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.

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

What’s New?

I haven’t written a blog post since June 12th. My laptop has been sitting on a side table for over a month. I have passed by and glanced at it innumerable times since then. I just haven’t had the urge to write. I have been fully immersed in raising a toddler as a stay-at-home-dad, and that has kept me more than busy. He is now 27 months old and becoming such a handful. His speech has increased dramatically and his motor skills are highly impressive at times. We are learning to play tee-ball and lacrosse, running races, exploring for animals and insects, and enjoying learning words, shapes, colors, and numbers.

The necessity of seeing the world on his level has allowed me to return to a child-like consciousness. I am seeing everything through a new lens, and as if I am seeing them for the first time. It is a good reminder of the miraculous intricacies all around us. I have learned more about insects in the past few months than I have in the first thirty years of my life. This experience is also a reminder that there is ALWAYS something to learn. The world is full of so many minute details that we take for granted. I am so grateful for the opportunity to see the world anew once again.

My wife turned 28 years old on July 4th, and has become a freelance web-developer and mindset coach. She will also be starting a coding course with JHU this August. To top it all off, she is pregnant with our second child. She thinks it will be a girl, however, my son and I think that it will be another boy. I am hopeful for another boy, because it is in my comfort zone coming from a family of four boys. The idea of having a girl is almost too hard for me to imagine. I’m sure that if we did end up having a girl, that I would be smitten from the beginning and would soon enjoy a new childcare experience. I am fine with either one, as long as they are happy and healthy.

It has been a year since the passing of my father, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him dearly. He would have had so much fun with his grandson. One of my brothers is modeling in New York, and surfing daily in Rockaway. My oldest brother has three young children, is working for the DOD, and lives in Georgetown. My youngest brother is a merchant mariner in Texas. Because of the pandemic, we have not seen each other in almost six months. I am excited for a much-needed reunion when things normalize.

My life now revolves around my toddler and taking care of the needs of my pregnant wife who is wearing many hats. I find solace in not being the center of my world. Living for others is truly a humbling experience. I am so lucky to be able to spend so much time with my family. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am looking forward to things normalizing and being able to see my family and friends again on a regular basis. That’s all for now, and in retrospect I am grateful that these are the only things to report on for the past month. Onward and upward and wishing everyone a happy, healthy summer.

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.

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.

Really? Maybe…

My fingers tap out letters on my keyboard without my doing. They fly to buttons here and there with ease. How and why I’m doing this is unclear at best. Am I typing of my own free will? Am I actually typing these letters, or is it the mere production of a stream of subconscious that destines me to publish this post? I’m not sure. I don’t think I’ll ever know, and I don’t think I’m meant to. None of us are. Wouldn’t life be an incredible bore if we knew we weren’t in the driver seat- that we were just along for the ride? Then again, maybe it being out of our control requires what people refer to as “faith.” That concept had eluded me until writing that sentence. What a powerful concept. But, is it blind?

What if we are the in the driver seat and in control of our destiny? It seems to make things more complicated, but it’s no more complicated than the first scenario. However, your decisions may very well be an illusion of choice. Even if that’s not the case, would you still end up at the same end point? Or is there an infinite number of actions, and an infinite number of outcomes? I feel like there would have to be an infinite number of parallel earths, and the frequency of your vibration would have to determine which earth you experience…because thus is the nature of energy…right? Not quite sure of that one either.

The first two paragraphs are a bit jumbled, but that’s typically how my mind runs laps around this question. I think this life is a combination of free will and destiny. I think we can make choices up to a certain point. I think the choices have to fall within a certain spectrum of frequencies of vibration. I think our destiny varies as much as our narrow band of choices does. I think there are a multitude of possible outcomes (destinies), but not an infinite number. Mind is all over the place. Enjoy.

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.

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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