Approx. read time:  < 7  minutes

So there’s one thing I know for sure… without a doubt…

I love myself, and hate myself, at the same time.

This is new territory for me.  I’m not used to loving myself.

I have been living in fear that I am just a sad story.   A story of potential that was never realized.  I love that I have the option to be great, but I hate that I do everything in my power to resist my best abilities, and to shatter opportunities that serve themselves up to me on a platter… further disgracing all of those who weren’t so “lucky”.

My eyes swell from the fear of living the failure in this moment; that every choice is an act of detriment on a future that could be good… and I put this weight on every breathe and conscious thought and I cannot stop.

I accept the praise I receive from others… from those who have but a glimpse of my full self.

I also accept the insults… being full aware of how they have only seen small portions of the things I do and say.


Equally, I agree- with the worst and best of it all.


I deeply believe that nobody is wrong.  The exceptional detail in all of this, however obvious, is what begs the question of how much of this, or what specifically, will I let effect me.  This question is aimed at all of those who love me, respect me, or just simply those know who I am.

What if they had known my inner thoughts?  Every single one of them.

Intimate knowledge of what I am really thinking when I’m talking to you, what I am picturing in my mind, what I am not telling you; good, bad, and otherwise.  Some of which is on purpose and some of which is utterly uncontrollable.

Regardless of whether or not I’ve matured on through it all at this present moment, they wouldn’t be able to help themselves but think I was the worst human being alive.

You might think I’m being dramatic… pretend I’m not.  And perhaps, this is a concept can be applied to just about anyone.


I do believe everyone is unique and alone in everything they think and say, and I do not take for granted the trends and similarities between us all.  The older and more aware I get, the less unpredictable and chaotic everyone and everything seems.

The barrier between what goes on inside and what I let others see is a power that everyone has.  And to break down that barrier and see a person transparently, needs a deep breath and emotional separation to even begin to accept.

The word regret is arguable.  I would’ve chosen not to do some things that I’ve done; or thought some things that I have.  Whether or not I gained wisdom from those shameful experiences is irrelevant unless I share that wisdom.

If I choose not to share, then they are without a doubt, considered a regret.

My good thoughts can change the world, but my bad thoughts can do the same.  I am a hammer that can both build a wall, and destroy a wall.  And half the time I feel like the hammer is too heavy for me, and I am swinging like a jackass.

I love and hate myself.

I love myself because the things I want to do with my life and the drive I have to make this world a better place is rare and unique.  I am one of those people who is never satisfied; a constant underlying anxiety that puts a damper on every single one of my best moments and memories.  100% doesn’t exist for me.  A principle I have accepted after years of fighting and asking “why me”.

The constant anxiety is a strength hidden behind a world of discomfort.  If it were to go away like I used to want it to, I wouldn’t have the drive or motivation to do anything more than the bare minimum society sets for my existence.

I guess it is whatever is inside me that sets my bare minimum, but excessively high.  Seemingly unachievable.

Some say I’m “too hard on myself”, but all I feel inside is how lazy I really am because I hear all of the excuses and complaints in my head.

In Afghanistan I did some outstanding acts, that I almost can’t believe I was capable of.  People think I’m crazy for this, but I have no pride in any of it because I know that inside my head I didn’t want to do it.  I forced it out and complained my ass off in my head the whole time.  Thinking of why it was me that this burden had to fall on.

Why me why me why me. It’s extremely annoying to listen to all the time.  Thank god I don’t say any of it out loud.

So every compliment, every award, any kudos I’ve ever received from others- makes me cringe inside.  I feel like I’m lying to everyone.  And I can’t figure out how to tell the world that I am a fraud.

I love myself because I did do those things, regardless of complaining in my head.  I have always put others before myself and have been quite successful at it.  That deserves love because there are people out there that do not do that as well as me.  They cower and fail and not care that they failed.  I feel contempt towards myself every single successful moment I’ve ever had in my life… but the successful moments keep piling up.

That brings us to now.

I miss the people who have died over the years, that I’ll never see again.  I miss the people who are still alive, that I’ll never see again.  And I miss the people I see every day, because they are not who they were in the past.  They all look different, act different.

I look different.  I act different.  I miss myself.

Growing old makes you miss abstract things that can’t really be explained with words.  You collect moments that will never repeat themselves, and it builds into a mountain of shit that you can’t even recognize yourself in.

I can’t believe some of the terrible things I’ve done… and thought.  Some of those I will be taking to my grave.  Not because I like hiding my true self, it’s for the sake of those I love. They would never understand.

That’s not a stretch.  If you knew your loved ones inner thoughts and past actions good and bad, some of it would be hard to take in and accept.  Without a doubt, you would change how you feel, think, or act towards that person.  As you should, you have more information that you cannot un-know.

Too late.  It happened.  You know.


It is exactly the fact that I must hide parts of myself that causes my sadness.  I hate that those closest to me will never, ever, truly know the full story.


Whether or not I learned any lessons, changed for the better, is all irrelevant to the book my life has written.  I can’t shred any pages of reality.

All those private moments alone… in my worst and most vulnerable emotional states.  All those actions that only a few people on Earth will ever know about- some of whom are now deceased.  All of those inner thoughts I have each day… the ones I have to tame and think twice (or more) about.

Horrible, twisted visual displays in my head, while I’m having a lighthearted conversation with anyone…  They are getting the impression I am funny, or easy going, or confident, or whatever.

It is the tip of the iceberg on what’s really going on.  It hurts my feelings that it has to be this way.


Honestly??!    My full story scares the shit out of me so much, that I’m not sure I want to know anyone else’s full story.


With that said, I often can’t help myself, like a bad craving for a drug, to seek out more and more shit about people and those I love- with every revealing, shameful piece of information further causing my inner torment.

Ignorance is bliss?  Knowledge is turmoil.   And I am addicted to knowing.


What if… [Part II]

Approx. read time:  < 5 minutes

Let’s finish playing the “what if” game.


What if my Spirit was gone?

My spirit gives me my flaws. Makes me imperfect. Allows me to feel nervous or anxious.

It also gives me my blessings.  Makes me naturally good at things.  Allows me to feel confident and satisfied.

My Spirit serves as a guide that shows me what I care about and how much I care… It does this by the way someone/something impacts me physically.

A tightness in my chest tells me something is important to put in time and effort.

Or energy and mental alertness that lets me know that I’m on the right track.

It can also give me signals by how often someone or something passes through my thoughts, and the way it makes me physically feel, which can even contradict each other… this is my Spirit telling me something is important enough to spend the time reflecting for further clarity.

The negative side is a necessary counterpart that uses bad feelings as its primary line of communication. Being uncomfortable gives me the drive to change something and to pursue relief from the discomfort.

However, relief from discomfort is not meant to be held on to, and joy and happiness come with a high risk of developing a tolerance. I have a tendency to take things and people for granted, because the initial intrinsic value diminishes over time as things stay the same.

I also begin to “expect” them, subconsciously choosing not to put forth any time or effort.

In other words, I get used to things after a short while, and I mistake them into believing they are deserved or unconditional; which is never the case.

This is why I need and deserve consequences, periodic criticism, and blunt honesty.  For those are how others help my Spirit tell me I need to change something.

To know what is next, I need to continue to take risks, meet new people, put myself in situations that may make me feel nervous, or force myself to fight insecurities and overcome these negatives…

And I need to do this on repeat for the rest of my life.

What’s most interesting, is that to sustain the highest level of happiness, I must accept that life works like an engine that creates small explosions through combustion, creating immense pressure, forcing the piston to move up to relieve the pressure.

Once the pressure is relieved, the pistons go back down building more pressure over and over again.

If combustion were to stop altogether, and repeated pressure were to cease, the piston would no longer need to move… and the vehicle would go forward no more.

Life goes up and down on purpose.

It is both – the up’s and the down’s –  that drive Life forward.

Things would still be important, regardless of my memories and my spirit, because my interactions with others will provide others with their own versions of memories… that are hopefully positive.

So yeah, being able to enjoy my accomplishments sounds like something I’d have a hard time letting go of. But in the end, how I feel about things isn’t what’s most important.  It’s my interactions with others.


…what I bring to the conversation.

…whether or not I contribute to society.

…whether or not people are better off having known me.

It is my responsibility to put aside my negativity and do my best not to spread it on bad days, because it is not fair to others that I impart unnecessary stress and bull shit on their lives.

It’s selfish, albeit not obviously so.

I will make mistakes- and I’m sure at least one more person will give me the finger in traffic in my lifetime.

Hence, perfection is an imaginary expectation. Unachievable in every scenario.

Minimizing mistakes is where my focus should lie.

Of course people may overstep and take advantage of me or wrong me in any number of ways in the future.

What will I do then?

My answer is to read the situation and choose the action that offers the best chance of the negativity to cease.  Overreacting, in most cases, perpetuates problems causing more stress than necessary.

This doesn’t mean to be unconditionally nice and accepting of all things and people, not at all.  It could mean to tell someone something that may be hard for them to hear (or for me to say) or to stand up to someone who exhales bulls shit onto others- then that is the bridge I must cross.

This isn’t to say fight every battle but fight the ones that might do the best good. Time is too precious for me to waste effort and take personal risk on irrelevant situations with unequal consequences. How I behave is the responsibility I have to others. To participate in society and live peacefully, regardless of believing the same things, or anything else for that matter.

I must strive to not just maintain neutrality but to be a part of the up cycle of progress… To leave this place better than when I arrived.


Whether or not I remember the things I’ve done, or if others ever knew, it has nothing to do with how I must focus my decision making. I need to reach and express my full human potential and give back to the Earth and humanity; again, as a responsibility to others.

…to essentially say thank you for the gift of life.

Perhaps it is the brief moments that make up a lifetime that are what make my decisions and actions worth the thought and effort.

According to where this Live Writing has taken me, seeking out something intangible- like a “brief moment” – is apparently the thing that gives me my zest to live; the energy for my next breath; and intrigue to seize each day.

Let me conclude…

My Spirit is what allows me to cherish every moment… Every moment spent with family and making others smile.

It’s what allows others to cherish the many moments they remember that I may not.

Someone overhearing some advice to a friend, and I wasn’t aware. Their spirit allowed them to care and be interested enough to get distracted and listen in.

And it’s the spirit that gives me my worst flaws. Because overcoming flaws makes life challenging; and ultimately rewarding.

Flaws also reveal my strengths.  And influence the path I take.  And signals me when something is wrong through discomfort and anxiety.

If I were to lose my Spirit, gradually over the next 10 years… until…


Then it shouldn’t change a thing about how I feel and act today.

Shortcomings, Temptations, Compulsions, and Discomfort – – Passions, Blessings, Talents, and Pleasures…  all working in tandem.

That is how I define my Spirit.

And my Spirit is how I define myself.

Back to Part I:  “What if…”

What if…

Approx. read time:  < 5 minutes


Everyone laughs it off, but never actually plays…

Let’s play the “what if” game.


What if my Spirit was gone?

I guess that depends on how I define “Spirit”.

Let me paint a picture…


…a blank vessel of a man walking around;  talking;  driving in traffic;  participating in society.

…smiling and being a nice guy.

…seemingly agreeable and tends to leave good first impressions.

There is no nervousness or anxiety.

There are no judgements or opinions.

There is no reminiscing of the past, nor longing to see anybody, nor striving to do anything of true substance.

…nothing deeper than the things you see.

Overreacting or blowing up doesn’t happen, ever- because losing the Spirit means to have lost the ability to care.

And never late due to the absence of personal interests; ergo, there are no distractions for nothing is interesting enough to take away from responsibilities.


To sum up: 

The absence of the Spirit makes for the ultimate “go with the flow” kind of guy.

Very Interesting.  To me, at least.

Most of the time I strive to be all of those things when I’m around others.  At first glance, I would choose to be agreeable, not overreact, have no nervousness or anxiety, etc.

Let me reflect upon the painting…

What if I knew right now that 10 years in the future, when I am 38, I will have lost my Spirit completely.  Gradually from now until then.

Thus all enjoyment ceases, reminiscing upon past memories doesn’t apply, ignorance flourishes as I won’t be able to remember what I’m even missing.

Would I change how I currently make decisions?

Would I make the right decision, not the easy decision, because I know time is not on my side?


More specifically…

Will I…

…set aside my insecurities and fear of disappointing others and do what I want to do.

…be filled with confidence that the things I do are not just frivolous acts or odd pursuits, they are instead deliberate and focused.

…choose to spend my days striving towards a greater good that I believe in to my core, even though other’s may not share my perspective.


Would I…

…continue to hope good things will happen, or will I go out and create my own opportunities?

…stop avoiding, and being pushed over, with the thought that courage will come eventually, in some form, that will help me be the person I truly believe I could be?


Would I change anything at all?

The answer isn’t so obvious, because I am afraid to do what I know is right, so I might choose to take a few punches instead of actually doing something to better myself.  It makes me feel awkward to admit, but fear and insecurity has been a powerful de-motivator that has me sitting comfortably in old habits and shitty situations.

Let me ponder…

The loss of my Spirit means the loss of having personal desires.  My Spirit is what drives me to push on when everything is weighing me down.  It gives me curiosity and motivation to try new things or take a risk for something I believe in… it serves as a compass for my values and morals.

Furthermore, I’ll only have so much time to actually enjoy the memories of my achievements or bucket lists of things I just felt I needed to do.

So what do I do with this information… this new awareness of how I define “Spirit”?

I think a closer question is…

Where would I place my Spirit on a list of all of my life priorities?

Or perhaps…

How much is my Spirit worth to me?

Or finally…

What would I do to hold on to, or how far would I go to save myself—  my true self.


Maybe we’ll find out in Part II.  I need to sleep on this.


Part II:  “What if…”

Pursuit of Optimism…

approx read time:  4 min

I’m a little cold… theatrem

I’m not complaining; I get to feel my skin in a unique way.

Goose bumps… Yes.

Not that I like them,  I don’t.  But I feel something.  I mean I always do, but Goose bumps feel different… or more [of whatever].

I find myself, as years add up, making an effort in taking the high road in all situations I find myself in.  Perhaps from sheer curiosity, I at least try very hard to see what could possibly be positive and optimistic.

I objectify myself from the situation, and delve into deep thought on whether or not it is my poor perspective, or pessimism, that is creating my shitty circumstance…

Which would mean I am creating my own shitty situation and bad feelings, not so much  what is actually happening.

Bad things happen, I get curious…  because I do believe words like “bad” and “wrong” is a choice of perspective.

Life is not good nor bad, those are simply labels we choose to use.

How we interpret and label what happens to us, happens in our minds.

When things seem really bad, and I’m having trouble seeing how it can be twisted into something good, neutral, or otherwise, I am afraid that I am at the brink of my philosophical depth.  And I may not be aware enough to know what the high road is.

I ask…

What is the good from this?

If optimism exists, then what would (or could) it look like?

What other ways can this be interpreted?

How might other’s interpret the things that have happened?

If there’s something good to find, then what??


Perhaps, I do not bare the awareness of consciousness or the depth of soul to answer those questions at all times, and I get distracted and succumb to the heat of the moment.

In most situations, optimism is there if you look.  I guess my point is that sometimes you can look and look but you may not be physically able to see far enough in front of you where the optimism plainly lies in a field full of shit.

If you don’t know it’s there, then it essentially does not exist as a reality.

I fear my ignorance narrows my optimistic potential.  That’s what I’m trying to say.

May sound stupid to you, but it’s profound to me…

To have a problem that has an answer— you just have to find it—- them’s comfort words to me.  If there is a good and bad side (and many others), then what and where are the good ones hiding?

But just having a problem doesn’t mean an answer is guaranteed, or that I am guaranteed to find it, or are guaranteed that I will even know that I’ve found it and should stop searching.

So this can be quite discouraging, to search and not really know when to stop searching.

Right and wrong are words of the future.  They have no present tense definition

Let me explain…

I’ve made a “bad” decision and it turned out good, or I was better off from it.

And I’ve made “good” decisions that landed me in terrible situations.

The words are diluted with interpretations that it sometimes feels like both are happening at the same time.

Am I supposed to feel comfort in what the transient definition of right and wrong are… at this moment??

Is it something to grasp onto for dignity, possibly perpetuating victimized mindsets, when something does not go my way???!

Should I just say,

“Well,  I did what I thought was right.”

…. and surrender all future control I might’ve had?!


The answer is no.


I have been, but I will no longer.


Right and wrong, are not the only classes of thought when you are living in the moment.

There’s maybe, sometimes, except, and besides.

There’s politics and gray area.

There’s loyalty and trust, promises and pinky promises, alliances and pacts.

And of course there’s the words lying and deceit for when promises are not kept and when loyalty is misrepresented.

The words right and wrong are mere minorities in a world full of words made to express excuses and justifications.

Or again, maybe “right” and “wrong” are simply not appropriate for use in the present tense.

I shant achieve any level of comfort on the basis that right and wrong does not exist universally; both across cultures, and across time.

The words Right and Wrong are mirages that cloud our judgement; a heavy fog on the road to self actualization and congruency.

It’s like trying to hit a moving target by classifying everything I see and do with just 2 words. 

It would be God’s greatest gift to me to relieve my mind of the words “right” and “wrong”. 


What….  Oh what…  Would I do without those words.

How things go.

How things go.

approx read time:  3 min

The pictures on the wall are full of smiling faces.  Everyone was all so happy then. 

Obviously, right?

It would be quite outside the norm to take pictures of non happy people.

I grew fascinated by them.  Each picture was a glimpse into a past reality, allowing me to see just how much things and people have changed.

What was once new and recent, is now old and out dated. 

I’ll never share the same household as my brother and parents, like we were in that photo. Now my brother and I have more robust individual lives of our own, making it hard to see each other nowadays.

Here’s the first time I held my niece in the hospital, barely opening her eyes. 

I remember looking down upon her, in awe of holding this fragile new addition to our family.  But now I’m facing a wall, glaring at a scene of myself holding her from across the room, where the camera was when the picture was taken. 

I’m here as a viewer this time, not the main character.

I browse the other now “old’ pictures…  All of them, people smiling at the camera unaware of what happens next.  

I’ll probably never run into that dude again; I’ll never be in that country again (I hope); they’re divorced;  she had a bunch of kids; he’s got a beard now… and I have a new scar on my face.

And here’s my best friend who is no longer with me today. 

We were happy that day. 

Yeesh.  How about another shot.

I bought this bottle as a gift for a good friend of mine (different friend); who’s no longer a good friend of mine… hence the scar on my face.

Too bad for him.  Good bottle.

I cheers to these memories all the same. Two dimensional, happy glimpses of my life as it once was; regardless of whatever happened afterward. 

Some haven’t changed much. 

I’m still engaged to the beautiful girl in that picture, and my niece is still brightening up rooms with every little laugh she makes.

Some have changed the most.

That last day with my best friend was a good day. 

So what now…

Good things.  Bad things.  It all collects into an ever massive pile as we grow older.

I got a phone call the other day from my mother, after I had just received some good news that had me feeling pretty good.

Of course, I answered as I always do with her- in a hurry.  As if I’m too self-absorbed and busy for a few minutes of my own mother’s life.

Apparently that’s exactly what I am.

My grandmother passed 3 years ago that same day.  She had to remind me. 

Humility struck me quick and it was revealed to me that I will probably never forget her “death-date”, nor my father’s.  So this day, that I so carelessly treated, is probably quite significant to my mother still.

Guilt-trip aside…

I thought, things may change for better or for worse. But in this picture, both of my parents will still be happy and smiling, long after their deaths, for me to fondly reminisce. 

There’s one thing in common about all of these pictures… something has changed since each of them was taken.

Here’s a good one of my high school buddies, tight knit group we had.  To none of our faults, the changes that took place after that picture drifted us all on different paths.  Still love those guys over a decade later.

A sandy Iraq photo with a few Marines I spent every hour of every day with- playing spades and smoking hookah, laughing, arguing, fighting, filling sandbags…

To none of our faults, I’ll probably never see a few of them for the rest of my life.

I feel fine, however.  Content if anything. 

I used to long for these old times and feel a bit of inner turmoil that I couldn’t go back.  A past I was once immersed in with all my senses, has now been diminished to a flat, 4 by 6 picture.  I didn’t trust that my brain would harbor enough of the once reality, and I wanted more to hold on to.

What happens when you forget the “thousand words” contained in a picture?

I used to feel like I would diminish as well, forgetting what was once lived.

Perhaps that’s why I hated having pictures of faces on my walls and refrigerator.  They were distracting from my living in the present, compelling me to dwell on the things that have changed and to exhaustively try to remember every detail of the past.

Good and bad happens.

Yes you can deal with things properly, but you can’t forget about them.  Just gets thrown atop the ever growing pile of things that happen to us, in the form of memories- both good and bad.

Honestly, I find the extremes a little numbing.  Sometimes I am unsure of whether I’m supposed to feel happy or sad, being pulled in both directions of two best friends smiling to one of them not being here today.

Both thoughts come to mind, and I often struggle to feel anything at all.

Perhaps it’s that “numb” feeling that is the “content-ness” I feel.  Fooled by thinking I’m more resilient than I am by not dwelling as I used to.

Or it could be the beginning of acceptance and taking ownership of those changes.  And owning them as my new present reality.

Maybe then pictures won’t be so distracting.


But I’m good, though.  I realized that’s just how things go. 



Block 2: Afterthought…

The Identity you have is a choice that you make.  Even though you can’t change your past, or remove memories (on purpose), you can change how you view and interpret those memories.

I learned this in the Marines, but we are all quite adaptive.  We adjust to shitty situations until they become our new “normal”.  Like wearing a watch or a ring- after a little while you don’t even feel them on you.  Or walking into a loud concert- after a while it will become the new normal and won’t seem so ear-piercing, and when the music stops, your ears will have to adjust back to low volumes.

Bad days don’t last forever. Not because situations actually change (they might, but that’s irrelevant), it’s your outlook that changes.

Good days don’t last forever either.  People adjust to a “good” normal and start to complain about frivolous things.  It will become increasingly harder to keep having good days.

Chasing happiness.

When you look around and you feel empty with no obvious reasons why.  That might mean you’re “normal” needs to be reset with bad days (relative to your good days), or through intense reflecting.

The point is that our Identities evolve and change regardless of what lies ahead in the future.  In other words, we all can change our identities without making any new decisions, new memories, anything.

We can choose to re-interpret our existing memories and experiences; essentially re-defining who we are.

I hope you enjoyed Block 2.

Block 3 coming soon…

Previous:  [2.6] The Identity

Go back to Block 1

[2.6] The Identity

I’m hearing independence and self-sufficiency in the theme of this Block.  I feel like my extreme anxiety about outside validation is not only preventing me from progressing in my career goals, but as a person as well.

I can be better than I am if I can only be okay with my own personal judgments about the things I do and the way I behave.

But does that mean other people’s views are no longer relevant?

Well that doesn’t sound right either.

This must be one of those gray area things.  A good balance between the two ends of a spectrum, whatever the hell that means.

Nothing has confused me more than the concept of a gray area among things.

What is a good balance of opposites?

In other words… yes or no.  And how much yes and how much no. That’s all gray area is to me, a balance of chaotic confusion of things that don’t match.

What’s the balance between an apple and a carrot?  Sometimes it is just that confusing to me and it drives me nuts trying to figure out that perfect balance.

Maybe I’m trying to understand it wrong.  Or from the wrong angle.

Life is best understood backward, but must be lived forward.

What if I change my approach to the question of what a good balance is in a spectrum of opposites?

These are difficult questions to be asking.  Especially when you don’t give yourself enough time to find an answer.  It has been tearing away at me from the inside for as long as I can remember.

Whenever these moments of thought run through my mind, I get that insecurity about whether or not I should ask others these questions, or whether or not I’m strange for thinking to ask them in the first place.

Of course it’s strange.  Most people do not entertain these thoughts as much as I do, but that is only an assumption I have about the people I’m around.  Not on a larger scale.

What if I’m not so strange, just strange right here?

This is why I am having trouble adjusting to things.  I don’t know what to adjust to.  And because the internet removes the imaginary geographic barriers to what defines traditional normalcy, this is only getting increasingly confusing; for millennials across the board, as well.

Throughout my life thus far, I’ve made myself aware of some other ways people can live their lives.  I’ve met people from many walks of life, in different countries, and in a wide range of settings, and I can’t seem to figure out where I fit into all of it.

Retreating back to the very beginning…

If everyone were to disappear, who would I be?

That’s an extreme question.  As mentioned, it’s probably a balance of things and that’s why that question seems so difficult.

Perhaps, I’m asking it wrong.

Let’s try separating the question into 2 opposite perspectives…

If everyone were gone, except those most important to me, who would I be?  

I’m not sure.  The same confused person maybe??  I guess I would at least find comfort in not going through everyone dying off by myself; I have my closest family and friends with me.

What if only those most important people to me died, leaving everyone else in the world, who would I be then?

The second question feels like everyone else might have well died also.  If everyone important to me died right now, I wouldn’t have much reason to go on with life- at least that’s how I think I would feel.

My thinking just doesn’t make logical sense because there are other people, billions of others.

Ok, I think I’m gaining some clarity.

It’s the memories you have of the life you’ve lived so far- that’s what makes people and things important to you.  And you’ve shared the most memories with “important people”.

That is also where you base and learn your judgments from.  Even the memory of someone telling you something is a memory that you can use as a personal identifier.

It is new memories, accumulated, that make new important people and things in your life- and provides you with your own sense of identity.

I would like to add that epiphanies and personal reflection can allow you to interpret your memories in different ways, leading you to a redefined identity; simply by changing your perspective.

Regardless, without memories, you lose your identity.  Without memories, sentimental value doesn’t exist.  Nothing will be important.  In the absence of memories, you have no definable identity.

This is probably why people feel the need to shed their identities when they feel they need to “start over” (usually after a bad break up or a death).  They throw away a lot of stuff, they kick people out of their lives, get makeovers and change their profile pictures on Facebook, or just pick up and move somewhere else leaving everything behind.

After all, by throwing things away, or by the loss of someone, there is nothing left to hold their memories accountable.  Their memories now become whatever they say they are.

But until they remove their own memories, they cannot actually “start over”.  That is why this phrase is so popular, “you can’t run away from your problems, they follow you.”.

It is you who is following yourself.  What the phrase refers to as “problems”, is nothing more than the words you’ve chosen to judge your own identity.

Who am I?

I am a collection of my own memories of the past and how I choose to interpret them for use in the future.

…there.  That wasn’t so hard.

Block 3 coming soon…

See Block 2: Afterthought…

Previous Piece:  [2.5] The Judgement Principles

Go back to Block 1

[2.5] The Judgement Principles

Principle I:  Judgement is a Natural Ability

We all know that people judge others, at least we are all born with the ability and craving to do so.  Whether we evolve enough as individuals to remove this impulse from our being is a separate issue.  For those that haven’t…

People like to ‘people watch’.  I know I do.

We sit on our thrones and make a game out of critiquing unaware people while they ignorantly carry on about their day.  Chances are our playful judgements are meaningless, but the takeaway here is how common people just sit and judge each other for no apparent reason.

We say our secret judgments to ourselves or someone close to us as if we were the only ones that have them- and they do the same about the two people snickering to each other across the room.

Mini spotlights of judgement and you never know when you are in the middle of it.

Is it the moment you bumped into a wall?? …casually turning around to see if anyone noticed your clumsy mistake; as if it would make a difference if you knew.

Imagine sitting on a bench, and as you peruse the scene in people watch mode, you come across another bench.  You look at who’s sitting there and you lock eyes briefly with another person, who also happens to be people watching.

It’s as if you were caught doing something you weren’t supposed to.

Curious thought:

Running with the “bump into a wall” example… everyone is clumsy once in a while, why are we so critical of ourselves?  If you turned and saw people staring, maybe even smirking, that’s usually when embarrassment comes into play.

But why?

If you turned and saw no one, you would feel nothing.  What does that mean?

We make that choice to feel embarrassed.

Principle 2:  Judgement is linked to Insecurity

I also believe there is a strong correlation between the level of judgement and the level of insecurity that person feels.

In other words…

The more you judge, the more insecure you may be; in theory.

We all know judgments happen and almost constantly so in public settings.  Even though people may not care about you, or care to know you, we care how they feel and think about us- to the degree at which we judge others.

There is a reward we all receive intrinsically for being “accepted” by those around you.  Humans are reward seekers; as is all other forms of life.

A new person’s judgments are like fun, mini-validations of living the right way.  Endorphins gained from a compliment can change the overall feel of someone’s day.

Sometimes a stranger’s quick judgement of you (good or bad) based on limited information is highly important to us.

Well, hold on a second.

I thought only important people in our lives hold this sort of weight upon us; perhaps you’ll never see that person again

So how can this be true?

Due to the craving to know who we are, we give unpredictable and immeasurable weight to the quick judgments of those we don’t know so well, or at all.  It’s almost as if the more desperate, or lonely and searching, a person is, the more seriously random judgment is taken.

On the latter of that thought, a fulfilled and satisfied person may give very little to no weight on random judgments.

Insecurity skews reality and makes you forget that the person has no idea about anything else you’ve done or accomplished in your life.  Even if you made a mistake and know it, the judgement is extreme because that person only has that very limited information about you.

Limited information = ignorance.

For whatever reason, I don’t readily think ignorance when I’m faced with someone else’s quick judgement whom I do not know personally.  I think it’s because I give them the benefit of doubt that maybe they do have ground to stand on with their opinions and judgments.

So, skewed by my own insecurity, I recognize ignorance in myself; as oppose to the ignorance of the other.

Principle 3:  Judgement is a Defense Mechanism

Judging others isn’t always a bad thing.  And I know a big part of it is for self-preservation (a defense mechanism).  Judgments stem from values instilled by others (those most important to us) and personal experience.

If your judgments are screaming danger based on those things, you should not treat is as if it is the first time you’ve encountered whatever it is.

Stated that way it sounds reasonable.  But consider the word racism.

A brief real life example…

I was jumped by a gang of about 15 black people.  I say gang, because the gang had an official name, I say black because they were all black.  One of them struck me on the side of the head with a 2 by 4 piece of wood, with nails sticking out the end of it.

What they didn’t realize was my being a Marine veteran and my roommate was an Army veteran- a true American war hero.   So we jumped right back.  But it was still a looong recovery and legal proceedings that ensued.

My heart is actually pounding right now thinking about this.  That is how a judgement is learned and ingrained for future use.

That makes me feel better about it.  I feel as if it is my own, uncovered by myself.

The point is now when I see a group of black people walking towards me, with a similar fashion sense to those that jumped me (not business suits), I will not be comfortable.  I will try to avoid the situation altogether.

Yes, in some cases that can be misconstrued as racism, because the group of black people may actually be very nice people.  But my instincts tell me I might not get a second chance to even find that out.

This is a learned judgement drawn from personal experience, not so much instilled from other sources like media and societal influences.

These Judgement Principles play out within each of us every day, and we apply them to everyone and everything-equally.

The Final Piece:

[2.6] The Identity

Previous Piece:

[2.5] Validation

[2.4] Validation

To seek validation is to confide.

My experience in confiding in those close to me is that sometimes they cannot handle it and that confiding in other people needs to be kept with the person [being confided in], in mind, not just all you.

They are only receiving the information you tell them, not the full story by a long shot. They aren’t privy to facial expressions, situational factors, things you’ve misconstrued, or anything else [that you don’t tell them, or that they cannot experience for themselves].

After learning my lesson slowly, I’ve found that you need to be careful what you say and who you say it to- as obvious as that may sound – a family member, spouse, best friend may not be ideal.  Especially if circles cross.

This doesn’t mean those confided in would tell others about what was said.  A private conversation is usually kept rather private.

But they can never be exactly where you are, see and experienced what you have, so what you are saying will never be equal and fair information.

They are only getting your side.

A simple example is that if I were to confide in person A about person B, person A may start to take the new information and form judgement about person B [without even interacting with B].

And person A will begin to change the way they treat person B; leaving person B very confused.

That’s why we shouldn’t jump to conclusions when the grapevine comes along informing us of second, third, or more hand information.  That goes for products, opinions, thoughts on life, whatever.

It leads to chaos, confusion, and no one knows why something happened.  Heed caution when others confide in you to not alter your judgments without sound reason.

A Quick Note…

Someone very close to me inspired me by example to start this blog.  Until very recently, I’ve always kept my personal thoughts toward life, people, and the way things are confined to the hard drive of my computer.

I was neglecting myself from outside validation.

Writing is my escape.  My release from the stuff I don’t say for one reason or another.  Mostly because I feel bad for overpowering people with my stupid thoughts on life and questions and observations that run sprints in my mind every day.

I’ve learned to just simply stop myself and bottle up all of those unanswered questions, however irrelevant they may be.

Well, bottling never does the trick, and I can’t seem to shut up sometimes, so I am admitting that I need outside validation from these inner turmoils that prove inappropriate in public settings.

Live Writing is my confidant…

I’m sick of writing dated word documents as if it were a journal to myself.

“Knowing” no one is going to read your journal only allows you to be more honest and blunt about the way you feel.

It doesn’t address the validation of someone else knowing about what you are going through.  Just one other human being to know what you are thinking so you can gauge whether you are crazy or completely sane.

I’ve found myself in some pretty rough states because of that question being unanswered.

Without validation, I am in a purgatory of what is normal.

So I am going to not only continue writing, but post the writings of the past; some of which are very dark.  Just the thought makes me feel vulnerable and insecure, but I think I’m about ready for public validation.

Assuming this is all worthy, of course.

It’s validation that makes the risk worth the reward; whether it comes from within or from other people.

In the Marine Corps, the louder you yelled and the more forceful your words are (and the more you drank) earned respect points (the reward).  Of course this is a very much abbreviated version of a respected Marine, so don’t think too much into that.

In the suburban society I currently preside in, a raised voice can mean danger and stay away.  Drinking too much means you have a problem. So I adjust my behaviors to what the society I’m around most of the time views me as “normal”.

It gets hard when you are around different groups of people, and all of them have a different “normal”.

That begs the question, what is my “normal”?

For now, it seems as if I am one of a small few with this version of normal.  It made me feel lonely and depressed as a kid, and continues to do so even while I’m in a room full of people who love and care about me.

But I think I’m getting closer and closer every day.

Next Piece:  

[2.5] The Judgement Principles

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[2.3] The Little Picture

[2.3] The Little Picture

The question here is…  

Do the people most important to you really matter?

Or is it some innate need we have to cling to those closest to us in order to measure the type of person we are in this world.

Consider these scenarios:  those that have lost parents as children (or lack stable family structure) or those that have lost parents as adults.   I’ve had neither happen, but it certainly seems like the children have above average trouble figuring out their place in this world.

And for the adults that have lost their parents, it looks as if their entire world had been flipped upside down.  A parent dying is like a bad earthquake that destroyed foundation of the house they’ve been building on all their life.

Who is right and who is wrong?  What is right and what is wrong?

This is the foundation of all of our lives.  This is how we define our value and ethical systems.  The answers to these questions gives us directions on how to conduct ourselves each day.

Without them, we are hopeless wanderers that might as well flip a coin to make decisions.

The children have to write their own directions.  The adults, it’s as if their directions got ripped up and thrown away.

Regarding the children, it’s not that their foundation has cracked, it’s that they are trying to build a house on quicksand.

1 step forward, 3 steps back.

However, I believe anyone, including these children, has the potential to thrust themselves out of their environmental issues beyond their control.

With that said, there’s a lot working against these children’s efforts and they have to find validation from within at a very young age.  This is a must for any sort of faith to exist that the path they are on and the things they are doing are the right things to do.

Trusting others probably didn’t go so well when they learned it from the world of strangers and not their parents.

As far as those foundational questions that help each of us write our own unique life directions…  the answers are up to you-

the person asking them.

Only you decide who and what is right/wrong, and only you have to live and deal with the consequences of your actions.  No matter how important someone is to you, they are not guaranteed in your life.

Then what.

You become lost for a while until something fills the gap and helps you figure out who you are in the world.

Ahh… Relief from not knowing who you are.

If this is true, grief from death is an act of self-interest.  But that doesn’t sound right.

There are other factors to how death impacts your life beside how you measure yourself as a person.  What I mean is that that self-interest I’m referring to is the craving we all have to find out who we are.

To not know who we are, is to live out each of our days as a helpless wanderer, and it is no way to honor whatever gift life is. 

So we search and search until that gap is filled, and we are whole again.

I guess I’m begging the question of whether or not that ordeal is even necessary.

Can I be important enough to myself to be able to measure who I am based on my very own reactions and judgments?

After all, I have judgments and I am an important person in others’ lives.  That means I can very well become that gap in someone else’s life on the other side of this argument.

So I am, in effect, the very person I’m trying to impress.  I just don’t think of it that way.

Next Piece:  [2.4] Validation

Previous:  [2.2] The Big Picture