Five Things to be Grateful For

I can think of ten or more instances where people have come to me to complain about the horridness in their lives. They hate their jobs, their managers are assholes, they don’t have money to go to a concert, their date went sour, etc. To be honest with you, I also don’t think there’s been a moment that I can remember in the past couple eternities where the mainstream news didn’t have something negative and fear striking to shove down the throats of the average viewer. It’s quite sad, especially when we already have our own problems to handle. But get this. It doesn’t have to be this way. Why don’t we ever talk about the amazing artist one of us stumbled upon while perusing Spotify or the dog that came up to us in the middle of the street just to say hi? Or even on a larger scale, why not just talk about the beauty of seeing another day? Today, I’m happy to share with you guys the top five things we can all be grateful for right this second, and trust me, I promise it’ll make your day just a little bit better!

 

1) Your Physical Environment

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of working for a pizza shop in the middle of rural Colorado. Golden prairies and cumulus clouds spanning for miles, no obnoxious traffic jams, and the two dollar gas totally made it worthwhile, not gonna lie! But as I was driving to my next delivery, I stopped and thought about the smaller details that are simply overlooked by many of us. I want you guys to take a look at your immediate surroundings right now. Whether you’re in your childhood bedroom or kicking it on the Gold Coast, there’s always that one element—no matter how small—that can shift your gears into thinking more positively about the current space you inhabit. Trust me, I get it. You want to get out of mom and dad’s house or seeing the myriad of crazies roaming your city’s streets make you want to move cross country, but until that freedom day happens, just find that little park that’s out of the way and appreciate the beauty of it! Hey, who knows when you’ll ever have a chance to see it again?

2) The People Still in Your Life

In a globalized world, we are constantly being bombarded by the compulsory task of making connections, attending awkward company dinners, or hearing some squeaky nasally voice ask you the same age old question…”ARE YOU IN THE INDUSTRY?!” As vital as it is to expand your social network to get to where you want to be in life, it feels even more fulfilling when you can laugh about that nasally voice with your one or two go to buddies from college. Travelling through almost half the country has made me deeply appreciate and love those who will always be there with you to share your moments no matter where you are in this increasingly complex matrix. It may sound lame, but the next time you’re feeling alone, it’s definitely a grounding feeling to call mom and dad and reminisce about your childhood for a bit.

3) Your Memories

I think my previous point does a decent job leading into this one. No matter what point you’re at in life, we all have one or two instances where we laughed our fucking asses off, saw an inspiring artist, or had a conversation with a person who totally blew our mind. By no means am I saying to live in the past, but when the going gets tough, reminiscing can be the best antidote to remind you that life really has the potential to be a worthwhile journey. So next time you decide to bitch about that manager you can’t stand, just cancel it out with that funny memory with your best friend instead! Just make sure not to laugh in his or her face though…a smirk’ll do the trick. J

4) Your Future

I’m sure we’ve all had some wild dreams, and of course, the perception of what’s wild ranges with each of us! But come on, who here hasn’t wanted to have their own talk show, live in different countries, or who knows, even establish our generation’s next Apple or Microsoft! Guys, these dreams are what make us human. And part of being human is the ability to follow these “crazy” images! I understand it won’t take a day. Or a month. Or who knows, maybe not even a year! But hey, the pursuit of happiness is one of the central tenets of being alive, and following that hunch is what will make you thankful for having another day in this world.

5) Being Alive 

There have been points in my life where I felt that it wasn’t worth it anymore. I nourished my self-destructive delusion that I was stupid, unattractive, or a faulty product. I didn’t have enough money. I took longer than my peers to complete the university rat race. I was living in the back of my car. I’ve had romantic relationships that are comparable to cesspools. But by the same token, I’ve traveled and experienced a hearty portion of America and got to live in some of the most iconic cities. I’ve seen artists and shows that have literally put me to tears. I’ve met and interacted with all types of people. Most importantly, I’ve been able to live to tell my stories with the world. See, life will never be as pleasant and full of light as most neo-hippies want you to think. There will be low points. There will be times where you want to curse out the guy or girl in front of you for driving 10 miles below the speed limit or a person you’ll wake up next to in the morning without knowing why you slept with them in the first place. However, the high points will be worth everything. And that my friend, that right there is the point of being alive. Having yet another opportunity to see your path unfold is something we take for granted, myself included. Take advantage of it, for there are many of us who wish they had another day to curse out that driver or have that final laugh with their best friend—love every moment of it.

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The “Numbing” of the American Heart

I just finished watching a great video regarding the “commodification” of relationships in the Western world and the higher levels of dissatisfaction and depression. Honestly, I don’t think I need a YouTube video to reconfirm this. Not trying to be a cynic, but I mean, just look at the handful of friends who’ve come to you with the myriad of Tindr dates gone to shit, or some douche dumping a huge load on you and walking out the door like nothing ever happened. Will there ever be a moment where enough is enough? Will there be an instance where you can look into a significant other’s eyes and not have to worry they’ll dump you for that guy with a better car and a six pack? Celibacy’s the only option at this point.

As a little background to understand where I’m coming from, yes, my parents are still together after almost 30 years. Sure, there are occasional fights and money problems, but still, those blotches are vital to the connection they have shared for more than half their lives. I feel blessed sharing this with you all, as I know it’s becoming more and more anomalous with each passing year. “How do you guys make it work?” I asked my parents on a random Sunday. “We were best friends before anything else, and when we made those vows, we promised to stay friends no matter what,” she happily replied as she looked into my father’s eyes. There was trust and laughter, fighting and bonding, love and lust; it was the ideal recipe for a sacred union.

Now, fast forward to the present world. A world where your orgasm holds priority to any potential bond you may have for the future. Think about the love it takes to grow a healthy garden, or the dedication it took to build the Empire State building—it surely wasn’t a sweaty one night affair behind the dumpster. The sweat on these individuals’ foreheads was accumulated throughout time, and none of that came without a healthy dose of sacrifice and risks involved. The gardener could have lost all of his or her crops in a bad season, and the workers could have easily been blown off the platform as the air pressure augmented with each floor they ascended. Pure love, or life for that matter, goes far beyond the eye can see. Sure, you can get a chemically induced burger and soggy fries from your favorite fast food chain, but tell me, how does your body react the moment it starts processing all that fake meat? Instead of fake meat, think about that drunk hook up you had last night and the emptiness you feel when you wake up and it’s like you never had that connection in the first place. It’s fleeting, slightly nauseating, and going through the seven stages of grief for the tenth time this month will not get any easier. And for the record, jumping into another one-week affair will certainly not numb that void. Stop lying to yourself.

The difficulty associated with the postmodern conundrum of relationships is undeniably another tool of escape, but what makes someone think that another person or multiple people will fill that unhappiness deep inside themselves? We continuously numb our souls by distraction, or instantly gratifying our wants with pleasures and highs that will last us all but a minute, a month, maybe two if were lucky. I am no different. I’m sitting here judging hook ups and open relationships, yet I go from city to city just for that momentary feeling of novelty and the rush of exploring uncharted territory. I don’t know, it just feels right to me. I guess you can make the same excuse for adulterers, polyamorists, players, etc. However, when matters of the heart and soul come into play, there’d be nothing more sacred and beautiful than to have that one person you can share all these moments with, egging each other on to become a higher being. You won’t find that fulfillment with three cocktails and one night, and having “main” and “side” bitches won’t make you any better, happier, or a beloved manifestation of light. There’s a reason why evolution favored union between two people, for better or for worse. Life’s an oceanic mosaic that can be a struggle to swim through, but standing hand in hand with a loving partner can make the deepest waters seem like warmest bubble bath you’ve ever taken. Never give up on finding that comfort, and when you do, never stop swimming deeper.

 

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Goodbye, Basket Case

Here I am in this predicament for the eleven millionth time, and with every passing instance, the universe keeps on slapping me in the face that much harder. This time, she brought out her favorite hickory paddle and laid it on me like his psychotic episode about his father’s stint in the navy. Each holler was a bullet, every word was a bomb, the death stare a kamikaze. I loved him though, maybe I was too naïve to see his lack of self-love and awareness as a poison that was ready to contaminate a soul’s lake water. I didn’t care at the time though; I was too busy caught up in my own delusions to even fathom stepping out into the real world. It’s a pity considering that I was living in one of the country’s most iconic cities with a rent basically paid for. To me, he was the reason I was there, or I even considered staying there as long as I did anyway. I was willing to begrudgingly tolerate the bitter carcass mourning his lost love in the decaying living room. I was willing to silently daydream, silently see the cloudiness of alcohol and loss, and silently stare out at a scenic wasteland—all for just a dose of his affection.

The last day we were together highlighted our connection, our hatred, and ultimately, our love for each other. We decided to take a stroll along Ocean Beach, and if you know anything about that little mecca, never go looking for a parking spot on the weekend. After 25 minutes of patiently rolling down each street, I gave up, and as usual, his stubborn—or as he likes to call it—optimistic dogma began, “you give up too easily!” With practicality being my forte so to speak, I counteracted his response, “Why don’t we just go to Sunset Cliffs instead? It’s nicer anyway.” “No I want to go to the fair, I hate when you do this, Gus!” “Fine then, I guess I’ll leave.” After a few more phrases exchanged and a quick verbal brawl, he hurled the car door and walked out. Heh, idiot forgot his phone, but as he ran towards me, I decided to get my payback and I drove away with the reflection of him running in my rear view mirror. “That’s what he gets for being a dick,” I satisfyingly said to myself. But almost a millisecond later, my heart had a change of plans, and I waited for him at the next block. “Don’t ever do that to me again!’ he yelled as he plopped back into my miniature passenger seat. “I mean, you’re the one who left,” I clarified. “That’s true.” We continued to look together, until finally, we found a sole parking spot on one of the back streets.

The day, although cloudy, was a mere afterthought as we toured through the eclectic farmer’s market. He was back there talking to some guy about some stupid product as I got lost in the food samples and local art pieces. It’s beautiful how much raw talent and resources the community had to share with the world; I guess it’s what draws people there in the first place. As we left the festival, we bumped into two trash heaps that lived in our neighborhood. After some fake hugs and half empty goodbyes, he was insistent on swimming despite the subpar water conditions and 60 degree weather. “Have fun! If you want, go swim with the surfers!” I playfully yelled at him as he reluctantly went by himself to test the limits of how comfortable swimming in California beaches are. Two minutes later, he was sitting beside me.

By this time, the sun was setting, and we decided to take a walk towards the pier. I couldn’t help but to realize how much of a tourist trap this place was, especially with the dilapidated tenement facing me like a hospice patient after medicine time. The pier is beautiful at this time of day though, especially with the mix of tourists, meth heads, and happy families looking out into the dark blue vastness and crumb hungry seagulls. “You know it starts getting sketchy at this time of night, but I have a surprise for you first, remember?” I’m not gonna lie, it was kind of fun seeing him squirm like a child, especially since he’s been asking me about his surprise as soon as he found out about it, thinking about his goofy facial expressions still crack me up honestly. Earlier that week, I was on a delivery when I found the most scenic point in the area, and as I gave him that final gift, I couldn’t have been filled with more light, despite my efforts to contain my true feelings.

We were lying around in his room watching stupid videos at 3am when it all happened. That insane fantasy that I stirred up for months all panned out in a matter of three seconds, and for a minute, I thought I won. And maybe I did. All that tension that bottled up for so long, the intense fights about me living in my car for the third time in a year, the euphoric energy I felt when he was down the street. We kissed, we cuddled, our bare bodies melting with one another. “You shouldn’t go for selfish guys like me,” he said. I knew he was lying, I knew he was scared. Love’s that kind of feeling that you want to run away from as if it were Ebola. And for him, it wasn’t just love, it was the idea of acceptance. He loved another man, and there was nothing he could do to repress the doorway I just opened. Nonetheless, he thought masking tape was the solution, and burning our souls alive in a fire pit would douse his heart, but he missed one vital caveat—the soul is fire.

We took one last drive to that train station we walked out of together a couple months before when he blew up his jalopy on the freeway. “Don’t you want to stay for just 10 more minutes?” I pleaded. “Nope. You knew what was going to happen and I’m not going to apologize,” He ran off into the barren platform, and I drove off into the darkness giving him one last East Coast flick off. “He’s gone,” I thought. I sat in the empty parking lot outside the tenement we called home. I was listless. Too reluctant to go back into the place we just made love in and fall asleep knowing that he wasn’t coming back. By the morning, I knew I had to leave that ant lair, and better yet, I needed to continue onward despite the yearning pull to wait for him to come back. Fuck you, you piece of shit basket case. I loved love you.

I sometimes get so caught up in life striving for the next goal, the next journey, the next everything. But for a minute, he was there and everything seemed like the best acid trip you’ve ever had. I had no reason to fly. I was perfectly satisfied in my little world with him right there, but also, my complacency and love was my downfall. He made me conscious of that, and for that reason, he came into my life. What we felt wasn’t an illusion. The energy I gave and received was alive and organic no matter what the outcome was. But here is where I draw the line and drift on, baggage and all. Goodbye, you gorgeous soul, go find that happiness—I know I’ll find mine.

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