I hate avocadoes. So when Brennan offered up a fresh slice I politely declined by saying “ew I hate those nasty things.” Later that evening Brennan transformed those avocadoes into a beautiful concoction called Brennan’s Homemade Guacamole. The dip tasted savory and fresh. Pairing this amazing creation with some Tostitos chips sent my taste buds into overdrive. I was having a religious experience as my tongue entered snack heaven. Another friend who saw me reject the disgusting avocado earlier was perplexed by this sight,
“I thought you didn’t like avocadoes?”
“I don’t. In fact, I hate them. A lot.”
“But you like guacamole?”
“Yeah I love guacamole.”
This interaction only confused her more. I tried to explain my reasoning, but it fell on deaf ears. In her mind avocadoes and guacamole were basically the same thing. This incident took place a few months ago. Today I can express the discrepancy. I comes down to inputs and outputs.
You can enjoy the output of something without liking the inputs. An avocado is an input for guacamole. Combine it with other ingredients (aka inputs) like garlic, tomatoes, onions, peppers, lime, and seasoning to produce guacamole (the output). This logical applies to other areas of life too:
- I enjoy being healthy (output), but I dislike working out (input)
- I hate drinking milk (input), but I live for ice cream (output)
- I like tomatoes (inputs), but I don’t use ketchup (output)
Don’t let the fact that avocadoes are terrible disgusting ew machines prevent you from enjoying some fresh made guacamole.
Until next time – Barry
My favorite quote this month is “when you play stupid games you win stupid prizes.” In my efforts to avoid confrontation I play these strange political games. I side step the issue, compromising my values and needs in an effort to keep the peace. People are not stupid. They sense the duplicitous nature of these moves. Eventually they come to resent the emotional shielding I’ve pushed them into. What does all this manipulating win me? Contempt. Over the years I realized that unspoken things sabotage relationships more than spoken ones. What are the unspoken things? Continue reading
These past few months have been rough. I suffered betrayal and paranoia. I grappled with a paralyzing fear of mortality while staring into uncertainty. I loved then loss spectacularly, over and over again. My car was totaled in a random accident (while parked). I almost lost the person closest to me. Some weeks it feel like all the forces of the universe conspire to see my end. Like some malevolent force enjoys watching me toil in despair. For a while all I could do was lay in bed and lick my wounds. My brain ran re-runs of all my greatest failure hits. I ruminated for hours on how I done things differently. Maybe if I wasn’t so trusting, maybe if I hadn’t been a coward, maybe if I listened to my gut? Darkness tainted my vision fully. It felt like this last defeat was my breaking point. But guess what? Continue reading
The biggest bummer for a writer is seeing a finished piece of writing that didn’t turn out quite as expected. It’s like drawing an elephant but the ears look wrong. You redraw the ears dozen of times with no major progress. Eventually you just accept your weird eared elephant and move on. An awkward bit of prose isn’t so easy to judge. Most people know what elephant ears are supposed to look like. You either hit the mark or you don’t. Only I know what my writing aspired too. The mirror of excellence exists in mind. While re-reading my writing I compare the outcome to my vague mental expectations. What a weird experience. Luckily, I am not a perfectionist, so I usually release my writing into the inter webs when done. A perfectionist’s mind must be torture. Everything they work must meet that elusive mental ideal before being released. Every sentence polished, proper grammar followed, all commas nestled just right to complete a pristine garden of linguistic excellence. In some ways I’m jealous of these perfectionist types. I admire the sheer persistence and effort it takes to eradicate all flaws from a created work.
Confession of the day: I procrastinated. Yes, yes no one in the history of the human race has ever procrastinated even once. I keep putting off writing about a specific story. My fears prevent me from starting though. Retelling a story means I live out the memory of it again. All the emotions of the event resuscitated in brain as I type away. If I was in a dark place during the story I risk returning to that dark place. On the flip side writing is my favorite form of therapy. Writing about pasts events gives me permission to let them go. Cathartic waves kick in the minute I step away from my keyboard. I guess that’s the main reason I still write. Self-healing. Maybe someone else will learn something too.
Until next time – Barry
I strongly oppose the idea of “changing the world.” When politicians, idealists, and leaders espouse this idea my brain conjures up grandiose images of people rescuing children in third world countries. To be clear, I am not opposed to people saving children or volunteering. In fact, more people should participate in these activities. What I am against is destructive idealism. Continue reading
My favorite type of writing is stream of conscious. Instead of plotting and planning I can let the unrefined words gracefully flow from my tips. There’s a nonresistant effort, it feels like my mind slowly fades into the page. Stream of conscious is really good for mining out ideas or just breaking the seal on writing. I find that if I stay away from blogging for too long it is hard for me to start up again. I feel this strange pressure and anxiety. I am more aware of what I am writing instead of actually writing. It’s a strange experience. ON my morning run earlier I thought about the idea of courage. What is courage? How does someone grab hold of this elusive trait? I want to claim it for myself. Much like the Lion from the wizard of Oz I believe that a smig of courage would solve all my problems. I also thought about my perception of time. It has changed dramatically. I feel more aware of time, more sensitive to the subtle change time can effect. 2019 is more than half way over. What did I do this year? How can I improve? What goals did I accomplish? What goals did I abandon?
Another idea I’ve been toying with is called the “restoration of identity.” In Atomic Habits James Clear talks about the importance of identity on habit formation. Basically, our habits stay in alignment with our identities. If I think of myself as healthy, I’m more prone to work out and eat salads. So, what if we have abandoned a certain identity? Does abandoning that identity inadvertently lead to us abandoning certain habits? Also, if we abandon an identity is it possible to reclaim this identity later on? I unknowingly gave up an identity that was beneficial for me to cure my generalized discomfort. Time and time again I find that whenever I listen to the advice of others without consulting my self I hurt myself. My entire life has been a battle against self-suppression. People constantly tell me who I am and what’s best for me. They think they know better, they don’t. The only person who knows who I am is me. Allowing others to smother me with expectations and obligation is the quickest road to misery. You would never tell a dog to become a cat. You would never shame the dog for barking instead of purring. You would never expect a dog climb a tree or play with yarn. Why do we expect this of other people? Why are we so determined to forcefully mold them into something they are not? A certain level of inbred arrogance tells us the world would be a better place if everyone was like us. The world would certainly be a much more comfortable place. Without the friction of diverging viewpoints we could probably avoid all conflicts. But the world would be decidedly more boring. The friction between two opposing ideas can often create a spark that leads to something more beautiful. Diversity in thoughts and opinions help germinate creativity. It is often the deviants with the desire to stand out that fascinate us. We don’t gawd and praise followers. In American culture rebels, visionaries, and radicals receive constant hero worship.
I’m going to end my rant with one last question: What inspires you to keep moving forward?
“Introversion is not a medical condition.”
When I heard this quote on the Jordan Harbinger show I paused. The truth of his words slapped me in the face. Before I started learning about charisma and social interactions I assumed only extroverts were good with people. For years I was a card-carrying introvert. Citizens be warned! If you invite me to a social gathering I will explode! Mother nature declared me an introvert, my fate forever sealed. Why fight destiny?
Experience showed me the error of my ways. Continue reading
When I turned 24 in February I decided to start a tradition. Every year on my birthday I would create a list of things to be grateful for. One item for each year I lived. Today I finally have the courage to seriously contemplate on gratitude. Here are my 24 things to be grateful for: Continue reading
The epicenter of change is a single moment. The first domino in a chain of intuitive realizations. For the briefest moment a rough mental image forms, a hazy outline of things to come. An intimate epiphany that soon diverts our path in a different direction.
What triggers this moment?
Maybe it comes as an act of defiance. We refuse to tolerate our circumstances any longer. We harden our resolve and strengthen our knuckles with bruises. Life will batter us no longer. If a fight is eminent then we attack first. We must prevail – no matter the cost.
Maybe it is a moment of pure grace. The universe hinting at our destiny, a higher calling. The cosmos demands that we rise to our potential. To use the gifts bestowed on us as the inheritors of the Earth. Everyone must play their role on the grand stage. Our time is now.
Maybe it can be explained as happenstance. We were simply at the right place at the right time. History owes itself to a perpetual series of lucky outcomes. Our insights a result of Lady Luck swinging the probabilities in our favor. A lucky role of the dice.
No matter the cause we can always seize the moment. Embrace it fully.
Because a moment of change does not equal a lifetime of change.
Relationships come in two main flavors; connection and attachment.
Healthy relationships forge connections. During a connection two unique individuals harmonize together and agree to coexist. Each person’s individuality remains intact as personal boundaries get negotiated and renegotiated. The couple operates in a spirit of mutualism. If necessary, the connection can be severed. The two parties depart with a sense of peace, knowing the end of the relationship was mutually beneficial. I am here because I want to be, not because I need to be.
Attachment seeks to enmesh two unique souls into one chaotic being. The lines of individualism slowly evaporate in the face of wish-washy boundaries. Over time the pair forms a symbiotic partnership – one person cannot exist without the other. Our eyes remain blind to the outside world, we can only see inside the relationship. If one person declares independence, the other is floored. How dare you try to abandon me! The ensuing clash leaves both parties disenchanted. If the bindings of the relationship are cut, neither person will be left with an identity.
Connection remains optional. We only continue if we both agree.
Attachment obligates loyalty. We exist together indefinitely.
“When I grow up I want to be exactly the same.”
I remember thinking this infrequently from ages 13 to 16. I already found everything in the world I loved. Videogames, anime, tech, and comic books. What else could possibly be out there? My devotion to sameness lasted until I moved out for college. Every week I ran into people in the dorms with vastly different ideas than mine. Some had never played videogames or read a single comic. How strange. Over time my exposure to all these new ideas slowly shaped me. After a semester my personality shifted greatly. After six years I left transformed into a character distinctly different from the one that entered. Without my conscious awareness I stopped valuing sameness. In fact, I became vehemently anti-same. My values shifted to focusing on continual growth and progression. I learned to adopt a Growth Mindset. Continue reading
Loud music filled the alcohol stenched house on Timber Cove. In the living room applauses and boos were shouted at the TV as the fiercely competitive game of Super Smash Bros: Ultimate slowly gained spectators. My roommate easily dominated our guests with King K. Rool, the game fell easily in his favor. Cool guys with hipster beards juuled in our backyard while a small clan of people ungracefully shot gunned cans of Busch Light near the garage. Pockets of conversation formed in the kitchen – the group speculated on whether the universe had a central point. Another day, another house party.
I snuck away to the second living room. The constant socializing drained me empty. Five minutes pasted before someone found me: Eliza Nathan. Continue reading
The list of potential feelings available to humans varies greatly the emotional spectrum. Every moment what particular emotion we experience shifts. Our circumstances could lead us into a abundantly overwhelm sense of joy or a crippling descent into dread. Given the choice we would all pick the golden emotion: happiness. In a society single mindedly drawn to this cause we pick many different paths to happiness. Materialism, Medication, Status, Education, Love, etcetera etcetera. Happiness is the only emotion that matters. Our founding fathers died so that we can “purse happiness”. The only thing we want to feel. It is the key to fixing all our problems.
But what if it isn’t? Continue reading
So much of writing is getting words down on the paper. When I can’t think of an idea I just let my fingers loose on the keyboard. I won’t lie, lately I’ve been depressed. Not in the cutesy “I feel sad” way. More in the lying down in bed for hours way. When you feel like gravity conspires to keep you still forever. Dealing with heartbreak with heartbreak is never easy. This time it felt different. My heart didn’t just break, I broke. So I temporarily retreated. I retreated from the world to lick my wounds and assess the damage. What’s distressing is the answer I found is not the one I wanted. Looking at my actions through the lens of an objective observer I returned to my dreaded weakness: codependency.
Codependency describes a person who is perpetually in a state of martyrdom. We lack boundaries, repress feelings and let others trample us emotionally. Some professionals have summarized this cluster of behaviors as “an addiction to controlling.” I categorize it as a pain in the ass. I first became aware of my codependent tendencies in 2016, after a woman I loved finally crossed a line I couldn’t ignore. In the midst of the maelstrom of rage and despair I was presented with the idea of being codependent. Naturally I resisted the label because it implied something was wrong with me. Even so I took my counselor’s advice and purchased a book titled Codependent No More. Something strange happened as I started reading this book. I began crying unexpectedly at the words on the page. The first-person accounts of other people’s codependent stories felt so relatable. These were my stories, expressed in others experience. I felt a spiritual connection to these people I would never know or meet. We struggled with the same things and felt crazy in our minds. In these pages I finally felt seen. By the time I reached the end of the book I felt confident I learned everything I needed to never be codependent again.
Except that isn’t what happened. For a while things changed then I found myself back in the same romantic patterns: use, abuse, the separation. How in the world could I been living out the exact same scenarios over and over again? The answer is because wrongly assumed I could just “deal” with codependency by reading one book. And while that book did shift my thinking, it wasn’t enough to alter a lifetime of dysfunctional behavior and thinking. Three years later I find myself staring codependency in the face once more. This time I will do things right. I reached a place where I can stare at my problem and face it. So in the last few weeks I looked at the darker side of my psyche. I reopened emotional wounds and relived past traumas. Even though it is scary as hell I kept going. For all this inner work I was rewarded with deeper insights into my behavior. I feel like I can finally address the root of problems instead of treating symptoms.
From what I’ve learned so far codependency has no definitive “one size fits all” solution. It’s a process of learning to generate a feeling of high self-worth, setting and enforcing personal boundaries, and releasing control over people and events. Descartes said “I think therefore I am.” Today I learned “I am therefore I am worthy.”
Remember: You are worthy – Barry
Airports exist in a state of controlled chaos. Frenzied travelers race against the clock to catch flights, babies cry uncontrollably for hours, and stressed professionals manically type away on shiny MacBook Pros. My neurotic brain doesn’t allow me to show up less than 2 hours earlier the departure time. Inevitably, this leads to me people watching while pretending to listen to music. Maybe one day I’ll feel ballsy enough to interrogate a random stranger about their life story. No one ever just ends up in an airport. A whole chain of events precedes arriving here. Maybe they are going on much needed vacation. Maybe they are escaping a vindictive lover. Maybe they needed to check up on the family business after a year of turmoil. My story was simple. The company paid for me to go a conference in West Palm Beach. I went to the conference. Now I’m going home.
“Economy class passengers in Sections 61 through 70 may now board.”
Finally an end to this prolonged boredom. My coworker Susie and I joined the boarding line. “So where do you wanna sit?” Susie inquired as progressed closer to the plane entrance. I loved that Southwest gave you the freedom to pick. “Um I’m not sure, I’ll just go wherever.” We continued our forward march down the aisle of the plane. Susie turned toward me and whispered, “There’s no way I’m sitting next to the lady with the dog.”
Looking about five rows back I saw a petite 20 something year old blonde snuggled up with an adorable white Maltese puppy. I’ve always had a weakness for dogs….. and blondes.
“I think I just found my seat.” Continue reading