Friday, September 16, 2016

Being Comfortable & Normal

Saw this thing about how "normal" is getting dressed in clothes for work and driving to work in a car you don't own so you can work to pay for the clothes and car.

There's this theory I have that there are things everyone is meant to do and until we do them we spend our lives in that cycle inwardly suffering. It's different for everyone. So when people tell other people what they should and should not do with their lives... they should stop speaking and think about what they're saying.

Why should that person not do it? Because it isn't "normal"? Somewhere at the gym I learned to get comfortable being uncomfortable and the sooner you do that the less miserable you are. Having a 300 pound dude on top of you trying to choke you sounds like the beginning of a Law & Order: SVU episode but it's actually quite helpful.

Jiu jitsu and kickboxing is changing me. I've learned that because you're uncomfortable does not mean you're dying, you're actually, aside from the discomfort, mostly fine and may even have the physical and mental power to improve the situation. Even if you pass out, you'll come around. I've seen it. Even if you get punched in the diaphram and drop to the floor because your body involuntarily momentarily shuts down, you'll be fine in a minute and better prepared for the next time that punch hits you.

It's amazing that I was raised to think that the goal is a comfortable life. I've had to spend years unlearning this. The question is not, "How do I make my situation more comfortable?" Because the goal is not comfort.

Comfort will kill you. It feeds on the mind and preys on the body. It weakens you.

Discomfort will keep you alive. It triggers survival mode. It makes you appreciate the rare moments of comfort and stability. It creates a gratitude mindset. One of my favorite TED Talks is by a monk on gratitude and happiness. TED talks and NPR TED Radio Hour is one of the greatest things that has ever happened on the internet.

We as a society have gotten into thinking normal and comfortable are tied to the American dream, and even if you're not American, that's still the ideal.

[Side note: The only way I could be more white-girl in this moment is if I had a PSL (pumpkin spice latte). I'm wearing yoga pants, eating home-made kale chips, blogging about life on a Macbook.]

My life is super comfortable and normal most of the time. I go to work, go to the gym, walk the dog- I'm fucking domesticated. It took me a long time to be OK being domesticated.

But being normal and comfortable doesn't teach you anything. You don't learn or grow or appreciate life as much.

When your coach decides to give detailed instructions while your 225 pound teammate is sitting directly on your rib cage and you realize there's no more way to breath, you just stay quiet and pray to God Joey doesn't ask any questions. You generally learn more by getting punched in the face than punching someone else in the face. You change when you encounter troubles and learn more in the midst of discomfort than comfort.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Failure & Success

All of the photographs I have of Africa are in thin black boxes named after Jungle Book characters, likely forever lost to technology because hard drives wear out. Even the back-ups.

At what point does it become unacceptable to start over, or rather, is it a bad thing to start over too many times... so that you never actually get anywhere at all?

Because that's what being twenty-seven has become. A ream of start-overs and self-inflicted purgatory.

For example, the house had so many nicks holes in the walls you'd think someone came through with a pellet gun. I spackled the walls a couple months ago but with Ellen away in New Zealand I glanced at the walls and decided to begin tonight. There's never a time like the present to make use of post-sparring endorphins.

That's how you start anything. To begin, begin. As Wordsworth said. One of the most defeating mistakes we can make is to assume that because we have never done it before we cannot do it- it's too late, we're not in the right place of mind, athleticism, what have you. Or, worse, that we are afraid of it and should not attempt it.

Failure is the worst. Tonight Coach swept me three times in three minutes with the same sweep set-up. A few rounds later my take-down handicapped friend Malik took me down at least five times in a five minute round which was humbling. Hitting the ground, I mean there's nothing lower. Someone bests you, you give it up, and are down.

Failure is paralyzing and messes your breathing up. It leaves you on your back wondering if you did something wrong to get there and if it is worth getting back up and you can learn from it or you'll just get flattened again. Did I say failure? I meant take-downs.

Failure is different for everyone which causes a myriad of problems and consternation among people because...we have different ideas of success.

Is success always being the one to take someone down or is it getting back up and learning? Obviously, there are times when you need to be the motherfucker taking someone down. In order to be that person, you need to have been taken down yourself. Probably a lot. You need to understand the mechanics. To know what it feels like to hit the floor and have the breath in your lungs yanked out like you're in a fucking vacuum and can't breath. They say you learn more by losing than winning. Which is true. It means you're up against someone stronger, or worse, your own mind which is the hardest battle.

Where we all go wrong is when we use our own definition of failure to define another person's decisions.

My dad considers a lot of things failures that I don't. He considers not having a lot of money saved (to take care of one's self and family, which is inherently good...) a failure. I on the other hand consider having a lot of money and no relationships a failure. Surely someday we'll reclaim the DMZ between us.

It comes down to what is important in life and what we will value much later in life. I've been over-thinking a lot more than usual lately and have realized I still don't want in on what's being sold. I just think there's more is all.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Wouldn't it Be Nice

When I was little and heard you had to pick something to do as an old person for a long time, I wanted to be a veterinarian. You could be with animals all the time, help them when they're sick, and get paid. No brainer. Then eleven hit and around there and our family dog was put to sleep and someone mentioned that was a veterinarian's job too and I was done with that dream.

I can't remember what I changed my mind to, if anything. A couple of years later I remember sitting in a small counselor's office filling out some personality forms because I was depressed. There was a fan in the corner and the carpet was old and pale blue. This form asked if the possibility of being an FBI agent appealed to me and I blacked out the "strongly agree"bubble. The questionnaire was recorded and the results printed in relation to everyone else who had taken the test, presumably in that office since it amount to around 1,000 people. There were a few bubbles in the far left to the low risk, 90% in the middle somewhere, and three dots to the far right near the end of the chart. I was third. Somehow a depressed teenage girl who was petrified of rollercoasters and mice had scored third highest ever. This made me wonder, "Who are these other people in the middle?"

Here I sit, fourteen years later at 27, and I haven't come up with anything after being a veterinarian. I ride motorcycles and train kickboxing/jiu jitsu/MMA. I was the first in my family to travel anywhere and to the same Christmas dinner don camouflage pants and a velvet dress with a lace collar.

I'd be nice to:
Travel, but not alone, because it's a lonely life to wander without someone else's plate to eat off of.
Fall in love, but not with just anyone, with someone I can tolerate.
Run a business, but not just for money, because that can shorten your life.

Does it take a traumatic accident or event to act as a catalyst in one's life towards deciding what path to choose?
How the fuck do people know what they want to do?
Do they not question everything?

My dad and I sat down to talk about some business ideas and how I don't know what to do with my life right now. I ended up holding my own against my own emotions and did not full on cry. I said I sometimes wish I was different. That I didn't question everything and was an idiot or happy to be a pretty face and do the American Dream and be "normal".

It's never easy to be different. It's not easy to constantly ask why things are done and how to do things. It's not easy to have some answers and not others. I can see why relationships fail, people don't get promoted at work, and why I don't have much money in the bank.

It's like watching your weight. Yeah, I watch it. It goes up, sometimes it goes down, that's watching it.
Or being on a diet. Yeah, I'm on a diet. I eat this and that but not that- that's my diet.

I understand cause and effect which is why I am struggling. I understand people choose a certain path and it can lead them to financial success and emotional and relational bankruptcy because I've met people and read up on it (On Death and Dying, by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross). I understand that coming to the end of life and realizing one's miscalculations on the value of where they spent their time can leave a person broken and full of regret. At the end of their life they always wish they'd spent more time with loved ones, cared for others, and taken more risks.

I love things that don't make any money. Riding my motorcycle and being at the gym. Sunshine all the time dries the earth out and things cease to grow.

“We bring a deeper commitment to our happiness when we fully understand, that our time left is limited and we really need to make it count.”
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross