No Winter Lasts Forever

This week I made a quick trip back to Boston and enjoyed the unusually pleasant weather for half a day or so (you know, it’s Boston!). The short getaway was enough to leave me recharged and refreshed, given how deprived I am of real travel. Adulting certainly doesn’t come with weekly vacations, only penny-pinching and finding gratitude while doing so.

The snow had long melted, so the better part of my trip was spent on taking long walks through quiet, tree-lined streets. A luxury I can’t begin to appreciate. I thought about the cold winter nights leaving the practice rooms, pulling all-nighters to make that 8am deadline, and spending hours and hours at the piano transcribing, frustrated and tired.

It would be unwise to still complain about anything that can’t be changed. The only thing I wish I had, is more trust in the self. Just enough to cultivate some space, and a little awareness, for when fears struck.

Lest I forget, the experience is what I’m after, and what brings me here, regardless of what it entails.

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Late Resolutions

It may still be snowing in New York, but the coldest winter days are certainly behind us. I mean, it’s April after all, and the year is a quarter over. What better time to check in and see how well I’ve done so far?

Well, as far as my new year’s resolutions are concerned, I’m doing rather poorly. I’m nowhere near being on track to complete two of the biggest goals this year, namely, to sleep early and read more. For the past three-ish months, I’ve fallen asleep anywhere between 10pm and 6am (!) and read one and a half books, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and currently, Man’s Search for Meaning. But confidence isn’t lost; I made them year-long challenges for a reason and I’m ready to fail a few more times as long as I make progress.

Here is a simplified version of my 2018 goals as a reminder of my good intentions, and as motivation and courage in more difficult times.

Year-long challenges
 - Sleep before midnight
 - Read one book a week

Yoga
- Deeper backbends
- Arm balances
- Inversions

Mini habits
 - 5-minute meditation sessions 

Fitness & Health
 - Complete ongoing fitness challenges 
 (I do this with friends with a $100 bet every 30 days)
 - Drink more green smoothies
 - Upgrade skincare regimen 

Productivity
 - Write daily
 - Listen to and play more music
 - Organize and minimize closet; build a more sustainable wardrobe
 - Create a complete inventory of things 

Finances
 - Increase income by 10%
 - Better budgeting 

Spirituality
 - Always be kind, humble, and compassionate, especially 
towards those who may seem hostile
 - Serve others
 - Be grateful
 - Seek and cherish meaningful connections
 - Let go of what is already in the past 

Honest Revelations

At this point on my journey, I’ve had more than a handful of reflections.

The last few years I’ve been constantly overwhelmed by a plethora of emotions: fear, anxiety, and frustration, among other things. But none struck me as strongly as loneliness. That sense of loneliness was very profound, and had little to do with companionship, or the lack thereof. It arises from the constant self-doubt, and failure to accept and adjust to the reality that fell way below my expectations.

I felt alone in my pursuit, my struggles, and my losing battle against fear. I would close my eyes and see a future I wasn’t building.

While I’ve attempted to address denial many times, this was the first time that I realized how far I was from true acceptance. Simply put, I have no idea how to execute it. To be in the present, regardless of circumstances. I would often mistake denial for acceptance, creating a mental safety net within which everything seems just fine.

Even in better times, I have never been completely content with life as it is, nor been able to embrace it, flaws and all. The perfectionistic tendencies are often so dominant that rejection always comes before all other possibilities.

I would always harbor hope for a distant future where everything is more desirable. The uncertainty, at times, seemed more appealing than what was known. Although after waiting for a decade, that “perfect future” has yet to come to fruition.

If being in denial is no means to an end, then there is no valid reason not to live in the present. To first stand on solid ground, before taking the leap forward.

Does anyone read blogs anymore?

uuy821mg70Eight years since that very first entry (a phenomenal one, to say the least) on this blog, and numerous hiatuses later, I questioned, for the first time, what a blog really is. In a sea of flawless Instagram pictures, viral Facebook posts, and ever-so-popular Snapchat filters, where does a blog post fall? When showered with so many options to share everything instantly, and garner what seems to be pretty adequate attention most of the time, I wonder if I’m still capable of writing a good, meaningful, and well-crafted blog post. One that perhaps few will read, and one that isn’t any more interesting than a monologue.

When I set the non-ambitious goal of posting one blog entry every month at the beginning of the year, I didn’t think it would be that hard to achieve. But who am I kidding? So far I’ve blogged once in 2017, planned on writing something about my new year’s resolutions, but the topic is obviously no longer relevant.

Over the years I’ve perhaps become a more versatile writer; I can write faster, in various styles, and adapt easily to whatever that is required. But as far as creative writing goes, there has been few and far between.

It’s funny how different I feel every time I open a new screen and start writing. Most of the time I’d shoot for that “perfect” blog post, resulting in serious writer’s block where I would scratch my head searching for words. Other times I would be more inspired, letting the emotions and imaginations run their course.

But lately, as evidenced by how sparsely I’ve been posting, there has been a lot of resistance to writing.  And this resistance is often in perfect proportion to how cluttered my mind is. The more I struggle to find peace, the more fearful I become, and the less willing I am to open up.

When I finally logged into this account today, after not remembering my password the first few times, I felt a long-lost sense of pleasure. A sense of familiarity and belonging that reminded me just how sacred this space is, and how much I love to write.

For that, I will keep writing.

A year well lived

2016 went by faster than I could hope; I struggled to keep up with its pace, and spent most of it searching. For directions, happiness, and the self. I was nowhere near what I imagined I would be.  Anxious, fearful, lost, and clueless, so much so that I failed to appreciate the best moments of the year.

It’s only in reminiscence do I see the richness and beauty of it all.

I went on the trip of a lifetime to the Holy Land. Every experience in this part of the world was enriching as it was powerful. I witnessed the magnificence that is the Western Wall, feasted on hummus, floated in the dead sea, and kept my head up for hours in the lost city of Petra. I befriended young men and women who are fearless, happy, and optimistic, and took away wisdom I wouldn’t have otherwise known. In the summer I traveled solo for the first time, and set my foot on a new continent. Between admiring the otherworldly beauty of the Greek islands, and getting a taste of life on water, I contemplated what being on the road really meant, and if that could be a way of life. I also wondered if I had what it takes to fully appreciate the experience, or perhaps that was a realization for later. 

Elusive Perfection

img_7051_fotorbkybridgeAs infrequently as I may be posting now, this space is not forgotten; I’ve just been too occupied with the tough job that is adulting. However real the bubble seems, the reality can only be suspended for so long.

This year I’ve gone further than I’d ever been, but struggled more than ever. Behind the jet-setting glamour, and the adventures in the great Middle Eastern deserts (more on that later), was a soul so lost that the search could hardly begin.

With a much calmer heart, I look back on the steps I’ve taken, and it’s finally becoming clear how and why I got here. It’s both where I wish and don’t wish to be. It’s an unexpected turn that took me further, higher, and deeper, but on a road that is dark, windy, and incredibly lonely.

The destination was unknown. Forgotten, rather. Lost in a journey so treacherous that hope was dim. Worse, I came unprepared. I imagined sunshine and butterflies, and an easy dive under the waves. A daydream I’d spent years crafting, and one that was too quickly dashed.

It was chasing a lost dream that brought me thus far, but to go further I have to let it go. 

The journey continues, but the search has ended.

On Happiness

I’m not quite ready, frankly speaking. Not ready to leave, nor to stay. It’s been an extended detour that lasted months, for no other reason than to sidetrack the self. I experienced an array of emotions; there were some light hearted moments, occasional clarity, but also, extreme despair.

There’s only so much contemplating one can do, in a state of confusion. The recurring thoughts center around happiness. Happiness which I consistently strived, yet too easily sacrificed. Happiness despite flaws and imperfections. Happiness in failures, and in the best and worst of times. Heartfelt happiness that brings hope, and guides one back to the self. Happiness that teaches one how to accept, and let go.

At the heart of it all, there is only one pursuit.

Here and Now

It’s all up in the air; the story may or may not have a happy ending. But what is there to worry? The best there ever has been, is right in front of my eyes.

Here and now I’m happy, inspired, and at ease. I reminisce the forgotten past, and cherish what is.

As It Is

Denial was the only escape I knew. To bask in reality was a problem for later, for when everything would be perfect.

But this, here, was the perfection I tirelessly sought. One that I thought I could jump right into, and all else would be history.

Such black and white logic was bound to be a fallacy, but in the pursuit of a distant dream, it seemed infallible.

Ill-equipped as I was, the struggles came hard and unexpected, and translated into anxiety and fear. Although this time, there was no more denying; I was honest with my feelings.

They were heavy. So much so that I couldn’t slow down. Couldn’t bear a moment of silence. Couldn’t breathe, or even look up. I began to throw away away things, give up others, to make room for all that I had to carry. I learned to forgo the false expectations, and self-induced disappointments. Luckily, sanity remained, as I slowly transitioned into a world of hard truths, stripped of all the glory that only existed in my mind.

The World Unknown

Summer is half over, but this game of catch-up isn’t ending anytime soon. If true exhaustion is the ultimate destination, I believe I’m not far.

Far are those days where I awoke to the sound of birds chirping, hiked rocky mountains, watched sunsets by the river, and spent hours after hours in blissful silence. When was that, if not a lifetime ago, another world away?

It took much mindless living and doing, to reacquaint with that profound clarity I’d once had but soon lost. I searched many corners of the world for it, only to find it here. A place so close yet unknown to me. IMG_1915