Of Shadows And Ghosts

ghost of mahinThis is not a sad article. This is about connections and weights, about people as we see them and people as they were.

It’s been almost 13 years since my father passed away. It’s been about 5 months since my mother passed away. There are many others that are significant – the number never goes down. Every time, every single person is significant to us for reasons that are sometimes easily explained despite how complicated the relationship is. To say that I have ever had a simple relationship is an understatement. Everything is complex, nuanced, and open for discussion.

Yet when a person hits that full stop of life, some things simplify as we get to know them beyond the frames we put them in. Other perspectives weigh in. The people typically grow in death as we learn more about them from other people, good and bad, right and wrong. An example: My father, who was proud of me joining the Navy, was once forbidden to join the Navy by his father. My mother left a trail of artists who were affected by her passing, and that was truly her audience for her writings – complex, passionate, and a trail of breadcrumbs through a life of difficult exploration in being human.

But we only know people in certain ways, as we know them and are allowed to know them – as they permit us, as we permit ourselves. Framing them, judging only by what is available, we form sometimes strong opinions about things much more nuanced, only shadows of who they were.

And the ghosts, in the end, tell us more.

This extends into our digital worlds as well.

You Never Know Enough

New Smyrna Beach Dawn (09/05/2016)It’s easy to simply stop, to ride things out, and stay at the level that you’re at. It’s the most common of mistakes and also one that so many embrace; it’s embraced because there is more to life than growth; there is more to life than growth otherwise we would be no more than cancer cells – and likely as damaging.

Yet, life requires growth.

Being unready and ill-equipped is what you have to expect in life. It is the universal predicament. It is your lot as a human being to lack what it takes. Circumstances are seldom right. You never have the capacities, the strength, the wisdom, the virtue you ought to have. You must always do with less than you need in a situation vastly different from what you would have chosen as appropriate for your special endowments.   – Charlton Ogburn, The Maurauders (1959)

To stay alive, growth means moving forward. To be alive, one has to grow.

At any point in time, where we are is determined by who we have become.

Where we will be is determined by who we become.

Who we become is determined on by how willing to grow beyond where we are.

How bad do you want it?

New Directions

NSB Sunrise ( ‎October ‎25, ‎2016,)One morning, you wake up – a previous life over, a new one begun with what you learned from the old one.

When things change so significantly, the only sane thing to do is to look at what has changed and what hasn’t – and begin to piece together what comes next.

What we fail to realize is that every morning is that one morning.

A Life Untitled.

Normal people are fighting traffic to get home to the people they love only when absent, working at jobs that don't pay enough to live in homes they are still paying for. And I'm strange for chilling, waiting for them to get out of my way.I’ve learned a bit about life over the short time I’ve had one. And in learning this bit, I accumulated a lot of other little bits here and there. I could tell you of the good things that happen because we all want to be that person, even in our own lives – especially in our own lives.

Sometimes we share the sad stories – something that rends the soul, a tragedy made more concrete for our telling because maybe the scars just aren’t enough, maybe the scars need explaining to those we care about, or for some more expressive, a boil pricked for the purulent discharge of our minds and souls to come out of.

Increasingly, people write these things to manipulate the audience – but I say increasingly because we attempt to communicate more, even sharing good and bad stories that have nothing to do with us to fulfill someone else’s agenda.

Few dare to be original enough to write things themselves, to express themselves through a medium. These are the people to cherish. I have the privilege of knowing some and having known more, and for those still around, I have the privilege of seeing them grow and continue to grow in new and sometimes mesmerizing ways. I’ll let you in on a secret. You’ve probably not heard of them. They haven’t tried to break the Internet with their asses or opinions or thoughts.

In the end, very few care about what anyone thinks unless it’s something that they already agree with. If they disagree with it, it doesn’t exist, or worse, it becomes something that they use as target practice for the wounds they feel to the way that they think.

There are so many untitled lives out there, more real than the social facade that newer generations are mesmerized by. Empathy falls away with every share as the people around them, the people that they can touch, the people that they can help… continue. Or not.

And in the end, all of our lives are untitled.

Being Human

Human Being, Not Human DoingI found myself thinking over the last few days about how I’ve grown in different ways and what I need to continue growing. And, as luck would happen, a few people brought to my attention something I had written about how people categorize.

We’re all seen in different ways, and how we see ourselves evolves. How we see ourselves feeds how we are seen, how we are seen affects how we see ourselves, and so on and so forth.

tenorIf you were to ask my friends, you’d probably hear about my irreverent humor, my above average cooking (I’m no chef), or the parallels between myself and a certain Lannister of short stature.

Ask some people I deal with, and you’ll likely hear that I’m honest, straightforward and authentic. Ask others, and I have no idea what they’ll say. I have a close circle, I try to treat everyone as well as I would like to be treated and while I am critical I tend to be critical of actions instead of people. Just because someone does something dumb doesn’t mean that they are dumb.

Of course, after you tell them it’s dumb and they keep doing it…

So all of this made me think of how we classify people, how we classify ourselves, and how it may hold us back from being who we are. When I was growing up – some say I haven’t yet – the recipe was to do well in school in subjects (split up between arts, science and business), do things outside of school, and to not get caught doing things that are wrong and to be seen doing things that are right.

But isn’t it all simply about being human? Don’t we forget that somehow in all these different goals we set out? For a while, all I did was technology because it was my way out of a bad place and bad time – but then, I grew beyond that and despite the world’s culture of specialization. Why must I devote all my time and energy to one facet of my life?

That’s stupid. But I did it for a while, and it catapulted me into more than one glass ceiling. A few broke, not all, but it’s hard to remember the ones broken through – it’s easy to remember the ones that bruised us as we crashed against it.

So I’ve come to a new conclusion over the last few days; being human is about the discovery of what it takes to be whole, and being whole is a dynamic thing.

That’s my rationalization until I come up with a better one.

Beyond

VISIONS: Seeing the Aurora in a New LightThe world we accept tends to be the world we see and we assume that we see all there is – but what we see is never all there is.

How we see it, too, is a larger issue. We have two systems of thinking (see Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman for a more in depth look into this) that we know of so far. The first system gives us our feelings and inclinations – our ‘gut’, as it were – and the second system is how we decide whether they become our attitudes and intentions.

This simplification certainly doesn’t represent these systems and how they interact, but the example provides a firm enough basis to realize that our prejudices, which are not limited to those we consider bad (sexism, racism, et al), are decided at some point by system 2, our rational and conscious mind, and left untouched unless we decide to revisit these prejudices.

What we see is all there is, even when we know what we see is not all there is. We can only act on what we know, and as disturbing as that should be, it isn’t. And this is where mistakes come in to being valuable.

Mistakes, when recognized, teach us to look for more beyond what we knew. In the graveyard of these mistakes we find progress.

And every day, we should strive for beyond, if only to make more mistakes to bury.

Man On The Moon Afterglow

Men on the MoonI haven’t been writing as much as I would have liked. After completing one major project that took almost 2 decades, I’m decompressing even as I try to find the next thing to do.

No one thought I would do it; many thought I would fail and yet I didn’t. There were times when I thought I would fail. There are things I failed at, but in the end I did not fail. Every mistake was a lesson, every lesson was learned, all that was learned shaped the next parts of the project. It grew me in ways that I didn’t expect.

It’s akin to spending all that training, time and money to get to the moon. When you get back, what do you do? And that’s sort of where I am now; deciding what to do after going to the moon.

It’s an odd feeling – being able to have the time and energy to truly look around with eyes opened over the decades in ways that I have not used outside of that project.

I’ll figure it out. I always do.