Coming back into the rhythm of things

Man, I’ve had one hell of an absence. Not in the sense that I’ve been gone a long while, but in the sense that I’ve had a lot of interesting things happen while I was gone!

But before I get into all of the interesting things I plan on reflecting on, I’m going to write this entry on how I’ve missed this journal. I like my time spent just pouring my thoughts on here. My thoughts often run rampant in my mind, and with this journal, I can explore each one rather thoroughly. Not to mention the meditative benefits this gives me, with each thought explored, means that’s another thought that is processed and set aside. Lest, it’s something I need to come back to it in the future.

In either case, I want to make more of a conscious effort into writing, reading, and just plain thinking things through. I’ll admit, that I’ve let my Xbox One get the better of my time, and most things have gone to the wayside.

But I’m going to change that. I’m going to start setting times to do things that I really want to do with my time, other than play video games, that is.

So this entry will be a short one, and the future ones will take a bit longer to write, because in the past what I would usually do is just keep writing until I’m finished. Which isn’t bad, except I would finish at like 1 or 2am. And if I want to have sufficient energy to tackle the day, I’m going to need sufficient rest as well.

So here’s to a start of sorts. One of many.

Good Friday

The season of Lent has ended this year and I never spent time trying to understand God’s love for us and it wasn’t until recently that I actually found a way to define it using a scenario that I can understand. And it goes a little something like this…

What I had to work with was basically the love of a parent towards their children or child in this case, and growing up, I’ve always had trouble trying to muddle through and interpret my own emotions with love being the most troublesome to me, but now I’m starting to get a grasp on what it is love can be.

On Good Friday, Christians observe the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus Christ. If one saw the movie the Passion of the Christ, or just any sort of Biblical version of the Crucifixion, one can see that it is as tortuous as it is symbolic. I’d imagine the Romans use it to deter any further insurrections from rebels, thieves, etc etc. But that’s only the start of why we observe this. Christ was always known for turning something that came across as a negative thing or event, and to completely turn it around as something good. “When your enemies strike you, love them instead.” “If you have two coats, give one to someone who has none.” Essentially, Christ is asking you to give of yourself, to change your very way of thinking/reacting and giving to Mercy and Love.

But that isn’t to say that Christ didn’t know what it was like to feel frustration and anger, He just simply chose to do good things, rather than lash out in said emotions. With that being said, Christ knew what lied ahead of Him when he went back to Jerusalem, the Son of Man knew. Let that sink in for a moment, you’re going to go to a city that you absolutely knew would be the location of your death. You knew that walking into this city is the equivalent of stepping towards the guillotine. No one else would’ve thought so, but you, and you alone, knew. And it’s usually at this point, where I’m often left wondering as to why and the extent of God and Christ’s love for us, but my recent revelation helped me complete this thought.

It is because Christ also knew that to do this would save us. To have in the palm of your hands: your own life or the salvation of generations to come. And even then, not everyone will want to be saved by you. To commit this ultimate sacrifice for everyone, even those who’ll reject your teachings, twist your words for the benefit of others, or just plain deny your very existence.

And what does Christ say to all of this? “Not even a question. I choose you.”

You can bring up every sin and deplorable act Mankind has ever done, and Christ would still go through with it. If nothing else, He’d probably still go through with it, even if it gave you (or me) the chance to redeem ourselves from said acts.

(To be honest, I already knew this train of thought, but it always remained a bit of mystery as to understanding the complete gravity of this sacrifice.)

To help me bring this to something I can personally understand, it’s like this:

My father loved his children, despite our shortcomings and flaws, he loved us from the very moment we were born. He’d work himself to his (quite literal) death just so that we were not in want, and gave us whatever he could. He did this, knowing we’d misbehave, we’d do bad in school, or talk back to him. Yet each day he woke up at the same time, over and over again, heading to that same job, over and over again, and driving the same 2-3 hours forward and back, over and over again, for our sake. For the sake of those he loved.

And if one man can do this for his family, I imagined Christ doing this for everyone in this world.

Going deeper than just our words and actions, our thoughts and secrets are not hidden from Him, and yet He still chose us over Himself. Like my father, Christ wouldn’t even hesitate to do what needed to be done for those He loved. I would even go so far as to say, His love for God and for us is what inspires His actions and ultimately, drove him to carry that cross to Golgotha. To look down at us from it, hanging by nothing more than his own flesh and faith, and say to His father, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Now, I’m certain that there are millions of people who’ve already understood this, whereas I’m just barely catching up, but that’s just me. In terms of Faith, and things like Love, I’ve always been the one dumbfounded.

Heh, I guess God got tired of waiting for me to understand on my own, so He gave me this. In either case, I feel joyful at this revelation. As hard as I try to understand God, Christ, and His wonders, I oftentimes need to just stop thinking about it, and take a good long look at what’s being presented to me.

So now, I have to try to be strong in my faith, so that I can give of myself for others, especially for the ones who’d never even think to do the same for me. Heh, because that’s what Christ would want, right?

Where the Warranty Expires…

I just recently turned 30 years old.

It’s strange having this very statement cause me to pause. I’m a man in the middle of my journey, and although I have some accomplishments on my belt, there is more still I wish to do. And now, as my niece puts it, “I’m no longer a kid. I’m an old man.”

I have noticed that my body is starting to hurt in places that hadn’t felt pain before, my infamous bottomless stomach is starting to get full, and my energy is starting to wane in certain times. I can definitely feel it… my body is getting older.

Yet mentally, I feel like my thought processes haven’t changed at all, save for some emotional maturing that was mentioned in previous entries. And I know that I’m still as fit as a fiddle.

So what is it that has changed? Why do I feel this “Age” in certain levels in my life and not in others?

I believe this question was answered by my Brother-in-Law. He told me days before my birthday, that when I hit 30, I hit the age “when the warranty expires.” I inquired as to what he meant, and he explained that I’m at the point where I can’t push myself as much as I used to. My body will not be able to hold like it once did, and if I do, I’ll regret it.

So now along with everything else, on my mental plate, I have to consider how my body can hold out to whatever I can dish it. But this isn’t something I’m too worried about. Quite honestly, I’m actually seeing this as a glass ceiling. What better way to test my limits then by knowing that I’m approaching them? As much as I’ll regret it, I’m curious, if nothing else.

I am 30 years old. Huh… What a strange statement. Time is such a funny thing.

Still. Now that I know that I’m a point in life where things are going to get interesting, then all I can say is, “Bring it on!” I’ve no fear of getting older and wiser, seeing how far this body of mine can be pushed and how much it will push back. All I can do is just embrace the changes that lie ahead.

 

Love is like having a Dog

A couple of weeks ago I had a coffee date with an attractive girl. We talked and the conversation flowed as well as it could and then we played ways. Several members of my family (mainly the females) asked me how did it go with her. And I gave my assessment of the young girl. Unfortunately, I didn’t really connect with her and although there’s nothing with the girl, I just couldn’t see her as a potential for me. One thing I did get out of it though, was an idea as to what kind of girl I’ll be looking for in a potential girlfriend.

A few days ago, I was having a phone conversation with my sister and it shifted over to relationships. As it turns out, my brother also went on a date and his assessment of his date was similar to mine, essentially we just didn’t click with our respective dates. But he is taking her out on another date. I was confused due to the fact that he also reported to not having any chemistry with his date, yet he’s planning on taking her out on a picnic.

You see, I knew walking away that my date and I didn’t click and that a relationship with her wouldn’t be possible. So there was no reason to have another date, this was just one and done. My sister knows how I think and reason (to an extent), and upon telling her this, she’s not surprised in the least. She even helped me try to understand why my brother would take his girl on another date. And then she explains it like this:

“To be in love with someone is like having a dog.”

(My sister always uses her own personal experiences as an example to explain.) Having a relationship is like having a dog. The dog provides a special connection and establishes a relationship with its owner. The dog (usually) doesn’t provide any special services or fulfills any vast need. It doesn’t work, provide financial assistance, or even that good of a conversational partner (depending on how one talks to their dog). But at the same time, you want to be around it, you love it when you spend time with it, even when you’re just sitting down not doing anything. I love our 2 dogs, I’ll take care of them and care for them, not out of any obligation but because I want to. They make me smile and laugh just by being who they are. Even when they do something bad like eat off of the table or go to the bathroom inside the house, I’ll be frustrated with them, but I’ll always forgive them.

My sister and her husband have a surprizingly similar bond. She’s very independent and yet she misses her husband terribly. She has a need for him just to be there. As much as he gets on her nerves, she still loves him and needs him to be there with her (her words). Even if they do nothing at all, she’s perfectly content with his mere presence.

This is very unusual in my eyes, most likely due to the fact that I share no such bond with anyone. And yet, here I am seeing it firsthand, a relationship that I would like to emulate.

Although I won’t contact the girl further, I have what kids now say, “Relationship goals”. I have an idea as to what I would like my future relationship to be with whoever becomes my significant other. It’s interesting, to have this thought. I honestly find this whole subject fascinating.

My thoughts on the Flu

Ahh, Influenza. One of the most common diseases out there. An ever-changing, microscopic virus that constantly plagues us, sometimes in large doses and communities, sometimes in individuals.

It’s fascinating when you think about it, a virus is nothing more than a vessel for a strand of DNA to be inserted into a cell, and for that same strand to fulfill two purposes: 1) Replication, and 2) Inflict whatever symptoms it contains into the host. That’s all it does, it doesn’t feast, it requires no form of energy, it’s arguable that it’s even alive, and yet, here I sit, a carrier of such a virus, that’s apparently potent enough to force me to stay in bed for a week.

My mind gets foggy and my energy is halved, the most miniscule of tasks require more energy to be completed. I can’t even scroll through facebook for too long without having to close my eyes for a moment, because it’s starting to make me dizzy.

What a fascinating, yet aggravating condition, I am in. If I sit perfectly still, watching Netflix, for hours on end, I’m fine, and yet, I stand for a moment and my internal warning signs go off, “Low Energy”, “Can’t Concentrate”, “Need to Sit”.

On the plus side, I’ve finished reading 1984, and Leaf by Niggle. So I’m getting some reading done, despite being bedridden. But my thoughts are often wondering how long am I to be inflicted with this? I suppose my desires to have things needed to be done are invalid when it comes to this, mainly because, I’m not doing myself any favors. If I push myself, I further my illness. If I stay still, I feel like I’m a burden and useless.

Bah. I know the logical solution is to stay still until I’m rid of this virus, but every other part of me wants to be productive, wants to move. Sigh… I guess I have to stay put, despite my personal feelings… Maybe I can get more reading done…

“I don’t care.”

There are many factors that separate me from the average individual. (Based on how often I hear about it from others) The way I walk, the way I talk, a sense of punctuality, reliability, the vibe that I’d prefer scotch, or to have a causal drink over partying. It’s interesting what information people can gather based solely on observing me. I had no idea I could reveal so much info subconsciously!

And at the current moment, I’m enjoying wonderful moments given to me by the common flu, I recall when I was at work, and something dawned on me. I had spent the previous 2 days bedridden and feeling unproductive in every sense, I even had my meals prepared for me. For some, this is a life of luxury, for me? This is agonizing.

I hate feeling like I’m a burden upon others, and granted, this is merely a sign of their love for me, and their willingness to display it by taking care of me. I hate this feeling of dependency, despite it being a rather big part of my life (I live with my family, my truck is a hand-me-down, I do rely on others on a daily basis, but this is different), I feel like if I’m capable of performing an action, then I shouldn’t have someone else do it for me. I can cook, despite my feeling slightly dizzy as I stand, yet my meals are prepared for me. It irks me.

And yet, Today I felt well enough to go to work, so I did. It was interesting, My energy was immediately down to a fraction, and I wanted to see how long I can last under my current condition, I lasted about 5 hours, before they sent me home, aware of my current illness. My reaction time was slow, my movements slow, my very thoughts and speech was sluggish, to say the least. I want to think I gave off the air that I was quiet today, but I think if one looked closely enough, they’d see that something was off. But that’s not what made the day interesting.

No, what made it interesting was something else entirely. You see, I care about my job, about the people around me, regardless of who they are. If someone was sick, I would show concern, if someone’s behavior was off, I’d take notice. Hell, if it was cold outside, I’d tell the people leaving to “Stay warm out there.” And I do this, because I genuinely care. I don’t expect anything remotely reciprocal, and in the long run, I know my extended efforts will go forgotten. No one is going to remember the guy who seemed like he listened for about a minute or so, and I don’t expect them to. It’d be ludicrous to, and it would make my efforts hollow if I did them expecting some kind of reward in return, that’s not the kind of man I am. I don’t do favors for others expecting a favor to be done for me. I’m not the Godfather.

But what made this day interesting was the fact that people were ‘surprized’ to see me. You see, no one noticed that I was sick and gone, they simply thought that I had a different schedule. They had only noticed that I wasn’t there, “Oh hey, I haven’t seen you in a while” But this was as casual as can be. I aim to be as punctual as possible, and always aim to arrive early, I often volunteer to be the last man on the clock to close shop. They expect that from me. And yet, I find myself surrounded by people who hadn’t “seen me in a while” I guess, I shouldn’t look too much into it, I was only gone for really 2 days. It wasn’t long enough to really take notice.

To be honest, it’d take me a week to realize when someone has left the job, but then again, I’d work a week straight a shift in which I would never see them. And I’d be the one saying, “You know, I haven’t seen ___ in a while.” I guess I shouldn’t take it too much to heart because I’m guilty of it too.

I took a gamble on my health to work, because I wanted to work, and because I wanted to feel useful again, but to be honest, they don’t need me. This organization can function as perfectly fine as if I was never there.

So I spoke to a coworker, saying that I feel a bit out of it, and she replied, “You should’ve taken that extra day off (today). I would’ve, I don’t care.” Her words left a echo in my mind. Not necessarily what she said, but the concept of it.

Why did I risk my health and went to work today, when I knew I wasn’t well?

What good would it have done?

Nothing special happened today, I didn’t have some philosophical conversation, nor gave wise words today, as a matter of fact, I didn’t talk very much today. So why did I risk my health?

Before you think I’m getting cynical and detached, let me tell you my train of thought.

The very first thing the heart does when it is full of oxygenated blood, ready to send it out to the rest of the body providing life, function and purpose is this: It sends it through the Coronary arteries. A branch off the aorta goes straight back into the heart itself, replenishing the heart because it too, needs that same oxygenated blood. The very thing the heart does when it is full of blood intended for the body is to take some of that blood is give it to itself. It takes care of itself first. Because if the heart doesn’t get that blood then it dies and then the rest of the system goes down, so not only does it want to take some blood for itself, it has to.

It has to take care of itself first, “I don’t care how much blood the rest of the body needs, I need this for myself.”

There’s no shame in taking care of yourself, as a matter of fact, that’s why airplane emergencies require you to put on the face mask on yourself first, rather than another, because if you don’t make it, then both of you will die. But if you get yours on first, then you can help others who still haven’t.

There will be many times in one’s life where you can dedicate every moment to someone outside of yourself, but that does not mean that there won’t be times when you need to dedicate this time only to yourself. Because how can you help or work, when you’re having difficulty doing the very actions that are required of you? If I’m sick, then I need to make sure that I’m 100%, otherwise, I can miss a vein when I stick someone, I can mislabel a product (which is very serious) and lose my job. All because I wanted to feel useful? No sir, this isn’t valid. I have sick days in the waiting, I can afford to not work.

I have to remember that although I’m planning on a life that’s dedicated to helping others, I cannot forget that sometimes the one who needs help is me. Sometimes, I am the one who needs saving, the one who needs to hear wise words.

I can’t be the hero all of the time.

Nor should I be. Because then that means that I have no faith in humanity, no faith that there are other genuinely good people out there. And I can’t believe that. I want to live in a world that houses good people, I know I’m not the only one. And I believe that this world is here and now.

This is a good world, full of good people. Heh, I don’t care how little, nor if I’m really the only one, because Ghandi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

A Hike that defined my Path

So I was at school the other day, ready to talk to my financial aid counselor about my Leave of Absence, unfortunately, I forgot that I needed an appointment first, so I had 3.5 hours before I had to get ready for work, so I remembered that there was a hiking trail not far from where I was at.

I love hiking. Whenever able, I love walking around the rock formations and my mind just expands and flows, my thoughts travel all across the mountainside as I get some clarity and peace. It’s almost equivalent to releasing doves from a cage, you see them fluttering and flapping their wings, and then, as if by instinct, they start to get their bearings and align themselves into a formation, they carry themselves on the wind and just soar. My thoughts do exactly the same thing, as I get higher and higher on the summit, my thoughts fly further and further away from me, leaving me with a peace as serene as the view I’m taking in.

But with this particular hike, I decided to record it for this journal.

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Starting off on this trail, I am met with these walls along the hillside. I always get a sense of perspective whenever really close to them, I like to be reminded of how small one really is compared to the vastness of the world. It’s humbling.

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It wasn’t long until I’m met with a fork in the road. One path leads upward, and the other straight, I went down the straight path before and I found that it doesn’t lead anywhere interesting or extravagant. I never went on the other path, not to mention, that I like high places, so I naturally went and took to higher path. As Robert Frost is always quoted, “When coming across a fork in the road… I take the road less travelled by, and that has made all of the difference in the world.”

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It gets pretty steep, and I notice that if I just simply look to my left, I’d be struck with a fantastic view. But I don’t. As a matter of fact, I don’t let myself even glance in that direction. I wasn’t done. I still had more to climb, more to do. If I had looked it’ll be premature and it’ll ruin the final view that waited for me at the end. I have to press on! The end will be much more better! I see this as a translation of not letting your ambition force you to celebrate early, to recognize that there is still work to be done and that the journey hasn’t ended.

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Naturally, the pathway becomes jagged and narrow. Any such individual who wishes to follow their path must be prepared to face difficulties of any kind.

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Now I’m almost at the top and I face another fork in the road, one greener and seems to aim directly towards the face of the mountain, the other barren. I thought about this one, for a few minutes. The greener road felt like taking a luxurious, non-resistant end to the path. I didn’t like the sound of it. I was never one for luxury, nor was I one who went out of the way to having his presence known by all. To take the Green path would be like showing off and demanding rewards for my efforts, I didn’t like the feeling it gave me.

So I took the barren path, and what I saw was awe-inspiring

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This is a panoramic shot of where I stood.

It blew me away.

This was exactly what I was looking for. This was my destination. Not to reach the top of some corporate ladder or have some really high office in a prestigious building. But to be in a position in society, where I’m able to reach out and touch and help someone regardless of their background or lifestyle. To truly reach my potential, I must be in a position where anyone who needed my help can have access to me.

I love this view. It was worth the climb. And when I looked to my side, the path continued.

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And sure enough, when I continued on my path, all I could see were green hills and a never ending path that kept going on and on. It was my future. This is where I see my path going. It is defined by this one hike. It’s not a straight path (nor would I want it to be), it bears its highs and lows, and can get wavy as it follows the curvature of the mountain. But that’s to be expected with Life. But I can feel it, This is where I’m meant to be.

So there you have it, ironically, this entire hike took just over an hour to climb, but from it, I got all that I needed to know about what lies ahead of me. It was a much needed respite.

I’m glad I did this.

And to add a bit of flavor to this, I saw an interesting sight off in the distance

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Ha ha ha! It was almost as if someone had planned it! a giant R on the opposing mountain. Granted, it’s probably for the city that mountain resides in, but seeing as to how I answer to Red, I took it for my own translation.