Acceptance AKA “What If…”

29 09 2016

whatif

There is a school of thought or belief that the individual journey we are on is exactly the one we are supposed to be on.

It is phrased in many different ways. Perhaps you have heard things such as “it was meant to be” or “it happened for a reason”. I don’t personally subscribe to either of these but do believe, as difficult as it may seem, wherever I find myself (physically and metaphorically) is really where I am supposed to be at that moment. It took me many, many, many difficult moments, however, to finally get here.

To me, I have spent more time than I care to admit thinking about life’s more challenging moments in terms of “why is this happening?” and “what is the lesson I am to take away from it?” However, it hit me today that I have never asked myself why certain things are not happening, as well.

I am incredibly grateful for the thousands of things that don’t happen to me and people I care about every day – illness, grief, pain, loss – particularly when these very things afflict so many innocent people all the time.

But what about all the good things that are not happening and seem to be so far out of reach and why stew on this today? Well, I am traveling for a few days and always feel doubly melancholy when I’m away from my kids and not within a 5 mile radius. Luckily, I’m on the same time zone, so it could be worse. With each time zone, it gets exponentially worse, in fact.

This made me realize that so many of the “dreams” that I have for myself – which all revolve around creative pursuits – would be pretty difficult to activate fully without a significant amount of travel, which would invariably take me away from my children a lot more and given the fact that homes schooling isn’t an option, probably for the best. So, what if, and I hesitate to even suggest this at the risk of sounding too “airy fairy”, but what if the universe was holding back knowing that it’s simply not the right time for this?

What if we had the knowledge that what we are going through and experiencing, both good and bad, is all purposeful because, believe it or not, this is the exact right time to experience it – as long as we did not miss the opportunity to take from it the lesson of its intent to move us forward on our journey? Similarly, what if we also knew that those things we long for so achingly may not present themselves just yet because it is simply not the right time? What if we had patience and faith and ignored all those self-help books that give us 10 steps to achieving all our goals in the next year?

I’m going to have to keep thinking about this one but I think there’s something there. Glorious, painful and mysterious all at once – just like life.

Until next time,

Marc

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Remarkable Day

10 05 2016

Taxi_App_Carousel_1

 May 5th was a remarkable day.

I wrote this at 5:04 PM, after what seemed to be a race with unpredictable ending, sitting on the exact train I was supposed to be on to get from NYC to my daughter’s Jr. National Honor Society induction.

In a hurry to get to a meeting downtown and after already being late due to ridiculous traffic, I decided to exit the taxi in a hurry and just walk the remaining 10 minutes or so to where I needed to be. Since I tend to get car sick in the back of taxis, I had decided to meditate to the best of my ability and simply have my credit card ready once we arrived so as to save those precious 10 seconds it would take for me to pull out my wallet and pay the fare.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it may turn out), I left said wallet in the back of the cab and realized it too late. After calling 3-1-1, taxi cab receipt in hand, being provided the cab drivers’ number from the dispatcher and trading phone calls, it turned out that the wallet had been taken and was gone. While definitely starting to panic, weirdly, my initial reaction was how relatively easy and helpful it was in reaching out to and getting help from both the taxi dispatch and the driver.

As someone who has been reading a lot lately about one’s “Buddah nature”, I breathed deeply (several times) while still engaging in the meeting and as time allowed, started to cancel various credit card accounts online, to the best of my ability. I had given in to the fact that the wallet was gone and that my attachment to this outcome was of no help to me. I had to “speak” to myself the way in which I would to a friend. And this is where things started getting interesting.

As anyone close to me can tell you, I have a hard time- a real hard time – holding on to things when I travel – wallets, glasses, books, license, credit cards – you get the picture. No matter how much it seems I try to organize, remind myself etc, I lose things more times that I am comfortable admitting. My inner dialogue always goes something like this: “I am such a loser. Why do these things always happen to me? Oh, yeah – it’s because I’m a loser.”

What I realized this day though was that I have been framing all of these incidents – not just losing things – but everything, good and bad, in the wrong way. It’s not “why do these things always happen to me.” It’s “why do these things always happen for me.”

There are no coincidences. As I have written about before, I personally don’t subscribe to the notion that everything happens for a reason but I do believe that things happen for a lesson, which is more graspable.

Here is what happened next:

  1. I am at lunch with work colleagues when one of them has to ask to have her salad “to go” because she has to go to Fordham University to see final presentations from the senior class, which leads to a conversation about Fordham and the campus.
  2. During this conversation, I feel a vibration on my cell phone, which is in my pocket, but do not immediately look at it as to not appear rude during the discussion.
  3. Once the topic changes and there is a natural pause, I look at my phone and it is a Facebook message that says “found your wallet in a cab. Please call ….”
  4. I call the number provided and a guy tells me where he is located and I arrange to pick up my wallet at his office building later in the day. (I profusely thank him, like too much.)
  5. I look up his profile (or what I thought was his profile) on Facebook and it says his name is Tom and he is a graduate of…wait for it….Fordham University.
  6. Then, there is a mildly boring period of getting back to the business of work meetings and I head to the subway to make my way to pick up the wallet, (after canceling a drink with someone I was supposed to meet up with – more due to the meeting going over than the lost wallet).
  7. I get on the right train, wrong direction – end up in Brooklyn.
  8. Get on the train going back but now unsure of myself ask a woman sitting next to me (we were on a train stuck on the tracks for a while) about my route which convinced me to get off, though it turned out to be right all along.
  9. I then get back on the next train going in the right direction and make my way to the office.
  10. Turns out it was not Tom who found my wallet, but his friend, Travis, who was using his phone.
  11. I get my wallet back and rush to the subway with 35 minutes to get from downtown to Penn Station and here I am.

While on the subway, I pulled out “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown which I am reading. I turn the page and she is talking about her vulnerability during a visit to a special place in Texas, Lake Travis. What? She then talks about a scientist (on the same page) with the same last name of someone who just happened to email me recently out of the blue.

What is going on here?

I am not looking to make something out of nothing but c’mon. The universe is telling me something. I think the universe actually has a wicked sense of humor. Maybe by finally “letting go” of this idea of control, it’s the most straightforward way of knowing that the universe really does have our backs. That day could have gone in so many different directions but every single interaction – from the taxi driver through dispatch, was leading to something bigger than the sum of it’s parts.

I boarded the train in the morning and the evening as planned. However, what happened in between was anything but. Isn’t this the best metaphor for life? We are born and then we exit but what really matters are the unexpected, wonderful, tragic, elaborate, simple, mind-boggling, boring things that happen in-between and what we take from them. That is truly remarkable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Recalibrate, Don’t Reinvent

18 10 2015

Tiny adjustments. Big effects.

Tiny adjustments. Big effects.

It is not unusual to find ourselves intrigued by metamorphosis. Think “before and after” photos of weight loss, home make-overs or stories of “transforming” one’s life to a place never imagined.

These are the stories that movies are made of. However, in reality, I think the less sexy version has a lot more sticking power. How many times have we read that “diets do not work” – that there is no quick fix, but rather it’s about smaller, incremental steps that you have to weave into your daily routine? 

To me, this makes a lot more sense and applies to much more than whether I’m going to be able to fit into the same bathing suit next year as the one a year before. When someone goes through a pretty big life event, particularly if it is not the most positive (ie. job loss, health diagnosis or, hypothetically speaking, a divorce (he says in jest for anyone who has been reading this blog)) – there is a lot of talk about taking advantage and an opportunity to “reinvent” oneself.

That’s a whole lot of pressure. If you believe, like me, that we are fundamentally who we are with the ability to tweak, learn, and grow but NOT in the business of radically changing our true nature, then this concept of “reinvention” seems like a recipe for failure. 

In looking back over the past year or so, when I ponder those things that have made me really happy, they all come back to the same things that maybe I had lost or had compromised during my marriage. It doesn’t matter what that is and it was my decision all along. However, the one good thing about reflecting on all of this is that is has allowed me to adjust the knobs of my personal “studio sound board” to where the mix is just right…or at least getting there. It’s about recalibration.

I gave a very short blessing to my daughter yesterday during her Bat Mitzvah and referenced a quote that always stuck with me from my English class during my junior year of high school. It was from Ralph Waldo Emerson and you may be familiar with it:

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. 

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages… In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried”

Our contentment ultimately lies within us – not around anyone else. This is a hard lesson because it puts the onus on us to look at our internal portfolio of where we spend our time, with whom, how and for what purpose. And when we do so, we may find some serious adjustments that need to be made – but they are worth it.

Is it time for you to recalibrate?

Until next time,

Marc

Thanks for reading and please consider signing up for my blog or twitter @MarcKaye1.





Live or Die by Self Talk

2 07 2015
Don't be such an ass to yourself!

Don’t be such an ass to yourself!

Almost every single song that I have written over the past few years – and there have been many – have been about my marriage.

Oddly enough, it is some of my best stuff – deeply personal, sadly honest and, at the same time, removed. I think it is the “removed” part that concerns me the most because no matter how many times you try to convince yourself of something, the reality always shows up…sometimes moments later, sometimes decades.

It is interesting to me because I spoke to no one about my marriage – no one but myself and my piano. Even today, I find it hard to truly emote my deepest personal sadness, regrets, fears, anxieties and feelings to anyone but the closest of friends but if you pay attention to the notes and the lyrics, it’s all there…even without the lyrics, actually. It can’t hide. I am hoping to embark on recording a lot of my songs and I think it is pretty much the anthology depicting the dissolution of a marriage. (Uplifting, I know- read on!)

I have been trying to impart the importance of letting out feelings to my son who is at the tender age of 14 when he is going through so much emotionally and physically. I want him to understand, as I put in terms that I think any teenage boy could hopefully understand, “feelings are like a fart – you can only hold them in for so long and then it’s gotta come out.”

This week, I listened to my feelings and gut and spoke to a very senior level officer at my company because my gut has been telling me over the past few months that my job may not be secure. The last time I had this feeling, 13 years ago, I had confronted my boss who told me everything was fine only to be laid off 2 months later. My discussion today was honest, candid and sobering. I am hopefully optimistic that things are going to work out at my current job but realize that, just like my divorce, there are certain things that change – out of my control other than to respond in a positive and hopeful manner.

I would be lying if I didn’t feel like I am a loser at this stage of my life – downsizing my home, perhaps my job, my perspective on life, my relationships with my kids as they need me less – it could easily turn into a pity party. I live in a nice neighborhood and when you look at guys similar to me at this stage of life, it seems like they are more where you would think they should be – married, saving money, looking hopefully to the future and enjoying family. The truth is – who the hell really knows?Furthermore, what’s the point? It’s completely irrelevant.

The truth is I can look at the future as an abyss or an incredible clean slate – a chance to start again (to a certain point) but this time with a little more money in the bank and a whole lot more wisdom. The way I have processed things in the past were with bad self-talk (“way to go idiot” “I’m such a loser.”). A recent article that I read in Psychology Today was talking to the incremental, positive impact of self talk that begins with your first name – as if you were talking to a friend. The overall point is that you probably would never talk to a friend in need the way you talk to yourself (and if so, please remove me from your holiday card list).

So, I can turn it around to “Marc – you have a lot going for you and this may be an opportunity to start that business you have dreamt of.” or “Marc – look what you’re doing with comedy and music – that’s a pretty cool thing.”

Try it…what do you need to turn around in your self-talk to cut yourself some slack and take stock of how great you really are? If you give it a chance, maybe I will, too.

Until next time,
Marc





Measure Twice, Cut Once

10 01 2015

measure_twice-resized-600.jpg

It’s an old adage but it applies to more than just measurement. Something tells me that I’m also probably not the first person to use this saying as a metaphor for life, either. For the sake of argument (and this blog post), let’s just say I am, though.

As some of you (all 6 that follow this blog) may know, this has been a year (plus) of some significant change for me. I think I have gotten so much better at embracing change – though truthfully, much more so for that which was by my own making – and dealing with it, but the ability to silence the noise both in  my head and outside of it has always been a challenge. Much of this anxiety has been driven not so much by the fact that people will react to changes that affect me, but more so by the fact that I have to deal with it at all.

To that, there is a collective “get over it” and rightfully so. It has also occurred to me that I really need to challenge my own thoughts and beliefs. Whether it’s showing up with a newly grown beard, showing an embarrassing video parody of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball”, admitting that I do stand-up comedy or having to face the awkward silences of telling those around me that I am going through a divorce, I have to stop predicting how this will be taken (my first “measure”) and consider the more positive alternative (my second “measure”) before forming an assumption or opinion.

In the end, unlike cutting a piece of lumber or structuring an overpass bridge, when it comes to perception and reality and how you are received both by yourself and those around you, it really doesn’t matter how many times you measure because there will be those internal thoughts and those external comments that will make you feel like a well crafted piece of oak furniture and on the other side, the corollary that will make you feel like the bridge in the picture above.

You’re probably sensing a theme (and maybe a tired one at this point) in a couple of these blog posts – it really is about getting comfortable with who you are. It’s one thing to not care about what other people think about you. It is quite another to give yourself a pass once in a while, too.

Until next time,

Marc








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