son. But the true measure of a man is how he chooses to react in the face of those trials. — Johnathan Kent


A hero is made in the moment. Not from questioning the past or fearing what’s to come. — Braniac


You can’t let past failures prevent future success. — Recovery (2019)


The capacity for deluding ourselves that today’s reality is the only true one, on the one hand, sustains us, but on the other, it plunges us into an endless void, because today’s reality is destined to prove delusion for us tomorrow; and life doesn’t conclude. It can’t conclude. Tomorrow if it concludes, it’s finished.” — Luigi Pirandello


And the air is new. And everything, instant by instant, is as it is, preparing to appear. This is the only way I can live now. To be reborn moment by moment. I die at every instant, and I am reborn, new and without memories: live and whole, no longer inside myself, but in everything outside. — Luigi Pirandello


Do you recognize perhaps, also you, now, that a minute ago you were another? — Luigi Pirandello


Solitude is never where you are; it is always where you are not, and is only possible with a stranger present; whatever the place or whoever the person, it must be one that is wholly ignorant concerning you, and concerning which or whom you are equally ignorant, so that will and sensation remain suspended and confused in an anxious uncertainty, while with the ceasing of all affirmation on your part, your own inner consciousness ceases at the same time. True solitude is to be found in a place that lives a life of its own, but which for you holds no familiar footprint, speaks in no known voice, and where accordingly the stranger is yourself. — Luigi Pirandello



 

The Bad Alibi


In our nightmares, our brains simulate unresolved conflict. The only way to conquer our fears is to face them, so our minds force us to take a serious look at what we’re not properly dealing with in our waking lives. We’re churning through what makes us tick.


If certain factors of my life are any indication, I lack discipline and structure, and nothing has made me suffer enough to change me at my core. I haven’t received that fair shake in life, the one that follows a transformative yet brutally difficult experience.


AA has been giving me a lot of transformative moments, and I'm slowly beginning to teach and be of service instead of letting the ego take charge.


Here's what I've been learning, written out in a simple format.


  • Henri-Frédéric Amiel once said, “You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.” We are inseparable from our pain because pain is inevitable. What we choose to do about it, though, is optional. Be reactive or proactive? It is your choice, ultimately, and in the end, you are the sum of the choices in your life. 


  • Know this. You need to be grateful for your struggles because they can never fully be eradicated. If we get rid of our demons, we get rid of our angels as well. Life is about balance, and choosing faith over fear is where our path to a higher level of spirituality lies. Every moment is a test to see how determined we are to walk the right path, whatever that may be. Living in the moment is important. It does not matter what happened 5 minutes ago or 10 minutes ago. All you have is this minute, so live for it and be proactive about life and others.


  • We can only truly know something by comparison to its opposite.



The Bad Alibi


The majority of A.A. members have suffered severely from self-justification during their drinking days. For most of us, self-justification was the maker of excuses for drinking and for all kinds of crazy and damaging conduct. We had made the invention of alibis a fine art.


We had to drink because times were hard or times were good. We had to drink because at home we were smothered with love or got none at all. We had to drink because at work we were great successes or dismal failures. We had to drink because our nation had won a war or lost a peace. And so it went, ad infinitum.


To see how our own erratic emotions victimized us often took a long time. Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought.


Whether or not you're in AA does not matter. I wager that everyone reading this has played the victim and has mastered the art of bad alibis as an excuse to feel the way they do and continue to do absolutely nothing about it. Is your alibi a call-to-change-action, or an excuse to continue being the way you are, in your defects?


Whether or not you'll continue to repeat bad habits is not something I can ever know, but experience in dealing with people shows me that we hardly ever truly learn our lessons, which is why we need the constant reminder of pain and suffering to keep us humble.


What we are addicted to, then, isn't really damaging all on its own. Alcohol itself isn't toxic. Pills in and of themselves aren't a bad thing. Porn in itself isn't a bad thing. It is when our biological urges and strong impulses become unhealthily prioritized over everything else, that things begin to go awry. We prioritize our addictive behaviors to the point of self-destruction.


Self-control is a life lesson to learn. Indulgence is not.



The Old Cherokee


An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.


"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lust, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."


"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too.” He continued.


The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."



Recovery, Unity, Service


"You can take a three-legged stool, try to balance it on only one leg, or two. See what happens in usage. Our Three Legacies must be kept intact. 


  • In Recovery, we get sober together.

  • In Unity, we work together for the good of our steps and traditions.

  •  Through service, we give away freely what has been given to us.


Being Self-Centered To The Extreme

"Why all this insistence that every AA member must hit bottom first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom. For practicing A.A.'s remaining eleven Steps means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still drinking can dream of taking. Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.'s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect— unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself."


Simply put, we are our best selves when we are humble. Our scars give us character and they are a reminder that who we were, self-centered in the extreme, got us into the mess of the human condition. Being there for others is important. It does not matter what damage they have done to us. They must take their inventory and learn their own defects of character. We are required, as human beings, to help them in their current circumstances. The past is out of sight and mind. How can you help them? No, you may not like them. That's fine. But this isn't about liking. It's about our moral obligation to be free of resentment and retaliation.

Plus, if you spot it, you got it! If there's something you don't like in others it's more than likely that they mirror something inside of you that you don't like.

Anyway. Be of service to others, follow a good path and don't let past failures prevent present-moment success.

Friends In Arms



If you think that some hardships are so bad that there’s no return from them, I can tell you first-hand that heartbreak and suffering can make you a more loving and hopeful person, and that loss can ultimately be a gift.



Allowing the vacuum of vulnerability to open in your life is one of the most challenging things you can ever do. You subject yourself to love, sure, but also the potential for sadness and sorrow. You can end up sitting in front of the vacuum of grief; you’ll submerge into the emptiness, and have to let go of what was once familiar to you. You’ll have to forgive those who have done you harm and ultimately, you lose the idea of who you once were. This is so that you can eventually become something else. There’s no way to know what will come into your life to fill up the emptiness, but one thing is for certain: if you want a life different than what you’re used to, it won’t come by doing the same things you’re used to.



After repeated heartbreak and trauma, I spent years role-playing; sometimes I played the victim and sometimes I played the hero. Other times, I played my own worst enemy. Here’s the thing, though. I wasn’t willing to stop and look at the moments of beauty in life. Our judgement is clouded by the clutches of emotion and expectation, which are blind spots.



“They did this experiment in England once. A group of people were told that for the following few weeks, hired strangers would be interfering ever-so-slightly in their lives. Nothing they would normally notice, maybe a passerby on a bicycle or a waiter at a restaurant. Just little interactions set up to alter the course of their routines. When the study was finished, the volunteers recounted all the things that had happened to them. And some of them were seriously affected by the message they were being sent. One woman started believing in god. But here's the thing. Nothing was done to them. Their lives had carried on completely unchanged. The only thing altered was their perception. People see what they're looking for.”




It can all exist at once; you can be happy and sad, joyful and fearful, angry and at peace, etc. These intense moments of pure happiness sprinkled throughout moments of intense pain teach you something. The suffering you experience cannot and will not outweigh all the good you have in your life, and all the good in your life doesn’t minimize the trials you’ve gone through. This is one of the gifts of loss that they don’t tell you about: the ability to become completely and totally awake in your life.



Your lowest moments in life are opportunities for major breakthroughs.



“Without pain, there would be no suffering, without suffering we would never learn from our mistakes. To make it right, pain and suffering is the key to all windows, without it, there is no way of life.”



Simply put, life is pain. If you are to survive the art of life, it’s not about avoiding pain but making use of it. Like an egg must be cracked so its yolk can seep out, a human must experience the pain of agony and despair before their inner-fighter is revealed.



At first, holding the plank position, for example, feels like suffering. Your entire body begins to tremble. You fall, you pick yourself back up, and you try again. Eventually, what was once difficult becomes easy, and you rise up one level and repeat the same idea with an even tougher objective. All suffering and setbacks are of use; they serve as our best lessons.



You Must Know What You’re Fighting For, Deep In Your Heart


So, you want to live a better life, make more money, and exercise at the gym multiple times per week. Why? I urge you to look beyond the scope of superficial metrics; because, when you die, your money and good looks will not mean a damn thing. Why you do something is just as important as what you do. How will this impact others, what does your doing something leave behind? Maybe you’re doing all of this so that you can then focus on the bigger picture. What is that, exactly? Superheroes are perfect examples of “having a cause.” You always need something bigger than yourself to strive for, if you are to live a meaningful life. A man or woman without a cause will have no effect in this world.



Your Past Doesn’t Define You


Your past is permanent and there’s no changing it, and your future is an illusion, since nothing has happened there yet. We as humans need to understand this. No matter what problems you face, your identity isn’t married to your past. It’s defined by what you choose to do in spite of it. If you want to build muscle, for example, would it make sense to say “Na, I’m fat. What would it matter if I went to the gym and exercised daily for 40 minutes?” No, you wouldn’t. Because you know that your body changes with the more you stick to a rigorous exercise routine backed by continuity.



Life happens. Keep it moving.


We All Need Someone, To Some Extent


A soldier never goes into battle alone. Just the same, we as the “soldiers of life” cannot fight our battle alone. We need brothers and sisters and friends in arms. We need to lean on one another, to pick one another up, and to realize that we’re stronger together. In the world of exercise, do you have a trainer or friend showing you the ropes? Who do you lean on when it gets tough, and who keeps you accountable?



Home is a battlefield


Whether you're a war soldier or simply fighting the battle of civilian life, our battle becomes normalized; because with it, there's a clear objective. It's because we need structure. When we take our eyes off the target, we slip into old habits. Bad habits that got us into serious trouble the first time around. Just remember, the shark that does not swim, drowns. Learn the waters you were born into. Become the water, and never fall off the path. It takes so many days to form a habit of success and only one tiny slip to break your streak.


Always. Move. Forward.

Who Are You?

 



"It's difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you. No one really feels self-confident deep down because it's an artificial idea. Really, people aren't that worried about what you're doing or what you're saying, so you can drift around the world relatively anonymously: you must not feel persecuted and examined. Liberate yourself from that idea that people are watching you."




This painting is one of my favorites, and it honestly brings me so much joy. It reminds me of a romanticized past, a time where even the guilty displayed a sort of rare innocence. A time of strange repressions and connectedness. A time of purity, where even in sadness or tepid despair, one was always there for their neighbors, friends, and family. A time where we were all connected, in a seemingly disconnected world, technologically. A time where more efforts were put into loving someone and making sure everyone was okay. A time where relationships were the priority, and everything else was for the sake of that relationship, so it can last a lifetime.



* * * *



I've been chatting with an amazing friend quite frequently, lately. We met online, in the least unlikely of places you could ever imagine meeting someone you would soon come to consider as part of your family. Love, in the purest sense of the word, is funny like that. Friendship sneaks up on you, like a cat to a rat, or a moth to a flame.



It's interesting, though, that friendships teach you more about yourself than you would think. For instance, when I was asked "What makes you laugh and what makes you cry?", among other questions, I realized, at that moment, I only knew myself on a very superficial basis, and the answers I was able to give were only half true. Not because I was omitting some obscure truth or in the name of being deceitful, but because, plain and simple, I don't spend enough "real" time with myself; and behind closed doors is the only time you are actually you. But, perhaps, "true" is not the right word. Something that is not of real substance, I suppose.



So much of the time, our world neutralizes our identity, because as Russell Brand says, the world is ill-equipped to deal with the realism of true identity and character, and the challenges that come with 'being human.' As a result, we are but vessels, identity on standby, being productive civilians who are nothing but a number, like a body at a morgue, or rats on a ship.



The more I began to think about how to respond to the questions, the more I learned that there's very little that can truly tell who I am. I am infinite and ever-changing, and a different version of myself exists in the lives of everyone who knows me. That, then, means that I am not what I write or say, but what I do at any given moment.



But that's not such a bad thing, mind you. I realized that there's no definitive answer, and if I ever for a moment mistakenly thought there was, I was only living as a facade, and would immediately stop growing.



She did get me thinking, though, and in that sense, her message symbolically meant that there was something about me to love and learn from. I believe it's like that for everyone, though. If I saw myself in her eyes, or if she saw herself from my eyes, or if anyone changes places in general, with someone else, we would not be recognizable. That's because so much of who we think we are is actually false, stemming from clouded judgment and the need to only show our highlight reels to those we love, so that our flaws may not scare them away.



Ironically, that was not what I did. In my view, I had overshared in the sense that I generally talk to most people very shortly. "How was your day?" "Alright." "How did you sleep." "Fine." People will often say "Wow, that was so detailed!" I am made fun of a lot for it, as it's my way to remain distant from people.



In the words of Sheldon Cooper, "No. You've opened my eyes to the truth. Amy has made me a more affectionate, open-minded person. And that stops now." Though our relationship is not in the romance spectrum, it's pretty much what I humorously think whenever I have to respond. Yet, my heart decides it desires to share with its friend." Sick behavior, right? Nobody believes it, but I'm just bloody evil.



I think that in reality, life is just a series of events devoid of any meaning whatsoever, but it is in our spiritual connectedness that we create a meaning for which to live. Many Buddhists believe that the only purpose for life is to be of service, abiding by the Buddhist principle that life is suffering, and really it's in the silver lining, detached from erratic emotions, desire, and expectations. That reality can only be obtained by someone who is disconnected from what we call humanity, nowadays.



Selfish in my fear is what I am, to the extreme. I have lived with the battle between confidence and anxiety for as long as I have lived. Early on, I would have panic attacks just from telling someone bits about my life. It got in the way of my ability to work, and I still get anxious every time I hit the "reply" button to this friend. Why? No clue. I couldn't care less about what others may think, and yet...



What I did realize, though, is that this isn't anxiety, but the vulnerability that comes with a thing called genuine friendship. I hate every minute of the feeling (vulnerability) to the point where some nights I lay awake thinking "I shouldn't have shared that." I kid you not, some moments end up with panic. Our friendship brings me to tears of joy, at times. I do love, however, every minute of getting to learn about my dear friend. Strange, isn't it? How some feelings are so terrible, yet you endure because the relationship seems worth it over your initial, harsh, discomfort, or fear.



Why is this so? I thought. There could be a million reasons for it. I'm not afraid of loss, but perhaps I am afraid of love in friendship. I relate to Sheldon Cooper in a lot of ways. When I asked my sponsor this question, he said,



"Mickey, you're extremely intelligent, really, but I think that's your problem. Intellect gets in your way. You don't let love in, and you don't have faith that good can possibly come to you. You can't think like a soldier when it comes to love, or friendship. You've got to stop fighting. Your addiction proves it. You overthink a lot instead of just letting yourself receive the love from God and other people. It's just because you know you can't control how things go. So until you stop being so afraid of love, I'm afraid you'll continue to relapse and choose fear over faith."



That response made me smile, but also made me realize another one of my defects of character. We aren't the characters we create, but the person in the green room. When we are anxious or distant from others, we are taking their inventory for them, mistakenly.



That is to say, if I am anxious about someone's view of me, I am almost writing for them.



For instance, let's say I'm anxious about Tom's opinion of me. I write for them, "I'm Tom, and one of my defects of character is that I am not able to love my friend because they overshare." You're putting your own mistaken words in the mouth of someone else.



It's been like that for most of my life, even at work, where I would undermine my own ability, yet in reality, have all the confidence in the world.



Why, then, do I do this? Why do we do this in general? Again, there could be a lot of reasons, but for me, I think it's because I am far more afraid of love than any brutal trauma you could ever think of.




“My dad's philosophy was (and I think still is) that life is a malevolent force, which seeks to destroy you, and you have to struggle with it. Only those who are hard enough will succeed. Most people get crushed, but if you fight, in the end life will go, "Fucking hell. This one's serious. Let him through.”




I think it pretty much sums up my circumstance. In the end, I am my own worst enemy, seeking to sabotage any good feelings I have, as it is foreign to me.



What are the rules of friendship, and to life outside of superficiality? I am, after all, a guru of only three things:


  • Techie and geeky stuff.
  • Overthinking.
  • Being an adaptive learner in the job world.


“Say I feel all sad and self-indulgent, then get stung by a wasp, my misery feels quite abstract and I long just to be in spiritual pain once more - 'damn you tiny assassin, clad in yellow and black, how I crave my former innocence where melancholy was my only trial'.”



At the end of the day, I learned that letting life happen is the only way to survive it. When your opponent is the sea, you must be the mountain. Simply put, be adaptable and stop thinking, and start doing it. Friendship, like many other great things, is way too precious to turn away from.



"You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world, and as you walk through those doors today, you will only have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart."


I choose confidence, and the principles of AA. Acceptance, always, no thinking, no judgment, no defense. Just acceptance.


Plus, I wager that the beginning of anything really is just a stage, a foundation on which the relationship is to thrive upon, so we all eventually set in and become our natural nature.



Truths & Coffee #1: Lessons From Batman Begins

 



I've just come home from a hearty workout. I ate some turkey pepperoni bites, and am now drinking coffee, basking in some truths learned from Batman Begins.



Here are some great lessons from the movie.


1) What chance does Gotham the world have when the good people do nothing?


I'm not talking about becoming a vigilante here. What I am talking about, though, is that we all do our part in the world so that it can keep on moving forward. After all, as Rachel teaches us, "it's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you." You can have the most traumatic past, and you can be the kindest person at your core. But if you don't do anything about it, then it doesn't matter. Actions speak louder than words. You're either the solution to a problem or the one adding to the problem. If you don't know of a solution, find someone who does. Either way, you always have a choice to do something. Little by little, a small amount becomes big.



2) In order to achieve what you want at your core, you must be willing to sacrifice everything in order to get it. Failure is fueled by distraction and the lingering emotions that keep you in the past.

I don't think this needs any additional explanation, but it's poetic in its simplicity. You must never look back at your past long enough for it to be considered staring. Keep moving forward and always have your objective in sight. Nothing else matters, nothing else exists. All you have exists in this very moment alone.



3) Fear, like pain, is inevitable. Everyone feels both at different points in their lives. If you master your own fears and use that pain as your fuel and friend, you can gain great strength and insight into who you are so that you may conquer your demons and put an end to the things or people that bring you harm. Your weakness has the potential to be your greatest strength. Always. After all, the only way out is through.


Simply put, pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. The clutches of attachment to things, memories, and people are what cause your suffering. You control everything you let go of.


4) "I never said thank you." "And you'll never have to."

This, right here, is one of the best lessons we can learn from Batman. If you are physically and mentally able to do something good for someone else, then you have the moral obligation to do those things, and you should never expect a thank you. You're not doing a good deed to gain recognition. Being a human being doesn't require gratitude. Just do it. That's it. We are all one, despite society's toxic views that divide us.


5) Justice is about harmony. Revenge is about making yourself feel better.

Do I really need to explain this? I think not.



6) Why do we fall, sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.

Every experience is a lesson of sorts. There's always a silver lining. Something to gain in every loss, and something you lose when another is gained.


That's it, for now.
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