Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How To Stop Eating Your Own Shit


      Jimmy had four pet goldfish. Everyday Jimmy would watch his goldfish swim around and around the small glass bowl they lived in. One day he noticed the water in the bowl looked kind of cloudy. Mom explained to Jimmy that this was natural and that the bowl just needed to be cleaned. 
   
      Jimmy knew how to clean the bowl. He had seen his friend do it. He filled the bathtub with cool water, and then gently lowered the bowl into the tub until the four goldfish swam out of the dirty bowl and into the bathwater. Jimmy spent the next fifteen minutes scrubbing the glass bowl until it was sparkling clean. Finally it was ready.

           Jimmy knelt down by the bathtub to retrieve his goldfish, but he saw a strange sight. Even though the bathtub was over four feet long and three feet wide the four goldfish were swimming round and round in a tiny circle, right where Jimmy had originally placed them. “Mom,” yelled Jimmy, “come look at the goldfish.” “Why are the fish swimming in a tiny circle when they have the whole tub?” Jimmy asked mom. Jimmy’s mom answered, “Because they don’t know they are in a tub. They think they are still at home in their tiny glass bowl. That’s what they are used to.”

             We are goldfish, more often than not. We cling to the familiar. We cling to our dirty little circles because they are comfortable. Even when life presents us with an opportunity to change we often don’t. Even when life forces us to change, throwing us into a bathtub full of clean new water, we resist and maintain our cramped little circle of sameness. We cling to a past that repeats itself. We swim in our own shit.



            I came to the realization that we eat our own shit by becoming aware of the cycles/routines people go through. The cycles I go through, the constant reenactment of past events with new faces.

Example: 
You make yourself a nice little pie with great ingredients, or so you think. You realize that after you eat this pie it always gives you a stomachache. But although you notice the stomach ache you blame other things, like a drink or the weather. You fail to change your ingredients and just keep eating the same shit you ate the day before, giving you the same results. 

It’s pretty simple that as long as you stay within the same framework of people, places, and attitudes as before it will equal the same shit. The same annoying shit. The same disappointing shit. The same everything, in brand-new gift-wrap, will show up at the doorstep of your life.



            Like Jimmy’s goldfish we can be taken out of an environment and still cling to that comfort of staying tiny. I believe what makes me tiny is an attitude I cling to from my teenage years, the attitude of “cool”. Sometimes I don’t explore because I believe I already know, because I believe there is nothing interesting in certain experiences. This attitude has done nothing but act as an excuse to stay confined in my comfort zone. The comfort zone is the little circle inside the fish tank, it is what we are used to. 

We have a whole bathtub. Realize it now.
 I no longer think I’m cool (although we all know I'm pretty awesome). I think I rather become someone interesting and different, and I surely don’t want to swim in my own shit.

It is time to own up to your shitty pie recipe. It is time to make some pumpkin pie instead of apple pie. You are not confined. You can change, you can try a new recipe. I am still dabbling with my own recipe, maybe we can collaborate one day.

“If growth is a road you want to travel, then change is the vehicle you have to use to get from one place to another.” – Barbara De Angelis


*Jimmy story courtesy of one of my heroes, Barbara De Angelis

Monday, November 22, 2010

Forgiveness



Forgiveness 
by John Greenleaf Whittier

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been 

Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong; 
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men, 
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among 
The green mounds of the village burial-place; 
Where, pondering how all human love and hate 
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late, 
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face, 
And cold hands folded over a still heart, 
Pass the green threshold of our common grave, 
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart, 
Awed for myself, and pitying my race, 
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave, 
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!

* * * * *
It was the pain. I remember it very well. It was fresh and new and it reeked of broken dreams. I remember my first betrayal and I remember each face that it came with. It came with young girls and sugar coated lies. It came with passive aggressive friends and egotistic games. The perfume of heartbreak seemed to serenade my entire existence at the time and although I knew best to take the higher road, that road felt lowly to the power of the opposite force taking over. I felt alone and I felt betrayed. I often found myself feeling more betrayed by what I valued than to what others did. Like my belief in goodness and love held no match to that other force.  Beliefs did not keep my heart from feeling the blows.

Until one day I realized that the right thing will always be the right thing. And I cared more about the right than about the pain. Pain in its true form is a temporary state, acute none the less, but it passes through you like any other affliction. Pain like rain is here and then gone. It's remarkable how minds are so powerful they can take the storm with them wherever they go. Time may pass but we can still carry that pain. It gets heavy, probably as heavy as clouds must feel right before they let the rain drops sky dive. But we go through life heavy. In denial of the pain, we call it a defense.



I have often failed to forgive in its most idealistic form of execution. I have a signature move, its called forgive the event but not the person. Oh how I love to resort to this time after time. I find myself feeling proud and intoxicated by my glorious execution of forgiveness. I pat myself on the back and envision how Jesus, Gandhi and Mother Teresa are rejoicing somewhere enjoying non-alcoholic pina coladas and cheering me on. I gladly accept this imaginary situation as completely plausible and move on.

I forgive the event in the sense that I don't carry it with me. It doesn't define me. It only teaches me. I don't repeat the event, I don't relive it with others. I let go of the negativity of the event and take the goodness that followed. Of course this takes time, this takes looking at yourself with love, this takes control and it takes a big open heart. None of these things are easy. But they are actions I aspire to perfect. I hope others aspire to some form of this as well.

But forgiveness is not some detachment. This is what I have and still carry with me to this day, a detachment. I look upon those people that have wronged me and often see no human aspects. I see them void of a personality and I try my best to even forget they have feelings of any sort, my mission instead of wishing them well is forgetting they exist. I try to not face them, and I think this is in fear of the pain. What pain? Some illogical pain my neurosis has conjured up. I mean, what pain can my ex-best friend from 5th grade possibly bring me? 


And so it seems that yours truly develops grudges. Not ill wishing grudges (OK fine sometimes they are ill wishing), but grudges that forget the human aspect. The fact that one should be thankful for those heartbreaks and that those heartbreaks came from people. People like you and me, people with problems, people with sad hearts and pain. Your heartaches came from people who have yet not grown to see the world as a whole, people who live only for themselves. Your sadness came from someone who did not know what to do with all his anger and placed it upon you. 


Forgetting their faces means not realizing we are all headed in the same direction, a cozy little hole about six feet deep. I have recently been a total bitch with people who have tried to reconnect with me. I have been a snobby little elementary school girl all over again, in the name of keeping the memory of someones wrongs alive. In the name of forever making them relive their mistakes I have insisted on being rude, instead of open and happy for their internal growth (whatever, hopefully, that might be). 

We all make mistakes and we all sometimes (even subconsciously) do things intentionally that manufactures someones pain. If I have to be the first one to admit it, I will. I have hurt people purposely. With a shitty comment and with a sarcastic joke, I have hurt people. If you must know, some things I am not brave enough to type (in anticipation to hate mail). I try to envision how I would feel if every time I saw someone I knew they just reminded me of my short comings (from " X " years ago!). I try to understand how some people don't need you to be their friends, they just need your support in forgiving themselves. 

We are all terminally ill on this ride called life. You and that girl who started that rumor about you in high school will die one day. You and that guy who slept with your best friend (and your ex-best friend) will eventually meet the same ends. Its incredibly foolish to limit your kindness in this world. Everything that has happened has passed and is no longer taking place except in your mind. Let it go. I am not saying drop it all today but to aim honestly at letting it go with time. What is the point of being on this terminal track only to take with you the bad stuff. I say start collecting goodness, be kind, try your best. I will try with you.

And man I wont even get into the subject of forgiving yourself because that's a whole other ball park. But I do know that forgiveness in itself is internal and external and ultimately the effects are universal.






Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nagging Children Once Upon a Time


Oh the drama of being a writer! Its more of a personal drama, like most things go. The pain of having this nagging child that needs attention but has to deal with an obviously over worked, over booked, lazy, desperately slow but very sorry mother. It seems that unlike these super writers I encounter in my imagination, I am lacking in consistency, time, and am obviously too self involved to actually take part in what I want to be involved in. 

I suppose this is not a writer's issue but a human issue. I would love to be further involved in a lot of things like... I don't know...spending time with my family. But the truth of the matter is that I don't. I give my extra time to my family and I give most of my time to the so called "important things". I have encountered a place in my life where I realize I am never going to have time unless I make it, proactively. Unless I realize that time should go to what makes me happy and what I am most passionate about, unless I change my perception of time all together, I will never have any.

The first problem us mortals face is the misconception of time which honestly I myself cant say I am above. We believe we will have more time in the future than we do now. Trust me I have lived for 22 years and each year gets more hectic than the next. Responsibility on top of responsibility. Secondly we believe we can save time. We have 24 hours everyday, and you cant put some hour away in your pocket to use later. So if I ask you out for lunch and you say, "Sorry I don't have time" what you really are telling me is that you value some other event more than going to lunch with me at that specific moment. And so for putting my writing and family time to the side, I am valuing other responsibilities more.


Changing your perception of time is easier said than done. Paying attention is as easy as quantum physics. By paying attention I mean being there exactly where you are with nothing else on your mind but what is occurring at that particular moment. I guess that is why people fall into addictions because their drug of choice alters their perception to only see the now. My drug of choice is really cold ice tea. I pause, I sip, and I realize I don't care about anything else right now because this tea is so good. 

    Besides my love affair with ice tea, there are a few other things that truly make me feel present and right where I'm supposed to be. Reading is one, meditation, the right friends, the person I am in love with, a random child in the street, these things make me pay attention. I feel we are all over worked, not necessarily by actual responsibility but by our neurosis. My ping pong mind cant dare stay in one place most of the time. I miss out on the joy of doing things for the sake of doing them, because I cant be present, involved, and attentive to them. And ultimately because I feel I don't have the time. 


I will not pretend I have the cure for our misconception of time, our lack of attentiveness and our neurosis. What I have is something I am passionate about that I try to make time to do, I write. I do not write consistently on this blog, primarily because I fear if people read my first drafts they would become nauseated by an unrefined ridiculously illogical presentation of ideas. But I understand that although writing is a pain in the ass that takes time, effort and lots of chocolate covered pretzels, It releases me from my self involvement. That is what the best things in life do, they release you from yourself to a bigger picture. Love is nothing but involving yourself in something other than yourself. 

I hope you make an effort to release yourself from the misconception of time. I hope you listen to that little nagging child inside of you saying, "pay attention to me". I told that kid to shut her mouth for a couple of weeks, but I felt guilty and ashamed. One sure thing is that guilty and ashamed are not words to be ignored, but faced. Ultimately I am just happy I wrote this, yes I had to be in class right now. Yes, I have a 15 page paper due. But writing this is taking care of my child, and I love my child.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Perfectionism


 All week I have been meaning to write. I have been meaning to put together a cover letter for an internship. I want this cover letter to be professional but also relatively entertaining to read. This cover letter will posses a perfect combo of personality and enthusiasm that will shine through my writing. I mean seriously, the perfection and absolute beauty of my cover letter will just leave the reader in a total daze, the type of daze only an orgasmic experience can leave you in. It will be perfectly short, and to the point, but it will totally brain fuck you. Once my cover letter has been read, there's no turning back. It will only intrigue the reader to personally hand deliver my resume to the president of the company. From then on the possibilities are endless. I will probably be recommended as editor to some prestigious publication. Who could blame them? My cover letter would be totally perfect.

 The problem here is I wrote absolutely no such thing. In fact I am paralyzed. I cant write anything because there is a pretty hefty chance it wont resemble that damn orgasmic cover letter of my dreams. Oh, the cruelty of reality! This brings me to think of perfectionism as the voice of the oppressor. I once read of a study concerning what I believe perfectionism produces in our personalities. The professor had two groups of students in a pottery class. One group was told their work would be judged on quantity of work produced not quality. The other group was given the task of creating just a couple pieces of art, with the goal of quality in mind, perfection. For one month the quantity group and the quality group worked. At the end of the study the group with the best quality of work turned out to actually be the quantity group. The group that focused on perfection pretty much drove themselves bonkers about making it so perfect, ironically, they didn't achieve their goal at all. The quantity group, because of so much practice and so many tries with no perfection in mind, became impressively talented. 




I hear people say quality is better than quantity, when work is concerned. But there is a flawless honesty  in trying. Mental algorithms of perfection can never surpass the reality of excellence practice can give you. If anything perfectionism is a mental disease of sorts, keeping us judgmental and routine. I know some will say ,"But isn't perfectionism the goal of attaining excellence?". No, trying is the goal of attaining excellence. Anything else is our minds neurosis, a delusion of what "perfection"is, and perfection is nothing but an opinion. It holds no truth on its own besides what we believe perfection to be.


My opinion on perfection is different than yours, and that's fine. You might think a perfect cover letter should definitely not be orgasmic. I believe you are insane and should get some help. Ideally perfection should not limit us, it should not put us down. It should not be a mental obsession because then you truly aren't living. Focus on quantity, try, then maybe the results will surpass even your own opinion of perfection and will become something even greater. 

So I guess now its time to go write this cover letter. ..

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Answers To Your Questions


Rainer Maria Rilke once told to a young poet to have patience with all that is unsolved in his heart, and to try to cherish the questions themselves, like closed rooms and books written in a very strange tongue. "Do not search now for the answers which cannot be given to you because you could not live them. It is a matter of living everything. Live the questions now." Rilke went on to explain to this poet that maybe gradually and without even noticing it he would live right into the answers.

Most of my days are spent questioning, because of my young age I question the future with perhaps more vigor than the past or present. I have a hunch I am not the only one. I lose myself in hypothetical and imaginary events. I lose myself in all the possible outcomes of a situation. I try to visualize the answers, the many I am lacking. It takes pure mental power to realize I am here now. To realize that those answers, like Rilke said, could not be lived at this moment. To immerse myself in the beauty not knowing offers, the possibilities, the experience. 

I have felt inadequate and defective as a human being for not knowing. I once had an idea that others knew a special trick I didn't. I've felt as if everyone else knew their role in this world except me. I still don't fully know my role in this world, but I thank good literature and real people for showing me the light. I thank the books and people who dare to be authentic and admit they know absolutely nothing about most things, but love the journey with and without answers. I used to have this perception that everything I was going through was something to have gotten over, another thing in the way of that great day when my real life would begin. The truth is my real life is here now. This is my life, this is your life. Right here right now, not next Tuesday, or in an hour. These questions these problems they are your life and its up to you to view them as a person with eyes wide open loving every horrible, beautiful, sad, lovely, angry, annoying minute of it. By loving I only mean respecting them as part of your life, and acknowledging they make up the whole that is the story of you.

I promise you that if you ask the right questions you will eventually live right into the right answers. And living the answers my friend is a lot more fun than just hearing them or reading them, or even having them answered by Oprah. Trust life, that is all. 


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's Still Important To Say


Alfred North Whitehead once said , "Everything important has been said before". Has everything that's important been said before? I understand the reasoning behind that statement, the fact that most of the secrets of happiness have been laid out by the brilliant minds of yesterday and today, and all anyone is doing is restating the spiritual facts we all know by way of our own experience.

I feel there are too many things we fear to say. We  fear to say these things so they go unsaid, for too long. Eventually we hear someone echoing the thoughts we had been thinking all along, we say, "that's so true" or we nod our heads. People often forget they have an opinion. I actually write in big capital letters frequently all over my notes "YOU HAVE AN OPINION". It's a reminder. Because we truly do forget, just like we forget that we usually know the answer to our problems. But we refuse to be silent enough to hear our thoughts, that voice inside, or God what have you.

I feel what hasn't been said is whats most important. Everyone has their own truth. That truth lives inside all of us. The things unsaid are as important if not more important than the things said. We let things happen to us because we don't say how we feel. If we could say it, hear the words come out of our mouths, we could realize the things that don't serve us and the things that do. Its important to express your thoughts, because truly there has never been a "you" present in this world. Someone who sees things from your perspective, someone who has experienced your identical experience. That is why i feel everything important has not been said. Because your thoughts on life are equally important as that of Aristotle. Yea you may not have spent your life a distinguished philosopher. But guess what? Aristotle never lived his life as you either. So say what you need to say, and say what you feel, and share with us your philosophies and dreams. Because of your uniqueness you will always say something new, as long as its truthful to your vantage point.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Some Thoughts On Confidence




I often notice someone on the train who intrigues me, not in a romantic way, just in a human way. I see beautiful women with eccentric hair, and people with huge instruments that barely fit in the train car. I love the dancers and the girl who wore the most ridiculously fun outfit with incredibly frizzy hair, whose smile resonates through the mediocre lights. I love those people, the ones who don't care about smooth hair or about matching color palettes for outfits. I find myself falling in love with the women who decided to wear no makeup today. Their wrinkles are deep with memories, the wrinkles of frowns and smiles. I start a secret adoration for the man in a sharp suit with dreadlocks that flow down his back like Niagara Falls. I am intrigued most by the people who genuinely smile; they smile at me, they smile at you, they just smile even when you stare them down with the look you reserve for your local crazy cat lady.


I find the most beautiful people to be the people who dare to walk outside the conventions of nice and neat. I can’t do that. I believe most of us can’t. I dislike my hair naturally curly. It’s frizzy and wild, and leaves me with a mild residue of insecurity. My hair goes into waves and curls that leave you dizzy and confused. My curls counter with the idea of a "lady". A proper lady, to my mother anyway, always looks tamed and pretty with no trace of unruliness. I guess my curls make me look humbly human and not put together. It is my own personal belief we are all acting to some extent. We are acting to seem in place, to seem confident, assured, to impress someone or to fit to what someone else's opinion of correct is (our parents maybe, society, religion).
 The truth is to try and be someone else is a waste of your self. We are all uniquely human, flawed, freckled, passionate and fabulous in our own right. I hope that one of these days you are the person that intrigues me on the train. I hope I bump into your flowing confidence. I want to experience the stares people give you and the smiles you throw back. I hope you’re one of the people who smile. You are vulnerable and innocently human when you smile and I appreciate your honesty. Lets hope I see enough of you beautiful people that it inspires me to try my curly-fro out for a whole month. I hope most of all you yourself see the beauty of an honest confidence in self, in art, and in your own music.





Monday, August 2, 2010

The Critics Of Your Life/Work/Ideas


I used to get the impression that when someone criticized me they were smarter than me. This impression is a side effect from living in this North American mental wasteland. The type of society that loves to point fingers and comment, yet lacks the ability to produce anything of substance that could actually improve our non-material lives (most of the time anyway).

I have bitten my tongue and still at times do, because of that voice of the masses to comment. When I write I feel my guts spilling out, my insides unguarded. I feel, more like believe beyond rationality, that there is someone out there dissecting my insides pointing out how horrible my grammar is, and how impossibly unrealistic my goals are and how my lack of commitment to write at least once a week leads them to shit itty bitty alligators out of pure disgust. 



Most believe the critic is somehow an authority, this is pure crap. The mass epidemic of all time is the inability of people to produce, to act on their hopes, ambitions and dreams. The critic most of the time is that person left aside to see the progress of others, that person is everywhere. I believe we are all critics, but the bitter critics make sure to let the soreness of their lives be felt by all those who make any progress. 


Someone very special told me the other day that there never was a statue enacted of a critic. The truth is that what you create of yourself and otherwise, and how you make others feel will endure past your time here on earth. The critics will always be silenced by what they never achieved. Don't let the mass bitterness of this world stop you from doing what you feel is right for you. I know I am still dealing and fighting the hard battle of being myself in a world that tries its best to make me someone else, its complicated work but you're not alone my friend.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Complainers


I complain. I try not to, but it's so fun. I get a small pleasure from people feeling slightly bad for me sometimes. I get an extra kick out of complaining about my job. I get an even bigger kick out of dissecting apart customer service representatives over the phone, or my credit card company. Preferably I love talking shit about my school. The douche in class who sounds way more articulate than I. I mean why did you have to speak after me? This will only start a debate, and people will come out with bruised egos, and a sensitivity to public speaking. Not that I suffer from any of those.

I guess I take up after my grandmother. She complains wildly about body pain. I wont go into all the details and theories to why we know its complete bullshit. I will tell you that people, unless suffering from a diagnosed illness, don't just suffer from general pain in non specified places...Unless you are suffering from emotional pain and to that I say good luck. I guarantee she is a happy camper. Anyway she complains for attention, for someone to say,"poor baby you want a cookie"? And who doesn't want a cookie? I want a cookie. I may not be the most attention craving creature but sometimes asking for affection wont cut it. Complaining seems like the only way out.

Although this cookie theory seems comforting, why spoil a peaceful moment with your irritations? You know exactly what I mean, the serial complainer. The person constantly on a rant you wish you could just put a sock in their pie holes. Writers seem to have my only support when they go on rants, but thats because things in print seem less annoying than disappointing sound waves hitting my ear drums. Evidently everyone is annoyed, granted there are a million things to be annoyed about. The point is if you want your social life to go anywhere positive its important to foster an environment of positivity. Your negative thoughts are sticky. When you speak of negativity it sparks a negative thought into the listener. Not only will it spark a negative thought, when that person thinks of you they are more likely to associate you with negativity.

I dont know you, but I know you have enough on your plate and don't need to hear me complain about the weather. Sure it might slip but thats just because it's so damn hot out, jeez! We are all annoyed at times and we all might be looking for a little attention, but lets emphasize the good things. Lets try our best to go on rants about how marvelous it is that ice cream trucks make their way around town this time of year. Or how wonderful it is that although the customer service rep. was rude, he/she eventually fixed the problem. It's so easy to be negative, it takes real courage and sometimes imagination to stay in a positive note. Positivity not just for you but for everyone around you, they are going through as much annoyance as you so be kind to their ears.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Penny Or a Smile

June: Be Generous

June is generosity month for my happiness project. Consequently I have never experienced more homeless people on the train and on the streets than this month. Just a massive wave of needy people seemed to find me at every turn. Every day on my way to work or school I found myself bumping into the same 10 homeless people that frequent the lines of this city's maze of transportation. So naturally, remembering my task for the month, I would try to shyly put my head down as to not anger the gods with my obsession of collecting pocket change, a greedy, useless little habit I blame on no one but my inner Ebenezer Scrooge. I swear they knew somehow what I was up to. It seemed as though they were somehow following my blog and realized they all needed to group together and follow my commute, assuming I would be easy target for their speeches.

As the month progressed I grew to resent all these panhandlers. Yes, completely resent them, I took them personally as I do most things in my life. One time a particular panhandler asked for help, she gave a riveting sermon that would have made Obama weep at his sad sap of an inauguration speech. So I offered the best I could at the time, a bottle of water. On a hot summer day a bottle of water is salvation to any human being. I offered my water and she said she rather change. I was deeply offended. I wanted to curse her out. I wanted to show to everyone what a sham she was, what a lazy crook. I vowed to not help anyone asking for change, because this certainly would make us even. Partly (and by partly I mean mostly) my response was an extension of frustration and resentment caused by all the people in my life I wanted to give things to, who wouldn't accept it. All the ex-boyfriends who didn't take my love, or my time, or help, or compliments, or take me into their arms. It was the resentment I felt when the people I cared about would not accept me as I was, as I would be, as I could be. Who was she to deny my water? Pure water, perfectly as it was.

So I started doing what any normal flawed human being would do, I judged. I judged all bums, panhandlers, vagabonds, street persons. I judged them to see who was worthy of my penny, who was worthy of my help. Somehow my brain calculated precise algorithms that in fact equaled pay back for that tramp that denied my water. I did this for about two weeks.

Today I sat in a subway car scribbling away in my notepad as I frequently do. On Flatbush Avenue rambling on about the greatness of generosity, the grander, how we should all aspire to be generous. As it occurs to most writers a sudden block of inspiration appeared as I tried to piece together the definition of generosity. At that precise moment the universe suddenly did what it does best.

a) Throw shit in my face. b) Show me where I am wrong.

Of course the universe decided to throw me a combo of both A and B for good measure. A young man walks into the train car. He is blind. I have seen him a few times drumming the ground to the beat of his own heart's music as he holds on to a walking stick. He asks for change, for food, for acknowledgment. As he makes his slow decent towards me, all I think about is all the reasons why I shouldn't help. I think about the man who just gave him two dollars, and pretend that second dollar was from me. I think how someone else should take care of it. How my doing something would make no difference.  My mind went frantic figuring ways i could hide my face, a way I wouldn't have to see him. I was looking for a way to hide from a blind man. But my heart knows better and i heard a voice inside me say, "That's whats wrong with this world everyone is waiting on the next person to fix it". We (specially me at that moment) rely on someone else to be kind so we wont have to be. Rely on someone else to care. Relying on someone else to be generous so we wont have to be.

Something miraculous happened on that train. As this man made his way through the subway car practically everyone on the train gave. I saw countless men pull out dollar bills. No hesitation in their faces, one by one giving more than necessary. No one passed judgement, no one asked questions. People just gave with no expectations. That is what generosity is ; giving for the act of giving. Giving is beautiful and in its most pure form selfless. These strangers gave and although I may never know all the reasons behind their actions I know deep down they felt it was correct. That in giving there was some type of truth their hearts could not deny.

By the time he made his way to me I looked in his face tenderly as if he was a sign from god, as if I knew him from a past life. I realized how wrong I was to condition being a good person, the type of person I aspire to be. I acknowledged how wrong I was to limit kindness to certain people. To be greedy with my help. I could no longer hide myself from this man who dragged in the truth with him. I gave the man what I had. I gave him a smile, even though he couldn't see it (but deep down inside I like to think he felt it). I gave him half a cookie I was enjoying, I figured it was too good not to share. Sometimes all we have to give is a smile.

I learned that generosity is not in the giving, it is in the selfless act of not expecting back. Even a smile.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Release


Release

It often comes to mind how this blog is too ambitious. But then i tell my brain to shut the hell up and do what I tell it to, write. Writing is something annoying at times. I am so involved in my mental state of chaos. My mind seriously has no format, it just goes, sometimes on rants, sometimes so randomly i cant even understand the reason for me even having thoughts, as they make no logical sense. I don't know if I am the only person who does this, but I often have hypothetical story lines and episodes play out in my mind. Seriously these mini dramas have no sense in being, they usually are stories i wish i could tell, of fictional super cool shit that randomly could occur in my life, but realistically doesn't. I have a feeling i will never get rid of my often weird imagination. I still to this day fantasize about life just randomly becoming a musical. Straight out of Grease. Of course i would play Rizzo, just because shes bad ass, and i love me rebellious female characters.

What the hell do i do with this ocean of fictional tales that inhabit my mind? I seriously had no idea, i pretty much just believed they where there to take up space. But i just cant deal with it anymore, the constant mind boggling amount of useful time i spend on hypothetical events is just too annoying and just fucks with the equanimity of my mind. April was creativity month, June is generosity month. I am supposed to be creative and give as part of my happiness project, that's just what I am going to do. I am going to release this randomness from my brain and spill it into paper no matter how much logical sense it may be lacking. Maybe after a few years of of this i will have a mediocre movie script to pitch to MTV.

So this brings me to a thought. In order to receive should we not release? Let go of, give away, retire, give to the world your thoughts and maybe in return you will free space for better bigger thoughts. Release people, I feel it's a worthy aim. Be generous to the world by giving to it your thoughts and ideas.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Poetry & Prose



April: Creativity

I love to write. You know something is a part of you if as a child you did it willingly. I remember being 8 years old coming up with my own little stories, at one point i was trying to invent my own language. I had a weird alphabet set up on my room wall. It was composed of little drawings that were supposed to represent a word. Weird but true story.

Recently i found poems and letters i wrote from the age of 10 to about 15 years old. I love words they call upon me more than any visuals. Words to me are so marvelous,they express ideas and in doing so they express nothing but what you associate with them. Poetry is an art, i have recently been made aware of this. Its funny, tell yourself you aren't an artist and nothing in your life by your definition is artistic.

In honor of creativity month i am launching a separate blog with my own original poetry, old poems and new poems. Ultimately these poems are myself on paper, or computer screen in your case. Why do this? Well, should an artist be ashamed of his art? This is me, i write,this is my art. Someone else's definition of creativity cant take the place of your own nature. Above all the happiness project is not a recreation of who i am. The happiness project is based on the embrace of all that is yourself.

A writer is as much an artist as a musician. An artist simply is the expression of him/herself. Art is in the eye of the beholder after all. This is the biggest lesson i have learned from my month of creativity.

Check out my poetry blog: PoemLeaf.blogspot.com

"The smell of ink is intoxicating to me - others may have wine, but I have poetry." - Terri Guillemets

"Most painters have painted themselves. So have most poets: not so palpably indeed, but more assiduously. Some have done nothing else."- Augustus William Hare

"A poet's autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote." - Yevgeny Yentushenko

Breathe-in experience,
breathe-out poetry.
~Muriel Rukeyser

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Creativity



April: Creativity

Ultimately creativity comes down to expression. The release of the stories, music, dreams, and images that plague our mind. An exhale of the human brain or soul, what have you. The month of April was all about creativity for my happiness project.

I don't consider myself creative. I have never passed by a mirror and exclaimed, "now that's an artist!" I actually grew up with a complex about my creative abilities. My brother has always been the artist of the family. This kid paints on oil canvas, abstract and realist art. He actually plays the guitar,the viola,the violin,the harmonica. My kid brother can draw like no ones business, he exudes an aura of a young Michael Angelo. I, on the other hand, must give off as much creative vibe as an accountant. I, as my mother would explain, am the brains in the family.

I have been stamped with this title, branded in theory, by the opinions and expectations of my family. I am to be the one with the good grades, the one who is logical, responsible, on top of anything having to do with organization. I am not to wander off course, or take time off, because lets face it i am determined, and an artist is simply none of those things. An artist, or at least in my family, can take his time and lives a carefree life.

Creativity is an exhale. I think its time i tried my creative bone out. I want to play the drums. I have always had a love affair with the drums. If you have been fortunate enough to bump into me on the train, you would have noticed i air drum the shit out of my commute. I have come to understand that if you like something when you are 10 years old, its pretty much a part of who you are. I asked my mom for a drum set when i was 10. I massacred the set, but the joy that it brought me was unmeasurable. I want to do with my life what i love, and i love drums. Its not an easy task but one well worth the effort.

"Mom i am going to learn how to play the drums", i said. " But you aren't creative, leave that to your brother,you have too much going on". Opinions,opinions,opinions. What good is the title anyone gives us? I never gave myself the tittle of "smarts". Titles only limit. We should all strive to be a complex beautiful piece of art.

"The artist is not a special kind of man; every man is a special kind of artist" - Sri Coomaraswamy

(One would suppose, every woman,too.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

March: "No"


March: Discipline

March has been a constant reminder of what I promise myself. My best friend calls me “a people pleaser”. In no way am I an extremist. I am not going around paying peoples phone bills, or running errands for them, etc. I tend to want to make things fun for everyone before myself. I find it my duty to break awkward silences, to try and get someone a drink, to act as host or bring up something fun to do. Not only that but I feel a big problem I have is a responsibility for showing up. I have been known to never say no to an invite. Most of the time I am there rain, sleet, snow, possible tornado I will give it the old college try. I am not saying I don’t have a good time, but I have been stuck too many times in situations I don’t want to be in for the sake of not ruining anyone’s weekend, birthday, bat mitzvah, you name it.

So I have been practicing the art of NO. I have been saying “no” to anything I don’t feel like doing. Like “No, I will not be working here full time”. “No, I wont go to your birthday party, but Happy Birthday.” “No thanks, I will not go with you to stalk that guy you like who lives around my neighborhood. By the way that’s creepy.” “No” is liberating. “No” can be the best decision you ever make. At first saying “no” left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. Like I had taken a bite out of the fruit of limitations. Soon enough I realized I needed to set my limits clearly to live a happier life. Stand your ground, know exactly what you don’t want to do, and don’t do it. Denis Waitley once said,"Everything is something you decide to do,and there is nothing you have to do." Limiting the amount of say outside forces have on your time is key to focusing on activities that bring you joy.

What situation do you find yourself in all the time that dont bring you the joy you deserve? This is a good indication you need some “NO” in your life. Get fed up n just say it “NO!” Scream it out loud if you must.

"Let me listen to me, and not to them"- Gertrude Stein

Sunday, April 4, 2010

March: Late


The Happiness Project (click the THP label on your right for more info)

March: Discipline
Late.

How many of the opinions you had 5 years ago have not changed? I was presented this question during one of those heated classroom debates in college. You know that rare instance when even the quiet guy in the back of the class expresses a brief moment of interest. For me the answer was simple 75 percent of my opinions from 5 years ago have not stood the test of time. I had opinions on all sorts of stuff. I had opinions on how everyone else should act, how the world works, how my hair should look, the list goes on and on. Your opinions are your beliefs they transcend into your actions. If it wasn't for an underlying opinion that all customer service representatives are dumb I would not speak to them as though they were children.

One of my opinions about life has just been shattered. I never realized I held this opinion it just kind of became part of my life, that little secret ingredient that made me who I was. I actually embraced it, stamped my seal of approval and said onward with the rest of my magnificent existence. I have grown to understand the constancy of certainty is change. Eventually our path to growth persuades us to shed the beliefs that don’t serve us. Like a snake shedding its skin. Some beliefs are so ingrained into us that it takes a magnitude of an event or events to finally realize they no longer serve any purpose in the life we want to live.

I live a life full of responsibilities, less than some, more than others. I also have a very leisurely attitude regarding time. I don’t see a specific point to going to class unless necessary and by necessary I mean it must be a very strict class requirement. I have been late all my life. Lateness to me is slightly fashionable. Actually I cruise very whimsically through my life. I never think a slight lateness will ever cost me much. I once showed up to an interview for Citibank in which the manager actually wanted to start an argument with me about my 5 minute lateness from the previous interview. Yea, I didn’t get that job. I have held on to this belief that I can go through my life late. Lateness has never been too much of an issue to keep me behind, it has just served as a slight nuisance but never caused me much harm. Today I was my usual 5 min late, for check in at the airport. I made my way calmly with my beliefs packed neatly in my luggage along with my bras and panties. “ Hi I'm late I think” I said. I realize now my attitude was so “eh whatever”. “ Yes 5 minutes late” the voice behind the counter expressed. I never made it on that 2:30 flight. My poor 21 year old heart, once filled with excitement and hopes of uniting with my friends behind the gates, was crushed with disappointment. My wallet also suffered a heavy 50 dollar defeat for the booking of a later flight.

March has been dedicated to discipline. Starting out this month was about keeping my promises. All month I have embraced situations that required me to keep the promises I made to myself. I aimed at forgetting my “people pleaser” mentality and focus on the only voice I hear when my head hits the pillow at night. I realize now this month of discipline stems from feeling not in control over my time. It never crossed my mind that my beliefs/opinions where constantly there, serenading my unconscious decisions. My opinion on lateness was so ingrained in my brain that even after missing my flight it honestly took me some time before realizing I had no reason for being late. I could not blame traffic, the weather, or another person. My opinion of lateness was the cause of my disappointment.

Take a look at your actions, even the ones that seem harmless. Think about what underlying opinions those actions express. Ask yourself if they contribute to some area of your life you are not happy with. Its hard to look at your actions so bluntly. Its hard to not make excuses for yourself. I know I try my best to be kind to myself.

I have an opinion that has truly held its own for a long time. Be kind to yourself but acknowledge your wrongs. It took me missing a plane to realize; where my life is going the idea of lateness being completely OK has no place. Don’t wait until the moment you miss a plane or an opportunity or a life to recognize the opinions that don’t serve you.

“Ultimately, happiness comes down to choosing between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them.” –Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Friday, April 2, 2010

March: The Month of Discipline



The Happiness Project (please click on the Happiness Project label to your right for an explanation of THP)

MARCH: Discipline

No, I am not aiming to be a ninja or samurai, or even a gymnast. No, I don’t want my life to be a boot camp. My definition of discipline is keeping the promises I make to myself.

Why are we so willing to disappoint ourselves? I promise myself all types of stuff. I promise myself I will never do this or that again. I wont speak to a certain someone anymore. I will do my homework when I get home. I will keep my schedule in order. My resolutions slip through the cracks unsatisfied more times than I can count. If I cant keep the promises I make to myself, than how can I become upset when someone else doesn’t follow through with promises directed at me? Moreover, how can I want something from others I don’t even give myself?

Happiness has a lot to do with feeling in control. I have a firm belief we can’t control anything but ourselves. I have grown to be more tolerant of other people’s bullshit, the weather, random things that come up, etc. because I accept this as the nature of the world. So by control I mean control over ourselves.

I decided to dedicate my month to discipline because it’s important. Discipline makes character. Although it might sound a bit restrictive I am going about it in my own way, no boot camp required. Sometimes, happiness doesn’t always make you happy at the moment. As much as I hate getting up to go to school in the morning, and lord knows I love my sleep, if I weren’t going to school I would be miserable. Miserable because something I value would not be taking a part in my life. I love to learn, I love school. This idea might not fit every person, but that’s why this is MY happiness project and MY life. What discomfort do you put up with in order to keep what you value in your life? Discipline is all about looking at the bigger picture. I more often than not dislike the writing process. But it brings me joy to write, to express myself. Without the discipline to carry out what brings me joy the happiness in my life would surely deteriorate. A month dedicated to keeping my resolutions truly sets the stage for the rest of my happiness project.

So a repeat, no I am not taking any karate classes. I am not going to be practicing for the Olympics. No I will not be joining the marines (although my brother is, I’m so proud). March was all about keeping the promises I made to myself.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The List


What do you want to do before you die?

That was the question i faintly managed to hear through the circus that is my apartment. Completely struck by the magnitude of a question that should be,well,simple to answer. Its not that i lacked an answer,but the frantic race my brain went through to come up with all the possibilities really left an impression on me. I looked everywhere for that damn remote. I wanted to know why my t.v would ask such a question. Does my t.v suddenly care? Once reunited with my remote i increased the volume, and what i heard left me in love. The show was "The Buried Life". A group of guys set out in an R.V all through the U.S to complete a 100 item list of things they want to do before they die. First thought: "omg this is soo fucking badass". But wait thats not all, for every item they crossed off their list they helped a stranger do something they want to do before they die. I was inspired.

The thing i love most about this are the items on the list. Most are, well just plain fun. Number 26 "tell a judge 'you want the truth,you cant handle the truth'". Number 9 "destroy a computer". Little awesome things. Thats what makes a difference.

Inspired by all things awesome,i am starting my own list. Maybe "starting" is not the best word,i am making my list come to life,my life. I will have a list of things i want to do. Not just "graduate from college" or "buy a house". I want to do stuff i always wanted to do. I also want to do whatever comes to mind.

This is a "Bucket List" project i am undertaking for the rest of my life. Its a sort of compliment to the Happiness Project, and i will try to choose an item every month from my list that can compliment my Happiness Project concentration for the month (for more info on The Happiness Project click the labels tab on the right of the page).

So here goes...all my randomness in one list. This list is definitely not done, i will post further items later on in the year.

1. Climb a tree.
2. Dance with Ellen Degeneres
3. Make a sand angel in the nevada desert.
4. Make a sand angel in the sahara desert.
5. Hang out with Anthony Bourdain.
6. Start a food fight.
7. Throw a stranger a birthday party.
8. Learn how to tie a cherry stem with my tongue.
9. Swim in a public fountain.
10. Host a t.v show.
11. March for gay rights.
12. Buy a stranger lunch.
13. Bungy jump.
14. Drive a hot pink sports car around town.
15. Dress in all neon.
16. Sky dive.
17. Milk a cow & use the milk in my cereal.
18. Star in a commercial
19. Create a blog
20. Visit Martin Luther King Jr.'s resting place.
21. Bring Lucille Ball wine and flowers to her resting place.
22. Become friends with an astronaut.
23. Learn to surf, preferably in Australia.
24. Create a wall sized collage of my life.
25. Help save an endangered species.
26. Figure out how much fat kids love cake.
27. Scream obscenities at the grand canyon.
28. Enter a eating contest.
29. Stick it to the man. (Any ideas how?? Let me know)
30. Brush my teeth with a bottle of jack.
40. Stage Dive
41. Throw a tomato at someone i dislike (Bush/Cheney maybe? or the MTA CEO? share your ideas)
42. Play the drums with a band at a venue.
43. Go kayaking on the hudson.
44. Win an award.
45. Hang out with the guys from "The Buried Life".
46. Murder a blackberry.
47. Save someones life.
48. Go on a blind date.
49. Write a book.
50. Have a drink named after me, on a menu.
51. Mud Wrestle

I will post up my experience along with the documented evidence of the completed items on my list. I will try to do something off the list hopefully once a month. Also check later on in the year for the full 100 item list. Send me your ideas i might just post them on my list.

Along with the items crossed off my list i will post my adventures helping people do things off their list. Every time i complete something on my list i cant do anything else off the list until i help someone else.

So, ready to do all the stuff you always wanted to do? I am,as bizarre as some of my items may be,they sound super fun to me. Your list should reflect what you find fun no matter what anyone else may think. What do you want to do before you die?

(By the way check out "The Buried Life" blog, awesome stuff)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What is a Happiness Project?


The Happiness Project
Inspired by the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin, I am undertaking my own happiness project. The project is a year experiment to find out if one could in fact be happier. Following advice from scientific research, philosophers, my own ideas, general advice from friends, and anywhere I can find it. I will dedicate each month to a specific resolution that I believe will benefit my happiness. I want to focus every month on one thing, but also maintain the subject of my focus with me for the rest of my life, to remember it in my everyday. During the month I will post my experiences, misadventures and most importantly if these resolutions are having an effect on my happiness.

March: Discipline
-Keeping the promises i make to myself.
April: Creativity
-Learn to play the drums.
May: Laugh Out Loud
- Laugh more.
June: Be Generous
-Give
July: Do The New
-Try everything new,no excuses.
August: Find A Cause
-Find something im passionate about.
September: Say It Out Loud
-Therapy and counseling.
October: Friends & Family
-Be the flowers.
November: Mindfulness
-Imitate a spiritual master.
December: Slow Down
-Do one thing at a time.
January: TBA
February: TBA
March: TBA

"What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while."

What exactly is this project about? Well by all means I am nowhere near unhappy. On the contrary I have been called “overly optimistic” about everything in general. But have you ever thought about what will actually make you happy? I am usually in the position where I realize what I thought would make me happier, once i've acquired it, brings me less joy then I had anticipated. I find a small percentage of my time being spent on what i truly want to do. I am not sugesting some life altering process, i want to improve my life as is. I want to take my life seriously, but also less seriously, to focus on true satisfaction but also have time to wander and get lost,to play. Taking a little time to think about what will truly make you happier is the best gift to yourself and to everyone around you. Happy people make better friends, coworkers, parents, girlfriends/boyfriends, and are a joy to be around. So what about you? What do you think will make you happier? And most importantly what are you doing right now that’s taking away from spending more time on what you love to do, on what you always wanted to work on? What would you dedicate even a month to in your own happiness project?

According to Aristotle, "Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existance."

Think Big


One of the best things you can do for anyone is to help them think big, the simple act of encouraging someone to follow through with their goals, ambitions, dreams. Even encouraging those small changes one can make to help yourself and others live a more fulfilling life. Think Big blog is not about one specific thing. It’s composed of two main projects I have chosen to undertake for the next year of my life. This is a journey to do what I truly want, to find a happier place, and to just live the moment. My only hope for this blog is that it inspires even one person to “do it”. Do what exactly? Well that’s up to you. Do what you want to do. If you aren’t sure about what you want to do, well then, by all means, Think Big. Life is a verb. Our lives are our own private literature, the memories and stories we keep or in my case choose to share with you. Beyond my own projects this blog is about YOU. Your ideas and opinions, I encourage your thoughts. Trust me there will be plenty to discuss.

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