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. 

notes on grief

Finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s short book, Notes On Grief. 

Called mom today. She said my Godmother’s cancer continues to spread, that my aunt is probably going for surgery again, my grandmother currently underwent surgery, my sister – I think she needs me right now. But I cannot be there. 

Notes on Grief, when her father dies, Chimamanda is unhinged. What is life’s meaning when life’s meaning gets subtracted? What is left when everything is taken? In her Notes, she remarks on the surprise, the futility of condolences, the upside-downness of the process, practically unchanged since the dawn of time, of how we deal with our loved ones when they die. 

In her Notes, she shares stories about her father. This is a Eulogy maybe, or an obituary. He seemed like a loving man, and I came to show admiration for him upon finishing reading the novel. 

Out in Colorado somewhere, I bought apples, bananas, beef jerky and snack bars for our trip to the Sand Dunes. The bagger packed my new purchases and when I tried to tip him for his help, he declined. He said, I already have too much money. 

Maybe I do too. Maybe I haven’t considered the fact, but I already have too much money. And then what? 

I sat on the porch as the morning breeze cooled me. That’s when I read the first pages of her Notes. When I embrace solitude, good things happen. But I am always running away, playing a constant game of tag with it. So I became depressed again, playing over unwanted memories of failed relationships. I never thought I’d waste someone’s time. After all, I never felt that way toward anyone. But maybe I did. 

Now who am I to become? What am I to do? It’s only me, and me alone, to face this long, winding road. 

blindness

I prefer to keep my eyes closed so that the tears would have to force their way out. I say I prefer as if I had a choice in the matter, and as if my eyes weren’t forcefully shut because I was not ready to see what I was beginning to see. 

The deterioration of the mind is sudden. By the time I am become aware of what’s happening, I am halfway gone – and without realizing it, I am lost, unfound in a haze of confusion. This is what I did not want to see, the tragic end to a life that began with boundless potential.

As a youth, I stared intently at the pieces of a chess game, pieces so controlled and with no agency. Perhaps they were made of the same stuff as we, having the poor to influence change, but unable to decide for themselves. I stopped believing in free will because I understood that we created games that mirrored life, and the games we most enjoy are the zero-sum kind. 

In these games, there exists binary relations between winners and losers. Winners excite us, inspire us – losers, there is a lesson somewhere to be learned. 

I spilled my coffee on my previously white shirt. The stain has left me sour, and I am unable to shake the feeling away. While my coworker talks to me, I start to think about the stain and whether it will be permanently there, married to my shirt, never to be separated until death or a drowning in a spinning vaccuum with a tide-pod extraction. The shirt shall be replaced now, and I am none too happy with the coffee this time either. 

I still order the oat milk latte with caramel flavoring that was her favorite drink. I don’t know why we hold on to things that people pass on to is. We accept behaviors and our entire personalities evolve. I went my whole life without knowing what I would order at a coffee shop, now I don’t think, I just say the words and the drink is prepared. But today’s coffee didn’t taste so rad, it actually made me want to attempt to slurp it all in one sip. What I actually did was toss the rest of it in a garbage can. 

She said I text like a book, and when people ask me why I don’t write, I tell them that I am a coward. Perhaps I believe this about myself, but I shouldn’t. After all, maybe I am just not ready for the writing that I am meant to write. Even as I write these long incoherent sentences. 

I disintegrate, and I cry. I am timeless at once, wandering in the past, lost – have I died yet. What if I didn’t notice when it happened and I am making my way to an Angel. 

I am missing my Guardians. My Wascar, my Ana, my Johanly, my Jeffrey, my Nelson. I am not abandoned, but I cannot find them here. I am alone, and my eyes have to remain closed. Because I am afraid again, and seeing is painful. So very painful.

im a little bit sad

The battles that have brought me down in suffering are the ones I will never forget. As I navigate adult life, I think back to those lessons – those moments when I ambled the streets of New York City with a scruffy beard, not a cent in my pocket, eyes long and droopy, stomache stretched like a pig-skin drum with ribs outlined. I felt hunger, loneliness, a feeling of discontent that I could not evade. But even as my circumstances have changed, and material items abound sometimes to a border with gluttony, I feel the same sadness seeping into my experience of life.

I cannot escape this feeling, and I know that the more I tell myself that the more true it becomes. Today I felt overwhelmed with my tasks, and I sat down defeated, unable to move on. It is hard to call this laziness, because I do what I am supposed to do. I have grown comfortable with not moving until it is time to move. I play a dangerous game with time, daring it to run out on me, declining to accept its impermanence. One day I will suffer my demise, the seeds of my underestimation. Because time waits for no man, and it waits with cold hands.

The other half of it I am dreaming of what could be, what I deep down hope would be. But hope is the falsity that burdens my existence. My friends say that my inability to hold tight to hope is a sign of my own lack of confidence. They try to convince me that I should believe, that I should hold hope that it will work how I want it to. But I find it so hard to believe that. After all, it hasn’t worked that way. And yet, this is the trap. My entanglement with my own self-worth creates a fog that makes it difficult for others to see me for what I am, what I could be, and even though I am dying to show them – at times it is hard. 

The hardest part is waiting for that opportunity. Saying no to what comes in between and waiting patiently for that which you have set your eyes on. I want to say no to candy, to sugar, to basketball, to Netflix, to girls and people I have no interest in. But I don’t. I accept what I am given, maybe because at a point I had nothing. And when you experience the weight of the nothingness, the first something that becomes available becomes everything and more. 

I want to smile again tomorrow. I don’t want to think these thoughts. I don’t want to feel this weight. I want to feel light, excited again. Here’s to hoping for that day. 

on presence

Over the next few days, I will be traveling for work and I will not be sharing my writing on happyperson. Today, I want to spend some time reflecting on what the past posts have meant to me and how writing has brought meaning to my life.

For the past 16 or 17 days, I have sat down at the end of the day to write down my thoughts. I have experienced some anxiety when facing the empty screen. Sometimes I am unsure of what I would like to write, and I sit down and think. I realize this pause for reflection is where a lot of my ideas spring from. It is a moment of intentionality, to think of what I would like to communicate to whoever the reader is on the other side of the screen.

At times, I feel I have nothing to say. I stare blankly, feeling as if I have said all there is to say. But we know this is never the case, and sometimes it all comes gushing out of me as my fingers glide tirelessly across the keyboard barely able to keep up with my speeding mind. 

Most recently, I have delved into past relationships, moments that live in memory and have even shaped core aspects of my character. Who are we if not the sum of our experiences? In some sense, this is what I hope to communicate through this blog, my experience with life and the articulation of my own self as I learn and understand its origins and purpose. 

I am alone again, and when I am alone I think of what I want to do when it is all said and done. I have come to understand that my knowledge of where I am at is more important than where I am going or where I have been, but I pay so little attention to the present and spend so much of my time floating elsewhere.

When I go for a swim at the pool, I design work outs that I was able to complete in my days as a swimmer at Colgate and at George Washington High School. I design workouts that I will be able to complete after I have swam and regained my strength and refined my technique. But rarely do I design workouts for where I am actually at right now. I am regaining form and I need to be patient with my progress. The same with the Officer package, I need to practice patience and commit to making small changes rather than drowning myself underneath the weight of it all. I can address it all one step at a time, and I will be thankful for it. 

Being present also means being here, locally. I don’t want to be in New York, nor do I want to be in Instagram, in Ukraine, in the NBA Finals. I want to be locally, in Gulfport, connected with the people around me, engaged in my activities, focused on my pursuits. The tighter the leash I keep on my mind, the more rooted I am in my person and what I am currently pursuing. 

I am becoming a good writer, and I am only saying this because I am actually writing. The prerequisite is just that, write words and you are a writer. Over my lifetime, I may become a great writer, and if I am lucky, committed, and consistent, I may become a known writer. 

For now, these words will do, because this is all I have.

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. 

i remember

Every sentence began with an I remember, connecting the past to the present by a bridge self-created. What we remember could be so different from the stories of others, yet the strength lies in their personality. Each person self-defines their personhood using fragments of memories, and there is perhaps no greater symbolic item for memory than the post-it note. That sticky, albeit easily torn sliver of paper – a fragment. 

In these fragments live empires, generations that span from the very beginning to who knows when. Because I remember the mornings when we were getting ready to go to school, and my mom would tie that last shoe so that I could walk, and she would have my books in my bag, and I would climb on her back so she could carry me to my school. I remember how I cried on my first day of school in kindergarten, and then again in first grade. Why should I be ashamed of that now? I know now things that I didn’t know then, that crying isn’t a sign of weakness – it is a sign of strong feelings, an overwhelming feeling that refuses to be contained, and demands nothing more than to express. Expressed feelings.

I remember that our teacher would have us try to write our names, and after a few weeks, there were only three or four of us who hadn’t yet learned their name. I remember that I didn’t think I was too smart, but what did smart really mean then? I had never been measured against anyone else, maybe my sister. My world was my mother, my sister, and the tv. So measurements, conceptually, were the thing that I remember first noticing. 

I probably remember walking down the hallways, where our work hung and was celebrated for our parents to see, and waiting in line for lunch. I remember pledging allegiance to the flag before I knew what that meant, but I remember not being alone – being with others who uttered the same. I remember so much of childhood, of sitting there on the corner of my bed with my neck craned up, playing video games. I remember when I’d climb up the 5 flights of stairs to see my grandma, my cousins, and my aunts and uncles. I remember, and I can’t go back too far, or see it all. The only things left are those fragments.

evading sadness impending gloom

All of life summarized, the rush to get to somewhere unknown will consume your peace. 

Every moment seems to bear an equal weight of importance. When I tell the story, I stop at every sign and open every door. I am seeking a truth that may have gone hiding away. The past is a labyrinth in which I sit down and weep. 

Today we talked about past lives and permanent dispositions. Can a child be born sad? Can sadness be inherited? I had always believed that it could be cultivated, and after so many years of attention and nurturing in that manner, become that way. But a sadness in-grown, and not merely adopted, that is a hard pill to … you know the saying.

Where do our thoughts come from? How do we crack the puzzle of our mind, eliminating intrusive thoughts? How do I move forward from where I am and open myself to something new? I need to give myself space and time to relax – somehow, someway, into the space within myself. I need to relax. I need to ease back. 

Have I processed enough of the past to make living in the present bearable? Now, when my writing becomes more question than answer, I start to think that something is terribly wrong. But here is my theory, it will get fixed, but not today nor tomorrow. But where do I place these hopes?

I sat at the book store, and I was able to get some work done. But I drank my Chai Tea with the expediency of a New Yorker. The weight of the world builds knots of tension in my body. I only want to do what I need to do to make progress, but I look back and all I have been pleading for is a moment of rest. A moment to put my phone down, close my computer screen, and return to me. 

I missed you, Natasha. I didn’t know that I did so much, and then tears formed in my eyes. My eyes, which grow tired and worn, but not from seeing, from not closing enough. From too much of it. 

I always thought I cried too much for a guy. Somehow, not being able to speak led to more of that. I cry when I think about hugging my mom again. I wonder, with honest concern, whether that will happen again. I used to be able to stroll to her room in my apartment and lay down beside her. She would place her arm around me, or I would just snuggle underneath her. That warmness, love. 

We are too often buried in minutiae. When nothing really matters, and here I go tip-toeing towards nihilism. Everything matters. The two bitter extremes. 

I wish I was on good terms with all the people that said they loved me. I need all of the love right now. I need it from people I don’t believe it to hear it from anymore. I need it from my mom. I need it from dad. I need it from myself. Not in the form of a text, or a phone call. I need a hug, a handhold, a head rub. 

I let the day sleep, but I was too tired to reach for it anyway. Tomorrow will begin a new week, I will be renewed soon. 

29.

How much closer does a year bring you to knowing yourself?

I am convinced that the process must span a lifetime in which most of the questions that arise will go unanswered. But along the way, some truths will emerge. For instance, Courage – rather than being fixed, is a quality that appears in no pattern, like the rain that sometimes drizzles in a soft mist and other times pours endlessly. 

In certain instances, I have been courageous – against creatures (like the massive cockroach I stomp-killed when I was with my high school girlfriend on a subway platform), against people (domestic abusers, verbal attackers whom I would not tolerate), and enervating change (maybe COVID, maybe internal restructuring at an old job). However, in other instances, I felt afraid (not stepping in to help a kid who was getting robbed on the basketball court), unsure of myself (could I ask out the girl I liked?), unable to make a decision (should I leave my job to join the Navy?). 

Life threw at me the difficult questions: When is it right to exit a relationship? How do you exit a relationship without hurting another person? Should I leave my job? What should I do with my life? Could I form a relationship with my father when my mother has hated him since their divorce? Would this reflect some form of disloyalty? Despite knowing the answer, there existed a delay factor between when I became sure of the decision and when I executed my plan.

These internal conflicts, because they’re all internal, would sometimes arise from my unwillingness to cause harm/offense to other people and from the constant need to appease. As such, many relationships were formed under conventionally hierarchical structures – with me as student/servant/servicer and another person as teacher/master/guide.

The benefit of such structure was the immense knowledge base that I was able to create – essentially, I harvested my teachers’ talents, lessons, and wisdom (seeking to extract only the good). I gained praise for my ability to learn, assist, and support a mission or cause. But frequently, in my role as the gatherer of knowledge, I lost sight of my own influence – and neglected to develop my own theories, strategies, and methods. 

In some way, my influence has been limited to a type of leadership by example. I do things the best way I see fit, but I would never attempt to convince you to follow in my footsteps. Maybe it is a humility (maybe not) that prevents me from acknowledging my way as the right way to live. For my way is just A way. But as I continue to learn and grow, my way is the one that I will teach – and I hope that if you read this, you find some hope, but definitely not the confirmation that your questions have answers. 

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.