Back to Basics

Just a quick one:

It’s been awhile. Too long really. I’ve forgone something I love to do for other things. Other activities. Things that I have prioritized above what I love, external things. 

Things that may or may not be easy to achieve, but are easier to pursue. 

The notion of achieving them will allow me the room and the comfort to do what I love freely. Living an “if/then” life. 

Putting my happiness, which I control, in the hands of that which I do not control. 

I love to write. Writing is independent of any other thing in life. Writing can be done at the worst of times, often with good results. It can be done at the best of times. At any time. 

Trying to set a time when you can do what you love based on external circumstances is to spit in the face of what you love. It is literally saying, “This thing, that I do not love, is more important than you, something I do love.”  

There is no perfect time. Ever. For anything. Except for now. This moment. 

Anytime is the right time. 

I spoke to someone I love. Someone I respect. I expressed concern over putting writing on the back burner to pursue other things. 

She said, “Is your writing going to save someone’s life?” 

She was arguing that my other pursuits were more important. 

I understood her point and said “no”. My writing isn’t going to save someone. I don’t have the ego to pretend it will. 

She, and in turn I, placed these other things higher. 

But something dawned on me. It will save a life.   

Maybe the most important person. 

Myself. 

Maybe saving my life is a bit extreme, but it’s what makes me happy. It’s what fills me from the inside and makes the external things disappear into the background. 

It’s what I lost and found and for some reason I can so easily lose again. 

Allowing ego and insecurity to dictate my time and actions and motivation. 

Chasing empty calories. The easy way. The way that creates a gap. A gap between where I am, the present moment and where I think I want to be. Then I live in that gap. The unknown, the emptiness. And I suffer. 

I doubt my writing will ever actually save someone. Doesn’t matter. 

I love it. Writing makes me better at life. And maybe it’s not writing itself, but more giving myself the gift to do what I love. 

Doing it, living it. Not living in a place of if/then. A place I don’t control. 

And those things I want. That I chase. That I think I need to be happy. Maybe I will get some of them. By doing what I love now. 

Or, and this may be even better, understanding I don’t even need them at all. 

Understanding that all I need is already in me. 

Pillars of my Life

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. -Henry David Thoreau

When everything has been burnt to the ground you find out who you are. You find out what you are capable of. When you find yourself buried in the ashes of what was only two options are available.

Stay in the burnt remains. Let them cover you, eventually smothering you, blinding you to all that is. You are stuck in the past. Your feet cemented in pain. Here you will stay. And here you will die. Death in this instance is no longer living life. Death befalls us all, some experience it while still alive.

Or you look at your feet, cemented in pain. You look at the burnt ashes of what was to see what truly remains. The beauty of life. Slowly, sometimes with great pain, you chip away at the pain, you feel the blood come back to your feet. You feel the first bit of freedom as you wiggle your toes.

And then, one day, you break free. You make the choice to let go of what was and embrace what is. The moment you do this is the moment you are transformed. You are no longer the person you were before everything burnt to the ground.

Whatever was burnt was what needed to be burned. To be cast away from your life. What remains can never be taken from you without your consent.

Adversity has a common thread for all of us. But what remains is different. We all experience adversity differently. What remained for me was what I lost but was never truly gone.

These are my pillars. These are the primary colors of my life.

Love. Freedom. Choice. Trust. Joy.

Without these, I cannot paint the masterpiece I want to paint. With them, I can paint anything I want. These colors make up the full spectrum of all the colors in the universe.

I lost these and my life was empty. I have found them, and in turn, myself. It is with these colors that I stand before my blank canvas. Brush in hand I can paint anything I want.

Adversity stretches the boundaries of who we are.

The expansion is painful. It stretches what we know to be true. It breaks preconceived notions about ourselves. In that breaking is pain. Pain at what we thought we knew. Freedom when we see what is true.

Some say when you come out of adversity you are forever changed. I agree. But we can choose to go back. What we choose to go back to, will never be the same. You cannot stand in the same river twice. But some try. And within that effort will lie suffering.

Anything that expands can contract. Physics. Plain and simple.

Allowing this contraction to occur is allowing fear to speak with a louder voice than freedom. All the noise, all the chatter. And fear is the voice that rises above.

How do we stop this? We push forward. We let go of the pain of the past, but hold on dearly to the lessons we learned. We know, we understand that within our new boundaries we will face pain. But we know we can meet the challenge. We learn to hunger for it.

But it is a practice. It must be nurtured. Cultivated.

I’ve seen the other side. And I want more. Why would I want to go back to what was?

Love. Freedom. Choice. Trust. Joy.

All their own pillar. Each capable of standing on its own. But when together, when all cylinders are firing, unstoppable.

They intertwine, they have synergy. And the energy that results is powerful. Free. Intense.

It is up to me to continue to harness this energy. Accept the gift life has given me.

Now.

Not later.

Now.

Keep the magic alive.

Writing for the One You Love

Note: I wrote this quickly and sent it to the woman I love. She liked it as is. Normally I stress over each sentence, editing and fixing. Trying to make it just right. Not this time. This is essentially what I sent to her, now being shared with you.

Hemingway said, “write for the one you love”.

It’s true.

He also said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Also true.

One of them is easier, not easy, but easier. The heart can take care of that. This makes the second part easier. And frightening. When you write with love, when you are connected to the most beautiful energy this life has to give us, it’s easier to bleed on the pages. And scary as hell to share.

I wrote something recently, A Wish for You, that was not only written for the one I love, but about the one I love.

The concept was easy. An experience I want her to have. The words flowed. It was an example of why I love to write. Laser focus over each sentence. What I was writing was a bit of a challenge for me, outside of what I would consider my writing comfort zone. And I loved it.

I would write it in my spare time, I would think about it when I was not writing it. My mind letting go of the crap and minutiae that so often clogs it. Focused on this piece. Focused on her.

This is the beauty of writing for me. I get this feeling when I write and when I come up with an idea for an invention, an app, anything that is new to my brain and releases a wave of energy. My synapses firing in rapid succession, and precision.

Maybe the ideas aren’t good. Doesn’t matter. That feeling of being in a flow state, unleashing the mind to do what I think it was meant to do.

The mind was not meant to fret over the past, have anxiety over the future. The mind was not made to focus on insecurities, fear, jealousy. The mind was created to create. Whatever it may be for each individual.

When I am in a state of flow I feel no insecurity, I feel no fear, no jealousy. No demons from the past or anxiety of the unknown future. Only that moment.

The mind becomes a frictionless machine, unencumbered by that which slows us down. So often not even realizing it’s slowing us down. Getting angry over what a politician said, involving ourselves in the lives of celebrities, and other people we don’t know.

A conversation with a coworker, family or friends that didn’t go as planned. Planning a conversation that we have no way of knowing what the other will say. Thinking of every rebuttal we can, but not realizing we are applying our perspective to another’s. So often shocked when the person says something we didn’t even think of.

Not understanding the opportunity this represents. We cannot control others, only ourselves. There are countless ways to view one thing.

A piece of sand is dirt to one, to another, it is a something that is billions of years old, and written within it is the language of the universe.

Wasted time. Wasted energy. And we don’t even know. Anger can feel good, it can make us feel alive. In turn, this appeases what we think is our need to be involved.

I realize when I am in a state of flow. Right now, for example, there is none of the crap that holds me back. A demonstration of how little importance those demons have. How easily they can fall away.

But always, for me at least, and I’m guessing I’m not alone:

The voice of doubt springs in.

Always seems too. What is that? Ego. The ego is afraid to be judged, fears being vulnerable. The ego has a noble goal, to protect us. It just goes about it the wrong way. In trying to protect us from some uncomfortableness, it also blocks the good.

The ego cannot see what is on the other side of the barrier. The ego is nearsighted. It’s seeing what is right in front of it. And so often what is right in front is too big, too daunting to even attempt going around.

So often we may know what’s on the other side, or the ego makes up what it thinks is on the other side. And then tells us we are not worthy of it. Who are we to go after it. Undeserving, not enough.

That’s where the process can get difficult, the voice of doubt doing what it does so well.

The voice of doubt and fear speaking a little louder by writing for and about the one I love. The ego injecting fear into the most important piece of the puzzle. Sharing. Hitting publish, hitting send. Fear of rejection, fear of being seen, of being vulnerable.

But when the love is pure, fear gets extinguished. Hit publish, hit send. Share it with her, share with everyone.

There is magic there, there is beauty there. Walking through to the other side is what love is about.

A Wish for You

She opens the car door gently and slides into the seat. The smell of leather, tobacco, and oil sit in the air. Hands on the wooden wheel she feels the history of thousands of miles course through her veins. The dashboard laid out before her. Black dials, white numbers. Purposeful and beautiful. The burled walnut as fresh as the day it was cut.

The dark blue paint hinting towards purple and black. The camel interior warm and inviting, each crack in the leather a story.

The sound of the ocean breaking on the shore. Seagulls dot the sky. The spring air is fresh, the ocean breeze caresses her hair. The sun, sitting high in the sky, glistening in her blond hair.

The moment envelopes her, warmth emanating from her heart. Without going anywhere she travels a great distance. A little girl, so full of life, dancing and dreaming. Growing up so far from this place. The distance, physically and mentally so vast, how did she get here?

The hunger to travel. The need. Adventures, experiences. Making love to life. Saying yes. Every choice a step, small, big, all of them a step. Sitting in this car, now, an unknown road before her. The Pacific her only marker.

Leaving safety, family, the comfort of language, a job that provided her with the lifestyle she had longed for. Boyfriends, lovers, love given and received, love lost. The journey of life and the heart.

Looking out at the ocean, the sun’s rays dancing on the water. She thinks of him. A man she never met, but who’s blood runs through hers. Pictures she’s seen, stories she’s been told. An adventurer, a badass. Sitting behind the wheel, a smile comes across her face. Her fingers grip a little tighter. She may not have known him, but his soul dances with hers. His hands guiding hers.

All the colors of life blending together in harmony. All of it creating more than the sum of its parts. Her smile widens. It’s the smile one smiles when you know you are exactly where you are meant to be.

A voice breaks the trance.

“You ready to do this?”

She leaves the ocean, only for a second to look at her. She’s grateful she’s here, to be a part of this, to make the adventure complete.

“Hell yes,” she replies, turning the key, a key that so many others have turned. The car too, having its own path. Every turn, every mile, every decision by every driver, creating this moment. The universe bringing it all together.

The engine sparks to life. The smell of gas and oil interwoven with the ocean air. Hand on the wooden gear shifter, foot on the clutch, she slips it into first. With a feeling that only a car from a certain time can give, she lifts the clutch and presses the gas.

The car leaves what was behind and heads toward an unknown future. The car doesn’t care. A car knows nothing of its past, or where it’s going. It goes where it’s pointed. A powerful machine, but without direction, its tires just spin. The driver in control of everything.

Not knowing the lefts and the rights, the ups, and the downs, only knowing that they will be there. And that they will be just fine. Worrying about impending bumps in the road is to miss this moment.

With this, she smiles at Anna as the speedometer moves up and to the right. Knowing this is how life is meant to be lived.

The Value of Rereading

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

Oscar Wilde

I have learned the value of rereading books. Books that touched me, books that moved me to action. Changed my perspective.

The books don’t change, obviously, but I have. Every day. The passage of time and how I spend that time molds me every day.

I reach back to those books, revisiting a friend,  I see something new that I didn’t see before. Reading with new eyes. I reach out because I’m looking for something. Maybe just a feeling or an answer that has been alluding me. And I find it in the pages of my old friends.  Or my old friends show me what’s already inside me.

When I first read a book, I see the words,  I comprehend them. But without certain experiences I don’t understand them.  Every experience, every moment brings me closer to the words on the pages.

A book can serve as a mirror. I see in the pages what is inside of me at that time. Without certain experiences, without the necessary time certain passages go unnoticed. Until such time as when I have what is needed to truly see what is being said.

I’m reading what I’m reading now for the third time. I was in need, feeling lost, crying on the floor. Feeling helpless to do anything. I reached out to my friend.

Halfway through and I know what to do. I’m not out of it yet. But I have a mentor, I have the path, and most importantly the desire to move from where I am.

One of my favorite authors, someone who’s work I go back to often, says we forget 99% of what we read within two days. Maybe he’s right. But seeds are planted. I may not be able to recite paragraphs, but the seeds are there. And when the time is right, combined with the act of doing, they push through the earth and grow.

Thank you to the authors of these books. Thank you for agonizing over each sentence. Thank you for creating something that I can go back to, whenever, and see something that was there all along for the first time.

One Year Ago…

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my release from Otisville Federal Prison. One year ago yesterday one chapter ended and another began.

I took the train to Katonah and had lunch with my dad and stepmom. Two of the many people that without their love and support I am not sure I could have made it through. We talked, we laughed. I watched as the train I had planned on taking back to the city passed by. Happy to know I had another hour to spend with them.

Returning to the city I met my friend in Union Square. Her friend was visiting from Russia. It was a pleasure to meet her. We took the L to Williamsburg, wanting to show her the Manhattan skyline. Taking advantage of the opportunity to be a tourist in our own city. We stood at the waters edge, the city lights reflected in the current.  The wind was cold and steady. The skyline was beautiful. Always is. I’ve seen it many times, never has it ceased to amaze me.

Walking the streets feeling the aliveness of the city, the energy that sits in the air. We went to a restaurant, wine and food flowed. We discussed innovation, creativity, the silly and the absurd.

The end of the night came and we parted ways. Tired, and with a pleasant buzz I sat on my couch. Athena sitting next to me. I watched two episodes of South Park. I laughed out loud and could feel the power of laughter flowing through my body.

The chapter that closed cannot hurt me without my consent. It still does, it’s a process of healing. The chapter may be closed, but the lessons remain. And I am grateful for them.

Going to bed, grateful for this life. Grateful for my family and my friends. Grateful for freedom. Without which none of this was possible.  I was not celebrating an anniversary. I was celebrating life and freedom. Doing my best to write the best next chapter I can.

Perfectionism

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

Perfectionism. An insidious condition. One built on fear, fear hiding behind what many would consider a positive attribute. But its not. It is fear. Fear of not being enough. Right now. The man writing these words. Concerned with outwardly appearances, making everything shiny and bright. A magicians slight of hand taking your eyes away from the truth.

That there is just a scared, worried he is not enough man at the other end of it.

When I clean my house, I make it shine, smell good. A place for everything and everything in its place. The superficial taken care of. The illusion set. When I get ready to leave my house, my hair perfectly parted, my clothes wrinkle free, my shoes shined. The outside looking as perfect as I can make it.

If one were to open the closets in my home they would see a haphazard piling of crap. Stacked high and messy. Open my drawers and they are a mess. Make the outside pretty.

If you were to open me up, it would be the same. Crap piled high. Only the crap is fear, unworthiness, insecurity, and not being enough. All of it tucked neatly away. Hiding behind a smile and nice clothes.

We all put on masks, everybody content to hide behind them. Vulnerability frowned up.

It is rare that we remove the mask.  There are only a few people in our lives that we do this with.  And those that we do are the ones that truly love us. As we are, and it feels good.  To be unburdened by the weight of perfectionism.  But somehow we miss that.  We don’t see or recognize how good we feel when we are our true selves. When we pull the mask off and just are. We feel great when we are doing it, but the second that person who we can do this with is gone the mask goes back on. The beauty of being myself gone, the weight of perfectionism placed back on the shoulders.

Perfectionism is confining, restrictive. In seeking perfection I shrink my world. Imaginary boundaries placed around me, shrinking over time, becoming more and more restrictive. A set of beliefs growing, and my world as a result, shrinking. A terrible paradox.

Perfectionism is chasing the horizon. It can never be reached. The carrot on the stick, always in view, always out of reach. And the view I have is false. It is an idea and a belief that my mind has manufactured to give me something to work towards, and in turn, a purpose. All of this set on a false set of beliefs and something that can never be achieved.

When I fall short of my essentially impossible requirement of perfection I whip myself.  We all do.

I suck. I am bad. I do not deserve the love of others, the kindness of people, the opportunities given or earned.

All because I don’t reach an impossible standard. I set myself up for failure. By setting an unreachable goal I keep my dreams from becoming a reality. 
Why would I send myself into an unattainable situation? Time and time again. 
Because the mind needs something to achieve, something in the future, a place that is not here. Not this present moment.
Would I do this to someone I love?  Could I look them in the face and send them to the wolves?
No. Never.
And yet, I do this to myself. So, I guess I just answered a question I should have asked myself a long time ago.
But it would not have dawned on me to ask this. I would have, and still do, think striving for perfectionism is showing love to myself. Trying so hard to do the best, to make everything as perfect as possible was a demonstration of the love I carry for myself.
Never realizing, until this moment, how false that is. How emotionally abusive to myself I had been.
Seeking and striving for perfectionism has nothing to do with inner growth. Much like my watches and the wine I would order, they were accessories worn on the outside. To impress others and shield what was behind it.
The seeking of perfection is not an internal growth, it as an external shield. A shiny cloak of armor.
Seeking perfection is the easy way out. It doesn’t seem that way when you are doing it. It feels hard, the striving, the work, the pressure.  But it’s the easy way out.
Looking within, knowing with all of your heart that you are enough, loving yourself, knowing you are worthy of the things in life you experience. Showing your flaws, admitting you don’t know, that you were wrong. That I was wrong. 
This is where the real work is.  And this is where true growth is.  Perfectionism is cowardly. It is fear, just wrapped in another package.
What could I be so scared of?
Waiting for the ideal time, the ideal situation, the perfect idea, the perfect moment. Waiting for all these is waiting behind the curtain of fear. Pointing to a wonderful excuse of just striving to be the best. Very hard to argue when someone is trying their best.
But the best of what? At what cost to other parts of me?
I want to clean my personal closets. I want take all that I have thrown in there and pour it out. My gut tells me that when I do, whatever fear of embarrassment I may have, will be unfounded. 
And the power that was given to all that I stored in there will dissipate. No longer hidden and held onto it will die. Being out in the open will kill it.
Power is given to that which I fear by feeling the need to hide it. In the closet, in the dark, it will grow. Like a fungus.   
I am going to clean my closets out. Throw my trash out in the street.  My friends will see it, the neighbors will see it. And it doesn’t matter. We all share the same crap, just packaged differently for each of us.
I want to do this, I write it now with conviction. But, talk is cheap. Action is real. This is up to me to move past words and into doing. 
Perfectionism is what held me back from publishing the post prior to this one; Choices. I was trying, so hard, to make it perfect. I had this thought in my head of what it should be, the idea it was meant to convey. I could not write what I wanted to write, or what I thought I wanted to write was just not possible within my current set of writing skills.
In regards to the closets in my house, I am leaving them just the way they are.  Be careful if you open them.
PS- I could not for the life of me get this post to format correctly. So here it is.  Baby step towards moving past perfection. 

 

Choices

I started this post around four months ago. Edit after edit. I just couldn’t get the words and sentiment to sit right. I abandoned it in July. Looking at it now I’m not sure what my problem with it was. That’s not true. I know exactly what the problem was and is. I have another post in the works that will address that.

Last edited 7/23/16

“Believe in the integrity and value of the jagged path. We don’t always do the right thing on our way to rightness.”  Cheryl Strayed

Each morning is a rebirth. A new day. Yesterday is a memory. With each morning comes an opportunity.  An opportunity to do something different, to try something new, to help someone in need, to help ourselves. To show compassion, empathy and love. To feel joy, excitement and happiness.

To truly live life and to do the best we can.  But too often we skip these opportunities.

Life unfolds with or without us. It is our choice whether or not we participate. And choosing not to participate is still a choice. And sometimes what we think is participating really isn’t. When we set our life to automatic and do what it is we always do. When we set our life to automatic we put blinders on our eyes and miss all the opportunities and beauty that surrounds us.  We set our journey of life to auto-pilot.

Doing what we normally do and getting in return what we normally get.

Often time surprised and upset when we don’t get more.

Life can be hard. Sometimes just going along for the ride is enough. Sometimes this seems like all we can do. And sometimes we feel as though we are not entitled to anything more.

An automatic life is easy, it is the path of least resistance and the path we take when we wake up and the day is already insurmountable. When we’re tired or have already made too many decisions for that day and we don’t want to make any more.

It is an interesting paradox and difficult to argue with.  When life turns out OK, doing what we always do. How can one argue with that?   It may not be spectacular like we dream of, but its OK.

And that is enough.

But is it?  Suffering lives in the gap of what we dream of and what is our current reality.

When we long for more and don’t appreciate what we have.

We all have dreams, we all long for more. But there is a massive disparity between what we dream and what we do to achieve those dreams.

For me worthiness and entitlement factor into the equation. Am I worthy of pursuing my dreams, let alone achieving them? Am I entitled to happiness with all that I have done? How much penance do I have to pay to know I am worthy?

When will I forgive myself and know that I can achieve anything I want?

The universe has been so generous with me. Providing me with so many opportunities. I don’t take for granted all that the universe has done for me, I understand my need to pay it back. But I question my worthiness in receiving it.

When will I understand that the universe is not just handing me an opportunity for the hell of it?  The universe does not work that way.  The opportunities that are provided to me are the result of what I do each and every day. I know this and yet still feel so unworthy.

I feel lost when it comes to what I want, what I dream of. I feel like I know, but it so easy to lose track of. And in reality, it’s not that I lose track, or the excuse that I use to that I am too busy.

I’m just scared. Plain and simple.

I know the core outline of what I want to do. I know how to tell other people how to start and that they can succeed.

When it comes to my own dreams I become oblivious to the next step, or the next step appears so large I don’t even know how to take it.

Of course I know how to, but fear is big scary monster that only allows me to get so far. Sometimes I make it further than other times. Sometimes barely out of the gate before I call the idea or inspiration stupid, not going to work, out of my ability.

I do things I enjoy, I try to take care of different parts of my life to keep in balance. But I skip the biggest one. A gaping hole inside of me. One that I fill with an automatic life sprinkled with activities I enjoy.

At what point do I quit stop waiting for the perfect time, the perfect idea, for Mars to be in the correct spot in the sky to take action and move forward?

It is travelling a great distance only to realize there is a mountain ahead of you. And instead of thinking what is on the other side all you see is the mountain face. The steep cliffs, jagged edges and icy crevices. The insurmountable.

So it is with everyday that I wake up and have a choice.  To keep doing the things I enjoy doing. Writing, reading, exercising, meditating. But on top of that I have to work for more.

To fill the hole inside of me.

Desire fills you up, not pursuing desire empties you.

I’m good at identifying the issue. And writing about it here. But the next step, the big one, the important one requires me to actually do something.

How badly do I want it?

I Can

“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.”  Fred De Witt Van Amburgh

I felt a wave  of gratitude and stopped what I was doing.  I took out my phone and wrote what I was thinking, why I felt this way, what I was grateful for. A grounding practice I am working on to maintain presence. To escape the shadow of the past and future and be present. It is hard to be haunted by thoughts when you are expressing gratitude. Impossible really.

There was a theme that was running through what I was grateful for. Two simple words that brought me much joy.

I can.

One syllable, simple yet elegant words.  The power that they contain is tremendous.

I can means choice. I can is in of itself a positive affirmation. Empowerment.

Take away a mans freedom and you take away so much of his choice. His ability to say, “I can…”. You do not realize how important this is until it is gone.

I’ve done so much I’ve enjoyed since my release. The living of life in as wide a fashion as possible. Some experiences minor, things in the past I took for granted. Experiences seen through a different lens. One of gratitude, a sense of what makes life life. Presence in the moment. The knowledge of what a miracle each moment is.

Having lunch with a friend, because I can. Going to a museum, because I can. Hitting golf balls at Chelsea Piers, because I can.  Writing because I can.

So what will I do tomorrow and the day after, not sure. And it doesn’t necessarily matter. What matters is I can.

I can has two different connotations. One in which I literally can. A physical connotation of doing something. The other is more spiritual. More emotional and with that a broad, hard to pinpoint definition. But both have another piece of the equation. Something that truly bring the magic out. Not only, I can, but I will, and I did.

Action. Doing.

This journey has no end, no destination. My life will evolve. What was is done. Written in the pages of the universe, existing only within my mind. What is to come is unknown and often time frightening. Fear for the sake of fear.  Thankfully within that fear lies excitement.  Experiences and people will come and go, life will change.

But I hope this mentality to be wowed by two simple words never escapes me.

Fill the Glass from Within

I wore my friends Panerai the other day. A ten thousand dollar watch similar to what I used to own. I saw it on his wrist, my eyes instantly drawn to it. A bird to a shiny object.  I put it on and instantly felt good. It felt right. I felt complete, as though something was missing and this watch was the final piece of the puzzle.

Funny, I didn’t feel incomplete before that moment. But apparently I was and this watch was the missing piece to my feeling whole. I wore it and it felt good. A giant watch that dwarfs my small wrist, but it melted into my being as if it had always been there. It felt natural and right.  I felt protected behind this watch, I had a shield from having to be the real me. It didn’t matter that it was not mine, it just felt right.  Here I was, a now complete human. With an identity and a new found confidence.

And then, as I was admiring it on my wrist, lost in its “what it is” did I realize what I was doing. What this was. This watch was an empty calorie substitute for all that I have been working on. It was the physical embodiment of external happiness. It became glaringly obvious to me as it sat on my wrist, not a part of my body, but truly something existing outside my body.  Not a part of who I am, but how quickly I made it part of me.

It couldn’t have been a better example of an external circumstance impacting my internal being.

My egoic mind desperately seeks an identity and this watch, as the ones I owned in the past, the cars I drove and the restaurants I frequented, easily and happily provided.

So easy, throw something on and feel complete. Why do all the work internally when something like a watch can fill the void and provide what it is that a part of me seeks? I would like to say I took the watch off in disgust and vowed to work on my internal happiness, a lesson learned. I didn’t. I liked wearing it.

But what I did do, was understand the difference between external and internal happiness. This could not have been a better example. I am not going to beat myself up for enjoying having this watch on my wrist.

Maybe one day I will once again own one. But I will not until I fill the void that is within me by doing the work that is required.  I would like to think the difference of owning one in the future will only come when I feel whole from the inside, when I can truly say I am at peace and accept myself as I am.

Going out and making enough to pay for one of these is easy as compared to the work to find my real sense of self and building internal happiness. Filling the glass from the inside. That takes time.

It’s easy to understand why I fell into the materialistic world to create who I was. How long does it take to put on a watch? Two seconds? Two seconds to feeling complete. Hiding behind a thing, rather than opening up what is inside and being vulnerable. Being real.

How long does it take to fill oneself from the inside, to forgive oneself, to love oneself, to know that I am enough as is? I don’t think there is a time that could be applied to that.  It is not measured by, ironically, the ticking of seconds on a watch. And maybe that is where it is easy to stop. With nothing tangible to grab onto its easy to quit.

But that is when the real work begins. That is where the fruits of labor come into being. This is where the magic happens. Understanding, wrapping my thoughts around something not tangible as a means of happiness. Taking the time, and being present enough to know, the very act of writing this gives me pleasure and fills more of me than the watch did.

Instant gratification is easy. Empty calories, no substance, leaving me hungry for more the second the novelty wears off and the next rung on the ladder becomes the goal. Living in the gap of not appreciating what I have and wanting what I don’t. Being in two different places, and as such, being torn in two. That is where suffering lives. The gap between the present and the future.

Its a process. I hope I remember I am more than what I wear on my wrist or what I drive.  I hope I remember to choose the hard path instead of the easy one.

It will be worth it.

Craig