No Such Thing

When you really get to thinking about it, life seems impossible.

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Everything about reality feels surreal upon a more thorough analysis. How we’re even here to begin with. How we can think on the absurdity of our being here. How we can formulate our imperfect thoughts into words and put them into text.

There have been moments where questions like ‘why the hell is any of this here’ have left me in a place of existential angst and confusion, but after a good period of rest and persistent relaxed living I find myself only in a place of wonder over a question like that.

It’s a different perspective for me. Perhaps it’s a temporary one, but it’s certainly my current one. And I think wherever stress can be mitigated in life, that new approach should be embraced if the stress itself can no longer be sublimated.

I’m writing this shortly after waking up, so I’m in a place between awake and dreaming, which only compounds the surreal emotions I’m feeling. And I remember reading a long time ago that that was largely how Murakami went about writing most of his surreal feeling stories. He’d get up, half awake, sit as his desk, fade in and out of consciousness, and whenever he got the urge he’d put down something extra strange to the paper without holding back. Without worrying about making it perfect right then and there.

I love writing. But I often find myself combing back over things I’ve written and ripping them apart before they’ve ever been ready by anybody else. A tendency I’m sure most people who write have. Not necessarily an awful trait, but it becomes detrimental to productivity if it bleeds into a state of perfectionism.

Which calls to mind a personal favorite Murakami quote that has always stuck in my mind since first I read it.

“There is no such thing as perfect writing just as there is no such thing as perfect despair.”

There’s beauty in imperfection.

So Many Faces

There are so many simultaneous lives happening every moment.

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On a day’s commute you pass by countless other people. Sometimes hundreds in rapid succession driving. Every so often you catch a brief glimpse of another’s moment, so much conveyed instantaneously in just a look.

Some smiling, some yelling at their dashboards, some staring off at nothing in particular besides road and monotonous destination. Pedestrians walking the city, people sitting at benches, sitting on their front steps, people mingling at street corners, so many people. A story behind each of their lives. A story in the midst of their lives. And a moving epilogue of a life’s long tragicomedy written in every expressionless expression.

We can’t ever know the full extent that others are fighting their battles. And there’s some background sense that nobody but the individual and perhaps a Higher Power can understand each discrete and authentic existence in effect. But I’m in one of those moods where I wonder what it would be to experience each life as it occurs, simultaneously, that I could fully empathize with each. And better understand. And how it would be, if only we could all better understand each other.

And it calls to mind a Steinbeck quote that perfectly encapsulates what I’ve felt sporadically every day of passing countless strangers.

“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.”

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I wish I could see them all.

Loudest Silence

I find myself in something of a limbo.

Limbo

In between where I was, and where I want to be. And this has left me in a curious emotional state equal parts positive and troubled.

I feel an intermingling of tempered hope and unease at an uncertain future. I feel satisfaction that certain steps are being taken in my life. Steps that could bring me closer to where I really want to be, as I have a few literary agents currently taking my work into consideration. I feel closer now than I’ve ever felt to getting what I really want out of my life, but beyond this point what control I have diminishes. It’s out of my hands. And there’s anxiety in the waiting.

I’m learning to let go of what I can’t control. There’s distraction in work and hobbies, but in the end I’m finding distraction to not fully quench the fire of uncertainty. So I’m taking solitude where I should be taking solitude.

In writing things that add meaning to my life, and hopefully provide some type of meaning to the lives of others as well.

But there are moments where it feels like I’m sitting on the edge of an abyss, my feet dangling over a dark, and I’m whispering a story into a nothingness. Not another sound save for my own hoarse voice.

An Abyss

And then out of the dark, a whisper. An audible whisper. Something of a reply from the quiet.

And then a sudden return to that purest silence. Engulfing me once more.

And so I wonder.

Meditation

I believe in the healing properties of meditation.

Meditation

Too often I forget what kind of a net positive daily meditation is. It’s nice after a hectic work day to just sit still and simply be for a while without a need to will a change on the outside world.

Or allowing the cares of the outside world to effect negative change on your inner stability.

I’ve felt myself in something of a general malaise lately. And I believe it’s at least partly a consequence of work stress, persistent insomnia, and finding my creative time and energy crowded out by frequent outside obligations. “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity” as Kafka so eloquently put it, and I’m finding that painfully accurate. It drives me mad.

So I know I just need to take the time to reset and re-align my priorities, and get back to what makes me feel fulfillment in life. Meditation helps in that reset in clearing my mind.

There are more forms of meditation than I’m properly familiar with. And everybody has their own personal preference for what best helps them in clearing mental clutter. Some people go through guided meditations. Some people meditate in silence. Others like to just listen to background music with headphones while they sit still and clear their mind for some set period.

I’m usually that type of person. I like to listen to nature sounds and sit up straight as I focus on my breathing for a few minutes every so often. And I keep a spare sheet of paper to write down the thoughts which I just can’t get out of my head, so I can immediately return back to the clearing of my mind. And the songs I prefer most of the time for these moments don’t have any words in them.

But there are other times where I feel myself slip out of the cares of this world with songs I wouldn’t expect to help me meditate within a moment. Songs which just give me some ethereal sense of the background spiritual music of existence. And you feel a sense of belonging to a greater whole.

I don’t mind the words then.

In the end, it’s very healing to just listen to some soothing music and to simply be. Sometimes you just need to take the time to breathe.

Let your worries melt away.

Without Music

Music is like magic.

It makes little sense to me how a song can sometimes just hit me without my being able to properly justify why it makes me feel quite so. There are too many examples to count of that in music.

We hear the right song, we can’t get it out of our heads. We hear a certain song, it changes our mood. We hear another song, moods change again. Music can sway our emotions, can sway our thoughts. It can anchor our memories. Then at a later playing take captive those dormant, forgotten, back of your mind thoughts.

And make you remember some loose fragment of a time.

An uplifting song can get you through the down times. A sad one can remind you that you’re not the first to feel sadness, and ease the pain of going at the world alone. Upbeat songs can move crowds. National anthems can move nations.

And some songs just make you feel like you’re floating on air, and make you wonder at life. Those are my favorites. Songs that just make you sink out of the troubles of the moment and make you want to think on what it’s all about really. Why are we all here? What experiences are there waiting for us across the horizon? Is the world all probability and chance or is it perchance partly driven by fate? And in the end maybe even think on how there even is an “I” to think on these things in the first place.

And when I get into those types of moods, that stray thought from a 19th Century mind long since passed still lingers and rings as true now as it did when first it was spoken.

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Thinking On A Night Sky

Life is no mistake.

Peaky Blinders

Some shows just deserve way more recognition than they receive.

If you like raw nostalgia for the Roaring Twenties, then you’ll like Peaky Blinders.

It’s a show of constant turmoil, mixed allegiances, ruthless ambition, gang violence, and lots of alcohol. The main character Tommy Shelby (played by the brilliant Cillian Murphy) leads a gang known as the ‘Peaky Blinders’ as they seek sway and influence in a world where other gangs hold the real power. Ultimately it seems there’s no amount of money and control that satisfies Tommy’s lust for power, and the results may be catastrophic for those around him. It’s also at least partly based on an actual historical group from Birmingham known as the Peaky Blinders, so there’s that added dimension of knowing this type of ruthless gang violence was once a chilling reality. It all makes for a unique backdrop for a drama.

It’s certainly worth a watch if you’re ever bored on a Saturday afternoon and want to try out a new series. It’s not exactly the most family friendly show, and there are moments where you just want to cringe it’s so gruesome, but in the end it makes for a very entertaining and uniquely captivating experience. There’s dark humor along the way, and some especially impressive/hilarious performances from Tom Hardy in Season 2, so it’s not exclusively doom and gloom. My only real issue with my viewing of it is that whenever I stream a BBC series on Netflix it seems to be choppy, but that’s a knock on the streaming not on the series itself. The show itself is pretty much gold.

Season 3 doesn’t look like it’s going to be coming out until later in the year, but for those not yet caught up it’s worth a shot. Some shows take more chances than others, and I feel like they take a lot of chances with plot in Peaky Blinders. I found satisfaction in its unpredictability.

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I love when a show surprises me.

Haunting

David Bowie was primarily a music icon. But my fondest memory of David Bowie was a viewing of a movie of his years ago. We were all ready to watch a terrifying horror movie, and my friend said he had the scariest possible movie for us to watch. We expected it to be something horrifying, we’d just watched a pretty disturbing clip from another movie. He put on Netflix, started playing ‘Labyrinth,’ we watched for many tense moments waiting for a jump-scare. Then the scene cut to a bunch of puppet goblins. I couldn’t stop laughing, we realized it was just a trippy movie not a horror movie. And Bowie’s crazy goblin king ‘Jareth,’ it was such a different movie I couldn’t tell how I felt about it as a standalone piece but it was more different than other movies I’d ever seen. I don’t think I’ve watched something quite so unique since.

Bowie was used to being different. I’m a part of a younger generation, so I didn’t watch his transition from obscurity. I know it only from articles, heresay, and his music. I can’t fully comprehend just how much of a shift a figure like David Bowie was to an ever-watching and critical public. He was so strange as his Ziggy Stardust persona. Yet he somehow made being his unique sort of strange the ‘in’ thing. He made it in a way that few others could ever hope to replicate.

And now that he’s passed, there’s something especially haunting about his last video. And something haunting in general about art made by people who knew they were about to pass. People caught in a current of uncertainty about the coming void and existence and who chose to sublimate that potent emotion into something that would persist after they were gone.

Bowie’s recent music video of him frail and on a hospital bed, it reminded me a lot of Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song ‘Hurt.’

Works like that stick with me, these pieces from tortured music legends who know their time has come. They’ve seen so much of life, and experienced it all. And they’re uniquely capable to capture something of the beauty in the darkness while they wallow in it.

Death is inevitable, and everybody faces it in their own way. But Bowie’s still alive in his music and his legacy. Like he lives on even after death.

Just like Lazarus.

May we all live to affirm life as they did, before that unceasing void.

Time Won’t Stop Passing

I want a fulfilling life.

In pursuit of that dream, I craft goals, I pursue them, I throw myself far away from my comfort zone. I try to overreach so I can find myself becoming more than I was prior to the pursuit. And when life happens to take you into its indifferent current, having somebody who supports you and believes in you through the dark times of self-doubt is a blessing.

And now no matter how hard I try to cope, there’s emptiness where there used to be a presence. I strive to find the meaning in it, create my own, and still too much remains unanswered for me to feel fully at peace.

Too often reality can be a cruel experience.

Days, months, years pass, and there are sharp moments where it feels like just yesterday. I look inside myself, and no text seems to fit the hurt.

I wish I could find the perfect words.

I want to live.

Movement vs. Action

My life’s gained quite a bit of overall activity as of late, and in the midst of all this activity I’m reminded of an Ernest Hemingway quote that I’ve loved for a very long time, which is that we must “Never confuse movement with action.”

Hemingway was famous for having a very active lifestyle. He traveled all over the globe. He reported on the Spanish Civil War. He went on safari in Africa. He interacted with countless lives, had countless adventures, basically any words I write can only bring forth bland images of his vibrant life well-lived. I could only dream of living quite so active a life, but I’m sure some people out there will be blessed enough to live just as fully as Hemingway did.

I’ve done my best to stay in a state of doing in my life, I just try to stay moving as much as I can. But there are moments where I feel this strong impulse to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remind myself that anything I do should be for a productive purpose. That I shouldn’t just be doing things for the sake of doing things. For the sake of established habit. I should be taking actions for the sake of improving myself as an individual, and doing what I can to improve upon those actions to optimize their benefit.

But there are sudden moments where I find myself wondering if it’s all futility. If I’m just Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill, and that life is just a strange punishment for some original sin of existing. Some joke of a Higher Power on us all.

I’ve been in a state of constant happy movement, but I had a weird, sleepy, semi-objective look at my life today while I was waking up. A rampage of questions bombarded my groggy mind. Am I taking the steps I need to take with my life? Is this a place from which I can springboard into something more? Will things shift? I feel okay about the trajectory brought on by my life’s more recent actions, but in my more introspective moments, questions like that haunt me. I’m sure they haunt most of us, but maybe it’s just me. I hope it’s just me. I’d wish that type of sudden hesitation on no one.

I’m not advocating second-guessing every other step you take in life, nobody can live like that. He who hesitates plays a dangerous game. But I do think it’s best, in the midst of heightened movement in life, to occasionally take a step back and try to ask yourself hard questions about your actions. To see where you’re going to make sure you’re moving in a good direction.

But when you know you’re doing what you need to do in your life, and you’re taking productive actions that bring you forward, and that state of action brings you joy, there’s only one real option from that point onward.

Push harder every damn day.

Work Life Balance

I think we’re all torn on where to draw the line for ourselves between our working lives and the rest of our lives.

If you let it, some work can confine and consume you. It can suffocate your mind to a rigid mindstate where you don’t let your thoughts drift much outside of thoughts of work. It’s even worse when you don’t make as much money as you would like, or you don’t love what you do. Or you aren’t being paid to do what you love, which is writing for me. There’s a million different ways to look at it, work’s a topic we all have unique opinions on. We don’t always love our day jobs. But for those out there in the world who have found jobs they love, more power to you it’s a blessing.

I’ve found writing is phenomenal therapy. It helps you get into a different mode. Helps you get into a place where you feel a sense of freedom and greater control. If I remember correctly I think it was JK Rowling who said that it seems almost all writers write to get a greater sense of power and control over their lives, when the rest of the world tries to make them into a certain person, or force them into a mold, or just generally exert its will over them. And with that pressure comes a greater desire to write, that we may feel free.

I’m just running my mouth. Or running my mind right now, I don’t know what the parallel figure of speech would be for typing. I’m learning to find ways to enjoy what I do. Bits of it feel fulfilling. I’ll try to maintain positive momentum towards that perspective.

We are all constantly finding ourselves needing to adapt to our ever changing life circumstances. I’m just having another moment in my own life where I need to learn how to evolve.

Here’s to hoping we can all adjust our swings to the curveballs life throws.