Sunday, June 30, 2013

Breakthrough (LOA)

"He who has a why in life can tolerate almost any how." - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche 

About a week and a half ago, I had a breakthrough; I finally found the answer I've been searching for.

This answer, as I anticipated in my first post here, is quite simple. I want to be the best I can be and empower others along the way. I want to fully realize the gift of life and help others who want to do the same. That is my purpose.

The question of what exactly that means will probably be the subject of a future post, and it might even change over time, but for now that's enough. It's enough to put my worries about the future to rest, and more importantly it's enough to reintroduce a sense of meaning into my every day existence. It's enough so that I'm no longer stuck on the "how".

This was going to originally be a much, much longer post. I was going to preface the above statement of my newly (re)discovered purpose with how exactly I arrived at it. But why complicate something that is so simple by going into so much detail?

Well... my answer to that is captured in a another quote, one attributed to former associate supreme court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. which I particularly like:

"I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity."

My so called "breakthrough" would mean nothing if it was just a simple platitude I decided to come up with one day. And it probably means little to anyone reading this post. But it means everything to me now because, despite it's simplicity, it's attainment was the result of much internal struggle, painstaking (probably excessive) thought, and tackling very difficult questions and decisions.

So I left the actual description of my journey out of the current post simply because it was becoming way too long, and I wanted to get my main idea out without burying it in an epic wall of words. However, I think that the journey is not only important but much more interesting than the end result, since it was the process and not the end result itself that gives strength to my new insight. Therefore I decided to keep that part intact and save it for a separate post.

That said, I don't aim to dwell in the past anymore. What ultimately matters most is that I have something to keep me going in the here and now, and I have plenty to do. Though this doesn't mean that everything is suddenly perfect, it's certainly nice to have some real direction again and the drive to continue moving towards it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Deep Breaths (LOA)

Phew. What a weekend.

I haven't felt a sense of peace like the one I'm currently feeling for a very long time. So much has happened that I'm having trouble digesting it all.

The best thing I can do right now is keep taking deep breaths and letting it all sink in. I thought I'd have more than enough material for a blog post but I realize that I wouldn't even know where to begin. My journal (the physical one) would probably be a better place to start.

For now all I know is that my head is clearer and my optimism is slowly returning. Real optimism, the quiet confident kind. Not the kind that needs to constantly claw and fight to stay alive.

Thank you for rescuing me Kelsey. You're my hero.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How I'm Actually Doing (LOA)

It's three in the morning and I have no one to talk to, so I guess I'm "talking" to whoever ends up reading this.

I'm miserable. And that's just been the default lately. I'm ashamed of who I've become and I feel like a massive dissapointment to anyone who's ever known me. I fight and fight and each time it feels like I run out of steam faster than the last. I hit rock bottom. As in, a new rock bottom (which only took about three weeks to dethrone the last). I would think that for someone as hopeless as I've been lately I could at least take refuge in the fact that rock bottom usually means it can only get better, or at least not get too much worse. But nope, my life somehow managed to find a way to destroy that too, so that now even after the worse I can still very easily believe that somehow, as virtually impossible as it seems right now, there is always a way for things to get even worse. Pessimism at its very finest. Thank you life.

I feel insanely alone. I feel like 99% of my most meaningful personal connections have pretty much vanished for all intents and purposes. Sure, that's mostly because of all the bridges I seemed to somehow burn. Even so, the efforts that I have made to reconnect with people on any meaningful level have been largely unsuccessful, but it's probably still my fault. I'm done with hopeless attempts to reach out. Or maybe I'm tired of having to do all the reaching out. Maybe that's why I'm writing this here. Maybe it's a cry for help of sorts. At the very least I know it's being communicated. Maybe that counts for something.

I wish I could see how this experience will make me stronger in the end (assuming there is one). But I don't. The old me would say "not yet at least". The real me says that's bull.

I can't see the bright side the vast majority of times. There is no light at the end of the tunnel always there to guide me either. I can't just suck it up and push any more than I already am. I'm tired and extremely weak. There is no easy "fix". I just wish there were more people who could understand that and so they could stop indirectly insulting me and knocking me down even further with their ignorant assumptions. Maybe then there would be more people I could actually trust with the truth of what I'm going through and I wouldn't feel as horribly alone. Again, there's probably no one to blame but myself.

I don't even know what I was really trying to communicate anymore. I guess I just wanted to point out the fact that I'm in extreme pain. That's all. Why? I don't know. But there it is. Is it stupid for me to be this honest on a public internet blog? Probably. Oh well. Maybe someday I'll look back on this and see how far I've come. Or maybe I'll look back at this and laugh because it only gets much worse from here.

P.S: There's no use worrying about me. Worry is for problems yet to come. My issues are here, and they've been here for quite a while. The disaster's not looming. This is it. If reading this arouses some sympathy, thank you for your kind thoughts. If it causes pity, then that's fair too. If you read this and shake your head in some mixture of confusion, disappointment, or just plain disgust and dislike, I don't blame you.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Silence (LOA)

I haven't written anything here for a long time. Sometimes it feels like I haven't actually done anything for a long time, like my life has been frozen in some giant tank and been simply preserved. That's not exactly true, there has been a slow (very slow) sense of evolution. But it's definitely been a surreal three months or so. It's as if everyone around me has been moving at lightning speed toward something I couldn't understand anymore. They've been living, enjoying, struggling, working, going somewhere (or they at least didn't mind not knowing for certain that they were actually going anywhere). It all became utterly incomprehensible to me.

It's a good thing that I've had that giant preservation tank (a.k.a a family supportive enough to let me do what most people consider to be "nothing" with minimal judgement) to let me just freeze my life into place. Had things been different I don't think I would have been strong enough to deal with the pain and confusion for much longer.

I considered just ending this blog altogether. The purpose of it was well meant, but in reference to my first few posts I obviously missed the target on what it was I really needed this break for. If I had started this blog earlier than I did, there'd be a lot more to write about, and it might have been a bit more exciting.

But things have been different. Instead of unleashing some kind of potential or pursuing passions that had been restrained, this break became a needed (as in, emergency) escape. I came dangerously close to the edge, and had I not put an end to the path I was going in I'm afraid I may have arrived at a point of no return. Not a good place to be.

Once upon a time I had ambition, I had passion, I had the will to live a life beyond what I was allowing myself to live. That is what "breaking chains" was all about. I allowed myself to be encapsulated into a very narrow way of thinking and living. I allowed myself to be brainwashed into thinking that the right way was to follow the path laid out for me and so many others. I knew I had to break out. I knew the risk was great, but the rewards would be immeasurable. And I knew that, ironically, not taking that risk would doom me for certain. And that's exactly what happened.

My decision to take this time off came about half a year too late. Perhaps out of fear, I allowed myself to continue on that precarious path, trying to carve something of value out of the inside of my continually self-reinforcing prison cell. But the cell became a torture chamber, and the walls too thick to get out of safely. I had to blow my way out and settle for a severely injured version of a free me.  In other words, I decided to continue business as usual and start my junior year like everyone else, which, even with some positives, yielded disastrous results to my well-being.

I may not be making much sense except to those extremely few people who know a bit more about what's been going on with me for the past one and a half years or so. I've gotten used to not really making sense to a lot of people, at least concerning my most inner (as in, most of my) thoughts. (I guess I could also clarify if anyone was interested but confused and wanted to ask.)

All in all I decided to continue posting here. This blog has become sort of symbolic in reflecting my life over the past few months, so I knew I couldn't just leave it empty. Not now that things, promising things, are starting to stir inside me (and out). Life goes on and I guess so will this blog.

Maybe my future posts will be more exciting, but this isn't necessarily a promise of better times. I am free, but I am as vulnerable as I've ever been. I've hurt the very people who've been closest to me, people who in many senses I probably owe my life to.  All I know is that I've been through the darkest days of my life, and very recently the absolute darkest, but I have also begun a gradual climb. And though I'm weighed down by the guilt of wronging those who've shown me nothing but love, I am strong enough now in my resolve to know that letting it stop me would be a disservice to those who have stood by me despite it all.

Maybe it's time for the original intent of this leave of absence to finally be fulfilled. It's been a slow start, and it's going to continue to be for some time, but the standstill is over.

I'm being careful to keep this from being overly optimistic too soon (I've set myself up for failure like that too many times before), but damn it I'm not going down without a fight anymore. I don't yet know what exactly my resolve is, but I don't care anymore. I'm going to keep going; that's it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Video Games (LOA)

The last few weeks have, by common standards, been uneventful.

I've been playing more video games (specifically, Pokemon) in the last few weeks than I have probably in the last year combined (although my play time isn't quite at pre-college levels). That's not necessarily a negative thing though. It's rejuvenating in many ways, but also (maybe surprisingly to most) empowering.

I've come to realize that, growing up, video games were my moral education of sorts. For reasons related to both my history (which I will not go into here) and my "biology", I've always been a quiet person, even in my very early years. I have spent a lot (if not most) of my in life time by myself, either physically or mentally.

A lot of that time was spent playing video games.

The kinds of games I was and am drawn to, I've found upon closer inspection, are a very interesting category. I loved (and still love) to play games driven by either grand adventures, engaging stories, or both (typically role-playing games, though I am also an avid Mario and Nintendo fan in general). These stories were filled with heroism and themes of kindness and compassion , though there were also giant challenges to overcome.

The characters in the games are almost always extremely eager to help each other. Imagine living in a world where everyone you approached talked openly with you, giving you tips, advice, and even cool things from time to time. It was also not that difficult to encounter someone who was so inspired by your journey that they agreed to drop everything and join you, even if it meant consuming all their time and possibly meaning death. That's commitment.

The journeys also always required an immense amount of growth (leveling up, getting better equipment, surrounding yourself with more powerful allies) and learning (new moves, spells, information that will help you reach your goals), often beginning very modestly with young people leaving home for the first time and with no special expertise or strength going on to do amazing and usually legendary things.

I started thinking about this idea of games as my moral education for a few reasons. First is the sharp contrast between my preferred genre and today's most popular gaming culture of Call of Duty style shooters involving sport-like deathmatches and super cinematic violence using powerful graphics engines. This isn't an argument about which is superior per say,  but if I were to choose a genre of game for some of my younger family members to play, it's clear in my mind which one might be more constructive. Exploring some of the reason's why I would choose that gave me some of the insights I've been talking about.

Second is the fact that, when I think about what was missing this last year and a half or so, video games is definitely on that list. I didn't think of that much at all; I paid more attention to things like lack of resolve, motivation, energy, and ability to live happily in the present as bigger issues to tackle on that list of things that were missing. It also seemed to make sense that the busier I get in life the less time I'd have to dedicate to games (interestingly, during my freshmen year of college, by far my favorite year so far all around, I did take the time to turn on my DS from time to time, not only during breaks but during the regular school year). And it's no mystery that "outgrowing" video games is a perfectly socially acceptable transition.

But those few times that I allowed myself to power on my DS again recently and take a trip back to the days when I could play games all day with no guilt, I realized that what I was really doing was going home. I went back to what was really a huge source of my idealism, my optimism, my relentless effort to be better. I was transported to a world where I could face a huge challenge not with hopelessness but with an eager, though nerve-racking, anticipation. I could have my hindquarters handed to me and still go back and take on the challenge over and over, using new tools and strategies and finding new ways to prepare until I ultimately succeeded. But most of all I found myself completely engaged in an activity and actually enjoying it again.

I have decided to allow myself into that part of me again. These past few weeks I went back to the latest Pokemon game I had and actually "finished" it, setting out to meet the toughest challenges of the game. I failed over and over again in the process, but I love playing, and eventually succeeded after hours upon hours of continued effort.

This may not mean much to most people, but it brought up the question of where video games fall into my time away from school. I have my incomplete courses to complete, as well as medical issues to attend to. On top of that I have a list of books I want to read, people I want to talk to/ shadow, places I want to volunteer at, and even jobs want to pursue. I haven't gone into detail in this blog about some of the concrete things I will be pursuing; that's coming soon. All I know right now is that I'm not abandoning my favorite hobby.

Yesterday I invested in a Nintendo 3DS (for a few different reasons), but clearly I would not have made such a purchase if I didn't plan to make good use of it. Obviously, like most things in life, a balance needs to be kept. My schedule for the past few weeks can't go on forever. But a good life is an enjoyable life, and I know now that I have to rethink what's important in my life, give myself permission to live it, and, in true Pokemon fashion, keep it lighthearted when I can.

Happy new year. :)