Love.

30 06 2017

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If kindness beholds itself to random acts completed in its honor then love is the scraping and molding of deliberation – no randomness here.

Planning.

Struggling.

Acting.

Today, I witnessed a scene that I have seen numerous time as it occurs on my street – a gentleman walking to a special transport for the county to help a loved one walk down the steps of the bus.

For him, this is probably a daily occurrence but he ..is …there – every day – the same time.

Who is the woman walking down – clearly older but with the smile of a 10 year old – innocent, kind, warm and slightly greying hair in a bob and held back by two barrettes? Is she his daughter? A relative? A friend?

Love is deliberate.

Being there.

Holding on to the best of another person despite what your hopes might have been.

Doing the hard work.

Being ok with how things are and not how things “should” be.

This takes thought, fortitude and a commitment to another person based on where they are and not where you need them to be to maintain certain optics for your own sake.

Love is cruel and ugly and requires things of us we may never have imagined and damn if that isn’t beautiful.

Kindness is easy.

Maybe it costs $2.35 on the Turnpike to pay for the car behind me or someone’s coffee at Starbucks. That’s nothing.

But love is grueling …and so necessary.

Because there is no living without those moments. The ones that have you waiting for the silence to befall so you can talk yourself into another day with the hopes it gets easier.

And it will.

Love is not Hugh Grant in “Love Actually”.

Actually, that was romance and some pretty good lighting.

Love is snot and sweat and changing diapers – and not always on a baby – and being there to help her down the stairs of the bus though your dream at one time was to play with the grandkids she gave you.

That’s love, but you better be ready.

Until next time,

Marc





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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Uncertainty – the only certainty.

5 05 2016

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My daughter turned 13 today. Just like I did for her older brother, I posted a Happy Birthday picture of her when she was a toddler next to a recent photo. Sifting through those older photos transported me not back in time but almost as if I was witnessing someone else’s life. It’s hard to explain.

She had her concert tonight and after the concert, I waited for her to congratulate her and wish her a Happy Birthday again. Standing off to the side was her mother and as I passed her, I had that “who’s life is this?” feeling again. Her I was passing a woman I spent almost every single day with for almost 2 decades without an acknowledgement. Weird! (Preferred at this point, but still….weird.)

There is no greater proof that certainty is just something we come up with to help distract us from the realities of a groundless, uncontrollable life than divorce. It is living proof of the uncertainty of assumptions, life, friendships, relationships and those foundational precepts that help to keep us navigating an otherwise unpredictable world.

I think this is part of the reason it is so difficult for others to be around people who are visibly or otherwise publicly going through a rough time – it doesn’t fit neatly into this narrative that keeps us moving along. The only real safe story we can tell ourselves is that there must be something inherently acute to those suffering from failed marriages, chronic illnesses, job loss and other issues. When, in truth, no one know our stories – not even ourselves. As my father always said, the only certain things in life are death and taxes, and between you and me, I’m not even sure about that one depending on your particular economic bracket and propensity for tax-sheltered businesses or your view of what constitutes “life and death”.

My point is that as certain as I was that I had the perfect daughter, she did just turn 13 today. We know how that can go. And that’s as much reminder as I need that we are not meant to live in a certain world and rather than see that as suffering, it could be the most exciting realization yet.

Until next time,

Marc

 

 

 





Life Between the Creases

4 05 2016

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I am selling my house and everyday is a contest of sorts to see how well I can stage it as if I just happen to own this property and there is daily maid service to keep everything neat and tidy.

With two teenagers, a full-time job and a proclivity for starting strong and then just tucking away whatever is remaining into the nearest drawer, it’s definitely not the Hilton.

Unlike most days, I decided to upend the L-shaped family room couch cushions and really “deep clean”. It’s amazing what you find between the cushions – coins, pens, wrappers, notes, missing pieces to various chargers, etc. It occurred to me that these remnants are symbols of a house well-lived in. Mine is not a museum. It is a “lived in house”, for sure.

Growing up, our modest ranch house was made even more modest by the fact that we crammed our lives, all four of us, into a small kitchen and even tinier den. The rest of the house was pretty much off limits, with the exception of the bathroom and our bedrooms for sleeping. We even were purveyors of that all-too-cliché hard plastic covering that covered the never-to-be-sat in living room furniture. To each their own and in trying to balance the demands of every day life, I can’t blame my parents or anyone for organizing and creating as they need to in order to manage.

I vowed, though, that when I had my own place, I wanted to use the fancy dishes. I wanted each room to be used. I wanted big-ass butt cheek prints to change the cushioning of my couch seating so they looked well worn, (to paint an image).

Luckily, that is the type of home we have and it can get messy. But I love what I find in that mess because that is where life is really most vivid – in between the creases. The folds of notes long forgotten, the dog-eared pages of books that had profound meaning when nothing else did, the concert t-shirt worn so many times that permanent lines outline what your shoulders used to be shaped like and yes, the wrappers and fallen M&Ms in between the couch cushions from that Friday you let both kids watch a Rated R movie though you knew they were secretly counting how many times the “F” word was said.

There’s a reason wrinkles are called laugh lines. It’s the same reason life lives within the creases. There is no smoothness attributed to those experiences that truly imprint the folds of our memory and the fragments of who we become.

Until next time,

Marc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Emotional Storage

12 12 2015
Messy_storage_room_with_boxes

Scientists have finally revealed what the inside of my brain looks like.

I have been working slowly – actually, I think I’ve given new definition to the word “slow” – let’s say, “slothily”- through the various rooms and closets in my house in preparation for ultimately moving at some unforeseen time between now and the next sighting of Haley’s Comet, scheduled for sometime in 2062.

Over the years, I have realized that having lots of things and clutter around me does nothing to help with anxiety. Or, actually, it helps anxiety a lot – which is the problem. I need help ridding of anxiety, as the case may be. Always thinking ahead, my prominent thought is “how the hell are my kids going to get rid of all this crap after I die?” No one can accuse me of not planning ahead.

There are so many things that have been boxed up and set aside in storage for years and years. I am not sure when exactly I am planning to re-look at all of this stuff. Perhaps it is this fear that one day, if I am lucky enough to become elderly, I will be all alone; just me, a practical cup of tea, my new “iCollar” for the elderly implanted in my wrist and a handkerchief surrounded by nothing but photographs and illegible artwork and a slew of elementary school report cards to remind me of a life long past. How freaking depressing! And don’t get me started on the compendium of marriage related photos, albums, letters, cards, and wedding paraphernalia that were left behind for me. There is a whole section of my attic that looked like a marriage threw up in there.

No thank you!

Always one to look for the meaning in anything, (as is the tendency of “Sags” as I recently learned), it occurred to me that I have been carrying quite a load in my emotional storage locker, as well.

You are probably familiar with the idea of “carrying baggage” around – those experiences and feelings that can become obstacles to us moving forward in life. But what about storage?

Storage, to me, is even worse. With baggage, you can compartmentalize or hopefully, discard all together, but storage? You’re in for the long-term, brothers and sisters! With storage, you are just taking all your crap and placing it somewhere else where it never goes away. Sure, in the short-term, it’s great to be rid of it for a while, but it’s there…looming, waiting, and eventually, reminding you of, wait for it – your baggage.

I write a lot about thoughts and the impact that this has had on me, both in a positive and negative manner. Many of my thoughts are all about storage because I don’t necessarily carry them with me front and center but they are nestled deep in some cerebral storage locker just waiting to be uncovered, unpacked and let loose. The hell with that.

I am committing myself to trashing, donating or selling most of everything I have stored up – physically and mentally. So, if you are interested in some thoughts, perceptions and feelings that aren’t of any use to me anymore, hit me up – I am very reasonable.

What are you storing that it’s time to discard?

Until next time,

Marc





Right Where I’m Meant to Be

11 11 2015
Time to be where you are.

Time to be where you are.

I had a great weekend for comedy.

I was not with my kids and, as much as I joke about them in my writing, I always deal with a little depression when they are not around me for an extended (24 hour) period of time. The distraction of 3 comedy shows, friends and family this past weekend helped me rid of those feelings, if only temporarily.

Not only was each show better than the last for me as a growing comedian, but also I found that I continue to have a lot to be grateful for – friends and colleagues in the comedy community who continue to bring me along and recommend me, high school friends who came out to see me after such a long period of time since high school that I could not have ever imagined, parents who support this crazy thing I am doing and kids who continue to be resilient, not to mention healthy, during these formative years.

At one of my shows in CT this weekend, it really hit me. I sat at a table of friends from high school and at that small table, we represented a wide spectrum of the human experience. Out of respect for my friends, I will leave out the details but suffice it to say that none of it mattered and that was a beautiful thing for me. In an environment where I find myself often the odd man out, it was so refreshing to have no corners or boundaries by which we were trying to fit into. Sitting at that table represented what I love so much about those friends I have made in the comedy community, as well.

Something that one of my friends said toward the end of the night really struck me. She said something to the effect that she looks outside each day and thinks about how beautiful that day is and how she wants to dance and live and really live life while she still can and for as long as she can.

This is not a fly-by-your-seat person. She has a family she is close to, as well as friends and basically been working full time forever. You get the point. It was not an easy journey for her but she is not even close to done. I loved that. There was no excuse. 

It’s like looking in the mirror and realizing that you’re not the 17 year old who just had all this passion to do big things. That never goes away – at least not for me. The challenge is to understand that our responsibility as friends, partners, sons, brothers, sisters, daughters, parents, grandparents, etc does not bury that 17 year old driven to do big things. Failure doesn’t have to be a fear. It can be an innocent bystander along the way and then you move on. It’s all how we look at it.

More than ever in the past 20 years, I have no clue what things will look like for me next year at this time but I do know that it’s not a question anymore of better or worse. It is simply a question of how quickly it will take me to realize that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at that very moment…sort of like right now.

Until next time, 

Marc





There are no coincidences

22 10 2015
There are no coincidences - but lots of choices.

There are no coincidences – but lots of choices.

2015: This year isn’t even over and it still keeps coming – divorce, house that won’t sell, money leaping from my savings account at a rate that would astonish even Superman and today – news that my job may not be long for this world.

It is overwhelming for sure and there is a part of me that asks, “well, surely he must have done something to get to this point.” That’s me judging myself. I listened to a podcast this week about happiness and it reminded me that those of us that judge ourselves are also more likely to judge others. I didn’t like that. I like to think of myself as open minded. Truth is that as hard as I am on myself, I probably take that with me when I observe others, too, without even knowing it.

So, in an effort to turn this around, I tried re-framing all this stuff that seems to be collecting at once. Divorce happens. It sucks. I was not the perfect husband but I really did try my best. I was present. I was engaged. I was there. And I still failed in some capacity. I don’t think there’s any higher karmic purpose for this particular divorce. I think it just falls into the “shit happens” category.

As for the house – well, that’s a by-product of said divorce and a market that seems to be stagnant (at least at this time of year).

What about my cash flow (or outflow as it might be)? Well, two teens, a divorce and single handedly paying for a Bat Mitzvah seems to explain that. Thankfully, I at least was able to pay for stuff I had to.

Finally, the job? Well, considering I have been at my currently employer for 13 1/2 years, I think it’s been a good run. I have to pick myself up for the next chapter…right after this 2nd glass of wine…I promise.

I look at all this in the midst of two kids who are thriving and I am happy. I am actually happy. Nervous? For sure. Unsettled? Without a doubt. Contemplative? Always.

But, I am blessed with family, friends and health. The rest is gravy. I am not an overly spiritual person (though I try at times) but I do believe that perhaps the “universe” is pushing me in a new direction for a reason that has yet to be identified. I don’t believe in coincidence. All these seemingly tough life events happening at the same time cannot be a coincidence. If it were, I think I would have to convince myself that I was one of those dudes with a black cloud hanging over his head. You know – the guy you meet at the kid’s baseball game and think “I am so glad I’m not him.” That’s not me, though. As “put upon” as it may seem to others, I had years – many years – where things seemed to just go fine, or at least with little drama. Maybe 2015 is just the year for me to transition to whatever comes next.

I am pretty sure I know who I am. Someone said that I am pretty open and raw in this blog – in a cautious way. I don’t want to be otherwise. Maybe one day my kids will read this stuff and realize it’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s not a sign of weakness. Maybe someone will read it and feel that way before then. If not, it doesn’t matter.

I feel that in 5 years I am going to look back at this time and where I am at that point and be humbled in a way that I have yet to experience. It is frightening. But the best part of fear is that you have to make a choice. You have to retreat or you have to face it. There are no other options. A decision has to be made.

I’m going to face it. 

Until next time,

Marc








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