focusing on living

I’m going to cleverly pretend I haven’t skipped a month’s worth of blogs and instead jump right into it: we need to focus.

I don’t mean focus on a task, although surely that’s a real possibility. Instead, what I mean is focusing on existence. Focusing on knowing who we are and what we can do. Focusing on living, on making the most out of every day.

The truth is, I love movies. I love TV shows, Youtube videos, and generally wasting my life watching ridiculous things that make me forget my worries. Media is a more successful numbing device than most drugs because it’s socially acceptable.

Media, however, is the sort of thing whose excess can drain us of all our will. It’s not just that though. Everyone has that thing that wastes time. They have that area of their life where it’s easier to just go along with it than force yourself to stop and do something that you’d enjoy better.

You know what makes an artist good? Practice. Creative talents may limit the where and what of an artists’ content, but some good ol’ practice is the primary thing that makes them good at what they do. Cooking is the same thing. Exercising is the same thing. The bottom line is if you want to do something, you need to start doing it.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t rest. Of course, we should! We need to be still more. We need to drink coffee or tea in the morning and just let time itself be. We need more sleep, more downtime with people we care about, and plenty of other things. Absolutely we need to relax. My chief argument is with the habit we have of using activities as escapism, rather than approaching life as something we are living.

Maybe we feel controlled and limited by the things around us. That’s because we are. We limit others, and others limit us. When we exist in a social world, our lives end up entangling with each other, and it becomes harder to separate the individual from the group. Having that social trust and interaction is precious, above the individual at times.

Yet we also need agency. Your life is your own. We can give out our love, our time, our being to other people, but the only person who experiences what this world has to offer is you.  Your actions, whatever they end up being, fall on you.

So focus! Focus on existing, on asking yourself why are you doing what you are doing, and if it’s the right thing to do. Check in with yourself, we only have so much life to live.

End of hiatus and some comments on our natural human frustrations

It’s been a while, and the coming months will likely be trying, but the importance of trying cannot be understated. In both facing our fears and putting forth our best efforts, we should care. Caring is one of the most difficult things we can do, and it gets harder the more things we experience. The more we know, the more we realize how our compassion and vulnerability can be used against us, or sometimes worse, be ignored altogether.

In many ways, the story of human life is one that longs for connection and becomes frustrated in the journey again and again. Babies cry, and almost immediately we begin training them to shut up. It’s necessary. We have to be individuals that are self-supporting, but we can’t exist too self-supporting or else we become miserable and alone. If we are too dependent, on the other hand, we become aware of the burden of our existence on others. We are each like parts on a bike; the grimy handlebars wish to be the free-wheeling tires, the exhausted tires long to be the lofty seat, the squashed seat desires the control of the handlebars and the spokes just pray they will be able to hold everything together.

When we are unhappy, it can infect everything. A neutral or happy past experience can be twisted into a negative narrative. Being sad gives us this hungry drive to make everything else in our life fit that mood, but it can’t, not completely. No matter how insatiably wretched we may feel, we haven’t spent every waking moment from the womb feeling that way.  We’re human. We have complex emotion, often more complex than we want. Caring, putting ourselves out there, all of these things are so important and can become staggeringly difficult. Yet, just as we realize how dismal we are in the moment, we can trust in our own fickle nature. We will find beautiful things we enjoy, whether we are looking for them or not. Things hurt. Let yourself be angry, let yourself be sad, but also don’t forget to let yourself be happy too.