miso soup

The waters are still muddy, clouds of dust simmer beneath the glittering surface. Miso soup. Scallion bits float and dance, tofu sinks to the bottom.

The sinking feeling, the heavy fall and light stretching. Stars that are distant and past, like memories – we only see the lights that make it through. New memories still await, new futures from here to Micronesia. 

Always on my mind, feels like it’s always … me again, 4 years old, no 6, with a backpack climbing mommy’s shoulders. She carries me, her youngest, heartbroken. Poor mom, and dad – alone, sleeping in as his 20’s waste away. Lethargy stunned him, a new country with a new language, different values. Was this the life he saw? Time will heal him. I know, or so I think. 

Old grudges remain. Now nudge me in that direction, pinball machine just don’t let me fall in between, through the cracks. 

Dear God, at least I never smoked crack. I never had the chance, never had a dance with the Heroine sticker. A light flickers, hope awakens in the inner peace and I glow. What do you know? It’s not who you know… but who knows you, that’s the one who will stay.

Remember the milk in the nursing bottle. Whole measured to the ounce with the strawberry nesquick. We get tucked in, air conditioned, some man’s idea, and a cartoon fix. I liked being a kid, and the world has been good to me. 

On kids – one day, I say. But God should have a plan, is there anything else worth striving for? This is a beautiful world for our younger, and I’m now learning to fight. So that’s going to be fun, I didn’t know I had this in me,

Who was I back before? I admire so much, I won’t lie. But what part of it was me? It feels nice to write again, despite the confusion. Today feels special already, and you know why. I’ll come find you finding your way to me. 

a break, for now

I won’t be sharing on happy person during the upcoming month. From July 12 until August 2, I will be on a mini-sabbatical. 

I will probably only use my phone to tell time, and as an alarm, since cellular service will be very limited. Due to that, I will be leaving my laptop, Nintendo Switch, and AirPods behind as well. I’ll carry noise-cancelling earbuds for times when I need quiet.

I’d really like this break to be restful, a time to reconnect with my thoughts, feelings, faith. I want to take time to journal when I am able to, and to read on my kindle.

I won’t have sugar to consume, and I will stick to my dietary needs. I planned to only bring the essential things, but that gets a little subjective at times. My body needs a rest from swimming, from basketball, from non-stop exercise, and so does my mind from screens, websites, and information overload. I will sleep as much as I possibly can, when I’m allowed.

This all could leave me refreshed. Being out in nature has always been a happy place for me.

the mind’s addict

Shel Silverstein writes poems for kids like me,
to tickle the brain, with a wait-what did he say?

that there’s different ways to see the world,
that those differences are all inside

of the mind’s addict, a user, abuser – 
a buser, I mean… 
the one who drive the bus!
from city street to city street,
and welcome all of us, 
who board, and swipe, and have places to go.

like work, with water coolers, whiteboards, and memopads
and co-workers, who come and go because turnover
and managers who tell you what and sometimes how
and want the urgent done yesterday, the important now.

but some just go down to the government’s office
to see if they could just get some help…
not help picking restaurants, 
for those are suggestion
and they mainly go find them on Yelp… 
but help like just help me please find me a place,
where I go to, and do things for work, 
or please give me money for food, 
or a place just to live… or a reason at least…

and some you see tired, and they’re headed back home, 
to their lonely abodes and their comfortable couch…
so they hop on the bus, and grab on the pole, 
and listen to tunes just to mellow them out.

oh back to ab users, abdominal users, 
the ones who go crunch with their tummies,
or drop on the floor, when meaning to thanks,
and prop on their forearm for minute-long planks.

The ab users have hardened their abs.
they use them so much, they have no more flabs.
flabs, flobs, flip, flops, 
bus comes – don’t stop.

the addict who waits, the addict appears, 
he wants to solve boredom
it’s brought him to tears. 

Oh boredom, please go, enough of you now. 
cause you and anxiety ruined the child.
ruined, ruined, ruined the child.
ruined, ruined, ruined the child.

Upside down – that’s how it all feels, 
but how do we make it feel right?

all i want for friday is sleep

Sleep is all I need. I found my comfortable spot on my mattress, and I can’t help but think of my cats, Meatball and Gnocchi, when I move to bury myself in a warmer, cozier place. 

I don’t love sleeping in. When the morning gets behind me, I start to make mistakes and I become indecisive. But when I do sleep in, when I plan for it, it is a welcome feeling in my life. That I can move slower, more deliberately, without stress. Even when I have lots to do, those extra hours make a difference. 

And I’ve been withdrawing lately. But not in a terrible way, I just prefer to have more time to myself. I am a thinker, and a planner, and that takes time. It also takes patience so that the picture becomes clearer. That’s why sleep is basically all I need. With a rested mind, there is no limit to what I can do. 

july intentions

Something needs to change… July intentions

It’s taken me a while, but this weekend I am going to set my intentions not only for July, but for the rest of 2021. There are certain things that I want to accomplish, especially while in home port, but I will not accomplish anything if I can’t focus and prioritize those ambitions. Everything needs to be put into writing.

Officially, I want to be reading way more than I am browsing. I haven’t read a full book in a while, and I am dabbling in like 6-7 books at a time right now. I need to focus in on one book only. Then continue in that manner. That means that I also need to schedule time for reading. That which does not get scheduled, does not get done. 

Goal 1: Read more books

Here is how I feel about the gym, right now. I am really good at Calisthenics and I am really good at swimming. But why not get better and spend less time. I am failing at showing up to the pool 9 times a week, but I can be consistent with 4 intense morning sessions on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. My ultimate goal is to break the record in the 100 breast, which is 1:16. So I have to swim at least a 1:15.

Goal 2: Swim 4 times per week, and break the 100 Breaststroke Record.

I want to continue writing in this blog as well. Interestingly, today will mark a 30 day streak of blog posts. I have written some beautiful poems, interesting dialogues, and introspective thoughts that challenge my ego and selfish responses. This is a low maintenance habit, but one that yields so much. I want to show up every day, and I want to write a new post. 

Goal 3: Write. Every. Single. Day.

Sometimes my mind is racing, and I know that I can benefit from perhaps a morning meditation session. But how do I not fall asleep? Meditation is one of those things that I say I will do, but I never make time for it or get to it. I am always putting it off. Like reading too, and so I never finish books, and I never really meditate. Actually, this won’t be a goal. And neither will lifting heavy weights. Instead, I will continue to hone my skills in calisthenics at most 3 to 4 times per week. I will get in, do the work, and leave. I won’t linger. Because aside from my personal goals, I have professional goals that I need to make strides on. 

Goal 4: Calisthenics 3-4 times per week.

In the coming month, I will track my progress with these goals. I will pay attention to reading books, even if they are re-reads. I will swim during those 4 morning sessions. I will write in my journal and on this blog. I will practice calisthenics following Eric’s program. 

We’ll see what happens next.

have i learned to suffer?

Have I learned to suffer yet? I think that I have. I have navigated rough seas in search of peace, and I have travelled distances long enough, obstacled enough, that measurement becomes difficult. In search of, peace? 

But have I learned to suffer? And what is there to gain from such an endeavor? Why would anyone want to learn to suffer? One might think that a more suffered soul is more calloused, like the palms of a weight lifter who has gripped steel on too many occassions. Or calloused like the foot of a traveller who has walked a journey too long.

So there is that benefit. But have I, myself, learned to suffer? Everyone says they know pain. Everyone’s pain is unique, so I may say that I have but I have not grieved. I have never experienced, and god forbid, a death of a loved one, or, and I never will, a miscarriage. That feeling of having the entire air sucked out of you like a fast-deflating balloon. Where the air goes, who knows, it just becomes a part of the rest. All that’s left is the flexible plastic that once floated and bounced and danced around, and if you didn’t watch it carefully would threaten to float away in search of… who knows…

But even though I haven’t felt the great loss, or the terrible panic, could I still say, with confidence, that I have learned to suffer? When sometimes I feel more that I have forgotten. I lie comfortably on my bed, in an air conditioned room, and my thoughts are peaceful. I write sonnets and sing them to myself, and I laugh at my own jokes. I forget about the world for long periods of time, the world of pain and suffering, the hunger, the problems, the massive death counts, and I live like life is truly worth living and the problems are far far away. 

With all of this ignorance, I ask myself, have I learned to suffer? Have I ever suffered? Sure, I cried in my discomforts. I grew troubled by lies and my inability to tell truth from truth, and it has never been that simple, but that’s what I hoped for. But I truly became ignorant, a resident of my own private oasis. I felt lonely too, but I had friends to call. So I have never been truly alone. And my dreams, so vivid and alive that sleep has been like a cheap vacation. I see the hours pass by, I see the time all at once. 

suffering

what is it like to suffer?

who can define it? 

i’m not sure I can tell you.

look within

Seeing persons and things not as they are, but as I am. 

I never wanted to become this way, insecure and fearful about the prospect of loving. But here today, there is hardly anything that scares me more than truly loving or committing to a person. In the morning, I feel devotionally committed to bringing the best part of myself to every interaction. By the evening, I am questioning if it is even worth the effort.

The truth is, there is a lot of internal work that needs to be done. This is why I opt out to take the sidelines as an observer. Can the work be done as a participant? Perhaps, but how much hurt will result from a rushed process. 

I don’t know where to start with myself. I have cried tears in a hopeless fit to uncover some truth, some response that will lead to more peace and courage and less fear and shame. But there is very little to show for it now. The idea is that I am living in blindness, unable to see things as they are, but only as they appear to me. 

The sun rises, according to where I am, and then it sets. See, that’s blindness, because what happens is that we are orbiting the sun and rotating on an axis every 24 hours or so. Like a big, giant spherical carousel, we spin around to see the sun then hide from it. 

It may be that my ego prefers this blindness. For a blind man, there is comfort in familiar territory, familiar anxiety, familiar pain. But returning to the past to question and potentially alter the future can have fatal consequences. At the very least, there will be unknown consequences. 

Today, he is suffering. He is me. He is sitting in his room, typing in his laptop, getting ready for a phone call with his hooded sweatshirt on and the lights of his room cut off. He is writing, and he is suffering. It hit him like a wave, and he withdrew into himself to find familiar habits. A question, has he not grown up or experienced enough of this to anticipate where he will be in the next couple of minutes? 

I was never very good at chess. Maybe, I digress. I have never had a natural aptitude for chess. I win games, and I can anticipate moves and strategies. But I never picked it up as quickly as others. The obstacle to chess for me lies in going deeper, in relentlessly asking why until I have reached a point of underestanding. I want results, outcomes, trophies before I want internal understanding. That’s why I find it hard to perform in certain arenas. 

True growth is internal. In the very first story of Hurakami’s Men Without Women, I encounter this passage: 

“The proposition that we can look into another person’s heart with perfect clarity strikes me as a fool’s game. I don’t care how well we think we should understand them, or how much we love them. All it can do is cause us pain. Examining your own heart, however, is another matter. I think it’s possible to see what’s in there if you work hard enough at it. So in the end maybe that’s the challenge: to look inside your own heart as perceptively and seriously as you can, and to make peace with what you find there. If we hope to truly see another person, we have to start by looking within ourselves.”

And Kendrick Lamar stated this: 

“Look inside of my soul and you can find gold and maybe get rich,

look inside of your soul and you can find out it never exist.”

The story says, that we need to begin to look inward – but how? How can we when it gets so difficult to find the time? And without a very regimented schedule. Perhaps this week, I can set a schedule to meditate or at least experience the quiet within myself in the last 30-45 minutes before bed. But I am always distracted.

The promise is gold and wealth, but if you look into another person with those intentions you should find that you are an empty soul, seeking greed and personal benefit. It is in times like these, that I sort of understand that one must treat other people’s histories like those in museums. Especially, the free to enter museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. To discover, and understand, that a history should be viewed, maybe studied, experienced, but never owned. Do not touch. Do not lay claim.

Another tragic trope, see with your eyes not with your hands. And why? Because the hands that have not long handled clay will turn to mush the very essence. If you’re not good at something, it will not happen overnight. Give it time, promise to go deeper, and remain patient in your journey. 

Don’t give in to temptation. Ok, that’s enough wisdom for now. Tomorrow will be another day.

tio double t

I am a little lost at the moment. I feel myself slipping away in certain areas, running behind the clock, so to say. 

I was supposed to set my intentions for the month of July, and I was supposed to clean my room, my inbox, my mental and digital space. But instead, I lagged. I chose to relax and gave my time to other people, other activities. 

It’s hard to keep the main thing, the main thing. I set intentions for each month for a reason, free-will is a dangerous thing. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t do most things that are good for me. As in today. I played basketball until I literally couldn’t anymore. Simply walking to pick up the ball felt like a chore. Then everything else that followed in the day felt difficult, showering, brushing my teeth, folding my clothes, drinking water, checking and responding to emails, making phone calls, writing in my blog. 

In any case, I did swim today. I am also writing, and before I go to bed I will be reading. I have made that my triad. To swim, to read, to write. So, this will, in a sense, be a good day. But I have a lot of work to do, and the only thing remaining is to stay patient. 

I must be patient with myself and others. Today, while playing basketball, I found myself upset at my team for making mistakes, turning over the ball. To me, it was obvious that the other team was double-teaming and forcing our ball handler into tough decisions. Why did they not see that? My frustration mounted as we kept giving the other team the ball. Then, on the other side, we were making impossible passes across the court. But what I failed to realize, is that even if we win that game, ultimately I lose. By constantly correcting, and expecting adjustments, by constantly being right, I turn out to be wrong. Even when I’m right, I’m wrong. Because the goal of the game isn’t simply to win, but to have fun. And when I’m frustrated, its no longer fun. 

I keep saying to myself that I will take some time out of my day to meditate, but when exactly? In the morning, I am making my bed, getting ready for my day, and then time slips me by until it is noon o’clock. Then I get into a rhythm with other things and towards the end of the day I am trying to wrap things up in a hurry. I have to write. Then read. Then I’m too tired to meditate. Time is such a harsh mistress.

If my days were 36 hours long, how would I spend them? What if they were 18 hours long? Sometimes its nice to imagine what we would accomplish with more hours in a day. But if we had less, we would probably become better at prioritizing our day better. Because I distinctly remember that I watched Star Trek, the movie, today. And by the way, the movie sucks compared to the shows (the OST and TNG). Then I watched two episodes of Richard and Mortier. I ate pizza and cheesy bread. So, maybe I had time. I just didn’t prioritize. What the heck, man?

Ok. My writing is veering off. I’ll get up to do some real work and take out the trash. Maybe that should be my new mantra: “take out the trash.” 

“take out the trash”

“take out the trash” (ToTT)

T-Oh-Double-T

Tio Double T

Uncle DoubleT

wait a little, think a little, fast a little.

A little slower. 

I sometimes move too fast through life, but I realize now that it pays to move a little slower. The three things a young Samana must do are to wait, think, and fast. 

When we move slower, we resist our impulse to act. We wait, and we survey the field so that we know exactly what we are going up against. It becomes very difficult to move without knowing exactly what direction we are moving in, nor why. So waiting a little bit becomes very valuable.

Then we think. What are the benefits, and what are the acceptable risks? Thinking also requires time and consideration, seeing things from different perspectives. Thinking is also the only way that we will be able to identify, isolate, and deal with our mistaken beliefs about the world. If we don’t think, it becomes very hard to be self-aware. 

Fast. To go without. This is the hard part. If you go without a partner, you will soon experience terrible loneliness and you’ll be forced to learn how to live alone. If you go without food, you will soon experience a terrible hunger and you’ll be forced to learn how to survive on smaller portions. Fasting often involves a terrible feeling, but on the other side of fasting is a discovery of spiritual proportions. 

So these three tools, are tools with which we can navigate desire. Let us turn to them more often before we turn to action.

unquestioned beliefs

I imagine our differences of opinion will cause us to drift apart one day. Change is an inevitability that will float us away like the waters in a lake. When we become anchored to an idea, we effectively stop floating away. While we remain in the waters of change, we remain stuck and things become stuck to us, like moss, sediment. 

We are all anchored to some beliefs and ideas. Some ideas are inconceivable in relation to others. Evolution cannot exist in conjuction with biblical texts, that’s what they say. But why not? And, perhaps more important, why does that matter? Everything must have an inherent value, but when we cling to things we cannot appreciate the value in other things. We cling to things because we value them. We value things, so we cling to them. It’s difficult to know which comes first.

So exposing yourself to new ideas may weaken you conviction to old beliefs. This is why traveling, exposing yourself to other beliefs, ideas, cultures can be a valuable experience. Having lived in a world of stereotypes, and anchored your truths in such world, you will begin to question your beliefs upon encountering a people and sample size that isn’t self-validating. 

What sort of beliefs should you question? Maybe all of them. Why do you love, and who do you love? And what obligations do you feel that you have? Obligations are tricky, they are anchorings as well, contracts – sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken – that dictate how you will behave when navigating a specific circumstance. 

There are different types of obligations: familial, romantic, professional, ideological. Here are some examples: because my mother birthed me and raised me, I am obligated, socially, to be there for her. In relationship, one must learn to consider the other persons feelings. I am obligated to be accountable at work, and as a vegan it is my obligation to make purchases of non-animal products. As a writer even, I must write.

We must examine these, because some of them are truly insignificant and self-imposed. They simply do not matter. And others that do not matter, matter in a sense that they sustain order in the world. 

Back to the anchors, beliefs that stick around and form into ideology. If you cannot question them, then I implore you to go deeper and double down. But refuse, at all costs, to remain on the surface – bobbing and floating, and stuck. You either flow with the current, or swim into the sea.