As the winter ends and the spring blossoms there is a chance that some may feel a great malaise.
The winter suffocates the spirits of many.
Perhaps it is because you had a difficult time garner the appropriate level of Vitamin D. Deficiency.
Maybe your consumption of magnesium and zinc was too little. Mistake
Possibly the pickings this winter was slim as the best were spoken for. S(weats)N(orthface)UGG Season.
Though the ground has begun to thaw and sundresses line department store windows your spirits have been slow to wake.
The warm caress of the sun does nothing for you. You have fallen into a slump and like Persephone you feel trapped as you gnaw on pomegranate seeds.
You have failed the Boomers’ measure of success: no car, no money, no girl.
Your ambition slowly wanes as each day is almost identical to the last.
You have become Lebowski while in your heart you wish to be more Pulaski.
You refresh your e-mail account in the hopes that a new job offer will greet you.
You measure your life by the pictures and statuses posted on Facebook.
Everyone seems to be succeeding and making waves.
You forget that it is all a highlights reel and not a behind the scenes.
Melancholy beseeches you.
You are not the only one. I understand your plight for I find myself in a similar pit.
Ambition and Intelligence all rendered mute due to circumstance.
Avoiding outings because one’s wealth is but a fistful of dollars.
Stranded at home for longer than expected.
You start rehabilitation.
Seaweed to maintain iodine levels for your thyroid.
Magnesium, zinc, melatonin, fatty oils to improve dopamine and serotonin levels.
Outings in the sun.
Yet there is something missing. You find the energy that had alluded you for months.
However, there is a anxiousness in your walk. Something needs to burst forward.
One night a primal force fills your being and takes control.
You bend backwards and raise your head to the sky.
You release all your mental anguish. Your feelings of growing dread are no longer being held in place.
Your troubles dissipate as you continue your howl into the night. Each howl more confident than the last. Primal song.
You become light. Your body no longer in knots. Tranquility
Smile grazes the visage. Your skin begins to tingle with energy.
You begin to run. Like a wild man possessed through the streets you dart.
You jump over obstacles. You do not lack breath. Your muscles do not ache.
You feel alive as you spot a tree and climb it.
One branch to the next you rise above the rest.
Looking out you see farther as the moon lights your gaze.
The nuisances that plagued you earlier have become muted.
Self deprecation forgotten as self awareness returns.
Anxiety has been replaced by a freedom.
Tomorrow will be a gritty reboot.
Life’s a bitch and she’s always having puppies.
It’s about time you adopted and played with one.
Note: If you are feeling anything that can be construed as depression or being depressed please seek assistance. Life has a habit of trying to see how much pressure it can apply to our throat. There will never be shame in asking someone to help you breathe again.
Amsterdam is a safe city. Everyone I spoke to was inclined to tell me this.
People on the street kept stopping me trying to sell me cocaine and “Charlie.”
Amsterdam is a safe city.
Brawls broke out outside clubs and the red light districts.
Amsterdam is a safe city.
I should have known better, but my youthful naiveté made it hard for me to recognize.
The hints were there.
Our cabbie welcomed us: “Ah, from the Big Apple to the Rotten Apple.”
It was my senior year of high school and my two friends, let’s call them Lucius and Titus, and I traveled to London and Amsterdam as a way to prepare ourselves for college. The trip was to strengthen the bonds of friendship and a graduation gift. Coming of Age Ceremony.
The trip itself was very relaxed and enjoyable. Over the two weeks, our guards slowly whittled down from our urban paranoia of anyone could potentially stab us to a small town mentality. Dullness.
It was our last night in Amsterdam and we were based in the city center. The entire trip I avoided an altered mind state. Boy scout. I only drank and even that was sparingly. I enjoy maintaining as much power over my being as possible and am distrusting of things that would impede my ability to control my actions. My two friends however are more open minded.
On our last day we were sitting in a coffee shop that was Pink Floyd themed. The weather outside was gorgeous and the breeze gently caressed our faces as we reclined on the second floor looking out onto the city below. We were taken by a wedding procession that included numerous drums and horns. My friends had just finished the last of their space cake.
All seemed well; their faces were filled with content smiles that spewed silly things.
That night, Lucius slept soundly and I lay in bed thinking of the future to come when Titus shook me.
“I’m not feeling so good man, everything feels stuffy.”
Even with my lack of experience I noticed that he was having a negative reaction to the space cake.
“Let’s take a walk. Fresh air is always good”
We walked down one a street, past smart shops and stores selling Delft works. I figured he should eat something and we came upon a pizza shop selling “NYC Style” pizza. Naturally the slices were terrible.
We began the trek back to the hostel when a short wiry figure came into view. My first thought was that he was homeless who may have been on something. His moves were fidgety and eyes wild. Shirt baggy and stained. Shortly cropped hair exposed a thin scar that gleamed in the streetlight. Vagrant.
“Hey how’s it going guys, where you from?” He stuck his hand out for a shake.
His English was lightly accented, something I had noticed when speaking to a few in Amsterdam.
Titus next to me seemed at unease and I thought it may be a good idea to be friendly and curt with the interaction. Quick end.
I shook his hand and with fake unbridled enthusiasm let him know we were from New York City.
He poured some white powder on my hand which I promptly shook off.
“That was fifty euros of coca-ina motherfucker. You better pay me for it.”
Time stopped for me as he lifted his shirt and show a knife tucked into the waistband of his track pants. I spared a glance at Titus and he was shaking and his eyes were bugging out of his head.
I have been in two previous muggings, but neither included a weapon.
It was my last day in Amsterdam. It was four in the morning. I began to feel apprehension.
Blood left my face. My knees became pudding. Lips dry.
Everything around me was now moving as molasses. I was processing information at faster speeds. I saw everything. I saw the few stragglers on the street quickly lower their heads and shuffle away. From some recess of my mind I remembered someone telling me the police force was sparse at this hour in this “safe” area. I counted every streetlight in eye’s vision and noticed their illumination radius.
Adrenaline pumped and it felt as if tiny spiders were scurrying underneath my skin. My mind attempted to convince me that I could outrun him. I understood that if he pulled his knife out I would get cut. Most importantly I recognized that Titus was in no state to truly fend for himself.
Titus and I are built like tanks. He spent most of his high school career collecting detentions, defending soccer goals, and scoring 2360 on his SAT. He was a threat on a good day. Tonight was a bad night for him.
When your adrenaline is running and you’re put in a threatening situation from which escape is neigh impossible you begin to quickly understand the ramifications if your aggressor’s attack is successful. At this point I began to succumb to my fear. I imagined my parent’s faces if they answered a call saying their son was stabbed and/or dead mere hours before his scheduled return.
What terrified me the most was the possibility of having to explain to Titus’ parents that something had happened to him. The simplest solution was to give this man the fifty euro’s he had requested. I only had 8 Euros on me. Titus had none.
Mere seconds had passed since I saw the knife.
I was not in control of my body for my response. It was all instincts.
I looked at this man as a great aggressor and literally snarled at him. Titus was moving his mouth, but heard nothing. All I remembered was that this man was threatening my friend and me.
“Do you know where the fuck I’m from? You think you’re gonna pull this shit on someone from NYC?”
My bravado was an act, somewhere deep within I felt that if I appeared as more trouble than I was worth he would leave us be. I continued to yell at him raising my voice. Perhaps I hoped that the louder I yelled the greater the scene I would attract which would force him to leave. In truth it seemed as if the street was becoming more deserted at a quicker rate.
We were alone with a man with a knife.
There would be no heroes.
We would not be saved by flashing cherries and the sound of sirens.
He wasn’t budging. I continued being aggressive and in Italian fashion speaking with my hands. Titus was bugging out.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the last of my riches.
“Here’s all I got asshole, 6 Euros. Take it.”
I threw it at him, grabbed Titus and began walking. My pace was quick.
I felt my shirt begin to get moist from my perspiration.
I did not look back. I listened for his footsteps.
I kept my muscles tense in the hope that if he did try to stab me, they would provide some armor.
“Run along little boy” was the last I heard from him.
That was the first time I understood the feeling of fear.
That was the first time I understood the feeling of no control.
That was the first time I understood the feeling of acting without thinking.
The knowledge that you’re responsible for your safety as well as another’s was the most frightening to me. I was no longer in control of just my fate, but Titus’ as well. My actions would have a direct effect on him. That understanding scared me the most.
To this day I am amazed that we left that interaction unscathed. I am taken aback at how my mind processed all the information around me. I am astounded by my instincts which at that time were relatively untrained and not honed.
Fear is a hell of a drug.
A man’s home is his escape from the world. It is where he is allowed time to recharge himself. It is the war room, restaurant, library, and gymnasium. It is his citadel of seclusion. The home provides security for the moments when you have no choice but to crawl back with tail between legs.
Some men claim that their home should be utilitarian and bare. Spartan. Every item in the home has its purpose and lack frivolity. Men are told colors are feminine and instead decorate with shades of black, grey, and white. Furniture and other items should be metal, wood, or leather. Terracotta, porcelain, and fabric have no place in their habitat.
I am not of that school. Many are flabbergasted to learn I believe a man’s home should be warm and inspiring. It should be filled with color and texture. I am not a fan of clutter, but an advocate of organized chaos. Walls should be littered with frames and bookshelves full with knickknacks. Lamps, candles, and lanterns should establish a warm glow. Fresh flowers on tables and greenery found all around.
Articles I read on garnishing a masculine apartment take one of either two bents: a focus on attracting women or an attempt is made to create a media-system friendly set up. This is how to ornate your dwelling if you wish to be predictable and uninspired.
When I prepare my home I focus on two tenants: Inspiration and Respite.
A man is nothing without his creativity. Creativity requires the muses to gift us with inspiration.
One never knows when inspiration will strike, but one can help facilitate its frequency. If your home is dull and cold then it is hard to be moved with idea and passion. The Dark Ages. There is a reason why many great thoughts found their origin in the outdoors. Newton. Nature is chaos. In nature we find multitudes of colors, textures, and creations. Variety.
You must endeavor to do the same with your home.
Stop trying to build a home that focuses on enticing women with a guitar placed in eye sight or photographs of a recent trip to Asia. Build for yourself and not another.
Construct your residence so that you are constantly being moved and provided with stimuli. Textured wallpaper and vibrant walls. Shelves that hold things such as old tools, cast iron toys, almanacs and biology texts, and other oddities you have come across in your travles. Walls adorned with old signs, posters, photographs, or poetry that has moved you. Choose a wall and cover it whiteboard paint so that you can always jot down ideas when inspiration shocks.
Do not fear a home where you fill vases with flowers. When at the market or florist choose what colors and petals speak to you. They will add color, vibrancy, and scent to your home. Sunflowers. Lavender. Gladiolas. When they wilt you know it is time to clean your apartment and then pick a different variety to replace them.
Each day you will seek respite from the world beyond your walls. Home Spa.
Do not be tempted to fill your den with gadgetry and electronics. If you are stirred to make your television a focal point in your home then I feel for you dear reader. Lost cause.
Fill your apartment with green leafy plants such as weeping fig and English ivy. Unsullied Life. These plants clean the air you breathe. Purification. Do not fear painting your kitchen a soothing yellow or your living room lavender. Color has the power to improve one’s mood. Soothing. Take advantage of this. Think differently.
Your bedroom should be an oasis. Many of us have unknowingly poisoned our bedrooms. Toxicity. We lay in our beds with the glare of monitors radiating upon us. If you are having trouble falling asleep it is because you have not trained your body to learn when to sleep. Sleep Hygiene.
Keep electronics out of your quarters. Watch your telenovelas in the living room. Keep your phone beyond your bedroom’s threshold. Invest in blackout window shades. Teach your body that in the bedroom you either sleep or engage in coitus. Nothing else.
Your home should inspire you and provide you an opportunity to unwind.
Do not fear creating a space that showcases the reflection that is you.
Do not focus on building lodging for someone else. It is your home. Design it to fit your needs and tastes.
Build around you and not your flat screen.
Two hours after sitting in the backseat of my friend’s car and the skyline of Atlantic City grows. The music and conversation the entire ride has been inspiring. Jokes were cracked and thought crimes committed.
Atlantic City is an odd place for me to found in.
I do not enjoy gambling. I do not get a rush when I win or lose, rather I am neutral to the whole experience. It does not move me.
I do not guzzle the devil’s buttermilk; one of the downsides of my alcohol allergy.
In places such as Atlantic City or Vegas, I am more boy scout than rock star.
I hoped to accomplish one thing during this trip. It was not to attempt to accumulate wealth, nor to hazily recall events, nor was it to leave with a fistful of numbers. I rolled into town with the sole intention of just spending time with two of my greatest friends.
I do not enjoy Casinos. I see them similar to retirement homes.
I do not hear the sounds. I do not see the lights.
Perhapse it’s because I didn’t drink enough to numb myself.
All I see are soulless eyes methodically smashing their kielbasa fingers at the slot machine.
All I smell is the perspiration of desperation as groups of guys stalked the girls that were not surrounded by their friends.
All I taste is the stale stench of cheap booze and cigarettes as I wandered in between tables.
This was no place for Caesar.
I have a difficult time stomaching Casinos because they suffocate me. People enter through the doors hoping that tonight their luck will change. They dream that the chants of the dealers will bring upon the winds of change. With a gluttonous sanguineness hunger they smack their jowls believing that winning a few hundred dollars will allow them to forget about the oxygen canister they are chained to. Fool’s paradise.
I myself found solace on the boardwalk. The rain was pelting down upon the few of us that ventured forth as the waves crashed with ferocity. I looked out to sea and felt revitalized. A smirk graced my visage as I thought to myself.
Here I stand mocking the great ocean as my hands grip against the railing. I, nothing more than a gnat to the fury of nature, and yet I look out towards these waves lacking cowardice. A small dog taunting a wolf.
Behind me stood the great testament of man: our greatest achievement: our ability to pretend that we were safe and in control. Before me stood the greatest truth: exactly how powerless we are.
The moments when I was not outside gulping at the fresh air and feeling the chill freezing my face, I longed to escape the indoors.
Inside was a hodgepodge of people trying to be “epic” or “have the best night ever.” Torn jeans and running sneakers in a steakhouse. Unbuttoned over sized stripe shirts at the club. Dirty t-shirts at the tables. Unwashed hair at the slots. Hail Mary’s at the bar. This is the middle of the bell curve. The oblivious middle.
Atlantic City was a reminder. It was a manifestation of what I despise and what I hold dear.
I enjoy the company of my friends. I cherished the conversation as well as their presence. Atlantic City gave us an opportunity to get away from the girlfriends and obligations. It gave them an opportunity to figure out how to better your odds playing roulette.
As we drove away I did not dwell on the things that I disliked. Instead, in between belting out tunes I reminisced on the banter, intellectual back and forth, and laughs.
A man is but a manifestation of his priorities.
Do not read this blog.
This blog will do nothing for you. In fact it will make your life harder.
After a few pages or even articles you may begin to believe that you can have a life different than those around you. You may even develop a grandiose vision for your existence. Arnold.
Reading this blog will make your days difficult. You will begin to expect more from yourself and subsequently you will develop greater expectations of those around you. Theodore.
The truth is that it is okay to be average.
You are designed for survival. As a human it is easy to survive with support of your tribe. It is easier to blend into the background. It is beneficial to your well being to be accepted without question because you look just like the others in your tribe.
Being average is a survival mechanism.
People like team players. They feel comfortable around those that look, behave, and think like them. Doing so allows you to more easily win the safety of your tribe. Those that dress outside the accepted uniform are looked at with suspicion. Those that find better things to do than attend company happy hours or brunches with girlfriends are seen as weird.
Being average means you have less to think about.
People enjoy predictability. They want to avoid surprises. They want to know what you’re going to bring to the cookout. They want to talk about the same things each and every time: sports, gas prices, and overall gossip. They want to follow a script. They want to know that dating over a few years leads to marriage then a house and child. They want to plan out their trips to Disney World.
Being average is a comfortable.
Reading this blog will inspire you to be extraordinary. This blog is a poison. Once you begin to read and agree with the points made you are only hurting yourself.
You will be unable to return to the average existence.
You will first begin on fixing yourself. Where once you were able to look in the mirror and be content with the visage that reflected, you now look with trepidation. There is so much to repair. There is so much to build upon. There is so much comfort to sacrifice. Cassius.
You will probably first start upon your physical attributes. This requires numerous sacrifices. You will miss out on drinking beers and eating greasy deliciousness. You will come home drained and have to convince yourself to go to the gym. Your bank account will slowly dwindle each month as you begin to purchase healthier options for nutrition. You will begin to think you’re insane for the amount of money you spend on tailoring your clothing.
Is being extraordinary worth it.
You will then begin to work upon your mental fitness. Everything you thought you knew about the world will be brought to question. Old wife’s tales tested against the data sets you uncover. You will share your new found conclusions with friends and family. They will scorn you. Each time you open your mouth they will call you names and tell you that you are a fool. Boyd.
Is being extraordinary worth it.
If you read this blog from inception to present I truly feel for you.
You will go through hell because you will personally put yourself there. Those people in your life that you thought you could count on will be dissenters of your transformation. They will not like the change. You will dress and act differently from them. You are no longer predictable in their schema of the world. You are an outside threat and they will see themselves as the T-Cells. George S.
You will invariably become interested in the finer things in life. You will seek out the experiences outside your upbringing. As you discover new things a part of you will want to share it with those around you. They do not want their eyes open. They enjoy their manufactured lives with its brand name goodness. Humans are ones that want to share experiences and you will most likely find that almost no one wants to partake in them with you. Salvador.
You will attempt great experiments. You will seek a different life. Many around you will shake their heads with superiority. You will stumble, you will fall, and it will pour. They will be there with false smiles trying to bring you back into their fold. They will try to convince you that you went through a phase, but that it was false. Life is this way and not the way you thought it was possible. Napoleon.
Being average is being safe.
Being extraordinary is painful.
Why would you want to look in the mirror and constantly know that you could be better than you are now? Why would you not want to sit on the couch eating potato chips? Why do you want to stand out in the crowd?
I have been lying to you this entire time dear readers.
I have given you false hope. I have given you false inspiration.
Being extraordinary, being beyond average. It’s not worth it.
Being extraordinary requires you to exist outside comforts of family and friends. It requires you to learn to ignore the taunts and jeers. It becomes necessary to avoid the haters. It is exhausting to keep at bay self doubt.
Why put yourself through that.
I beg of you do not read this blog.
It is okay to be average. It is okay to avoid the attempt at becoming extraordinary.
I won’t hold it against you.
You were born and were expelled into a dangerous world.
Far away from your protective cocoon where your mother provided everything.
You entered onto a foreign space where dangerous abound.
You were helpless. You were scared.
They told you they would protect, nurture, and love you.
You had to believe.
You grew and started to develop your own personality.
You began to ask questions and seek answers.
The world around you was a constant provider of stimuli.
You were wide eyed. You were open to experience everything.
They told you storks bring babies and Santa brings you presents.
You had no reason not to believe.
You grew older and began to attempt to assert yourself.
In the back of your mind there was an inkling of doubt to the tales spun by those older.
You voiced your disbelief. You questioned why something was done the way it was.
They were big and you were small.
They were older and you were younger.
They were the adults and in them you wanted to believe.
You began to develop feelings beyond the base instincts.
For the first time there was something different stirring around you.
You began to seek the embrace of one’s lips upon your own.
You asked for advice on how to win someone over.
They told you that it was just puppy love and it was fleeting.
You realized you were young and perhaps these words you should believe.
Your awareness of the world grew. You experienced misery, loss, and hate.
You fully recognize of the dangers and cruelty of the world.
For the first time in your life you are thrust from the protective embrace;
This is the “real world” they spoke of.
You are scared. You look towards the adults and they seem to have the answers.
When you get older you too will have answers you believe.
They told you that you can be whatever you wanted.
You believed. Then they told you to grow up and find a practical job.
They told you that the world was yours for the taking.
You believed. Then they told you there’s no practical value in that.
But you did not want to believe. You began to wonder of a life with greater experience.
You did not want a life where the only topic of your conversation is your job or possessions.
You did not want to follow the path of many which ends with you unfulfilled.
You did not want to lie to yourself and pretend that everything is fine and without misery.
You voiced your concerns. You offered tentative solutions to avoid the fate of so many.
They looked at you with patronizing eyes and self satisfied smirks.
“Wait till you’re older then you’ll understand.”
“We’ll see what you think when you get some years on you.”
“It’s time to grow up.”
“You just need the right girl to reel you in.”
“Stop being a dreamer.”
“Stop acting a fool.”
You showed evidence of people that lived different lives away from the convention.
You were told that they are special cases.
You asked with earnest, why can’t it be me?
They gave you excuses that if inspected do not hold water.
You come to a crossroads.
What will you believe.
Life is a bitch that will not stop having puppies.
You are constantly tested by forces that appear insurmountable.
Forces that crash into you as unrelenting wave after unrelenting wave.
A torrential downpour of letdowns, hindrances, and misfortune.
You attempt to stand with oaken composure but slowly these forces weather your resolve.
Forces amass at your gates.
You begin to contemplate paying tributes to these hordes of tribulation.
Cheating significant others.
Depleted bank accounts.
Loss of employment.
Lack of intimacy.
There is always something.
It materializes as an ever growing pile with every passing day, week, month, year.
How can one respond to such negative forces when all hope, energy, and patience appear to have been exhausted.
One day the Turkish Sultan Mehmed Iv sent the following envoy to the Zaporozhian Kozaks:
As the Sultan; son of Muhammad; brother of the Sun and Moon; grandson and viceroy of God; ruler of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Upper and Lower Egypt; emperor of emperors; sovereign of sovereigns; extraordinary knight, never defeated; steadfast guardian of the tomb of Jesus Christ; trustee chosen by God himself; the hope and comfort of Muslims; confounder and great defender of Christians—I command you, the Zaporozhian Kozaks, to submit to me voluntarily and without any resistance, and to desist from troubling me with your attacks.
His forces: massive. His will to destroy enemies: steadfast.
He appears unconquerable to numerous peoples and nations.
To the majority defiance is foolish.
The world is inherited by those considered by the masses as fools.
The Zaporozhian Kozaks respond with rebelliousness and smirk.
Thou art a turkish imp, the damned devil’s brother and friend, and a secretary to Lucifer himself. What the devil kind of knight art thou that cannot slay a hedgehog with your naked arse? The devil shits, and your army eats. Thou a son of a bitch wilt not ever make subjects of Christian sons; we have no fear of your army, by land and by sea we will battle with thee, go fuck thy mother. Thou art the Babylonian scullion, Macedonian wheelwright, brewer of Jerusalem, goat-fucker of Alexandria, swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, Armenian pig, Podolian villain, catamite of Tartary, hangman of Kamyanets, and fool of all the world and underworld, a fool before our God, a grandson of the Serpent, and the crick in our dick. Pig’s snout, mare’s arse, slaughterhouse cur, unchristened brow, screw thine own mother! So the Zaporozhians declare, you lowlife. Thou wilt not even be herding Christian pigs. Now we shall conclude, for we don’t know the date and don’t have a calendar; the moon’s in the sky, the year in the book, the day’s the same over here as it is over there; for this kiss our arse!
Nothing can conquer a man’s spirit more so than his own doubts.
Nothing can destroy a man’s will more so than his own hesitance.
Nothing can weaken a man’s resolve more so than his willingness to concede.
We are living in glorious times.
The ways of the old guard are being questioned.
The unthinkable lifestyle of yore is now reality.
If you wish to live in regards to the old script, then yes you will find yourself suffering.
If you view your success by your job, car, or companion; you’re going to have a bad time
Forces are constantly working against you no matter what your age. If you don’t understand that you’ve become a commodity, than I implore you to take a moment and consider that fact.
However look upon this world with a smirk and do not cower.
There is now a new rule book afoot, easily attainable by your hand.
If you move back in with your parents do not treat it as a loss. See it for the investment that it can be. You have an opportunity to build something: yourself and your future in a safe haven.
If you had to sell your car because you could not afford the payments then look at bicycle as an investment in your health and inspiration to buy a motorcycle.
If you lost your job learn a new skill or develop a service or product that people seek. I will buy from you paracord shoelaces with metal aglets. I need a new beanie, sew one for me and I will pay. There are things that have fallen out of popularity, but I guarantee there is a niche market for it (Indian Clubs). Seek to become the best crafter of it and there will be profit.
This is the time to learn from those old timers that lost their job at the mill, factory, or rail yard.
Use their knowledge to create the next generation of services.
Apprentice under those that know how to repair antique clocks.
Study from the masters that are dying with knowledge not found in books.
The new millennium is upon us. It brings with it numerous opportunities to those that hustle and seek. There is nothing that can force you to be geographically static. There is nothing that will prevent you from creating products to sell to others. The barriers to the world are lower than they have been in any moment in history.
If something feels unconquerable it is because you have allowed blinders to be placed upon you.
Do not think outside the box.
There is no box.
We have been convinced that we live in a “fast paced world” and must respond in kind.
We have been sold the idea of disposable multi-knifed razors and instant coffee.
People do not have time to use a decanter for their wine, it’s pop and drink.
Microwaves over stoves.
There is a beauty to the mundane once you take the time to master the simple task.
My first introduction was when I bought a safety razor. I used to believe, like many of you, that the more blades the better. I was wrong. It is quicker, yes, but there is less of a delight.
Once I began shaving with my safety razor (I will move over to straight razor soon, do not fret) I became acquainted to a world that included different types of blades, creams, ointments, and balms. I learned the art of creating my own warm frothy cream. I revealed to myself the difference between different methods of shaving.
Most importantly I exposed an enjoyment from a simple act, shaving. It became a ritual.
Something I prepared for and looked forward to.
I became open to the art of a shave.
I am still working on mastering the craft; less nicks than when I began. Continually practice and patience as I hone my skill.
I enjoy it immensely and will not return to the world of shaving convenience.
The girls that have seen me shave have been mesmerized as I ply the craft as they lean against the door frame.
However, this does not apply to only shaving. Every supposed mundane act can be turned into a craft or art.
There are those who become French Press technicians. They measure the temperature to make sure it is between 190-205F. They hand grind the beans as the water cools from boiling. They’ve learned how to pour the water over the beans to tease out their delicious bounty.
Have you heard of preparing coffee the Vietnamese way? I would not have had I not wished to learn the art of coffee. Do you know of the Aeropress?
Immersing yourself in making an art of the mundane will inevitable open you to a world you previously were unaware of. Discovery.
In Asia the art of the tea ceremony has survived for thousands of years. They care for their tea pots and treat the leaves with reverence.
Making rice is considered an art my many cultures. Master Sushi chefs spend three years learning how to master the rice, but many of us in the world of convenience never seek for a taste beyond the instant rice. Blindness.
You may enjoy the quickness of making a Jack and Coke, but have you attempted to enjoy watching your Guinness settle or savor the taste of a properly prepared glass of Absinthe? You may drop off your clothing at a dry cleaners on your way from home, but have to attempted to discover the meditative potential of ironing your own shirts?
To become an artist of the mundane is not cheap. It requires time and a level of investment. Tools of the trade.
Many people are continually rushing from one thing to another and never learn to appreciate the mundane and the journey. It is my contention that learning to enjoy even one mundane task will provide you with the time you need to center yourself.
Put your focus into shaving your face or ironing your shirts.
Concentrate on making your cup of coffee or tea at work.
Master the process to enjoy the reward.
I was completing my Master’s Thesis in international relations. I finished it in record time and handed it to my advisor a month before the draft was due. On a practical level I wanted enough time to revise properly without any surprises. For vanity I prefer people seeing me never stress.
While everyone else was studying and spending hours on their work I was lounging enjoying the weather. Never let them see you sweat.
Eventually the due date was coming near and I still had not heard from my advisor. I made an inquiry. I was told that my paper would be graded within a few days and I then would know what revisions should be made.
I was given the following news: a huge portion of my paper would need to be revised. My professor claimed that a certain area of IR study did not exist and was on the fringes if anything. Falsity.
For those interested I was writing a paper that referred to the theories known as Preventive Diplomacy and Preventive War. My advisors contention was that the concept of “preventive war” was flawed. That no serious scholars were working on this idea. For you IR nerds, Van Evra devotes a huge chunk of his academic career to this very idea.
I provided evidence of the validity of the theory. I showed a bibliography with the prominent names highlighted. I was rebuked. It became apparent that no evidence would change the mind of my advisor. I had a week before my thesis was due.
My pride had begun to rear its dreadful visage. With each passing hour from being rebuffed I became emotionally unstable. Fury. Anger. Incredulity. Inner monologues dripping with venom and creativity grew with frequency.
This was further exasperated my growing disdain for DC in general. For a while the city had begun to drain my soul of all creativity and passion. I was being internally slaughtered by the very essence of the city. The only thing that was keeping me sane and providing hope was the knowledge that I was returning to the place that has inspired me from the beginning, NYC.
This was a perfect storm to emotionally drain me: A city that was spiritually killing me and the possibility of my own pride keeping me from cutting my tether clean.
Pride. It has served me well. It has given me strength, conviction, and tenacity. However here it would hinder me. I knew I was right. Professors that provided me with references knew I was right. A whole study of the phenomena supported me.
My advisors conviction to his ignorance was strengthened by his pride.
I could refuse to change my thesis. I could take the hit with defiant chin. It would require me finding a new advisor and staying a few more months till completion. Graduation would be postponed.
I would have stuck to my guns.
But the cost to self would be greater than the knowledge that I had yielded in the face of stupidity.
The days were ticking.
After a weekend of drinking and galavanting across the landscape of DC I knew that I needed to leave.
This was not the place for me.
These were not my type of people.
My soul begged me.
I would allow this man to beat me for the sake of my own sanity.
The next day I sat in front of the computer screen oblivious to the rest of the library.
My pride was still hindering my revision. I was having a difficult time attempting to substitute a theory for preventive war that would work well with my examination of preventive diplomacy.
Moment for fresh air. I sat outside enjoying the night air and drinking my coffee black like a cowboy.
My eyes looked galaxyward towards the stars where the muses roam.
“Inspire me” I whispered.
A fellow classmate sat next to me and we began to talk. He told me of his thesis. He began to use bureaucratic lingo. I translated it to an idea that a normal person would understand.
Flash of excellence.
I did not have to change my idea. I just needed to change the terminology. That was what my advisor disputed against. Not the idea, the term.
I rushed back into the library. E-Mail sent. E-Mail received: support for my “new direction.”
I spent the next three days editing my thesis to better incorporate my new term. I also added in some more “ideas” and “beliefs” that I knew my advisor was particularly keen towards.
Submitted my thesis. Was approved for graduation. I was leaving DC.
Instead of using the term “preventive war” (which my oral-comprehensive exam proctor used in the context of my paper, once again supporting my belief that I was right) I changed it to “opportunistic first strike.”
I vividly remember those moments of inner turmoil as I had to deal with this situation. I hated myself for having to succumb to the will of another because not doing so would be a greater harm to myself. I still struggle with the decision to accommodate someone simply because they became stubborn.
In the end I’m happier. That moment has passed.
I’m all smiles now.
Only one girl with whom I had some romantic interactions with has ever uttered the words “I love you.”
The only interesting aspect of this statement is that I have never been in a monogamous relationship and she and I had not slept before she shared that sentiment.
It was two days before Valentines Day and I was on my way home after attending some party. The text read very simply, she made it known that she wanted to see me. It wasn’t “come over” or “what are you up to.” It was a “I want to see you.”
To my young mind reading the words “I want to see you” meant to me that it wasn’t a booty text, but rather an expression of her “missing” me. As is with a young male who is slowly making his way, those texts are the most ego boosting.
I knock on her door and hear scurrying on the other side. She opens it and I am greeted with her smiling face. Her eyes light up when she sees me, but they have that tell-tell droopiness denoting earlier alcohol consumption.
In the doorway she looked demure and I remember feeling as if I was in high school and her parents were out of town.
I walk in, grab her and give her a kiss. The kiss is innocent and mischievous. I taste mint. She had brushed her teeth before I came.
I can’t help but smirk at the knowledge that she had taken the time to prepare herself for my arrival.
As I break the kiss I take a look around. The apartment was recently cleaned. There are no shoes haphazardly thrown near the door. It looks as if she had not gone out. She decided to stay in tonight.
I guided her over to her couch and inspire her imagination.
The entire night would have an innocence to it that I can not help but smile about as I type.
From her shyness as I worked her shirt off to the Juicy Juice she handed me when I asked her for a drink.
This had a feeling of 1950′s Americana and not the energy of two college kids in the post-Feminist world.
I don’t know why, but I was content with the simple acts of petting and kissing. I wasn’t attempting to move things along. It seemed inappropriate at the time. There was something to the innocence of our interaction that was intoxicating.
At some point in the night, I was leaning on the couch and she had her head against my chest.
I was mindlessly running my hands through her hair.
She whispered “I love you.”
I wasn’t sure I heard right, but I didn’t press the matter.
Louder she said ‘I love you.”
There was no mistaking it. For the first time in my life I did not know how to respond. There was no quick quip to defuse the situation. I was put in a position where a girl’s emotions were in front of a firing squad.
I did not want to hurt them, but I also could not reciprocate them.
The words “I love you” are quite powerful. I have never said it to a girl. It is a disclosure that can not be taken back.
I said nothing. I tightened my hold around her and kissed her forehead.
This was the best I could do.
We stayed that way for a bit and she started to doze off. She got up, grabbed my hand, and led me to her bed.
I did not take off my pants. A girl had just told me she loved me and I was not about to engage in the most physically expressive acts known to man.
I felt her disappointment at my lack of disrobing. I was not going to take a chance and allow my primal instincts to take over. For some reason I felt that I needed to protect this girl’s feelings. It wasn’t my duty, but I felt obligated by some emphatic bone in my being.
She tried to get things started, but I believe the late night and earlier alcohol finally let her succumb to sleep.
However, before she began her slumber, she took her leg and intertwined it with mine. Locking me to the bed and into her grasp.
As she nuzzled into my chest and I felt her breasts rise with each breath my mind was analyzing the situation with outlandish speed.
The main question was “what am I going to do.”
I ran through many scenarios and the best for the two of us that I decided upon was for me to not let her fall for me any further.
Was it selfish, I imagine it was.
However, the innocence of the night had made me feel as if I needed to be a protector of her feelings.
This was something that in truth was not up to me, but I made it so.
I snuck out of her bed as the sun began to push its tendrils through the blinds. I took one look at her and smiled.
I knew it would be the last time we would share such a moment.
I had made up my mind.
She opened up to me.
She shared words that many fear the repercussions.
I did not want her to get hurt by me.
I later learned that she ended up going on a date with a guy two days later (he kept texting her when I was over to confirm their date to her annoyance at the time) and they started dating.
She texted me a year later, but I went thermonuclear and pretty much made her hate me. Maybe I was wrong to do it, but I thought it was for the best. I sometimes decide what is best between myself and another. Knight with rusty armor.
I won’t forget that night. It has a special place in my heart. The innocence, juicy-juice, and of course those three words I have yet to hear again.
I wish her the best. She’s a great gal.