Day 222: The Man and the Benched for the Season; ‘Expectation’

So…I actually legitimately forgot it was Valentine’s Day today. Hahah. I had a completely different post lined up for today (yes I schedule and plan these out in advance). It was going to be another cooking post actually, something I made over the weekend. But that’ll be tomorrow because I feel like a blog with this particular focus and origin story should probably speak about something on what is supposed to be the most romantic holiday of the year.

Whatever that means.

ugh-valentineI actually do like Valentine’s Day. Yeah sorry, the world couldn’t make me cynical enough to not care. I know it’s a cheesy, overly capitalist consumerist holiday filled with earwax flavored powdered chalk hearts, assorted chocolate boxes that really only have two worth eating, impractically large stuffed bears, and overpriced prix fixe menus but it’s my cheesy, over capitalist consumerist holiday. Whatever little sense of competition and competitiveness I do have is usually reserved for things like this and I feel like not only am I competing against every other boyfriend in the world, most of all I’m competing against myself. Trying to make each year better and bigger than the last and ‘win’ at cramming as much love and sentiment and all that jazz into one day as possible. Ahahah.

For the most part, I think I’ve done a pretty good job. I remember my first real Valentine’s Day was in high school. I had to have my parents pick up my date because I wasn’t old enough to drive yet. We went to this Taiwanese restaurant that my family and I would always go to and they would give us little freebies. An appetizer, some bubble tea, simple things just as a sign of gratitude and appreciation for our continued and frequent patronage. She was Chinese and it was fun watching her order in Mandarin and we had these dishes that I guess had always been on the menu but my family never knew or thought to order. I gave her a Zune. She got me a mandolin slicer. Zunes ended up being a flop and I sliced off my finger pad with the slicer the first time I used it. Hahah. My first Valentine’s with Beautiful, we went to Build a Bear and made Big [My name] together. He’s sadly lost forever in some dump somewhere most likely. Last year, I took her to Philly for the weekend and we recreated our first visit and she got roses at every stop. I don’t need to tell you how that ended up.

I feel old and irrelevant. Like a former high school athlete who petered out and has dazed-and-confusednothing better to do than wear his old varsity jacket and hang around the local bowling alley. I worry all I have now are stories of the past. When I first started writing, my fear was that I would be haunted by the ghosts of my past forever, and that the reminders that surrounded me would eventually weigh me down so much I wouldn’t be able to pick myself up. Writing was this therapeutic way of bringing these ghosts back into physical form and letting them live on somewhere else other than just my memory. They became stories and lessons and things I could actually weave together into something productive, useful. Now I wonder if I’ve beaten a dead horse too much. If I’ve run out. There’s a fine line between nostalgia for the past and obsession for it.

At the same time though I also feel like I have all this pent up energy. Like I’ve still got so much to do and so much I could be capable of and it’s the last quarter and my team is down but my coach has benched me for the season. Yesterday as I was having lunch in our lounge area I heard some coworkers from other departments talking about their Valentine’s plans. ‘Oh we have a restaurant.com gift card to use up so we’ll probably go somewhere that’ll take it,’ said one woman. Another commented, ‘we usually just buy our own gifts since he doesn’t ever really know what to get’. The sole male member of their group was actually quite confident when he said ‘I have an app that remembers holidays and it just sends flowers and chocolates to be delivered home. It’s great and it’s so easy to use’. I physically cringed.

If anything, I feel this call to action because I don’t want to see the sorry sad state modern-day romance seems to be in. I’m not saying we need to go back to such old and im-batmanoutdated notions like a guy throwing his coat onto the ground so she doesn’t step in a puddle. But you know, let’s actually take the time and effort to plan dates and know what to get for gifts. Let’s open doors and pay for meals. It’s kind of worrying when around the holidays and Valentine’s there are so many online forum posts and questions about ‘how do I get her to tell me what she wants as a gift’ or ‘top 10 easy, universal gift ideas that’ll keep her happy’. At the same time though, I still find those overly-public and attention-seeking grand gestures too exaggerated and impersonal. Everyone wants to ooh and aah but I don’t know…I find it desperate, insisting upon itself. So I come off cynical. It’s funny. I have this die-hard romantic side of me that’s been kept bottled up now for going on two-third of a year, which is about as long as some of these new people I work with have known me. They never saw me with Beautiful. Or with any of the other girls. I’m not as close with them as I was in my old job at my old place. They know very little, outside of what I give them, and they supplement that with your standard modern-day twenty-something single male stereotypes. They joke that since I am usually very frugal and good with money that I must make the girl pay or I suggest we split everything when we go out. They tell me I better find a girl because I’m too quiet and uptight. That if I’m single too long I’ll go hungry (they don’t know I cook). They have this very depressing view on me, that either I must be sad because I’m alone or that I must be undateable. Hahah. I could say something, show something, but I don’t have the energy nor the will nor the care really to do so. I’m not dating or will date any of them, so what have I got to prove? It’s just really stifling, feeling like a superhero in a world that has no need for, or belief in, one.

What keeps me sane through all this is the meshing together of these two thoughts. On the one hand, I know I am prone to, and enjoy, the larger than life displays and romantic gestures. On the other hand, that I am still putting myself in a position of waiting and analyzing. See because one helps me to realize that no matter how big or small the gesture, it doesn’t really do much to contribute to the overall success or failure of a relationship. There are people far happier than me who have done less and people who are alone and yet may have done even more. What I did for these women, they were never contracts or agreements. I did them because I wanted to. And they left because well, they wanted to also. I like the memories. I think they were sweet and I was happy in them. I’m still happy, but maybe just not so sweet. Hahah. But I’m not relegated to these reminders of the past. Because…point two, I know I am still very much able and capable and overall wanting, to be that person again. I never gave up on love or hope of love. I think if I’m really honest, a lot of times in the past the gesture came first, the person second. Meaning to say, I wanted to be this romance god and had this idea of what to do and I just projected that onto whoever I was with. But if the relationship is about the gesture, it’s not the best or even strongest foundation. Now, I’m still very much the same person but I want to find someone first. Spend the time to find someone really special. Important. Then, I want to figure out what they want, are looking for. Pour all this energy and drive into defying and surpassing all expectation and do something that speaks straight to the heart of that one person. Universal plans are nice, and I still have them. But I want to find someone and be with someone who inspires me to do things deeply personal and unique. I think she and I could create some real great things. And then I’d still be winning anyways. Hahah.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Day 222

Man: 190 Loneliness: 32

Day 218: The Man and the Happiness to Have and Give; ‘Lush’

As the setting sun gently began to dip beneath the ocean’s waves, she looked back at me with those deep, brown eyes. Her back was towards the sun and it cast a soft glow around the edges of her slender, lush body. She smiled, a gentle, loving, warm smile, and she asked me the question she had asked me so many times before.

‘When did you know you truly loved me?’

As I bent down on one knee and reached into my pocket, I looked up at her. The breeze was playing with her hair, gently brushing long elegant strands across her face. There was something so tantalizing about the way she tucked her hair behind her ears to keep it away. This time, as I opened the tiny box in my hand, I finally had an answer.

‘When I realized I could never be happy without you.’

HA. God almighty that was painfully cheesy. I crack myself up.

I’ll be honest with you, maybe there was a time when I thought this would have been true and it was the most romantic and beautiful thing you could say to someone. (Who am I kidding, that’s not a ‘maybe’ that’s a hard ‘definitely’.) And maybe (definitely) there are some of you reading this thinking to yourselves ‘God I wish someone would say this to me’ or ‘Man I should definitely use this line sometime’.

DON’T. Don’t think it, don’t want it, don’t use it, don’t look for it, don’t believe in it.

Bad Idea.gifThis may be a hard pill to swallow but believe me, it’s the medicine you need to have. I am generally a very flexible and agreeable person. I invite different voices, opinions, I am never above discourse, debate, or discussion. But on this particular matter, I draw a firm line. This kind of overly romantic sentiment is dangerous to relationships, immature, unproductive, and puts too much pressure and strain on both parties involved. Besides, let’s be real with ourselves. It just isn’t true.

I used to think this was what love was all about. Finding happiness. And living a life constantly seeking one relationship after another, constantly finding validation and value in the times I was with someone, it was enough to go by. It was also, after all, the mentality with which I began this entire year-long experiment. That for a year I would be fighting unhappiness in the form of loneliness, because happiness was being in a relationship. But what I’ve come to begin to realize (yes begin, I’m not entirely ‘wise man on the mountain just yet) is that relationships aren’t about finding or gaining happiness.

Let’s talk about how that kind of mentality can affect the times before, during, and after a relationship.

If you truly could not be happy without someone, what does that do to all the times you’ve had before being with this person? As beautiful as it may be to say to someone ‘my entire life before you has been nothing but a fuzzy haze and your love is the brilliance that has finally brought everything into crystal clear focus’ , it just…god I hope it can’t be true. What have you Bono Diagram.pngbeen doing your entire life before this one person happened to come across your path? The truth is you’ve been out there developing and growing and becoming someone interesting. You’ve gained experience, insight, gathered stories, you’ve been living a full life, the life that makes you who you are and desirable to begin with. Someone wants you for you. I’ve no doubt that there were hard times. Difficult times. Times of very deep and profound sorrow. Hardship. But I also believe you’ve known, had, and experienced happiness too. It may be difficult in the scope of a relationship to remind yourself of this, but it’s there. I know too well how easy it is to be so engrossed and enamored with the bliss and happiness of being in a relationship that all the other times before it seem mild and dull in comparison. Being in love kind of gilds those memories so they naturally shine more. But don’t let it take away from the value and worth of everything you were beforehand. If you’ve ever woken up one day in a relationship that you know is nearing its end and thought to yourself ‘who was I before this’ then you know that feeling of being lost, as if the entirety of your being was seemingly attached to this couple mentality. Maybe you were in a relationship for so long you almost forgot, or maybe you honestly have had the wonderful chance to learn and grow and experience and develop so much in the time you were with this person that you’ve forgotten how much you could achieve on your own. Either way, if you are single, are contemplating going back to being single, not looking, or have never looked or been looked at, know that you are capable of happiness, seeking and gaining your own happiness, and enjoying it all on your own.

When you’re in healthy relationship, I know how happy it can be. I know what it’s like to be making those memories that you hope to have and cherish for the rest of your life. There have been times when I find myself in similar situations as a single guy that I was in face-of-boejust a year ago with Beautiful and I was worried I could not be nearly as happy as I was. Last year I went to Cabo with Beautiful and I thought it was the greatest vacation I had ever had. We ate, drank, danced, explored the desert, and just had the company of each other the entire time. This year I went to Cancun with my family and I thought it couldn’t compare. And yet, in different ways, I found a whole level of happiness that came from really spending time and focusing on family. I grew closer to my parents and I feel that this was the first vacation where my brother and I felt like equals with our parents. There were no ‘kids activities’, no branching off. We could go to a bar and drink together and share stories we might not have shared or censored before. Last year when my parents and brother were in Las Vegas and I had two weeks to myself, she was spending the nights here and we were cooking and coming home to each other and living this idyllic simulation of domesticity. This year they are in the Philippines and I have two months to myself and I thought, ‘to what end could I enjoy this on my own’. Yet here I am cooking these incredible meals for myself, spending time on my own, going out and honestly, genuinely, with no need to force or convince myself, having a great time with just my company. Honestly, I haven’t even really desired or had to call out to my friends this entire time either.

The other thing about being happy in a relationship is it casts too much pressure to assign happiness to the other person. No one really seeks the responsibility or task of being the sole source of happiness for another person. Much like the ‘soulmate’ mentality, this idea of ‘I could never be happy without you’ creates a dichotomy between you and the person you are with. Do you know what you were before you were together? You were a fully-formed human being, capable of your own emotions, experiencing your own desires and happiness. Do you know what you should be when you are with someone? Almost exactly the same. I say ‘almost’, but I’ll get to that more later.

Obviously though, this thinking is the most dangerous post-relationship. And god, that’s the worst. Speaking from personal experience, of course. When you’ve hitched your happiness to the same one person for so long and that person isn’t you…you feel lost, empty, hollow when they’re gone. Some people can’t seem to be able to climb their way out of those holes. And those people, they drag the people down around them. They fixate and obsess over this one thing and it starts to flatten someone who once was complex, layered, and fully formed. After the breakup, I had to remind myself of all the things I used to do alone that made me happy. I had to redefine my relationship to my friends before I began to simply proxy them and it created more tension than there already was. It is most important when you are down and feeling your most alone that you remind yourself that you were happy before, happy during, and all indications point pretty overwhelmingly to being happy after it all as well. When you realize that you gain a whole new level of strength and resolve. ‘I could be happy with or without you’ is just as true as ‘I could be sad with or without you’ as well. The truth is there is no one universal shield to any emotion, and besides, who would want that? No one person can promise you to always make you feel one way or never feel another. The truth is we are all free to experience the full depth and complexity of human emotion and the best thing, the best thing about being with someone you truly love and who truly loves you, is not that they deny you one and give you only another, but that they are there to experience it all with you and to heighten the great and soften the not so great. It’s weird. Honestly, what I really desire to be able to tell someone, is to look at this beautiful woman across from me and say, ‘You know, the truth is I could be happy with or without you. I just don’t want it to be without you.’ It’s real, honest, genuine, but most of all, it’s this freeing no-pressure gesture of love.

So I did say before that I think you should ‘almost’ the same when you’re with someone as you were before. And I want to clarify that last. What I mean by that is…what I’m learning and hoping to do…is I want to be someone with happiness to share when it is that I am lucky enough to meet someone again. I’ve spent so long looking and trying to define these relationships as walking up to someone and saying ‘can you make me happy’. And for a time they could, and they would, and it was great, but when they stopped, my happiness went away and it was fleeting and impermanent. But here I am living this life, gathering these experiences, putting myself in a certain position and situation to be truly, wonderfully happy. And it is in that moment that I sit back and think, ‘you know, I want to share this happiness with someone’. And it is in that moment that I want to open myself up to love again and find someone with the same mentality. I want to make someone happy because I have this happiness that is eager and desiring to be shared. Because the truth is, I have been happy. I will be happy. But eventually, soon, I will want to share that happiness.

Day 218

Man: 186 Loneliness: 32

Day 210: The Man and the Blast From the Past, Gift from the Rift; ‘Clean’

So it’s the middle of the night and I’m trying to go to sleep…

And I get a text message, which immediately startles me because, if any of you play the Michael Scott.gifMetal Gear series, my text alert is the *BWOMP* sound the game makes when you’ve been discovered by an enemy.

Who the hell is texting me at this ungodly hour…

It’s Bird. I haven’t spoken to her since the holidays to wish her a merry Christmas and happy New Year. I’ve for the most part gotten over my crush and besides all indications are that she’s still going strong with her boyfriend so I’ve made my peace and moved on.

It’s a picture of an online pre-order receipt for Mass Effect: Andromeda. The latest game in a series that we are both fans of and liked to talk about. ‘Okay,’ I thought. ‘She got the game. Good for her.’ Underneath it though was the caption ‘my ex bought Andromeda for me L M A O’.

Huh.

It was a weird sentiment, at such a random time, but maybe it was the half-awake half-asleep mind or that calm and peace of the night, but it immediately brought up a whole slew of emotions and thoughts that were just too much to process. So I decided to wait until now to go through them.


First, this was not the first time that any one of her past exes has been brought up in conversation. I couldn’t really pinpoint when, or where, or why, or how, but somehow or other in sporadic bursts in our conversations she would find it appropriate to bring up exes. This one who’s still obsessed with her and trying to get back together, this one who was a jerk and a mistake, this one who was ‘really just for the sex and loneliness’, or this one who ‘still felt bad about the breakup’ and is giving her gifts therefore for some reason? Iono. As I like to say, ‘whatevs to the evs’. But maybe it’s not so ‘whatevs’? Am I wrong or is there something strange about constantly bringing up ex talk? For comparison, about as much as she knows about me is that I was dating a girl who I used to date back in college and then a couple months later we broke up. That’s it. The entirety of my romantic past in summation based on her knowledge.

Carol Brown.gifSo I’m trying to process why this seems to keep coming up. And I’m trying to come up with positive, flattering reasons why. I’m drawing blanks. Because here’s what I’ve come up with. For the most part, I find people who consistently bring up their exes often times do it because they draw a certain sense of self-worth by quantifying how desirable they are. ‘Look at me, I must be good, because look at this list of people who have thought so too.’ And I would like to think Bird is above that, because I think that’s a very sorry and sad way to view yourself; only in terms of how others have, and specifically how others have in terms of lovability or at the very least, likability. You shouldn’t be after trying to get as many people as possible to want you. I’ve always felt that the goal was to find the one. There are lessons and values and wonderful stories created from my past relationships, I certainly can’t deny that. And when appropriate I do enjoy sharing them. The funny, the folly, or the downright fails. But I don’t call on this history as a means of validation. I think I might have in the past though, to be honest. Or at the very least, I think I and most other people can relate, after breakups it is hard not to diminish your sense of self-worth because you are suddenly unwanted. There have been relationships in the past whose ultimate demise have caused me to question myself, my sense of self. I can understand that. But with time you get over that, and you have to realize that the actions of others, their wants and desire, have very little, if anything at all, to do with you, your values, or your worth. And in as much freedom and strength as there is in realizing that someone not wanting you means little, there is the same in realizing that people wanting you means little as well.

Second, I was wondering why she wanted me to know about this at all anyways. If it was about the game and sharing some excitement, then I would have understood completely. How exciting and how great to have that pre-order and already have the peace of mind and anticipation of knowing that on the day the game comes out there is already a copy with your name on it in the mail. Often times pre-orders also come with some extra goodies, either physical goodies like special collector’s edition cases or other paraphernalia or digital goodies like extra content or special items to help you gain an early advantage in the beginning of the game. Personally I am against the concept of pre-orders because it creates too much hype and rewards developers and game companies even before the product is release, which gives them less accountability to make a quality game. But that’s gaming politics and something for some other topic way off in the future if ever. But fine let’s jump up and down and say yay and oh my god that’s so cool.

Andromeda.jpegBut if it was about the game, why would I need to know the part about her ex buying it for her? It’s that extra superfluous piece of information that just gets me confused about the underlying message here. Am I supposed to be…jealous? Impressed? How do I respond? It’s such a strange thing. Why would people feel the need to add all these extra bits of information except for to use the main thing as an excuse to detract focus. And if it was a play for jealousy…I mean…am I supposed to be jealous of the game, or of the act? And isn’t there someone else more relevant to play this on? Like I don’t know, her actual boyfriend? Look I get this makes me sound supremely self-centered. And again, I could be, and hope to be, wrong. These are the semi-lucid musings of a half-awake man. But I definitely think there is something there at least to learn or come away with. Don’t use the actions of others as a tool to incite jealousy. It doesn’t motivate or inspire others to act. It either repels them if they can see through the action or demotivates them. Jealousy is a petty way of getting what you want. If you want me to celebrate with you, I’ll celebrate. But don’t also try to make me jealous. Because then I can see no benefit in sharing this with you.

Third, after my vision began to clear and I wiped the sleep from my eyes and saw that message, the first thing I responded with was ‘wait, are you going to take it?’ I kind of thought and hoped the answer to that should be clear.

‘Eh he wants to give me a gift then fine lol he still feels guilty about our breakup 3 years ago so whatever’

Hand on Head.gifHuh. Guess the answer wasn’t as clear as I thought. Again, way more information than I need, and I guess I mean good for you for being so monumental in his life for the past three years but…like, so what? Anyways, isn’t it strange to be accepting gifts from an ex? Let’s start with just that very general blanket statement. Call me crazy, but I am more in the habit of cutting off contact with exes, so forget accepting gifts from them. It seems like a potentially messy and complicated situation. Now we add on the fact that a) we are to assume she is still in a relationship and b) we are to trust she is accurate and true in saying that her ex for whatever reason ‘still feels bad’ (implying motive? incentive? I don’t know) and it just seems way too much of a hot mess to even want to step into. Maybe in a perfect world with perfect people we can maintain somewhat healthy relationships with exes. But it doesn’t seem this relationship is healthy or even ended in a way that could have facilitated anything healthy. In my opinion the best thing to do after a relationship ends is first of all to make sure everyone involved understand and is clear about the ending of the relationship and then make about as sharp and clean a break as possible, which means no contact. As the break-upper, the broken up, and the potential future partner of either party, it seems best and most conducive to do it this way. Am I being too old-fashioned? Is this such an old and sentimental value it is no longer realistic? Again my god what world of dating am I entering into at the end of my year? It seems against all better judgement to accept anything from an ex. I know from personal experience both as the giver and the receiver, it is almost impossible for these gifts to be given without some ulterior motive or underlying emotion still lingering.

Ultimately, before going back to bed, all I could respond with was ‘mazel tov’.


Okay, let’s be reasonable. I was groggy and therefore possibly grumpy, and maybe a bit overly judgmental. The truth of the matter is this has very little to do with Bird, and more to do with how this seemingly innocent and inane conversation has surprisingly given me so much to think about and wanted to flesh it out in a more cohesive manner when I have full possession of all faculties. It did help me to further ‘humanize’ Bird though. I got to see some shortcomings, get a better feel for her outside of the crush I had. I can’t say that was such a bad thing either. And in the morning when I woke up, I felt neither more nor less for her. She was human, capable of making mistakes and free to do as she pleases. It was her life to live anyways, not mine. Through it all at least I got some wonderful food for thought to sustain me and feed my mind throughout the day. Interactions with exes can be tricky. I think it best to avoid them. Maybe there are more mature, more complex, more capable people out there who can handle them and choose to do so, but I’m fine as is.

Day 210

Man: 178 Loneliness: 32

Day 208: The Man and the Total Recall; ‘Scent’

If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can still see the deep, rich hazel of her eyes. I can feel her hair tickling my neck as she rests her head on my shoulders. If I take a deep enough breath I can still catch a slight trace of her scent in the air. Sweet with a tinge of melancholy. In the most profound and all-encompassing silences of the night, her laughter echoes, and in my weakest and most desperate moments, I can hear her calling me ‘baby’ again.

Image result for closing eyes gif

That is the beauty, and the burden, of memory. What’s more, as a storyteller, a writer, a creator, I cling to these scars like bubbling wells when I might feel thirsty or starved for inspiration. I am, for the most part, free of the emotions of these memories. When they first started popping up, I felt like a lost lonely little child in a haunted house, surrounded by the ghosts of something long dead and gone. But I’ve grown up and realized that these are benign ghosts, more like tragic tapes on permanent playback than harmful poltergeists. They are no longer intruders upon my house, but fixtures, like a chandelier that creaks in the wind or a squeaky floorboard. I can walk and weave my way through them, letting them pop up and occupy my mind for a few seconds before floating away, like wisps in the wind. I don’t think I could ever truly be entirely free of them; the memories are too distinct, too significant, too much a part of my life to be forgotten, like the name of my favorite stuffed bear when I was a tiny baby. What life, love, or longing is gone, but Beautiful remains.

And I’ve often wondered if I’d be better off forgetting it all. Freeing myself of even the seemingly benign burden of slight reminders. To say goodbye permanently to the good, the bad, and the ugly of what, seven years more or less of an intertwined story? Would my life be better, would any of our lives be better, if we possessed the ability and the luxury of wiping from our memory all of the failed, faded, or lost loves of our lives.

Now this is not a new concept. And it’s heavily and thoroughly investigated in one of my
all-time favorite movies, it’s come up before once or twice on the blog I believe, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. After a painful breakup two former lovers undergo a procedure to erase each other from their minds, only to run into each other and contemplate the possibilities of being together, knowing what could possibly await them again.

I mean, the immediate appeal is there, for sure. There would be no painful reminders. No fear of going back to some place and falling into some emotionally deep memory that you can barely get yourself out of. In the beginning of it all I might have gladly taken the option. I would have found myself in more places around my home, places I’d barred for fear of feeling too attached to the memories they brought up. Anyone who’s gone through a painful breakup can relate to that desire of wanting to just be rid of it all. Usually it is because we focus so much on the good times, the perfect moments, the snapshots, that we then idealize and gild them until they are placed on a pedestal of unrealistic proportions. The more we focus on these moments, the more we miss them, the deeper the hurt. And yet we go back to them, again and again. Why? Because a familiar pain is better than an unknown one. Why not wallow in the familiar sting of long lost love when the alternative is to go back out into the world and open yourself up to newer, potentially deeper, scars? So, burdened with the memory, we live in pain. Wouldn’t forgetting free us, then? Wouldn’t it allow us that blissful ignorance, hopeful optimism, necessary to chase after the love we once wanted? But it doesn’t work so well. Case in point, look at the characters in the movie. Look at Kirsten Dunst playing the doe-eyed assistant in love with her married doctor boss Tom Wilkinson. Spoiler alert: near the film’s conclusion we learn that the two of them have had an affair already previously, and here they are in the same situation once more. ‘Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it’. What if the price of forgetting our follies is being stuck, like those ghosts, in permanent playback, doomed to constantly chase after the same, make the same mistakes, and run away from the same problems?

Up until now, I’ve lived in that sort of realm of possibility. I’ve only ever wondered, ‘what if I could forget’. And it is partly because I’ve never had an alternative to consider. Until that is, I watched Netflix’s show Black Mirror, and in particular the episode The Entire History of You. A wonderful piece of technology from the future, only referred to as a ‘grain’, allows its users to capture everything they ever see and play it back either in their minds or on screens in homes and at offices. An infinite playback reel going back to infancy, capturing every moment, every nuance, in picture-perfect real-life definition. It lets people replay interviews to analyze how well it went, watch a baby’s feed to make sure the babysitter was gentle and safe, or even play back those better moments of past relationships. But total recall comes at a price, the price of security, privacy, trust, but most surprisingly, happiness.

As one pro-grain user in the episode says, ‘half the organic memories you have are junk’. It can’t be trusted. How many memories have we blown out of proportions. How many childhood lakes as large as oceans and filled with pristine beautiful blue waters have turned out to be shallow mucky ponds in adulthood? Wouldn’t it be better to have preserved everything as it truly was. There’d be no doubt, no worry. I could replay over and over, again and again, catch myself browsing ‘redos’ in my mind until I go dizzy. I’d catch the moments in picture perfect clarity, to bask in past glory or to fanaticize over failures. But then again…that’s the problem. I’d catch the moments in picture perfect clarity, or fanatacize over my failures. There is this wonderfully poignant scene where the main couple are making actual real love in real life, but the movements are generic, uninspired, mechanical, their eyes glazed over as if possessed, because rather than engage in the now, they are both independently playing ‘redos’ in their mind of better, more passionate, earlier times of having sex rather than trying to capture that now. And how many of us would be guilty of choosing to relive the past rather than appreciate the present. And with permanent records, how many could resist the temptation to go back to fantasies and memories of past loves. Or grill our partners on their past. With the power and the ability to project exact memories, how many of us could resist digging into that even knowing full well how painful those memories could be? The history of your partner is right there at your fingertips. You know it could possibly hurt you, maybe even too much to handle, and yet…the temptation. The possibility. The all-too-familiar pain.

And so I pose to you this conundrum. What would you rather have. In what world would you rather live. How best do you move on. Would you rather forget everything after a breakup, or have everything captured forever. Total recall, or total wipe.

And, before some of you answer, while you are contemplating this over your morning toast and tea, I say you must choose one or the other. Making a choice, to remember or to forget, reveals a lot. Remaining neutral does not. So, no ‘neither, because I believe you can make new and better memories with the right person that will override past memories and I need to remember the past to learn from my mistakes’. Sorry, can’t play both sides. Hahah. (Just teasing, but yes, you will need to make a choice. :P)

Day 208

Man: 176 Loneliness: 32

Day 199: The Man and the Missed Anniversary; ‘Oversight’

Today would have been our anniversary.

the office

When we first started dating back in college, we wanted some time just to test the waters, no need to rush. We made it official on January 23rd because we liked the idea of ‘1-2-3’. Easy to remember, and you could make a wish on a day like that. Hahah.

When we got back together last year, or were in the process of doing so, I asked her out for our first date on January 23rd. It’s kind of crazy to think that an entire year has already past. We didn’t even make it to the halfway point.

January 23rd has therefore always been an important day for me. Either I had something to celebrate, or something to miss. This is the first year I can say with full confidence that though I might not have something really to celebrate (other than being a day short of the big 200!) I also have nothing I could say that I miss.

But it is an interesting coincidence though that on this 23rd of January I do have to say goodbye.

Image result for hot pot gifOh maybe I should clarify! I’m not going anywhere. Slight trolling on my part. Hahah. Actually this is more of a reflection on the weekend; as most of you regular readers know I had my annual hot pot/sleepover over the weekend. Or at least, I tried to.

We do this every year and every year I am a more than willing host, partly because my parents love to vacation for months at a time and partly (mainly) because I am the only one in our group who ever offers to host or else we’d have had to do this at some overpriced restaurant every time. And every year we treat it as an opportunity to let loose and get drink just a bit more than usual because everyone stays overnight and then we have a big Filipino (read: hangover cure) breakfast the next morning. It’s a big tradition in our group. I thought these meant something to people. Maybe traditions have lost their significance. Maybe we’re all after the newest things, consumers of trends rather than bastions of tradition. Or maybe I’ve put too much into people whose only fault is that they just don’t care. Like at all.

Aside from the assumption of longstanding tradition, I have the written texts of all my friends confirming they were ready, able, and committed to this weekend’s events. It is not until the very day as I am picking them up at their homes (again, the idea was everyone would stay) that every single one of them tells me that they will not be spending the night.

Image may contain: foodI hate to say it but internally I immediately reverted back to my 7-year old self, thinking ‘well that’s fine, I didn’t want to hang out with you anyways, pfffbt’. The truth is it hurts. I feel like a child who’s been walking around holding something in my hands and wanting to show it off to other people and tell them how valuable it is and someone takes one look at it and tells me all I’ve actually got is some dirt or trash.

Apart from all of that and despite having to cut festivities short, we did have a pretty great time though. That’s the thing of it. We can always make a great time of whatever we do. Image may contain: foodWe had plenty of food, music playing in the background while we ate and drank, and the communal nature of a hot pot (everyone placing different things into the boiling broth and fishing out whatever catches their eye) really brought us together while eating. We had to do the grocery shopping together, we prepped all the ingredients together, set everything up, and took everything down. I had a giant Jenga tower for us to play (penalty shots of course) and then we whipped up some meringue and made a baked Alaska for dessert. While everyone was sobering up we played some Crabs Adjust Humidity (not an auto-correct typo, a great copycat game of Cards Against Humanity with better cards) and my friend even brought back souvenirs from his trip to Japan with his girlfriend.

Image may contain: foodSunday I had the day to myself again. I cleaned the house, just as I did the week before in preparation, loaded/unloaded the dishwasher, went grocery shopping, and realized I was just as happy as I was on Saturday, only minus the disappointment. Which means I can’t fault my friends. The only thing preventing me from being happy was me. And I think it’s because I’ve placed too much on these relationships. It’s hard to admit that maybe I’ve placed more value on our friendship than my friends have, but I feel that now that I have come to acknowledge this, I can be happier and enjoy and appreciate my friendship with them more, seeing it for what it really is. And that’s not to say that my friends don’t care or that I am anything less to them; it’s that I overestimated how much they cared and how much I am. But if I can successfully live in that ‘gold zone’ and be more realistic and aware, I think we’d all be better off.

I thought that the great tragedy this weekend was that I had been slighted. I wanted to be Image may contain: foodthe victim, to take offense at what I thought was being treated like an oversight. That is absolutely not the case. I’ve been thinking about ‘are these friends right for me’ and ‘what am I still getting out of maintaining these friendships’ but the truth is, I had a great time Saturday. We can still have great times together and I have no reason to want to change or leave. I do want to grow, and find people who might actually care at the same level and intensity and with the same openness and intention as I do, but I am still glad to have the friends I have.

Image may contain: foodAm I a little disappointed that their actions this past weekend clearly reflect that I’ve been pursuing much more in a well that ran out? Yes, a little. But I don’t say goodbye to my friends. I just have to say goodbye to these expectations and continue to search out. It must have been the same for when I was dating her. I placed way more into that relationship than I got out. But I am no victim and she was no villain. It’s important to get out of that ‘victim mentality’. I loved her deeply. I thought there was some great injustice to what happened between us. But I had invested too much, expected too much, in a well that was much more shallow then I could try to draw out of. It is not the fault of the well when your bucket hits the bottom. It is simply time to move on. Don’t hold on to any perceived slight, look towards more and better and deeper.

Day 199

Man: 167 Loneliness: 32

Day 195: The Man and the Uncertain Balance; ‘Overworked’

Here’s a question for you:

Would you rather be overworked or under-utilized?

Let’s define these two for clarity and purpose.

Overworked would mean that you are inImage result for sheldon paper gif a situation where you are kept busy but doing
menial tasks. Your day is constantly occupied and engaged, but what you are doing is well below your potential. It’s grunt work. There’s very little time for idleness and because of this you find your days go by quickly.


Under-utilized
would mean that you have found your purpose, recognize yoImage result for overworked gifur strengths, and are tasked with its work. But, either because of supply or demand, you find yourself with plenty of idle time. Maybe you are on a large team, and are lower on the rotation so you are called on less. Or perhaps you are so specialized that the demand is not high enough. When the work comes though it’s all-encompassing and engrossing.

Obviously the ideal situation would be to find a happy medium. A place where you are doing satisfying work and doing it throughout the day. But a lot of times it just doesn’t happen. We miss that sweet spot and find ourselves on either side of the balance board.

I’m sitting here at my desk writing this, realizing that I have so much free time on my hands, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I do like knowing that every day I am in the office and not on the road training, I have as much time as I may need to plan and create each day’s post. I am at my most consistent when I am grounded. But my boss sits literally across the floor from me, and she must wonder why I am always so busy typing, and yet no emails are going out! Often times with a team of three two of us are at HQ and one is on the road. It’s hard to resist the temptation of idle chatter, but again, I wonder what impression it makes when my boss hears us talking about food or movies or how a truck spilled red Skittles (and only red Skittles) all over the Dodge county highway last night. (This is a true story, btw. And a true conversation.)

When I’m on the road I don’t get much time to write because my day is filled with work and purpose. I then get the luxury of retiring to a quiet empty hotel room and get to write until the late late hours of night. When I’m at HQ I try to fight the idleness by taking walks, or writing, or reading, but I can’t do with too much leisure because inevitably my boss will notice, and then suddenly I am tasked with some ridiculously inane thing like ‘make a PowerPoint presentation that no one will ever actually see, read, or present on how to do x y or z’. And even then I suppose it’s better than us making solid eye contact and watching as the slow realization of ‘why do I pay this man’ crawl across her face. I am under-utilized where I am, and overworked to punish. Hahah.

If we can’t find our perfect spot, which is better to be in then? Do you idle your day away waiting for the moment to shine, or do you engross yourself in other things and ignore the lack of purpose? Is it about waiting for the right opportunity or grabbing every one?

I think the further implications on this one speak for itself. In love, in work, in life. Do we die from waiting or from drowning? I don’t think there’s any one better than the other. It’s a deeply personal question, about what it is that becomes most important to you. To have the right one, or to have any at all. There’s no neat resolution to this. No eureka moment that could promise to tell me or you which ultimately is more worth it. I think it just has to be a part of everyday life, the struggle, the purpose, the journey.

Day 195

Man: 164 Loneliness: 31

Day 193: The Man and the Obligatory Company; ‘Invitation’

My next food project is an old favorite of mine, something I always love making whenever I feel like treating myself. LAMB! Food of the gods, as my father likes to call it. After beef, it is my second favorite meat. The rack of lamb, the Rolls-Royce of meat, is incredibly versatile and these perfect sized meat ‘lollipops’ are incredible roasted, herb-crusted, grilled, whatever. It is always difficult for me to resist ordering if I ever see it on a menu, especially at French restaurants. Lamb shanks are great and relatively cheap when you consider how much meat and flavor there is, especially with that rich bone marrow. Leg of lamb, oh my god, at a buffet carving station? Whoever is there quickly becomes my new best friend. But cooking at home, my absolute favorite piece to cook, are the lamb shoulder chops. I’m drooling just thinking about it and I’m already looking forward to tomorrow just because it means I’ll be having more and I just finished eating too. Hahah.

If you haven’t had the opportunity yet to try lamb, I highly recommend it. It’s low in calories, high in flavor, has a very mild gamey taste, and is incredibly tender. Lamb shoulder is a relatively cheap cut that can be grilled, braised, pan-fried, but my favorite preparation is simply broiled. The day before I season both sides of the shoulder chop with Goya Adobo seasoning. This is the magic fairy dust from which all great meat seasonings derive. Seriously, get this in your kitchen. I add extra fresh ground pepper because I find it helps to balance the fatty richness of the meat. I then spend the good portion of the rest of my day chopping up heaping tons of garlic and ginger. I mean, when you get to the point where you feel you have enough, double it, and then add more, just for safe measure. You’ll thank me later. Cover both sides of the lamb with this garlic/ginger mixture and then let it marinade in the fridge overnight. Pop it in the broiler until it’s just medium, medium-well. Please don’t overcook this delicate meat. Make sure you’ve got plenty of rice or some good bread handy. The copious amounts of garlic and ginger you spread on the lamb has roasted and absorbed all the meaty flavors and the lamb itself has rendered a good amount of sinfully rich fat. Spoon that flavor packed mixture over your rice or dip some bread into it and oh my god. I could have plenty of meals just mixing that with rice.

They were on sale at my grocer’s so for this entire week I’ll be enjoying lamb. Some meals were meant to be shared, but if you don’t mind, I’ll take this one alone. Hahah.

Having said that, I am planning on sharing some meals with friends soon. This weekend will be the invitation to our annual winter hot pot. Can’t wait for that and I’ll be sure to surreptitiously take plenty of pics. Wouldn’t want my friends to become so suspicious of my new food pic habits! Hahah. On Saturday night we’ll meet and spend the time drinking and playing games and then just have a spread of meat, vegetables, seafood, noodles, rice, all to just swish in the hot flavored broth to your preferred doneness. Great DIY food for a drinking party. Some friends will sleepover, one who lives nearby will probably go back and then come back Sunday morning, where we’ll make some breakfast, and I know my one friend has been wanting to make some baked alaska and meringue so we’ll probably just fool around doing that.

My one friend has just come back from a trip to Japan with his girlfriend, so I will be excited to hear about how that went. We’ll also get to try those drinking games I got for Christmas. It will be fun, and as I’ve mentioned before, it’ll be nice to have that connection and time to spend with them, despite the distance I might have been feeling. It will just be a bit strange because I know in the back of my head I’ll be thinking about what connects us, and trying to see what the years will bring.

That’s the plan for the next couple days at least. Hope you’re all happy, healthy, and eating plenty!

Day 193

Man: 162 Loneliness: 31

Day 192: The Man and the Spoils of Choice; ‘Marathon’

I was listening to Elvis Duran and the Morning Show on the way to work like I normally do, and Elvis mentioned an interesting article that Cosmo posted based on an eHarmony study. Now fair disclaimer, that means I am hearing a summary of a summary of a report, but I did do my research and yes, there was a Cosmo article, though I couldn’t find the actual study that eHarmony Australia did.

It basically raised two very troubling (if true) statistics about modern dating that make me worried about the kind of environment in which people are trying to find love. The first is that on average, a modern single person is now ‘dating’ up to six different people at the same time, and that because of this it is becoming increasingly more common for people to simply ‘ghost’, that is to say ‘disappear and no longer communicate with’, one another than actually face a breakup.

This bothers me for three reasons.

First, is that clearly somewhere along the line the term ‘dating’ changed, and I’m not sureImage result for dating options gif I like where it’s gone. It used to be, a date was a commitment. Not a huge one, mind you. Not something exclusively for those already in relationships. But it stood as a distinct separate entity. Now I hate myself for saying this and sounding so old, but I do NOT believe in ‘Netflix and chill’. Guy or girl, you used to get nervous asking someone out on a date. There was this giddy excitement and eagerness because you knew you were trying to say something, hint something, investigate something between you and your date. It took time and effort and people had to actually come up with ideas. With the abundance of options and choices now, people stopped trying. If you were the one asking and they didn’t like the plan? No bother, you could just find another. In a way, there’s no more risk, which means no more reward. You couldn’t, in my world at least, manage to ‘date’ six people at the same time in the same level of intention and attention. The only way I could see this happening is if the dates themselves have become passing thoughts. Exchanging flirtatious texts but seeing each other only once or twice a month is by no stretch of my mind ‘dating’.

I mean come on people. Is this the best we can do now? I get it, you’ve got plenty of options, there’s no more of that fear really, that trepidation. We’re no longer on our toes. We’ve forgotten how useful, how powerful, that motivation was though. I never wanted my date to feel bored or uninterested, and I wanted to show just how much thought and effort I put into whatever it was we did. I’m not saying it was better because I spent more or did more. I’m saying it was better because it meant more. Bowling, billiards, mini golf, they were all fun because there was a bit of competition in them and so you could rib each other, place harmless little wagers, and bond in the spirit of rivalry. Escape rooms, painting classes, any sort of collaborative activity builds companionship and compatibility. If it was a movie, it was a movie we were both really really wanting to watch, or maybe a horror because you know, she would have to move closer to me during the really scary parts. Hahah. Across the board, both men and women complain in their existing relationships that one of their biggest frustrations is lack of interest/involvement/variety in planning dates. People, let me repeat that. These are people already in relationships. Now if you’re single and looking, if you’re already starting with one of the major obstacles as the defining characteristic of your dating style, is it any wonder you’re unhappy?

Second, can we talk about the sheer number of people we are supposedly ‘dating’? Does anyone here find the idea of trying to manage and handle a mature, complex, multi-Image result for dating too much giffaceted relationship with not one, not two, but six different people particularly appealing? I don’t even hang out with six people in group settings. Again, I fear that the seeming abundance of options and possibilities has created this paradox of surrounding ourselves with people but lacking the ability (or is it the desire) to really connect with anyone. Social media everywhere but not a single friend. Relationships are beautiful, energizing, exhilarating things. You might think then ‘the more the merrier’ but that’s almost never the case. Are these other people even aware of each other? I can’t imagine the feeling of being mislead or misinformed and thinking that I might be pursuing something with this one person and not realizing that not only are there a whole bunch of others, but maybe I’m not even top of the totem pole. I get the desire to want to be able to keep your options open, and of course wanting to get to know people more to decide what might transpire, and certainly life may throw more than one really strong possibility in our face and we would be remiss not to take the opportunity, but if I’m ‘dating’ you, I’m dating you. And if there are other people, I’d like to know up front, because I don’t want to throw myself so heavily into something that could just end up crowded and complicated.

Third, and I think this is very strongly related to the second, I am absolutely ashamed and embarrassed that this concept of ‘ghosting’ someone has not only become more popular, Image result for ghosting gifbut that it is becoming accepted. In case you are not aware, ‘ghosting’ someone is when, rather than telling them up front you are no longer interested, you simply avoid all their communication and effectively ‘disappear’ off the face of the earth so that they get the point. Well yeah I mean if you’re going to be dating six people at a time that’s potentially up to six different breakups you’ll need to go through so I can see the appeal of wanting to avoid the confrontation altogether but then I’d argue, if you’re not mature enough, prepared enough, capable enough to handle one breakup, don’t date someone, let alone six people. Yes, break ups are hard. They’re messy and painful for both people but they serve a very important purpose in our development and well-being and growth as adults capable of love and care and empathy. They teach us skills and vocabulary about love and loss and appreciation and pain. There is something to be said about being able to break up with someone in a mature and confident way and, on the other side, being able to handle being broken up with. Instead of creating this community of stronger, more understanding people and lovers, we create cowards. Cruel, cold people who can’t see past their own noses. Now I have to admit, before I realized this was a thing, there were a few times in high school and after college where, seeing that there was no real romantic possibility with this person, I thought I was sparing their feelings and doing them a favor by seemingly disappearing off the face of the earth. But it’s not true, and it’s never true, and please, from me to you, do not ever kid yourself into thinking it may be. You know humans need closure. That lack of knowing, that constant wondering, that could hurt more. And you never know. What you have to say to us might be the difference we need, the spark of understanding that helps us grow and improve. Don’t deprive us of that chance.
know we’re better than this. We have to be. We can’t be both the generation of countless rom-coms and epic proposals and all this other super cheesy ridiculous stuff that’s too far off that deep end and yet also be the same people who normalized ‘Netflix and chill’ and ‘ghosting’. It’s just too far off on both spectrums. Dating is Image result for dating too muchcomplicated enough as it is. But it’s an important part, a beautiful, vital part, of living and we can’t just compromise with it so much. That’s what I think I fear the most. What we’re beginning to be willing to live with, to accept, to normalize. Now, I know I’ve written before about my passion for what I call ‘marathon dates’ and I’m not by any means saying that should be the norm either. Besides, that’s my specialty. That’s what I bring to the table. Get your own. Hahah. I’m saying that let all the new benefits of modern online dating make us better. Because there are so many options, because we have so much more freedom now, we should be trying harder. Getting deeper to the heart of people. Understanding more of what we want and what we have to offer. We shouldn’t be trying less just because we know that if it doesn’t work out, there’ll always be another.

And as if I wasn’t already too much of an angry old man over this, here’s a wonderfully funny, yet still quite relevant, dating video from the 50s. This is a real one, btw. Not a parody.

Enjoy.

Day 192

Man: 161 Loneliness: 31

Day 188: The Man and the Burden of Expectations; ‘Someday’

PaintingSo yesterday I posted about the past weekend and in that post I mentioned bartending at work and put a picture of me behind the bar, but of course sans face reveal. I thought it was kind of funny how some people reacted to that. Some people wondered if that was me and others joked I must have lost it at the casino. Hahah. When I first started ManVsLoneliness it was almost entirely and purely just personal writings, you know ‘how my day was’ and ‘what am I doing/where’ kind of stuff and because of that there were actually a lot more pictures of myself or of my friends and they were all blurred. I didn’t really have much of an audience back then so either a) there was no one to wonder about it or b) no one cared but either way, as MvL began to evolve and I began to explore different topics and write outside of the scope of my self, I gathered more readers but was also departing a bit more from writing about myself and therefore posting pictures of myself. I guess this is the first time in a long while a picture has gone up, so newer readers must have been surprised. Hahah.

My decision to withhold any sort of personal information (name, face, identity really) was not a decision based on the people I would maybe be able to connect with here. It was actually based on the people I already knew. I decided when I started MvL that I would keep it a secret from friends and family so I had to maintain my anonymity on here. You see I was starting with two very big endeavors. I was planning on dedicating myself to a FriendsVegaswhole year of not desperately trying to be in a relationship and I was planning on writing about it. Two things I had never really done before in the past. The last thing I needed was to make it known to everyone who knew me what I was planning and having them constantly checking in on me or holding me to some expectation/standard. I wanted to this be completely and wholly my own thing. Whether it succeeded or failed it was up to me to decide and to see it through or not to see it through to the bitter end. I also felt that with no familiar eyes prying just yet, I could get much more open and frank and really dig into wounds with more depth with less self-consciousness. There were no egos here to stroke, no reputations to protect, no one else to consider. Not that I’ve gone and written some crazy scathing attacks on the people in my life.

reactions yay cheering cheer cheerleaderI’ve always approached many of the projects and obstacles in my life the same as I have with MvL. I don’t want anyone to know or tell anyone what I’m planning on doing or currently doing or trying to do. I will ride the wave, overcome if I can overcome, succumb if I must succumb, achieve if I may achieve, and then let others know. It’s the same with like, New Year’s resolutions or career ambitions or dreams or goals. I’ve always believed in you know, ‘don’t say, do‘. Do I want my friends and family to know if I am unhappy with my job? Do I want to burden them with the knowledge of my search and dead ends? No. I would rather proudly announce when I’ve found myself a new opportunity and when I plan on moving on. Yes, there is definitely an air of pride in that. I’d much rather give people reasons to celebrate with me than to commiserate. I’d like people to look at me and go ‘oh wow look at how much he’s done or look at what he’s accomplished’ without thinking about how many times I might have fallen before. I’m actually a very private person in the sense of my ambitions or hopes or plans when it comes to the Man personally, but Man in MvL has to be much more open and expressive because well, that’s how this platform works best. I hate to say it, but I also don’t really like to tell people I know my goals or plans because I feel like most times, people expect you to fail. And that’s one expectation I do not desire to fill.

So far, I’ve been completely happy with my decision, and I really don’t plan on changing the course. I enjoy the air of anonymity, living in mystery. It’s been fun on here because of how I get to see people view me as a writer, what voice I seem to have. Older, from a different country, I enjoy when people either try to guess my information or, when some isfunny smile memes mask reveal revealed, are surprised by it. As I write and continue to grow and improve, I am encouraged by the words of people who have no real personal connection or attachment to me to precede their opinions. I am a member of an equal community of talented and incredible writers and creators. I’ve also enjoyed what it has done for my real-world side as well. My friends and family have begun to notice the length of time now that I have been single and are beginning to wonder. They look at me differently. My friends are starting to ask ‘so how’s the love life’ or ‘so have you been looking around yet or…’ as if they have no idea what other option there possible could be. My family has humorously begun the stereotypical ‘who can we set him up with’ quest, and when they ask my cousins if they have friends or ask their adult friends if they have kids who they can introduce me to, I just laugh and can say with full honesty and intention that I have no need, no desire, that I am actually happy where I am.

Ren? Magritte, The Son of Man, 1964, Restored by Shimon D. Yanowitz, 2009  øðä îàâøéè, áðå ùì àãí, 1964, øñèåøöéä ò"é ùîòåï éðåáéõ, 2009

Hey if you want to let everyone know your plans or goals, DCSuitby all means let them. Forbes even write an article right after the New Year that one of the best ways to help ensure you achieve your 2017 resolutions is to make sure everyone you know, knows what they are. I completely understand the benefits and purposes of having that support circle who can help keep you accountable, inspired, and encouraged. It just doesn’t work for me. I actually become way too pressured. I like surprising people. ‘Hey look what I did!’

That’s why I still have every intention of at the end of the year, just letting everyone know what I’ve been working on. Let them see, come into this world that I’ve been creating day by day, post by post, word by word. And yes, I’ll even stop blocking out pictures. Hahah. Oh yes, the post-year MvL still has a lot of plans and projects and surprises in store for everyone. Now of course I can’t say anything right now, but someday.

Day 188

Man: 157 Loneliness: 31

Day 180: The Man and the Latin Lesson; ‘Crossing’

It was around January 10th in 49BC that Julius Caesar, then just a general in the Roman army, led his legion of Roman soldiers across the Rubicon River and into Italy from then-Cisalpine Gaul. Caesar was on a mission: to centralize government and authority away from the Roman Senate and establish an empire under his rule. He knew that entering Italy without disbanding his army was an immediate and irreversible act of war, and that he and all those under his command would be declared enemies of the state. There would be no turning back. It was this sense of firm resolution and unwavering purpose that turned him into a hero in the eyes of Roman citizens even as he marched towards their capital intent on taking over by any means possible. He had no sooner appeared on the banks of the river before he issued the order to cross. With little hesitation and swift action he caught the Roman Senate off-guard and many of them fled Rome in fear.

It was here that Caesar supposedly uttered the now-famous phrase ‘alea iacta est’ or in English ‘the die has been cast’. To this day both phrases, Latin and English, and even the act itself, ‘crossing the Rubicon’ have held the connotation of ‘passing the point of no return’.

Look, I get it, and I’m not exactly proud of myself for biting the bait, but WordPress has been pretty damn ‘hit you over the head’ with its deliberate word choices for the New Year. Gone, crossing, clearly they want us in some reflective mood. Well fine, you win. I’ll bite, it’s just too damn juicy to pass up.

We all have our Rubicons to cross. Some decisions are too important, too significant, to Tom-ford-the-Riverchip away at little by little. There are times when we must gather the courage and the resoluteness of will to ‘cross the point of no return’ and force ourselves to face the results of our actions. We all now stand at the shores of these rivers. They lead to many places and their currents and depths are all different. Some we will ford with little to no trouble, others will batter us to the ground and wear at our legs and soak us to the bones. At the end of the year we look back and reflect, appreciate our accomplishments, lament our defeats, lick our wounds and move on. We reflect and think of what we’ve done, what we could’ve done, and what we haven’t done. But now it is the new year so we look forward. We think of all the obstacles we anticipate meeting along the way. I don’t know what it will be for you.

I know for me, as I’ve mentioned, I will be facing a lot of relationships with new light. I will be closing a chapter of a past relationship and moving on. I will be working on redefining the relationship I have with my friends. My family. As I also approach my second year in this company (first in this current position) I will be faced with the decision of what I want to do professionally. I want to look and feel and think at my very best.

I think when it comes to me, my biggest problem is resolve. I’ve become hyper-acutely aware of all these areas of my life that I could be working on. It was easier in the past to distract myself with friends and with new relationships, but because I’ve been giving myself this time and opportunity every day to just sit down with my thoughts and see them written out, I’ve come to realize how much I get to very excitedly work on over this year. So great, I’ve been granted this new level of self-awareness. I see all the paths of life I’ve maybe not seen or not really considered before. I’m at the shore but I don’t have that push, that wall closing in behind me, to get me to cross.

Some things will need a bit of a softer, more subtle hand. I can’t just present myself to my friends like ‘be deep or get left behind!’ I can gradually shift more responsibility and accountability on them, while letting myself gradually explore new interests and passions with other people and giving myself more time to either myself or to new groups.

But I wonder what, if any, and where, and when, I’ll find myself at that moment of ‘now or never’. Crossing the Rubicon isn’t about waiting for the right time or the right moment. It’s about having the resolution and force of will to put yourself in a position where there is no choice but to move forward and pursue. When Caesar crossed the Rubicon he was declared a traitor and an enemy. Had he stumbled or wavered, his enemies would have seen weakness, organized, attacked, and overwhelmed him. But because he never stopped once he crossed, his enemies fled.

I got a lot of hopes and plans for this year. I don’t know how many of them I’ll be able to achieve but I know it’ll be none if I can’t work on the resolution to not only see things to the end but to commit to beginning. Less thought, more action seems like a death sentence for a writer. But I’d rather write to you with a story of a great experience than with predictions and plans. Hey I you know, did things in 2016. I got my feet wet. I went out and did me. But now…I want to know what it feels like to have water up to your chest.

Day 180

Man: 149 Loneliness: 31