Choices: The Haunting of February

7 03 2017

Related image

I thought about writing every day for the past month. I was restless with thoughts of what I would write about, more than not reverting to a feeling that it was pointless.

I ruminated in the dwelling of the everyday routine – caught between that split second when one emerges from sleep still not fully in the day and the flood that happens in the mind when the day takes its place in the week and the tasks and thoughts line up like soldiers waiting in line waiting for their number to be called.

It was a very introspective month for me and I didn’t even realize it until a friend messaged me on Facebook a very simple message: “everything ok? You’ve been awol” and it snapped me out of a weird fog because I knew I was sort of passing the days but didn’t investigate why. This is someone who I haven’t seen since we were not much older than my son is now and it just took those 5 words to inoculate me from February sliding into March. I am very grateful.

I spent the majority of the month just completely immersed in parenting and work with the occasional self-reflection. I am trying to come to terms with the idea of choices and where they lead to – this idea that it is not who we are that leads us down a path as much as it is based on who we think we are – for better or for worse. It’s hard for me to look forward without looking behind because so much of where I want to go is where I was to afraid to go in the first place.

If we are lucky, we do not accept our station in life simply because there seems to be no other choice. But to do so, we have to accept loss of who we thought we were or thought we could be before we can kill our fears and accept hope of who we know we are now and where we are meant to be headed.

This isn’t some Tony Robbins style bullshit. This is just the reality of human existence. It is not for us to judge where someone happens to be in their life because we don’t know how they got there – the causes and conditions that led to one choice versus another. For me, it’s time to stop questioning “why” and start focusing on “how”.

It is not a coincidence that I received a call on the last day of the month about a choice that a family member made that was absolutely disastrous. I was not close to this person but am part of the extended family and am not sure it will ever be fully understood. I do know that sometimes, we have choices that go beyond ourselves that do count, though…like a quick message to ask if everything is ok.

I hope everything is ok with you. If not, you know where to find me.

Until next time,

Marc

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I’m back (and squishier than before)

24 09 2016
sleeping-woman

Teen car- sleeping was not as blissful as this but this rendition will have to do.

I haven’t written in a while.

I think about it every single day – and more than once.

There are a few reasons why this is so but none of them really matter. The best way I can describe the hiatus is similar to describing that closet or drawer that has been on your To Do list to “get to one of these days” that is so cluttered that you don’t know where to start. Moreover, it’s not just cluttered with junk – you know, all those annoying gift bag, crappy toys your kids come home with from every birthday party or even all those extra samples that come in the mail. Nope, this is a drawer or closet (or in my case, what feels like a compound) full of things that all hold such profound and deep emotions that to start to write about them is way too hard. It is much easier to peruse Facebook or Twitter and make snide, humorous comments until the bottle of wine is empty, the kids are in bed and you convince yourself that you were just “too swamped” to get to what you really want to do – write. (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)

(Deep sigh.) There, that feels better.

Not really.

Can I offer anyone a glass of a fine $9 2015 Tempranillo? Anyone? Just me?

So, today, on my car ride back from hiking with the kids and some family friends, I committed myself to writing – wherever it may go. I have a ton of topics – everything from Buddhism to relationships to finally running with no shirt on. (I know – whoa! Shit getting real, now.)

I think I’ll just start with today because as I am learning – painfully – today is really all that we ever have. Period.

The weather was absolutely beautiful and after leaving the mountain for a 90 minute drive back home with the kids, I finally felt a certain sense of peace that was literally the complete opposite of what I have been feeling for a while, despite a seriously increased commitment to meditation.

I looked over at my daughter in the passenger seat, earbuds in, head achingly dangling forward as to not even be able to envision an actual attached neck and completely passed out with the sun dancing on her lashes just like the day she was born. My son, taller than me now (not a hard objective, actually), was in the fetal position taking over the back seat in a sound slumber himself.

Both teenagers now, observing them asleep is the closest I can still come to some sort of God. I waited for it for a long time when I was younger. It came. And now, I am a witness to its slow passage. On the radio – “New Slang” by the Shins was playing. “I’m looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find. Without a trust or flaming fields am I too dumb to refine?”

There I was – just me and my kids. I would have done anything to stay in that car with them on a sunny highway forever. I just started crying. I couldn’t help it. I’ve been crying a lot lately. For passages. For hope. For anything that helps open up blockages that keep the spirit from flowing. It sucks.

It’s hard for me to love because it really starts with oneself. This is both a fact and a confession – both embarrassing and true at once. For me, my kids are the only way I can tap into that love because I am really nothing more than a witness so it is completely pure. From their birth, the fact that their souls journeyed to me somehow is overwhelming. I have always said that they chose me somehow. It’s hard to explain but it was in their gaze toward me the moment they were born. There was a knowing there that was overwhelming, intimidating, and definitive, all at once. I can picture it clearly to this very moment.

This is not an endorsement for having children or for a belief in reincarnation. It is simply an acknowledgement that within each of us lies the ability to be cracked open a bit more regardless of whether we may consciously or unconsciously be willing to be an active participant. It is scary, sometimes immobilizing and absolutely necessary.

Luckily, I had Waze on to direct me on my way back and before I welled up too much, thereby restricting my vision, I heard a voice that alerted me: “Car stopped on shoulder”. I’m guessing that driver was having a moment, too.

Or that’s at least what I told myself.

Until next time (and yes, there will be a next time),

Marc

 

 

 

 





Feelings (whoa, whoa, whoa Feelings)

4 04 2016
feelings

“Feelings…nothing more than feelings.”

Ok – that title is definitely showing my age (again) but as my son would say, “that’s the deal, yo”.

My son had a friend over tonight and we all had dinner together – me, him and his friend and my daughter. I sat back and listened to them just talk, like normal teens do and I physically felt this tingling rush through my body. It’s the same thing that happens when my kids forget I’m in the car with them and they just are yakking away, in the moment. Or we are on a hike or canoeing – just “being”.

Every time, since they were babies, that I witness my kids just being themselves and interacting with close friends and family, it makes me so grateful to be alive at this very moment. There is nothing that could compare for me because it is pure love. That is what love really is – when you are witnessing those you would die for just being in the moment and embracing the fleeting nature of it all.

I wish I could explain this without sounding hokey or like one of those “new agey” sensitive, ponytail types. I think why it is so profound with kids – mine and those of friends and family I am close with – is that I have this humbling experience of witnessing the development of a whole person. This is something that is remarkable.

It comes during times of profound challenge, too; the group chat that throws your daughter into a tizzy, the bout of intense sadness that overcomes your son for no reason; the realization that you, as a parent, a friend, an extension of someone else, are without answers, helpless and still.

It is all a gift. Each and every second – good or bad. That is the thing that requires pause – to take it in and just be with it and feel it without definition. That is, in the beginning, and I suppose at the end, the most simple and true definition of life and of soul. When those moments arise – and they are few and far between, I am overcome with gratitude.

I am guessing it is easier to be a woman and discuss these types of things but I truly believe that feeling is not an emotion that is particularly aligned with one gender over the other. Just as women still have yet to achieve equality in pay and work opportunities, men have yet to achieve equality when it comes to acceptance in those fundamental and intense emotions that make us human.

That is of no consequence to me. I am just thankful for the good and the bad. The ability, self-acceptance and non-judgement associated with simply feeling is more than worth the struggle of feeling self conscious, embarrassed or ashamed.

A life without feeling is no life at all.

Until next time,

Marc





1 12 2015

please read

I have been pretty silent on this blog for the past few weeks.

Despite having plenty to say, I felt like no matter what I tried to write, much like my discourse with friends and family, there was a hue of negativity. I am fighting hard against that, albeit not that successfully.

I am not sure if it has to do with the holidays or the milieu of seemingly never ending uncertainty that surrounds me or a combination of both.

I have been exercising, meditating, writing, playing music, listing all the people and things I have so much to be grateful for, talking to myself – you name it, and, believe me there is so much good, but even when trying to put all that into perspective, I could go to some pretty dark places.

I don’t need anything for the holidays other than the experience of being with people I really care about and for that, I am eternally grateful. If I could escape from my thoughts once in a while and maybe just one morning out of each week, awaken with a sense of calm instead of a sense of anxiety, that would be icing on the cake.

The purpose of this blog is not about me, though. It’s about you.

In our age of Facebook posts, tweets and instantaneous sharing and feedback, it can feel lonelier than ever, at least to me. My plea to anyone reading this is simple: if anything like what I have described resonates with you, reach out to someone – anyone – just to talk. It is amazing what 5 minutes can do. If that person is me, that is fine by me. If you don’t feel like you have anyone to reach out, then try me – marckaye91@gmail.com. (I’m working on being a good listener – or at least that’s what I tell myself.) There is no better way to help oneself than helping others so this is me being selfish.

This is a difficult time of year for a lot of people and when we should be entering a period of deep and profound gratitude and connection, for some, it can feel like the exact opposite.

It doesn’t have to feel that way at all.

I hope for all of you true peace.

Until next time,

Marc





Daylight Savings, Raking Leaves & Beginning with the End

1 11 2015

It's a fine line between death and birth

It’s a fine line between death and birth

I’m not a huge fan of the period between Thanksgiving and the onset of Spring. I can tolerate the cold, though I tend to wish for warmer weather. It’s the darkness that I have a hard time with.

I don’t know whether or not I have SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) or not. It doesn’t matter if I do and I want to be careful to not self diagnose when there are people who really do suffer either seasonally or otherwise. All I do know is that when the sun starts to set early, I can’t stop yawning – a lot. The urge to nap, slow down and eat carbohydrates is pretty intense – or at least more intense than normal as those are all three things I enjoy doing, anyway. I take Vitamin D and I try to keep up with exercise, regardless, but as the days shorten, so does my motivation. (Daily intake of left over Halloween candy doesn’t exactly help, either.)

It’s not a coincidence, then, that on this first day of Daylight Savings Time when, yes, we gain an hour, but we also start to transition to much shorter days, I made myself sign up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This is, essentially, a 30 day challenge to write a a 50,000 word novel – approximately 1,700 words a day. I am not sure if I am going to succeed or not, nor if I do, if what I end up with will be worth anything. But I do know that without some sort of goal, the potential for getting to November 30th with little more than another month’s worth of “to do” lists is pretty good.

After grabbing a late breakfast with my son at a diner this morning, we raked leaves for a little under two hours in the front yard. He is an endless source of comedy material but more than that, an endless source of pride. Truthfully, the way this kid is maturing is an experience to behold – his approach to school, his aptitude for helping friends, his hilarious sense of humor and more importantly, his resilience. I am part father and part witness to an emerging adult.

We raked in silence, side by side, with the occasional verbal interruption. He could not tell the feelings of longing and loss that were welling up within me – both grateful for the opportunity to be there in the moment and, at the same time, dealing with a profound sense of sadness, melancholy and frustration at my current situation. If we were laying poolside in 85 degree weather at a resort, I may have the same experience but it would come and go. Something about the fall shadows cast on the lawn as we raked in an autumn chill, the smells of decaying leaves and the distant rustle of wind, leaves and branches set a scene for things coming to an end. It’s all too easy for me to internalize my surroundings. This, in some form or fashion, has been my achilles heal my entire life.

I really struggled with a sense of hopelessness. I am not sure exactly why. Intellectually, I knew that it was both not as dire as it felt nor chronic in nature. Still, the feelings were profound. When I get this way, I try to get to the root and ask “what is going on and what am I afraid of?” I concluded that it’s all about endings. This year is going to come to an end and one way or another, I will have to forge through a new beginning of sorts. Anyone who knows me understands that I am trying to get there – divorce, house, job – there are a lot of endings on the horizons and new beginnings to be had.

Though a story of fiction, I am hoping that the novel I am writing, “On the Side”, will help me get there. I need to get things out of my head and onto paper in one way or another – either through prose, song or comedy. I don’t have much of a choice at this point. Maybe NaNoWriMo is good for me. Maybe it isn’t. I do know that it is better to have something to shoot for than not. I need to apply this to all facets of my life, in reality.

I have no delusions of grandeur. There is no Pulitzer prize, Grammy or Comedy Central special awaiting me. I would be happy to get some extra comedy bookings and record a song or two, if that, not to mention, some sort of job security (let’s not forget about that).

I also know that I cannot simply “walk with my feelings” alone. It helps to acknowledge them. It helps to understand that they are with me, regardless of wish, desire or circumstance. That’s not enough for me, though. I need to have them materialize somehow for no one other than me the same way that a maple tree must shed it’s leaves in November. There simply is no choice. 

A setting sun, a browning landscape and an emerging winter must still be expressed, regardless of whether it is welcome or not.

Until next time,

Marc





Celexa, Carol King and Me.

26 08 2015
Carol is sort of like the "tear-whisperer".

Carol is sort of like the “tear-whisperer”.

Over 2 years ago I started taking Celexa – or Citalopram, as the generic is known. 

I like saying Citalopram better – it sounds “practical jokey”. Celexa sounds like a high class luxury vehicle or a blonde socialite I would never have anything do with. “I met Celexa at the club and we parted in my Selexa 99S.” That’s never going to happen – either of those things.

Have I digressed from the real topic of being on an anti-anxiety med? (Pretty sneaky.)

For the uninitiated, this drug of choice is yet another in the class of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) meant for depression and anxiety. This one was more geared toward anxiety, which apparently I had no shortage of and it was decided that a little inhibiting of my serotonin uptake might be in order.

I decided to do this largely at the urging, or should I say guilting, of my then-wife/soon-to-be-ex-wife/not-sure-what-to-call-her-anymore. I was really against it for various reasons, the least of which was not that I felt that in our over-prescribed society, it was an insult to those who really needed SSRIs to have those of us, like myself, who were mired in more “white people problems”. That being said, given the fact that my wife (at the time) saw this as a problem and I continued to fight against it, I surmised that it was my duty as a good husband to oblige and so I did.

Then, a few months later, I had a ball drop – my wife filed for divorce and I spent the next year unsuccessfully trying to hold onto something that could not be held onto and let’s just say, that didn’t seem like the most opportune time to get off a drug, hell, any drug. Anything that would help me continue to raise my kids, work hard and appear to have it under wraps was just fine with me.

A little over two weeks ago, I traveled to New Hampshire for a week with my kids. It was an excellent week, spending the majority outdoors and really enjoying caves, mountains, swimming and a general devolution from technology. I noticed I was having dizzy spells continually and having trouble sleeping, only to realize that I had neglected to pack the said Citalopram.

Upon realizing this on day three, I made a conscious decision that this was not a coincidence. No, it was “meant to be”. My thinking went something like this: “I am hopefully winding down 2015 with a smaller house, a new “relationship” status on Facebook and if I can squeeze it out, a more clear objective and dare I say, positive outlook on life”. And so the die had been cast.

Except the past two plus weeks have been an amalgamation of exhaustion, dizziness and feeling. Yes, feeling. I didn’t realize how many of my feelings were being moderated by this drug. Don’t get me wrong – I think it was not a bad thing. Being off of an SSRI, for me, is like tasting the cupcake AND the frosting but it is also like feeling the winter cold AND the frostbite. 

It is scary for me, to be honest but also revealing that I have to accept that I am a dude who just feels things deeply, for better and for worse. In writing this blog, I am accepting myself. I am trying to be honest and not hide from some exterior version of what people need to see to feel comfortable or worse, what I thought I needed to portray to be exhibited. The shame is not that I was embarrassed to admit that I had taken an anti-anxiety med but rather in that I was too embarrassed to reveal that I am an emotional dude at times and that my struggle is also my strength. That is what I am ashamed of…not taking the drug.

On Sunday, I saw “Beautiful” – the musical based on Carol King’s songs and her life. I don’t remember crying that much since watching “Precious” on a plane back from London while sitting near an Orthodox Jewish guy that got up every 15 minutes to pray. (Man, that flight attendant had no clue what was going on in 15 D and E). But more about that later.

The music was exceptional and the words hard-hitting. I joked that they should have called it “Divorce- The Musical” (which I want to write – as a parody, by the way). I cried for Carol. I cried for the soul she poured into her art, not because she had to but because she had no other choice. I cried for myself and my kids and lost time and new found meanings. I held it in pretty well until the song came I knew was bound to be played -“Too Late”. 

I had that same feeling I had while sitting Shiva (mourning) for my grandfather 21 years ago knowing that in a few days, my sister, me, and my parents would all be standing in my grandparents’ driveway heading our separate ways knowing that nothing was ever going to be the same next time we saw each other. Just standing there looking at each other trying to hold it together, knowing for days before that that moment was inevitable.

And it’s too late, baby now, it’s too late,

Though we really did try to make it.

Somethin’ inside has died, and I can’t hide,

And I just can’t fake it, oh, no, no.

The tears came down and I let them just sit there and dry on my cheek, thankful for feeling, for feeling sad – for feeling period. 

It’s funny – last night I posted to Facebook for the first time in a while. I said “I’m so tired of feeling like everything has to be ok. Anybody else? Just me?” and I realized that it was taken in a depressing sort of way when really what I was trying to say was “It’s ok to feel and if you really feel, not everything has to be ok because it’s part of life. It’s acceptable. It’s weird if everything is ok, isn’t it?”

So, here I blog to you for the first time in a while, absent of infused substance, other than a glass of red wine by my side, hoping that regardless of your medical regimen, you feel something…anything because living without feeling is safe but it sure ain’t rich. And it’s definitely not too late.

Until next time,

Marc





Independence Day (from my) Thoughts

6 07 2015

I think therefore I am (anxious).

I think therefore I am (anxious).

In honor of this past Independence Day Holiday, I am writing about me – again.

I spent this past weekend back at my parents home with my kids and my sister and her family. As luck would have it, my neighbors growing up were also all home and it turned into this fantastic ad hoc reunion with lots of kids and fun and no timelines. It was fantastic and just what I needed. It was a physical and mental independence day from myself.

It was at the exact right time for me. In my last blog, I wrote a little bit about “downsizing” my life right now. At this stage, I expected some sort of security that is now eluding me big time – financially, socially and even culturally. Most, if not all of that, is just based on a false pretense of what reality really is. But it feels that way nonetheless.
Everyone that I was with this weekend – from my sister and her husband to my neighbors growing up through a very good friend of my sister and her husband who stopped by were 100% unpretentious. These are all good people. Smart people. Down-to-earth real people. I miss that and I need that so much.
Where I now live, waiting at the bus stop or sitting at the baseball game or theater production, it’s hard to remember that we probably all have our struggles. I think once people get a little bling on their fingers and change in their pocket, they start to give themselves perhaps more credit for their lot in life than they should. Sure, careful planning, responsibility and hard work have a lot to say for a strong condition in life. A little luck doesn’t help either.
This is where comedy (and meditation come in). Meditation teaches us to sit with our feelings without labels and without stories: feel them and recognize how they manifest in your body. (“I am angry and that feels like tension in my shoulders.”) It teaches us not to try and hide from our feelings and this is what I love about good comedy, as well. It says “hey – I know it looks like I might have it together but I found a stink bug in my hair today that was probably there the whole day, my son told me that he can’t wait to leave the house and my ex decided I need to give her more money…but no worries, still living the dream!” It calls life what it is and I love it! I love people who can laugh about this, too. It is too difficult otherwise and wasted energy to try and be comfortable all the time.
I met a guy at a bar last week who just seems to have it all. He’s good looking with an amazing looking wife. Two fantastic careers, great sense of humor, smart – you name it. This dude even played with Springsteen. I mean c’mon! I was joking with him that I want to come back as him in my next life. (Well, maybe it wasn’t all a joke.) The point is that we got to talking over a few beers/shots and got to know each other and there was no pretending about anything. We even touched on meditation a little. It was an honest, real conversation and it was fantastic. I wasn’t there sitting trying to keep up with him and he wasn’t trying to be something he was not (though why would he – I mean, c’mon!).
I think when we face our insecurities and can laugh about them is when we really can connect with people. Why can’t CEOs and star baseball pitchers also be honest about their flaws while those of us who stumble a bit more through life pick one or two things to be confident about.? It can go both ways. It doesn’t compromise who we are or what we do. It just makes us more human.
I don’t know if you have ever been at the very tail end of a rain storm. I have. I was driving down south (if I recall it correctly) and it was pouring and then, all of a sudden, it just stopped and it was as if you could see the line where the storm ended. It was weird and cool at the same time. It has occurred to me that life is a lot like that. When there is something to get through, there is a definitive end and though sometimes it will come to you, more often than not, you have to try drive in a lot of directions to get to the end yourself… but it is there. Storms don’t last forever and neither do struggles in life, though it certainly can feel that way.
Are you waiting for the end of the storm to pass over you or are you willing to try and find the end on your own?
Until next time,
Marc







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