Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rewriting Summer

Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.
-Oscar Wilde

Okay so the sun has been shining, the earth is warm, the air is humid and we should all be smiling. So... are you?

Last summer I had a blast with new friends I had made at Mohegan Sun. While things got a little hairy with my one friend (let's call her Eve), we still managed to go dancing all the time, party and have a great time.

However, when August rolled around, getting closer to September, there was trouble in paradise. The friends I had made started to hit a rough patch and through that time, it had devistated me. We were all fighting and clawing at each other's throats. How did things get so out of hand? Some of them went back to school and some of them came home on the weekends to work. Things mellowed out for a while, but it didn't really last.

Naturally, there was a falling out. To make a long story short, girls fight dirty. Why? Jealous, competition and greed get in the way really fast and I'm not that kind of a person who gets into it, I just get stuck in it. So the winter was rough without being friends with Eve because I missed her. That slowly shifted and we apologized to each other and moved on. Then it was my other friend I had to get rid of because she was getting so full of herself I thought her head may explode and we'd all die from the nuclear explosion. She had to go.

Now it's the cusp of summer where warm days are a lot closer together and hopefully the sun is warming up the ocean so we can go swimming. People are getting sunburned and didn't know they could and the drama... Yes, the drama has started back up again.

Eve graduated school and celebrated her 22nd birthday with a sour puss on her face. I had offered to help her by even telling her I'd take time off of work to spend the day with her. I was willing to help her with her problems. But she was distant and I before I knew it, the whistle had blown and the games had begun.

Here's where the lesson comes in. I didn't stay on the field. I realized where I was standing, said a few words to her to let her know I didn't want to play and I left.

Last year this would have been impossible! I cried about Eve and the mess that was around us all. Everything was foggy and I couldn't see who was throwing the ball around. But I can clearly see today that it is her. I tried to reason with her but her outrageous claims only hightened so I told her that I tried and that now I had to go.

Naturally she is furious and believes that I'm a terrible, fair-weather friend, who never cared but of course we all know different. If anyone cared, it was me. But I smiled to myself, not because she was miserable but, because I knew I found the hole in the boat and patched it before we all sunk. I can't help it if she jumped out. She refuses to be rescued, therefore, she's not my problem anymore and I feel pretty good about it.

I'm proud that I can remove myself from people when I have to but still be emotionally available to them if they need it. I think that's where this article taught me to put that all to rest.

The reason I stand by these articles is because without awareness of what's around you, how can you make educated decisions? I would've fallen back into that cycle of "don't be mad at me" and cried about it. Why should I let someone else make me cry and ruin my summer if they don't even care about me? I shouldn't.

So the moral of this story is, if someone is playing games with you, drop the ball and forfiet. There is no shame in dropping your weapon because an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

Are your eyes open?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why We Shouldn't Care, In Order to Care

"To change the world
Start with one step
However small
The first step is hardest of all

If you close your eyes
'Cause the house is on fire
And think you couldn't move,
Until the fire dies
The things you never did
Oh, cause you might die trying
You'd be as good as dead.

If you give, you begin to live
You begin, you get the world."
~dave matthews band

In reference to my last post, I was quite upset with the actions, reactions and lack of actions (for that matter) by my mother and brother. This family unit proves to be my greatest obstacle. When I presented this idea to The Teacher, Michael, he asked me why I cared.

Why did I care that my brother wants nothing to do with me and my mother thinks I'm a bad person? Hmm. I argued that they were my family and the rules are different. But are they? While those two do bring out an inner nastiness and a primitive anger in me, was I really this terrible person they seemed to believe I was?

I didn't think so. So really the rules are not different for them. Every person on this planet has an opinion of another so just because we were born together doesn't mean their opinions are right. Look at my grandmother, her views are terribly skewed.

When I use my time to sort out my social life, I never think to sort out my mother and brother. My reason for this is because I don't believe they will ever change. But that's just it, for the most part, people don't change! My mother and brother behaved exactly as I thought they would, so why was I shocked? Consistancy. People are creatures of habit.

But what does this have to do with my family thinking I royally suck at life? Well, everything. No matter what I do today, they will remember all the yesterday's and live in the cycle that I'm trying to break away from.

The difference is, when you start to become aware of your surroundings and the people in it, you fall out that consistancy. As a human being, I will fall back into some kind of consistant pattern but for right now, I feel like I'm in a state of transition. I'm in a limbo of sorts, teetering on the line of concious and unconcious awareness. Most of the actions of my friends are 90% dismissable today whereas all the yesterday's turned into a big deal. It was very hard to let things slide and I felt like everything had to be brought to their attention because they 'hurt my feelings carelessly'. This doesn't mean that I won't still bring matters to the surface but I will be able to present them in a less harmful way for both parties.

So as I'm learning this forgiveness, acceptence and pattern of human nature, I hadn't applied it to the people I actually LIVE with. Why not? These two people are just as faulted, (if not more), than the people I choose to have in my life (my friends). Their opinion on me should not matter because if it does not match the opinion I have of myself, then what good is it to me?

Do I think I am a good person? Do I know that I'm trying to change my views? My way of living? My approach to people? Yes, I know what goes through my head every day. I know how people outside my house react to me. Of course we have our differences but more often than not, these people are warm and kind to me. I have heard many things from people only proving the theory I have about myself.

I rock.

Unfortunately the goal is to not to ignore negative feedback about ourselves but instead, look it over and decide if it has standing or not. If you're being called a careless slob, don't just say "I am not!" Review the information (sometimes in the form of an insult). Are you a slob because you are careless? Or do you work two jobs, sometimes running double shifts with no dinner and come home exhausted? I think being a little messy is justified. If you're home all day and simply can't be bothered well then, think about that.

The bottom line is that even the good comments from people can be misleading. What you always need to look at is how you view yourself. If you have a bad view of yourself, why is that? Is it because someone else has a bad view of you? Do you think they have any argument to accuse you of whatever travesty?

Self improvement seems to just learning to ask before reacting. When something happens you are asking yourself why it happened and then why you feel you do, THEN you're supposed to react accordingly. Life is a series of questions to yourself. Are you asking enough questions? Are you asking the right ones?

I was in a bad situation the other day. Was I at fault? Partly, yes. I didn't ask myself to stop anticipating the destruction that hadn't even happened yet. Did I deserve the reaction I got from all the rest of the parties involved? Not really but it probably could have been avoided.

So no matter who is judging you today, they always say, "consider the source". Such easy words, such trying practice. So practice.

Because in dismissing the negative things people have to say about us (if we don't care what they say), in turn, we learn to care about the most important thing... ourselves.

And when we care about ourselves, we can care for the whole world.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

At the End of Violence

I feel as though I am yelling to the world and my voice is echoing off every wall, every tree and passing object, bouncing back in my face and deafening only myself. I'm telling them all I want peace! Begging for it over the loud roar of emotional gunfire. I'm in the middle of the war with a flower in my hand and no shoes. I'm fucked.

When my brothers big hands grabbed the fabric of my clothes and I felt myself tumble towards the desk in my dining room, a thousand thoughts raced through my mind. When I felt my body propel backwards and found myself face to face with the floor, the only thing keeping me from hitting it - Max's bicep around my neck, I felt a real fear.

As if it were poison, my own brother's rage seaped through his skin and stained my neck. He screamed at me and it was loud but all I remember now is a lull of confusion and the bewilderment in his eyes. Who was that person? What had finally become of him?

His veins were screaming beneath the surface and his nose flarred like a dog. He told me never to touch him again. He came at me as though I had put cigarettes out on his arms for years. Whose glasses was he wearing? What was he looking at when he told me never to hit him again? I'm so little next to him. I'm harmless.

Even his arms were red with anger.

I didn't understand any of it in that moment and I don't understand it a day later either. I became hysterical once he left. I had never seen that look on his face or that anger towards me and it scared me more than I ever thought my brother could or ever would.

My mother seemed furious at first, remembering her husbands face inside her own son, getting sick at the thought but was she scared of him to? I'm not sure of anything. When we talked the inncident out when we got home she seemed angry at me still. Because I am with her most, we fight a lot. I say and do a lot of things that remind her of her mother and it makes her resent me. Did she somehow feel I got what I deserved?

She made him come home from work at 9pm and talk about it. He entered with a annoyed look on his face, he laughed at me for being upset and at the end of a 40 minute circle argument, I stood at the doorway and my mother was mad... at me.

"Where are you going?" she wanted to know. "You're making this worse by stressing me out because you're leaving!"

I just looked at her angry face then I looked at him, smiling. Disgusting, the both of them. Their lives wildly out of control and me, just trying to pass through the cracks of their anger and getting wedged between them. I walked out.

I mourned my loss last night. I mourned the little scraps of faith I thought I had left for my mother and the traces of friendship I thought my brother had for me. He never had respect because he doesn't understand what respect is. And what was I expecting from them?

How long will I be punished for a past I'm trying to patch? How long will it be thrown in my face to remind me just how poorly I did things? Will I ever learn to be deaf to them?

Was it beyond reaching to hope they could just accept me? Even just my mother?

Heather said it was a test. But how can you go into battle, when you've only learned what kind of gun you're holding?

I wasn't ready.

Monday, May 19, 2008

On Understand the Material

As I've watched my friends and family alike going through some rough patches lately, I've felt sound in giving them advice. It feels as though if I am able to regirgitate the information I've learned from Michael then I must be understanding it. Of course this new ground I walk on is rocky and if the confusion were cutting my feet, well then I'd just have to ignore every scrape and scab because I'm still walking forward.

It reminds me of the beach (I go to). You get in the water and all the sludge, darkness and rocks are right at the shore. No one likes walking through that with bare feet to get to the sandbar but you know that once you pass crab corner and rock central there is soft clear sand waiting to be squished between your toes. And those big ass crabs are scarce but easier to spot should they pass by. In their place are small little hermit crabs scurrying over your toes and they are harmless. What an analogy to life!! I live by the beach, obviously...

Being there for my friends makes me feel better because it only proved that all the work I’m doing with Michael is starting to filter through and it shows that I'm grasping new concepts that I’m learning. Sigh with me, ahhh. I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I am so thankful to be there to emotionally guide them, when once they were the ones guiding me through. I feel like I'm able to be there for each them in ways I have never been before. I’m starting to appreciate the dynamic of my best friends a lot more. I truely care for them all and each person that gives part of their life to me, whether I've known them a month or a millenium, I honor and cherish their presence and what they've contributed to my knowledge of the world and it's people.

I would never downplay that. I wish some of them wouldn't either.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

To Train Patience

I was never able to finish pictures that I drew. I am an accomplished artist in my own eyes and the eyes of the people who receive pictures from me. I've shown work in only a few galleries. My art doesn't define me although so many people associate me with art automatically.

Normally it is my writing that gives me fill. The power I have in describing what I see and what I need. Fluid sentences and reader reactions stay with me longer than phrases accompanying my art like, "it looks so real". I know, that was the point. Writing is my challenge and whenever I master it and actually bring readers to tears, I breathe well. I like that my writing affects people. I like that I affect people.

However, every couple of months I get a calling back to the pad and I desire a sheet of clean, white paper. I appreciate the base of what I work on and with. Like a perfect human body before it is inked. A blank canvas can turn out to be so many things.

Pictures with no backgrounds. That defines me in a way I probably couldn't put into words but still, on the surface, it shows my inability to follow through. I create some of the most beautiful, vibrant images and these faces and characters are floating in space. I never have the patience to give them a landscape or a setting. I focus on people.

The other part about my art that frustrates me is the timing. Some days I can draw anything. Other days, nothing. When I can draw something, I want to see the finished product so bad but the amount of time it takes to create an incredibly life like drawing is tedious and feels like it can go on forever.

I am inspired these days. Inspired by the very thing I've studied for so long and misunderstood for longer... People.

As people are my focus and patience is my obstacle, I will give myself small lessons in patience and pushing through the frustrations of time constraint. I will draw a picture to move me... and to teach me.

Friday, May 16, 2008

On Finding Spiritual Grounds

We live to know a breath of life.

It's nine thirty and the ceiling fan is on low. The rain is slow but fat outside the screen sliding door. It's bouncing off the wooden deck and The Last Samari is sinking into the folds of my brain. Soaking up talk of honor and self disapline. Expecting respect and recognizing rain and it's affect to the mind.

Men of culture, destiny, duty and strength. People with different eyes and skin, both alike in dignity, both alike in heart.

"Do you believe a man can change his destiny?"
"I believe a man will do what he can until his destiny is revealed."
Last Samari

Channeling bravery and power through your pores, into your skin so that every cell of life is resilient. Retaining the peace to return to once the bravery is not needed. It's about appreciating and respecting human instincts, human interaction and the world in which human resides. A carfully woven web of connections and energy passing between the living and the non.

I interpret this system as religion within each other instead of the unknown air above our heads. Dedication to each surviving warrior that with stands nature against the human life. Respecting the short lived nature of our stay and treating each boned structure with skin and eyes as the temple it was built to be. They let themselves live within and throughout the bodies of themselves and each other. Relying on the power of the human spirit to shape the understanding of their own and their species.

Discipline. Belief. And the power to put them together within a unified cause. Fighting with passion for the roots of pride. Seemingly fearless faces lined together, staring down the weaknesses of jealousy, greed and deceit. The moral fiber of man out weighing the burden of injustice.

The Human Connection.
It's what I've called it.

The caring relations of our species and the desire to do what's right as a whole. Fighting for your honor, speaking against untruth, sacrifice for greater good.
What man gives everything for. What man dies for in the face of wrong doing.
The pampering the soul gives to the body for respecting the living, breathing vessel.

What a tremendously powerful belief system.

When 400 men get on their knees and bow their heads to one fallen soldier, that is humanity blossoming for one moment.

I lack an order of diplomacy to which I owe everyone if I am to find the respect I deserve.

"As for the Captain... I like to think he found the peace that so many seek and so few ever find."