1 Month Down

Today is the last day of January. The past four weeks have raced by with an inexplicable swiftness. It feels as if New Year’s Eve was yesterday. The months, and indeed years tend to do that now. I am unsure whether they have always flown by, or I am just now becoming aware of time’s fleeting nature.

The calendar days unfold at a tremendous clip, but in reality, the earth’s eternal spin is steady; facing the sun and turning away from it unceasingly. The moon shows its face intermittently and in varying degrees, but our orbit around our mother star has yet to fail. I enjoy living my life by the seasonal calendar, as opposed to the minutiae of the Roman version; it makes daily life less stressful. You don’t feel the need to squeeze the time out of every event. Life, and indeed time, will proceed at the pace it wishes.

Winter’s grip is loosening, and spring’s breath can be felt around the corner. The days are growing longer and less frigid, and my mind begins to project upon the coming warmth and blossoming of life. This season has had a good run, but it is time for a change of pace. I am hoping that February is mild, and March’s introduction is more prey than predatory. Only time will tell, as it continues to zip by; falling through my fingers despite my greatest effort to slow it down.

Education

Education. What does it mean to be “well-educated?” Higher education exposes you to new ideas, complex theories, and pragmatic equations, but, most of all, teaches you to think about the world in a different way. This elevated perception and consciousness is the fundamental purpose of pursuing an education. Many people dive into academia with a voracious appetite for knowledge; furthering their ability to digest information and use it to their greatest possible benefit. However, the norm of undergraduate education has become a social rite of passage.

This rite is centered on an exposure to the adult social setting. Rather than focusing on learning as much as possible, the bare minimum is done in order to complete a degree in good standing, and free time is used to party, imbibe, relax, and generally immerse into wasteful habits. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this trend, given that most jobs require minimal effort, time, and progression. Show up, do your work, head home and unwind. Being a normal student in college, allows you to be a normal member of the workforce.

Reading has become a lost art, given the dwindling statistics over the past five years. (https://www.statisticbrain.com/reading-statistics/) This is not to say that STEM majors have to read anything outside of their field necessarily, but whatever happened to the importance of being well-rounded? Specialization has become emphasized due to its lucrative nature in STEM fields, which is not going to change in the near future. This niche, however, kills off the works of history, philosophy, fiction, and non-fiction that have molded some of the greatest minds in history. Maybe that is for the best, given the track record of our species.

 

St. George Island

I drove to the end of an ancient peninsula on the Potomac River yesterday. The roadsides were riddled with dense clusters of pine forests, intermixed with vast expanses of open water. Time seemed to halt its march, in a place that moved at an outdated pace. A sign that read “British Landing Prevented,” headlined the final bridge leading to St. George Island.

The winding road seemed to be sitting in the water; as if we were driving down a stretch of beach. Waterfront houses of varying size and age hugged the water’s edge at every turn. The further we traveled, the more sparse the dwellings became. Our speed slowed as we crept past magnificent houses with turrets and panorama windows encircling entire floors. My mind drifted to days spent in writing rooms at their peaks; producing countless works of art inspired by a mesmerizing view.

We came to the end of the island, arriving at a house that was concurrent with Fitzgerald’s taste for luxury. Marble steps ramped up to a tall, pristine, white-brick home that sat atop its own private beach. No other homes were in sight. It sat as solitary royalty on the most desirable throne of the island’s entirety. We sat and stared admiringly, and slowly backed out of the driveway, our minds racing to come up with methods for acquisition.

We explored every nook and cranny of the island; most of which seemed ready to be swallowed up by rising sea levels. This created a sense of relaxation rather than anxiety. It was as if all of the inhabitants knew of the impending destruction, but the worth of a life in such a place, regardless of timeframe, outweighed the risk. It was a drive that altered perspective, and which quenched thirsty dreams in search of a swig of solitude and serenity. Oh well, a person can dream. One day…

 

Perfect

Feel your pulse: the rhythmic thumping, flooding our bodies with life. Our circulatory, nervous, and respiratory systems work in unison to fuel our continued existence. They flood our brain with blood, and oxygen, and help fire synapses which allow us to not only perceive our surroundings but also to maneuver ourselves through time and space. What a beautifully intricate system. It works so well in fact, that until it is in need of repair, we scarcely remember that it is working day and night to sustain us.

The moment we take a step back and appreciate its delicate complexity is the same moment in which we must realize that the entire universe depends on similar systems of rhythm and motion. The ineffable creation, guidance, and continuation on a massive scale is a preponderance, which I believe, will never be fully understood. We are but fractals of the whole; set to a finite system, playing our necessary part, and condensing back into the universal soup of life. Perfect.

Foggy Boredom

A thick fog creeps downriver, hindering the view of the horizon. The landscape is shrouded in a sheet of gray. Bird calls crack the silence, echoing from the distant mist. Nothing stirs within the cloudy bubble; creating a deep sense of lonesomeness.

Where have all of the birds and animals gone? Nothing flitters to and fro. No leaves are being rustled in the underbrush. No ducks streak by in a race to claim mates. No gulls are flapping lazily overhead, screaming to one another about an opportune meal. Silence is bursting into the immediacy. There must be a storm coming soon.

A solitary woodpecker snaps the tension. Bobbing to a tree branch, he latches onto the underside and hammers furiously into the bark. The quick succession of sharp raps is broken only by intermittent and minute pauses. The featherweight jackhammer chips off debris in his quest for breakfast. Whistles and replies seep from the opposite riverbed, in what seems to be a natural response to the crushing boredom that the fog has dragged into the estuary.

I See Morning, Icy Morning

The sun crawls up the distant treeline. Its reflection flickers across an icy waterway, becoming a constant flame as it breaches the treetops. The frozen surface mirrors its light with an exceptional capability. A light breeze pulls at naked branches, as stillness holds the remainder.

The lack of movement, especially in the water on these cold mornings, presents a still-frame image of the landscape. I sit, wishing for the capability to breathe life into my surroundings. The sun’s warmth washes over my face with a soft-pawing. Its steady ascent on the horizon is the only noticeable movement; increasingly illuminating the watershed as the earth turns its face to warm its rough skin.

The birds rouse from their slumber, calling to each other as if the entire genus had overslept. The undergrowth and lower branches begin to fill with feathery darts, flashing with bursts of color. The din of nature’s alarm begins to rise, as the symphony of tinny percussions erupts from many beaks. The most original music I have ever heard.

Symbiosis

Winds blow, waters flow, and plates collide. The earth spins effortlessly around an unbelievably powerful source of heat and light in the distance. We are so accustomed to the “Goldilocks” state of our place in the universe, that we scarcely recognize, let alone appreciate, the intricate perfection of our creation. All of life on earth is in a battle for survival. The constant pressures of evolution bring the combat of organisms to a boil. It is an almost audible condition of our planet. Although we have transcended the immersive nature of the struggle, we are nevertheless still fixated in the circle of life.

Our struggle is no longer with our animal cousins, but with our mother earth. How can we live on her sustainably? What does it take to maintain a healthy existence? Have we done too much damage to survive here in the future? The struggle for the sustainability of resources is far more complex than our initial campaign to dominate our animal brethren; which was quite simply extermination. Our species has proven to be exceptionally gifted in that particular methodology. Why is it that our systematic and ruthless approach to destruction, is so far advanced of our ability to live in harmony?

Perhaps we have been in the thick of the fighting for so long, that we are just now beginning to see the flip side of the coin. We are not used to living peaceably. It is as if we are so used to being in a constant struggle, that our ability to strike out has been honed to an extreme capability, while a recess creates merely a paranoia. We use this downtime to prepare for yet another attack on our environment. Our means of survival have always depended upon domestication, extermination, and/or harvest. There is an utter lack of symbiosis between our species and our planet. Our parasitic nature is killing off our host.

So Lucky

Clouds drape the distant treetops. Sunlight punctures the sky with streams of gold. Flags flap in the breeze as birds flitter to and fro. Squirrels perform on their treetop trapezes. A red cardinal zips by as the blue plumage of a jay nestles into the undergrowth. A crested woodpecker hammers into a dead branch. Chickadees peep through the dense foliage, echoing each other in a cheery tone. A hawk slips overhead, sending the congregation into a collective panic.

A heron labors into the air with heavy strokes and beats down the river. Ducks race each other across the horizon with tremendous speed, jockeying for position closest to a fleeing female. Nature’s chorus hums near and far, creating a spectacularly intricate symphony. Winter’s plot to strangle the life out of the scene has been foiled by featherweight fighters. Signs of a healthy ecosystem saturate the landscape.

What a boring setting the world would be without nature’s creatures. Organic boredom. Awe-inspiring beauty without a cast. Luckily, the playwright has gifted us with an array of talented and diverse characters; all of which play their role with a necessary exactness allowing for a fluid evolution. What a beautiful and perfect creation which we have been gifted the chance to experience.

Our Animal Friends

Sucking air and 
Draining water
Conquer the land 
Time for slaughter

Round up the furs
Put them in line 
Catch all that stirs
It's time to dine

Chop off the heads
Cut out the belly
Pick out your breads
Wild-game deli 

Stack up the meat
Slather with sauce
Oh what a treat
Good to be boss 

We rule the earth
Ours for the taking
Rite of our birth
Gods in the making

Broadening Perspective (50th Post)

My youth was filled with an overwhelmingly egotistical frame of mind. I possessed both the obscene notion of immortality and a glaring lack of self-awareness. The sense of infinite life stemmed from a lack of major injury or sickness to a certain degree but was more so caused by an unshakeable confidence in my abilities, and a willpower which fundamentally lacked a stable foundation. A dangerous combination, and an unhealthy mindset.

For the combination of confidence and willpower without a legitimate backing is a recipe for failure; it is not a matter of if, but when it crumbles. Without the necessary qualities needed to pursue my lofty goals and the lack of intuition required to adjust my character, I willed myself into a position which I was not ready for. The exposure to stresses which I had not adequately prepared myself for, shattered me. I underwent a complete ego death. Up until that point, my willpower and confidence alone were enough to pull me through any and all obstacles.

The harsh reality of an ill-prepared for endeavor without an escape route is nightmarish. What have I gotten myself into? Why did I do this to myself? became the more important question. It was my own free will, and stubbornness to explore the path which I had chosen. I had closed so many doors and shot down so many offers, self-limiting for no other reason than egotistical tunnel-vision. I blame this largely on a lack of experimentation, zero knowledge of breathing techniques or meditation, and a narcissistic viewpoint which hushed all other possibilities.

It is only now that I can look back with a relatively clear perspective and an open mind with which to evaluate my historical shortcomings. Shunning my emotions, denying my soul, and exploiting others for the sake of proving my cunning…it is no wonder that I had become so spiritually blind and unhappy. I was not a good person, to say the least. I used people. I had tunnel vision due in part to my juggling of lies, constant production of a charade of good character, and a busy schedule.

Despite my shaky past, I am content knowing that I have sidestepped a way of life which would have certainly led to a continual unhappy existence, and an early grave. I have come such a long way in terms of self-awareness, spiritual growth, and conscious thought, that I can scarcely remember how toxic my frame of mind used to be. I cannot encapsulate the mindset of my past, but I can easily look at the effects that it had produced in all of my surroundings. What a mess I had made. Not a day goes by that I do not ask forgiveness for the people I have hurt, the time I have squandered, and the energy I have wasted.

That being said, since the beginning of my transformation, I have explored the world a bit, found a beautiful and loving wife, and have a healthy baby on the way. I have mended most of my relationships, made up for the majority of my wrongdoings, and am doing my best to maintain a positive trajectory. The contrast between now and then is stark beyond measure, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have lived and learned.