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.