The Unfillable Void

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Void stampI’ve written posts here and there pointing out the occasional desire or maybe more appropriately put…emptiness we have filled with goals, aspirations, big dreams and pointless tasks. Somewhere along the way we are all taught there are certain benchmarks to hit in order to lead a “successful and fulfilling” life. Each and everytime we feel an uneasiness creeping up we try to tick off the next box on that list of fulfilling life moments and achievements, yet for some reason we are still left wanting.

I never understood this void. And better yet, I thought it was just me.

In our own little myopic worlds, we don’t seem to understand that everyone, and I mean everyone, suffers. But, to what extent and what emphasis is put on which wrong syllable is often measured by wealth, education and the basic hierarchy of needs. The saddest part of this is that no matter how much you achieve, how many things you attain and how much money you make…you may still have a little emptiness sitting in your stomach that you just can’t explain.

And this, my friends, is called the human condition.

For some reason our brains are hardwired to want to reach some sort of next step, next need, next want. If we don’t know what that is, sometimes we try to shake things up with a new degree, new career, new spouse, new car or even a new country. But, the bottom line is that no matter how many times we change it up, we can’t outrun it. The best version of ourselves is always just out of reach.

There are too many articles out there about happiness, anxiety, the meaning of life, self-help and self-worth for this epiphany to come to me and me alone. When are people happy?  Well, if we look at the study of psychology, this is all people have been talking about for centuries. The world’s greatest minds have been trying to decipher the meaning of life since the beginning of time, so what made any one of us think we were so special?

I finally understand, I’m not.Red_Void_by_Gaurdian

But, I also understand that this feeling most likely isn’t going away. When it creeps up after a big night of drinking, a breakup, looking at bank statements or being bored at your job…you need to accept it’s part of you, it’s part of life and there will always be more to have, to be, to want. All you can do is try your best to dull the ache, soften the voice, follow your dreams and realize that you are exactly the same as everyone else. The human condition is a condition indeed.

Mark Manson, a favourite of mine, explains it and explains it well. Stop trying to attain happiness and just try to learn acceptance. Pleasure is mistaken for happiness, and achievements mistaken for worth. Trust me when I say, it’s not always worth it. http://markmanson.net/stop-trying-to-be-happy#sxjbVV:6Q9y

The Ginga Ninja

 

 

That Wasn’t the Plan

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8121734895_79742240a4_mThings don’t always go according to plan, and you know what? Maybe that’s alright. How many people do you think wake up on their 82nd birthday and say, I’m so glad that everything happened exactly the way I thought it would. That everything I ever thought I wanted I got, and everything I ever tried to do, I achieved. In MY fake version of the world, well everyone, but in reality, very few.

Most talk about the mysteries of life. The adventures. The sadness. The happiness. The unexpected turns that brought them somewhere they never imagined. The surprise careers, the failed loves, the hidden blessings. They think back on a life where they wish they made more mistakes and had more regrets. A life without any broken bridges, dead-end paths or unexpected characters is a life that very few look back on grateful that they had. It’s the things we can’t plan for that usually surprise us the most.

But, life is long & short all at the same time. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard. But, you can’t have one without the other, you can’t feel joy without pain, you can’t feel loss without gain (reeaallly decided to avoid sunshine and rain there). But, I think what I’m trying to say is don’t plan all the time. Just live. Just breathe. Turn off your brain. Turn off your clock. Turn up the volume. Sing, stare, listen, read, write, hug, feel, but stop envisioning a world where all your dreams come true, because odds are, your dreams can be nightmares and your failures your blessings.

I can appreciate the everyday, but why not live in the possible? The world just doesn’t have as many mysteries anymore. There’s no new continents to explore, there’s no more deepest darkest Africa; everything’ all mapped out my satellites and sonar.  Yet, still, people reach for the unknown. It’s what makes us grow.                                                                                                                                                                                     – Castle

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The Ginga Ninja

Even shallow cuts still hurt

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tumblr_mtebtc9AEc1r475q6o1_500Why do breakups hurt so much? You were living your life before they came along and for some reason some fool and his fake version of your future is enough to throw you into a tailspin. They love you one day, not the next. How can that be?

And no amount of lamenting, crying, caring or drinking is going to change the outcome. You are only one half of the equation and you can decide to either get up and get on with your life or never let go. Now, what the head knows and the heart feels don’t always align, even when it’s a “no brainer” that you need to move forward – the process and transition can still be a difficult one. Now, I have successfully let go of my ex-bf of 4 years and the one prior to that of 2.5. I don’t particularly like seeing their photos with wives, girlfriends or houses, nor do I especially love getting messages still from an ex mom-in-law to be. But, the pain of losing them (well, letting go and then later second-guessing) and the feelings of missing them are long gone.  No, now I’m struggling to let go of my bf of 5 months.

5 months hardly seems enough to miss. They never had the chance to fully become part of your life or fully know you and what makes you tick. But, the visions of the future to come started to build and therefore, so did the actions you took in your daily life. Constant contact, sweet words and gestures, saving towards a future – these are all things you do not have without them. Will you get them again?  Perhaps. Will it be a better or worse match? Only time will tell.  But, I can tell you that the older you get, often the more accelerated the relationship. So, sadly, it can be almost as hard to let go of a short, but serious one as it is to let go of a long, but detached one.  The pain feels the same, but hopefully the timeframe doesn’t.

I know a couple that had to leave a 10 year marriage and 18 years of memories. That ended 5 years ago and they still grieve at times. It’s amazing how hard those chemicals in our brains can hang on. It’s amazing how poor our ability to just shut out the past is. Unless you have a lot of practice. And unfortunately for me, I have a long memory, and my ex-bf…well, he’s had a lot of practice. Sometimes it would be nice to get a temporary lobotomy like the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” because we start fresh, we start anew. We start eager for love and untarnished by pain. Our walls are low and our egos aren’t bruised. Our hopes are high and our sense of self is still strong. I would love to start over 15 years old and do it all different. I would love to start over never needing the white picket fence or the validation of another, but sadly, this is something I cannot truly do. You can’t undo your past, but you can…

Well, you write the ending.

The Ginga Ninja

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Bad or Good, It’s Still Your Life

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maxresdefaultSo I was raised pretty religious and uncommonly materialistic, a pretty weird success-driven combo I must admit. I had a strict (anal), virtuous upbringing – built upon hard work, loyalty, watching your money, watching your back and fearing your god. Somewhere out there was a belief that some sort of karmic retribution for all your good actions paid off, except in this version of the story it was called heaven. That by being a “good” person who doesn’t drink, do drugs, swear or believe in idle actions…you will get an everlasting and happy life.

So many times I let events, validation and others create my happiness. Having them bail on plans, not accept my friend invite or not accomplishing my goal made me feel less than. For some reason I always had some little project, next step, someday in the back of my head to when I would feel complete. Of course we all love going to Disneyland, but whether or not your life is good shouldn’t be marked only by the highlights. The act of falling in love, the rush of a rollercoaster, the joy of a birthday present, the praise for a promotion, yes they are good, but they are not everything. When your happiness is determined by what is happening around you, funnily enough you aren’t really happy. Sure, in the great moments you are, who isn’t, but you have no idea what to do with the not-so-great ones. For some reason they feel like negative results of something you did wrong. You question your world, your finances, your sanity – if I’m a good person leading a virtuous life, then why is this happening?

Well, as many of us know, it’s not always about being good or bad. The trick is to change your perception so that all in – upbeat day or rotten, you know you are going to survive. The clock keeps on ticking, your heart keeps on beating…so try to have as much joy in watching a leaf tumble in the breeze as winning the lottery. Okay, that example may be a bit extreme, but I hope you realize that I mean good will happen, bad will happen…and so is the circle of life. There is no cosmic curse out to get us, weeeeellllll within reason. I’m not condoning starting a Dexter-esque crusade to tickle your boredom, but swear a little, drink a little, grump a little. It’s gonna be okay.

I had two things happen to people in my life that reminded me how important this lesson is. One had a weekend of tough shifts, tears and boy drama…yet standing out in the sun with me awaiting a taco she had a wave of how good her life was. Though there are down times, it doesn’t take away from the good ones. I too have that from time to time – just an overwhelming rush of gratitude towards a nice day, feeling, movie, hug or laugh. A little look at how lucky I am even though lots is going wrong. I think it’s about realizing that wrong isn’t justice for something you did or didn’t do, but just another day in the field.

I also have an aquaintance going through a breakup. A painful, messy, awful breakup, but his naivety is astounding. He isn’t handling it well, he is frankly, losing his goddamn mind. And I shouldn’t judge because I have too. It is easy to wonder what you did when all is going wrong. But, this poor lad, publicly crucifies himself – lamenting about why she left him, how bad his life is and why is karma out to get him. His status updates tell everybody that his life was perfect for 38 years, he was a rockstar and now he is a failure. That for the first time in his life he is suffering hardship – but he worked diligently, saved money, never tried drugs, doesn’t drink, has never cheated and doesn’t deserve it. What I so badly want to tell him is that trying to be perfect doesn’t always create a perfect life – there is no such thing! We all deserve dirty in doses. We all need a little bad to remind us of the good. We all need some struggle to make us stronger and better. We all need to appreciate life in all its terrible glory to understand that it isn’t the absence of bad that makes a life good, it’s the survival of it.

The Ginga Ninja

Just because there’s a Way, doesn’t always mean there’s a Will

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Not too long ago a very talented man took his own life. The loss of Robin Williams and the outpouring of opinion in the days following got me thinking. Strangely, I heard the song “This Life” by Edward Sharpe (a very sad and depressive take on life), then “If you want to be happy” by Jimmy Soul, followed by “I guess that’s why they call it the blues” by Elton John. It made me realize how juxtapositioned this compliation of songs were…completely and utterly on the opposite ends of the spectrum. – like life?

This brought me to a bit of a controversial topic. Like Voledmort, it’s awkward to use the word, but for lack of the real one, let’s say…Self-induced Death.

Suicide is a tricky topic. Because even though I have a knack for turning the bad into good, the lost into lessons and the sad into funny, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been down. I think if anything this proves that I have. As have you. And her. And him. And his mom. Maybe even his dog. Or hamster.

But, more seriously…it’s a topic that I’ve kind of always understood. And that in itself has sometimes made me misunderstood. For reasons we won’t discuss, I was introduced to it from a young age. And unlike all of the people around me…I was never angry. I was empathetic. But, no matter how down I got or how mad I was at the world, I knew this was an avenue I would most likely never walk down because it would kill my parents, not to mention my chance at a future, not to mention well…myself.

It’s a shame, when somebody takes themselves out an inning too early – everyone on the outside feels that things could have still changed; the hail mary pass, the over-the-fence homerun, the last minute touchdown. But, what if they couldn’t…really…truly.

Life is a big old rollercoaster of ups and downs and hopefully the ups outnumber the downs, but what if you never feel your ups all the way and the downs more than you should? I have definitely felt downs that were unwarranted and extreme…in my family, we call this Situational Depression and there are a number of medicated comics amongst us. Life is hard, alcohol is harder? (Hardy, hard, har)

But, turns out some of the hard stuff has brought me to a better place…lifestyle, diet, acceptance of faults and realizations of the world have led me down the path where I want to know more is coming. But there were nights, so many nights where I didn’t know if there was more. And I wished time away because I didn’t want to know.

Well, what happens if it isn’t 17 years of ups and downs, or 12 years of increasing health issues. What if it is a lifetime. What if it is medication, padded walls or voices in your head. What if you had all you ever wanted and still barely managed to get out of bed each and every day? At what point do we stop calling these people selfish and start to realize that they have held on for us. For you. For him. For her. For me. These people who were in so much pain that they couldn’t see a happy ending held out for as long they could in a world they didn’t love, so that they didn’t hurt the people that loved them. Sometimes they aren’t trying to hurt anyone, but they can no longer keep hurting themselves.

You are dying since the day you are born. Sure, walking off the court early is cheating the game of life, but it’s going to happen eventually whether we want it to or not. So, give sympathy, give empathy, give support, but please don’t ever give in to your anger.

“This Life”

I’ve been trying to pretend
That death is my friend
Oh, this life
Yes, this life ain’t for me now

I’ve been lying to myself
Not to nobody else
Oh, this life
Yes, this life ain’t for me now

LIAR
I’m telling the truth to y’all
HIGHER
Gonna give a little proof to y’all
HIGHER
I’m gonna jump in the fire

Well I walked into black
Said I weren’t coming back
Saw my angel in blue
She tell me “This life ain’t for you”
Oh, this life
Tell it to me – this life ain’t for me now

I woke up feeling new
‘Cause now I know this life is for you
Yes, this life
Oh, this life ain’t for me now
It’s for you!

The Ginga Ninja

The Best Things in Life Aren’t Free

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x354Money makes the world go round. It’s sad, but hell, it’s true. Truer than true in fact. There are so many old sayings about money that it’s not even funny (maybe I should go back to sad), but that’s because it is so integral to our everyday life. Long gone are the days where you forage the land for food, trade services for survival or even when just having one income, one car in the garage and a roof over your head were the definition of success.

No, today success comes in many forms. Unfortunately the most obvious being vacations, wealth and things. Do we really need so many things? Should there really be at a minimum THREE television shows about hoarding?  And since when did “likes” on Facebook mean more than actually liking your own life? Who cares if somebody else likes that you went to a concert or how you set up your new coffee table, isn’t all that matters that you do?

I’m as guilty as the rest of them. I’ve had periods of being pretty “modern-day” poor and I can worry like a champ. I can splurge and spend as well as I can save and thrift.  The funny thing when it comes to wealth is it’s all about liquidity. How much do you have access to at any one time? For some reason that integral point seems to be the defining factor between perceived wealth and actual.

I am as poor as I’ve probably ever been – don’t own a house, still have loans to pay, yet for some reason have started handing out dolla bills as though I’m a big deal. I think it’s because suddenly that money is in my hand and it is my choice as to whether it goes to debt, vacation, entertainment, stuff or savings. It is up to me what percentage goes where and for some reason, this empowering feeling is a misconception of being successful. In reality, I am no better off than when I made less money and spent less on things, food and “stuff” – but it’s all about quality of life, all about how much it feels like I have, not actually about how much I have on paper (well, online statement, let’s be green here).

It got me thinking. I have a very wealthy family member…remarried and up to his eyeballs in debt, yet the fact that he has an enviable yearly income makes him seem untouchable beyond compare. On a daily basis I also see homeless vagabonds – holes in their mittens, scuffs on their shoes, pride on their signs; begging with their coffee cups. That hobo, that scruffy bum with $10 in hand is in truth wealthier than that lawyer, doctor, entertainer or dentist with debt. It’s not about what you have on paper, but in theory, right?

Well, once upon a time credit wasn’t accessible, credit cards didn’t exist and people didn’t need so much space or so many things. Toys were baseballs and ragdolls, cardboard swords, tree forts and old bicycles. Once upon a time there was no social media – nobody cared about your boring trip to see your grandparents in Florida, or the time you went camping. Vacations for me were roadtrips, summer jaunts, campgrounds and cabins. There was no European cruise, or South American jungle tour. There was no credit card for kids or even education funds to prep us for the all important (and expensive) education we are now forced to obtain.

That brings me back around to where we started – money makes the world go round. Whether you are happy or sad often depends on money, which is too bad. But, all those things that make you happy – books, gaming stations, vacations in the sun, hell, even heat for your house – well, they all cost money. So, though money can’t buy you happiness, it can buy you the things that make you happy.

Oh the sad, sad irony.

“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”   – Groucho Marx

The Ginga Ninja

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That’s Why They Call it the Blues…The Winter Blues

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winter-bluesI’ve been extremely, overwhelmingly sick in my (well we’ll call it short) lifetime. Sometimes more than others and probably for different reasons. At the end of the day, normally I end up fatigued in the winter, get a respiratory infection, land myself on antibiotics and eventually get really ill with stomach problems and bacterial overgrowth. But, even hospital-inducing illness aside, the one thing I’ve always been known to struggle with is SAD. No, not just a big old frown on my face, but Seasonal Affective Disorder (otherwise funnily enough known as SAD, which is exactly what it makes you).

In changing a fair bit of my lifestyle and diet, I was able to somewhat escape it. Heaven forbid I live like a normal sucker and just get the winter blues instead of sweating, fainting and illness. This year however, well a flu led to a cold, let to lethargy…led to…and that’s where it ends goddammit. We’ll call mine, the Winter Reds.

It’s a cold, dark winter and I’m in the heart of the most depressing month. But, I’m doing my best to stay above water. Stay positive, accept that a basic “not giving a crap” attitude may come out of this and I will probably survive. Probably. Maybe with too many headaches, cramping muscles and bad moods, but probably still at least a step away from death’s door.

Well, I’m not alone in this battle. Cold cultures have a higher rate of suicide and divorce in January. People struggle with lethargy, lack of motivation, fatigue and a general depressing state in colder months. It’s why vacation hot spots peak and prices skyrocket. It’s why cold month babies are created and love handles exist. The winter months have our basic instinct bodies reverting to a sense of hibernation. Deep down, all we need is to stay warm, feed and save our energy. If we don’t, we just may not make it through alive.

So, this year I’m celebrating my SAD. That’s right, I said it, I’m HAPPY to celebrate my SAD.

A sad soul can kill quicker than a germ. – John Steinbeck

The Ginga Ninja

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