Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Pacing

This is not an epiphany, nor is it being brought up due to a single event. I just have come to grips with the fact that I am terrible at pacing myself. Whether it be work, play, friendships, relationships, relaxing, sleeping, quite honestly, everything. I suck at pacing.

Despite being a master of procrastination, I'm actually great at finishing projects. The problem is, I finish them too soon. I work to fast, I play too fast, I drink too fast, I escalate conversations too fast, I pretty much do everything too fast. Insert joke right about here.

I cost myself money by continuously doing work that should take a day in a matter of hours, at times, if it's clerical, minutes. Working for hourly pay and hyper-pacing isn't a good mix. It's cost me thousands over my lifetimes. The thing is, when I apply myself, I do very good work and I do it quickly. I'm a boss's dream, because they get the same work from me in ninety-minutes, that most people give them in a day. Obviously, being in a setting that requires my attendance is a perfect fit for me but like the children I work with, my attention moves on to the next thing as quickly as theirs. Which may, in fact, be why I've managed to connect to so many kids. I believe in today's world it would be diagnosed, but in my era, it's called production.

I see the negatives all the time. In sports, I pushed the ball, when patience was needed. In socializing I was suggesting shots before kickoff. In friendships, I'd go from asking what's your favorite color to discussing religion and politic. In relationships, well, we've discussed enough personal stuff this week.

I know I procrastinate and I'm good at using it as a positive tool. I know I can complete things and do a thorough job, so there's never been a complaint from others about my pace. The real problem lies with me. And please don't think I'm manic in any way. I'd rather sit on the deck, sipping cocktails and wait for the sunset. The problem is, I'm sipping that first cocktail watching the sunrise (slight exaggeration).

Monday, August 13, 2018

Out Of Options

Two winters ago, I was in a bad place. Physically, financially, but especially emotionally. Life, which has rarely been anything I could view as fair, had really begun to weigh me down. I was living in a motel room, paid for by my brother while awaiting a move to another state. A little late research revealed my soon-to-be new home was a bit of a nightmare. Think of Melrose Place with meth and hookers. The idea of flying halfway across the country with my cat, Swag, and less than $200 in my pocket was scary. Leaving everything I knew wasn't what scared me, it was knowing deep in my heart, I'd never return. 

It's always easy to put off keeping up with people when you're close, but as I've learned over the last four years, distance tests friendships, even those we view as true. One can't imagine the alienation of being broke, physically unable to walk, and having to rely on a motel staff's daily pleasantries to remind yourself you're alive. At times I questioned whether this was even a good thing. The look every morning of my cat, who yes, was with me in this room, kept me going.

As the days grew nearer to my move, I started to panic. A tiny number of friends supported me, mostly through Facebook messenger but for the most part, I was on my own. I remember walking nearly a mile to get something and limping back, almost on the verge of tears. It was in the single digits, snowing, and my hip was throbbing. I actually soaked in a tub, yes in a motel, but after a month, it was my home. As I lay there, thoughts of despair crept in, but then I thought about my mother and her battle with cancer. For the better part of a decade and for four straight years in the end, she battled every imaginable obstacle and did so with such vigor, and dignity, I felt embarrassed. No, it did not make my problems disappear, nor did it make me feel any less discomfort, but it shamed me. That, plus the positive words of another pushed me through. 

A week later, I was still in pain, still financially crippled, and still out of options, but I was in a house. I had space to limp around but was still confined. As my surgery approached I was actually upbeat. I had confidence it would help but still wondered what the future may hold. Leading up to it, a friend, who may have read between some of my oft posted complaints about the world, sent me a gift. This was a person who I have not seen since they were a child, but something tells me he saw some signs that were so sadly familiar. I do not know for sure but I know his gift, meant a ton because he understands in a way most of will never and should never have to. He will always hold a special place in my heart for this. Due to people like him and another dear friend whose kindness I did not and do not deserve, I went to the hospital upbeat. Having a familiar face to wake up to mean more than anyone can imagine. If not for her, I'd have been alone, something that may have very well changed my mood. 

It's been over a year since the surgery and I'm basically pain-free. I'm waiting for my job to start back up again, but to say I'm not still financially screwed would be a lie. I now know who my true friends are and I'm not in that dark place. I think the irony in all this was what was surrounding me during this time. I had three people come to me for support and two of them told me that my words kept them from doing harm to themselves. That was a wake-up call because despite not being people I'd call close, the loss of other friends during this time was crushing. The thought of not being there for others gave my life some little semblance of importance. 

There are very few people in my life, living or dead, who I can say I love. Even those I do, rarely, if ever, hear the words, but I think they know. I hope my actions speak loudly enough to compensate for my often muted voice. I know their actions have lifted me from the lowest depths and there is no compensation imaginable to repay them other than a humble and simple thank you. I still need help and that sometimes brings me down a notch, but every morning, a soft meow and rub on my leg reminds me that I'm necessary for someone else's existence. The laughter on the other end of the phone reminds me I still bring another pleasure. The random messages from a few each day, makes me feel part of something bigger, which is important in my mind. And then there are the complete strangers who lift me up with their views and occasional direct words. 

I am far from back, but I wonder if I wasn't always somewhat straddling this abyss. I do now know, thanks to the kindness and love of others, that I am not out of options and never really was. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Perfect Person

On Facebook yesterday I asked for topics to write about. As is most often the case, the post was ignored. So I deleted the post and went about my business. While chatting about a movie at the library, I asked the person at the counter. If you had to give someone a blog a random blog topic, what would it be? The person thought a minute and said: "Describe your perfect person." I asked them if they meant friend, partner, or in general and they said "Yes.," then laughed. I thanked them for the books, movies, and the idea then left. So here it goes.

The perfect person is someone who likes good food, preferably vegan, and likes to laugh. It's a person who is well read, but more importantly, is willing to read. It's a person who isn't necessarily a cinephile but doesn't turn their nose up at subtitles or silent films. Most importantly it's a person who cares about those others don't care about or those who can not fend for themselves. Children and animals are their first loves, but not at the expense of others. It's a person who is contemplative, yet impulsive. It's a person who is willing to put others before themselves, but not to the point they are harming themselves. It's a person who loves the simple things and for whom material items mean nothing. Quite simply it's a person who values solitude but whose presence makes others forget its joys.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Procrastination Quirk

As someone who needs a fire under his ass to get things done, I know all about procrastination. We don't always procrastinate over things we dislike, (anyone searching for a Netflix movie to stream knows what I'm saying), but when it's a chore, we tend to exhibit the behavior more. It's not a healthy one, despite its common use. What I've noticed as I get older is, there's an odd offshoot to procrastination that is almost worse: Not finishing!

One of the odd things about myself is, I will wait until the 11th hour, once staying up for 107 hours straight to write a Kinesiology paper, I had six weeks to complete. Oddly, when it comes to work, in any field I've been in, I tend to finish my work within minutes, when hours are expected. This isn't always a good thing, as I'm often accused of loafing about, when work is to be done, or even worse, being sent home early, without pay, because there is nothing left to do. It sucks, but it's how I'm wired.

Again, this isn't what I'm talking about. It's the act of putting something off, finally getting around to it, then leaving just enough of it unfinished. Why would anyone do this? I recently worked with someone who did this at work and in other areas of their life and according to them, it was how they did things, but their excuse was "constantly moving on to the next thing." I believe the person was fairly successful and a world traveler, so I chalked it up to them simply being eager to see as much and do as much as they could; completed or not.

I do wonder at times if it's simply about acknowledgment. As someone who, in their adult life, has faced times of poverty, ridicule, and nearly depression due to the lack of simple acknowledging sacrifice, I do understand the importance of being noticed, not for achievement, but for effort. It's something, working with children, I understand completely. We may have grown from children, but understanding human needs are important and what one individual covets, another may brush aside. The one thing we all need unless we're a psychopath is love. Acknowledgment, at least in our brains, may very well trigger the same feelings of love, so there is some sense to it.

Why then would someone do this with things that are unimportant? Is it because they need another to see them doing the chore? Is it because they want another to finish it for them, some odd sense of camaraderie? Is it because they want to be viewed upon completion, expecting praise that might never come? It's one of the more baffling things I have encountered in my life and something that I've probably overlooked in others, as I know my own shortcomings need work too. I do wonder, however, how much stress this must put on relationships if one person is aware of the other's lack of ability to finish, but doesn't comprehend why it's done. And if the procrastinator knows they are even doing it for acknowledgment, if that is indeed the reason. I would think, over time, this would tear relationships and friendships apart, but then again, it may simply be viewed as a quirk, and God knows, we all have them.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Challenge Me

The day-to-day grind of being a human being is challenging for us all. Some of us, who care about others, even those non-human creatures, more than ourselves, feel a burden. Ironically, that burden or challenge creates a lull. What we choose to do to relax says more about us than what we do when we stress or strive. I sincerely believe that.

I do not judge anyone on the work they do or how they live their lives, as long as they fall in between my own definition of decency. I do not believe my definition is any different or holds others to a higher standard but I'm sure I'm wrong. By simply writing it, or saying it aloud, I'm probably disproving it. I do however judge people by how they spend their supposed downtime. As I wrote in a previous post, I do reflect upon my actions quite a bit, and it has recently occurred to me that this is not the norm. Most fall into some mindless chatter or silly distraction, and that is fine, but does it make you the person you want to be, which in turn may make someone else a better person? I could be wrong, but I strongly doubt watching sitcoms betters anyone. This is not to say watching sitcoms is a bad thing or should be ignored. It's confusing; I grant you that.

If money were no object I'd go back to school and simply take classes that interest me and mock the idea that learning has an end. If I craved Mexican food, I'd turn off the laptop and drive to Mexico. If I wanted to understand why sharks come to Cape Cod every summer, I'd drive to Cape Cod and ask. I'd do a lot of personal, maybe even selfish things, but most of all, I'd ask people what would make them happier. 

Recently, I have realized that there is this misconception that childhood was easier. That because we lacked responsibility we could be carefree, and the lack of responsibility made life enjoyable. I beg to differ. Childhood is a day in/day out school. We're told "No," more during childhood than in adulthood and constantly being reminded of right and wrong. We also must follow these commands, whereas when we're adults, we can pick and choose which social behaviors we find pleasing and abhorrent. Our childhood is what our adult selves call "political correctness,' which based on most of those I know, isn't something they value. No, what made us happy in childhood was the fact that we, without any true intent, did for others without thinking. Our imaginations ran wild, but we included everyone, regardless of whether or not they were the cop or robber, the cowboy or Indian, or the princess or the witch. Everyone played a role and we grew together. When we were done, we went and told our parent(s) of our adventures and they smiled. That confirmation is lost in adulthood, aside from that which we receive in the eyes of a child. 

One of the hindrances of today's world is that most of our interaction is impersonal, and I strongly feel we're passing this down to our children, who need interpersonal connections. Texts, Facetime, Social Media, and even the games we see on TV, computers, and in schools, are all geared towards the self, forgetting that most children benefit from groups, as do adults. It's why I've tried, without coming off as odd or self-righteous to engage more people, which is why the title of this post is "Challenge Me." I feel as though I've mastered the challenge of my relaxation time, and my mind is always whirling about, learning or experiencing something new. But I worry about my shared time. That I'm not being challenged, because people don't really strive to be that smiling child again. I know I'm not, so maybe I'm challenging others. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Be Kind And Rewind

No, I'm not talking about VHS tapes.

I'm talking about our minds. I don't understand meditation completely, and I'll also add, it's because I'm ignorant on the topic and I can't sit with my legs crossed without being in pain. So I've crossed that off my bucket list. What I do actually partake in, quite a bit, is a daily reflection. It helps and it hurts.

We all have those nights where we sit up thinking, but I spend a good portion of my before bedtime, thinking about my day, however mundane it may be and reflect on what I could have done differently. How I could have assisted others, created conversations simply by saying Hello, or how my little spec of dust in humanity could have made a difference. No, this is nothing profound, but something small I do for myself, which I believe may help someone else.

Think of watering the plants. If you forget, you tend to over-water them the following day, creating some odd form of guilt release for yourself, but in reality, you're really just hoping to be better, for the plants. I told a story about a woman's sincerity on a checkout line recently, but yesterday, I failed the basic test of human decency by not saying "Hello, how are you?" to a young woman working as a cashier. I didn't do the norm because she looked angry and I didn't want to force her into a situation where she had to incur the annoyance of social pleasantries with a complete stranger. As I drove home, I realized this wasn't who I was. Later that night, I thought of ways I could possibly make it up to her, realizing quickly I was over-thinking this. It doesn't change my error, but maybe my guilt and frustration with myself was a good thing.

Do not think my version of rewinding always takes a negative connotation because that would be untrue. I ran into two of my kids today and while the discussion was brief, I beamed when I saw them. The mother obviously noticed, although unsure of who the old, unshaven guy smiling at her kids was. This rewind gave me great joy and built my anticipation for the coming school year even more. In a town where people run into each other every day, I had not seen a single of my kids, their parents, or any of my coworkers since June. I miss them all because they give me purpose and I hope I give them something in return.

Today, I may or may not interact with people. These interactions will be either good or bad, but I know I will remember not to ignore the pleasantries, the smiles, and most importantly, the humanity of simply being present. It's not about random acts of kindness, it's about being a human being and treating others better than you'd like to be treated. Nobody ever aspires to be the same, so let's stop pretending to do unto others, is important. Do unto others, better than you'd have them do unto you.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Why Is Everyone (Who Doesn't Care About Politics) So Angry?

Has anyone noticed the rage on social media? Twitter is known for its anonymity, so people hide behind this and fire of shots at people they've never seen before. This is safe. The Twitter community also seems to share common bonds, much I assume, like online dating creates. You get to know someone's likes and dislikes and decide whether they're your friend. This is a comfortable place to chat, debate, and defend yourself and your ideologies. Facebook? Facebook is an entirely different animal. Facebook has political posters like myself and, well, everyone else.

So why are people on Facebook, who show no interest in politics, so angry all the time?

Traffic
Customer Service
Coworkers
Friends
Family
Acquaintances

You name it, they're livid about it. Sometimes it's directed at individuals, other times at everyone involved, but lately, I've noticed that the same people are mad at everyone, all the time. Some hide it well, but their anger comes out at the drop of a hat. The scary part and I don't go out often anymore, is I'm seeing it in real life. Friendships ruined over a single argument. People almost coming to blows over parking spots or a blind spot in their car. I talk to friends who have watched lifelong friendships dissolve over a difference of opinion.

As us "Social Justice Warriors" say, THIS IS NOT NORMAL.

I used to be a very angry person. I still get irked, bother, incensed, and yes, even furious, but I've learned that if I treat people like they treat me, it'll end up in some biblical situation where we're all blind.

And Karma. Idiots, stop misusing the word. It's not someone who wronged you getting theirs. It's not revenge. It's not payback. It's how you lived your life, and every life before that, creating the world you live in now.

So if you are constantly wishing karma on someone, guess what? Your anger isn't because of them, it's because of who you are, and who you always have been, and were, in this and every previous life.

Hey, you can always join political battles and get out your "She took the last Tickle Me Elmo" rage on Republicans or Democrats, or as I like to call them Russians and Americans.