branching

We set expectations that the seed of an oak will yield an oak tree, and most of the time we are right. We feel good for being right, and we say, rightfully, that we have developed an accurate understanding of how the world works. Don’t argue that some oak seeds do not become oak trees, because that is true, and we know that not all of them will materialize. What we are saying is that an oak seed won’t blossom into a blackberry bush or a dandelion. The seed of the oak, upon maturing, will be the oak tree.

But what is our understanding of the human living experience? The decisions that we make are pivotal markers in our existence, the branching of time, which happens infinitely and sometimes unconsciously. 

What we say when we want to be particularly mindful about this process, is that one should be intentional when making a decision, which can be defined as choosing a path among several.

Once you have chosen your path, you forfeit the other path. With that comes the speculation of not knowing. We look at this phenomenon in sports, where teams that showed promising potential split up and the fans wonder what could have been. What could have been is the non-decision path, what is is the decision path. 

This parallel branching extends further, as we explore where our decisions led and the impossibility of accurately predicting an outcome. Not that all decisions are guesses, but that surprise is a resulting element because the probability and chance of something actually happening is always less than 1, until it happens. So if it hasn’t happened, then it cannot be said with certainty, even though it is likely to happen. 

Why is this important, because maybe we should just shut off our expectations. Let things be. Let time carry you. Let the oak seed become an oak, or not. Let the choices you make be appreciated for their good and not for the bad of the choices you didn’t make. 

Confidence comes from knowing that I am okay because I chose choice A, but I would also have been okay if I chose choice B, or C. The idea I have had is this, drop me anywhere in the world, in any country, and I will find a way to make a difference – whether it is in the life of one person, or the life of many. So that truth trumps the expectations we can form, but it cannot come close to predicting what will actually happen. All we know, is that life is ok, regardless of the outcome. 

el padre

At noon, I have to leave. I have already packed my bags, and set up my away from office email. I don’t know if Patrick knows that I won’t be back again. Honestly, I don’t think anyone in the office knows. I haven’t said a word to anyone about this trip, not even my family knows what is going on. 

My father will be waiting for me at the airport when I arrive. I don’t necessarily consider him family, but he is the one I am going to see. The first thing I will notice is how our facial features align. Genetics is a non-miss, how we replicate features of our being and attach them to new beings – leaving an inheritance, for better or worse, of the roots that extend down our lineage. 

These ears, and this nose, and the lips – they are from my mother. I wear my mothers eyebrows, her smile, her sad eyes. 

When I see him at the airport, he is waiting, staring off into the distance, searching. Maybe he doesn’t recognize me and I can sneak around behind him to surprise him. I marvel at this for a second, how distance forces us to search to that which was once so close. He has to scan the room, the many passengers, to see which one bears a resemblance. It’s me.

As I approach him, he catches on and smiles, opening his arms up for a hug. I land in close as we embrace, a father and son, who grew up removed from that role, so that he was only partially father, and I was partially son. I have never shared with him, or mom for that matter, how much I wanted those roles to be permanent. But I do not write the story, I merely tell it. And it wasn’t temporary. 

Now ponder that, the difficulty of being a part-time father/part-time son. Wanting to show and receive love, but growing old and heavy with hatred.

I didn’t know why, but that day it didn’t matter. What mattered was being there, taking the trip, making the move. 

memors

Evenings spent folding freshly washed shirts while I am thinking of you. Thinking how this pile of clothing reminds me of the occasions I spent there with you. 

We left early to beat the traffic and make the coffee stops at your shops, and tried all of the coffee spots until we found one that we’d like. 

Our life on the road like gypsy, a life on the go and limbo. Moving fast, but nowhere, moving fast with no cares. 

Ok, maybe a little, that the things we left behind would somehow catch us. That they would be a part of us, though we didn’t realize, like our shadows. Living in the shadows, its what we called it. Living in hiding, its what we called it.

But we were not hiding then, we’re not hiding now. We’re not asking why, we’re not asking how. It’s all understood, and I think that you know that the only way this is going is how it would go. 

Evenings spent scrubbing soap onto dishes while I am thinking of you. I don’t know where you are now, all of these calls go unanswered. I look up at the stars, and they don’t say a word back. I like to think that to some alien who is distant in time, what he sees is our life as we were, because light takes some time to travel there. And instead of seeing us now, he sees us together, and happy, with our hands interlocked. 

But what will he think when we’re distant and cold. This human race is so strange, they pretend all is well, when deep down there is a void uncontrolled, a sadness unconsoled. Grieving is hardest when you’re alone. Grieving is harder when you’re lonely. Where did you go? Why don’t you call? 

Somehow it all changed, this life that we made far from each other. I am sweeping the floors now, thinking of you. I wonder too, how often you think of me. This isn’t about the love we shared, it’s that at one point we both had cared. We both had dared, dared greatly too, how they tell us to do. 

We eat sour gummy worms, and the ants come for the little white crumbs. I wonder what that seems like to them, how can we eat so much of it at once, when all they can carry is one grain at a time. We eat a lifetimes worth of their food supply in a single chew. That’s how I feel sometimes when it comes to you, you made it cool and I feel lucky. I told my friends and they agreed, you know how things clicked at the beginning and they stayed firm and nice. Life is alright, you know. It’s quite alright. 

My favorite songs, I’ve shared them all. But they were favorite when they were only mine. Listening to Nights in the streets of Chelsea, MA. Its too late, my feet dangle from the swings, the park was long ago closed, but I climbed the fence to get in. Last time I went for a run out here, I cramped up and I had to stop for a moment. I’d like to go back and try again. 

When Kevyn and I went to the supermarket, I stared at the dragonfruit for a while. How would I eat that? I wonder why I had this thought, but it occurred to me that I do not know the answer. Would I peel it like an orange? Do I need a knife? Something sharp. 

The nice fruits require no thinking, that’s why I love berries; blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries. I like grapes two, the green and purples. 

Today, I ate two mangos. Those I peeled, but the mango gets caught in my teeth. 

The green t-shirt, the one I fold now, I wore that one when we went to Rouses’ to pick up crackers, salami, and cheese. Not a stain on it. But I can still remember the day. 

first memories

The temperature is cold, but I find comfort in the warm bath water in which I will soak tonight. My mother used to tell me that we enjoy warm baths because they feel like the warmth we experienced in the womb. So every time that I take a warm bath, I am seeking my mother’s comfort. 

Maybe that is so, that the things we long for are the ones we first knew. Besides those primal comforts, what else are we actually after? 

The conversations we share, where we discuss our favorite songs, our fondest memories, with someone who has been on their own journey for some years, those are moments that I cherish. And I marvel at that, that somehow the universe conspired to bring us together, each, in our own individual way, has traveled their whole life to meet the other. 

You never know where you might end up in life, and you never know who you might meet. That is the beauty of it all, that somehow it is as surprising as it is expected. 

I remember first meetings a lot. When I first met my friend Wascar, I was learning how to play the game of poker with my friends Jojo and Lolo. He came over and observed my play style, he commented on my patience. He reminded me of my uncle Andy, who taught me a lot about life and has shown that there are different ways to experience it, but one must, for themselves, experience it. 

Today, writing has come easier. The past few days I have struggled to sit down with my thoughts, but this is the case with a lot of things. Some days are easier than others, and some days your thoughts get the better of you. I have many thoughts throughout the day, not all of them are negative, but most are. 

Sometimes I think how I am not good enough, which I write about often on here. But that is not always true, I simply add an ounce of tragedy to the mundane. Because its not always the output that matters, its more often the input, and even the emotions behind the input.

I remember when I met my friend Dana, she was walking to the Quarterdeck to give me a ride to pick up my personal gear issue. While she waited for me, she played Pokemon Go, and in the car ride back she played music. I immediately felt comfortable, and I would always say hi to her when I saw her. It happens when you least expect it, that you meet people who change your life and the way you see the world. And they do this by doing nothing, they merely continue to be themselves. 

When I was given the advice to be myself during college interviews, I didn’t know what that meant. I mean, I understood the statement but I didn’t know who I was. 

I have come to a few conclusions though, I am curious and insightful – a thinker, and I am deeply caring. Some things are hit or miss, but I cannot change those ones that I mentioned. Even if I tried, and I have tried, I end up behaving unnaturally – losing myself in the process of trying to express myself. 

Its the people that make you who you are. My first relationship was as a son to my mother and father. Twenty-nine years later, I am still figuring out how to best serve in that role. 

meh

I cannot find the words anymore. Writing has become a heavy chore, but still, I must show up. I have to show up for swimming and cycling and running even when it doesn’t feel like anything is clicking, even when I feel sluggish and my legs feel heavy and fat. 

I have done a decent job of managing my time in May, but I need to make strides in handling my finances and time better. I spend too long on Instagram and watching basketball and Netflix. This week I missed my running and cycling goals, and it’s not for lack of time, but because I didn’t manage my time correctly. 

However, I did manage to get Crew Serve Qualified and that’s probably what I should celebrate. I won’t force the issue with writing today. 

validation – no good

I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have been given, and while I may have not made the most of them – I have tried. 

I try to give it more in the pool when I am swimming, but some days I am just tired. Too tired to touch and go, too heavy to nail the flip turn. I need a full night of rest, and maybe more. At the end of next month I will go on leave, it will be my first visit to Colorado. Who knows, maybe I will stay there – or maybe I will stay here in Gulfport. 

Gulfport has become a home for me. I ride my bike here, I swim here, and I explore here. I know there are more beautiful traiils out there, and so much more of the world to see – but for right now, I am right where I need to be.

Sometimes people think too deeply about where they need to be, or they grow concerned about where they at. In those cases, complaining about your circumstances only makes them worse. But I also feel that what truly makes your situation tragic is the support and validation of your friends and peers, the ones who convince you that your circumstances are unfair. Because we rely so much on the validation of those around us. So our validation can make us, but it can also break us. If I say I am struggling, and you agree, I am convinced that I am right. But how do we differentiate struggling to perform from struggling to learn.

These are only my first reps, my first reps in life, in the pool, on this blog. The only true goal is consistency – so I am back at it. I will type out these tired words, and say what I have to say while I have the chance to. Maybe one day I will have better things to say. 

habit tracking

There are old habits that I am trying to eliminate, but they aren’t easy to get rid of. Quitting sugar has been the hardest, even though I know all of the potential benefits to my concentration, my mood, my health, and my ability to perform in sports. Too often, I find myself making concessions as to what I will allow myself to eat and breaking away from the planned meals. Maybe it’s just that I am not as excited to meal prep the healthy meals, but whatever the reason momentum is hard to create and evaporates all too soon. 

The other habit is social media/Netflix. I feel I am so hard-charging when I have a book I am really into, or when studying a subject for work, but in the transition phases – sometimes I waste too much time. Now, the benefits would also include an increased concentration, and more time for the things I love – cycling, writing, running, reading, and maybe even meditation to help me stay grounded. 

While I have struggled to remove these habits, which are by now engrained. I have also struggled to introduce basic ones, the aforementioned salad for lunch, but also drinking water and getting to bed by 2030. It’s weird because I am up at 0430 every single day without fail, but my bedtime is so inconsistent.

I have to only remind myself that it is alright to be at this stage and that things will start falling into place in no time. And they will, one day at a time.

Atlanta Season 3, Episode 8

Escape to nowhere – I watched the latest episode of the show Atlanta today. It was called New Jazz. The show explored a mind-excursion of Paper Boi, who has experienced a level of unprecedented and sudden success. One that has left him feeling alone, isolated, and guessing if the choices he is making are the right ones. 

At the lowest echelon, you begin to question the intentions of the people around you: why is he the one always paying for things? What kind of stake do they have in you? Will they tell you you are making a fool of yourself if it is not something you intend to hear in the first place? That is the malaise of friendship and human connection. The more status you acquire, the more difficult it is to find your true friends. Especially when your circle of friends, knowledge, and even ignorance is expanding at such a rapid pace.

Then you move on to what’s happening internally: what do you fear most? When success arrived so unexpectedly, you have this fear that it will leave just as it arrived. You go into extra high gear trying to preserve the aspects of your character that were present when you began to receive an acknowledgment. Was it the clothes I wore? The things I said? Ultimately, Paper Boi’s fear is ending up homeless. And how do the people around him ensure that that is not a future outcome for him? What role will they play?

The show doesn’t say much about this, but I am scared too. Scared of what the future holds, who to trust, wondering if I am hearing the things I want to hear, or actually hearing what is true. 

Questions, questions, questions. They never rest. 

arriving

I understand how lonely you must feel right now. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place sometimes – being with someone because of the comfort they may provide, pouring yourself into some activity, delaying the time you must spend alone. But the time will come when even this writing won’t be enough, and you will have to answer to yourself. The questions will naturally arise, and most important, they will ask – why did it take you so long? Why? Like the you that’s been calling out for you has been watching you from inside of the glass panes of a diorama, as you stroll by, not unconscious, but choosing to ignore. As if you wore blinders. 

The inside of the diorama, because nothing is actually changing – the past is stone carved, and there is nothing you can do now. That is where your questions have made a home, but they are not waiting patiently, youthful how you may imagine. They too are aging, hardening, crustifying so that when you encounter them you will need a pick-axe to get at their core. 

A conversation with a therapist might help, but that once a month pace will not satisfy your timeline. A conversation with a friend may help, but depending on the friend you may maneuver in the right or wrong direction. And again, you will find yourself seeking the answers every where but inside – and inside is where they reside. 

One day, you’ll be there. You’ll have arrived. And then you will know. 

believe in you

I would like to believe in myself a little more than I presently do. The truth is, I am my harshest critic. I am the one that tells myself I shouldn’t aim high because failure would be too tough to bear. I am the one who is upset when someone ran faster than me, when I myself have just set a personal record. I don’t believe I am the one, and I struggle with accepting praise because I am not … worthy.

But the person I see in the mirror has actually tried. Imperfectly, he has made his efforts – despite a sometimes poor effort at focusing, I have made attempts to make connections, to synthesize learning and experience growth in my own manner.

Tomorrow is my final board for the Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist qualification. I need to believe that I will be successful, that when I sit down to write tomorrow, I have already been named a Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist. Tomorrow at 1600, less than 24 hours from this moment, I will have achieved the goal that I set to working on last July. There were really productive nights, classroom sessions, study sessions over food in other people’s homes, and study sessions all alone in my barrack’s room. As I reflect on all of the hours that went into the pursuit of this qualification, can I rightfully say that I don’t deserve it?

But I will do my best, and my best will be enough. Tomorrow I will walk into that classroom proudly, with my head and chest high, and I will recite the Sailor’s Creed. I will introduce myself, and I will deliver my brief. I will explain the intricacies of my camp layout and my defense set up. I will explain our communications plan, and our convoy plan. I will explain all manning, the chain of command, and the equipment that we will be using. I am far from an expert, but I am qualified to lead and execute in this mission. 

This is my small pep talk, because I need it. And now I will meditate so I can rest and begin tomorrow with a clear, unobstructed mind.