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





Reflections, the Serenity Prayer & 2016

4 01 2016

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2015 was about control. 2016 is about wisdom.

I have been attempting to write a blog post for the past week or so, thinking it is the right time for reflection as one year closes out and another begins. This is my third attempt and regardless of whether I feel it is worthy or not, I am going to post it, if for no other reason than to put me out of my (short-term) writing misery.

In trying to frame what I wanted to write about and what I thought might resonate with anyone reading it, I kept asking myself the question of “what have you learned this year that can be applied to not just the new year but also the way in which you structure, approach or otherwise navigate your life in general?” Pretty simple, right?

It finally occurred to me that the good old standby of the Serenity Prayer is probably the best way to organize my thoughts. You are more than likely familiar with this one. The basic gist is “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is really the best advice I have ever come across.

So here it goes:

The things I cannot change (and am still learning to accept):

  1. People judge by appearances. They just do. This doesn’t mean that their perceptions can’t be modified, and even, in some cases, relatively quickly, but take it from me, when your hair is longer, people think of you differently than when it is shorter. When you’re at the airport with jeans and a t-shirt, security looks at you differently than when you’re wearing a suit jacket.  When you’re divorced, some people treat you differently. It just is.
  2. People will have preconceived notions about you and what your capabilities are based on nothing that has to do with reality. Whether at my day job or on the comedy circuit, I have come across people who either thought their work was too complex for me to understand, the comedy business was too messed up for me to have a place in, or personally, lawyers were too “in charge” for me to challenge them. These were based on nothing other than a) what was (or was not) on my resume or what they thought I actually did or knew, b) something someone “heard” about me or c) pure ignorance. Let me repeat – almost every single time this happened, it was relayed to me on behalf of someone who barely spent any time speaking with me. I cannot control this. Maybe it’s a function of our 140 character, twitterized society or maybe it’s human nature. I don’t know. I am also no longer angry about it. I can, however, control the way in which I respond which is best when it is in the “no response” category. The best way to prove who you are is to just do it. It won’t happen in time for someone to give you that work assignment, that gig or even acknowledge that you caught a huge mistake despite their law degree…but it happens.
  3. Time will not stop or slow down – ever. The idea of capturing every moment as time moves faster and faster will not stop the fact that kids and parents grow older, not to mention ourselves. You will look back and wonder where time went. You will see a picture of yourself and think “why was I so hard on myself?” You will reflect on something and wish you did it differently. You will think about your future and wonder if you have time to do something grand. And as you do this, another minute, 5 minutes, day or even year has passed. It’s great to be organized. It’s helpful to have lists. It’s good to have a plan. But it’s even better to just do something – anything.
  4. Some people do have an easier time of it than others. Maybe it’s because of their DNA, their upbringing, a better perspective or luck. It doesn’t matter. This is not in our control. We have no control over anyone nor their situation any more than they do over us; even our children – we are simply here to guide as best we can. We can start to control the degree to which “ease” can enter our lives. Do we react or respond? Do we do the hard work of exercising and watching what we eat, at least a couple times per week or do we put it off? Do we challenge our thoughts and how we judge ourselves or keep playing the same script over and over? This is a lot harder to do than looking at the relative ease to which others seem to navigate the world compared to ourselves. But it’s the only control we really have, not to mention a lot more realistic as we never really know what someone else is going through.

The things I can change (and am finding courage to do):

  1. Relationships – with others and with myself. Disappointment is a difficult prospect for me. I enjoy helping people, being part of a team and generally, seeing people succeed. However, I have come to learn that, regardless of whether it is deliberate or not (and it usually is not), being around people who cannot keep their word is a source of profound disappointment for me. This goes for me, as well. I feel especially bummed when I have made a pact with myself to complete something, respond in a certain way or manage something positively that did not go the way I had intended. I am finding the courage to be more vocal with those that I may not have been vocal with in the past and respectfully articulate my feelings while taking responsibility for the fact that they do belong to me. This is hard for me because it may compromise friendships or prospects, but it is required. I also am trying to find the courage to both hold myself more accountable for learning when things do not go the way I had planned as well as being kinder to myself for failing, or perceiving to have failed.
  2. Moving toward minimalism. I am not joining a cult or about to embark on a process to cull my belongings down to whatever I can carry in a backpack but I am purging like never before. Throwing things out doesn’t necessarily take courage but throwing out associated feelings of the past does. This is a delicate balance in acknowledging those parts of you that maybe you are not as proud of or wish were not there but were and then saying, “it’s ok.” I have a quote that was sent to me hanging on my bathroom mirror that represents this perfectly. It is from Eric Roth, who wrote the screenplay for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It is as follows: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
    3. FOMO – You may be familiar with this. It means “Fear Of Missing Out.” For me, I realize that social media has played into this fear a lot. I have written about my love/hate relationship with Facebook (actually, just hate) and over the past 2 weeks, I have significantly reduced my time on Facebook to maybe twice a day and for just a couple of minutes to see if I got any messages. I can absolutely control the amount of time I spend on social media AND the FOMO attitude that kept drawing me there in the first place.
    4. Where I live, at least metaphorically. I am tied to where I am living right now until my daughter graduates, which will be here sooner than it may seem. I am eager to move geographically, for many reasons, and spent a lot of time in 2015 lamenting about how if I could only move physically, I might get the fresh (or fresher) start I was longing for. I realized last year that where I reside had very little to do with where I spent my time, with family, friends or alone. Without sounding too “new agey”, there are people who live in big cities and never leave their apartments and people who live in small towns and have networks with global reaches. I know I can change the scope of my network and my capabilities by focusing less on where I live and more on what (and where) lives within me.

    Now…as for the wisdom to know the difference…that’s a big part of 2016.

    As an aside, since I keep long lists on my cell phone of books, movies, articles, music, etc. that I want to get to, I thought I’d start a “Recommendation of the Blog” section at the end of each blog that you might want to check out, also.

    So, here is the first one.
    Recommendation of the Blog – If you haven’t seen it, check out the documentary “Inside Job” about the 2008 financial crisis – by far the most clear, organized and thorough explanation of the players, dynamics and history that led up to the crisis and how it was all connected.

    I wish for you a serene 2016 and until next time,
    Marc

Thanks for reading and I hope you consider subscribing to my blog and following me on Twitter @MarcKaye1. 





Staging a Life

2 09 2015

Whatever you do - don't live...it might mess things up.

Whatever you do – don’t live…it might mess things up.

Today, I had the realtors in my house this morning to take photographs to get ready to list it for sale. As some of you may know from earlier blogs, I am getting ready to put my house on the market as part of Marc 2.0.

I spent a lot of time over the past two weeks cleaning, patching, caulking, painting, weeding and generally making the home look more like something you would see in a catalog than where two kids with little propensity for closing a drawer let alone concerning themselves with Feng Shui harmonization principals would reside.

The realtor brought along a photographer and a stager. For those who may have not had to sell a property in a while, the stager is the one who moves things around and places things, removes things etc. such that prospective buyers can imagine themselves living in what will soon be your past home. 

It was interesting because upon exiting, the realtor said “the stager said there really wasn’t much for her to do – you did a good job.” I know this was meant as a compliment but as someone who reads meaning into almost anything, I found it an interesting metaphor for this turning point in my life and the life of my kids.

I have been spending so much of my time over the past year or so reflecting on how I got to this point in my life and trying to derive some sort of positive meaning or learnings from it. The one thing that has been an incredible discovery is the chasm that exists between the self we want everyone to see and the self that we actually are. Perhaps it is the self we don’t even want everyone to see but that we feel, out of fear (see past blog post), we are expected to portray. 

How much of our time are we staging our life for the catalog version of who we are, what we do, how we engage? Sure, there is a need to stage parts of our life, if for no other reason, than out of respect for those around us who either do not want to be privy to the cluttered, more realistic version, or more likely, have their own version to deal with. However, just like the staged home, expecting that we are going to live within that version is a dangerous proposition for us and especially those around us.

My house will never ever look as organized, clean and approachable as it will in photos posted on line. My life will never ever come close to the staged version that so many people are more comfortable with seeing. That’s just life. That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t take pride in those moments when the staging matches the reality…those moments when it just seems to be going right; the times when a glance in the mirror tells you that you don’t look so tired today or the ride to work was as close to a traffic-free car commercial on a winding terrain as it’ll ever get it. Those are good days.

I don’t look forward to having to keep the clutter hidden and the beds made for the next few months while strangers “imagine” how their lives will unfold in my current home. It’s not the work so much. It’s the sterile detachment from life, from the messiness of life in particular, that depresses me.

I have never been jealous of homes that look like they are straight out of catalogs. I think it looks amazing and wonderful but it also strikes me as removed from what a clinical home is versus a house with stories to tell. Maybe that’s just my excuse for never being able to get things perfect. I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not comfortable with something straight out of “Hoarders” either. I think you get my point, though.

Tomorrow, the photos of my perfectly staged home go up on line and people I don’t know will picture themselves and their lives in my house – maybe their yet to be kid sitting at the kitchen counter doing homework or a family game night in the living room. It is the way relationships are built, brands are marketed and homes are sold. Behind closed doors, the un-staged version is much more appealing to me. It says “welcome to your new home – it’s going to be a wild and messy ride.” What are you staging?

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 @marckaye91. (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





Groundlessness

30 06 2015

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I am fortunate enough to be involved with a start-up within a larger organization. I say “fortunate” because it suits me personally – entrepreneurial, a bit risky, a bit improvised but with the security of people way smarter and talented than myself…sort of like my whole approach to comedy, I guess.

One of the “mantras” that our team has been guided to embrace is the idea of “being comfortable with being uncomfortable.” When I first heard this, I said something like “you obviously don’t know me that well; I have been uncomfortable my whole life.” While there is probably some truth to this, it is really difficult to feel uncomfortable. My natural tendency is to do anything to help get through it and fight against it, some of which is good (listening to or playing music, exercise, writing, having a glass of wine) and some not so good (I will let you use your imagination here…let’s say multiple glasses of wine for arguments sake). What this mantra is really telling us to do is accept the discomfort. Similar to the messages being relayed in the popular Pixar flick “Inside Out” – sadness is a necessary emotion that should not be suppressed. It is the same thing with discomfort.

This notion resonates with the Buddhist teachings of Pema Chodrun that I have read recently. The idea around groundlessness, as I understand it from my very rudimentary perspective, is that rather than use things, even spirituality, to ground ourselves so that we feel secure and firm “under our feet”, true spirituality helps us understand that the ground is really just a perception of sorts and the nature of life is forever changing, unpredictable and not within our control – essentially “groundless”.

If you weren’t uncomfortable before, you ought to be now. It’s interesting to me because I have had a really difficult time explaining to a few people how I really feel right now and I have used the word “untethered” a lot, not even thinking or considering this concept of “groundlessness”.

It’s an interesting word – untethered. It adequately describes how I feel – not tied to any one thing at any particular time and trying to figure it out. However, what if instead of trying to solve something that is unsolvable, I accepted the fact that this is a natural feeling, despite my false notions and perceptions of how I perceive the world to be? Would I be comfortable ever with the notion that there is not clear plan, 401K, house, family, trajectory, etc and even if there was, that it really could be fluid in nature?

Well, for me, the “reality”, if there is one, lies somewhere in between. Most people who plan over time will reap some sort of outcome for their efforts. That doesn’t preclude the fact, however, that the feeling that one receives may not be one of security. That won’t stop the groundlessness…nor should it necessarily. These “security” barriers that we work so hard for are not necessarily  a guaranteed home run – perhaps in terms of the material but not in terms of happiness. I know this is starting to sound…well, not like me but I guess all I am saying (and learning for myself) is that the acceptance of groundlessness as part of our real experience may lead to a lot more happiness than another upgrade on our car lease or piece of furniture.

Until next time,

Marc

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Face (reality) book

6 01 2015

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Someone posted a great video vignette on Facebook the other day that got right to the point – Facebook is great at creating an alternate reality based on perception where every relationship is an amazing night out on the town, every other night is an incredible conglomerate of friends old and new and every post is #blessed (and every comedian is “killing it” – though I just threw that one in myself).

It is called Facebook for a reason – it’s like a Yearbook. No one is going to see any of my angst filled nights, posts and frustrations that made up most of my Class of 19…(well, never mind – you get the point). No! It’s just a bevy of photos and fond farewells commemorating “all the good times we had”. Yes, there were good times but you couldn’t pay me to go back to high school.

What I’d like to invent is my own version of Facebook called Realitybook. Each post would establish the user as he/she really is and instead of “Likes” there would be “Amen” buttons or “MICR” (“Man, I Can Relate”) buttons for those who may be atheist or agnostic.

I could have used a Realitybook tonight. I had amazing hopes for today. i had “new year, new you” type of hopes for today. I should have known better.

I had my work list from 7AM to 6PM, which I just completed by the way (it is now 10:26 PM), my personal list and I even meditated this morning. I found my inner core beam of light. I watched it grow inside me and then engulf me to extend to the outer universe so I could establish my connectiveness. I counted backwards. I breathed. I stretched. And then around 4 PM, I lost it.

In Oprah terms, I was definitely not the “best you that you can be”. I wasn’t even the “the presentable you”. As a parent, I did just about everything wrong a parent could do. I carried my work day into my personal day. I was impatient. I showed my frustration for petty things (do I let them leave their drawers open all the time because, thank God, they still have their health or do I continue to bang my head against the wall to instill some standards in the house?) and I became a stress monster once again. How could this have been? I mean, this was my 3rd day of meditating after all? Shouldn’t it be a habit by now?

I also did not exercise and gave into a glass (ok, two) of wine at dinner around 7 PM. I am not sure but I am pretty confident that I saw both kids look at each other with relief when they saw me bring the wine glass to the table.

I did have a conversation with them and told them that while I am not sorry for what I was frustrated about, I did apologize for how I communicated it. This parenting thing is tough. I just don’t know if I should stop the college savings plan and go right for a therapy savings plan, instead. With a dad like me, it may be the better bet.

If Oprah is reading this (that’s a good one), I will work on being a better me tomorrow. I’m doing the 20 minute meditation instead of the 6 minute one so those extra 14 minutes should do the trick.

Until later,

Marc








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