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.

ego vs. Ivan (alternate endings)

“If you don’t like it here, you can leave.” That’s what he said to me. 

Work has been tough lately. With my sister in the hospital because of her motorcycle accident, I’ve been taking on a lot more responsibilities. It’s really hard to navigate both stresses of a long work day and the hurt that my family is experiencing. I hear what Ivan is saying, he is probably stressed by upper management and feels that his job is in jeopardy if we don’t work around the clock to produce results. He is saying this, that I can leave, and I feel devalued, but maybe that isn’t what I should feel. I know I am valued because I am trusted with these important projects. I am trusted to fix other people’s mistakes and I can be relied on as a growing member in the team. 

“I like it here Ivan. I am stressed out because of work and my family matters at home. The situation is difficult, is it okay if I start to leave after lunch so I can have time with my family during this hardship?” That’s what I would say to him now. 

When I quit my job at Area23, I harvested so many feelings of resentment, of hurt. Something that stung was hearing my assistant manager Mike tell me that this is the biggest mistake of my life. It wasn’t, and I am happy with my life’s outcome, but I shouldn’t have responded by quitting without notice. In hindsight, it wasn’t fair to the team. And even though I now realize that this environment wasn’t all conducive to growth, I had fostered good relationships with other colleagues there. I worked long days, but we were able to get a lot of things done. We stayed late and came in early, but we were a team. 

How would have Ivan responded if I met his aggression with peace and a resolution to find a positive solution? I don’t know what the answer is to that, but I do know that my ego responded in a way that caused me a lot of hurt and unnecessary anger in the following years. I’ll let that go because where I am now, I don’t want that to be my response. I want to show up and show out for my teammates. I want to bring a positive attitude and humor and peace. So, I’ll let my ego take a backseat.