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.

It’s Been 188 Days…

188 days. That sum seems far from real. Is 7/20/20 really that far behind me already? Summer faded. Fall flew by. Winter still has me in its grips. Why haven’t I been writing routinely? In large part, I haven’t had the urge. I’ve been taking care of my son for the majority of most of those days. I’ve also been reading and painting as my emotional and artistic outlets. The lack of consistent writing isn’t the concern. The real concern is what have I truly done with all of that time? What have I accomplished in the nearly 200 days that have streamed by like a technicolor ribbon?

I suppose without a traditional measuring stick, it is difficult to say what I have accomplished in that time span. While I’m thinking about it, however, I am reminded that I have done my due diligence as a father. The quality time I have been able to spend with my two and half year old son will pay dividends down the road. It makes me realize how truly lucky I am to be able to spend so much time with him. There are times when I need space from him. And there are times when I lose patience with him. But, he continually reminds me to stay present, seek novelty, maintain a borderline childlike indifference, and to acknowledge the miracle of the time he and I get to spend together.

I have flashbacks of a vague outline of my routine: large mason jar of water, 1 liter french press of coffee, bike ride, reading, walk or bike ride with Olyn, play time, nap time, play time, bike ride, bed time. Over and over again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It is beginning to feel like groundhog day. During the course of those borderline monotonous days, I have taught him his letters, shapes, colors, numbers, and a wide variety of things that surprise most others. I guess it hasn’t been all for naught. But, at the same time, I can’t help but feel guilt for not doing more for the world at large. However, if I raise Olyn to be a better person than I am, I suppose that in a way, I have performed my duties as a human being for the betterment of the species.

Does that mean I should be content? Does ensuring the well-being of my progeny prove my worth? I feel like there isn’t a clear-cut answer. It seems more intricate than that. Shouldn’t I be contributing to society as a whole, rather than ensuring my son is a more capable member than myself? Does it truly matter in the long run? Does anything at that rate? I suppose I must strike a balance between the continuation of my family in a positive direction, and the perpetuation of the social, cultural, and national spheres in which I have lived. Or do I?

So much of me is looking for a way to break the mold. I don’t want to be just another brick in the wall. I want to be autonomous. I want to be free and independent. It is easier said than done, but I am positive that it is possible. I am still unsure of how I am going to go about making this happen, but, I am positive that I will be be able to if I apply myself correctly. We shall see. In the meantime, I am going to focus on what is within my control. I am looking forward to spending more time with Olyn, and the arrival of our second in late March. Onwards and upwards. -TRC

Dream Interpretation # 1 (Marble Mansion)

This is the first of my documented attempts at recounting and interpreting my dreams. I am doing this in order to tune into my unconscious mind, and in turn, further the process of my individuation. My hope is that I will eventually be able to use my unconscious and conscious minds in a harmonious and complementary unison; operating from a seat of infinite and fluid creativity as my highest Self. Here it goes…

Dream:

I am standing on a flat, pale granite plateau. There are an assortment of vehicles including cars, buses, and troop carriers in a line. Despite there being so many vehicles, there are only a handful of people. A civilian/military conflict has been resolved but we are looking for someone who has successfully avoided participation. Dynamite is thrown into a crack in the granite. The sticks explode and a massive marble mansion rises from the plateau.

A middle-aged Caucasian male with shoulder-length dark hair walks out onto the balcony. He is dressed in a gray unbuttoned dress shirt and suit coat with loafers. He seems relaxed, and welcomes me into his home. He has a European accent when speaking English, but I cannot determine where he is from. The mansion is beautiful and modern, but his wife is unhappy, and curled up on the couch facing away from us.

He gives me a tour, and explains to me that large sections of the house are unfinished, and he is sinking into debt. He mentions that he is trying to develop them into community apartments and showers, but worries that nobody will be interested. We walk to a basement level with many shower stalls. Only one shower is working. My college roommate comes out of the shower in a towel and we shake hands and chat. My roommate continues on his way. The mansion owner and I return upstairs.

I walk past the single TV in the house. It is a flat-screen of modest size, and half of it is shaded by a black curtain. I find myself in a room with my sister-in-law. She is wearing a red bikini and relaxing on a small couch. We are discussing dreams. She tells me that she is going to write a book about lucid dreaming after tripping on hallucinogenics. Apparently she has been having many lucid dreams after abusing certain substances. Her nipple slips out but it is painted over with red. We both laugh about it. Then I wake up.

Interpretation:

The civilian/military conflict and vehicles represent the situation of martial law playing out in D.C. right now. The mansion rising from the granite after sticks of dynamite being thrown at it may represent the attack on economic inequality. The wife being unhappy despite being in a massive, modern mansion may represent gender inequality issues that are also being brought to light. The man is also sinking into debt. In my eyes, the mansion, the dynamite, and the man and is wife, the civilian/military conflict, and his economic struggles are a direct reflection of the issues arising in the American social sphere right now.

My college roommate was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and attended Cambridge on full scholarship for graduate school. I’m not sure why he is the only one in the basement using the only working shower. He may represent the need to keep my mind and intellect clean from the constant bombardment of the negativity seeping out of media platforms. The TV being half-covered by a curtain represents my efforts to filter and monitor the information I am exposing myself to. I have always been attracted to my sister-in-law, which is why she may be scantily-clad and wearing red. The nip-slip, paint covering it, and the ensuing humor, probably represent the attraction never resulting in actuality.

I am assuming she represents my anima in the dream. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jungian psychology, the “anima” is the unconscious feminine side of a man. I am supposing that she is discussing lucid dreaming with me because of my decision to take my dreams seriously. She, on the one hand, is taking dreams so seriously that she is convinced that she will write a book on it. I disagree with the need to take hallucinogenics in order to have powerful dreams, however it may be my unconscious reminding me of the enjoyment of my experimentation with LSD. Either way, I am going to interpret this as my anima reinforcing my decision to take my dreams seriously and to strengthen my connection with my unconscious.

My interpretation may not be completely accurate, and may actually be far from it, but it is a crucial step in forming a powerful relationship with my unconscious. I am going to continue to recount and interpret my dreams in the hopes of becoming my highest Self. I have a feeling that this is going to be a profound, transformative experience.

A New Decade

The twenty-twenties have begun. A new set of ten years- a new decade. It is fun to reminisce about the previous decade. The past ten years hold so many experiences and memories, that I am more than excited to see what the next ten years have in store.

In the past ten years I decided to leave the United States Naval Academy. I received my undergraduate degree in political science from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. I was awarded as a USILA All-American in lacrosse. I became a husband to a beautiful wife, and the father of an amazing son.

On top of those things, I became engaged in the Coliseum in Rome. I stayed in a villa in Tuscany, swam in the Mediterranean, and explored the Amalfi coast. I moved to and lived in California for two years, and coached lacrosse at the youth, high school, junior college, and college levels.

I worked in San Francisco, dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean, and spent many days on some of California’s most admired beaches. I drove up and down coastal highway, and visited some of Sonoma and Napa county’s famous wineries. I spent a few weeks in rural Oregon, and a few days at Yosemite National Park.

I made a trip to the Dominican Republic, lounged on white sand beaches, and drank out of coconuts. To top it all off I was lucky enough to visit Kauai and surf in Hanalei Bay. I would have never had any of those opportunities and experiences had I not lived by myself in Annapolis, MD for a year.

My time alone when I was 25 was when I first truly connected with self and spirit. Before then, I had never really known who I was or what I wanted out of life. I set down roots and built a launch pad which was sufficient to propel me through a wild five years. Looking back, it all seems like a dream. I suppose you truly can’t put a price on experiences.

I must admit that I am a much better person than I was in 2010, and I guess that is what truly matters. I have bettered myself and my life and not the opposite. There were many times that I felt as if life was at a standstill and potentially over. There were times when I have pondered cutting it short and ending it myself if I am going to be truly honest.

I have never been more appreciative, excited, and grateful to be alive. Despite its inexplicable complexity, its sometimes mind-boggling trials, and its ups and downs, life is a gift and a miraculous experience when lived properly. I suppose the key is to do your best to become the best possible version of yourself, hang on for the ride as best as you can, and have a positive influence on everyone that you meet along the way.

I am so grateful to be alive, so thankful for each and every day that I am still breathing, and am looking forward to a new decade of experiences and opportunities. The real question is, am I choosing my path, or am I just along for the ride? Is it free will or destiny? Either way, I feel truly blessed to be a part of this cosmic play in an infinite universe. I’m going to do my best to stay grateful, stay positive, and live life to the fullest for as much time as I have been allotted. I wish all of you a happy new year, and a rich and fulfilling decade.

A Break at 100 Pages

I have written 100 pages of my second novel. I am also now on the last day of my one week break from writing. The routine of 1,000 words a day became burdensome rather than enjoyable- which let me know a stop was needed. While it has been a nice reprieve, I know that diving back into my novel will be difficult.

Patting myself on the back for 100 pages felt nice, I must admit. However, the finish line is still in the distance. With approximately 50,000 more words to go, it seems daunting at best. The project may end up being a little longer or shorter than the standard 80,000 word count, but, either way, I have a significant task set before me.

I am going to recommit myself starting tomorrow. I am going to take it 1,000 words at a time as I’ve done with the first 30,000. As long as I make it routine, the rest will essentially take care of itself. With a completion date of March 4, the task is manageable. My urge to start today is a good sign that I am ready to begin writing again. One foot in front of the other starting tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

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.

Instantaneous Results

Following an eye-opening review of my screen time, I decided to enact more discipline in terms of my reading and writing habits. So much time had been spent on Instagram and video games, that I could not overcome a seeping sensation of guilt. Yesterday I decided to take the “drastic” measure of deleting the apps.

Not only did I free up a few hours of time, I read a 215 page book, posted a blog post, and spent quality time with my son. I was not only more productive, but I was more focused, more relaxed, and in an overall better mood. I hadn’t realized that the time I was wasting on Instagram and video games was causing me anxiety. It was almost as if I knew on a subconscious level that I was wasting my time.

Following one of the most productive days I’ve had in recent memory, I’m going to continue the fledgling habits until they are automatic. I shouldn’t have to think about reading 100 pages and writing 1,000 words every single day, and eventually I won’t. Once they become the norm, it will be difficult to imagine my life without them. But, I guess that’s the ultimate goal- to be so immersed in my craft that it becomes a concrete component of my character.

How far along would I be on my writing path had I enacted these habits a year ago, or even a month or a week ago. It’s not to say that I wasn’t reading or writing every day, I just wasn’t as strict as I should have been. I could have been so much more focused, productive, and at ease. “Shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

The lost time, lack of focus, and stifled productivity can easily be transformed. It will take discipline, and a focus of will that I have not previously enacted. I enjoyed the first day of it immensely. Having read a book in a single day, I felt so accomplished. I’m hoping that the initial momentum will carry over into today and into the following weeks until they are the unshakable foundation on which my writing career is built.

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