Tag Archives: life

Disappear here

It’s been quite a summer. I’ve moved across the country with my wife to start a PhD. I’ve quit my job. I’ve taken on a new identity- doctoral student. Progress.

Before I delve into the maelstrom of academics that is a doctoral program I decided to catch up on some pleasure reading. I wanted to remind myself that people do read for pleasure.  I read three books within the last 3 weeks:

The Catcher in the Rye– J.D. Salinger

Less than Zero– Bret Easton Ellis

Lunar Park– Bret Easton Ellis

If you know anything about the above books/authors then you know I am probably in a weird head-space right about now.

I picked the above books at near random- The Catcher in the Rye was given to me for free by a friend in Athens just before I moved, and I have the two Ellis novels as leftover Christmas gifts that I never read. Despite the lack of purpose in my choosing to read them they are all connected by a similar theme: Identity. In each of these books the main character is trying to identify himself. And, in all three, the main character is at some point of transition- either flunking out of school, returning home, or trying to transition into fatherhood.

The Catcher in the Rye and Less than Zero are the most similar. Being lost. Lonliness. Self isolation. It’s clear that, reading through these novels, Ellis has taken his cues from Salinger. Similar styles, stream of consciousness at times. Colloquial language. They both write in a way that draws you in. However, they both have a tendency to come off as entitled. Scenes of private prep schools, private liberal arts schools, excessive materialism, lack of value for relationships. Where Salinger is whiny, forever searching for some deeper meaning from a highschool dropout, Ellis is loquacious, often giving erroneous descriptions of a luxury car, household décor, names of people at parties.

Lunar Park, while tackling some similar themes, is different. It’s quite a strange novel, to say the least. I’m not even sure if it is a novel, or if it is a memoir, or some kind of horror filled yet hopeful wish.  Whatever label it should fit under is irrelevant as I’m sure the real purpose is to help Ellis work out his own inner demons (no pun intended) with his deceased father. It was a good novel to end the trio.

It’s poignant that my life, my identity, is also changing, is changed. In a way, I identify with all the characters here, I am these characters. Yet, I am not. In Less than Zero the antagonist, Clay, says all that matters “ . . . is I want to see the worst.” I don’t. Okay, I do, but that’s another blog post. Right now I want to see the best. I want to see the best in myself.

Where the characters of the aforementioned novels are filled with hopelessness, I am filled with hope. I am ready for this next stage of life. I am ready to achieve my best.

I appreciate all the readers who follow my blog. This was a heavy post, but a needed post. My writing may diminish in the coming months as much of my energy will go back into school. But I will be sure to post, I am trying to adhere to a once a month minimum, even if that once a month is just a photography post.

I hope you are achieving your best. If not, I hope you are on your way to it.

Thanks for the read.

-ASG

No more excuses

I have no problem with heaven. I long for it. But, it makes me lazy, unfocused. It provides a fallback position that undermines my relationships, my loves, my life. Some people think without an afterlife, without a judgment, people will live wildly, recklessly. As if no afterlife would mean our lives have no meaning. This might be true, but it wouldn’t last long. If nothing exists on the other side, it only ADDS value to our lives now. If there is nothing else, then THIS IS IT!!! Take a moment to process that- THIS. IS. IT.

Everything is precious! Everything you don’t tell your loved ones- they will never hear it. What if they are not looking down on us. What if they’re gone for good. What would you change RIGHT NOW if this were the case? Who would you call? Who would you spend more time with? Less time with? I think about times I’ve been with Angela, stressed or angry over some meaningless detail and missing out on our time- missing out on her when she was right in front of me. A rude waiter. Being cut-off in traffic. Being too picky. Just being in a ‘funk’. What terrible excuses those are. Excuses to not recognize the great things right in front of my face. I am changing that. I suggest you don’t wait, I suggest you change it now. What do you have to lose? How much more do you have to lose before you stop giving you life away?

I read somewhere that Buddha said that everything is burning. Coming from my Baptist upbringing this initially reminded me of hell- as if the intention is negative. But it isn’t. Everything is burning isn’t supposed to be a negative, painful, or punishing statement. On the contrary, it is meant to elucidate how quickly everything is changing around us. Even how quickly we are changing – our bodies, our minds. Imagine how rapidly your home would burn up if set on fire. All your possessions, gone in a flash. Our lives are like that. We may not recognize it because we live it every second, but everything is changing.

Is this change stoppable? No. Is it a bad thing? No. Many people would say that it sounds bad, almost hopeless. I think it can be hopeless- hopeless if you do not recognize this change. Hopeless if you resist the change. Hopeless if you ignore the change. I think it is liberating to take notice, to be aware, and really live . . . really appreciate those things we have and the people we share our lives with. How unfortunate for all those souls waiting on heaven to have a better experience. How unfortunate for those souls who set their eyes to the horizon, hoping to reach it. The horizon is unreachable- an illusion. You never get there. Like tomorrow- you never live in tomorrow, only today.

So take a few moments today, look away from the horizon. Look at your feet, then slowly gaze upward. Focus on what is in front of you RIGHT NOW. In THIS moment. What do you see?

-ASG

Dilemma of choice

Options. Choices. Alternatives. Stresses.

I love ’em. Even if I don’t/won’t use them, I just gotta have ’em. In everything.

Just take a look around my home. Two laptops. Two types of coffee, with two ways to brew them. Two different work bags. Multiple pairs of shoes. Multiple boxes of cereal. Three MP3 players. Two external hard drives (hey, that’s practical). Two beard trimmers, four types of shaving cream, two types of razors (and one has multiple types of blades). Two types of undershirts. I even wear two types of underwear (boxers and boxer briefs, now you know).

English: A modern safety razor, based on the c...
A safety razor, which I have about 10 types of blades for. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anytime I buy a new item, I want whatever version gives me the most options. It’s all about flexibility, really. I like my stuff to be utilitarian, and usable in many different situations. I blame my parents, well, actually I blame Boy Scouts. “Be Prepared” is the motto. So I am.

But why? Why do I have 5 different jackets when I live in Georgia? Yeah, I’ll be moving to New York state soon and they’ll definitely come in use there, but that was an unforeseeable change. They’ve been essentially useless to me. Is it materialism? Eh . . . maybe. I really do think that it comes down to my inner anxiety about any new situation. Gotta be prepared! Gotta have all the angles covered! But why?

Why not just roll with it? What do all those options matter? Occasionally I suffer from option paralysis (and not the awesome math-metal album by Dillinger Escape Plan, which I’m sure many people would count listening to as a form of suffering). No, I’m talking not being able to pick out an outfit because I am endlessly going through the combinations of pants/shirt/shoe/tie combinations in my head. My wife has seen it happen.

Cover of "Option Paralysis (Dig)"
Cover of Option Paralysis. Warning: Album May Kill You

It’s borderline obsessive compulsive. It get this inner compulsion to just check, to see if there are other options I am missing out on. There always are.

Enter this blog. I spent soo much time today pouring over other themes (that is, pre-packaged design templates) for this blog. Which ones had the best gallery looks, custom headers, post types, blah, blah, blah. I got this way because I was thinking that my current theme wasn’t customizable enough, that maybe there were other ones that would have better color schemes, more readability, easier accessibility, etc. Through my search I realized that the current theme was actually pretty customizable, and just like that, *snap*, I was out of my frenzy, content with this theme.

I could easily be one of those people who hoards stuff, waiting for the “just in case” moment when I need to use it.  Thank God for my need for aesthetic simplicity. I can’t stand a bunch of stuff just sitting everywhere. If Angela would allow it my whole house would look like a Zen monastery, with clean lines and no clutter. At least that’s what I like to think. Why can’t I snap out of it the rest of the time?

I think sometimes I just need to breathe. Just take a moment, breathe, and ground myself in the here and now. Not in all these future possibilities, not in all the possible combinations or uses of something, but it the now. Not judging, hoping, or worrying, but just living.

Anyway, what do you think?  What in your life do you have trouble making decisions over?

I don’t hate you, I’m just low maintenance

Let me list some characteristics of potential friend here, tell me what you think about someone like this, or if this reminds you of anyone:

  1. Never calls you.
  2. Is rarely on Facebook/Twitter/Google+, and never uses their chat functions.
  3. Will respond to about 1 in 5 invites to ‘do something’ (1 in 10 if they’re online invites).
  4. When asked what they like to do or if they like to go out, they respond with noncommittal “meh”.
  5. Doesn’t fill you in on events in their life unless you explicitly ask about said event.

Doesn’t sound like much of a friend . . . but wait! What if these are also true:

  1. When person finally calls you both pick up right where you left off.
  2. When you do manage to connect on some social network the interactions seem very substantial.
  3. Will randomly inform you of things they think you might like, right out of the blue, and you actually like said things.
  4. When you’re in trouble this person is there for you, either in person or at least emotionally, no questions asked, no judgment.
  5.  Somehow knows what has been up with you even though you don’t know what’s been up with them.

Ring any bells? Maybe an old college or high school buddy? Past work associate?

If so, let me be the first to congratulate you on having a low maintenance friend, or LMF.

You see, LMFs are a unique breed of friend. They’re like friendship camels.

Let me explain-most friends are like dogs or cats. With dogs, they are loyal, great companions, will do all kinds of stupid stuff with you just because they like hanging around you. However, their attention span is a tad short at times.  If you don’t put a certain baseline effort into the relationship the next thing you know there are holes all over your backyard, a hole under the fence, and the dog is out getting into all kinds of other mischief without you.

Doggie do
You're bored?

With cat friends you may care about them a lot, but it seems like the relationship is never quite equal. They come to you when they want to, no matter how much you call them. Sometimes they’ll come to you, but you tend to notice it’s when you have something they want. Otherwise they’re kinda indifferent to you, and if you don’t put in the work, they just mosey off and find something more comfortable for them.

Cats aren't cool Kyle
Typical.

Not so with LMFs. Like camels, they’re in it for the long haul. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly large gaps of time that pass between the interactions. When they do finally connect with you it will be more than just a beer, it’ll be a talk about life, love, meaning, past, and futures. Also, they’re not afraid to cross the desert with you, to be there when you need them to be.

Camel friend.
Long time no see.

I happen to know because I am an LMF, and I have mostly LMFs. Birds of a feather tend to flock together, I guess (couldn’t resist another animal analogy). I probably don’t call you much. I probably don’t Facebook you much. I probably don’t email you too much. But I’m there when it counts most, for sure.

So look kindly on your own LMFs- sometimes we tend to put people off with our aloof nature. Sometimes we look like party poopers, or stick-in-the-muds. Rest assured though, we probably think about you more than you would guess, and our memories with you are cherished treasures for sure.

*Dedicated to all the LMFs I know (you’ll probably read this, see you next year).

-ASG