My Life Soundtrack

Another week, another foray into The 52 Lists Project. This time, I’m supposed to talk about the soundtrack of my life. I don’t know many songs off the top of my head so I’m just going to make up some song titles to describe my past year.

This past year went by fast, so there aren’t that many songs to this album. Each one spans roughly two months:

  1. Let’s Hangout
  2. Soul Searching
  3. Mayday
  4. Con-ection
  5. Panning for Gold
  6. Goodbye Forever

Albums and soundtracks are funny things. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to one where I enjoyed every single song. In 2019, I would have liked to skip tracks 3 and 6. Definitely crappy songs. Even though I didn’t like them, I still appreciated them. Those particular songs really helped balance out the year’s album and helped me learn more about gratitude and the beauty of life.

What songs would your album of 2019 have? I’d love to hear about them.

The Next Chapter

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

Goerge Bernard Shaw

I often wonder if I’ll ever find a group of people who have the same set of core beliefs, values, and thoughts that I do. My very own tribe. People that I can share all my thoughts with and in the end, be met with a smile, a nod, and a simple affirmation like “I understand.”

I also worry that if I’m lucky enough to find these unicorns, would they accept me as one of their own? Or would I have to pass some elaborate, tortuous hazing process first? Oh the anxiety!

I’m probably not alone in this endeavor. Maybe when you spend hours scrolling or posting on social media, you’re just looking for that spark. You’re looking for that connection and place in the universe that calls your name, and only yours. And it’s hard to find. This problem gets worse as we move towards a more liberated, diverse and uncensored world. All of a sudden, we realize that nobody is similar to us. Then we lambaste ourselves for wasting our precious time looking for this intimacy.

Frankly, it probably is a waste. I’m tired of searching. We should instead be deeply spending our time tempering and shaping ourselves into the someone we’d like to be. The someone we would be thrilled to meet and spend all our time with. If we can cultivate intimacy with ourselves and actively make our mark in this universe, we’re bound to attract the people we want to us.

What Makes Me Happy

“To forget oneself is to be happy.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

Another week, another list. This time, I’m supposed to come up with a list of things that make me happy. Honestly, this could be a never-ending list. Here’s a sampling:

  • Unearthing a cookie dough nugget with my spoon in a pint of ice cream
  • Stepping into a hot shower
  • Nodding off during an especially boring activity and drooling on myself

These are undoubtedly the simple joys in my life. But I also realize that other people give me a lot of joy and happiness. This includes seeing people:

  • getting married
  • enjoying food
  • achieving their goals

There are things in life to marvel at and to be happy about that require virtually no effort on our part. All we have to do is stop and smell the roses.

Favorite Characters

“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

Bruce Lee

The second list in The 52 Lists Project is listing out all the characters in books, shows, and movies that I like. At this moment, I’m having trouble with this task. And I think I know why.

In my youth, I never paid much attention to people. The things they talked about didn’t interest me. All the people I met were more or less the same. They were boring -especially the adults. They only wanted to know about me but didn’t share much about themselves.

I found my escape in books. Things were infinitely more exciting there. I could tag along in any whimsical world an author could dream up. However, I now realize that my nonchalance towards people translated over to my reading style. I always thought that adventures happened to people. But now I know this to be backwards. Adventures happen because of the people.

Talk about the amount of ingenuity authors need to have to put themselves in others shoes, and then write about it! The author I still think very fondly of is Roald Dahl. My favorite books of his:

  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • The BFG
  • The Witches
  • Matilda

These books all starred kids. What adventures did these kids create? Well, they were all good kids in shitty situations. However, they didn’t accept that. They fought and prevailed in making their lives better. I think we could all learn a little from them and start pushing for change. Maybe then we’ll find ourselves in adventures worth talking about!

2020

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard

One of my favorite movies in my youth was “Back to the Future.” It had crazy scientists, action, and love – exactly what every juvenile craves. The only thing I never liked about the movie was the title. I was always under the impression you had to travel forward into the future and looking back was always about the past.

If you’re struggling with the same paradox, fear not. The internet has the answer. It’s because Marty spends the majority of the movies in the 1950s, trying to return to his time period of the 1980s. Therefore, he wants to get “Back to the Future.”

But, maybe there’s more profound meaning to be had. What if we’re meant to live life with our backs to the future? That is, we figuratively walk backwards into each new day. Think about it. And, before you lampoon me for this dumb dad joke, hear me out.

It’s easy to live life looking forwards. We set our sights on what looks attractive and make our way there. We make goals and resolutions. Some get achieved and others get earmarked for the next year. Most of us carry on in this matter repeatedly without much success. Are some of us just doomed to fail while others primed to succeed?

Unlikely. The true cause is probably under utilization of our complex brains. We need to learn from our past mistakes and that of others in order for us to live a wonderful future. And, that can only be done by looking backwards.

“Blasphemy!” you might argue. “How can one live if they’re constantly thinking about the past?” And I would say, how can you live if you haven’t tended to the past? If there’s still monsters and ghosts chasing you? If there’s doors you haven’t closed and locked, and messes you haven’t cleaned? You can run, but the past will relentlessly chase you and inevitably catch you.

Besides, the future is unpredictable anyway. So, given that, I’m spending my New Year’s reflecting on what I need to leave in the past. Which doors I should close and which I should keep open. Because, if there’s one year we need to prepare for with hindsight in mind, it’s definitely 2020.

Balance

“To light a candle is to cast a shadow…”

Ursula K. Le Guin

Today was the first time in my life that I stepped foot into a 24 Hour Fitness for a yoga class. It was an 8:30 am class. This was also my first time taking a yoga class with my mom. The entire experience was bizarre. Here’s what happened.

I entered the room at around 8:25 am. The previous session, a meditation class taught by the same instructor, was still in progress. I found a nice spot near the rear of the room and rolled out my mat and put my Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel on top of it. It was at that point that I looked around the room.

In the middle of the room was a foldable camping chair with what looked to be an inflatable sleeping pad rolled out in front of it. A woman with a white cotton fishing hat was seated on it, chanting. Was this a camp retreat or a yoga practice?! This was highly unusual and my brain just couldn’t process it. Minutes later, a young man entered the room, set up shop to my right, and began karate chopping and kung fu kicking his way to enlightenment. Mind you, this was not what the teacher was instructing.

It was at that moment the 8:30 am class started. The teacher led us through some chanting and then a very spastic flow of tabletop, to downward facing dog, to upward facing dog, to child’s pose. After a few repetitions of this, we flipped onto our backs and did 1-minute of bicycle kicks. Then, over onto our stomachs for 1-minute of free-style kicking. The rest of the class involved continuously shishkabobing back and forth between stomach and back while doing “breath of fire” breathing. Then, we concluded with chanting. Karate kid was still doing his own thing.

Frankly, this class had none of the elements I love about yoga. The teacher didn’t set any intention for the practice, the students were all doing their own thing, and the transitions from one asana to another were abrupt. It was one of the worst yoga classes I’ve ever taken.

But did I truly hate it? No. Because in experiencing this class, I realized how blessed I am. I am grateful for my current practice and the studios that I attend. I’ve always been trying to find balance between effort and ease. And here I realized that a fulfilling life requires delicate balance between good and bad.

When we experience something negative, we disproportionately overemphasize its importance in our life. The stories we tell and gravitate towards are always that way. Love? You can bet there’s heartbreak. If it’s about friendship, there’s backstabbing involved. Work? Definitely those people that didn’t deserve to be promoted. Its as if we only lived for pain and suffering.

But what we often forget is that these experiences are necessary and that they help highlight the positives. You know what I’m talking about. The “you can’t have good without evil” mumbo jumbo. Each bad experience we have makes future experiences that much better.

I don’t know about you, but I’m firmly resolved to enjoy myself on this rollercoaster of life. You know the feeling. The anticipation, anxiety, and dread as you climb up towards the peak. Then the release, pleasure, and happiness as you plunge towards the bottom. It should be exactly like that. Never thinking about the previous plunge or climb – only the current one.

Remember, the lows are for us to really experience the highs – not the other way around.

Goals and Dreams

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Walt Disney

This year, two of my friends got me similar books. One of them got me The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration and the other one got me 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy. It’s ironic. But, I guess it’s a sign that I should start journaling.

I’ll kick off with Week 1 of the 52 Lists Project: goals and dreams for this coming year. They are as follows:

  • Finish yoga teacher training
  • Do a handstand
  • Make 5 new friends
  • Start my own business
  • Be in the best mental and physical shape of my life
  • Write my thoughts down in this blog
  • Find love

I’m making good progress on all of my goals. That last one though — that’s a dream. I have a dream to find love. But that’s the funny thing about life – we aren’t guaranteed anything. I can probably find somebody to love, but may never be able to find someone to love me back.

They usually say that goals can help you achieve your dreams. And, I can certainly see how that’s possible. If I work on myself, it’s inevitable that I’ll end up loving myself more. And, then hopefully, that’ll attract other people to love me. 🙂

Fevers and Heartbreak

“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it…”

Nicholas Sparks

I’ve been feeling extremely sick these days. I’m plagued with coughing, sneezing, and full body chills. These symptoms came out of nowhere and has made it difficult to get out of bed. In fact, I spent all day in bed today. It’s both painful to sleep and painful not to.

A fever is the body’s defense mechanism against infections. Treatment is generally not required and people recover just fine without medical intervention. Likewise, grief is the body’s defense against heartbreak and intervention probably isn’t required.

But let me tell you what I hate about both! Heartbreak and infections can both come out of nowhere and blindside you. And when it happens, you can’t get anything done. Forget about your normal routine and replace it with an extended bed stay. You can complain about it, but that doesn’t make its stay any shorter. You can also have friends and family comfort you. But they can only lift your spirits – not take away those deep pains and aches within your body. And, all you can do is wait for it to pass.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m just waiting now. Waiting for the fever to break and the heartbreak to heal.

Vulnerability

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”

José N. Harris

Over the past few days, I’ve shed a lot of tears. The main reason is obvious. Someone hurt me and I hurt them. Those situations are easy for me to understand. However, there are times when it’s not clear at all. Sometimes it’s a happy sight that signals my tear ducts. Or, just a regular ol’ song. No matter which way I turn, in this hypersensitive state, I’m fearful that I might spontaneously burst into tears.

These emotions of sadness are deeply rooted in shame. I’m ashamed that I did things the way I did them and that I had no power to influence the outcome. I’m also ashamed that I am so sad. Am I even worthy of loving or being loved?

It’s at this point that people attempt reassurance by saying “you did the best you could” and “it wasn’t meant to be”. But is that really true? Because I know there are things that I could have done better. I can even describe them! Pray tell – at what point do these thoughts denigrate from realistic, to optimistic, to lunacy?

But, that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is for me to demonstrate vulnerability. Here it is, my thoughts, out on the Internet for the world to see. For me to deeply and authentically experience these emotions and not try to numb them through activity and drugs.

I’m sorry. It’s a huge misunderstanding – and I can see how it’s my fault and not yours. I know I hurt you and I’m sorry. This is the worst mistake of my life. I hope one day you’ll be able to forgive me and find the person that deserves you. You are more than worthy and deserving of a wonderful relationship and future.

Because I know that by being vulnerable, I also open up the pathways towards joy and happiness. I want to fully love and experience life without having any hangups on whether or not what I do will work out. I don’t want to blame other people or myself.

At the end of the day, we all need to remind ourselves that we are enough. That we are worthy of loving and being loved. It takes vulnerability and courage to do that. And when we do that, my friends, it’s definitely worth being happy about.

Attachment

Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.

Arthur Schopenhauer

I figured that it’d be appropriate to start off my blog with a post about attachment since that has been on my mind for the past few months. Attachment is something that I have struggled with in the past and am to this day, at 34 years of age, still trying to figure out how to cope with it. Frankly, this post is mainly for me to consolidate and reflect on my thoughts but hopefully it’s helpful to you too.

Is it a problem?

Is attachment really a problem? It certainly seems to have its usefulness. Imagine a new born baby, unattached to their mother. Off they’d go, exploring the world on their own. They’d probably die in an instant. Eaten by a tiger, flattened by falling, or dead from hunger. In this case, attachment is necessary for safety and growth. Both the mother and baby are attached to each other.

But attachment is also certainly useless. It becomes problematic when it’s like the attachment I have. The type where I can’t let go of something even when it provides no more safety, growth, or positivity.

I’ve been really attached to a girl recently. I’m not sure whether it’s just to the thought of a wonderful future together or to the girl itself. It probably doesn’t matter. What does matter is that recently it became extremely clear that it wouldn’t work out between us. The fantasy of how well I wanted to treat her and all the fun times we could have together would never ever come true. Even now, I’m still in denial and am constantly telling myself that the timing just isn’t right and maybe there’s a possibility in the future. But I know I’m just setting myself up for failure. I can’t deal with loss very well.

Sadly, all I keep doing is replaying thoughts in my head. My brain micromanages every single interaction that led up to that loss — tweaking each parameter and envisioning a different virtual outcome. I think about what I could have done, and said. What I could have worn, how I could have talked, sat, and walked. What I can still do and say. I spend all my cycles on hyper-analyzing the past and future. So much so that in the present, I’m just an empty shell. All I want to do is panic, scream, hit things, and cry. But I know that’s not going to solve any issues. I’m also mad at myself for getting so attached. Surely there must be a way out?

What do I do?

The answer is obvious – just don’t be attached! But it’s hard to get there. Maybe if we started from the very beginning, we’d get some insight. The first question to be asked then is what causes attachment?

A friend told me that when you get attached to something, it’s a sign that you put in a lot of effort and that you cared. Some people get attached to their new jobs, their new cars, their new partners. Then when they lose it, their whole world feels like it’s crumbling. I understand that completely. These things represent all of the hard work and progress they put in. To have the physical embodiment of that disappear or get damaged is both heartbreaking and heartwrenching.

Given that, it seems logical to try to disassociate my self worth with the thing that I’m attached to. In this particular incident, I left with the overwhelming feeling that I will be forever alone and that I’m not a good person. I needed the girl to tell me that she wanted to be with me and that I am a good person and not a loser. And yet, when I think deeply about it, I don’t have a good reason why. There are family, friends, and strangers who care and love me just as I am. I don’t need this validation from her.

That’s it?

As simple as that sounds, I know it’ll take some time for my emotional self to catch up with my logical self. It’ll be a long healing process and I need to remind myself of the following:

  • there are times when attachment is okay. This type of healthy attachment will provide you the environment you need to grow and develop as a human.
  • feeling attached is normal. It probably means that you cared deeply for something or someone.
  • losing that something or someone isn’t a reflection of who you are or who you’ll be. Find examples to the contrary.
  • attachment is unhealthy when it turns into rumination.
  • detachment is a good learning experience.

Goodbye.

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