Memorial

I recently attended my late uncle’s memorial service. He was 63 years old. My uncle worked hard his whole life, raised a family, and had many hobbies. At the end of 63 years, a brief memorial service was held, a slideshow of good times was presented, and his workplace (the FBI) sent a bouquet. His life was encapsulated in those signs of honor, affection, and memorial. And that was it. Not that the service lacked significance or meaning, it was just bizarre to me that an entire lifetime could be bundled into such a neat little package. He will live on in our lives only as a memory from this point forward. That is both fascinating and a little scary to me.

We are only here for a short time. At the end of it, we will live on only as a memory in the lives of those whom we have left an impression. And on a long enough time scale, even the memories will fade into obliteration. This provides relief in terms of nullifying the need to take life too seriously, but also makes me teeter on the verge of not taking it seriously at all. Do I need to take it seriously? Do any of us? “Seriously” is a relative term I suppose. On the one hand the memorial service made me want to squeeze out every last drop of the time I have left, and on the other hand it made me want to take a step back, recenter, and focus on the present. Wouldn’t forcing the issue only make time go by more quickly and disallow us from being fully present as we focus on leapfrogging from one experience to the next? I suppose a balance is needed.

Take things seriously that require a serious approach. Treat everything else with a lantern (rather than a laser) consciousness and immerse yourself in the experience. Notice all of the subtle nuances; all of the sounds, tastes, textures, sights, and smells. Be fully present. Because in the end, the present is all we have. Our linear view of life due to the unrelenting direction of the “arrow of time” (we continually progress towards the past) leaves us feeling as if we are watching the grains of sand in our hourglass slowly drop right before our eyes. The other facet to consider is that our hourglass may break at any moment. Here today and gone tomorrow. Gone this instant. If you knew this next hour was your last, would you treat it differently? Would you treat yourself differently? Would you treat others differently? What would you say? To whom would you say it?

We spend so much of our existence lost in the infinite pool of thoughts between our ears. We are both the speaker and the listener and so much of what we experience (if not all of it) is subjected to our preconceived notions, biases, and projections. Experiencing “reality” for what it truly is, is limited by our sensory faculties as well as the tools that humanity has made. So much of reality cannot be truly experienced in its basest form. We are left with what we have been given and what we have managed to create. To be blunt, I think that is more than enough. In the Information Age, there is never of lack of learning to be done, new things to see, new people to meet, or new places to experience. To be bored is to be boring. Branch out. Meet new people. Do new things. Visit new places. Learn as much as possible to enrich your experience. To do otherwise would be a waste of life. In my humble opinion at least…so, on second thought… do as you please. Spend your life however you deem fit. No answers. Only questions. I hope you all find the combination of peace, clarity, and contentedness that seems to constantly elude me.

What’s New?

So much has changed this year. Where do I even begin? I suppose the most significant event has been the birth of my second son, Saxon Richard Cook. Saxon was nearly 11 lbs at birth, and is now 3 months old. Overall he has been relaxed and sleeps most of the day (I almost forget that he is here). It has been so much fun to see him interact with his older brother, Olyn, who recently turned 3 years old. I daydream about how their relationship will progress as siblings. I am hoping they become and remain close throughout their lives.

In other news, I am close to the halfway mark of completing a Master of Public Administration degree from Villanova University. The program has been more intensive and immersive than I was expecting, and has been very rewarding so far. I am also halfway through a full-time Pathways Internship with NASA. It too, has been better than I anticipated and a very rewarding experience. I have been working on their social media development plan, and I am also looking to improve their search engine optimization. I am unsure whether or not I will continue to pursue federal employment, or pursue a Ph.D. in public administration. I may decide to pursue several internships over the course of the next year before classes begin in the fall of 2022 (should I be accepted and pursue a Ph.D.).

Aside from my son’s birth, and new school and work opportunities, there are several other events of note. My uncle recently passed away at the age of 63. My grandparents have now lost 3 of their 6 children, and their second son in two years. Having children of my own, I cannot wrap my mind around the pain and grief that losing a child must cause (let alone three). My oldest brother has purchased my father’s house and is going to renovate it/keep it in the family. He is still living and working with three children in D.C. My older brother is still surfing/modeling in NYC. And my youngest brother completed a six month voyage at sea, and will be moving to the Austin area in a month or two.

Outside of these major events, there is not much to report on. Life in southern Maryland is slow and peaceful (almost too much so). We live in a small neighborhood in a rural are that is quiet and safe. As I’m typing this, it is starting to feel like I need to add some more excitement/entertainment into my life. It is becoming a bit monotonous. We shall see what I can come up with I suppose. Onward and upward.

Game Changer

Four days ago I was prescribed a low dose of Vyvanze. I had recently been struggling with focus, impulsivity, and follow-through on tasks. Twenty years of contact sports had taken their toll on my brain, and the results were markedly clear in SPECT scan imaging. Not only was there a decrease in activity and damage to several regions, but, it also showed common trademark aspects of ADD/ADHD both in the scans and in the cognitive tests I had received. The results of the addition of Vyvanze into my life has been nothing short of remarkable. I truly wish I had been prescribed a similar medication for the past fifteen years.

My energy is clean, consistent, and sufficient. My focus and follow-through have drastically improved. And my impulsivity is relatively under control (for example, my screen-time has been reduced by about 2/3). In the past few days I have completed tasks with astounding ease that I had previously been putting off for months on end. I am ahead on all of the household tasks to the degree that there is no need for a to-do list tomorrow. The areas where the laundry used to pile up, and the dishes used to stack next to the sink, are now spic and span. I no longer hesitate or procrastinate on tasks. I act, and I act in the moment. It has truly been a night and day experience so far.

I no longer dread making administrative phone calls or sending emails. I wake up earlier, workout more often, I am more productive and goal-oriented throughout the day, and I sleep more soundly. I no longer feel the need to nap in the afternoon, and my mood is calmer and more stable. I look forward to the following day, and I am excited for what it has in store for me. I read double the amount of pages I had previously been reading, and even my handwriting has improved. I am not “tooting my own horn,” but I am merely providing evidence for the huge difference that such a small change has made.

I am looking forward to what can be accomplished now that I am properly medicated. I haven’t felt this much clarity, focus, and consistency in nearly a decade. I am finally beginning to once again feel like a fully-capable and high-performing individual. Over the course of just today, I have a renewed interest in social psychology (listened to a 2.5 hour podcast), learning languages (lessons in German and Norwegian on Duolingo), and even pulled out a saxophone to give it a try (didn’t go so well). I have a renewed vigor and lust for life, I have set new goals, and I feel ready to reach for them. I am eternally indebted to the team of doctors and professionals that have provided me with the care I so desperately needed, and I am forever grateful for a second chance at life. For those of you struggling with similar problems, I highly recommend speaking to your doctor about possible solutions.

June? Already?

5 months have disappeared. 2020 is almost halfway over. Where does the time go? I have several goals for this month in order to reset and re-establish myself in the present. My first goal is to document my dreams and my unconscious fantasies, and to treat them as concrete realities. My hope is that the more in-tune I become with my unconscious, the more it will reveal to me. If this is true, I will be able to navigate life from a seat of fluid, never-ending creativity. I am going to delve deeply into this in the coming weeks, and I will report on the effects or lack thereof.

My other goals are to exercise, read, write, learn a language, meditate, and visualize on a daily basis. These are mostly habitual already, but I am going to exercise more discipline around the practices. As the world heals and opens back up, I am also planning on exploring new places, people, and things with my wife and son. My goal is to burst out of the comfortable bubble and to see something new every day. While things seem to be getting out of control around the world, I am going to take the opportunity to implement deep gratitude, send healing vibes, and show compassion and love to everyone I encounter. I am going to make an effort to become a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem.

I am meditating and visualizing on a peaceful and prosperous world. Time heals all, and this too shall pass. Please do your best to preach peace, find solutions, and spread love. Heal your inner world, help others do the same, and eventually the outer world will follow suit. Stay positive, stay safe, and help others when possible. With love and cooperation, we can build a new world. I believe things will have changed for the better by the end of the month. The positivity of the second half of the year will outshine the negativity of the first. I love you all, and I am looking forward to this healing journey in June.

I’m Back…After 144 Days

My last post was on January 3rd. So much has happened since then. After twenty years of contact sports, a car wreck, and periods of substance abuse, my brain was in need of some TLC. SPECT-scans at a specialist clinic confirmed my suspicions. I had damage to five different regions of my brain, along with an overall decrease in activity. I received 40 hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy treatments between mid-March and mid-April. The results have been nothing short of remarkable. Blood and oxygen flow has been increased, new connections have been made, and my brain’s capacity has been restored by up to 40%. It feels as if I have had a brain transplant- that is the only way to describe it. I feel like a new person. I have been gifted with a second chance at life, and I plan on making the most of it.

So far, my energy, focus, endurance, and mood have all shown improvement. Not only has my overall mental capacity and outlook improved, I have been inspired to take on new challenges. In a matter of a few weeks I have learned how to juggle three balls with relative ease. I have coupled this new physical challenge with learning a language. My wife spent her early life in Norway and has a strong grasp on the language. With the possibility of moving to Norway at some point during my son’s childhood, I have taken on the task of learning Norwegian. I now know a few hundred words and do my best to spend 20-30 minutes a day on lessons. My wife and I have also made an effort to play chess a few times a week. These three changes, although seemingly mild, have had a dramatic impact on my quality of life.

I have a renewed desire for learning and growth, a rejuvenated interest in spiritual development, and an outlook on life that is rooted in positivity. I am excited to see new places, meet new people, and do new things without hesitation for the first time in my life. Despite these positive changes, I have a lingering sensation of regret for lost time. I feel as if I completely lost a decade of my life. From 20-30, my life was a continual struggle. Little did I know that I was battling with bipolar disorder, brain damage, and adult ADHD. I am much more forgiving with myself than I had been before these diagnoses. I just couldn’t seem to get myself or my life figured out and I was very hard on myself until now. I have forgiven myself for my ignorance and lack of action, and am focusing on making the most of the time that I have left.

Following the chamber treatments, my remaining medication is no longer needed, I take care of my two year old son for 40+ hours a week, I’ve started exercising again, and I am exploring Jungian psychology in hopes of reconnecting with my Self. I am going to take the necessary steps to tap into my unconscious mind and operate with an unprecedented level of clarity. I am going to surrender my ego and conscious mind to the power of my unconscious and allow it to properly guide me for the rest of my life. It should allow for an inexplicably fluid and creative journey. I am looking forward to writing again, interpreting my dreams, and tapping into a deep relationship with my unconscious in order to complete the process of my own individuation in order to become the cosmic man and my complete Self.

Only 54,000 Words To Go

Just writing the title made my stomach drop. I’m 26,000 words into my novel. And actually, after doing some math, that’s not so bad. I’m about a third of the way finished. That’s solid progress. The problem is that I feel as if I’m running out of plot, dialogue, and context. Should I scrap the project? Should I cut it short? Should I stick to writing 1,000 words and see how it plays out?

I’ve made it this far, I think I’ll continue to do my 1,000 words a day and see where I end up at the end of January. I’ve set a deadline for the revised manuscript for March 4th, which should be plenty of time. I need to remind myself that if it was easy, everyone would do it. I’ve begun an endeavor that most people only talk about. But, until I’m published, it will remain an unfulfilled pipe dream.

The process is arduous, but for the most part it’s enjoyable. If it remains unpublished, I’m sure my family and friends will enjoy reading it, and that’s really enough for me at this point in my fledgling writing career. There’s no point in speculating, however. What’s going to happen, will happen. If I stick with it, I will eventually succeed. I need to hit the 10,000 hour mark, which is still so far in the distance that I can scarcely see it.

I’m going to do my best, and that’s all I can do. If this project, or even the next one or the next one don’t pan out, I’m going to continue to write. I write because I enjoy it. If I get published, it will be icing on the cake. It is a nice goal, and a nice dream to pursue if nothing else, I suppose. Only time will tell. For now, I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and see what happens.