I don’t hide as well as I would like to think I do. I know this, but I am usually in denial about it. While I do believe that being vulnerable and showing it are commendable things, it can lead to some pretty uncomfortable conversations if people don’t know you very well.
I am an easy nut to break. To me, my shell is a nice cozy protective barrier of calm, cool confidence. I know better, as does most everyone I come into contact with in my daily life. It’s easy to see when things bother me. It’s easy to see that certain things bother me to certain extremes. It happens. I can accept that. The hard part is dealing with folks that notice. That leads to awkward territory and loads of discomfort.
It seems I talk about discomfort and fear a lot. I think that these two things go hand in hand a majority of the time. It affects choices we make and how we act. Do we put on an outward display to avoid these things? How much differently do we see it than the people that actually see us? It is doubtful that they see what we hope they see. That is ok. What if we dropped the act? Let people see us? Would that make things more difficult at times? Probably, but it could also help us grow. I read a lot that fear is not something you should run from, but something that you should face head on. Why not face one today?
I use the word, “maybe”, quite frequently. It works best with the phrase, “We’ll see.” But will “we” really see anything? I use these phrases when I am unsure if whether I want to commit energy if time to a person or task. If I say “maybe” and don’t show up, have I seen anything? I know there are some things that are definitely not worth the time and effort. They will leave you feeling drained, underwhelming ed, maybe even resentful. What about the good experiences? Things that could mean building new skills, relationships, confidence, etc? I say maybe to these things because they will usually require a bit if discomfort. Maybe a bit of challenging personal fears, working them, and laying them to rest. Not everything is a huge personal transformation, but not everything is going to duck the life out of a person either. Maybe, in this sense, is a bit noncommittal.
At the same time, it could be used to set up a happy surprise. As a child, birthdays wee fun be cause it usually meant doing something fun. Yay know something that you get to choose. I would ask for dinner at whatever restaurant I liked as a kid…We’ll say pizza hut or something. Also a movie, cause they go well together. Nothing beats the smug look on my mom’s face when she would say, “I don’t know. Maybe. We will see.” Of course, becoming an adult means you find out that you have to make sure you actually can do those things. Perspective, right? But those words usually meant “yes.” That’s never a bad thing.
I hide from situations a lot. A lot of things instill a fear of “what could happen? What if I fail? What if I crack? Look stupid?” And the idea of those things incites a loud shout of “maybe!” Will those things happen? All of them? Maybe. What if something different and amazing comes from it? Will we see it if we don’t jump right in? Will I stop asking questions? We’ll see.
I don’t know of many jokes. I hear them, have a hearty laugh, and forget them instantly. The laughing is the most important part. Laughing feels amazing. A well timed joke or gag can do so much.
This past week has been long. With performances, promoting, and meeting a lot of people, I was left pretty drained. I am not the most social person, and while I love meeting and spending time with people, it can be fairly overwhelming without a little time to recharge. For the most part, I was feeling great, but then I felt the last bit of juice leave me. Nothing went wrong, but I became a bit anxious and agitated. I needed to find a nice quiet spot to sit for a bit and breathe. This wasn’t really an option, so things got a bit weird with me for a bit. After this particular time, I needed calm. When I was finally free, I sat back on couch with my dog and watched Lost in Translation. It’s one of my favorite movies. I loved the atmosphere,the music, the story. Just everything. It made me laugh and helped quiet the racing mind. All in all, it was good medicine.
Luxury is a word that is closely associated with wealth. When we hear a phrase such as, “He/she is sitting in the lap of luxury,” we know this to mean that the person being referred to is more or less doing well financially. We see luxury cars that block out the noise of the outside world caused by the peasants in their regular motorcars. Anything can be luxurious if we phrase it right. “Just look at this luxurious turd. It would look great in my mansion.” On second thought, maybe not.
We also see it as a way to show privilege. Usually sarcastically, in my experience. “So you’ve got good hair. Good for you. I don’t have that luxury. Mine is slowly running away from my face.”
I like the second use better than the first. I’m priveleged to know a handful of people that I can call friends. It is definitely a luxury. Not in the sense of financial wellbeing and growth, but in personal wellbeing and growth. The people one associates with shape who they are. I’m starting to find folks that are helping me to better myself. Definitely a luxury.
I’ve got a hankering. A hankering that is so strong, I may not have the willpower to deny it. Does this sound familiar? I’ve always jokingly claimed to have an addictive personality. The band of drunken musicians that I spend most of my free time with always jokes about my love of food. To quote one of the guys, “He’ll eat a flip flop if you cook it right.” I laugh with them in bursts of obnoxious noise. I then quietly place said flip flop in my gullet and chew away, figuratively speaking. I mean, really, what would that do to my body? They are correct about pork chops though. I do love me some good pork chops. But, I digress. I do have a strong craving for adventure. I like to sit and think about where I would go and what I would do there. I like to think about how it would be to just shuck the responsibilities and just go. It has been a subtle, yet constant, craving for a long time. (Please don’t sue me k.d. Lang) It sounds nice, but it is one craving that requires the willpower to other things to get there. So, for now anyway, I will get my adventures in small doses with the band traveling to distances close and narrow. It is still enjoyable, but I am always left wanting more.
Where do I begin? Artistic inspiration can be hard to come by. Do you find it, or does it find you? My “search” for inspiration is often pretty fruitless. It seems, more often than not, that it finds me. Could it be the emotive orchestral score booming over a climactic scene in a film or television show? Maybe a painting or other image that I randomly come across? (Please be boats) Maybe a conversation with a friend over coffee plants the seed for some creative work to be done. A walk in the outdoors? I never really know until it happens. But when it does, I have to be ready to capture it. I have to jump right in and do whatever I can do to get the idea on tape, film, whathaveyou. I don’t want to lose the idea, but I do not mind getting lost in the idea.
I walk. I mean… I walk a whole lot. If my area were more pedestrian-friendly, I would walk everywhere. When I was in high school, I lived about two blocks from the school. I walked to and from every day. One day, as I was walking home with a large group of friends, I fell behind a bit. No big deal, really. Maybe I was tired from the Texas heat. I must have looked like hell was waging war inside or something. I was walking toward a man washing his car. I nodded as I got closer to him. He looked at me and motioned toward me.
“Excuse me. I don’t mean to stop you, but I wanted to ask you something.”
“Is thesomething bugging you?”
“No, sir. Not that I know of. Why do you ask?”
“Well, you just look like something may be wrong. You were walking with your head down and your hand over your face. I guess that seems to me to usually mean something’s wrong.”
“Oh… No, sir. It’s just hot and there was Sun and sweat burning my eyes.”
“Alright. You’re sure?”
“Ok, well do me a favor if you can. Even if there’s Sun in your eyes, or if there’s something wrong, face the world. Keep your eyes on what’s in front of you. Don’t give anyone the impression that something is wrong.”
I always thought that that was pretty good advice.
Growing up, I admired people who had qualities that I believed that I would like to have one day. This, I’m sure, is true of everyone. Maybe they owned a nice car or house. Maybe they got to travel to distant far off places. Maybe they were kind and generous with their time. They had the things and personality traits that I aspired to. It is a funny thing, admiration.
As a teenager, getting into relationships, admiration became a different beast entirely. I remember spending time with my first girlfriend. We were both fairly quiet people. I remember admiring her, but I don’t remember what I admired about her. Sure, she was pretty. She was nice to me too. That’s always a plus. But, there wasn’t substance there. Now that I think about it, admiration may have turned into infatuation without me realizing it. It was an interesting time. But if there aren’t things to aspire to, what is there?
Cut to a few years later and getting to work with one of my “hometown heroes.” I remember watching this guy play with his band. Great guitarist, great singer (looking back, nahhhh), was always cool to me. Had nothing but positive things to say to me and my small band of musical people. I admired that about him. He was very welcoming and willing to help out and talk. Of course, getting to know folks brings out other things. I lost the admiration and respect I had for that friendship for awhile.
These two little scenarios had me putting these people, whom I thought were the greatest, on a pedestal. It went from admiration to other things. Nowadays, I tend to get to know people a little better and find little things to admire. Little things like humility and kindness. Like the hypothetical person in the first paragraph up there. Folks that are generous with their time and stories. That’s the kind of thing I admire and still aspire to.
There are times I find myself going and going and going without any sort of direction. I could be moving in circles but, as long as I’m moving, that’s all that matters. Most times, I don’t even notice that I haven’t actually gone anywhere. My boat’s at sea, but there’s no wind in the sails.
This is me without a lack of motivation. No will to move forward, no goal to achieve in mind. I could be in this mode for weeks, months, perhaps even longer. Occasionally noticing and thinking, “What have I been doing?” I may have been working, but what have I been working toward? Then return to the drifting. “I’ll get there someday.” But, where is it that I am trying to go?
“Where do I want to go?” That is a good question. “What is it that I can do to get there?” Another good question. Asking myself these questions, I can feel a little hint of a breeze. I can see the sails ripple a bit. “Aha…This could take awhile, but it is a start.” Now to find a way to make things happen.
I spend a lot of time asking myself these questions. I enjoy the slight breeze, the sound of the air moving against the sail just to enough to give me some sense of hope. Then I find something else to distract myself with and the circle continues.
It doesn’t take much effort to start something. It is keeping at it that can be difficult. I’ve been reading a lot about productivity over the last few years. Most of the resources have been very good reads. They leave me thinking, “Hey, I can do that.” I try to take the information and implement it into my daily “routine.” Usually within a few days, maybe a week, I’ll miss a turn on the habit and try to get back on track. More often than not, it does not happen. I’ll tell myself, “Well, I missed it, but I don’t think that is will affect the process.” Over the next few days, the habit has been failed at and forgotten. Such is life, right?
Every once in awhile, though, things will stick a little better and it will be a long running habit. For instance, smoking was something of a vice for me for a good decade. Off and on, I would stop and not think about it. Maybe I just didn’t have the money to throw at cigarettes, maybe I was sick and just didn’t smoke for however long that lasted. I went 10 months without em, then started right back up. At that time, breaking that habit involved building other habits. I took up daily runs on the treadmill and started eating healthier. It wasn’t hard to stick with. I don’t even know what happened, but one day, I traded the healthier habits for the smoking. I don’t think it was even a conscious decision. It just kind of happened.
I’m going on 7 months without them this year. I thought about what was different about this time around. It occurred to me that I wasn’t calling it “quitting” this time. I was just referring to it as something I wasn’t doing. Maybe, subconsciously, using the term “quitting” is a bit more negative. Maybe my brain sees quitting as failing and since I failed at smoking, I started right back up again. (This seems odd, but my brain, as most are, is a strange beast) This time around, I just stopped, didn’t really call it much of anything. I just didn’t do it. It’s been nice so far, and I don’t intend to stop stopping smoking in the foreseeable future.