Monday, June 22, 2015

The Grudge

I've never seen 'The Grudge', and I have no idea what the plot is, but just off-the-bat, I think the concept is sound. Someone has a grudge. Someone dies. The end.

No, maybe not. I do like something about where I am going with this, though. The idea that grudges can be harmful if left ignored. The big zen idea is that grudges are bad, yes? That staying angry at someone will stress you out and hurt you. That's fair. Sure, that seems to make sense. I just want to know, where does the hurt and anger go? As much as you can forgive someone, or maybe "forget" someone's wrongdoings, are you ever really at peace with their actions? Are you really such an emotionless, careless monk? If someone does something unkind to you, do you think so little of yourself that you don't think you have the right to be upset at them?

Hear me out, now.

What if you allowed yourself to hold some resentment for them? You let them know, you reacted appropriately and safely, and then you carried on with your life knowing what they did. It's not an active anger, it's a dormant anger that is soothed more and more over time. Just like any emotion. We experience sadness due to loss, and we're told that it's okay to cry and be sad. Over time, though, that sadness eases and you function like a human being and you're always aware of the pain, and it rises up again now and then, but overall, you've come to terms with it.

Why does this logic not apply to anger? Why must we be pure and cleansed of all negative feelings towards others? People can be awful, why is it acceptable for them to be awful without consequences? Does that not just open the door for them and others to repeat these actions? And, once again I ask, where does the anger go? Doesn't it turn inward a lot of the time? I can't imagine that this is healthier. Anger at another person harming you is natural. Since man came to be, there was anger. No matter who you are, you experience it sometimes. Yet, it's shameful and wrong to feel this way? It's so bad that you have to deny it. Emotions don't just disappear into nothingness. If that anger sits in you untouched, unrecognized, it festers and molds and turns into regret, self-loathing, and general distaste for humanity.

Society can't be afraid of anger. It's not just for psychos and terrorists. Anger is a natural emotion and fighting it back, like any other emotion, is going to cause you physical and mental health trauma overtime. Punch a wall, kick a baby, heck, if you can do it with some class, do something a little spiteful if it'll feel good. Confusing hatred and harm with some rational negativity is a hazard to your well-being. Don't just let it eat away at you. Oh, and, don't actually kick a baby. That's a biggie.

Just, please, stop acting as if you're not human. As if you are totally cool with being beaten down and treated like garbage. Stop being a monk, because monks are useless. They never help anyone or accomplish anything. They never live, they're just in a constant state of death. You have the FORTUNE of feeling anger. Live it, love it, and embrace it, before your body forgets how!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Dad and I aren't Beautiful

My father found out he was going to have a daughter when he was a 40-something year old, 20-something years ago. I've never asked him how he felt about learning this. I never asked him about our relationship as daughter and father. I know he was at work a lot. To this day, most of the time he's at work or working. When he wasn't working, there was a lot of arguing in the house. Who knows what it was about; money, school, work, life... the normal things.

I am sure he hugged and kissed me enough, but I've never asked. I rarely think about it. The first time I remember him hugging me, though, was when I was 18. We had an argument, and due to hypoglycemia, I blew things out of proportion. We were in the car driving somewhere. He stopped the car on the side of the road, got into the backseat, and hugged me. Never before had I seen my father sit in the backseat of the car. He was ALWAYS the driver. We sat there and he hugged me for about 10 or 15 minutes. Honestly, what he said didn't resonate with me. I have no idea what sorts of words of encouragement and sentimentality he shared with me that day. All I remember is that hug, and how nice it felt.

Not being an emotionally-open person, him or I, we don't push those sorts of things. It is just how we are, I guess. Physical expressions of love, along with verbal ones, were always pretty limited. That's what we like, that's what we're comfortable with. Even seeing my father kiss my mother in public once or twice a year makes me squirm, still. I should think, "Aw, they're still in love after 35 years." Alas, I just can't get over the fact that I find saliva exchange of any sort to be repugnant. Necessary at times, but still germ-filled and icky.

My father enjoys a few things. Not too much, as he is a traditional curmudgeon, by all means. I know nearly everything that makes him genuinely smile, though. I could probably list them just using two hands. As for things he couldn't live without, I could list those on one hand and have a couple spare fingers. Let's simplify this, though... He loves animals, cars, music, baked goods, law, medicine, expensive things, and his family.

What inspired me to write today was one detail about my father's love for things....

When he looks at our dog (a big, fluffy Australian Shepherd) he says she is beautiful. When he shows off his black corvette with red leather interior, he goes on about how beautiful the car is. So on, so on.... The one thing my father has never said to me is that I am beautiful.

Thank God.

My father doesn't think of me as a car or as a dog. He doesn't think I need to be told I'm beautiful every time I wear a dress or put on some makeup or get my hair done. I'm his daughter! No matter what I'm wearing, I'm good! It is seldom that he compliments me at all, but the last thing I need is for my father to tell me he approves of my appearance more so than usual. What good does that do me? However, the other day, after I gave my brother a handwritten card for his wedding, my father said, "Hold onto that, it'll be worth something someday considering how well she writes."

At that moment, I nearly cried. That compliment, along with any time he says I'm intelligent or that I'll be successful, is irreplaceable. Those moments cannot be erased from my mind. They help me believe in myself and what I am capable of accomplishing. They inspire me each and everyday, even when things seem impossible. Not because "my daddy" said I could do things, but because a man I highly respect and admire believes in me. Not in any light manner, but deep to the core of his being, he knows I'll be okay. Which lets me know that, yeah... I will be okay.

My father isn't trying to be anyone else. He's not trying to fill a role or say what a father is supposed to tell his daughter. He knows I want to be intelligent, I want to be respected, I want to be viewed as a blossoming human being in society who is going to not only be good, but be GREAT. That is what his message is to me whenever he gets the chance. He reminds me what really matters. Not to get caught up in superfluous physical traits and not even to stress out about minor obstacles and challenges right now. He keeps me running and chasing what matters. We don't need to constantly call each other and recite pre-written vows of love. I just get him and he just gets me.
That's all we need.

Excitement vs. Commitment

You know those people: They spent the past 10 years of their lives studying, reading, thinking, researching, testing, analyzing, writing, listening, and learning. Now some of those people have PhDs, medical degrees, law degrees, so on.... That is the life they chose. They might make good money, real good money. They might have the dream home, dream car, a wonderful spouse, and everything you've always been told was the solution to unhappiness. Of course, they may also have zip. It is possible that after spending lots of time and money on schooling, they ended up with a hopeless job with no future prospects or joy left in them.

You probably also know those other people: The ones who dropped out of college or high school or disappeared for several years, who traveled, created, explored, read, saw, did, felt, smelled, tasted, tried, went, and learned. Many of these people ended up photographers, writers, explorers... and some ended up homeless, or close enough to it.

What is success, though? Who holds the secret to being the "successful human being"? The obvious and easy answer is that every person has a different take on what success is. We all know there is an objective take on the word, though. Then, are you a failure if you do not accomplish those things, in the eyes of society? Every culture views it differently, as well. A lawyer in one country is as unimpressive as a shepherd in other countries. One culture's medicine man is as highly-revered as another culture's surgeon.

The hardest thing of all, though, is knowing what success means to YOU. Not to those around you and to your unconscious traditional standards. That is what we are used to considering. This is different. This is a question of where your life will lead that will make your efforts worth the energy, and every moment that you worked towards your goal still a worthwhile investment of time, effort, sweat, and tears.

However, when you have been fed a certain belief, it can be difficult to find your own success. Whether it means moving out of the farm life and becoming a construction worker or leaving the big business and becoming a henna artist in another country. Either of these can seem like a huge mistake. That is, if you get caught up in the ideals of others.

It is possible to be so caught up in one's guitar-playing that you never get to graduate school. Still, the experiences and all you learned and did because of this one skill may have been worth it. Others choose to regret these opportunities and times in life. It is not wrong. I don't believe that regret is bad. I believe denying what you truly seek is wrong. To an extent. Sometimes working hard at something you're uncertain of can be the road to something better. That may be where you find your success. Or, that it was all a waste of time.

This is a philosophical conundrum with no answer, no solution, no perfect or correct response. It's simply a matter of giving yourself the moment or moment and a half to recognize what your priority is. Not only today or tomorrow, but what is most likely going to make you proud 20, 30, 40 years down the road. You'll get there, and there's no reason not to work up to a good point starting now.

The part of it that we lose focus of is that it's one life. An entire existence, but simply one of billions. You and only you are living it and after you're dead, you made that life either extraordinary or you made it bland. There is no better, no worse, there is simply a life. While you're living it, you have every right and should feel nearly complete power over its twists and turns. I am simply curious to know what happens when you take those reigns.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


I know I've written about my stomach issues before, but since I am currently dealing with them, I felt inspired to write about another aspect of this horrible syndrome. The hard part is explaining it to people. Ya know, the social aspect. It's not a pretty issue. Most aren't, but if you have throat or eye or chest problems, it might not be too difficult telling other people, but telling others that your IBS is acting up can be difficult.
This is difficult because 1. Just saying IBS is hard enough, explaining it is even worse. 2. People take everything personally, they assume you're lying. 3. They don't understand the seriousness of it, and assume you're being dramatic.
Since I'm not sure what you call someone who has IBS, I will just call us BSers.

Sometimes BSers have to cancel plans or avoid planning ahead because... well, bathrooms aren't always available. If they are, no one wants to spend the entire evening in the bathroom while your friend is outside either having fun or judging you. And, yep, sometimes BSers drink alcohol despite their issue, but a lot of the time, it's not worth the agony just to have a few drinks with you.

Sometimes BSers have to miss school or work because... same reason, along with the fact that like any pain, having intense stomach cramps can really make you grumpy and exhausted and make it hard to focus.

And, whether you knew it or not, IBS pains are extremely painful. It can ruin sleep, fun, and nearly any other activity. It really affects every part of one's life during a bad flare-up. Unlike worse diseases, IBS doesn't really have a treatment. From my experience, all doctors do is shrug it off and tell you not to drink caffeine or alcohol, not to eat big meals or chocolate, not to blah or blah... and, none of it helps. At all. So, why bother skipping out on the good things? Not that it's not worth trying and seeing if anything changes over a couple months, but for most people, being shrugged off by the doctor and then nothing improving is a really disheartening experience. The message is that nothing will ever change. Every meal you eat is a potential death trap of complete stomach disarray.

Sympathy is not the goal, as that won't make it better. A little empathy and understanding is what the world is lacking. Like many diseases, disorders, and syndromes, there's not enough knowledge, research, or concern.

I wish I could say it's not as unpleasant as I am presenting it to be, but it really is debilitating. For something so common and so horrible, the lack of empathy for those who suffer is unfortunate. Mostly because people are scared to talk about it, to explain their symptoms. Most BSers just unhappily go along, trying to make things work.

Dear body, give me my life back!