i have been timewashed

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

I’ve been learning a lot about beginnings. Moving from the beginning of something involves not time, but a willingness to take a step in a foreign direction on good faith that it’s where you need to go.

You could be at the beginning of something for a long time…years, even. And you’ll always be frustrated why it still feels like the beginning, all the while not knowing that the beginning has nothing to do with time. It’s sequential. It lives in segments, not seconds. It’s part of the process of a bigger thing — the thing you start and whose ending you dream about. That’s why the beginning always feels like the longest part, because you could be at the starting line for a long time and not even know it. Beginning and end live outside of time and inside hope, dreams, and the desire to become a better version of yourself.

Perhaps that’s why we become so frustrated with progress, or lack there of, because we’re measuring progress with time. When you’re afraid of something, you let it become a part of your life in a fundamental way. It directs your actions and thoughts, and tends to be a defining feature of who you are. When you’re afraid of time, you’re always measuring life by it because you can’t escape it’s perceived weight on your belief system.

Time does not give birth to progress, and progress is not necessarily an indicator of time passed. All this to say, don’t start something with the understanding that time will do the work or that time will magically transform the beginning into the end. Don’t let time be the ruler of your decisions. Waiting for time to do your work won’t solve anything.

Instead, let things be what they are. Let what comes into your life, come; let what leaves, leave. Do the work, trust the process. Don’t worry about the time frame. Allow for the possibility that you don’t know always know what’s best for you at all times. Because if you can surrender that, you can, in some ways, live outside of time, and suddenly, time doesn’t matter so much.

This, for me, is a somewhat startling lesson because I have placed great importance on time, and have relied too much on what I have believed about it. I have created what I think time is, what it means, and how it will impact my life and I have lived according to those standards. But if for just a moment I can see time as simply another detail — the vessel, powered by both quiet and loud actions, that carries our beginnings and ends — maybe I can learn to live outside of the effects of my own beliefs. Because while time is always moving, it is always constant…always here, it was always then, and it will always be. But that is all it is.

“People think a…

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life…”
— EG

Melancholy, slow transformation, and being instead of finding

Today I feel the comfortable melancholy of dissatisfaction. It’s a frequent feeling these days, as if my moods are placed in a Rolodex and each day I take out the one closest to me to wear for the day, and place it in the back at the end of the day to be taken out at a later time. This mood has moved from a category of novelty to normalcy.

Choosing one’s mood isn’t as easy as people sometimes make it out to be. I hear all the time that it’s a choice to be happy, as if happiness and contentment are items to be picked off the shelf at the supermarket. I haven’t found it to be that easy. Perhaps this suggestion is from people who have mastered the art of choosing their thoughts and attitudes after years of practice.

Likewise, I also hear the simplistic idea that suggests changing your routine/life/circumstances in order to deliver different results if you’re dissatisfied with an area of your life. Well, that’s all great and practical, but what if the part of your life that you’re dissatisfied with isn’t a part, but rather the collective condition? And what if it’s not necessarily caused by anything, but simple just is? Sometimes we think that if you’re dissatisfied with a part or whole of your life,the only solution is a drastic change. Practically, though, this rarely works out the way we hope.

So, one is left to be observant, contemplative, and open to changing small parts of life that hopefully eventually lead to a bigger overall transformation. This demands a lot of patience, which is something our culture doesn’t teach us to cultivate. The convenient immediacy of most procurements makes it difficult to accept the things that require time to develop. We don’t see slow transformation. We see the end result far more often than the process. Usually, purchases we make don’t come with a detailed play by play of the object’s history. We don’t see when the object was first thought, its initial planning stages, rough drafts, failed attempts, and tawdry beginnings. We see the finished product. And this doesn’t allow us to appreciate the process (or the end result) as much as we should.  And, wouldn’t you guess…the same goes for life transformations.

As I quickly approach my 24th birthday, I am frequently reminded of the yin that comes with my yang. I have known for a while that an attitude of gratefulness is a quick fix to thoughts like these. But I often feel it’s not enough to simply apply a counter thought of gratitude to whatever insufficiency I feel weighed down by. At which point do I feel like I’ve accomplished something or worked through a thought or feeling and given it a new meaning?

I feel too many people my age aren’t honest with where they’re at in life. We’re always showing off whatever is validating us — our jobs, relationships, trends, hobbies, talent, money, etc. I think I’m just tired of trying to do the same thing, and being honest about that is the first step in developing real connection with people. We all go through periods of trying to find validation in meaningless things, and maybe we need to do that in order to get to the root of what we truly want our lives to reflect.

At the end of the day, our attitudes are a direct reflection of how secure we are with our own meaning. Putting it into things that have the ability to decay probably isn’t the best idea, even though it’s the easiest. And perhaps that’s why there is often an inconsistent attitude amongst young adults — we are constantly wrestling with where to find our meaning, all the while not knowing it’s not something to find, but rather something to be.

This idea was more eloquently said in a recent blog post I read.
Meaning is not something outside of us waiting to be found, it is a product of our proper relationship to our existence, a loving connection to our place, our people, our selves, and the deepest truth we can muster.”

Maybe I’ve been trying to find too many things instead of cultivating what’s already there. Maybe a lot of us have been doing that. And maybe it’s not just me who’s tired of trying to keep up.

6 month lessons

It’s half-way through 2012 and I can’t believe all that I’ve learned so far this year. Being a person who finds a great deal of value in reflection, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to instill freshly learned lessons is to make them tangible. So, here it goes:

1) Listen to people. Don’t just hear their words and wait to speak– listen with intention. People notice when you listen and everyone wants to feel like what they are saying matters.

2) Don’t force things to happen. Nothing is more disappointing than trying to force an experience before it’s ready. Life has a way of working things out. Just because you want something to happen right now, doesn’t meant it’s the best thing that should happen now.

3) The more you follow your intuition, practice awareness, and are honest with yourself and others, the better off you’ll be.

4) Don’t underestimate meaningful little memories from years past. You might be amazed at the impact they may have in your present life.

5) Don’t be anyone but you. The moment you try to become something you’re not in order to impress someone else, you betray yourself.

6) Think less, do more. Over-analyzing can destroy you if you let it, so quit thinking so much and just do.

7) Practice letting go of expectations for yourself and others. All they do is weigh you down and cause disappointment. Let life unfold the way it’s supposed to. You start where you start and that’s all that matters.

8) Timing really is everything.

9) Let yourself feel things, even if it hurts. The longer you try to avoid feeling whatever emotion needs to be felt, the longer it will fester and not be released. Feeling emotions allows them to end.

10) Pay attention to your life and the things it’s trying to teach you. You will continue to be faced with the same scenario until you learn to properly deal with it. Without question.

11) Gather inspiration from anywhere you can find it. It will help you figure out the kind of life you want to live and the kind of person you want to be.

12) Don’t be afraid to admit that you need to work on a part of your life that causes you to be vulnerable, even if it’s embarrassing, shameful, or intimidating. We all have our issues.

13) You are responsible for your feelings. If someone or something upsets you, address it. But don’t expect anyone to do it for you. No one is a mind reader. Likewise, you are responsible for your boundaries with others. Be comfortable with their dimensions and don’t be afraid to make them known.

14) Gratitude can transform your perspective. If you have all your limbs, a roof under your head, a job, money for food, and are breathing on your own, you are lucky. We are not entitled to anything. Remember that.

15) Don’t be afraid to do things alone. Buy yourself a nice dinner, walk on the pier, see a movie, go to a concert, plan a trip, try something new. The presence of another person only enhances some experiences, but it isn’t a requirement to enjoy them.

16) Pay attention to the small things that make you happy, no matter how small or slight, and try to make them a frequent occurrence. Buy yourself that fancy latte, take the scenic way home, get yourself a nice bottle of wine. Allow yourself to feel special by treating yourself as such.

17) Make peace with the things you don’t like about yourself. We are all works in progress. Learn to live with the things you are working on in whatever condition they may be in. One day you’ll look back and realize how much you’ve grown in the part of your life that currently makes you feel uncomfortable. Don’t be mad at yourself for needing to take a while to get to that place. Trust the process.

18) “Never allow someone to be your priority, while allowing yourself to only be their option.”

19) The mind, body, and spirit are inextricably connected. If you neglect one area, you neglect them all. Likewise, if you nourish one area, the others benefit in ways you never would’ve known.

20) Balance is important. Don’t be completely available to any one person 100% of the time if they do not hold you in the same regard. You will wind up resenting them.

21) Don’t feel bad if you have unpopular interests, simple ideals, or traditional values. They are what make you who you are — they are your story. There are too many people who follow the trend du jour, which makes them anything but unique.

22) Try not to be jealous. You have what you have, don’t have what you don’t have, and are experiencing what you’re experiencing for a reason. Things eventually tend to even out. Besides, some of those things you wish you had are just illusions.

23) Find out what your values are and build your life around them. This helps maintain self-respect, purpose, and contentment.

24) Take a risk or two. Do something you wouldn’t normally do. And try not to predict what that experience will be like before you actually do it.

25) Have a little more faith in yourself. We relentlessly limit ourselves. Try to get rid of that tendency.

26) A lot of things won’t work out the way you hope they will. And you’ll be disappointed and wonder what to do next. Don’t worry though; life knows what it’s doing.

27) Quarter life crises really do exist. Take the time to work through them and trust the process, as slow or as uncomfortable as it may be. And focus on building your identity on things that don’t have the ability to abandon you.

28) Character supersedes most things. Always remember that.

29) Say what you need to say and do what you need to do. Doing what’s right for you doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy.

30) Spend more time outside. It’s the way we were meant to live.

The Sweetness of Withholding

Sometimes I look up the definitions of words I already know the meaning of just to make sure what I’m trying to convey matches the words I’m using because when you’re trying to express a new thought unto yourself, words can often taint the origination. Because how exactly do you explain the recent discovery of how saying no to things, waiting, being patient, and embracing mindfulness can sometimes more exciting than their counterparts (impulsivity, being a “yes” person, wildly adventurous, and “living in the moment”).

Twenty-somethings are expected to embody the above counterparts. We are seen as the generation to do things that our older selves would easily be talked out of. You know, the typical — hop on a plane and travel Europe, party into the early morning hours, make decisions based on poor judgement, impulsively move to a new city, have a billion different jobs that we’re never really certain of, date (a lot), drink excessive amounts of cheap liquor during the week, and fight against our tired bodies when someone offers us an extra spot to a music festival, theme park, road trip, or similar adventure.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve partaken in several of these things many times — happily, I might add. And I have great memories from them. But what happens when you enter a period of silence? When your body, mind, and spirit simply aren’t as excited to jump at these kinds of opportunities anymore? Does it just mean you’re getting older? Or does it mean something a little deeper than that?

I seem to go through periods of excitement and silence a few times a year, and each time I’m surprised. Maybe I forget that life’s seasons are inevitable and as one lesson ends, another begins that requires a specific type of environment in order for it to take root. Regardless, I have found that the “empty” periods are the ones that sometimes feel the most full…the ones where I do all the learning. It’s almost as if my life is sleeping, allowing myself adequate rest to soak up past experiences and what they mean for my life.

I’m in that right now.

At first I was disappointed by how quiet my life became — not as many events to go to, less texts from friends asking me to hang out, empty calendars, and less familiar faces on a regular basis. Now, I’ve come to see the benefits of life’s removal of these things when it wants to teach you something.

What I’ve uncovered over the past couple months of quiet weekends and even quieter weekdays is abundantly more life-giving than some of the more adventurous experiences I’ve had in the past. Except seeing the fruit of self-work doesn’t usually come with hangovers and empty bank accounts. Instead, it has come with profound new realities about myself, solidified values and self-truths, reclaimed dreams of what I genuinely want out of life, and deeper discoveries about who I am.

I know. This sounds so typical of a twenty-something “I need to find myself” rant. But there truly is something to that. Taking the time to invest back into yourself without the distractions of Happy Hours or self-imposed expectations on just how many people you need to impress at your local dive bar is far more appealing than meets the eye. Those who have gone through similar quiet periods in life understand the vast self-knowledge that’s acquired during those times…and the admonition that you wouldn’t change it for anything.

Yes, at some point I will most likely exit this more-quiet-than-usual period and re-enter the one with a fuller calender. And I’ll be challenged with situations that will cause me to either use what I’ve learned or revert back to older, less wise tendencies. And if life has taught me anything, it’s that it will continue to bring the same situation to your attention until you deal with it properly and truly learn from it. You don’t stop trying to teach an infant to stand on their own; you keep at it until they can do it.

Life isn’t always glamorous, you’re not always going to be asked to “cool” events, or have an endless supply of friends you can call upon when you’re bored or want to go out and have some fun. You won’t always have a full bank account just waiting for you to buy a plane ticket, or the perfect job that leaves you satisfied at the end of the day, or the perfect living situation or significant other. But, you will always have an opportunity to listen for the whispers of wisdom gained through experience after experience. And if you don’t hear them, life will certainly make sure you do one way or another.

I can’t wait for the end of 2012 when I can list all the things that have caused me to grow this year. I’m half-way through and I sometimes can’t believe what life has allowed me to learn thus far. I’m now grateful for the silence and eagerly await the whispers because I know that’s where the juice is…that’s where the goodness lies.

So, now I humbly request more empty calendars, dinners for one, and quiet weekends, because now I see just how exciting life can get when you actually pay attention to what it’s trying to tell you.