Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Its the Last December of this Decade


I Know Things that Google Doesn't

Every December brings dread and uncertainty. Even though its the busiest time for me work-wise, its also the time when Murphy's law takes an entirely new dimension in my life. No matter how much I plan and prepare for the worst, I get bogged down with problems of all kinds - work, family, health, weather, money and even matters of the heart and mind. Sometimes, I feel like a victorious but battered Hercules by the time the New Year dawns.

This December is singularly unique. It's the last December of this decade. Did you even think about it? And this got me thinking about the last 10 years of my life. My age especially. I am into prime adulthood now, and while I've been blessed with good genes and a youthful appearance (I think), I have done my share of coping with aging and all those weighty issues that come up in the process. Like watching my body change and trying to hold back the visual signs with lazy exercise and bad diets. Suddenly, you start noticing everyone around you is fitter and younger than you. And damn, those awful grey hairs. 

I discovered grey hairs when I wasn't even 30 yet. I don't think I need to expand on the horror of making that discovery, now do I?  So, after I mentally sobbed for a while, ate a dozen jelly beans, and wondered if I were going to have to start dying my hairs, I just calmly plucked those grey ones right out and decided not to worry about it. That was many years ago but now, it's an impractical solution unless I intend to go bald in a painful way. 

This winter, my thirty-something friend's 26 years old pretty cousin came to stay with her. A model in the making, she seemed obsessed with her body. While anyone would admire her young, gazelle-like body, shapely limbs, and svelte hour-glass figure, we would listen to her bemoan the agonies of her new adulthood. She would rue her back was too broad, her legs too short, her teeth too big, her ass too flat. We assured her that she looked lovely and she was simply overreacting but to no avail. 

Then, my friend and I jointly recalled how utterly confusing it was to navigate the new and harsh realities of adulthood, and we instantly knew there's no way we can alleviate her cousin's pain. She's going to have to go through what I call the "horrible 20's" and figure it out for herself. 

I've come to understand that twenty-something adversity, as annoying as this may sound, is actually good for us. It's how we deal with it that determines our future character. I can only hope she has the resources and the dexterity to come through it all and end up in a good place - physically, mentally and sexually.

Speaking of sex, adulthood has its remarkable charms too. Not to sound too self-flattering, the 30s can also be adventurous. How else would you define being pursued by young women in their 20's and 30's? While I've long ridiculed the shallow puerile carnal fantasies of virile young women connecting with an older "wise man", I sometimes have found myself drawn to these younger women's zest for life and impressed with their intellect, warmth, and ambition.

My friends envy me, especially those younger than me but no matter, how you look at it, there's a stark reality to it. After a couple of days, weeks or months, uncustomarily filled with various encounters with these young women, you are inevitably, again reminded of the dark painful issues that make their existence known, and the often mediocre sex that fills the 20's and the boasted quantity of sex rather than quality. With a few exceptions, of course!

Maybe now when I feel impatient with the baggage that the term "wise man" brings relevance to my life, it'll be tempered with knowing that those young women are no less burdened themselves. Rather, they're simply in the stage of cultivating that baggage, and a whole lot more confused about it too!

So what does all this mean to me (and maybe to you too)? It means that I have a new appreciation of the innate balance of life and where I've arrived at this current age. When my jealous young friends of the google generation express their bemusement over me getting hit on by more women than they get, I console them that I can but never regain the beauty of youth that they enjoy now. Black hair for example.

There's still a silver lining and a distinct advantage that I don't tell them. That I now have a richer kind of life experience, knowledge and wisdom they don't and cannot possibly yet possess. If their envy is indeed true, my desirability probably comes from the confidence I exude. And isn't it nice to know that they also have to earn it? That they have to do the hard work of self-challenge, self-growth, and persistent optimism that this kind of desirability requires. And also be prepared to weather the adversarial surprises adult life is certain to throw their way too?

So, this December, I feel less dread and actually positive. Maybe, it means that I am better equipped with more awareness and insights I have earned this decade. Maybe these nuggets of sagacity borne of life and observation have made me more adept in navigating the uncertainties of adult life, my migraines and a tiny bit closer to welcoming the new year with grace and acceptance. Maybe one day I'll even be able to hear the term "wise man" without cynicism -and then again, maybe not!! So, do a little introspection and make this last December, worth enough to remember. 


Monday, September 23, 2019

But Why?


Searching for answers for questions that have no answers 

My aunt died. She was just 57 years old. She was asthmatic but definitely hale and healthy. An active lady devoted to charity and social causes or engrossed with her grandchildren. The day before she suddenly died, she spoke to me over the phone. To me, she sounded fit and happy and yet, the next unfortunate morning, I get to know she's dead. She was gone, rather inexplicably. 

And this week, a 'talented' friend of mine who lives in Seattle lost his job. Again. This was his third attempt at full-time employment since January. His wife deserted him last year and filed for a successful divorce. Poor chap, he can't even afford the alimony. If you ask me, he is really a "nice guy" deserving of a great job and a good wife or at least a girlfriend, but he ain't lucky. 

Constant unfortunate episodes like these, including my own personal misfortunes, makes me often wonder why do these bad things happen? Many folks think I am lucky and I shouldn't be greedy for more. Maybe I am but I still don’t really understand the concept of luck and how much is dished out to whom and why? If you believe in god and fate, you also believe that a person’s life is already planned out and everything happens for a reason. God's reason, apparently or blame it on the stars, your parents, your ex or your last life... How convenient?

I don't get it. I don’t understand how or why certain people are lucky than others and how some are also more extra happy than others. And why some people seem forsaken all the time, wallowing in perpetual suffering all through their sad lives. And why some die so soon while others live as if forever. It's truly illogical. 

I know that no one has a perfect life, and bad things happen to everyone, but something that seems bad and terrible to one person could just be all right to another. One person's job loss opens up a new opportunity for another. Even your ex, the person who caused you so much sadness will paradoxically bring so much joy to his or her new suitor. Or one woman could have a bad boyfriend or a bad husband problem but another woman, typically single though actively looking would probably think, "she’s lucky to even have a boyfriend", and the awful problem for the other woman would seem so completely trivial for her. Strangely right?

Or think why are some people blessed with awesome lives, while others experience one bad turn after another? Some say, "God doesn’t give you more than you can handle." I don’t really believe in God but the statement makes me question why do some people have to be constantly pushed to the edge and struggle hard to where they are or will be pushed over the cliff? 

Take the case of a poor kid I know who died last month. Why did that 13-year-old boy have to die of cancer? Why did his life have to be so short? Why was this kid born into poverty, struggled to escape, but never quite made it? I don’t understand. Throughout the 13 years of this kid’s life, was it always set up that he would die, and everything he would achieve and all his dreams were meant to disappear? Like, he was always going to die at 13 and it was going to happen no matter what. Unlucky 13? 

Maybe everything does happen for a reason, but I am constantly pondering and seeking answers as to why they still happen? Especially, why so many people, particularly kids and young adults who die too young, It's almost like the daily news. 

Today, I read about a 20 something black artist who died of a drug overdose. Whether it was intentional or accidental, no one will ever know but everyone will still make their own conclusions. Racial prejudice will do its part while some will find a noble purpose because it can make people rethink about drugs, and then hopefully change them for good. That could save a person’s life. But if you knew the person who died, you would constantly ask yourself, “Why her? Why did she have to die? Was that a planned out suicide or was that an unexpected move? 

Misery and pain can make make a person stronger, but other times it will only end up driving them into a deep abyss. Face it, some of us have pretty decent lives. Pretty happy, and sometimes pretty damn good. But many others live a shitty and painful life that never really breaks its vicious cycle, and with a sudden good moment, they die or they suffer into sad obscurity. I wonder if it’s all in their cards. 

Why do some people live that way, while others live pretty happily? Why can’t some people ever really be happy, and why do so many people experience so much pain and so much grief? Why the heartbreak? Why divorce? Why suicide? Why die? Why the problems that keep the unfortunate souls up at night? The whys' are endles...

No matter how bad one's situation is, or how shitty your life really is, there is always someone worse off than you, and why does it have to be that way? Is their miserable existence our consolation? To compare and feel better? I don't know. It's already more than a week since my aunt died. Life goes on but I still have so many questions that will never be answered. Why? Just why?

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Writing about my Writers Block


The Hiatus is over, I think!

Maybe it’s the result of my ongoing cruise vacation. My impromptu hiatus is over, well, kind of... because finally after 3 long months, I feel the bad vibe of not being able to write is gone. Really gone, I mean and the credit (again) in addition to my cruise, largely goes to my dedicated readers. 

It's a sweet insight because, unknown to me, my blog (in spite of my sheer negligence) has become something of a staple reading routine to many, and the proof is the countless letters I continue to receive that still surprise and pleasantly overwhelm, especially when I take long breaks.

So, I wanted to sincerely thank all you kind folks out there who have ever been here - whether it was once or a bunch of times especially those who email me often or leave supportive messages om my Facebook page and Twitter inbox. You people really help me in so many ways more than some of you will ever know. Thank you.

Needless to say, this blog has been a personal endeavor and I have come a long way in my own healing and rediscovery, nurturing this blog. A blog where I could really be honest, could honestly write from the heart and also get honest feedback... but this has also been the blog that has made me feel so gutless at times that (sometimes) I keep all references to *me* out of things while reading blogs of other brave men and women out there who were willing to own their problems. 

Maybe, this confession of my recent inability to write is a proactive step in the “write” direction. My next step is to prioritize this blog in my always bizarre scheme of things and attempt to write regularly. At least once a week. 

I also promise that this blog will continue to be its own animal, propagating its stance of complete openness to all expression of my ideas, be them controversial or mundane and of course, personal bits of me and you will find a whole lot more of that as well. So thank you again for all the love you send. In the meantime, if there’s something I should know or something you want to ask? Let me hear it. It's the least I can do to thank you.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Romantic Passion Demystified!


Romantic passion, according to my fav Brazilian alchemist Paulo Coelho 

Passion makes a person stop eating, sleeping, working, feeling at peace. A lot of people are frightened because, when it appears, it demolishes all the old things it finds in its path. No one wants their life thrown into chaos. 

That is why a lot of people keep that threat under control and are somehow capable of sustaining a house or a structure that is already rotten. They are the engineers of the superseded. 

Other people think exactly the opposite: they surrender themselves without a second thought, hoping to find in passion the solutions to all their problems. They make the other person responsible for their happiness and blame them for their possible unhappiness. They are either euphoric because something marvelous has happened or depressed because something unexpected has just ruined everything. 

Keeping passion at bay or surrendering blindly to it - which of these two attitudes is the least destructive? Or is it the best thing that can happen. I don’t know.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Changing You, Changing Times


Time is a Dressmaker specializing in Alterations. 

“Growing Up” or “Growing Old” is a perpetual phase of our lives. Not just the physical old, I am talking about the mental-emotional part of us that is always evolving. Whether its growing old into decay or gaining wisdom is a matter of perspective. 

I remember how, one day (when I was probably 10 years old), I was playing my favorite game - cops and robbers with my school friends, oblivious as only a child's mind can be and then the next day surprisingly, I felt a subtle wave of "self" consciousness about even wanting to play such a childish game, which until the previous day was my favorite way to spend my playtime. 

It was the beginning of innocence lost. Video games had arrived in my life and I was no longer sure to be the cop with a toy gun chasing robbers. My ambitions had also changed overnight. I didn’t want to be Dirty “Clint Eastwood “ Harry anymore, I wanted to be the android “Bishop” from Aliens or at least a Cosmonaut aboard a USSR space ship. Don’t ask me why! 

I was "growing up." I found myself confused and emotionally afraid - one moment trying to find out who I was and who I should be and the next back in the playground squealing with my friends on the swing set and acting like a little "kid" again - then feeling the guilt of being found out - that someone would see me and think I was acting like a baby for wanting those simple, innocent pleasures of childhood, yet, I was unsure. 

Since that day, this “self” consciousness has been an unseen driver of my life – driving my needs, my wants, my likes and dislikes, my career and my ambitions too. All of us go through this phase, when for some unknown reason, the mind shifts into a formerly unknown gear that makes us "want" to be noticed... accepted... appreciated... at school, at the university, at work, with friends, with peers and also in the family, in a relationship, in a marriage… and we find ourselves shaping all that we do in order to "fit the mold" that is expected of us so we can be assured of being noticed... accepted... appreciated. 

This is a never-ending dilemma, something we face every single moment we live. And, of course, we all go through this... it is, after all, growing up. It is moving into another stage, in fits and starts, into maturity. 

We do this all our lives. But because we see ourselves in a certain way, we think we are always going to be the same. But we are never the same. Our "self" clings to whoever we are in a particular moment... but then each moment that "self" dies and a new "self" emerges. There is really no then and now and later... there is only now, ever flowing and ever-changing. We are not today who we were 10 years ago, or even yesterday, or even a moment past. It only seems to us that life changes suddenly, or that we go through "stages," because we are not aware of our moment to moment ever-flowing, ever-changing being. 

Sometimes, we try to cling to the current moment. We think that our lives should be this way or that way and once we determine what it is we think we should be or have in life, we cling to it; we desperately try to hold on to it but of course, we cannot, because every moment we are moving on through life. Like the funny quote, people change, love hurts, friends leave but life goes on.

This troubles us. We choose a goal and work towards it. Or we decide that our lives should be a certain way. We begin to resent the fact that our lives just keep moving on, and even though we work hard to get what we have decided we want, there are just too many interruptions from family, friends, job, responsibilities... and yet we cling to what we have imagined should be our lives... what we have decided we deserve. 

Why are we not our old selves? Why are we not the carefree child anymore? Why do we feel we have lost our capacity for pleasure or satisfaction? Why must we suddenly feel we have to choose between this and that? Could it be because we have convinced ourselves that in order to be carefree, we must be free from the stress and pressures and demands of work and family life? Have we decided we can’t reclaim our lives because we have to sacrifice so much of ourselves? 

The answer is so simple that we cannot see it. In fact, we are not 10 years old anymore. We have changed. Not because we are 30-something. We have simply and inexorably changed and will continue to change in whatever mental and emotional direction we choose. We cannot live in the past and regret.

Of course, you may not really care to be 10 years old again. But hey, if you want to play cops and robbers again, play cops and robbers. If you want to be Dirty Harry, be Dirty Harry. I know, it sounds silly, yet, you can still live your life the way you want, even in the new "changed" circumstances. Do whatever makes you happy instead of fighting time.

Life is not that bad and age is, after all, a number. Love your current "You" and remember, the world hates change (just as you probably hate too) but its what that has brought progress. Aint that the sweet truth?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Searching for Satisfaction


Sometimes, Life is all about a fresh perspective

We all reach points in our lives where we find that we are seemingly no longer satisfied with what we have; we feel something is either lacking or something needs to much more in our lives. It’s a frustrating period. This can happen anywhere, anytime, at any period of your life but mostly seems to appear after we have crossed our first 25 years of existence. Suddenly or gradually, there is something significantly missing - in your job, in your career, and of course, in your marriage and in your relationships, particularly if it’s a long-term one. 

For the person who suddenly finds himself or herself in this peculiar dilemma and who is no longer content and satisfied with what he or she already has - the struggle to find happiness, to "find oneself" again, is often filled with emotional upheaval along a treacherous tumultuous road of self-loathing, discovery, acceptance and pain. 

I have been there or maybe I am still there – stuck in the perpetual feeling of being at the crossroads of life and not knowing which road to take or not take any road at all. Self-help books, motivational coaches, psychiatrists, psychologists, and new-age gurus don’t really help either, they simply amplify your state of limbo and very rarely cure you. After all, it’s in their vested interest that you remain uncertain about your future and buy their bestsellers and watch their sermons. 

So, after wasting a lot of money besides costly trials and errors, I accidentally re-discovered a simple childhood exercise that I practice most nights now, usually when I go to bed before I sleep. All I do is listen to music on my earphones, close my eyes and concentrate on the real me and the people or things that matter to me now. It’s focusing on the true "spirit" of what I am all about and every other thought or emotion is set to rest while I just relax. 

If you do this often enough, you will be surprised at how intimately you get to know yourself. Some of those heavy, philosophical, emotional or silly, irrational questions that you are always beating yourself up with, quietly dissolve into nothingness. and you’ll soon see them for what they are, just thoughts. Unnecessary thoughts we have cultivated and cultured, and nurtured, and jealously guarded throughout the moments, days or even years of our busy lives - until we are lost in them and trick ourselves into thinking they are a reality. They are nothing. They are bubbles on the face of the turbulent sea. They are not real. 

So, what is it we "want?" We all want to be loved. We all want to have passion, satisfaction, and pleasure in our lives. But if we waste our time searching for whatever it is we think we have to have in order to be happy, or passionate, or pleasurable, or satisfied; we will always be forever lost, living an unhappy complicated life. 

The problem with wanting something is that we are instantly limiting our choices, our chances at pleasure and happiness. Suddenly, we cannot be happy because we don't have "this" or "that." Or we are thinking too much, too often about the future and not relishing the moment. What a waste isn’t it? Not appreciating the real beauty of today for an uncertain wish of tomorrow. 

What if we just decided to "be" happy, or passionate, or pleasurable - without depending on "something" to get us there? Can we do that? Of course, we can. If we just let go of what we "want" - then the whole universe is open to us. It's like suddenly losing your job or just seeing your current job with a fresh perspective and realizing that now you can be anything you want to be! It's like giving away all you own and then having nothing to lose. In Zen, they say, "Leap from the mountain" and you will be free...so go ahead and jump!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Of Men and Women and Semantics in Between


A Woman is much more than what seems to the eye

I have a lot of single friends or more accurately friends and close acquaintances who are still single. And, I have learned much from them, especially over these last few years. While most of them are considerably younger than I am, I find myself incredibly drawn to them, to their wit, to their charisma, to their charm, to their take life by the balls attitude, to their wanting to harness fun at any cost and "take it for a ride" attitude.

Maybe it's just their ebullient "youth" that I am drawn to, maybe it's that feeling we sometimes get as we approach yet another birthday - that somehow "when we were their age" - we didn't have half as much fun, or that we somehow missed something, just saying? 

Regardless, even though I love my friends and while I have lived and loved and learned from and with them, I also believe that there are moments when I have been able to impart some small measure of - dare I say "wisdom" upon them... Case in point is what they think of woman and sex especially. 

Let’s admit it. Everyone likes sex. Some of my youthful male friends’ label women who want sex or have sex frequently as "freaks" or “nymphs”. And they, good-naturedly of course, also kid some of our common female friends as being exactly that. And more alarmingly they think it's okay to say such things.

The lingo and semantics of today's "younger" generation have, of course, changed dramatically over time but alas, much of the meaning behind their innovative verbal expressions has not. Take, for instance, terms like "slut" or "ho", these are words, which interestingly enough haven't' changed much in the past 50 years. A woman who sleeps around, who enjoys sex - is today- again - exactly that. And, just as in the past, the use of the word still has a strong immoral and derogatory connotation attached to it. A pity - especially in this day of feminism and an internet age where expressing one's sexuality is such an "in" thing to do. There are some things as women it would seem that are destined never to escape. 

I have, nonetheless, as of late, been pleased to hear a new variation on this particular vernacular - "male slut" - seems to be as apropos as its feminine derivative. There is some small measure of satisfaction in that as even in this day and age, all too often, the man who sleeps around is still apt to garner kudos as a "Stud", a "Player", a "Romeo" or a "Casanova," or simply as "The Man" - while the woman of similar appetite will probably only get a bad "reputation." Yeah, it reeks of the old double standard, patriarchy and gender bias to be sure. 

Sometimes I wonder if we will ever truly out run our own stereotypical and generationally engrained propensities. And so as I meander along it would seem I have garnered a re-education, an enlightenment of sorts, from my youthful friends on the evolution of semantics, but what is it exactly they have gotten from me? 

I would like to think that over the last couple of years I have managed to show (some of them) that a woman is more than the sum of her parts - that she is much more than legs and breasts, much more than full lips and willing hips... That just because two people might throw caution to the wind and act upon their sexual impulses - that they might "hook-up" - decency and courtesy, and good old-fashioned politeness should still be part of the bargain. 

That women aren't always the ones who get taken advantage of - that a woman is just as likely to chew up, spit out and take everything a man has to offer, before throwing it all away without even batting an eye. That people get hurt, and in the end what really matters is how your heart feels, and how you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror.

Certainly, times have changed, and yet they have also stayed pretty much the same. Nowadays we are just more apt to express how we feel openly (and sometimes publicly) than keep it all under wraps. And so, yes, such nuggets as these I try to impart to my ignorant friends when the timing seems right and perhaps somewhere, somehow, down the road, between my generation and theirs, there will be a correct evolution of these derogatory terms and gender specification will cease to be part of the equation.

Somehow, I doubt if I'll live to see that parlance of the human race but I can always dream about what it might be like and in the meantime, I'll keep passing along my random bits of yoda wisdom and publishing here in this little blog.
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