My Eyes Are Up Here (Thank you very much)

2 01 2017

how-to-wear-wedding-and-engagement-rings1

I have had a bad habit when I meet someone and I am hoping to break it this year.

Often times, when I first see someone or meet somebody, my eyes divert to the finger on their hand closest to their pinky – you know the one, the “ring” finger. I’ll even check the right hand sometimes for those in Europe and other parts of the world that traditionally wear wedding bands on that hand.

This is the divorced person’s version of every teenage boy not making a first glance above the girl’s neck area. It’s an honest challenge. It’s embarrassing to admit this. No one sees me doing it but I know it and that’s enough.

Last month, after taking a mental inventory of almost every passenger on the C train in NYC, including adolescents who were legally not even old enough to be married, I visibly shook my head in disgust with myself and silently asked myself “why are you doing this”? These questions of self-investigation are not always for the faint of heart. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, big deal. Still, it’s a little mental if you ask me – and yes, I am being pretty judgmental of myself.

The answer is pretty simple. It’s me simply identifying what group these strangers belong to, as I once was a member myself. Of course, nothing about the wearing or non-wearing of a wedding band really tells all that much but I guess it’s like looking at a bunch of college kids and reminiscing that “yeah, I used to be in that group once.”

Marriage was the one thing (along with family) that was the “sine qua non” (an absolute necessary) in my growing up. Regardless of how much money, popularity, degrees or other more accepted measures of “success” one might have had, in my family, it didn’t seem to hold nearly as much weight as a solid family foundation. For me, the dissolution of my own marriage – something that simply cannot be swept under the proverbial rug – was both a moment of profound failure and ultimately, awakening.

There is something I heard a while ago that has helped me with this. Some of you may recall a song from a decade or so ago called “The Sunscreen Song”, the lyrics of which were taken from an essay written as a hypothetical commencement speech by Mary Schmich, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Though I was married at the time, I never forgot the following passage, (interesting that this is the one that stuck out):

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t

Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t

Maybe you’ll divorce at 40,

maybe you’ll dance the “Funky Chicken” On your 75th wedding anniversary

Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much

Or berate yourself either

Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s

I’m definitely not celebrating a 75th wedding anniversary any time in this life but I feel there’s still a Funky Chicken or two (not to mention an endless supply of “Doing the Robot”) in the not so distant future – and I don’t have to audit a sea of ring fingers to do it, either. (But I will warn you – as someone who has “danced like no one is watching”, it’s pretty embarrassing when you look at the car next to you and realize someone was.)

Here’s to not over-congratulating ourselves for when things go great and not over-berating ourselves for when they don’t.

Until next time,

Marc

(The lyrics to the full essay/song are below if interested.)

 

The Sunscreen Song

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2007, wear sunscreen If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable Than my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind You will never understand the power And the beauty of your youth until they’ve faded But trust me, in twenty years You will look back at photos of yourself

And recall in a way you can’t grasp now How much possibility lay before you And how fabulous you really looked You are not as fat as you imagine

Don’t worry about the future or worry that know that worrying Is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation By chewing bubble gum The real troubles in your life are apt to be things That never crossed your worried mind The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday

Do one thing every day that scares you, sing Don’t be reckless with other peoples’ hearts Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours, floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself

Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults If you succeed in doing this, tell me how Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements, stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with your life

The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t Get plenty of calcium Be kind to knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the “Funky Chicken” On your 75th wedding anniversary Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much Or berate yourself either Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own, dance Even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room Read the directions even if you don’t follow them Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly

Brother and sister together will make it through Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there I know you’ve been hurting, but I’ve been waiting to be there for you And I’ll be there just helping you out, whenever I can

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good Be nice to your siblings, they are your best link to your past And the people most likely to stick with you in the future Understand that friends come and go But a precious few, who should hold on

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle For as the older you get, the more you need the people You knew when you were young Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard Live in northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft

Travel, accept certain inalienable truths Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble And children respected their elders

Respect your elders, don’t expect anyone else to support you Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse But you’ll never know when either one will run out Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty It will look eighty-five Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of Wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off Painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth But trust me on the sunscreen

Brother and sister together will make it through, oh yeah Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there I know you’ve been hurting, but I’ve been waiting to be there for you And I’ll be there just helping you out, whenever I can

Everybody’s free, oh yeah, everybody’s free, oh yeah, oh, to feel good

Songwriters NIGEL ANDREW SWANSTON, TIM COX

Published by Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

Song Discussions is protected by U.S. Patent 9401941. Other patents pending.

Read more: Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

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Enough With Passion Already

1 02 2016

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Vegan, low carb and completely organic….just saying.

If I never hear the phrase “follow your passion” one more time, it won’t be soon enough. 

First of all, depending on what your passion is (or who it may be), this can end you up in a legal situation and no one one needs that.

Secondly, if every single one of us followed our passion, I suspect we wouldn’t have working sewage treatment plants, clean highways or confidently diagnosed proctology exams (not that proctology can’t be someone’s passion, I guess.)

My point is that, what, who and why we “follow” in our lives can have some pretty significant consequences. As someone who is constantly at angst with himself over how to blend in those things that I love (music, comedy, writing) with those things that I can actually make a living at (right now) to serve those I love (my children), this choice to follow my passion could be great for me but for those I care about, not so much.

However, what if we focused on feeding our souls instead? Feeding is not some ritualistic, ethereal cult-like foray into dissolving everything else in the name of all that is passionate! Instead, healthy feeding is about nourishment and just like the right amount of protein, fiber and fat (and in my case, resveratrol), we need the right amount of experience that builds up our soul. This is a physical thing. You know what it feels like to be excited about doing something.

You know that feeling when you have it – that moment when you are just in the moment, maybe alone reading or listening to something, or with friends or family and simply feeling glad to be alive at the moment, regardless of what you may be going through otherwise.

I cannot imagine not spending time with my parents, friends, pursuing comedy and music or watching bad TV with my kids – regardless of how easy or not those may be at any given time (which is a nice way of reminding everyone how painful comedy really is).

My point is that we have enough pressure on us already without having to buy into this notion that there is some amazing life that awaits us if we only find, follow and pursue at any cost our one passion. Do yourself a favor, and find a couple of things that nourish your soul and you may just realize that your passion is something entirely different in the first place.

Until next time,

Marc





Birthdays, Astrology & Perspective

5 12 2015

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(I get to picture myself this way – if only for a day.)

My birthday is coming up. It is not something I advertise, especially as I find myself aging at a rate that seems to defy the natural laws of the universe. As I have said to many of my friends – it’s not my age that concerns me, it is simply how quickly time goes and the feeling that it goes faster with each passing year. I just have so much I want to do before I get to the end of this phase of my journey.

I was recently at a house concert with Francis Dunnery, a singer songwriter, who also happens to be very embedded in astrology. He was very interactive with the forty or so of us in attendance and went through each of the astrological signs, mine being Sagittarius. I have never been one for this sort of thing, but it was entertaining, if nothing else.

 Apparently those of us who find ourselves in this same astrological neighborhood are in a never-ending search for meaning. Yes, this definitely resonated with me but I imagine it does for many, Sagittarius and non-“Sag’s” alike.

I think what struck me the most about this experience was that out of all the time he spent speaking to the astrological signs, the least amount of time was spent on this one. He couldn’t seem to pin us down as he did in great detail with other star signs. It was very notable to me that he just kept coming back to this idea of always searching for meaning – in relationships, in work, in leisure – you get the picture. To me, this felt like restlessness, which is something that I definitely relate to. This restlessness, for me at least, is all about meaning – the meaning behind why I am on this Earth in this form at this particular time. As I have written about before, I do not believe in coincidences.

I am spending this weekend with my children and my parents – the two people that have known me since birth (and before) and the two people who will know me until my death. I cannot ask for anything more, for in this knowing is the inescapable truth. We cannot hide from those who have seen us evolve from newborn nor start our journey to life’s destined finale. If I can keep this ecosystem around me for as long as possible, I am a lucky man.

The problematic house, uncertain job, impending divorce, sporadic creative career and undefined life – it’s all ok when there are people around you who can remind you from where you came and be there for you wherever you may go. And that – that is meaningful, not to mention the best birthday gift a guy like me can ask for.

Here’s to having a meaningful birthday in your future. 

Until next time,

Marc





Just Landed

10 09 2015
...just landed...

…just landed…

I don’t know exactly why, but nothing hits me more that I am no longer a married person than when I’m traveling and the plane touches down. I grab my cell phone and instinctively feel like sending that text I sent over and over again: “just landed”.

When I was married, it didn’t matter if I left the house uneventfully, joyfully or after a stressful conversation, I always texted when that plane landed – regardless of the time.

It’s strange. I can’t text anyone else that I landed now. It’s not that anyone doesn’t care. I just can’t do it.

I think that is one of the things I miss most about being married – texting someone that I landed safely. I know it sounds sort of stupid. 

Some people postulate that I miss being married. I don’t. 

Or that I will get married again one day. I won’t. 

Or that it’s not having that special someone to share any of the hundreds of travel mishaps that I experience along the way. It’s not.

On a subliminal level, it’s knowing that the one person who has the most vested interest in my not dying in a plane crash and sticking around is the one person with whom I am raising children. For me, it’s really that simple. It’s the text that writes “just landed” but really says “I’m still around…plan is still to be back Friday. I know about the game and you taking off a couple of days and if something happens, I’m here and oh, I get that I’m part of something bigger than myself.”

Though not my main reason, getting married had a lot to do with starting a family of my own. When the marital bond disintegrated, so did the ties that connect the only two people who share that experience of raising children, good and bad, and figuring it all out. I looked forward to being old and laughing at the bad times. That’s what you’re supposed to do. I was always ok with recreating some of the more difficult moments for the sake of prosperity. If nothing else, it provides great fodder for my kids to tell to their children.

By no means is the richness of relationships or even raising kids exclusive nor more acute for those two people who have signed the contract and created a family. I get that. There are examples upon examples of blended families, non-traditional relationships etc. that provide the same if not more intense positive environments for children. For me, it happened to be husband and wife. 

My point is simply with respect to that growing storyline that those two people are developing – together. There is an understanding and thread that is carried from the very beginning that makes sense. It’s the glimpse that two people share when one of your kids does that thing again or that funny moment you have to remember to tell your partner at the end of the day. Those things count no matter how difficult things may have been. At least they do for me.

Imagine building something over a period of time and seeing it morph and suddenly your co-creator is not there to celebrate what happens to that creation. It’s a transition.

Surely, you will bring new people into your life to look at your creation, marvel at it’s worth and even help it evolve. It’s just the start of a new ritual. For me, it’s not texting “just landed” anymore. Maybe it’ll be “taking off” so I can focus more on where I’m going than where I came from.

Until next time,

Marc

Thanks again for reading. I appreciate it. If you haven’t already, please consider enrolling to get my blog posts delivered straight to your inbox through this site, email me at marckaye91@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @marckaye1. (Better yet, how about all 3). Also, through October 15, for every new follower I get, I will be donating $1 to Nechama, a disaster relief agency, in honor of my daughter who is raising money and awareness for this great organization for her Bat Mitzvah project! Thanks again, 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




Leaving Your Old Life Behind

5 05 2015

image

I have been deliberately not thinking about the future lately – or at least my future. I think a lot about my kids’ futures – will divroced parents put them at a disadvantage for establishing healthy relationships themselves? Will the world they inherit be a healthy one, mentally and physically, and be empathetic to their individual struggles? Will I help guide them to find their true north and be authentic to who they are and find their passion but still be able to instill upon them the importance of practical work?

I listen to TED Talks via podcast (and recommend it if you don’t already) and heard one titled “Champions”, focused on those who have accomplished amazing feats of strength and willpower, such as Dyan Nyad the 60+ swimmer who swam for 53 hours straight from Cuba to the Florida Keys. These stories are amazing and the one that really got to me was that of Amy Purdy, the paralympic snowboarder, who went on to almost win the entire Dancing with the Stars competition. Her story was heartbreaking and inspiring – an avid snowboarder who, at the age of 19, lost both legs (among other things) to meningitis. In the interview she explains that as devastated as she was, at some point she realized that she had to leave that old Amy behind and focus on the new Amy.

I had a similar experience with a young woman from Wisconsin who, after a horrific car accident, was on life support, not being given even 24 hours to live, now living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). She is still living with a TBI and in her interview, she, too, said that she wished friends of old would get to know the “new her”.

I find this type of self awareness fascinating. It is not mired in pity but acceptance. This is something that I need to learn myself. When I first confessed, right before the new year, to the fact that I am going through a divorce I ended my blog post by simply stating that it is just another descriptor to who I am.

Things are not always neatly packaged. Most of my friends in my age group are married, and happily, I hope. I see a journey that mimics what I thought mine was – raising kids, fixing up the house, posting family photos of vacations and milestones on Facebook, etc, etc. That was me. That is the “old Marc.”

The new Marc is a single dad who is having new experiences with his kids, enjoying comedy and friends more than ever and struggling through this journey day by day. My struggle is one of millions and not so bad. When you’re going through a divorce, every guy you meet seems to have a wedding ring on. But, we all have our own journeys and we all have many descriptors. At some point, maybe leaving the “old you” behind is a chance to reincarnate in this life and what emerges may be a “new you” that was always there but not able to emerge in the first place. Be forewarned, though, while you accept the “new” you, it may not be as easy for those who know the “old” you.

Here’s to whichever “you” you are. Embrace it, accept it and take stock of your purpose.

Until next time,

Marc





The Humorous Side of Martin Luther King, Jr.

19 01 2015

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This may seem like a strange post to blog about on Martin Luther King day but I think it is actually important for a couple reasons – 1. We forget to humanize a lot of our heroes, particularly for the younger set which is important so they realize that very great things come from regular people like us; and 2. it’s a side of MLK we don’t often read or hear about. (Also, this is sort of a comedy blog so there’s that, too.)

I have been reading up on MLK lately, maybe because there has been so much press around the recent release of Selma, maybe because my kids are of the age we they are developing their social conscious or maybe because of a combination of both.

It was very interesting to read older interviews from MLK’s days in college where he was known to have a pretty goofy sense of play and humor and how he developed into one of the greatest orators and leaders of our time. It was as interesting, also, to read about the very private MLK that we don’t know about too much – the man who, behind closed doors, would share jokes with fellow preachers and use humor to deflect some of the gravity of what he saw, felt and lived on a daily basis.

This, by far, was a very inspirational thing for me to learn because just as MLK said he chooses to stick with love over hate because the burden of choosing hate was too great, he chose to use humor over blame or negativity to manage stress and the reality of dealing with deeply dark moments.

It occurred to me that, in my family, this was a similar path. My parents raised my sister and I so that family came first – for everything. Sometimes it was too much, to be honest. That being said, there was a healthy (and sometimes unhealthy) amount of sarcasm and humor to deal with intense situations and this served well in the most dire of times.

One time that sticks in my head was after my grandfather died. He was really a core focal point for our family. His death was a very difficult thing for my entire family, particularly  my mother. After his funeral, we all went back to my grandmother’s house for Shiva, a ceremonial period of mourning in the Jewish faith. Before we knew it, we were laughing about memories and silly things.

After 3 days, I had to leave to go back to where I lived. My car was in my grandparents’ driveway. I stood facing my parents, sister at my side. It occurred to all of us simultaneously that next time we were back there together, time will have changed. It was the end of the era.

My eyes welled up and then the flood gates opened for everyone. It was over almost as soon as it began and then we smiled each other, hugged and laughed – at the craziness of it all; this family who holds nothing in, restraining ourselves from crying at a loss. How funny. Truly, it was hilarious.

On this MLK day, when his “I have a dream” is his most famous speech, let’s celebrate the humility that it takes to be a great leader, to show vulnerability, to wade through difficult waters and to never give up.

Until next time,

Marc








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