My Existance is: Piecing itself together

Rich, fruitful, questionable, futile? I haven’t the slightest idea.  I want to try and make some sense of my impact on this planet

Today my existance is piecing itself together. Realizing the benefits order can have to One’s own life experience. Some requires more than others. I personally fall under the category of requiring an increased amount of order to have comfort in my own skin. The feeling of control is an intoxicating and empowering emotion. At the same time, once order has been established if there is something that brings us bliss (I.e: bikes) the balance of order and the raw, blank canvas that is riding bikes justifies existance if only momentarily.

A lot of philosophical talk about the perks of having a clear head (clear of distractions) and an able body. A lot of changes are going on both upstairs and on a more visceral level. World views are being defined. Personal goals are being set based on their impact on the psyche. This vulnerability is having effects on those around me. Some for better, some for worse.

My existance at this point in time is answering the big questions like, “What do you want to do with your life? What is important to you? What are you willing to take a stand for?”

Up until recently, I have not had a clear idea of answers to these questions. Both time and other’s experiences have begun to carve out a refined path. Glossing over some of the finer details, things are beginning to improve. The best part is there is tangible feedback. Getting this behavior in order has done great things for my mental well being.

When the order is in the proper place, some of us (myself) prosper. 

A March with Anxiety

Woke up sore today. Not sure if it was from the late night, bumping elbows with thousands of people in Los Angeles, or the aftermath of experiencing my first anxiety attack.

I would like to think that I have a higher tolerance for stress. Between riding bikes, the nature of my job answering phones and multi-tasking, I keep a level head through most of the day in and day out. That being said, it has become very clear that we all have our tipping points. I hit mine on Saturday. What seemed like a good idea to be among others who were upset by the recent election results (the same demographic that represents the majority of people who voted for our current president based on gender and race, but that is an unpopular opinion for another day) slowly backfired. I have had a similar experience about five years ago when I attended the Halloween costume party held on Santa Monica blvd in West Hollywood. Being in close proximity to that many people is bad for introverts. I did not have the same reaction as I did this weekend, but it felt similar.

There is an insightful video in which an average man goes into an oxygen deprivation room to understand what fighter pilots must go through in order to determine their hypoxic  tolerance. This is the closest thing I can come to as far as a comparative explanation. Now I didn’t turn blue or lost the ability to recognize and say my name, but I slowly felt the need to escape from a confined space to no avail or reprieve. There was without a doubt an overwhelming amount of people in the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Buses were saturated. Streets were  saturated with people. My emotional tolerance was also saturated.

As a result, I am left conflicted as to whether in my personal experience, this march was worth the levels of stress I encountered. In retrospect, I can sympathize with ‘why’ this event took place. People are shocked and upset that the majority of our country’s population voted a president in office who is able to do serious harm to the people they are chosen to represent. People got together to let off some steam, and encourage others to continue to be good people. I get it; sort of. Despite the popularity and the underlying reasons to why this march became so popular, I was forced to deal with a severe case of anxiety that I have never experienced. I know most people I know and am friends with were there and spirits were raised (if only temporarily) but other than being physically held in a time of need, I am having trouble seeing the positives, if this was the result.

I now know big groups are not my thing. In attempting to rationalize what had happened, I recalled what other setting could resemble something like a big group of people occupying a space. Nightclubs? Not for me for this exact reason. Bike races? Yes, but there is no more than 100 to maybe 200 people at a bike race in southern California. Hospitals? Hospitals can become crowded, but there are opportunities to escape when the mood gets tense. I was stuck on Saturday with no escape and had to deal. I had a good cry and am glad it was through this way and not through a syncopal episode where I would have needed a medical escort from one dense space to another. Next time, I’ll try and anticipate what I am getting myself into the next time I think an event like this is beneficial for a hermit like myself.

until next time….

What do you Hear / See when….

Now for a lighter subject to observe.

Music and almost all other forms of art are heavily based on that person’s perception. It (in this case, lets focus on music) is why there are a plethora of music genres that resemble and are far between one another. We all hear things both from a group mindset and from a more individualistic perspective. This is why things such as radio stations exist and also why artists who have not received radio play still receive critical acclaim. If anyone has walked through a museum, there is a strong chance that a thought resembling some type of understanding for why people do what they do will fill our heads. I want to stray to a similar but different question. What stands out to others when listening to music?

Is the the lyrics, tempo, volume, melodies, harmonies (two different things) or something else I have not mentioned. It struck me as odd when people mentioned if a song I was listening to was sad or a happy song. I never saw songs with that type of lense before. Why? I would argue because I primarilly listen to the instruments that do not involve the human voice. I find that I am more receptive to melodies, tempos, and what instruments stand out. Having never given an honest attempt at singing and having played other musical instruments in the past, I gravitate to the craft of playing other instruments more than singing and lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I am able to appreciate it all. Lyrics are usually not the first thing that stands out to me.

The same can be said for film. I find myself asking others questions to the extent of, “what about this movie stands out most?” and “what do you look for in a movie that you wish to enjoy?” What fascinates me about this is that most of the time, you get a different answer depending on who you ask. Five people could be watching the same movie at the same time, in the same place, and have five different interpretations of what they have just seen. All shedding light on the bigger picture in the grand scheme of things. This thought experiment Isn’t necessarily to reach an end goal. More to see how far we are able to expand on a particular subject. I personally get a kick out of this and enjoy trying to duplicate this is more ways than one.

The strange thing is that when it comes to movies, writing stands out to me. Dialogue is important and can either make or break a performance. When it comes to music, I look more toward the written notes other than the written lyrics. As much as I enjoy communication, a different itch must be scratched when it comes to music. Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not listening to the most complex instrumental artists on repeat in my spare time. The human voice has a place in music and completes the sound. The point I am attempting to make is that it is not the first thing that hits me as a listener and that we should take some time out to figure out what does to those in our immediate circles. The answer may surprise you.

To Stand Up or to Stand Aside

There comes a time when we as individuals decide whether time spent with others is worth our effort. An emotional cost-benefit analysis if you will. We love to romanticize how from here on out there will be little to no drama in our lives.  Good luck with that. People fail to realize how challenging this can be. People don’t realize how much their lifestyle is centered around these controllable stresses. If you have ever seen someone deal with addiction, there is a strong chance you know how this looks.

So why bring this up in the first place? The new calendar year has everyone thinking about change. How can we change what we are currently doing to be a more enjoyable experience. Whether it be work, home life, personal health, family, or friends, most of us reflect on different approaches to improve our current unique situation. I say all of this to say that we are hitting the first step with precision and without difficulty. The steps that immediately follow are where we begin to slip. Suddenly, the pursuit of a less dramatic life becomes a task that requires more effort than we expected. Once we are inconvenienced, we tend to put our original plans on the back-burner at let them wither away.

Just because things are difficult, doesn’t mean they are not achievable. I personally had a bit of a reality check when it comes to taking action to get what I want. I’ll spare the specifics. In summary, that feeling of unsure, nervous, holding yourself back for the sake of comfort crept up and I buckled. So here I sit, in a state of constant reflection, wondering if I should make a fuss about things that have slowly become a concern on my radar.

The time has come for that type of person to emerge. With that being said, there is a fine line with picking and choosing what is worth our time and effort. Do we stand up to the point of exhaustion? Or do we stand aside and deal with internalized thoughts. I am not the type of person to leave topics unattended for an extended amount of time. I have a voice and my approach justifies it’s need to be heard. Until the next time comes, I will prepare myself for the next time that all too familiar feeling of fear of straying too far from comfort shows itself. I want to be ready to react with confidence despite what might be going on emotionally. Might ruffle some feathers, might not. To me, the benefit outweighs the cost.

ISO Skepticism and Understanding

Still reflecting about the year that has gone by. Still thinking about the new things I have learned and how it currently shapes my outlook. There was a point in time where the neurosis was at an all time high. Books and changes in social scenery have helped shaped me into a new level of comfort to keep the existential manic panic at bay.

Remember when you first learned about the human body and you were able to describe what was going on every time your heart pumped? Or when you found yourself in a setting outside of school in which you got to test out that foreign language you’ve been studying for so long? Those same emotional highs come when applying logical principles to everyday experiences. Much like proofs in geometry (only to keep the academic theme going) being able to trace how and why things are the way they are with credible and reliable sources make sound statements no matter the context.

To go even further, when you are practicing this type of communication and notice that others are not able to follow or believe in something that you have a solid grasp and explanation on shows a lot of character. A whole new level of understanding can be reached without directly poking and prodding in the all too familiar traditional way.

I like to think that I am able to communicate well in most circumstances. So when I come across people whom I cannot get a point across,curiosity sparks. Why is this person not understanding me? Where did the disconnect begin? How can I mend the disconnect and not come off as a rude and intrusive armchair psychologist? I do not have an answer for most of these but do attempt to make an effort to solve the issues as they come up. 

The irony lies all within the grand scheme of things. If asked why would I go out of my way to make sure that everyone is understood in most steps in any and all forms of communication, my response would be because once all of that is said and done the conversation is over. Mission accomplished.

If I (or someone other than myself) can get a point across in as few words as possible, it means we can all move on with our lives and avoid redundancy. This is the end goal. Say what you need to say in the most efficient and concise way you can, and lets drop it. Coming from a place of concern as always.

Until next time….

Learning a lot in a little amount of time

Recent actions have lead me to come to several conclusions in a short amount of time. What appears as character traits are an attempt to justify flaws. I’m not proud of the way I behave in most settings. I can be stubborn and that affects others in ways that can be prevented. We all can improve our lives in our own personal ways every day. All it takes is for those things that need improvement to show themselves at the wrong place and time. Most of us can (and do) dwell on this for the majority of our lives. The ole vanity in the form of self doubt is a real thing. As much as we like to romanticize this, it is a crippling behavior. 

Letting my mind wander gets me into trouble. Likewise, keeping things controlled to a certain degree has its own unique type of problems. Somewhere there is a balance between the two. Perhaps this imbalance is due to underlying factors I cannot identify. Maybe it’s seeking out these factors that will help balance the mental juggling act that is existence. The pieces seem to be within reach. I wish it didn’t take an embarrassing evening to come to such sobering thoughts. The point being, there is work to be done. 

Until next time

Unused Muscle

Thus begins another trip around the sun. Thusly another attempt at refining unused muscles (that’s enough “thus’s ” for one day.) The year is winding down and the time has come to watch Its a Wonderful Life to remind myself I still am capable of emotions. Post-holiday lethargy is a common occurrence both physically and mentally. I find myself going through a spell of creative constapation and have gotten into a routine of uneventful adulting. 

All that being said, today was the year I discovered cyclocross and cannot grasp how long I have gone without an awesome discipline. We gave the SoCalCross season a go and I consider myself hooked on the competitive and non-competitive aspects of cross. If asked, “What do you like about cross?” My response would be something to the extent of:

  • Combination of enhanced handling with hard efforts
  • Ride profiles keep the rider sharp
  • Less likely to have catastrophic injury

Cross is the discipline where you can ride hard, but not go fast (and I love it.) That and the efforts are shorter, but more frequent (which I enjoy too.) Nowadays, the road bike is in the garage. Still functioning, but a lesser priority. I used to be stoked on the roadie aesthetic. Still can appreciate a well built road bike but value the balance of function and style (70/30 ratio sounds about right.)

Riding bikes, drinking coffee and eating plants are hard-wired into my character. Not much has changed in that respect. Interests have slightly shifted. Still can’t seem to shake the sweet release of death and being able to comprehend the illness that is my mental health, but hey, one can dream. 

As of recently, dreams have been creeping back into my psyche. That and wanting to give my creative side another go. Getting a new job three months ago has me wound back up into a secure routine that keeps me from panic and anxiety. Now that I have found myself in a position of comfort in the workplace, I can now go back to flexing that creativity muscle. 

Until next time….