Incessant

I have been reading a book called 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson. It is an interesting book that shares some very well thought out paradigms on the way the world works and how we interact within it. As with most things, I have found I agree with much of what he is saying and disagree with some of it. It is always valuable to read with an open mind and see what we might learn. I definitely learned a lot from Peterson’s words.

One of the topics Peterson writes on is the universities uncanny ability to pile more and more on. The concept that it can always be worse and there is always shit ready and waiting to hit the fan. It is frustrating and overwhelming to accept that our lives are likely always going to have some unwanted challenge in them. However, the world we live in is always suffering, and thus we must find ways to work through, around, or with the ever-present pain.

There are a million different strategies that can be used to do this and each one is probably better for a unique individual with a unique challenge. It is not something one could put a bandaid on and say, “Here is the answer!” So today I am simply going to say the following:

Despite the ever-present pain, there is so much good! So much love, joy, peace, and comfort. Take every moment of the good you can get and be grateful for it. Maximize those moments, days, months and years. As Peterson titles his twelfth rule “Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.” –Take advantage of every second of goodness the universe gives you and hold on to those when the bad times come.

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Forward

I find the idea of pursing a better life fascinating. Discerning the way I want to live and what habits I need to form to create that lifestyle is something that is interesting and enjoyable for me. I think everyone does this in one way or another. It is why self-help books can be so incredibly successful. We seem always to strive for a better life, or at the very least we yearn for something better even if we are unable, in our current state, to pursue it.

However, this desire often comes with a bit of regret. We find ourselves motivated to change, start strong and then pitter off. After all, sustaining new habits and lifestyles is a lot of hard work. I often find myself getting frustrated, I feel as though I have made no progress and believe that I am simply treading water. Whenever I feel this way, I think about milk.

Milk was beverage of choice in my house growing up. It was not uncommon for us to drink three gallons a week. I was an advocate for milk for a long time, even into my early twenties. I just thought it was a great beverage, it was one of those pieces of identity that I thought would always be a part of me—I would always be a “milk drinker”.

Today, I haven’t had milk in well over a year. Not because I hate milk, have formed a lactose intolerance, or had a paradigm shift to the belief that milk is for kids (much like TRIX). It is simply because I have grown and changed, my habits and goals in life are different, and I am not the same person I was. It might be strange to use dairy consumption as metric of self growth, but when I look back on my progression and transition from a massive dairy advocate, I am reminded that change exists on a spectrum.

  • Change occurs over long periods of time, not overnight
  • Change occurs incrementally, sometimes it can seem microscopic
  • Change does not always look the way we expect it or want it to, but that does not make it bad

If you are feeling stuck, keep striving, it doesn’t need to be perfect, expected, planned, or quick. Working towards a goal of growth will lead you to new places. Just be willing to keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to drink a glass of milk… or not its completely up to  you.

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Friendship Further

I heard an NPR segment from the Hidden Brain the other day it is called, “Guys, We Have A Problem: How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men” I would highly recommend giving it a listen. Even if you are not terribly interested in traditional gender roles and the inherent societal norms that come along with them, it is a fascinating piece.

It speaks to the traditional male friendship in America. Something that I am sure many males have felt. Male relationships are expected to look a certain way, we don’t show emotion, don’t tell one another we love or care about each other, and our only interests should be concerned with watching sports, working out, playing video games, and talking about girls or fast cars. This is what I received as a template for male friendships.

This attitude towards friendships can be very isolating. It creates situations where men have no friends, and often leaves very shallow relationships with the friends they do have. The domino effect this can have on an individual was astounding. Loneliness is a predecessor to a plethora of physical and mental health issues. Having strong friendships can literally extend your life, and as a culture we are smothering the ability of young men to create, strengthen, and keep male friends.

As always, I have no solutions. I think the best thing we can do is be aware, have conversations, and be vulnerable. This means that as humans we can make a point of sharing how much we care with our male friends. I have done this often in the past two or three years. I am becoming less apprehensive about it, however it is still hard for me to share with other men that I love them. I can say it has been well received from every friend I have given the opportunity to. We should continue to work towards a more open model of male friendships and allow for a continually evolving definition of what it means to be masculine in today’s world.

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New Friends

Does anyone else find making new adult friends a really strange experience? It is so odd to me, as kids it is so normal to just meet another random human, and start setting up play dates with them. As an adult it feels like we are putting in a world of effort just to go buy a beer with another human and lets be honest, the beer is just so the whole experience feels less uncomfortable. There should be a less awkward way to do it…sadly it seems there is not.

I haven’t had a first date in years. I have been happily partnered with my current girlfriend for the past eight. However, since moving to a new state I have had multiple first dates with several friends. I am happy to report they were all successful and also sufficiently awkward. So far I have just been addressing the awkwardness and been like making new friends is weird. I find this disarms a lot of the discomfort with the discomfort. After all we are both there for the same reason and that is normal and ok.

I work with youth as the main part of my job. We spend days trying to disarm the instinct to avoid being vulnerable. I know how detrimental to building relationships keeping walls up can be and I still find myself avoiding taking the plunge of sharing something true and heartfelt with someone. A wise friend once told me that when making friends you have to assume that you will be the one who is vulnerable first. I have always found this to be true, although it does not make it any easier. I hope to keep practicing, to keep getting better at allowing myself to be vulnerable with people. It is the only way relationships grow.

So today I wish the best of luck to all who are growing relationships. Don’t be discouraged by the amount of time and effort they take! It should be well worth it in the end. If it is not, thats ok too. Sometimes we hit dead ends and have to reroute, however more often than not people are wanting and willing to care for one another, they just need the chance.

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Surrounding

I have recently moved from my home town, it has been a transition. Three weeks later and I am just now starting to feel like it is a place I can be happy living. I think this is pretty standard human moving experience. I suppose we are biologically wired to dislike change, it sets off our autonomic fight or flight responses. Time however, seems to cure this as our minds and bodies begin to recognize the areas in which we live, and we realize that we are safe.

Moving in made me realize the importance of surrounding myself with a few small comforting and familiar things. When everything else in my world seemed to be in a whirlwind of new and changing experiences, having a few familiarities alleviated so much of my confusion and fear. Small things like getting photos of family and loved ones in frames, getting my guitar hung on the wall, and putting our plants out. All of these little items made such a difference. I still smile when I see my guitar on the wall because it reminds me not only of my love for music, but all the memories of creating music with some of my closest friends.

I don’t often advocate for having physical belongings. I find minimizing what I own to make my life less stressful. However, I firmly believe possessions should be used as a way to add value to our lives to make them richer and fuller. If we can minimize what we have to only what adds value to our lives we will find that what surrounds us creates a much more pleasant place to be.

 

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Yea, yea, yea

Sometimes I feel as though I’ve heard it all before. I’ve listened to news stories day in and day out. I know people experience pain and suffering and I think, “wow. that really sucks” or “I’m so lucky to live where I do”.  However, I don’t often let it sink in. I wish I could, but it is partially being desensitized and partially not wanting to let the power of these stories sink in because once I start sharing their pain, I have no valid excuse to not help. Unfortunately, I can be lazy, selfish, and brutish at times so I avoid the humbling and humanizing experience of sharing in someones suffering.

Occasionally, I allow something to pass by the walls I’ve built, and allow myself to feel some of the pain and share in the discomfort of someone else (compassion can hit you like a brick sometimes). So I’m sharing this story here because it, like so many stories, it needs to continue to be told. There is untold suffering in this world. I think they are all equally in need of sharing, for now I’ll just share this and hope it allows for compassion, and inspiration. I’m going to try to stop thinking, “yea, yea, yea I’ve heard it all before”, let my guard down more often—it might just bring me a little closer to my humanity.

Parents Lose Their Daughter And Their Life Savings To Opioids

Take a listen, let your guard down.

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Holding My Breath

I feel constant pressure. Pressure to do something of value in my life. There are so many things I want to do, places I want to see, experiences I want to have. There is this side of me that longs for adventure, a side that wants to say screw it all and just live in a van in a beautiful place I want to live like the glamorized Instagram photos that evoke such wanderlust.

Then there is the other side. The side of me that says, if you do that you will truly never be able to travel, do something valuable live up to your potential. If you stick to your well-paying job, with its nice benefits you will have the opportunity to be financially secure, buy a house, retire. This side of me values the logistical long-term. It values living conservatively, believing the stories that I’ve inherited from my family. It’s painful to constantly let that side win. However, it is where I am at right now.

The reality is that my life falls somewhere in between the two extremes I feel I’m living. My job is good, I have trust from the people I work with to get my job done. It pays well and there are some parts I enjoy. I have the opportunity to take long weekends and go travel…but I often don’t. My income is decent and I am likely able to save more than most of my peers are probably able to. So why can’t I find contentment? Why do I feel such tension inside?

So I’ll continue, for now, to hold my breath. To learn to lean into the unknown of my future and try to live fully in the present. Making the most out of every second that I have where I am. I know changes will come. They always do, and when they do, I’m lucky enough to be ready for them, to have supports in place. But let me be clear…It doesn’t feel easy, it feels really difficult, really frustrating, and really challenging. Oh, and don’t worry, I live with the guilt of knowing these are all first-world problems as well. If I had a glass, I’d raise it to patience and perseverance then finish it all in the hopes of feeling free of some of this tension.

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Want

Do you ever want something, only to find out it is not what you though it was? That can be a really painful awakening. I am often unsure about want. Is it a yearning for something that is actually going to be valuable for me? Is it somethings that will bring long term joy, or short term pleasure?

I have recently lost two opportunities that I really wanted. Both were jobs working in the outdoor recreation industry that I thought would be good fits for me. The first opportunity was lost because the job was not offered to me. The second was much more painful. It was a position at an organization I really valued and cared about. This opportunity I had to turn down. It was a faith based organization, and I do not subscribe to their particular paradigms of the world. As a result I had to turn down the position because of scrutiny over my own way of living. It is painful to keep hitting roadblocks, painful to feel rejected, and painful to feel unaccepted.

I turn to this song today to remind me of the things I truly want in life: the way I want to live, the way I want to speak, share, and love. Remember, no matter your faults, short-comings, pains, baggage, fear, past, or present—you are loved, wanted, and cared for.

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Failure #1

Today I’m learning to fail. A potential opportunity didn’t fall through. Although I don’t know the exact details of why, I do know it was partially because of me. I think there are few pieces to the puzzle of emotion I have to work though when I find myself having failed. The first is sadness, a confirmation of my own insecurities and deep-seated beliefs that I may not be good enough leaves me feeling sad. The second is frustration, this most likely stems from the selfish want to have things work out the way I had hoped they would. Lastly, I think there is some shame involved. Having to share with individuals that I was unsuccessful is always hard and even if they are trying to be supportive, it can sometimes just make it harder.

Learning to fail has to be one of the critical pieces to success. Without failure it is hard to learn, hard to empathize with others, impossible to know the feeling of achievement. I know that I’m not alone in my pain and frustration. I know that there is no true shame and that it is simply my insecurities staring back at me. I know the frustration will pass and more opportunities will come. I hope to continue to change my failure paradigm, by working towards viewing failure as an opportunity for growth instead of a dead-end.

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