Tag Archives: short

Window

I found myself with some extra time today. I didn’t really like going for walks, but I convinced myself I don’t have anything better to do. Besides, I’ve been working hard and should relax. It was mid-afternoon and the weather was perfect, or at least how I like it. The temperature was warm, with a very high, thin layer of cloud cover that diffused the bright sunlight.

I came upon a park. It was a large grass field with a circular path around it and people from all walks of life. This park just so happened to sit on the top of a large hill. It was called “Reservoir Park,” probably because of the giant water tank fixed maybe 50 feet above the ground, giving life to thousands of houses below.

I started walking counter-clockwise around the park and noticed a familiar looking view. I’d never seen this particular view before, but I recognized it because it looked out over where I grew up. I stopped and stared out at the hill I grew up on. I used to venture into the woods and climb up a tree high enough so I could stare out into the future, unknowingly looking out to where I was standing today, into a mirror with no reflection. I tried to think about everything that’s happened between then and now, all the success, all the heartbreak, everything that’s gotten me to this point so far and changed me from who I was into who I am, but I couldn’t. Nothing came to mind.

From the outside I’d assume that this would be great cause for concern, or should at least worry me in some sense, but I wasn’t even aware that nothing came to mind (funny how minds work). I wasn’t void of memories, but I was remembering, only instead of thoughts coming to mind it was purely feelings coming to heart; the joy, the pain, the love, the longing. I stayed in that moment for quite some time, and after I began to continue my walk I realized I indeed have grown since a child staring out from the tree tops. Never once growing up did I assume I would end up so close to my original home (at least so far). I always had some lofty goal that I would be extremely successful in whatever I did and move far away to somewhere better, some mystical land, wherever that was. But that was before I came out of the woods and went out to live my life. It’s easy to dream when everything looks so open.

Possibly the most important growth that I have experienced is an emotional one. It may seem super simple for some, but I have always been a logical person, using reasoning, knowledge, and whatever else I could prove or validate in order to come to any conclusion. ‘Emotions’ have not been easy for me. I’d get happy and sad like everyone else, but I never got too attached to anything, and would never say, “I’ve got a feeling about this…” Emotions have more or less been a reaction or side effect, so for me a purely emotional response to something is quite amazing, awakening, and somewhat of a miracle. If I can simply look at a view and feel such a wide range and depth of emotions, then that’s amazing. What good are thoughts and circumstances if we don’t feel anything? Every time I asked myself “what do I want to do with my life?” I’ll come up with an answer, and then ask myself, “why?” I’ll do that a few times and it always boils down to something along the lines of “I want to feel happy, feel good, feel loved,” and a big part of that is making others feel loved as well.

I completed my circular walk and looked back across the park to where I stood saw the view, and I couldn’t see it anymore from where I was standing. The trees hid the view from the street, and I noticed if I hadn’t first chosen, logically, to go on this walk, then I would not have ever seen that view, that narrow window into the past. Of course it’s easy to see now, but how many other opportunities like this have I missed? In how many other ways am I still looking out from the trees, waiting to see a reflection?

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Take Me

Where does wind come from?
And where does it go?
I’m not really sure that the wind even knows.

May I ask you a favor?
When the time is right,
Take me where the wind blows.

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Speed of Thought

I don’t wanna sound like a wiseguy or anything, and I’m probably not the first to think of this, but I think I figured it out:

I think that how fast time moves is relative to how much you think. Like, the ‘speed of thought.’ Everything is relative (is viewed in a context), and basically you have to filter all of your experiences through your mind in order to even experience them, so from the inside looking out, the whole world is in your mind (“it’s all in your head”). If you’re stumped on a problem or worrying about something, time may pass very slowly whereas if you’re just having fun and just enjoying the moment, or to exaggerate, if you’re sleeping, then time will pass very rapidly. If you dream than you spend more time being asleep. Thinking more slows down time whereas simply reacting skips over time. People have said regarding crazy moments that “it was like slow motion. I never thought it was going to end.” And conversely there exists “driving hypnosis” where you end up at your destination in the blink of an eye because you are so used to taking the same route that you require zero thought to drive it. This line of thought leads to the creation of memories as what allows us to place ourselves in time. Without any memories, there is no time. Babies do not have memories, and thus have no concept of time (and aren’t really much alive yet, like, viva la vida etc…). And they are also really stupid. But on the other end of the spectrum you might have someone with Alzheimer’s who does not have the ability to create new memories, and is, although it’s painfully sad to say, pretty much already dead (from their point of view). So the next time you fall into routine, or order the same thing for lunch, or drive the same way home, or do the same activity with your friends, stop… and think about that. Make a memory.

 

EDIT (3/16/14): I came across this video that has a much more informed position than my generalized curiosities. It’s a fun watch if you have a few minutes, however the title is a bit misleading…

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I need your advice

What?

How do you say no without disappointing someone.

You can’t.

There’s got to be some way — I’ve seen people do it.

Ok, but do they actually say “no,” or are they just sliding out of it and not claiming responsibility for saying no, or are they just giving themselves an opportunity to be at a safe distance first?

Huh.

You can’t really tell someone “no” and not disappoint them, it’s just whether or not you respect them, and yourself, enough to tell them “no” without any window dressing. Saying anything else that hints at “no” is just delaying the inevitable. Sure, they’ll be disappointed, but you are saying “don’t be disappointed now; wait until I’m gone.” And that’s how relationships are ruined, because then you give yourself distance between you and that person, knowing that the farther away from them, the more comfortable you feel. But what you didn’t realize is that the closer you are to them, the more uncomfortable you feel, so when you think about connecting with them again you start to feel uncomfortable, and when, or even if, you are around them again it just feels weird. All because you couldn’t just say no in the first place. I’m not just talking romantic relationships either; any relationship where two people are involved. And what you didn’t realize is that you now have taught yourself the closer you are to that person, the more uncomfortable you feel.

I kind of get it. I mean, I’ve always gotten that concept, but for some reason I just keep falling in the same trap. Like, it doesn’t matter that I know junk food is bad for me; I keep eating it.

you treat other people the way that you want to be treated. You don’t want to hurt them, but you have to think about the long term. That’s what makes a good leader; for others to follow, and for yourself to follow. How would you like it if someone led you on and dragged you down a rocky path before finally letting go?

I hate it.

Okay… Well you need to see that. It takes bravery and courage to tell someone “no,” and to know that you most likely will disappoint them in the short term, but it is, without a doubt, better in the long run. It always is.

Time heals all wounds, right?

Yup. It’s not a race, but it never hurts to get a head start.

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Breathe

“Here’s good.” She said.

A man and his wife started driving off the highway because she wanted to see if they could go somewhere where there was no sound. They drive through a dusty plain until they can’t see the road, and then they get out of the car. No rush of cars, horns, alarms, bells. Nothing surrounds them except a single tree in the distance.

The car’s warm engine crackles and pops softly. She raises an eyebrow at him. He responds with a sigh and he leads her towards the distant tree. It’s hot, and it’s a long walk. He fans the both of them with a used road map. A little over half way the wife sees the tree clearly. A dryness has spread through its branches like a cancer. The husband turns to look back, seeing that his wife had stopped walking. For the briefest of moments they were alone.

“Here’s good.” She lies down on the ground, and he joins her. She rests her head on his chest, closing her eyes, imagining nothing, listening to the only sound in the world; his heartbeat. It was bigger than anything in that moment, it was the only thing she felt, and when she closed her eyes it was all she knew. If she so much as lifted her head, opened her eyes, it would be gone forever. Of course his heart would keep beating, but it wouldn’t be the same. It would never be the same.

Unaware she had been holding her breath, she finally relaxed, and let it go.

“Here’s good.” He echoed. “…Here’s good.” And he closed his eyes.

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Memorial

You come home to a house you’ve kept clean for a week solid after spring cleaning, but today you are tired. You drop your stuff on the floor and go to the kitchen to grab some snacks. You’ve worked hard this week. You decide you deserve a treat. You can’t remember the last time you had a milkshake. You scoop out the ice cream, Oreos, chocolate syrup, and some more ice cream, and hold the “blend” button. The blender decides that now is a good time to commit suicide and grind its gears, and not your milkshake, until you hear a pop and see a little wisp of smoke trail away from your newly departed appliance. You now understand the phrase ‘giving up the ghost,’ but you still don’t have a milkshake. You find yourself on the couch minutes later with a long spoon and the top half of the blender in your hand, scraping out the last bites of your milkstir, and realizing that the top half of the blender actually isn’t a bad way to eat a snack. It even has a handle and a spout. Over the next few weeks you keep using the top half of the blender to eat while the bottom half still sits plugged in on your counter top. No, it still doesn’t work. And now you’ve gotten used to it being there that it has just become part of the kitchen counter; a fixture, a statue, a memorial even. A few months later you invite friends over and one of them gets really drunk and asks you why you couldn’t just make margaritas from scratch when the blender is sitting right there. You tell him, “oh, it doesn’t work.” Like it’s supposed to not work. And he just stares at you for a little while because he’s obviously drunk, and nothing is wrong with you, or the blender.

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Goodbye

Two people lived on a small man-made island just off the shore of the mainland. These two residents were not the only people on this island, but they lived alone. The residents were both on a schedule, both lived through their days as a series of habits, and were both looking for love (trust me. I’m an omniscient narrator). They both worked hard and found comfort in a solid routine as the foundation for a ‘good life,’ and thus were both bound by their schedules — “imprisoned” might be a better word.

A unique feature of this island is that it was a perfect circle with a sidewalk that hugged the perimeter. There were twelve equally spaced streets radiating from a where a big clock tower stood in the heart of the town. You could keep track of the time from almost anywhere on the island, as our two residents would frequently do.

You see, even time is man-made. Not the concept of time, but how we choose to restrict ourselves with it. Seconds. Hours. Years — don’t tell me nothing lasts forever. I don’t want to hear it.

Every morning these two residents would wake up at the same time, step onto the same sidewalk, turn right, and walk clockwise until they came back to where they started. Their schedules wove together like two gears — however, they lived on opposite sides of the island and always walked clockwise at the same time. What these two residents didn’t realize, and would never come to realize, is that this ordinary, scheduled walk was so precise, so routine, and so expected, that the absence of anticipation surrounding it drew about as much attention to the walk as you will give to your next breath, which is extraordinary. Extraordinarily dull.

It is still unclear to me, the omniscient narrator, whether the two residents scheduled to walk each morning, or whether they walked because the schedule told them to. Of course, the residents think to be in complete control, and that is why they stick to the schedule — the sense of order and control — but from the outside looking in, it seems as if control was simply an illusion created by the predictability of a clock.

When you do something so much, you don’t even know what you’re missing anymore; you just assume it’s not there.

Our two residents would wake up every day, go on their clockwise walk, and eventually fall asleep in the same bed they woke up in, and repeated this controlled, scheduled, living habit for so many days that the memories of the past years of this routine congealed into one solitary memory. One day, one of the residents noticed they looked older, felt older, and consequently tried to recall how that happened, but could only come to the conclusion that “time flies.” It was at this time, I, the omniscient narrator, decided this resident decided to go for a walk that morning. The same walk as always, but upon this day this resident choose to walk counterclockwise as a gesture of change, as a way to motivate this resident to start breaking the very routine that this resident had resided in for so long.

It was free. It was clear. It was new. Surely memories would be made on this day as the two residents approached each other around the bend of the man-made island. They were destined to meet. As their paths crossed, they greeted each other with a congenial smile accompanied by a neighborly “hello,” and kept on walking down the path without breaking stride, or their respective schedules. A whole history of new possibilities came into existence on that unclockwise walk, and then disappeared as simply as the path on which they walked curved out of sight around the island, and disappeared without the memory of even saying ‘goodbye.’

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Highway

As I was driving down the interstate somewhere between the bay and Sacramento, an attractive young girl passed me on the right, but slowed down and stayed even with me. I looked over and she was looking back and giggling to herself. I may have raised an eyebrow or two, but couldn’t figure what the fuss was about. She seemed so blissfully lost in the moment of taking her red coupe across the state… Why do attractive girls always drive fast red cars?

I swerved a little and figured I should pay attention to the road more than I was, but I couldn’t help but keep looking back over at her. There’s something so captivating when you make contact with someone on the highway. You’re both zooming by at deathly speeds, yet you stop and take the time to look each other in the eye. There’s no pressure, no expectations, and no formalities. You’re not ‘supposed’ to meet people on the highway. You probably won’t ever see them again. It’s like seeing a person stripped down without all the defenses they wear or disguises they put up in order to function in society. If you don’t see anything worth looking at, you look away and move on, or conversely, you keep looking to see what will happen in this short amount of time.

She pressed a napkin against the window and wrote on it, holding the pen cap in her teeth, and then turned it around. It was a phone number, and from the look on her face, it was hers. I checked my rear view so I didn’t get pulled over for texting, but there was no one around. I typed the number down and gave her a thumbs up. She winked and then sped off.

I never did see her again. I pulled over at the next rest stop thinking she might be there. I called the number. “We’re sorry. This number cannot be completed as dialed. Please hang up, or–” I must have typed it down wrong. There’s no spellcheck for phone numbers. I waited at the rest stop for quite some time looking back in the direction I came. I don’t know why. Maybe I was waiting for her to pull in to the rest stop, but the truth was she was zooming down the highway. Our encounter was so brief that I didn’t know what to make of it until it was gone, so I got back in my car and decided I have a lot of road ahead of me; and a lot of driving left to do.

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Donald Was in Kindergarten

As a child in kindergarten, Donald would pluck the legs off of the insects he found, specifically daddy long legs spiders, and occasionally eat them. He would study how the legs would keep moving after he removed them, and would sort them into piles of wigglers, non-wigglers, and pop the legless bodies in his mouth. 15 years later he would learn that daddy long legs spiders carry venom approximately 600 times more potent than a black widow spider, but they are incapable of biting humans, rendering them harmless; but he still wondered why he didn’t die after eating the entire spider along with all its venom. Donald would learn 20 years later that he was misinformed, and that daddy long legs spiders are harmless because they in fact don’t have any venom at all.

Upon moving to first grade, to a different school in a different neighborhood with different people, Donald noticed that no one ate insects anymore; they just watched them. On the first day of school Donald saw two insects fighting and decided to break up the fight by squishing them. This was the first time a complete stranger had gone out of her way to tell him a question.

“How would you like it if you were squished by a giant foot?” Donald had not learned what puns were yet, so he couldn’t say ‘I would feel depressed,’ but he still had some manner of wits about him, and replied,

“I squished them with my shoe, not my foot.”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does. I wouldn’t be out here without shoes on. If I didn’t have shoes, then they would still be fighting!”

The girl held her stern gaze on Donald and let out a shrill, high-pitched burst of sound. “Ms. Schneider!”

Ms. Schneider was a heavy, non-Germanic woman with the classic wart on her nose, who’s official title was ‘Recess Duty,’ and who’s unfortunate unofficial title was ‘Playground Witch’)

“Ms. Schneider! He’s making fun of me!”

This confused Donald on two accounts: the first because he had no idea why the girl, unprovoked, would shriek; and secondly because he was a very literal child and was in fact not having any fun on this girl’s behalf, nor was she transforming into any derivative of the greater concept of fun. Donald felt that either this girl’s choice of words, or her line of thinking were poorly misguided, and he rebutted on the matter:

“Nuh-uh!”

Donald was simply trying to prevent an insect war, but apparently this little girl had nothing to do but complain during recess.

“What’s your name?” Ms. Schneider lumbered over with an invisible cane.

“Donald.”

“Donald, can you come with me?”

Donald was glad this peculiar woman with the loyalty of an abused dog had pulled him away from the girl, but he was completely unaware that every time someone followed the Duty, that she lead them to the principal’s office. Donald was, again, confused as to the situation that presented him. In this wonderful country of checks and balances and democracy and freedom where those who are persecuted are innocent until proven guilty, Donald was now subjected to stay after school for ‘making fun’ of that girl. He didn’t even know her, and it was in that moment he learned never to underestimate the power of a little girl.

Donald was inexplicably afraid to hold eye contact with anyone, for reasons unknown to him in his present age, which didn’t help his case as he tried to explain to this grown man with a patch of hair on his chin that he didn’t actually make any fun; and even if he did, he wondered why he would be forced to stay inside for making fun? “Isn’t the point of recess to have fun?”

The principal’s stomach growled and he wanted to finish his sandwich before he had to go class to class introducing himself in a fun and friendly manner, and so he settled on telling Donald,

“I think you might have a different idea of fun than the rest of the kids.”

Which was true, but also not a bad thing. After all, Donald was the only one pacifying insect wars on the playground. Donald was sent back to the classroom and realized that during all the explaining that was just done to him by the principal, nothing was explained. He wondered if he could be a principal some day and sit in a room and not explain things to confused kids as they were delivered to his door. He thought he could do that now, but he didn’t have enough hair on his chin. He wondered if he shouted for the Duty their roles would have been reversed and if he could have enjoyed the rest of his recess, but first Donald had to get back for arts and crafts time…

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Bare Country

One year ago I started documenting my life. To find ‘my narrative,’ to see ‘what I was all about,’ to find something—anything… I’m not quite sure why. But nonetheless I started looking, and that’s all that mattered.

I drove up in the mountains today and hiked down to Hermit Falls. It was going to be a pleasant easy hike, but the catch is that I parked my car and started marching down at 6pm when the sun had cast half the canyon in a shadow already. Everyone was climbing back up the steep path and I was the only one walking down. I stopped here and there to look at the view. Someone was talking a quarter mile away down in the canyon, and I could hear them like they were right around the corner. You can hear people long before you notice them. By the time I reached the falls it was very dark. I didn’t stop and stare too long because quite honestly I kept imagining that a bear would come for a drink and notice I would make for some nice evening hors d’oeuvres. I figured the sun would set in about fifteen minutes, so I’d have to move quick if I wanted to make it back in time.

I ran back up using as much night vision as I could muster and ended up getting lost on an unfamiliar trail. I thought about the bulletin board I glanced at near the trailhead that read “bear country” and other stuff about wilderness. Every ounce of bear survival knowledge I knew rushed through my head. The hills were steep and there were little rocks jutting out of the trail every now and then, and were very hard to see once the sun had set completely. There was a constant buzzing and chirping of bugs, but I didn’t get any bites. I kept thinking about how bears might go down to the creek for a drink at this hour because they know no humans would be on the trail. I just kept my eyes glued to the trail, focusing on where to place my feet as I jogged uphill one step at a time. I crossed the creek four times on the way back, and that’s when it felt suspicious. I thought I’d only crossed it three times on the way down. I felt the unfamiliar crunching of leaves beneath my feet that I hadn’t felt before, and I knew I was off track – but didn’t admit it because I didn’t want it to be true.

I came to a clearing with a sign that told me I was .75 miles off course. So much for that. I could either continue on a new 4 mile trail back to the parking lot, or backtrack through the unfamiliarity. There are a handful of secluded, and now abandoned cabins along the trail and creek, which might be why it’s called Hermit Falls. I thought if I couldn’t find my way back I could smash a window and stay the night next to a lonely skeleton in a house full of bats. I thought about how relieved I’ll feel when I finally find my way back… I always do. Soon after I found the correct trail after being forced to slow down due to the dark and rocky nature of the, well… nature. I crossed back across the river and ran uphill into recognizable territory. I had run too fast before with blinders on and thus I had wandered onto the wrong path, forgetting to stop and look up every once in a while to check where I was. You lose your depth perception in the dark. For a while I thought if I looked up I would see a bear. A part of me wanted the blinders on.

The moon was a little more than half full on a clear night, which after being in the shadows of shadows under the trees, made it delightfully easy to see. I stared at the moon and had to squint, which in a roundabout way brought a smile to my face as I ran the rest of the path out of the canyon. The shadows cast by the moon through the trees made it near impossible to tell where any rocks were jutting out of the ground from. But I just kept running with the expectation of tripping and falling, which somehow made it easy to keep on, because every second that I didn’t fall I was very grateful. Occasionally there was a rustling in the bushes above me or a bat that silently whizzed by my head, but I just kept to the trail, grinding up the steep gradient; right, left, right, breathe, left, right, left, breathe…

I finally reached my car with a full appreciation for moonlight, and just stood there for a while, catching my breath and looking over the canyon. A few things crossed my mind:

That was fun. It reminded me of when I would forge trails through the woods at the house I grew up in whenever I wanted to get away and de-stress. That brings me back.

Does that mean I’m stressed or want to get away? Maybe I just needed a thrill. It’s been a while. Why would I need a thrill? Am I bored of normal life?

So much could have gone wrong, but it didn’t. I can only think God for that. Who else would pull me out of a dark canyon without a scratch on my body?

Why did I do this? I didn’t need to go run through a minefield of ankle sprains, but I did. I knew full well it would get dangerous and could hinder my career as an athlete, but I didn’t even consider the possible dangers.

I did this alone. No one saw what just happened, or needs to know, or probably will know; but I know. Does that matter? To who?

I started at my car and finished at my car, back where I started like nothing ever happened. This trek was just a side trip. It won’t change the overall course of who I am or where I’m going, but at least now I have a better understanding. I start and finish every day asleep in my bed, but I have different dreams every night.

I think this run was an allegory… I think I get it now.

…At least I think I do. I just can’t tell if that’s good or bad—I need help.

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