I am amazed at how we manage to recover from a harrowing event, how we can move-on from sadness and memory to laughter and joy — that resilience, and what it means when, say, six months later life has changed.
I am amazed at how our heart works, how it lives, how it beats beyond the moment and after an inciting moment. It keeps musical time until it feels where the old boundaries were, and pushes further out yet.
Our bodies follow and push too, and push further and further. In-sync with our steadfast thumping heart. Until we are so far away it’s as if whatever we’ve pushed out or pushed off from only exists in the story we tell ourselves and others.
I am amazed with my beating heart, and my body that follows a little further each day.
Most moments don’t preserve. They are no match for the consistency of a beating heart. Knowing that creates a dull ache in the pit of my stomache because I want to preserve everything. But eventually, the old boundaries are so far away that I begin to feel the pleasures of true freedom.
My kids ride their bikes in the road. When the cars approach, they slow down, veer off to one side, then wave. It doesn’t matter that their bass speakers are thumping and the muffler is dragging.
A gang of adolescents were walking down the center of the road with bottle rockets, fire crackers, cursing profanity, reckless. I see trouble coming so I meet them before they pass my house. I approach and ask that they politely refrain from such stuff as they pass my house. My small children are playing in the front yard. They respectfully oblige.
Midnight: an unrecognized car has pulled into my driveway thumping rap music. It’s rattling the windows of my sleeping childrens’ bedroom. As I walk out to the car, I smell the sweet smell of marijuana. I say, You can park here on two conditions:
1). you turn the music down and
2). you pass that joint to me.
Moments later, I’m high and listening to the quiet.
I live in one of Kalamazoo’s lowest socio-economic neighborhoods. Not enough is ugly. Black is the color. Some folks are forgotten in this neighborhood, but I have yet to see a child unhappily riding bikes in the road.
Whenever I feel embarrassed about revealing myself with people in the world, or at this blog, I rephrase the thought in my brain. It goes like this: I would be embarrassed if I didn’t because when I talk to people (you), I want them to reveal themselves to me also. It’s like, ‘Who am I to ask you a hard question if I won’t come forward first?‘ That’s the way I want to be in the world.
I believe in unlikely origins, unanticipated success, fathers, freedom and redemption. I believe in destiny, heroic journeys and making the right choice when the chips are down. I believe in what endures. I believe in childhood. I believe time tells many stories from a single choice. I believe there exists in us all a relationship between good and evil. I believe in rebellions. I believe in being audacious about hope and committed to liberty. I believe in human rights and the resources of community. I believe in all the complexities of relationship. I believe in rituals to live by, tradition, pride and Santa Claus.
Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.
This is how I’m journaling right now.
The reason I am committed to journaling every day is because I know that when I am finished, I am centered, I am calm and I am primed to do the actual daily work of living a meaningful life.
I’ve been reading a lot from authors who describe the way they journal. So this approach to journaling isn’t original to me. It’s cobbled from a few different virtual mentors of mine whose approaches I’ve been learning. I’ve been writing this way for a week or so.
For me, first thing in the morning is best for journaling. That isn’t always an option so choose any quiet moment throughout the day. To be thoughtful with this, you’ll need 15 minutes of vigorous writing or 30 minutes of contemplative writing.
Here’s how I’m journaling right now.
First, I Find My Six People (Every Day)
Someone to love. Write the name of the person, and why you love them.
Someone to thank. You could call this person to thank them. Or, just write their name down and why you’re thankful.
Someone to be grateful for. It’s okay if they are dead or gone from your life.
Someone to forgive. You don’t have to tell them. Or you could. The point is to just forgive and notice how it feels on the inside.
Someone to forget. In other words, no need to be angry anymore. Maybe not forgetting, but definitely moving on, even if their actions were unforgivable.
Someone to admire. Think of a person you can admire and/or emulate.
I learned this from James Altucher, and I think it’s great. I recommend his books Choose Yourself and Reinvent Yourself. In the seven days that I’ve been doing this, I never have run out of people to include. If anything, it’s hard to keep it short, but makes me look forward to the next day.
After I’ve found my six people, I move onto a different format.
The next three sections are designed get the hand writing something / anything down to stops things from going around and around in my head. The idea is to put things in perspective, to stop myself from obsessing and help me make sense of the day to day jumble of thoughts and feelings.
A. One sentence about the day that passed.
No time to elaborate. Keep the summary of your day before short and concise.
Thoughts and responses about the following:
B. Yesterday’s workout or food intake. I do this because I have a new fitness goal I seek to accomplish that requires the elimination of certain foods and gradual increases in weight training.
C. Notable occurrences
I’m finding that here is where I do a lot of bitching about shitty interactions I have with people that leave me feeling annoyed, angry, frustrated or hurt.
D. What I want to get better at
For example, the other day I wrote:
I want to get better at saying “No” to people who want favors from me that are, whether consciously or unconsciously, exploitative of my time, my resources and my capabilities because in doing so, I am stripping my ambition from myself and using for someone else, which is akin to me turning my back on myself.
E. Where I am succeeding?
You don’t have to respond to all of these prompts below. Some days I might only address one or two of them. On other days, I write thoughts for all of them. Here they are below.
F. Where am I standing in my own way?
G. What’s the smallest step I can take toward a big thing today?
H. What blessings can I count right now?
I. In what area of my life do I seek validation. Why?
J. What is the harder choice I’m avoiding?
K. Do I rule my fears, or do they rule me?
L. How will today’s difficulties show my character?
I’ve been journaling since 1994, mostly just for me, with words that don’t see the light of day. I feel it’s the most cost effective therapy I’ve ever found. Life is full of muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts – worries, jitters, and preoccupations. Why not put them on the page so you can face your day with clear eyes rather than slopping on others.
They drew first blood. They put the knife in. So I can accuse them, right?
No, that’d be too easy.
Because I know there’s a kernel of truth in what they say. That is why I have to face what’s under my armor of anger. Otherwise if left unchecked, the negative self talk will twist their knife in further.
And damn! I’m pissed that I need to expend all of this energy to witness my feelings, and break the unhealthy patterns and reroute them so it’s not a highway to hell. It’s a dirt road to heal.
But if I don’t, I fall apart. Am I falling apart now?
No! I’m finding worth in this small moment just noting this to myself. “Noting” these feelings stops the chatter. Like it’s in its own compartment now.
This is my truest voice. I trust it. When I have found these deepest of feelings, I’m fortunate that I trust, and have always trusted, this voice as my true North.
I’m going to keep coming to this blog because good lord! I am finding myself here again. One million intricate moves.
I’ll be unpacking this for as long as it took to arrive. There’s peace in that clarity, at least. That makes me stronger.
Done with counseling because it feels like emotional prostitution without end. Done with talking to my usual people, too. I’m tired of hearing my voice dull their listening.
But here, writing at this blog. I trust myself. Something valuable is right around the corner.
I’m 41 years old. My six year old son took this picture on November 11, 2017.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to live to be 100 years old.
The cool thing is that with new and improving advancements in anti-aging technology and supplementation – and good ole fashioned exercising, training, eating and resting well – living to be 100 years old will be common for those of us who want to live that long.
And, not just by adding years to our lives, but by adding life to our years. I hear wise people say that often.
Don’t get me wrong – I still like to have a drink, an occasional social cigarette, ice cream, and I don’t say no to the bacon burger basket and chocolate shake at Culvers drive thru when the occasion presents itself. I also LOVE one good spliff!
Who doesn’t like to enjoy themselves and indulge once in a while?
I don’t care if it’s alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, candy, cake, ice cream, or fast food – as much as I’m an advocate of good health and fitness – I am also an advocate of enjoying life, even if that includes “guilty pleasures.”
The saying, “Everything in moderation even moderation” resonates with me.
Never let anyone guilt you into living a way that you don’t want to. Also, don’t guilt yourself.
Having resolve to live life the way we want is our born pursuit.
For the people who don’t approve? I respectfully let that be their problem, not mine.
We are adults. Love is the law and there is no limit. Remarkable communication can get us there. Let us not give our power to people, circumstances, and situations that don’t deserve, or warrant it.
As long as I stay active, fit, and healthy most of the time, I think I am doing well.
I indulge a bit, slow down for a moment, and speed right back up again.
Sometimes, this practice can be stimulating for my soul. It keeps me honest and allows me to be human.
The key is to find that sweet spot, discover balance, and figure out what works for me, not anybody else. It ebs and flows and changes with the seasons.
I will keep practice at living life on good terms with myself, and witness my happiness continue to exponentially increase.
As I get older, I just want to be around good people. People who are good ‘to’ me, good ‘for’ me and good for my soul. Anything less? no thanks.