time does heal, i think.

When she told me that she found love, I felt genuinely happy for her. For a large part of my life, I felt as if she were the love of my life. It wasn’t surprising to think why despite my never having expressed those feelings to her, or perhaps only expressing them at the wrong time. But I truly did, and do, love her as a person. 

We met at a young age, but always there was some unspoken understanding that we would be there for the other. Her for me, me for her. And young as we were, we honored it pretty well. In our hardest moments, we were there, often with confusion about the feelings we felt for each other. Or, what I can say with more certainty, the feelings I felt for her. 

In every relationship outside of ours, I felt uncomfortable with being her friend and I drew distance between us. This is among the many mistakes I have made in the relationship department. I did it as a matter of respect, because I knew what I felt then, but when I look back it was a horrible justification to be a terrible friend. 

But even when we didn’t speak, I still thought of her frequently. As her birthday approached, I thought about her and wondered where was she in the world, did she have good friends around her, was she happy with herself. Her birthday is shared with my cousin Eli. They were both born on March 22nd, and so I never forget it because both are important people to me.

I realize now that growing up, and making mistakes, is a part of life. But even having that knowledge one goes to question why it should hurt so much to make those mistakes. Despite it being a natural part of the process, it really is something we cannot grow used to bearing in our lives. 

I have to forgive her for the moment when I felt she broke my heart, but I also have to forgive myself for having treated a friend, a person, a human being as a commodity. Someone to nurture me, to love me, conditionally – based entirely on my conditions. But I do not feel unlucky. It is impossible. Because seeing her happy makes me so happy, and she is very deserving of love, but also so much more. 

What I am happy about is the experience of new love, the renaissance in her career, her growth and blooming into the person she is today. I would be lying if I said that the person she is today is better than any version of her past self, because we shouldn’t make those comparisons. Her past self is as lovable as any version. And if I could, I would go back in time to all of the moments when she felt alone and I would be there, close by, for as long as I could. 

I spoke to my friend about her, and how he also deserves happiness. But more important, a dedication to forgiveness and acceptance of self, past, and others. We all struggle through life, but even when it feels like its all doomed, there is hope. Hope that we’ll cope, but even more than that, hope that we will smile a wider smile than we ever have. 

Today, I sat across from my Master Chief, and he said to me that any path I take will lead to personal success. He isn’t a reader of palms, but it became clear like a crystal ball that there are people who believe in me. But do you want to know a secret, that even I didn’t know? I am one of those people, and I doubted it so much. 

At the moment, I feel incredibly proud of the choices I have made. I have created a life for myself based on one simple premise, I know myself better than anyone else. What does this mean exactly? I will trust myself to make the right decisions, and I understand that I am more reliable and resilient than I have ever let anyone believe, including myself.

Today, I pushed myself to go bike riding despite fatigue from last nights ride. I am thankful for that decision. I went so fast, and I rode almost 35 miles. This isn’t a number I am accustomed to reaching on these rides. 

Anyway, things feel good lately, and I am perfectly fine. 

a new day

Marking a new day today, one to smile, feel clean and happy as I move about. 

The plan, coffee at the favorite place, studying for the advancement exam, being kind to myself. 

The black mirror consumes me, so I must shut it off, embrace solitude, loneliness, await it as it comes. It will undoubtedly arrive, and I will have no choice but to welcome it again. 

That which you run from only stays with you longer. 

Last night I called her, but there was no answer. Part of me thinks, Thank God. The other part… 

I had a dream too, our relationship floundered while on vacation. I felt jealous as she spoke with the tour guide. Possessive, even in dreams. Though in recent dreams I have also been courageous, brave, heroic. So maybe I should place focus on those more.

My writing doesn’t appeal to me. My writing equals my lying because there are things I don’t want to address, I don’t want to explore. Why does the past weigh so much? Like a dumb elephant. 

That 7-mile run killed me. Am I about to get old? In less than a year I will turn 30. So who knows what that brings along with it. Maybe slower mornings. This one can be slow if it wants to, I don’t mind. I won’t say anything about it. 

A month from now the journey will take place in another place. Here is to hoping that is a good thing. Writing is my own salvation, to place the hopes of life on other people is selfish, and delusional. 

A new day today, to smile, feel clean, and happy as I move about. 

the calm

Haruki Murakami has a book titled What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. First, I have to say that I would read any book by Murakami because I can find fragments of myself in his characters. I feel less alone, more understood. But I enjoyed reading WITAWITAR because it was Murakami’s book that was written as if it were only meant for him to read. Most writers, if they want to be successful, write for the reader, the audience. But this approach of writing for the self answers different calls, the calls from within, the questions that are buried deep within you. I call this exploratory writing.

Murakami’s story begins with why and how he began to run. He didn’t run in his track team. He wasn’t naturally gifted. His journey began at around 30 years old – relatively late, but age is nothing in these matters. At around age 30, Murakami also began to write seriously. He sold his restaurant to become a full-time writer. He gambled on himself.

To Murakami, running, as well as writing, were an escape. He did not use them to avoid his problems, rather they served as outlets for self-expression, for exploring his own character and purpose.

As a writer, you write in order for someone to read. As a runner, you race and train with others. But the joy of these pursuits, for Murakami, was how well they fit in and accommodated his propensity towards solitude.

The empty page that stares back at the writer as he sits at his desk to write; the lonely roads that a runner treads on his morning runs. These are the starts and stops of a journey with no end. When I sit here to write, I have the same thoughts – what questions am I grappling with? What is awakening my curiosity? These are things only I can answer for myself.

The same has happened as I ride my bike down winding roads, or stare at the bottom of the swimming pool covering lap after lap, or even while running on the trails. I encounter these questions, this inner drive to explore what lies within. There is also an internal calm when I can hear my breathing and feel my heart pumping furiously the blood that will course through my veins to deliver oxygen that the muscles need to keep on pushing. 

The calm is ephemeral, dharmic. By the time I recognize it, it is gone. Maybe that is because I don’t really know how to live in patience. I do everything fast, and I expect everything fast. I am learning this. I devour my meals as if I were timed, and I chug my coffee and water. I get anxious when people don’t respond to a text message. I cannot wait in customer support lines. Time is valuable, and I think that is why patience is hard. I am not ill-intentioned, but I am not ready in that way. So when I encounter the calm, I notice, and I am grateful for it. 

the unknowns

The things I know, I cannot tell them all. Not because they are secrets, no. It is not secrecy, but a brilliance that I cannot share for fear of blindness, deafness, an overwhelming of the senses. 

These things I carry, deep down within me, are the seeds of greatness, too eager to sprout. I am the neglectful gardener, preserving the soil, and protecting the neighboring weeds and grasses. These seeds will sprout and root deeply, force-digging into the hardened terrain.

These things I see, when caught in the rafts of slumber, are visions of a life unimagined, a world of what-ifs that I could not bear to conceive, for to see these things for real would mean a shattering of the walls and the skies that I have known. Nobody truly wants a Truman Experience. The warm walls of Plato’s Cave are luxury suites in Tribeca’s district. 

These things I feel, are unreal, unmatched, surreal. So I walk this world alone and unattached, serving faithfully, and even when I struggle I know that I made this happen out of love, passion, and commitment. I could not unfeel this way. They asked me if I really believe in the things that I write – it made me pause for a second, why not? Because the alternative would be to live it less intense, less worried, but imagine I didn’t have these dreams. 

What comes next? I don’t know. But tomorrow will bring another day, another opportunity. A grand adventure awaits. 

seeking excellence at hour 24

I seek excellence in all that I do. I do not discern between making my bed, wearing the uniform, or working on a project at work. Even as the output varies, some days I just am not that good, the input and the intention remain the same: give your maximum effort.

There are challenges along the path of excellence, and many of these errors can be fixed. But you have to commit to the vision in order to enact the change.

The first, only seeking excellence when people are watching. If you fall into the habit of only putting in your best effort in the presence of a supervisor or mentor, then you become vulnerable to falling in your performance in the time of their absence. At that point, your excellence is dependent on the praise and admiration of another person who may not always be there to cheer you on. In order to fix this, you have to ensure that your expectations for yourself always exceed the expectations others have set for you. When others think you have done the highest and excelled, that’s the new floor you should work on.

The second, setting limits based on what is immediately attainable. The value of short-term goals is undeniable, they keep you on track. But if your goal is to become a petty officer third class, or maybe one day a chief – or in civilian terms, if your goal is to become a manager, guess what you will become – a third class or a chief or a manager. Great. You have accomplished your goal, but you have also set a limit for yourself. Pursue excellence and set a new standard – let your position or title become secondary. Become truly excellent. Strive to become the subject matter expert, to exhaust every topic, learn it in depth. Practice the skill of blind recall, where you begin with a blank page and recreate entire scenarios, books, missions, plans. Then execute and understand why every decision is made.

The third, see the highest score as the highest score. Avoid thinking in numbers – when you take exams that gauge physical fitness, avoid focusing on the chart. Seek to maximize your output in the 2 minutes rather than reach a certain number and stop. If the max pushups for your age is 74. That is the max for the average group of your peers who are at that fitness level. That should be your baseline.

Pursuing excellence is a 24-hour op. There are no breaks, and there are no shortcuts. You must tread on.

finding me

Up until midnight, that’s when I put my phone down for some sleep. I tried my hand at some meditation with Headspace, but my mind was more focused on instagram. I don’t know why, but after deleting the app for one day, I bypassed my restrictions in order to download it again. I realize it’s a coping mechanism. I feel dumb when I read. I can hardly focus on a book for more than 2 minutes. That is an overestimate. It’s gotten that bad. So, when loneliness strikes and the gym is not an option, I go find solace in the digital realm.

That also meant that I wrote yesterday. Thankfully. Because that is a good thing. At least I can say that these difficult times left something behind. Sometimes I go back and analyze what I have written, I can remember exactly what I was going through at the moment that I wrote those things down. Other times, I have no idea. But I am happy that I wrote something on that day. Like I am on this day.

I woke up at 0430 today. I promptly went for a run and I was back in my room by 0500. I ran 2 miles in a span of 20-something minutes, but my legs felt heavy. Even when I try to run fast, it’s like I can feel the fat on my legs and the energy isn’t there. I hope it comes back. I’ve always had the vision that I would run marathons in my 30s. That would be who I am. I have dreams, you know. Sometimes I wonder where the time went, when it feels like I’m lost and I’ve made no progress. More and more I’ve come to think that when people say everything happens for a reason they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s just a nice thing to say to make themselves feel better.

I don’t see the reason for all of my negative self-talk right now, for the incessant self-critique and self-loathing. But I do see that this path leads only to more darkness. I must snap out of it and write positive thoughts. So, today I must celebrate.

I sold stock yesterday so that I can restart my debt. I bailed myself out! Thanks to me, I will be ok in the future. I ran 4 miles yesterday, and today I ran 2 miles! I ate an avocado and a potato. I played basketball, and I learned that I would be pulled into a new department at work this week. I am energized by this new beginning. I am eager to continue with the work I so thoroughly enjoy. I am going to master this career. Today, I will learn the steps to embark. I will know them front and back and out of order.

Let’s keep an eye open for all that life has to offer.

time management and early rising

I have started waking up at 0400 most days. Being up this early grants me several privileges, but the most important is that I have the time to get in a full work out before my work begins. The problem with this early start is that it requires an earlier bed time, and I am usually delaying my bed time until I pass out, exhausted, and drop into a deep slumber.

I haven’t yet figured out this trick. Time management is at the essence of all of this, and its usually what I struggle with the most. In college, we discussed that the biggest leap in efficiency comes from when you switch over from task management to time management. Rather than work until you’re done with a task, you should try to work for a certain amount of time on a task. Whether that satisfies completion of the task is irrelevent.

I’ve noticed this mental attachment in all areas of my life. I feel it even hurts my self-confidence when I set a goal to row 200 calories and I only complete 190 calories. But if instead I row for 15 minutes, that can be a consistent amount of time, allowing time for other tasks, and it won’t eat up all of my time. Aside from that, I set specific amounts of pages I want to read. If instead, I block off time for reading, then I can just do what needs to be done in that amount of time and I don’t need to worry about the rest.

So tasks won’t drag on, and I can get to bed on time. I’ll need to make some adjustments.

it’s ok to come back later

The run wasn’t too bad. 2 kilometers at a pedestrian pace on a crowded track, but no one was timing me, and there was no race. It was a form of recovery that followed 1 hour of stretching and multiple sets of glute bridges to strengthen the back of my lower body and lower back while opening up the hip flexors. But once I set up the Concept 2 Rower, I felt my whole body and energy in decline. It just wasn’t cooperating. I had set my sights on completing 300 calories, but by the time I hit 25 calories, I placed the handle back in its place and called it a day.

I came back to my room to shower, and I began my day of activities and training. I have been focused on attaining my qualifications as of late, and being extra sharp in my performance has been very important to me. But besides that, I am now in a position to pass on knowledge from recent qualifications I have obtained. Teaching, and writing, are two sorts of callings for me. I enjoy both, but I enjoy them more when I have confidence in the material and when I have a mindset for expressing my ideas. What I love about teaching is that it is just as much learning as it is teaching. You must create analogies, imagine examples, to bring forth understanding, but you also must explore the subject in order to raise questions.

How do you spark curiosity? You might get lucky and share information on a topic or idea that is interesting to someone, but what if the person has no interest in learning the subject? I believe curiosity is inherent to the learner, but by asking questions yourself you can start a dialogue, and conversation. Questions like “well, what do you think this means?” and “why do you think this is the procedure, what do you think is the goal here?” If a person doesn’t consider the rationale, or thought process, can he really understand what a thing is. In other words, one must always search for some sort of justification for why the world behaves in a specific way as opposed to any other way. Whether you’re right or wrong in your justification doesn’t matter, it is merely a launching point and a general perspective with which to agree or disagree.

In the afternoon, I returned to the gym. I found new resolve to complete my rowing workout, and I went forth to do 108 pull-ups and 180 air squats (18 sets of 6 and 10, respectively). I followed that effort with 5 sets of 5 muscle-ups, and I finished my fitness building session with 30 rounds of 1-minute jump rope, followed by a 30-second rest in which I did 10 push-ups and rested in the remaining time.

I recognized that my body felt resistance in the morning, and I stepped away. I realize that was the smart thing to do because it isn’t always healthy to keep pushing through tough work outs, especially after I have done that the past few times that I have rowed. And what I learned is that it’s ok to let go and come back later. Give the body some time, and it will recover and get back in the fight. That’s how it works, but you can always disagree.

mind games and breathing exercises

Shooting is frightening. Days at the range tend to be filled with a combination of performance anxiety, test anxiety, and the very real awareness that these are high-risk training environments. In other words, the fear that things may go wrong is pervasive during a shooting exercise. Today, I took part in the M4-Carbine qualification course. For those who aren’t familiar with military evaluation exercises, this is another one for you to know.

Here is how it’s broken down. The first evolution requires that you take 5 shots at a target 25 m away while lying in the prone position within 5 minutes. The second evolution requires you to assume the prone position from a standing position, and then take 5 shots at a target, reload with a 5 round magazine, and then take 5 more shots at a target within 70 seconds. The margin for error is slightly higher because the margin for perfection shrinks. These shots have to be taken at a tolerable level of accuracy. The next two evolutions are exactly the same, except you are kneeling. The last evolution only requires 10 shots at a target 25 m away within 10 minutes.

Patience is a virtue when completing this course. Unlike other courses, time is not as unforgiving. For someone with little experience handling guns, I benefit more from extra time on the exercises. The mind is the vehicle for patience. However, the mind can also be a terrible partner on the range. A mind that drifts and wanders towards other people’s targets may make waste of the time allotted for these exercises, and a mind that blatantly travels further out can also be a hindrance. What do I mean by that? That thinking about the ways I may have offended someone by reacting to a conversation in an insensitive way is something that I should be doing, but not while at the range shooting through a qualifications course. But how do you control a mind that wants to think what it wants to think?

Breathing helps. By focusing on your breathing, you somehow center yourself into something that is semi-external, but right within you. It isn’t as deep as focusing on a memory, and it isn’t so shallow like focusing on whether your form looks good while shooting. Breathing, interestingly, is something we don’t necessarily judge others for. Even those people who breathe heavily, we recognize it as a form of discomfort, but never as something to discriminate against.

I think I have arrived at the conclusion that I need to continue to develop breath consciousness. Breath consciousness allows me to control my movements better, and become uniformly intact. What I mean by that, is that every movement feels the same. A repetitive motion repeated often enough becomes a habit and then leads to mastery. That’s what lies ahead of this journey, mastery, and I am a young apprentice.

measurements

It struck me as I wiped the sweat from my face, what am I doing by setting these limits on myself? What I want to focus on today, and what I want to shine a light on, is that I have been harboring a deeply limiting belief about what my standards should be. In any case, I want to emphasize this – if you don’t know where you’re aiming, or why you are aiming there, you are likely to hit arbitrary targets. Yes, this may lead to a surprise of sorts, but don’t be surprised when you reflect and realize that you have completely missed all of the targets you had hoped to hit.

The Navy PRT is a physical fitness assessment that measures your ability to complete a 1.5 mile run, a 2-minute effort of maximum push-ups, and a 4-minute effort for a plank hold. The PRT Fitness Standards are posted in every fitness facility. The easiest way to break those down is that they reflect a spectrum of what a person of your gender and age, at your altitude, coincidentally, should be able to perform. The Outstanding High Score for a run for a male between the ages of 24-29 would be a time of 08:55, while the Satisfactory Medium Score for a run for a male between the ages of 24-29 would be only 13:45.

What struck me is that I strive for a time of 08:55. During every training session, I set sights on meeting that goal. I am ambitious, driven, committed to excellence, so I want to score the best. But why do I limit myself to 08:55? That’s the question that sort of struck me a bit today. In a sense, I am agreeing that that time is representative of a score that is uncommon and excellent for a person of my age and gender. But who decides these measurements, and what are they truly indicative of?

To me, these measurements are the bar. But if you want to raise the bar, then 08:55 should be your absolute slowest time for this event. 84 Push Ups in 2-minutes should be the absolute lowest score for that event. For the forearm plank, go until Failure. The excellence of others should be your floor, not your ceiling. So change that perspective and measure yourself uncommonly.

Now fear is another thing that is relative and entirely perspective-based. But the perspective is lost in the shuffle, and it is mistaken when fear sits right in front of you. A problem that you are just facing seems larger when you first encounter, but once you give it thought and break it down to its essence, it’s shadow dwindles. The deconstruction of your own fears may seem like a daunting task, but follow the trail of turtles and you will find the sea.

A particular fear that haunts me is the fear of cold water, but if I were to score this fear I would only give it a score of 3 out of 10. I am much more afraid of perhaps losing a loved one to cancer, things that I haven’t experienced but imagine would bring immeasurable pain. That nets a score of 7. So, the question to ask, when confronting fear is is it really that bad? Evaluate your response, then act as you desire.

Thank you to those who take the time to read through these posts and ideas. As I continue to build the habit of consistency, I am learning more about the importance of continuing forth and exploring the ideas that arise from my life experiences.