Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why writing is an enigma?

The definition of a cliche is "a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse."
Rather than face fear or use the confidence that I know is inside this body and mind I rely on cliche to get me through my days and nights. I self-depricate to get to the puch line about me before others do. I'm corny, but tough and good-natured. I rock the grung look ten years after it was in. I use it to my advantage, seemingly not to care what people think about the ripped jeans and over-used collared golf shirts. I try to emit the persona that this look works for me, when in reality I'm not trying to rock a look or be retro. There the only clothes I have. All other things being equal, clothes shopping for myself has not been a priority in my life, eventhough I know most people who see me are judging me on how I look. It's a constant source of obvious ignoration in my life that I always fantasize about changing, but never do.
I encounter many different people every day between work, the commute and home. I judge all of them. Anyone who says they don't judge other people is a liar. I don't want to judge, I just do. "People in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks", right? I've never seen a glass house and if I did it might just be too tempting not to hurl a stone or two.
Neitchze talked about life as an illusion, or at least most of what we are faced with in life is an illusion. Religion, media, government, all illusion. These words I type need to be stripped naked and taken for what they are worth; nothing. My words are an illusion the moment they are transfered from my thoughts to this page. This piece of internet, a virtual reality. "Virtual" meaning not real.
A cliche. A cliche is nothing more than the easy way out. Cliches are part of the illusion of life. I do know that there are moments in life that are real. As real as slicing your finger to the bone with a box cutter when all you wanted was a screwdriver. As real as the ripples on a lake. As real as a child's concern when they learn what it means to die. The real moments aren't told to us by some supposed authority, we experience them. My only authority is my skin, my tongue, my ears, and my eyes. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I guess sometimes it does work.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

They call the Rising Sun.....

As a teacher I get to renew and reflect during the summer. This past week I went back to work. We didn't have students yet and the roads were relatively uncrowded so I decided to drive for most of the week instead of take the train. My path to work leads me away from the sunrise.
I would pick up my bagel and cup of coffee and head out. The radio was telling me about the Mets, the Yankees, the four alarm fire in a project in the Bronx, and the half hour wait on the Van Wyck. Staying in the lane is difficult when the caffiene hasn't kicked in yet and cars are flying past you so their riders can get to their job that they hate faster. I have precious little time to site see.
I glance in the rear view mirror as habbit, rather than courtesy. I see a glowing orange orb still married to the horizon wink at me. If I were to read all texts dedicated to the sun it would probably take me twenty lifetimes and then some. The sun gives life and takes it away on a daily basis. We are all connected to it, drawn to it, worship it in our owm way.
The sun reminds me of the begining and that nothing is permanent. We all look to prove our own strength, our own worth as compared to others around us. The insignificance of this is proven with one small glance at the sun.
It's mythical, constant, and unrelenting--like life. It brightens our spirits and burns our ground. Without it we die.
That one glance for me has stuck in my visual memory for some time now. I don't know why. All I could think about was the beauty of that moment, that glance. It makes me think of the beauty of my children, my wife, great works of art, verses from a certain song, or line from a poem. With all the harshness that infects this world there is beauty that balances it. I just wish I took advantage of that equilibrium more often.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Riding the Dragon

It took me reading Siddhartha three times and ten years to understand what Hesse meant by the concept of "there is no self." Because we experience we change, because we change we as people are not set in stone; there is no one definition of who we are as people . However, what I've learned about Buddhism is that it is like an onion, every concept has many layers. Reading the Dali Lama, he takes it a step further, or rather clarifies it by saying, yes there is a self, a foundation of who we are at the core, just like the core of the earth. But like the earth, the outer layer is constantly changing, moving, evolving in ways that are beyond our understanding.

Of course to come to this understanding Siddhartha had to go through a metamorphasis himself where he discovered suffering, basically the first step on the path to Nirvana; probably the most important one. I've been trying to think about my own suffering lately. It sounds easy, identifying your own suffering. Tonight I meditated on identifying my own suffering. I thought it would be easy and I could say to myself I suffer from A,B, and C, but again, the onion. I feel as though I only scratched the surface of my own suffering, not disappionting, but revealing and invigorating. When doing deep reflection the mind is unpredictable and takes you places you wouldn't expect to go.

The Dali Lama, in the Heart Sutra, talks about our suffering as empty, that we are all empty. Again the onion. We're not empty literally, or even in most of the figurative universe, but our suffering is empty (in my own interpretation). Our suffering holds this power over us that makes us angry, frustrated, depressed, and anxious. But, in most cases the suffering exists only in our mind and is a remnant of something that has happened in the past that still confuses and haunts us. How do you tell your suffering to leave? How do you free your mind from the suffering and start on the path to happiness?

Meditating, being on the path to end suffering and begin happiness is called Riding the Dragon. Its a curious phrase considering that Dragons evoke feelings of fear and death. But then I guess that alot of suffering comes from common fear and unlimately death. Confronting those fears and being able to control them is the key to conquering them, i.e. Riding the Dragon. Maybe thats where the phrase "Its not about the destination, but the journey" comes from. Enjoy the ride.

Friday, July 16, 2010

House Cleaning

The mental list in my head has nothing to do with spiritual well-being or mental wellness. It has to do with laundry, healing my foot, making lunch, and packing little school-bags. When my tasks are complete there's a mild satisfaction that I don't have to repeat the process for another 24 hours. My shallowness can rest easy.

But something lurks in the deep, dark, trenches of my mind. Sadness, depression, maybe something smaller than my mind's eye makes it out to be. I take my small issues and pump them full of hot air and bullshit that create's a Hindenburg scenario, destined to crash and burn. Why does my mind do this? Why do I wallow? Why do I let small things affect my happiness?

If I were able to step outside my body and magnify my life and get an outside perspective, what would I see? I might see on the surface a fairly good looking chap, with a decent sense and humor and a sprinkling, only a sprinkling, of confidence. If I watched myself a little longer I might see a very compassionate, caring, understanding and calm person with tendencies to be whiny, needy, and lack some self-confidence from time to time.

I can deal with all of that. I just have to stop the melodrama that put me in compromising moods. I guess its just a matter of being in a correct mental state to not react to people defensively or aggressively.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Trip

On my way to work the other day, as the sun was rising, I saw a twelve year old girl trip on a piece of concrete. Her momentum gave her precious little time to brace for the impact. Her knees and hands hit first, followed quickly by her forehead. It took her a few seconds to register what had happened. She rose to her knees, then stood assessing the damage. From my vantage point I could see the early morning sun reflecting off her wounds.
The first of her expressions to follow was that of shock and regret. The regret of not slowing down, or not leaving a little earlier, or not living in a place filled with concrete. The pain registered and was soon followed by a slow stream of silent tears, for there was no one to listen.
Blink and another painful memory in her life and an even quicker departure from my conscience fades into time. Mine just a reminder of the human experience, hers a notch on the post of a tortured existence that seems to have forgotten twelve year old girls in this neighborhood. Fairness is a word used by politicians and preachers, but not by too old boyfriends and step-parents. Life is about reality and not about mystical fantasies of "what ifs?"
A taste of concrete may be sweeter that the alternative. Never underestimate persepctive.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Life is fluid, a babbling brook that stops for nothing, neither great, nor small. This reality comforts me and scares me at the same time. I know that dangerous times will pass, but so will the great ones.

As the river turns and witnesses a new scene so I have changed and grown within that same curve. The serious has been forged dull in the experience of life and it is now easier to enjoy a child's smile and easier to comfort a scraped knee's tears.

I have wondered and assumed to the point of believing a paranoid reality, when the truth speaks in the witness of my senses, in the blink of a down-turned eye or a mellowed tone in a conversation.

I've lived the life of the "What if" and the "Maybe when", and have accomplished neither.

A friend from law school once told me a story of his trip to Vietnam. He explained to me the most spiritual experience of his journey. He told me that one day, he took a break from partying, smoked a joint and rented an inner-tube and just floated down a river lined with jungle trees and jungle sounds. He explained that it was the calmest experience of his life. His eyes revealed the truth in his words. There was no exaggeration or need to boast, there was just the reminiscence of tranquility, of maybe a once in a lifetime inner peacefulness. I'm not saying that I've achieved this, but I feel as though I've caught a glimmer of it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Catering to my fans

I've blogged about deep philosophocal issues, sadness and depression, inner turmoil and other various heart-string pulling topics. However, I've only received comments from Viagra, an investment banker who wants me to buy his product, and some Korean chap who I, unfortunately, cannot understand.

So what to say to my frequent flyers, hmmmm.

First to my Viagra friend. You are so consistent with your once a day comments I'm so hard up to view your daily quips. Sometimes your comments leave me in a state of excitement that lasts for more than four hours and I have to call my Doctor to get advice on how to calm down. I have to be careful though, every once in a while I get nauseous, blurred vision, and have fear of getting a stroke when I view your bits of wisdom. Anyways my dear friend, keep it cuming.

Next to my investment banker friend. I'm a teacher who just bought a house and have two little kids. If you're willing to take 2 pennies and a stick of gum as a down payment for an investment in your junk bonds, I'm in. I'm sure you're a brilliant money man, why would anyone think not when you're advertising on my most famous literary site. I'm sorry I haven't visited your url yet. I've come close so many times, but my lack of confidence prevents me from being in your cyber presence, please forgive my meakness.

Lastly, I'll miss you most of all Scarecrow, I mean my Korean chum. You are such a fucking mystery my life is sent into a tailspin when I try to understand your supposed brilliance comments. I just don't know where to start. Are you South Korean or North Korean? If you are North Korean, are you a hardliner inviting me to be a comrade in the Korean Workers Party? Or are you a political refugee requesting my covert assistance? So many questions, and no answers. Perhaps you're just trying to sell me some high end ginseng to go along with my Viagra and new high society investment banking persona.

The outpouring of love is just too overwhelming I think I might cry. I'm done, the computer is now sizzling and the buttons are now slippery, but I don't want to hide my true emotions anymore. This is a new me, a better me. I now lead a richer, fuller life, a life of purpose, now that I have you three in my life. Pleace keep it coming and don't be frightened of my new found love for you all. Have a wonderful evening. Peace.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Right life, wrong timing

I'm convinced that I'm living the life I'm supposed to but during the wrong time in history. I dream about a time either long ago and way ahead. A hard time, but a time where I've made a difference. I've been part of something hard and wonderful. I've battled and won, instead of wept and typed. The life I lead is hard; probably not in comparison to most throughout time. But I guess we're programmed to consider life hard for the mere fact that if it was easy we would go no further. If I had won a battle or slayed a dragon or if I ever conquer a moon beam then maybe I'll have some satisfaction.
Lonliness is but a state of mind. I'm kept company by demons and thoughts alike, the haunting of the past and the hopelessness of the future. Although I sometimes thrive on misfortune, I'd like to try and grow on sunshine. Sometimes I feel like every door I go through is a squeeze that forces the breath out of my lungs and the will out of my soul. For a long time I've run from my dark, but recently I've found it easier to accept it and understand it. Its part of me, just like the sunny side. But the dark side is the reality, its there, its tangible, but its not encompassing, it just is, just like the rest of me. I actually enjoy it, because it forces reflection on my inconsistences and insufficiencies, both of which I have run from for a long time. Whatever, its just a different part of the journey

check out my pics

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Black hole

You ever wonder what it would feel like to get sucked into a black hole? The pressure squeezing every ounce of your being. Life can be so easy sometimes; I catch the right train, the sun it out, the day is smooth and pleasant. Then there are some days where everything is just fucked up.

I wake up every morning to get ready for work at 3:45 a.m. Eat my breakfast, do my exercises and get ready for the day ahead. At around 3:52 this morning as I watched some random science show there was a break and the commercials started. I normally pay as little attention as everyone else to commercials, but one caught my eye. It was probably the shortest, strangest, and darkest commercial I've ever seen--it probably lasted around 3 seconds. The backdrop was very...hmmmm...religious...I want to say it looked like the inside of a church. There was no sound, only words "Life is not for everybody." That is all it read. It surprised me. It depressed me. It seemed very odd to me, almost a subliminal message to the losers that stay up all night watching the science channel; or get up early to do exercises. Who or what would run this message at such a bizarre time in such a bizarre place? What did it mean for me, if anything. It was a challenge that was saying "Give up, fuck it." Well fuck that.

I've felt my inner strength my whole life. Sometimes it felt strong and warm, like it could protect me from anything and would help me do anything. Sometimes, although I knew it was still there, it was just a glimmer of its true self, hiding, waiting, watching.

Whenever a conflict occurs in my life I have the tendency to play the victim; no matter if I'm right or wrong. I've been working hard on the flaw in my personality. I never learned another way to respond when I'm attacked. Playing the victim assumes that other people will have sympathy for you and try to make you feel better; no matter if you're right or wrong.

I approached the day tentatively, walking on egg shells to work. Work started off frantic; running around, making copies, typing, forever typing and cutting and pasting lines of my life into someone elses. I was talked to and then fucked with and then expected to make the performance of a lifetime. Instead I played the referee, not once, but twice. There was static in the air; I returned a pair of keys to a co-worker and I shocked him to the point where he jumped back and said "Ouch!!" There was a negative energy permeating through the walls. But why? Where was it coming from? What was out of balance? I don't know; but it was hanging in the air like a thick fog throughout my life today.

I usually have that extra sense, I can usually feel the day. Is there energy in the air, positive or negative? Is the day flat or full of life? Today I felt nothing, numb, with a hint of apathy and depression. I would usually let those feeling conquer me and seep into my soul, but I kept it at bay today. The strength is building in me, I can feel it.

I've tried to make sense of this written diarrhea that I just splattered on this page. I had to open the drain and let the crap drain out. I still can't feel the true essence of the moment, but it does feel much lighter, which is a good thing. I don't care if the day is going to be light or heavy, I just want to be able to feel it again, in my entirety, throughout my soul.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Running against the current

Eight years ago I was consumed on a warm, beautiful day in mid-August. I was consumed by pain. We lived on a circular block and I must have walked around it fifteen times trying to rid my body of the pain in my stomach. I felt as though I was poisoned, cursed, doomed to endure this suffering. With tears running down my face and sweat pouring down my back I sat down on the curb and just rocked back and forth for what seemed like hours.

I was taking the bar exam for the second time. I needed to pass it to keep my job. My hopes and dreams were riding on it. I was consumed. I was filled with an anxiety and depression that reached the very depths of my being. Although I was filled with this lethargic sludge, my heart and soul felt empty. I was at a very helpless place in my life.

I don't revisit this place very often, and I don't stay very long when I go there, but it does come and often without warning. It is not a sadness so much as a consumption of misery that is inescapable. It has no exit and no rug to hide under.

I recently took a trip back to this dismal sty only to find that I did have an exit, an escape. I can't explain this blissful exodus, only to say that maybe I've put some internal mechanisms in place to deal with such events; some unconscious survival techniques. I'd just like to thank evolution and mother nature for helping me to deal with myself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

my morning

sun explodes through brick
the hope of a new day tricks
the shimmer of a smile
that's been lost in denial
holds the expectation
without a proper explanation
of why it disappears
and is replaced by so many tears

the buzz of so many souls
who don't know their roles
trudge through life under the ever changing sky
with that melancholy despair look in their eye
its all about truth, lies, and survival
hope you all come to the revival

long strides, dark colors, dark faces
all fighting, working, moving to new places
without hope, without happiness, without peace
with anger, with fear, looking for a new lease
on life--this life, the one, the only
time erases both the true and the phony

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Next Steps

So if you're one of the many people that are not bound by the many material vices of the modern world, what's next? This is the question I was discussing with my wife as we were in the middle of a conversation about being better people. She immediately said "what about being more reflective, less angry, less stressed, happier, and being able to deal with stress better." I whole-heartily agreed with her at which point in time I promptly made a very non-reflective comment comparing our relationship with another couple's. She pointed out my error and I immediately saw my folly and realized where I was in my own fragile evolution--not there yet; but I don't know if that goal is ever reached, for anyone, in a thousand lifetimes--its all about the journey.

Life is a never ending mountain climb. As soon as you reach a plateau there is another, maybe larger rock to conquer. You know that if you stop moving, if you fail to attempt to climb that rock, the only other option is to descend. So when the external vices are under control it is then the goal to corral the internal vices that can have such a detrimental effect on other things, or people.

I guess its like anything else; if you're disciplined and consistent at controlling the negative thoughts and emotions, eventually they'll disappear. It sounds so easy in my head and looking at it on the computer screen. Its shifting the paradigm. The second part is thinking about where you want the thoughts to go. That is, if a specific situation makes you have a stressful reaction, where to you put that? If you're used to projecting your stress onto others what do you do with it? Usually a stressful situation in under your control to do something about, so it would seem logical to proceed with not projecting the negative feelings upon others and turning them inward, deal with them head-on and come up with a positive solution. This is a simple approach, and there have been many parallel philosophies that have discussed the same course of action.

But that's another dilemma, there is a clear starting point, the stress, and clear end goal, turning inward and making a potentially negative situation into a positive, but what about the middle? The journey? This is the hardest part, this is where the actual "work" is done. But its all just a state of mind, right? Believe it and you can do it, right? Again easier said than done. (sorry about the cliches, but they're true) Maybe, creating some type of emotional tracking system, where it is recorded what the stressful situation is, coming up with solutions to relieve it, following through on the solutions, and reaching the inward, positive goal is the correct course of action. I think this would be poignantly reflective and paradigm changing solution to the dilemma.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is competition the only spark for evolution?

The theory of fight or flight was first advanced by Walter Cannon, a famous psychologist in the 1920s. It was also called the "acute stress response". It basically puts words to the automatic human response to a stressful situation. This has been our history. This is who we are, how we react to stress, how we survive advance as a species. This is a very animal-like response to situations that we are forced to take action in.

As human we are animals, however, we have also been given the opportunity to use logic. The history of logic can be traced back to the great Ancient Civilizations of the past; Greece and Egypt. Logic relates to the mathematical concept of geometry, which has its origins in Ancient Egypt approximately 2,700 B.C. or roughly 5,000 years ago. When a numerical problem is presented and can be solved, it is done so with logic.

If we look at the grand scheme of things, we see that humans in their current state have been around for 6 million years. The logic was always there. It did not surface until around 5,000 years ago. That means that as humans, we've employed the use of logic, consciously, for 1/1200 of our recorded existence. By looking at it this way, we are still relatively new to the concept.

Why is logic important? It offers an alternative to the concept of this "acute stress response" symptom that has been embedded in our DNA through evolution. Instead of a fight or flight response, maybe there is an alternative. Maybe there is a way to logically think through stressful situations together, rather then possibly having a harmful, painful result. This, however, is not to discount the importance and value in the evolutionary survival technique of the fight or flight concept. Obviously, this evolutionary miracle has caused humans to survive and thrive throughout history.

So why use this strategy of logic in today's world? Simply because there is no need for fight or flight in certain situations when it used to be needed. For most of our existence as humans there was a grand need to survive, and only survive. Now (as I've posted previously) we have the ability as humans to do more than just survive; we've transitioned from the "need" to the "want." Of course, I'm writing from the perspective of the Western, non-poverty point of view. However, this relates because we have the resources, knowledge, and ability to help every society in the world do more than have the ability to survive.

Survival is based on "need." Need for water, food, shelter, and the competition for these things. Most of these "needs" are met without an unusual amount of effort in the Western world. Need to survive, in the past, often involved a competition for these things. Competition involves the fight or flight mechanism. Is the "need" great enough to have to fight for it? Or can it wait for another day/opportunity?

With the common competition for the "need" satisfied we've shifted this competition to the "want." The "want" of a better car, house, phone, or other luxury; things that are unneeded, except for that of shelter, however, in this case it is presumed that the person already has a shelter and just wants an upgrade. Do these "wants" have to be associated with the "acute stress response" mechanism that we needed in order to survive? No. We have, however, made no distinction.

Bear with me on my long and winding road here. The "wants" can included broad things like world peace, absolving hunger and poverty, seeking alternatives to conflicts that have in the past included violence, and narrow things like drug, alcohol, and substance abuse, gambling, stealing, or cheating on a spouse. This short list makes the picture clear.

Our "needs" were solved with being programmed with the "acute stress response". I also think that our "wants" have been programmed with the use of logic. All of the issues in the previous paragraph can and should be solved with logic, or at least logical thinking. We all know how to solve issues, so why haven't we? Because we're using the wrong schema. So how do we shift our response to these issues from the "acute stress response" to logic? By being conscious and reflective in the present when these situations arise.