invisible boxes.

I started thinking the other day about the differences in actions between people, like why some people simply don’t give a fuck and others live their life with so many personal restrictions. I think some people place these invisible boxes around their lives. They predetermine what they are allowed to feel, believe, think, do, make, and see. I, for the life of me, though, can’t figure out where we get these boxes. Part of it might be social norms, maybe some actions and words just wouldn’t be deemed appropriate in the eyes of others. Or maybe we feel that we’re not good enough. We hesitate to create because we think our art won’t be good enough or we won’t sing because we think we won’t sound ideal. But in the end, we create these boxes. We place restrictions which then cause us to make adjustments to ourselves. We might feel a certain way or be introduced to a new though that might lie outside of our box. When this happens we get scared and pull our thoughts, actions, and words back inwards toward the inside of our box. Maybe some boxes are there for a reason, like we might have to act a certain way in certain situations in order to succeed or just to protect our own safety. Other boxes were put in place unnecessarily.

But imagine if we lived outside of these boxes just once. What if we let ourselves feel…everything. What if we were unwaveringly honest about everything. What we wanted, what we dreamed of, what we feel, and what our fears are. I think we don’t give life enough credit. It has so much to offer, and it might not all be sunny and breathtaking but you’re capable of living one-hundred percent everyday. We don’t though. That might sound sickeningly optimistic and if I’m not lying, it is. I don’t see why we don’t take advantage of as much as we can though. I don’t even mean it in the ‘carpe diem’ type of way because I also understand that there are days meant for waking up late and doing nothing but even then let yourself relax on those days, and completely  feel the enjoyment of doing nothing without the fear of being unproductive.

So why do we hold back? It’s the boxes. So if you’re pissed, you’re allowed to be upset. If you’re sad, you’re allowed to cry. If you like the music, get up and dance. Appreciate nature for all that it is, which is a beautiful world filled with flaws that make it perfect. But most of all, in every way, don’t be afraid to let yourself wander outside of your box. Accept the fact that there might be something to do or think that you’ve never  considered before, and it might be magnificent. Sometimes I think the reason some people never leave their box is because they don’t think or at least want to accept that there is a world outside of their box. I’m telling you that there is. So go find it.

 

“Make good art and fantastic mistakes.”

 

adventure awaits.

Unfortunately for us, the most common question a stranger will inquire about us is “What do you do for a living?/What are you studying?” (if you’re a student). Why is this unfortunate? Because it indirectly means they’re judging you. Even with the most kind and naive intentions, this question is forming the basis of other’s opinion about you. Other than your name, it is what people associate you by. However, I could care less about what someone does for a living, I want to know their passions, which might be what they do for a living, but it might not be. I’m curious about what makes their heart beat fast and what they could talk for hours about without taking a breath. Anyway, what’s more important to me is where you’ve been and what you’ve seen. Your adventures. Your experiences are far more valuable than money. So, if you want to have adventures, let me explain some basic rules.

  1. Having adventures does not mean you have to travel somewhere far away.                         …Or actually travel at all. Although at some point in your life you should travel far, not all your adventures have to be somewhere on the other side of the world. To me, adventures can be discovering something that has be right in front of your eyes, just looking at it in a new way.
  2.  Don’t go to see something specific, go and discover and look beyond what you’re expecting.                                                                                                                                                   Don’t go to see, go AND see. Often when we have plans to travel, we also have expectations. Expectations and planning can give us a basis for what our adventure will entail, but don’t make an itinerary. Adventuring involves exploring, trying new things, and looking beyond what you’re expecting to see to find the extraordinary.
  3.  Don’t limit yourself.                                                                                                                       The point of adventuring is going beyond what you would experience in a normal day. So don’t apply any limitations. Try things that scare you. Try things that put you out of your comfort zone. More often than not, you’ll probably surprise yourself with your ability to learn a new skill or do something you’ve never done before.
  4. Don’t go with predetermined expectations.                                                                        There is no possible way to expect or predict what you will see and discover, the magnitude is unfathomable until you experience it in real life. So don’t even bother coming with prepared itineraries or images of where you’re going. The fact is that your plans will change. It is inevitable. They an change for a multitude of reasons, most of which are out of your control. So instead of setting your minute-to-minute plans up for failure, don’t make any, especially if your one of those people that gets upset when things don’t go according to plan.
  5. You can’t plan fun.                                                                                                                               It is true. Enter each new opportunity with an open mind, even if it seems like something you normally wouldn’t do, it might be really fun. It might also suck but you will never know unless you embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Some of the most fun you’ll have might be not really doing anything at all but simply having a mini adventure with awesome people that make you laugh.
  6. Do something you’ve never done before.                                                                                 The key to a fulfilled life, at least in my opinion, is having a balance between change and routine. When you’re adventuring, embrace change. Throw your routine out the window for  at least a few hours. Try living like someone else. Or try a new flavor of ice cream (because, let’s be honest, there’s not a bad one). Learn a new language, or at least a few words. Try painting. And if you’re already a painter, try a new medium. Listen to a band you’ve never heard before, preferably one that isn’t widely known. Adventure can be anything, but once it becomes a new norm for you, find something else new to try.
  7. See old things in a new way.                                                                                                             So maybe you’re in desperate need of an adventure but don’t have the opportunity to even leave your house. Fear not! One of the most important aspects of adventuring is clearing your mind of the preconceived and opening doors to new ways of thought. If you’re stuck at home, look out your window. I bet there are things you’ve looked at a million times but have never seen. Take some time to notice what is around you. The sad part about life is that beautiful things happen all around us, natural phenomena so perfect and extraordinary that it takes your breath away. These things will continue to happen whether your  notice them or not. They are always happening at a constant pace and they don’t stop if you’re too busy to notice them. Maybe wake up a little earlier to watch the sun rise. Or take a moment and just watch as it’s raining. Listen to the birds chirp (you’ll miss them when they’re gone for the winter).

The recipe for adventure can be as simple or as complex as you can make it. And I urge you to have adventures, both big and small. Never let a busy and monotonous schedule keep you trapped inside a cage from which you feel you cannot escape. The hope is that we have the power to choose our own adventures. So, go!

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time your spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

circumstantial happiness.

As hard as it can be sometimes, you have to find happiness in this moment right now. Too often, we depend on circumstances, or more potential circumstances to make us happy. It is important to set goals, even little goals, but there is a difference between having goals and creating an internal list that results in perpetual dissatisfaction.

Even if you want to get better or you are ashamed of where you’re at, you have to realize that there is something, most of the time many things, that are going right. The truth is  when you make a list of things that will make you happy, you’re essentially also deciding that you’re not happy right now.

“Realize you can be happy this moment for no reason. Otherwise, you eternally depend on conditions for happiness. Unconscious of this moment, you remain a victim of circumstances.”

Even when you wake up to your alarm, not even close to being fully rested, when yesterdays problems rush back into your mind only this time they are accompanied by the problems of today too, the only thing pulling your body out of bed is the fact that you have to be somewhere soon, and when you feel far away from happiness. Those are your circumstances now. And you will likely have different circumstances in the future. But your happiness doesn’t have to depend on your circumstances. This is a choice though. And many people chose future happiness over present happiness. Happiness actually doesn’t depend on circumstances, it is  state of mind. Being happy now can actually give you more motivation to continue striving towards making improvements in the future.

everyday phenomena.

I’m just going to write. Because lately I’ve been struggling with creating a post that I feel is worthy of posting.

As humans, I think sometimes, we feel eternally unsatisfied. There is always something else that we want. We aren’t happy with the time it is right now, we wish we were somewhere else. We aren’t happy with the amount of money we have or even the weather outside. We follow a pattern that pays no attention to the phenomena that happens everyday. We don’t see it. We expect so much, but yet don’t really appreciate it once it is here. I was thinking the other day about how our brains work. I was sitting in my biology class and for a brief moment, I stopped furiously jotting down notes and I thought this is actually fucking miraculous. Somehow inside our skull, all that we know, all that we remember, and all that makes us who we are sits inside of there. Our brains make the rest of our entire body move and work without even a conscious thought. There are a million neurons inside of our brains translating electrical impulses into actions, thoughts, and feelings.

Sorry for that mildly scientific interruption…

Most of the time though, we don’t even realize this is happening. I don’t think that many of us wake up and think about how great it is that our heart is beating again today or that we are able to move and think.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post but I guess what I’m saying is that it’s kind of humbling to think about how amazing we are, even when aren’t trying to be amazing, even when we’re just being us.

what to do when you’re not saving the world.

I believe in moments. I’m a person who fears monotony and I believe that it is in those little, unexpected moments that we can avoid monotony. I believe in constantly discovering and trying new things. I’m undeniably scared of falling into a routine that remains the same every day. I am afraid of being in one place for too long. Here’s the thing though, the nature of life allows for only a select few of those redefining moments. Maybe your breath will be taken away today, but maybe it wont.  Then what?

I’m having trouble dealing with the reality which is that everyday can’t be life-changing. I understand this idea, but it is hard when it seems like you haven’t had a moment in a long time. So when you’re not climbing a mountain or making a difference or changing the world, what do you do?

Choose optimism. I know this sounds anything but original but there is power in making something great about everyday. There will be days when your faith will be restored in humanity and I hope you have a lot of those days but there will also be days when you will be reminded that this world sucks. But I hope that chose to see the parts that don’t suck. I hope you forgive the people who do you wrong, whether they cut you off, didn’t use their turn signal or stole from you, I hope you don’t lose your hope in humanity. Complaining, especially about other people or really anything at all removes moments in time where you could be thanking God for surrounding us with an amazing world. Complaining sells the world short. Find the ways that make it great and believe in those ways despite the others.

Have little adventures. And I mean little. Your adventure might be reading a book for a few minutes or it might be talking a longer walk to class while listening to some good music. Some adventures are really BIG! And you might have your expectations set high but that doesn’t mean that normal days don’t have something special to offer.

Accept it. Even though your Instagram profile shows nothing but you taking hikes or helping feed the hungry or dressing up for fancy parties there might be days where you’re sitting in sweat pants surrounded by piles of homework, and its okay if that’s all you do that day. Just don’t make that everyday.

I hope you have an adventure today. Thanks for supporting my blog today and always.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels…These things are your becoming. -Cheryl Strayed

 

preconceived.

I noticed this little girl the other day. She was surrounded by her family when she tripped and fell down. She didn’t cry though, at least not initially. It wasn’t until her dad asked her if she was okay that she burst into tears. There was a pause after she fell but before she started crying where she was thinking about how to feel. Even though she wasn’t hurt, she thought she had to cry because that was what made sense. In her mind she knew that falling was associated with crying. When her parents expressed concern, she knew that crying would lead to attention. This is pretty much a commonality among all children this age. My point in telling this story is that it shows how early we start getting these preconceived notions of how to feel and how to be.

It’s the same idea of going to the store not needing anything and ending up with a cart full of items that we convince ourselves that we need. Sometimes I spend a lot of time thinking about how I would be without the preconceived. I know it’s inevitable. We can’t live our lives without influences from other people or things. But sometimes I think the preconceived causes a lot of unhappiness. When we go shopping, for example, it is easy to become completely overwhelmed by the things we can’t afford. Or when we go to someone’s house and think ‘If only I had a house this nice, I would be happier.’ The ideal that happiness is related to possessions is so scarily easy to fall into.

A wise professor recently told me that everyone has blind spots. We all have bias in our lives, although it be unintentional. The key is acknowledging the blind spots and accepting them as a weakness in our judgement. If the acknowledgement part doesn’t happen, they are just spots. Think about that for a minute.

I think the key is to step back. Remove the comparisons from your life. Spend time in this beautiful world or with people who make talking easy or just quietly alone with your favorite book and a mug of coffee. Sometimes we need alone time to reflect and figure out who we are without anyone else.

I challenge you to make more moments and collect less things. Value the intangible experiences that you keep vividly repeating in your head in fear of forgetting the indescribable feelings brought on from this time in your life. Those memories you just want to keep in a tiny box that you can open them when you need a reminder of the goodness of humanity. Those moments when you can’t fathom or interpret what it is your’e experiencing, you just know that it’s the most amazing experience of your life. Collect new experiences. Learn new things, even when you’re old. Never stop having first times.

To end, I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite song lyrics of all time, credible to the talented Jack Johnson:

featured image: Coast of Northern Ireland, 12/30/15

I wanna take the preconceived out from underneath your feet, we could shake it off, instead we’ll plant some seeds. We’ll watch em’ as they grow and with each new beat from your heart the roots grow deep, the branches they will reach for what? Nobody really knows, but underneath it all there’s this heart all alone.

-Jack Johnson, All At Once

“You can’t take something as complex as the human mind, compartmentalize it, and regiment its development so strictly.”

I was thinking the other day how limited we are to the words in the dictionary. Words can’t even begin to describe the extensive collection of thoughts inside the human brain. We wonder why it is so hard to put real things into words. Experiences, specific personalities are too convoluted. We will never be able to transfer an image from our minds to someone else’s mind. There are words in other languages for something we don’t know exists because we’ve never defined it with a word.

I found the above quote in the Humans of New York Stories book by Brandon Stanton. I love the idea of this book because it shines light on pure individuality.The people in the stories share a glimpse of their lives. Without any prior knowledge, we get to see how others view the world. I am continually impressed with Brandon’s ability to get people to open up to him.

Hearing these stories reminds me that everyone has a mark, their own personal print that they make in the world. Everyone has had an experience that has changed their life and made them change their plans. Everyone has emotions that make things more difficult. But most of all, everyone has something that can share with the world.

I love the individuality of these stories, each one as unique and unpredictable as the people of New York City. They shatter the assumptions of outsiders. The stories, and their accompanying pictures, are taken at random throughout the city. They reveal humanity in its rawest form. I think I appreciate Brandon’s approach because he doesn’t leave anything out. He shows you exactly how it is. I crave that in humans. I find it unappealing to cover up what it is that make us unique. I want to hear the stories that changed your life. I want to hear your weirdest quirks. I want to hear what sets your soul on fire. Normal is boring. Just as the quote suggests, we can’t control the limits of our mind. We can’t compare our minds to others by classifying them and seeing how they fit with the others, because it’s not going to fit. And forcing it to fit is going to leave you less you.