Intimacy takes time

In today’s modern hurly-burly, one thing that I am always seeing people forget [or never learn] is that as much as one may want to get deep real quick, the truth is, that … it takes time.

We’ve all had moments that have hit us in the heart – times when something touched us in an instant, and that instant remained frozen forever in our memory. These intimate moments are indeed very important. They are callings to something higher.

But we cannot live in a state of genuine intimacy on these moments alone. Yet that is what I am seeing in modern society, when I look around; a situation in which people desperately search for a connection to things more intimate mainly through experiencing some shocking / touching / moving / jarring event. And this does have great value – but this “watershed event” is only one step on the road to lasting intimacy. It is important to experience such moments in the way it is important that a pizza have a crust. You won’t make good pizza if you focus on nothing but the crust.

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Living in the truth

We should always come forward and tell the truth, right? The truth will set you free, it is said. And I have definitely published here my fair share of analyses about the truth, and about the benefits of finding and telling the truth.

One of the things that I’ve noticed is this: a lot of people who tell lies tend to live a good part of their lives in a state of untruth. Many people mix it up; they are truthful in one kind of situation, and lie a good deal in a different kind of situation. Often, bad things happen when such situations cross each other; someone who has been told the truth speaks to someone that has been lied to, and the lie dominates until both people know the truth. And even after the truth is found out, questions remain as to why the lie needed to exist in the first place. I don’t know too many people who feel pleased when they are lied to.

In my own life, as much as possible, I go a step further than simply telling the truth. I want to live in a state of truth – a place where being authentic and honest and open comes as easy as breathing. Doesn’t this sound like a good idea? Why does it seem like such a tall order?

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The enduring value of partnership

Pretty much everything we do in life, generally, will at some point involve interaction with somebody else, or many other people. These interactions can be transitory, or they can be longer lasting, and while long-lasting interaction tends to make the biggest impact on us, there are many times during which shorter-term interaction also becomes really important. And whatever interaction you do have, it will always go better if you have an understanding with the other person.

There are some people, we all know them, that do well in interaction with just about anybody. You know where they stand, and you have a pretty comfortable idea of where you stand with them. It doesn’t seem to matter who they are talking to or what situation they’re in – even situations that aren’t so good, with people that are rude, aggressive, or inconsiderate – they almost always seem to find a way to manage the interaction well.

Such people have good partnership skills. As in “good teammates in interaction.” Knowing how to be a good copilot, together with you, on this leg of your journey together.

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It’s good to lose it every once in a while

Over the past year, I felt this weird unease about the way my life was going: it seemed, just a little too much, like I was doing good. Like I was on top, like I was untouchable (or at least “less-touchable”). Like the only bad things that were happening to me were small-time, manageable bad things. Life was just… good! And yet something inside me told me that it was not healthy to always feel this way – but no part of me knew exactly how to remedy this situation. Besides… when things are good, why look for reasons to complain? Just enjoy life when it’s good to you!

Well, I recently got reset, in a major way. I invested a lot of my time and energy into a relationship that just wasn’t ready to receive it. And I didn’t even realize how far I was diving in…  and it hit me like a huge thump in the stomach.

For a few days, I was not myself. I could not sleep well, I wasn’t able to eat much, and I became irritable and often angry – angry because I couldn’t cry. I was hurt. Still am feeling some of that hurt. Hurt because of all the confusion – this was not some straightforward betrayal or anything that had some clear response. It was a situation that both grabbed at me and pushed me away all at once. It was a cloud of uncertainty that left nothing for me to grab hold of. And I was so unprepared for this kind of hurt that it overwhelmed me too much to even be able to cry. For a couple of days the tears refused to come, even when I wanted them to.

Now I am emerging from this period of heartbreak, and slowly but steadily healing. I finally was able to break through and cry for a while with the help and guidance of friends. And that turned things around. And I’ve learned a good, positive lesson from this experience.

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When the weather gets ugly, keep your hands firmly on the steering wheel

As driving advice, this is pretty common sense, right? You always want your hands on the steering wheel, but most of all when conditions are tough. That’s when both hands will be firmly guiding every movement, right?

The thing is, when it comes to traveling the sometimes bumpy road of relationships with other people, many of us often let go of the steering wheel or swerve all over the place when the weather turns ugly, rather than doubling our focus and getting better control of things. It’s a bad habit of letting panic and primal thought jump in the driver’s seat – something that would be completely unacceptable when literally driving a car.

Folks with a positive mindset know that positivity is not all about simply being cheerful and always looking at the bright side of things. Sometimes, you are going to hit snags; you are going to have to slog through the muck and mire of unpleasant situations that will test you and those you have relationships with. This, in fact, is where the real value of a positive mindset makes itself so deeply felt: when the shit hits the fan.

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You’re not feeling everything that you really feel

Have you ever noticed, when you look back on a past event, that you feel much differently now looking back on it than you did when you were going through it? When all is said and done, what counts most is often not how you were feeling while the event was happening; it’s the flavor of the film that plays back in your head about the event – how the event gets filed in your mind.

There is no way to reliably tell, when you are going through something, how you will feel about it later! For example, a lot of us, as children, had to go through things that felt weird and horrible at the time, but gave us valuable experience later on, such that we become grateful later for what these events taught us. Or, there’s the happy couple that goes on a wonderful vacation together, and then one of them seriously hurts the other somehow – and all the joy of that vacation becomes at best bittersweet, and at worst, something that one might even desire to forget as much as possible.

What all this points to is that our mind not only remembers what we’ve been through; it also flavors these memories based on what came afterward. Now, while it is true that you can never be quite sure of your immediate reaction to a situation (how it hits you), you do potentially have some power over what flavors a situation has when you look back on it.

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Why I hate “will you marry me?” and other such loaded on-the-spot proposals

Loaded questions are okay to ask as long as they don’t demand an answer right away. When it comes to big decisions in your life, like getting married, such questions should not be approached with an “answer me now” attitude.

It’s perfectly fine to bring up a loaded question that needs to be talked about – in fact, I highly recommend it. If there is something on your mind that is burning at you, and you cannot continue to ignore it, then it must come out. But it’s quite another thing to demand that such things that you cannot answer inside yourself be answered immediately by the person to whom you address the question.

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You can’t hurry love – and there ain’t no substitute

And you can’t hurry anything else that you really want. You can try, but sometimes, it just has to take its time coming.

Have you ever felt, at some time in your life, like you want to fast-forward through a process which on some level you already know how it will turn out? I have a friend who, in her mid-30s, realized that she was doing a lot of stupid things [that she knew were stupid] because “she never got to act stupid in her teens and early 20s.” And yet, for a while there – she needed to continue doing such things – until the coin finally dropped. Or then there is the guy I know who lost a great girlfriend, because he was not ready to accept all of her goodness. He knew she was just what he’d always said he was looking for, and yet… he couldn’t accept her when she became real.

A lot of people [myself included] are tempted to get upset and disappointed at the missed potentialof these situations. How is it that people waste so much time and throw so much opportunity away, because what – because they’re not ready? Even when they know that their wish is coming true?

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It’s ok to not be ready

This is one of those things that you can’t force. When you aren’t ready, you just aren’t ready. And nothing that you do or say is going to change that.

It’s one of those things for which there is nothing to do but give up trying to be who you want to be or think you can be; you truly have no choice but to let yourself be who you are ready to be now.

You can try to fight it, and say it ain’t so, and sometimes you will find yourself doing that even though you know that fighting the feeling ultimately will not change the reality. Sometimes, it is especially painful to not be ready for something that we have been ready for in the past, or when we have committed ourselves to being ready for it in the present. But the truth will always assert itself in the end. So give yourself permission to feel it.

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The real prize we’re all in search of

Why make money, form friendships, fall in love, suffer people and things you don’t like, and all that jazz? What are we really looking for?

The answer to that question is not easy, and it does vary from person to person – but if there were one thing, just one thing that I could say pretty much all of us are looking for in our lives, one thing that could roughly cover it all, it would be this.

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“Do I worry too much?”

The fact that one asks themself this question already reveals part of the answer, doesn’t it?

Honestly, this is one of my little problems. I think about things  a lot. I reflect, contemplate, hypothesize, extrapolate, rewind, and fast-forward all kinds of different things in my mind. I overanalyze.

And I’m realizing – doing this takes away from the moment. From being in the present and living what is to live. I’m realizing this because I’ve been spending time with other people who don’t do these kinds of things. People who know how to forget about the things they can’t change in the future for the time being, and live in the present.

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Why men are the sexual hunters and women are considered “keepers of sex” – and what can be done to address this imbalance

Pretty much anywhere you go, men are conceived as the “horndog gender.” Men are viewed as the ones who will always want sex more, who are always quicker to sexualize a relationship, to make things about sex. And this does create a bit of a problem, especially in heterosexual contexts. For men, what should be a simple interaction involving something women generally also want (sex) turns into a complex game of wooing and seduction – in fact, for this precise reason, “seduction communities” that pretty much cater exclusively to heterosexual men’s desires to be more confident and convincing around women, have sprung up everywhere. Men have to learn to walk an often-thin line around sex – or else risk being “friend-zoned,” marginalized, or even shunned.

Then there’s the other side of this: women very often face a reality in which sex is an annoyingly central marker of their existence. Everything a woman does is potentially sexualized, and thus, even when a woman does desire sex (often to the same degree or even more than men do), she has to take steps to make sure all the other things she desires are not completely left behind. So habits develop, on her end, of avoiding and/or withholding sex [yes, even when she desires it], because that’s often the only escape from this often suffocating paradigm of “woman-as-potential-sexual-object.” Thus the complex twists and turns and barriers to sexual interaction that understandably frustrate many heterosexual men – and can also frustrate a good number of women, too!

A short 3-minute film on Youtube called “why men and women can’t be friends” has been getting a lot of attention, because it focuses on this issue that never really does go away. You see guy after guy talk about how they can’t be “just friends” with a woman without having sexual feelings toward her, while every woman interviewed appears innocently unaware of any pressing “urge” to get sexual with her guy friends. Take a look…

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Forgive, but don’t forget (for different reasons than you might think)

Can you really forgive without forgetting? There are some who say that you must forget in order to properly forgive. Put that which you have forgiven out of your mind, and go forth with a pure heart. If you don’t forget, it is often thought, you haven’t truly forgiven – you’re forgiving “for the moment,” but when the time comes, you’ll conveniently tear away that healing forgiveness and use what was supposed to be forgiven as a weapon of conflict once again.

I disagree with this perspective. In fact, I think one of the most important parts of forgiveness is remembering – remembering everything, including the initial events that got forgiven, the process of arriving at forgiveness, and the way forward that was decided upon afterwards. I believe that the only way to ensure that forgiveness is complete is by not forgetting.

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The real reasons why people get jealous – and why jealousy is so powerful

Jealousy is one of those demons that just seems to take everything over when it is felt – even when you know on the inside that your jealousy doesn’t make sense somehow, it often still rips through and takes you hostage. Many people even go so far as to call jealousy an innate emotion, as though, no matter what, we will always feel some jealousy sometimes, and there’s nothing we can do to help that.

Some people even think jealousy is a healthy thing, because it means that you care. You know that you are in love, it is said, when you feel tremendous pangs of jealousy about that special love that you share being shared with somebody else. Without jealousy and other associated negative involuntary emotions, the relationship might as well end, it is said, because then you have no more passionate divine spark. If you don’t ever get jealous, it must mean that you can turn your emotions on and off at a whim, and thus no more organic drive exists to feel.

I want to correct some assumptions here – because it is obvious, if you look around you enough, that there are people who do not ever really feel jealousy. I am one of them. Such people do not have shallower emotions; rather, they have an inbuilt understanding that channels negative emotions away from feelings of jealousy. This holds a lot of hope for those other folks who tend to become prisoner to jealousy’s grip: it’s not an inevitable process.

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How to apologize… without meaning it?

So I’m looking through the search terms through which people come upon this blog, and one of the ones that seems to come up rather often is some variation on “how to say you’re sorry without meaning it.” Unfortunately for these folks, the article on my blog that such a search is most likely to hit upon is about how to truly mean it when you say you’re sorry. Maybe these folks are looking for the article in which I talk about how saying you’re sorry doesn’t mean you have to feel weak. But that article is also not about faking an apology, either. So I’m going to give my thoughts here on that subject.

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Those supernatural, divine moments in life are not exceptions – they’re CALLINGS

In the hurly-burly of the everyday, it can be hard to find meaning for many people. Especially if your life has a routine, or if your life is optimized so that you may give your best energy to those around you who need it (children and elderly or disabled relatives, for example), the skyscape of such a life can look like one long panorama of gray clouds.

And then, there are those divine moments that take place sometimes. When something extraordinary happens. Or when you make an extraordinary connection with something completely ordinary. No matter what it is, for a brief moment, the gray monotony of routine life opens up and a ray of sunlight bursts through.

What do these moments mean?

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How to keep your head on straight when you suddenly fall in love

Oh, it’s a powerful feeling. It affects all the senses, one’s preferences, one’s decision-making, one’s desires … EVERYTHING.

And then, it’s gone. You’re not in love anymore! After a while, things return to normal, and you look back and see how blinded you were to so many things you should have seen. Or how much you liked things you don’t normally like. And it’s disconcerting and confusing, to say the least! I mean, what’s the deal with these passionate periods of infatuation? Do we actually lie to ourselves about who we are and what we want? Kinda disturbing, isn’t it?

Fortunately, there are things we can do to both (1) not let the overpowering feelings of LUUUV obliterate our lives, and (2) channel such LUUUV healthily, so that once it is not uncontrollably rampaging through our brains, we can celebrate it and feel the glory of such connection in all its splendor.

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You’re always there (a poem about the sky :-)

I see you.

You are the sky

And your presence is embodied in your “self”

The self I cannot touch or measure.

 

For science has proven that you don’t really exist

That you are not a separate thing from everything around you

Yet it is your presence I feel,

I look upon,

and I hunger to get near.

 

My days and nights are filled with trees and flowers

My mornings with rituals

My afternoons with the tasting of food and drink

Activities occupy my time

Other thoughts occupy my mind

 

But you’re always there, all the while.

 

I’ll jump in the water,

I’ll climb the hills,

I’ll dance in the rain, play in the snow, and bask in the sun,

And no matter how I am engaged,

You’re always there.

 

You are the background to it all,

You reflect in the wet waters I swim in

You silhouette the trees I contemplate

You spread the sun’s light over everything I see.

You’re always there.

 

I have enjoyed many lights of a different sort

City lights, strobe lights, room lights, and candlelight

They have lit my way and illuminated my soul

But these lights come and go…

 

Yours is always there – even when it’s not.

 

After flying through ups and downs

and twists and turns,

moments and non-moments

and illnesses and remedies,

fun times and sad times

good runs of bad luck

and ugly strokes of beautiful,

I realize that

I want you.

 

I crave your soft, I crave your strength

I envy how you belong to something greater

My stubborn soul puts down its sword and shield

And lets you surround it

Without a sound.

 

And there you are. You’re always there.

Even when I am all alone with nothing

You’ll still always be there.

 

I love you. There is no other way.

 

–Mitch

Posted in Personal reflections, Poetry, song, and other art, Short posts, Zany or uncategorized stuff | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

When there’s nothing more to say…

Sometimes, there’s nothing more to say.

Sometimes, things just are as they are. And they will be talked about, and they will be described – but the more talking and describing occurs, the clearer it becomes that such talking and describing is superfluous.

We are so good, with our science and our critical thought, at always finding new things: new perspectives, new ways to press on, new solutions to problems, new ways to make the unbearable, bearable.

And yet, somewhere deep down inside, we all know that there are moments when no answer exists. And very often, that terrifies us.

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Why are so many people such jerks?

There are self-serving jerks out there, and then there are the rest of us, right? The jerks are the exceptions to the rule. For whatever reason, they feel ok to just go around thinking about nobody but themselves – but then, I am often asked, why does it sometimes seem like there are so many of these jerks?

After talking to some friends about how even compassionate, considerate people can be jerks sometimes, I realize that it’s not so simple. Nothing like this is as simple as it looks. The world is not divided between jerks and nice folks. In fact, I’d wager that, more often than not, it is actually somebody who is very well meaning and compassionate that comes off as a jerk, rather than somebody who just doesn’t have any sense of decency and compassion at all. The vast majority of the jerks you run into are really nice people. 🙂

Here’s the thing: very few people want to be a jerk.

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Where you’re going is more important than where you are

 

Ever notice how some people who are in the worst of situations somehow continue to be positive, joyful people? Or how some people who appear to have everything they could ever need and want still seem so dissatisfied?

My question is usually the following one: Where are these people going in life?

People say sometimes that you must know where you’ve come from to know where you are. True indeed. But I also think that getting a true understanding of where you are going is equally important for one’s life orientation.

Many times, the person going through hardship sees a better future ahead. Something about the trajectory of their life, and the beauty of moving forward, supersedes the misery of the present situation. This is especially true if the person themself is actively involved in their own self-improvement, diligently in tune with each stage of the progress.

Meanwhile, somebody who “has it all”… where is [s]he going to go? What beautiful progress is there to be made in a life that is already [supposedly] perfect? Does a state of perfection really exist? Where do you go from there? (this kind of question always made it hard for me to understand the concept of Heaven as a child, you see) Continue reading

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How to get good at empathizing

Those who see the infinite value of human connection and focus more and more on it start noticing something: empathy is everywhere. Or, at the very least, it is needed everywhere. So often, the first basic underpinning to doing anything meaningful involving another person or people is to empathize. To find the place where you connect with somebody. Where, as much is it is possible, you can feel what the other person is feeling, and look in the same direction as they are looking. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do; the rewards are so gratifying, and in everything from family relations, to job interviews and the workplace, to everyday negotiations with strangers, a person who is able to empathize brings a great deal of positivity to the table, and other people notice and their behaviors change and become more trusting – even when they aren’t aware that they are noticing such things at all.

Some people are indeed more naturally empathic than others. However, Iempathizing is largely a skill that can be learned. When you want to see where somebody is coming from or what they’re getting at, it’s obviously not lack of desire that makes you unable to relate, but rather lack of knowledge – knowledge of how they must feel, what their point of view is, and most crucially, the skills to get to where you can have a meaningful understanding.

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Avoiding the life-wrecking scarcity model of thinking

Underlying many of our greatest fears in life is the feeling that we will be abandoned, left out. That there won’t be enough of something left for us, and our needs will be forgotten. We’ll get trampled or left behind, unable to fend for ourselves…

Maybe we weren’t loved enough as a child. Maybe we were hungry, helpless, vulnerable… However it is for you, the message is always that “somebody’s got to lose, and if you don’t scramble, you’ll be the loser.”

Thinking like this is the understandable outcome of having previously felt deprived or violated. But it very often becomes a state of mind in far more ways than we realize.

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Have high hope, but low expectations

This is a more concrete way of saying, “be open-minded,” a perspective you can take with you every time you are afraid of being disappointed.

Some people use the word “hope” as a verb, in a narrow focus toward one thing, when they really mean “expect.” This can cause a lot of trouble. Saying, for example, “I really hope s/he comes around and sees my point of view on this issue” channels the “hope” in only the direction of this very important goal. If the goal is not met, the heaviness of the disappointment will depend directly on the heaviness of the “hope” – which becomes, in reality, an expectation.

Expectations are the biggest source of disappointment out there! Think about it: every time you get disappointed, it happens because your expectations of a situation were not met. Additionally, unlike hope, expectations are usually more focused around one particular thing, something that can often close your mind to other sources of good happenings.

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ASK for clarification

When you look back on situations of conflict, so many awful things seem to happen solely because of some kind of misunderstanding. Especially between friends and loved ones – people close to you – the stakes are higher because of all the emotions involved. A comment interpreted the wrong way or a statement taken out of context suddenly leads to very strong feelings that can manifest themselves in behavior we later regret.

For this reason, I beg of you: when something doesn’t strike you the right way, please… ASK for clarification. A repetition of what was said, an explanation of what was meant, or perhaps some contextual background. Whether it’s a stranger you are talking to, or somebody very close to you, clarification very often is all it takes to prevent unpleasant feelings that don’t need to be there from developing – and the process of clarifying together is indispensable for developing trust and healing feelings. It’s how relationships get stronger.

Even if you THINK you know what was said, still… ask for clarification. Don’t take “95% certainty” to be good enough. You deserve 100%.

Sometimes, there is still a misunderstanding, even after you clarify. But that’s also good – because once the misunderstanding is out in the open, you then have the choice to sort through it or leave it alone. And feeling at choice – knowing the various options you have moving forward – is an indispensable asset to the positive thinker.

And even though, I promise you, the majority of the time there really is a misunderstanding, it’s not unreasonable to ask: what if it’s not a misunderstanding? What if your bad feelings about what was said are correct? Well, then… at least it’s an understanding. It’s a lot easier to move forward if you are at least clear on what you’re working with. That’s how you win by clarifying, no matter which way things go.

That’s all I’ve got to say for now. 🙂

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It needs to be said: holidays can really suck sometimes

Now – if you’re totally enjoying your holidays… GREAT! Flush this post from your mind, please, and continue enjoying yourself. I don’t want to get in the way of that.

But if this rings a bell, please keep reading.

We are told in songs and in traditions that the holidays are a time to celebrate, to get together with family and friends, take a break from life-as-usual, and enjoy yourself. This is a great idea. In fact, we should do it more often – not just when Christmas songs are playing and everybody is going shopping.

Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons why the opposite happens during the holidays: people become depressed and humbuggish. Here are some things that come to mind:

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Don’t do something just because you “should”

Sometimes you have to do things you don’t really want to do – but sometimes you have to want to do things, too.

Doing something despite not wanting to is part of life; very often, it’s too big a part of life. Which is why I want to clear something up here: when wondering whether to do something that you’re not really looking forward to doing, feeling like you “should” do it is not a good reason to go forward.

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Good people finding good people – that’s what makes being alive feel special to me

Recently, I’ve gotten better at something than I used to be…

I’ve always been an outgoing sort of person. Somebody who goes out there and interacts with other people (not always in the healthiest of ways – but I’ve gotten way better than I used to be). And I’ve often realized: there are a lot of other people out there who don’t have my gusto for interaction – and some of those people are really great folks, and should get out and meet each other…

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Despite what it may seem, “forever” is usually not a very good thing – even in love

Oh, I very much understand the appeal! Why wouldn’t anybody want to be loved forever, cherished forever, protected forever… guaranteed that certain good things will be forever??

Problem is, there’s quite literally no way to fully guarantee it. Ever notice how this always seems to be most true when it comes to the things that we really really want to last forever? Trying to accommodate heavy desires to climb the Mt Everest of “forever” puts a lot of stress on those desires. Even when such desires are coming true now, we’re constantly looking over our shoulder to make sure that nothing threatens them – more occupied with the fear of losing “forever” then the enjoyment of the desire being met now.

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The top 5 things people who are close to dying regret when they look back at their life

REGRETS OF THE DYING
by Bronnie Ware (originally published here)

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

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The joy of non-sequiturs – or, when dead lions come back to life as chickens

“Non sequitur” means “it doesn’t follow” in Latin. You know, when something just… completely breaks with the context that came before it. I think stuff like this has value, especially in speech and ideas.

There is something about non-sequiturs that can be quite tickling, very positive for the soul when thrown in there every once in a while. I guess one of the things that makes something funny is that… it’s unexpected. Like blam. It just pops at you out of nowhere. Like a violin virtuoso, wolfing down pastrami sandwiches and fixing the kitchen sink.

The value of humor cannot be overstated, especially in a world that can be so dark and challenging sometimes. And so “same” and routine, too! Both the typical urban and the typical non-urban life are filled with things that cycle over and over again. Routines, habits, traditions… going through the motions. Everything that we associate with life and living happens when we break from such monotony. Do something different. Something fun, and wild. Something that might not quite be as you expect it.

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How to apologize sincerely without feeling weak and humiliated

Feeling sorry about something does not mean you should necessarily feel weak. The fact that you did something wrong does not make you a less worthy person.

Apologizing is a gesture of humility – thus there is a certain amount of weakness involved. A sincere apology puts no pressure for the person receiving the apology to accept it – and thus the apologizer freely admits powerlessness to change or influence the other’s feelings, and just accepts things as they are. But if the apologizer goes too far the other way, feeling that [s]he deserves bad things, this is not optimal either. Very often, this is what is lurking behind apologies that make you feel “weak” or inferior.

A sincere apology should make you feel relieved and stronger, like you have truly dealt with something and put the worst of it behind you. Self-abusing apologies do not strengthen you like this – they tear you down, and should be avoided. You cannot hope to apologize well if you are willing to sacrifice yourself in the process.

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Just being there makes all the difference

Recently, I spent some time with somebody dear to me. Unfortunately, she wasn’t completely available to hang out – she had to do a few Internet-related chores, and asked me if it was ok that our hang-out time be interrupted by a period of her going on the computer and doing what she needed to do. So I grabbed a good book or two, ate dinner with her, and then hung out next to her, reading my book, while she did her thing.

And it felt great. Even though we basically were not interacting for a while. It meant a lot to her that I would stay anyway just to keep her company, and it meant a lot to me to make her feel good by giving her that company. Plus, on my end I wasn’t so badly off for having her company either. Continue reading

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You should really get good at this game

It’s called “the Game of Life.” And if you already feel like you’re good at it, well… that’s great! Keep getting better. You can never get too good at Life.

I write this because it has come to my attention that so many people get good at so many different games: video games, Scrabble, card games, board games, and all that stuff. Yet, in terms of Life… these talented people can get very lost. Way more often than should be the case, for such talent.

There is nothing wrong with being good at games, or enjoying the way that they enhance your life. But more often than we realize, getting too deeply involved in these pursuits, we forget… it’s just a game. Leveling up or beating your nemesis at Scrabble can be fun. But what benefits do you get to take with you to other areas of your life? Quick-reaction time, and strategic thinking mindset do indeed count, which is one reason why games are therapeutic in healthy doses. But some folks (I’m sure you know a couple) way overdo it, and suddenly the game they’re playing seems to become more important than anything else.

A good video game is awesome to dive into every once in a while. But I have noticed, as I grow older, just how much time such addictive pursuits can take up (I’m not a gamer, but believe me, I have plenty of other vices). Time that I could have been spending bettering myself. Time and energy that could be put toward my future goals in life. I still have these problems, sometimes. Like when the game of “develop this blog” gets in the way of other, more important things in life. Like sleep. (saves this post as rough draft, turns off computer, and goes to bed) 🙂

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More than “just sex,” but perhaps not totally “making love,” either

Have you ever wanted to have sex that is both not too attached and at the same time not completely detached, either? You know, something that doesn’t make great promises about tomorrow, next week, and next year, but still fully lights up the fire of tonight? This is very often where I find myself.

To me (but not to some other people), mere sex, with no contextual connection surrounding it, is an ordinary, boring, uninspiring thing to do with another human being. The way I see it, one might as well masturbate if it revolves solely around the orgasm. This doesn’t mean that I have to love everyone I have sex with… but I certainly would like, at least in the moment, to have some feelings for them without it being assumed that this “attaches strings” to the future.

Not everyone thinks this way, but quite a few people do. Sometimes, even though we are not in love or looking for love, we need more than just to come – we need passion, connection, intimacy… all that good stuff. That’s what I am calling “the metasexual experience.”

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To be loved for who you are proud to be

There was an older woman in the bar, must have been possibly between 60 and 70 years old… who was smiling, kind of minding her own business, doing her thing… except that she was getting a lot of staring attention for one reason in particular: she had some pretty substantial breasts, and they did not look at all like those of most women in their 60s – or in their 20s, for that matter. Although I did not ask her, I think it was pretty safe to say she had probably done some kind of substantial modification.

A man possibly 30 years younger than her came up to her, looking at her with a sense of wonder. After getting a good stare in (like a number of other people were doing), he looked at her and said, “you look gorgeous!”

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Don’t always protect people from your truth. It won’t make things right

We are often encouraged to put the negativity behind us and stay positive! You know, when something bothers you or otherwise messes with you? As aggravating as it may be, you swallow it and don’t make a big deal out of it. Why keep the cycle of conflict going, after all?

Conflict avoidance is part of daily life. You won’t live well if you don’t have a well-developed sense of conflict avoidance for those millions of times an uncomfortable moment comes up. As it is said, pick your battles.

But avoiding the conflict often means leaving a problem unresolved, which only makes things much worse – especially when avoiding the same conflict again and again becomes a pattern. People who do this are under the illusion that they are “keeping the peace” by not bringing their discomfort out into the open, when in reality they are only giving themselves a raw deal by not addressing the cause of the troubles. Continue reading

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To be validated; when it’s good to hear someone else say something you already know

I give out a whole lot of advice here on this blog. I started this blog because I was giving out a whole lot of advice and perspective to a number of my friends, and realized that I was telling them all the same things – and that this was generally good advice for life. But of course there are times when I fall off my horse as well; I’ve written about that in a number of other posts (here, here, and here, for example). And if there’s one thing I’ve learned that I did not expect to learn, it’s that sometimes, when I pour my heart out to a friend and they respond with things I already know… I actually need to hear it. It makes me feel a lot better.

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Sexual orientation doesn’t tell the whole story about attraction

Sexual orientation is pretty straightforward, right? Gay, straight, or bi. And then there are some folks that call themselves “pansexual,” meaning that their attraction spans potentially everyone on the whole continuum of genders. Simple enough.

However, as is so often the case… life ain’t actually that simple.

I know more than one person who is sexually attracted to both traditional genders, for example, but can only see themselves in a potential relationship with members of one gender. Are people like this actually fully bisexual?

I would say yes, myself. But I know a lot of other people who don’t feel the way I do. And I think it’s time for the language of attraction to be better able to describe these distinctions.

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“Your mother didn’t tell you the truth”

These are the words to an Apartheid-era South African song (“War and Crime”) about why bigotry exists. I used to ask myself: why do people do all sorts of horrible hateful things solely because their victims belong to some group, whether it is a racial, sexual, religious, or other minority? Though I have a lot of answers now, I don’t think this song will ever cease to touch me so deeply.

This line stands out: “your mother didn’t tell you the truth, cause my father didn’t tell me the truth.” Something about this brings tears to my eyes.

Lucky Dube, the artist singing the song, has a haunting innocence about his contemplation of discrimination. As I analyze why I am so affected by these lyrics, I begin to think: it takes a lot of audacity to go up to someone who might hate you for what you look like and say to them softly, “your mother didn’t tell you the truth.”

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Sometimes I just want to come home

Home is more than just a place. It’s a very powerful concept. It’s what makes us comfortable, what we’re familiar with, what makes us feel like everything is all right. Home is our place in the world. It’s where the question, “why am I here?” no longer feels confusing to think about. It all makes sense.

Home is where we understand, and are understood. Are you at home with yourself? Do you have anyone to be at home with?

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How important is sex, really?

Recently I was talking to a friend who, in the context of finding a monogamous relationship, was comparing two people she was attracted to. She told me “I am way more sexually drawn to Jamie [names changed] than I am to Alex, but Alex is much better for me in terms of having a healthy relationship.” She then added that, despite her sometimes very intense desires for physical intimacy, she thinks that “it’s better to be with someone that you’re not so sexually obsessed about.”

This was something I hadn’t thought about. After all, mainstream sex-positive thought generally extols the virtues of abundant orgasms. Everything is going extremely well if you are tapping into that explosion of sexual passion… right? People complain of too little sexual pleasure, not too much… right? And really, the only people who want less sexual gratification to happen are those prudish, traditionalist moralists who see exuberant episodes of ecstasy as being sinful… right? Continue reading

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We can do way better than either-or thinking

I see it all the time. Modern western society must push back Islam. Islam must push back modern liberalism. Feminism is antithetical to men. Men’s rights are antithetical to feminism. And so on. In a lot of modern movements and streams of thought today, tendencies run high to think exclusively – when so often they don’t have to. Purely oppositional thinking wrecks progress – and anybody who has taken a good look at such issues knows that it isn’t so simple as either-or.

But it’s not just in religion and politics that we fall into the trap of either-or thinking. We also tend to do it under very personal and intimate circumstances. Continue reading

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Recommended resource: The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is a book a friend recommended to me when I was going through a lot of personal change in my life. It is a simple, down-to-earth book that elaborates on four basic guidelines by which life can be lived more clearly and with a better sense of understanding and fulfillment. These four concepts resonated very clearly with the direction of my life at the time, and still do. They are: Continue reading

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An anonymous open letter to people in abusive relationships who want to stay in the relationship despite the abuse

NOTE: trigger warning. This post contains graphic discussion of violence in relationships. Continue reading

Posted in Conflict and dealing with negativity, Developing trust, Healing, Personal reflections, Staying strong | Tagged , , , , , | 50 Comments

Be somebody’s fresh air!

There’s a 7 foot / 2.2 meter tall guy, a person with a marked skin condition that stands out as “not normal,” a porn actress, someone who stutters, and a disabled person who moves using a wheelchair. What do they all have in common?

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It’s not all about the private parts; on not assigning a gender to newborn children

“It’s a girl!” “It’s a boy!”

These are often the first things that are learned about a newborn child – even before its name is known. And what indeed is so bad about calling a child a girl or boy, if in fact you are going to assign it a first name it didn’t choose anyway?

Recognizing a newborn baby’s sex is not at all wrong. It’s their biology – same as their blood type, for example. But gender is different from sex. Sex is about the physical body parts – specifically, those parts that are considered very private (or at least this is the popular view – but whether it’s about genitalia or chromosomes, it’s still a very private matter). Gender is just the opposite – it’s completely public. Gender has to do with what you look like, how you act, how you think, how you see yourself, and whom you identify with; it can even go as far as loosely outlining what kind of personality you have and the activities you are attracted to. Continue reading

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“Chemistry” and being “in love” – does it have to fade away?

It is often said that when you find someone that you really click well with, you’ll have the “honeymoon” period, when you’re in love and feel this deep desire – and then, after a while, it all fades out, and you’re no longer passionately in love.

There is some truth to this. But why is it so? Continue reading

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Seeing deeper

by ~laylapersia
(original post here)

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The scars on my wrist represent pain;

    hurt which I wear just beneath my sleeve.

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Also on my heart.

    Hidden, yet no less intense.

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Moreso, for all the scars which we wear and show the world

pale by comparison to those hiding beneath the surface.

Escaping only as sobs or shrieks of pain in solitude.

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The mask we wear for the world is not us.

    Only a part of us.

. Continue reading

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The real meaning of “safer sex”

One of the big problems with common use of the term “safer sex”  is that it is often used solely in the context of preventing STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and/or pregnancy. Sex does not have to involve STDs or pregnancy in order to be unsafe; even if it is only for five minutes or less, sex can be a very bad experience if the context is forced or unwanted in some way. Such bad experiences – which include rape, but are definitely not limited to just rape – definitely qualify as unsafe sex. If we used a broader definition of safety in sex – one that includes emotional and physical safety, in addition to medical safety – it would be much easier to convince more people to have sex more safely. You may not be able to see or feel anything strange in the exact moment that a bacteria or virus infects you – however, very often you can perceive in that moment many other things that don’t feel right, and take steps to avert something you will regret later. Continue reading

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