Who/What Am I?

So. Here I am. Again. Where is “here”? Who is “I”? “I” am apparently some relatively intelligent ape (relative in terms of other life on this planet, although I think dolphins and whales are relatively intelligent as well (among other beings)). Also, relatively in terms of other apes on this planet. Is that the “here”? -a water-covered rock orbiting an insignificant star in a galaxy among potentially trillions of other galaxies? “Again”? In terms of blogging? Sitting in front of my laptop? Being human? Having this sensational experience? I am unsure of how many times I have actually performed any and all of those. I have a first-person perspective of my fingers tapping out the letters to this blog post. Who is moving the fingers? Who is tapping the keys? Am I in control of this action? Who is “I” again?

Often times I look in the mirror and I see “myself”. I see the familiar features and the familiar expressions. I see the hazel eyes that seem to change color with my mood and what I’m wearing. I see my broken nose and deviated septum. I see how I have aged. I see all of it. That’s who “I” am. Right? That is “me”. The ape. The intelligent ape on this water-covered rock. Okay. That’s fine. I’ll accept that. But, what am I doing here? What is my purpose? Why do “I” exist? Millions of years of evolution…following countless eons of matter (mostly dark) and energy (mostly dark) colliding and combining (apparently the stars, planets, and galaxies that can be seen make up only 4 percent of the known universe and the other 96 percent is made of stuff astronomers can’t see, detect, or even comprehend) to produce…me. And all of you. Okay. But, for what? To experience and learn from each other? Maybe. Maybe not.

If the known universe is mostly unknown to our sensory experience…am “I” too, unknown to myself? Can I “see” or “know” myself in my basest form? Just as astronomers cannot truly experience the cosmos for what it is, am I not a microcosm of the incomprehensible fabric from which I have sprung? Are we universal anomalies? Cosmic accidents? I mean, if you look around at the state of the globe, it makes sense as to why we may deem ourselves as accidents. What a terrible mess we have made of our planet. In the name of what? Status? Economic fame? Fame in general? Recognition? – superficial symbols that are socially constructed to begin with. What good is money when it can’t buy a functioning ecological system? What good is space travel when species are going extinct at an unprecedented rate? What good is fame when there is no clean water to drink? What good is status when it is too hot to venture outdoors? What a comical mess we have made of things here. And for what? So other “intelligent” apes will validate who “we” are and what we are doing? Disturbing at best.

The other notion that crosses my mind is solipsism. Solipsism, for those of you who don’t know, is the concept that the “self” is all that can be known to exist. All of the aforementioned concepts are constructs of my own doing. All of it. The universe. Time. Space. Self. Travel. Species. Intelligence. All of it. It is my own subjective experience and all of you reading this are as well. Bizarre. I know. I can’t truly convince myself otherwise, however, for the sake of my own mental well-being, and likely for the sake of all of you, I will refrain from crawling down that rabbit hole. Let’s just say that at the very least, all of you are experiencing your own version of solipsism…funny to think about, I know. All of you intelligent apes could think that you are the center of the universe, and no intelligent ape (or higher power of your own construction) could prove you otherwise. Comical at best.

“Consciousness just ‘is’…” I heard that from a well-known guru recently. Profound. But, also, how commonly apathetic. Okay. Awesome. This (this whole experience) just “is”. It is like the air we breathe. It is inescapable. We need not think about it because we cannot contextualize our experience without it to begin with. All of our thinking/intelligence etc. is ineffective because of well, in my opinion, technically solipsism. Lol. Also comical. But, in all due respect…aren’t all answers for our existential questions? What a terrible bore this life would be if we knew all of the answers. I can only hope that we know very little…and even at the end, we are only given enough of a sliver of information to continue our infinite journey (if our journey is actually infinite, if we need “information”, or if we are actually on a “journey” to begin with). No answers. Only questions. As of now, this experience is rather nice. Sensations are an incredible thing. If this post is making you feel down (and even if it’s not) take a second to realize all of the events and people that must have existed in order for you to come across this post. It is the most incredible thing you have ever experienced…I say this because the past may not actually exist…and neither may the future. But, thank you for joining me. I hope all is well.

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.

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.

Primal Fantasy

In my late teens, I had a recurring fantasy of traveling throughout Europe and spreading my seed wherever I went. The goal was to have as many children as possible, with as many women as possible. I chose Europe because I have an affinity for Caucasians like myself, and for some reason thought that my bastard children’s lives would be easier in the developed world. This was clearly not very well thought out, and was strictly a fantasy. I am unsure of why, but the fantasy has taken hold of me again. After having one child in wedlock, I am suddenly stricken with the desire to make as many as possible, and by any means necessary, before I die.

I have a variety of theories as to why this sudden urge is rising in me. 1. It is a natural biological instinct to have as many offspring as possible. 2. I am having a surge of testosterone from proper diet and exercise. 3. I am unhappy with monogamy. 4. I want to have more kids with my wife, but the rate of reproduction is too slow for satisfaction. 5. I am twisted and delusional and need therapy. The cause may be one, or a combination of any of the aforementioned possibilities. I am unsure, but I know that I am bombarded with the idea throughout the day.

In a perfect world, I would have the means to have a large harem of women who were popping out babies at my bidding. And by a perfect world, I mean if I were a modern-day Genghis Khan. Would it be a healthy environment for the women and children? Likely not. I wouldn’t have the time or energy to meet all of their needs. Would it be enjoyable for myself? There are certainly pros and cons. Will this fantasy ever take place. No. Is it fun to think about? Absolutely. Again, this is just a testosterone-fueled fantasy that has been on my mind lately.

Part of me feels as if it is a good sign that I have healthy levels of testosterone. Another part of me feels as if I have too much free-time on my hands. And still another part of me feels as if I am unhappy and full of regret. I love my wife and child very much. Wouldn’t it make sense that more of a good thing is better? If only it was that simple. Childish fantasies are fun to play around with, but at the end of the day, I enjoy making my best effort to meet the needs of my small family. We are healthy and happy, and maybe we will have more children in the future. For now, that is enough.

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.

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.

CTE

I recently read an article about a former USC defensive back. It wasn’t about his charity work. It wasn’t about him pursuing political office. It was about him wandering into traffic and getting hit by a Chevy Astrovan. He was 31 years old.

Like many football players, he was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. It’s a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. Symptoms include behavioral problems, trouble thinking, and mood problems. It often becomes worse over time.

After 20 years of contact sports, I am intuitively inclined to think that I have and am developing the very same disease. Reading the article was like reading my own biography. We shared the same issues, same mood and behavioral problems, and “a headache that never seemed to go away.” We have both self-medicated to no avail.

CTE is often misdiagnosed as bipolar of schizophrenia. They share similar characteristics, especially as the disease becomes more injurious to the mind. I have trouble staying awake, I have focus issues, and chronic depression. I’ve had too many concussions to count, and I feel like the effects are finally catching up with me.

I find myself in a time warp of sorts- days, weeks, and months are gone in a flash. I have memory problems which only seem to get worse. My sense of smell is almost non-existent (an early indicator of CTE). And instinctively, I know that something is wrong between my ears. I know that I’ve done severe damage to myself, but I’m unsure of the extent. I’m hoping a new test and treatment options are made available soon. As of now, there is no conclusive test until death, and there are no treatments available. Keeping my fingers crossed.

A New Day (Earth Spin)

Every morning, I stand outside and greet the sun. I ask myself, “What am I going to do with this earth spin?” The sun never rises and the sun never sets, the earth just keeps spinning, that, you should never forget. I know it sounds elementary, but we chunk up our days as if they were governed by the sun’s illusory trajectory.

If we truly take advantage of the time we’ve been given, we can better ourselves at all times. I know that our bodies abide by a circadian rhythm, and I know that we need to eat and sleep an adequate amount, but I find myself wondering why most people remain comfortable in performing the bare minimum. Rise with the sun, go to work, head home before sunset, and fritter away the remaining hours before doing it all over again the following day.

I suppose gone are the days where people like Benjamin Franklin would work with a metal ball in their hand. When the ball dropped if he drifted off, he would wake up and continue working. He operated on around four hours of sleep. He was clearly the exception and not the norm. But, I suppose Elon Musk could be today’s modern comparison.

Maybe this is a chastisement upon myself. I find myself heading to bed before I am sufficiently tired. I notice that I am wasting my time by surfing the web or using unproductive apps. Maybe I am just “normal.” There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but I aspire to be like those who seem to suck the juice out of life with an unmatched efficiency. Perhaps if I keep striving to be on that level, I will reach it. Will it make my life any better? Maybe. Maybe not. Only one way to find out.

%d bloggers like this: