March 9-10, 2015: Deepened and Family

There are days when you know you have changed, days when you notice a marked difference in the feeling of your disposition, days when you know there has been a significant shift in your outlook. Tonight I stand on the dock I grew up on, knowing there is no going back to yesterday.

There is a sadness to it, but it’s no more sad than leaving summer camp, knowing you won’t see the girl again. For I know I no longer have the chance to be loved for the boy I was. Those loves have come and gone.

Now, I feel as I’ve never felt: I feel like an adult man. The truth is, up until tonight I’ve never been much more than a boy – and now, the guilt of all I have done as a boy is upon me. The breakups, the fights, the selfishness, the abandonment – of myself and others – is clear, as it never has been. I can relate to the lyric in ‘Waitin’ on The Day’, where John Mayer sings, Waitin’ on the day where that voice comes to say, that it’s not wrong what you did for just a kid.

Maybe it’s time to be honest with myself about my crimes and to find out why I’ve committed them so I can forgive myself, so I can begin to forgive others, so I can live as purely as I did before I ever had my heart broken.

Note: above paragraph inspired by the following James Baldwin passage in his novel Another Country:

image

In the words of David Foster Wallace, “The truth will set you free, but not until it is finished with you.”

It’s time for me to take the lessons away from the pain. It’s time for me to become the man I was always meant to be. Remaining a boy simply isn’t an option for me anymore. Boyhood is over, and I think I’m okay with that. I think I’m okay with the challenge of being a man, because I know the challenges of boys are greater.

I’m not sure whether this shift is a normal maturation of a man’s priorities or just some gift handed down to me from the heavens. Either way, I’m ready to say goodbye to my twenties and the fears they contained.

Much has come to pass in these last ten years, but the things I love remain the same and my dreams haven’t changed.

As a boy I dreamed of being a good man, of having a family, of being happy, of sailing places, and of being loved and respected for who I was. As a man, I’m tired of dreaming. I’m ready to fulfill the promises I made to myself as a boy, on this dock, all those years ago.

Perhaps the fact I am standing on this dock, a place steeped so rich in memory for me – perhaps this is helping to highlight the significance of the change I feel tonight. As Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, A Long Walk to Freedom: “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

Tonight, I have a deepened sense of myself. Some change has arisen within me, and I’m so ready.

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10 March: Family

I’m slightly stoned, and I don’t particularly feel like writing – but I know I should because if I don’t, I’ll just lie here thinking of all the same things anyway.

Yesterday’s internal shift continued to show itself today. Ironically, I wanted to write about family last night, but as I was wearing shorts and it was cold on the dock, I ceased my writing when I could no longer stand the chill. But to add clarification about last night’s psychic Bar Mitzvah of sorts, the feeling isn’t only that I am passing from boyhood to manhood, but that specific changes in my priorities are driving this change of seasons in my life.

Specifically, family. Maybe it’s because I’m spending the first significant span of time in the last ten years single and as result am spending more time with my own family. Maybe it’s because I have a baby nephew around. Surely both are important factors in the changes I am feeling but it’s more than that. It’s the fact that I feel like they can count on me now. It’s the fact that I am seeing that they need me. As I too am seeing I need them.

I feel terrible to write this, but I love them more than I ever have. It makes me feel better knowing that I also know them better than I ever have, but my increased feelings of love for them are more a product of the fact that I am no longer so obsessed with myself.

In my early twenties I knew I wanted a family, but my focus was on all the things that augmented my manhood – essentially, the same things most early twenties guys care about: their girlfriend, their car, and their image. I had a material life and I was successful based on my definition of success at the time, but my consciousness existed in a bubble trapped on the material plane.

I was also as selfish and arrogant as most early twenties guys are; although, based on the older men I knew and looked up to at the time, I thought all the cooler men shared my priorities.

It’s not just your priorities that change as you get older, but what you look up to and value changes as well. Now that I am nearing thirty next month, I still want success, sure, but it’s a different kind of success I seek. Yes, I desire copious amounts of money – but for completely different reasons than I did, even a year ago. I think time and life and loss have humbled me. I think the chip on my shoulder has been worn down. Thank G-d.

I always assumed I would meet my girl before I made my money. Well, I’ve done that twice and it hasn’t worked out – for good reasons. Frankly, I’m not going to wait for a women to come along and build the dream with me – and in all honesty, that’s a much tougher proposition to sell at thirty than it is at twenty-four. Young women find ambition sexy, women find success sexy – but that’s not what drives me. I live a heart-centered life. I’m not vying for anything less than wifey of the century. Material girls need not apply.

However, as a man there is no biological expiry date on my baby batter. Maybe I’ll be forty when I meet my wife. Who knows.

Regardless of how old I am when I start a family, I’m planting the seeds now. People are counting on me. I’m counting on me. It’s a long time till forever, but i’m learning I can be a family man and be single. It’s a beautiful thing.

Life is about relationships. Connection. And maybe I’ll make a forever home for the right girl someday but relationships sometimes end. Even after years. Family however, is always there. And should the Gods see it fit for me to walk to the alter then I intend it to last a lifetime, heaven willing. But right now I am so blessed to be near my family.

Which is difficult given that I want to get a place in LA again soon (I’m one of those freaks who LOVES El Lay). But honestly, I don’t even want to think about leaving them right now. They need me. And I need them.

4 Mar, 2015: Introversion

I’m coming to understand how introverted I am – and it’s not introverted as in an aversion to people, but rather an aversion to not being in my element.

There have been long periods of time when my element has been in bed with the one I love or otherwise at her side, so my introversion has little to do with solitude; it’s more about an innate need to preserve the sanctity of my soul rather than an express desire to be alone; although, the two certainly are often intertwined, and I suspect they [solitude and inner sanctum] are mutually inclusive for many. Some people simply need to be alone to experience a sense of peace they cannot otherwise attain in the company of others (footnote 1).

The people who enhance my sense of inner peace and add to my wellbeing in ways that do not require me to be anything other than completely faithful to my innermost nature in the moment, whether that’s quiet or talkative, energetic or mellow – those are the people whom I treasure and love the most.

Still there are others whom I enjoy spending time with but upon departing from feel drained, as if I have expended some unearthly spiritual energy in hanging out with them, and now I must go home and recharge my batteries.

This feeling is not overly apparent, at least it has not been until now, but I am becoming keenly aware that there are two camps of people in my life; there are those who maintain and even enhance my mental equilibrium and sense of self, and there are those who somehow disturb it, leaving me feeling off balance and slightly out of sorts with myself and the world.

I’m not sure what the distinguishing factor is between the two kinds of people but one [type] is certainly life giving, while the other is life depleting – and regardless of whether someone is the former or the latter, their effect on me is invariably one or the other; those who consecrate my inner sanctum always do, and those who somehow seem to desecrate it never fail to.

Mind you, I had never consciously and clearly noticed this until now – today to be exact.

I met my friend and business partner Chris for lunch this afternoon and afterwards felt as I always do after seeing him – not just good spirited, but almost more like myself than I had felt before seeing him. It’s almost as if he affirms my sense of life and my identity; it’s as if he helps me know my place in the world and anchors me to it.

Contrast that to coffee later in the evening with two friends, which, while pleasant company, left me feeling an almost instinctual desire to return home and recharge. An unfortunate thing because they invited me to join them at a barbecue tonight, and I had to decline for want of some “me time”.

Later, after coming home and starting to journal this, my friend Britney invited me for a walk. Having had sufficient time to recharge in my foremost preferred fashion – writing of course (a close second to reading, walking being my third choice) – I went and saw her.

Now Britney is an interesting example of someone who, like Chris, leaves me feeling more true to myself than I otherwise would have, had I not seen her.

I say she is an interesting example, because it’s not like Britney is the most zen, chill person in the world; her thoughts are often as discombobulated (her word, not mine) as my own mile-a-minute mind. But no matter, she somehow always centers me to a completely authentic place. I am naturally in my element with Britney.

Which leads me to an interesting point. I’ve long said that, we like others based on how much we like ourselves when we are around them, which may be true to an extent, but my best friend Marc certainly desecrates my inner sanctum – as he always does and has since the time he gave me mushrooms when we were in high school – an unfortunate story he loves to tell to this day (footnote 2).

My point about Marc is that it’s not as if I’m choosing to like people based on how much they feed into my ego (hell, if anything Marc keeps me humble). The fact is, I enjoy having both types of friends. I have friends who put me in my element and affirm my identity, and I have friends who take me out of my element and make me feel as if I need to run off alone and do something that reminds myself of who I am (writing, reading, walking). One is not inherently superior to the other; however, the one kind I can only handle in limited doses before I have to climb up into my tree house alone to recharge, and the other kind I want to invite up into my treehouse to recharge with me (footnote 3).

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Footnote 1: This probably accounts for a large portion of Netflix’s user base; although, the discussion of technology and it’s role as a catalyst for increasing one’s need for solitude is a rabbit hole I will venture down another day. Also, if the bulk of your alone time is spent watching Netflix, you likely aren’t my type.

Footnote 2: Sorry this footnote is not a retelling of Marc’s favorite mushroom story, but I want to apologize in advance to my future wife for the toast Marc makes at our wedding, or anything else that comes out of his mouth for that matter. That’s just Quitos and I love him despite his Maqruitos-ways. If I marry you you’ll hopefully love him too – but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t – ha!

Footnote 3: I recognize that for some of my friends, I may make them want to pull up their own treehouse ladders in my face as they rush to recharge on their own. Just as for others, I may center them. The question then is, is Marc an exception to the rule (I have known him for 14 years after all)? And if he is, is one kind in fact superior to the other? And does this life affirming energy always flow both ways? Based on my recent dating experiences, I would say no. One person can center another person and affirm their entire existence, only to send the other person running for their treehouse. So, the question then becomes, are we introverts with some and extraverts with others? And do we prefer one over the other? Surely our MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) functions affect one another. My lovely pink shirt wearing former girlfriend Bunny S. can attest to this, as I am ENFP (coincidentally, the most introverted of the extraverts), and she is ISTJ – my polar opposite (oil and water as she used to say). Perhaps I will ask my friends to take the Myers Briggs for me and I can gather a few additional relevant data points, but the fact is I’m just exploring my relationship to the world here, using my journal to reflect on life, to grow. As I close my eyes to sleep now, I’ll think back on all the relationships I’ve had – for better or worse – and I’ll see if I can figure anything else about why some people recharge us, and others deplete us (footnote 4).

Footnote 4: Yes, I just gave a footnote a footnote because I’m gangster like that. The one question that I ask people to determine if their dominant modality is introverted or extraverted is if whether going to a party gives them energy or if it depletes their energy and makes them feel like they need to go home and be alone afterwards. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, whose work was the foundation for the Myers Briggs, characterized an introvert as someone whose primary focus was on their inner, subjective world, and an extravert as someone whose primary focus was the outer, external world. But of course, these are all footnotes, because introversion and extraversion are only part of the bigger picture, but perhaps the people who affirm your identity possess an intuitive understanding of your inner, subjective world and thus enable you to more comfortably navigate and relate to the outer world, while those who do not intuitively understand your inner world do not draw it out, and as a result leave you feeling like you need to go connect to it on your own – since you could not with them, as you could someone who did (footnote 5).

Footnote 5: David Foster Wallace would have been proud of these footnotes on footnotes. The funny, yet apropos thing, is that my perspective is really only truly relevant to other ENFPs and even then, this is really only relevant to me, but that being said, there is a big relationship between intuition and personality types. Basically there are sixteen Myers Briggs types based on four quadrants: introversion / extraversion, intuition / sensing, thinking / feeling, and judging / perceiving. But each quadrant has introverted and extraverted functions as well. According to the Wikipedia for Jungian Cognitive Funtions, which sheds much light on what I have written:

In addition, each function is seen as either introverted or extraverted (known as attitudes). The attitudes are interpreted in terms of what the person finds more rewarding when using one of the four functions to focus attention outwardly on people and things (extraversion) or to focus attention more inwardly towards internal feelings, thoughts and ideas (introversion).

Jung’s models do not restrict people to any one of four functions, in only one attitude. Rather it observes only that functioning in the opposite attitude requires greater expenditure of “energy” (or rather, emotional resources, enthusiasm, and so on). Operating the function in the person’s preferred attitude conserves and replenishes energy. In this, Jung’s ideas are a detailed close-up view of the fuzzy conventional idea of “comfort zones.”

Rather than write more I’m going to stop here and return later to this entry to reflect on it. That’s the beauty of journaling, you get to reflect on life and yourself in a very introspective and enlightening manner. I recommend it to everyone.

16 Feb – 1 Mar, 2015: Amused, Helocene, Sing, SunKing, Cauterised

Note: Herein are four separate journal entries. The reason I am publishing four at once is twofold: firstly, I often write sporadically and transcribing the entries from my journal is fairly time consuming (my scrawled, barely legible handwriting prohibits anyone else from doing this task for me); although, I find it a pleasurable activity when I’m in the mood for it, which is typically late at night while listening to relaxing music, as I am now – and secondly, I don’t want my email subscribers to wake up with four different email notifications of new entries – despite how thrilling that may (hopefully) be for some.

– L. Black

16 Feb: Amused

She’s in the watercolored, pinkish, burning-orange of tonight’s sunset. She’s walked by me in soft, well-worn shoes, and in a long black paisley-patterned skirt.

I created her because the song I used to sing – the one once again trapped in her heart – I can’t find the words to it anymore. It’s lost for all time like an ancient family recipe, but the soul of it lives on. In my heart and in my writing, somewhere between a memory and a dream.

A man (an artist) without a muse must invent one in his heart, if only to remind him why it beats. And so we beat on, if only to keep dreaming. The love of Marina Keegan, in all of us, beats on. Beating on in dusky moments like these. Moments fated to end, endings we are fated to witness.

But I’m not sullen or sad; this is normal. I’m coming to accept this, this “essence” of who I am (But I must remember the words of Haley S., who said to me, “I’m a different person than I was two months ago”). And I could dismissively apply an adjective like foolhearted to it [my disposition], but that wouldn’t do my appreciation for life justice – my zeal. I’ve got a damn zest for life like Papa Hemingway, I’ve got it alright. Cursed to want to taste my own blood after the punch, to catch the biggest, best fish of my life – ending it’s own with my fillet knife while ad-libbing a Native American prayer to it’s soul. For I believe in the souls of fishes and in mice and men.

Yes, I have zest for life. Zest enough to cook that fish for you and I. Zest enough to fall in love again. Enough to beat on – on the longest way round – hoping I don’t run into myself again, knowing I will.

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18 Feb: Helocene

Growing up, growing up, growing.

Spirituality manifests itself in very material ways. Our job as spiritual beings is to impart deeper meanings to the synchronistic occurrences we experience. For none but ourselves can give meaning to our lives. Regardless of how meaningful external things seem to us, we ourselves must orient our lives in the direction we wish to progress. And it’s the spiritual truths, as decided by us, that give us the deepest clarity and guidance, clarity and guidance we find when we need it most – when we open ourselves to it, when we open the doors of possibility and reveal the doors of perception, unlocked and waiting, slightly ajar, the light of our inner truths, our consciousness, – our souls – shining through.

Who would have known that after reading Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead, I would discover it’s deeper meaning (for me) in a dollar book reluctantly purchased from the library sale today. I suppose the universe did – or my inner voice, I’m coming to see they are one in the same. As Neil De Grasse Tyson exclaimed, ‘we are not only in this universe, but of this universe’.

Light a spliff, watch the sunset, listen to Helocene.

Watch your neighbors face the burning cotton-candied sky through their phones, turning away to mindlessly post a moment that they themselves (as souls) never recorded.

One more thing to write about. You had hoped to hear from her, to see her here again. Well, you didn’t; c’est la vie. Savor it.

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24 Feb: Sing

A procession of sunsets, the days dawdle on. Weeks on, months on, years on. Then life is gone. So I sit here chewing on these almonds as life eats me up. But what am I going to do about my inevitable exit from this world?

I mustn’t go quietly into the night. I’ve got to sing all there is in me. I can’t go down under the weight of unborn dreams – or of dreams past, neither regret, nor nostalgia, nor grief, nor great heights, nor depths deep and dark.

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27 Feb: SunKing

The sun sinking away behind the row of houses on the isthmus, once again, like the final glimpse of a golden crown on the head if a king riding over and down the hillside towards his destiny. For like the sun, the king never says goodbye. A silent display of confidence that he will be back again, once more.

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1 Mar: Cauterised

Days of daze are over. Dreams risen up and fallen, gone away.

Goodbye to Daniella, Shannon, Genevieve, and Jen (footnote: 1). Freed like birds once kept in my heart – free to begin again, to move on – I mark these scrawled letters as the start I have so long sought.

I now enter into a new sacred compact with my heart, a romance built to last a lifetime, a love with the one I wanted them to love most.

I’ll love myself all at once as they did and as they did not. As only I can, I must, I will – as I do now.

I will grant myself gifts of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, health, success, comfort, peace, and joy. All that love is dwells within me, and should the pangs of old wounds return in nostalgic remembrances of things gone away, I will not allow myself the masochistic, caustic self-pity of devolving into the person I was and the state I was in when the damage was first done, “for the valiant taste of death but once”, and it’s not valor or bravery – but courage, emotional strength.

I do not espouse sending ones vulnerabilities into exile, but rather – bringing ones strengths to light. As is said: a smart man learns to endure pain, but a wise man learns to avoid it. And while I cannot thwart the inherent risks of loving truly, I can choose to be whole.

In moving on alone, ahead, onward toward my thirtieth year, I am complete. Devoid of nothing and no one.

One last thing on the subject of love. Have I been too toady, too servile, too schmaltzy, too self-sacrificial, too pollyanistic, too indigent, too infantile and infatuated? Yes – but disingenuous or insincere? Never. That said, there’s a certain balance of wisdom and maturity between my head and my heart that has never before existed within me. Too my surprise, I’m not in the least bit regretful about possessing this. I’m no longer sad that love will never be what it once was.

I’m no longer seeking a comeback. No longer seeking to incarnate the love of one in another. The Master’s Chamber in my heart is once again unoccupied and I am once again occupied in making a masterpiece of my life.

For the first time in my adult life I am in all actuality grateful for the misshapen gifts of my past – all of them. The incendiary bombs of love departed have kept the fire burning in my heart and my wounds are no longer septic, having now been cauterised by the ashes of love past.

I carry no more torches into the night as I have for the thousands of nights now at rest behind me. Since I am no longer dedicating my love to those who do not love me, I have certitude in my ability to commit my love to where it is most deserved. To I. To me. To mine.

Footnote 1: Chronological order of meeting – except I never actually met Genevieve as it was semi long-distance, and I only met Jen once, after a lengthy correspondence, but nonetheless, they entered into my soul [anima]): although, Daniella and Shannon I did spend the better part of a decade with in total. Either way, it is goodbye. It’s a season in my life for letting go. Something that (my inability to do so) has royally fucked me in the past. Bless them, but I need them not anymore, and do not care to be who I was before: the man who never let go. There’s simply no place in my life today or tomorrow for unrequited love.

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p.s. Here’s a quote that felt appropriate to end these entries with:

“Dignity
/ˈdignitē/ noun

1. The moment you realize that the person you cared for has nothing intellectually or spiritually to offer you, but a headache.

2. The moment you realize God had greater plans for you that don’t involve crying at night or sad Pinterest quotes.

3. The moment you stop comparing yourself to others because it undermines your worth, education and your parent’s wisdom.

4. The moment you live your dreams, not because of what it will prove or get you, but because that is all you want to do. People’s opinions don’t matter.

5. The moment you realize that no one is your enemy, except yourself.

6. The moment you realize that you can have everything you want in life. However, it takes timing, the right heart, the right actions, the right passion and a willingness to risk it all. If it is not yours, it is because you really didn’t want it, need it or God prevented it.

7. The moment you realize the ghost of your ancestors stood between you and the person you loved. They really don’t want you mucking up the family line with someone that acts anything less than honorable.

8. The moment you realize that happiness was never about getting a person. They are only a helpmate towards achieving your life mission.

9. The moment you believe that love is not about losing or winning. It is just a few moments in time, followed by an eternity of situations to grow from.

10. The moment you realize that you were always the right person. Only ignorant people walk away from greatness.”

― Shannon L. Alder