You Are Now Leaving Mind City. Please Don’t Come Again.

“I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.” – Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

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I have no recollection of the 750-mile drive from the heart of San Francisco to the outskirts of Phoenix.

I checked into a cheap motel. Everything I had been living with was packed into my rental car; I pulled a bag out of the trunk and took it upstairs. With no plan and a cloudy mind, I was confused as to what was supposed to happen next. I don’t know why the Valley of the Sun had to be the destination, but I needed clarity away from everything and everyone.

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All this time, I thought the higher calling I had been searching for was within the context of society, within the walls that people have collectively built. I always knew that I wanted to be “free,” to get away, to go down a unique path, but I saw so many obstacles within this fixed worldly framework that hindered me from opening my mind to any realistic possibilities. I am recently discovering that I can’t be free in the midst of this societal structure; no matter what I choose to do with my life, I will still be chained to the things that I despise, and I will remain lost, passionless, and cynical.

I am not a normally functioning member of society, nor do I want to be. I did not choose to enter into this mess, so why must I abide by these ridiculous rules? I have been looking for this otherworldly alternative, this spiritual mission that will finally leave me optimistic, enthusiastic, and fulfilled, yet I’m stuck on planet Earth.

I’m virtually nonexistent in the world as people know it; my occasional efforts to live by the human book are futile. My powerlessness and series of circumstances have left me disheartened over and over again. The universe is crumbling in my mind. Nothing is working, nor is it even close. A quarter-century of nothingness, and things are only getting worse. I’m in danger of wasting the rest of my life if I keep looking at it through the same lens.

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I spent a week on my own in the area. I drove the wild and unforgiving Apache Trail; the only things accompanying me during the four-hour road journey were dust and cacti. I hiked away from the city into the desert and up a mountain.

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Stress slowly started subsiding. The constant feeling that I’m doing things wrong dwindled for a brief moment, but it resumed before I could gain any clarity. Even though I was in the middle of nowhere by myself, I wasn’t free.

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When I was young, I was a dreamer. I was extremely intelligent and creative, and I knew I could do anything. I was told the same thing we’re all told: “You can do anything you set your mind to!” Things began going poorly when the reality of this statement started to sink in – as much as I wanted to believe it, it did not have a rational basis in society. I stopped following my dreams, my imagination died off, and a harsh skepticism developed.

I am finally, albeit slowly, beginning to see that the problem is not necessarily this society that I think I hate, it’s that I use societal terms to justify my existence. The walls – the feeling that something isn’t right, the claustrophobia, the anxiety – will only remain if I let them. I get discouraged when I am unable to escape even though my physical environment drastically changes, but it’s never going to be an escape as long as the environment in my mind is the same.

Do I enjoy being a transient gypsy nomad wanderer? I like some aspects of it, sure, and I certainly like being alone, yet I feel so trapped and confined even when I’m supposed to be completely free. I will always enjoy getting away, but I don’t need to make such long journeys to do so. I can get away even in my current location – it all has to do with my perspective. I don’t have to let society control me. I can be alone if I just stop thinking about what the world thinks. Rather than get away from a physical location, I need to get away from my previous mode of thinking.

Stifled creativity and vigor, dust yourself off and get ready to reappear; these restraints aren’t nearly as strong as I thought they were. It’s about time to exit this hell and work toward something I can call my own.

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“Serenity is when you get above all this, when it doesn’t matter what they think, say or want, but when you do as you are, and see God and Devil as one.” – Henry Miller, Henry Miller on Writing

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Removing the Quotes from “Family” and “Holiday”

I recently visited my sister and grandparents in Tampa, an extremely apprehensive feeling clouding my thoughts. Around Thanksgiving and Christmas every year, I have to fight back tears that I get because of an awareness of my family situation. Holidays used to be normal, at least as normal as they could be with a family like mine. But over the years, things changed for the worse, and the holidays are synonymous with isolation, sadness, and a longing for the past.

We used to celebrate Christmas at my grandparents’ on Christmas Eve after what seemed like the longest church service in the history of man. The night before the 24th, I would fool myself into thinking that, the earlier I fell asleep, the earlier the day would come. Of course, I would fixate on this tirelessly for 8 hours until, upon waking, I would realize I got about 30 minutes of sleep. Nonetheless, everyone could plainly see my anticipation and subsequent rapture; I would jump around like any other kid on this happy holiday with wonderful spirits and an eagerness to seize the day.

We would usually spend the next morning, Christmas morning, reading the relevant Bible passages, eating a good breakfast, and opening presents at my parents’ (mom and stepdad’s) house. Then my dad would pick me up Christmas evening and I would walk into my room at his house to find a large quantity of presents that I was always hoping would be more than the previous year (he wrapped everything, even packs of gum and Chapstick, to boost the number of presents, but he still got me a ton of things). I would then visit my cousins’ place one of the next few days, and sometimes we would visit my mom’s aunt and other family and friends.

This was the case for most of my childhood until high school, and although the family was never perfect, they got along enough to do the same thing every year without many problems. Then everything changed: besides people growing up or moving, which happens in all families, the hostilities increased to the point where Christmas as I knew it could no longer exist. I was used to spending Christmas with the same group of people in the same place on both my mom’s and dad’s side. Long story short, no one wanted to be in the same room anymore. I was the only one who talked to everyone, but it was now much harder. I would have to see each entity individually, on both sides of my family. Christmas got smaller and more depressing.

Now holidays are spent very casually, if they are spent at all. It’s like three or four people usually. My mom sometimes cries, and it has become hard for me to feign excitement because I share some of her pain. The few of us have gone out to eat at a casual restaurant a number of times in recent years. My dad is usually alone or with a girlfriend, and we usually just play some cards and eat food. I visit my grandparents and sister in Florida and enjoy seeing them, but it just isn’t the same anymore. We don’t really do much for it except share cards. It’s warm in Tampa so it doesn’t feel like winter. And there isn’t a Christmas tree or many packages anymore.

I guess this wouldn’t be as bad if I didn’t know what family feels like. But I do know that this group of people, in the past, has worked together to share warmth and happiness with each other and provide me with a sense of contentment. No one is perfect, but it is nice when everyone gets along and has a real actual holiday. The growing up part, where the young people grow old and are busier and don’t want many presents besides money or actual useful things, would be manageable if I knew the people around me had a sense of togetherness. I don’t feel like I can provide enough love and solidity by myself to cover for the nonexistent part of the family. Besides personally wanting to enjoy the holidays without having to deal with divided units, I want the people I am with to be individually happy. When I put myself in their shoes, it is impossible for me to believe they can be at ease when people they care about are not in their lives. I don’t know what that feels like, but everyone else in my family does.

I’m not trying to depress you. I’m not asking for sympathy because my holidays suck; I have some great friends who have made me feel like part of their family on numerous occasions. Really, I just feel that something must be missing from my family members’ lives, because I know it is missing from mine. I wish there was more I could do.

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I was walking along Sand Key Beach on a perfect day as my sister followed behind with her camera. The waves occasionally came up farther than I anticipated, and we both laughed when my rolled-up jeans would get soaked.

During this walk, I thought about our childhood. I thought about how much I missed my sister. I thought about the week in Tampa. We had a great chat and bonded for the first time in a while (I keep more to myself nowadays, plus we’re both busy and far away). I got to be around my nephew for an extended period of time. Holding little baby Jacob was a reminder of how important my sister is to me. I am a part of his life. I’m her brother. I’m his uncle. I haven’t seen my grandparents smile that much since I was young, and it makes me smile seeing how much love they give to the baby. My family might not work well, but this is family. A new start. The person I looked up to growing up is now a loving, happy mother. The man she is with makes her happy and is a wonderful father. I don’t get to see her as much as I would like, but I’ve never seen my sister this happy.

I guess I forgot what that feeling of family is like.

Who knows, maybe I will move to Tampa after I finish in Chicago. Maybe that’s what I have been looking for. Maybe spending more time around this part of my family is the solution to the holiday problems.

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There are plenty of things in life we all take for granted, but during this holiday season, please spend time taking in all the warmth and cheerfulness your family gives you. Even if someone gets on your nerves or asks you annoying questions about school, work, and growing up, realize that it is so much better having that person around than not. You probably haven’t seen some people in a long time; put away your phone, forget personal problems, and don’t worry about when you will get to leave. Spend time listening and talking and eating and smiling and hugging and laughing. I know I might sound like some 80-year old giving advice to his great-grandson, but this is all true. It’s so easy to forget how important these things are to you when they are, in some way or another, a regular part of your life. Even though mine haven’t been the greatest recently, I have hope for happier holidays ahead.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

“Me”

Hello there.  Here is some necessary information about myself.

I seem to be a mix of things:  Extremely lucky yet horribly unlucky. Moralistic and sometimes too nice yet borderline evil. Clever yet dumb. Gifted at everything yet not very good at anything. Careless yet safe. Mature yet a six-year old. I am more distant from the world around me than anyone has ever been able to put into words. I am not part of the world. I am an onlooker of myself and care about next to nothing, and the things I care about are forced. I have a much different awareness than the rest of you. I see things as someone sees a character in a movie and, for some reason, I do not have much control over the outcome even though I am me.  Basically, I do not know myself at all. I know myself through whatever I have heard from friends who have tried to get to know me. My family does not know me at all. I am past the point of being indecisive. I do not make decisions. I try to “make a list of the positives and negatives” like you normal people do, but the degree of positive and negative changes in a matter of minutes, or the positives become negatives, so I just   make “decisions” to force myself into feeling conviction about something later, but it never works. An example of that on a large scale is the college I “chose” to attend. I have yet to “decide on” a career, or any path whatsoever at this point.

That’s me in a nutshell. It would be an interesting nutshell to crack open, you might think. This is what I hope to do.

I have a passion for many different things but I cannot find one, at all, in the world, to start pursuing.

I read a lot. I tend to gravitate toward existential works, mainly in the form of fiction; I understand better indirectly (as opposed to philosophical existential texts) and in a story format with real-life scenarios and thoughts and musings and dialogues of characters I relate to. I love Dostoevsky. He thinks rationally and logically. Our minds are extremely similar, but he has a better way of expressing himself.

I’ve traveled a lot. Driving is the way to go, and I like getting away from the big cities and touristy things, but sometimes finding a niche in the big city is just as fulfilling as finding myself alone watching the sun hit the waves and the trees beautifully along the Pacific Coast. I often am more anxious than happy to see nature at its finest because I do not know what to do with it. How do I capture it? Sometimes fulfillment only comes from looking at pictures after the fact, but in the moment, I cannot seem to find it.

Sometimes I have insomnia, and sometimes I sleep like a baby. It is 4 am, so you can probably guess what I am not doing. My posts will lack much organization at all, much like my mind, so I don’t really care. It might even get annoying at times. The mind of someone with ADHD, obsessive anxiety, social anxiety, and God knows what other neuroses (my new doctor is testing me next week for manic depression / bipolar disorder) is not exactly the easiest to follow.

I am writing this blog in order to find out a little about myself and to get a little practice writing. When I was a child, I had many stories published, won awards, etc. I always wanted to be an author and a paleontologist. I hope writing this on a somewhat regular basis will help reignite the passion I used to have for writing and the ease with which I let my imagination flow, because I do not plan on digging for dinosaur bones anytime soon.

I’ll pass on putting thought into making this post flow, so the next paragraph, I have decided, will be a quick note before I go.

I care about the people who care about me a lot more than they think, deep down.  I hope anyone who reads that knows it. I hope to write again soon. Maybe when I am really low, or really high, or absurdly tired, or procrastinating. Or just when I am normal. I have little clue what the non-extremes are like, though, so don’t expect the neutral side of me. On that note, goodnight.