To Endings: Farewell to 2016

29 12 2016

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There seems to be a lot of group think that 2016 was generally a crappy year, and from a personal perspective, I can understand it. As I have joked on Twitter – I officially got divorced, had to sell my house and lost a job – and all of that disappointment still didn’t compare to November 8, 2016. I hope I look back on this year and despite the difficulties, can say “man, but it was needed”, sort of like a root canal: painful but better than the alternative.

Politics (and embellishment) aside, this year was about endings. And endings are important. They don’t get as much press as their more popular cousin “beginnings” but they should. Beginnings would barely exist if it weren’t for them, after all.

As I learned this year, there’s hardly a good time for things to end, but there usually is a right time. Regardless of where you stood on the political spectrum, I really haven’t met anyone who has wished that the election cycle would have carried on for another second. It was not only a good time for that to end, but probably also beyond the right time, too.

On a personal note, it was a tough year with spots of incredible beauty – including watching my kids continue to blossom into pretty amazing humanoids, being grateful for my mother coming out of heart surgery, landing a job with a pretty amazing team and among all of this, experiencing painful endings, as well. Life is tough and messy and impermanent and if you step into the fear with an open heart, you will not regret it – because feeling, even difficulties, is better than being numb. It’s how we experience love.

Sometimes it takes a good ending to find out what you’re made of and learn that you’re not so breakable, after all. So, let’s not shy away from endings, for they are the stuff of great narratives, amazing lyrics and someday, even better beginnings.

Here’s to a meaningful 2017 and 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. 





Support Vs. Tolerance

27 10 2015
This is a ribbon, not support.

This is a just a ribbon.

This is not going to be a “feel good” blog but I hope it at least provokes some thought.

I was in a bad mood today. I don’t know why. I’m in a bad mood now, too.

I’m trying to calm my nerves with a glass of wine, which probably isn’t helping.

I was ok until my son came home from school and needed his laptop for homework which was at his mother’s house, all of 2 miles away. I was working and she refused to drop it off. This is another “standing my ground” thing of hers lately and while I have tried to let this stuff pass, it got to me today. Maybe it was my cold. Maybe it was my thinking about job loss. Whatever it was, it got to me badly.

We both work from home some days during the week and we both live close to each other. It is impossible to not put the kids in the middle when these types of things happen, regardless of how hard either of us might work at it. Or at least that’s the case for me. I have tried to not make this my kids’ issue because it is not their fault at all that they even have to think of crap like this – navigating hauling their stuff between places depending on where they are staying. This is not the time to teach responsibility to a kid and if we have to haul them and their stuff back and forth, then, at least in my opinion, we have to grow up, be adults and do it for them. They never asked for this. It was hard for me to hold my frustration about this in, too, and that certainly didn’t help matters with my kids.

Truth be told, the amount of time I spent stewing over whether or not to get in the car with my son and make the 5 minute trek for him to get his stuff, was far beyond the actual time it took to just get it over with. There is no co-parenting with my ex other than her managerial disposition toward me as “permitted” through email. This is not co-parenting and where this is a lack of co-parenting or co-anything, there is a lack of support, in this case – for my kids. (And the frustration grows.)

Several times I have tried to explain, directly or indirectly, that we both have to compromise and make decisions, many of which are uncomfortable, for the sake of the kids. We have to be their main support system, or should be, anyway. I realized today, in my maddening state of frustration, that some people are simply not capable of playing a supportive role. My ex never was. She was always tolerating things. To be honest, I think it was the best she could do. We all have deficits of some sort coming into relationships, some greater than others. Hers was coming from a family that was not supportive of each other. Mine was coming from a family that were not amongst the greatest of communicators. It’s not a blame thing. It’s just the way it is.

Today really stuck with me and before I knew it, I made this about me – hard to admit, but it’s the truth. I grieved for the fact that I never had a partner who really supported me. To support someone is to show true love. I know as a parent that I support things that my kids want to do because I love them and respect them. I want them to do the best they can in what they are passionate about.

I have had a good run so far but if I am going to be totally honest, I never had anyone really close to me that asked me “Marc, what do you want out of life?” I think they already knew that the answer was not in their comfort zone and was too scary for them to consider. I have met so many people who took risks and forged their own path early on and I lived in a well of fear so deep, listening to others rather than myself. I never learned to support myself rather than looking for someone to support me.

This was evident in my childhood, my formative years and I carried it into my marriage, also. Some say that comedy led to my divorce. I think it saved me. It was perhaps my first real step to supporting myself.

When I did so, though, I was naive. I thought my wife would be proud of a husband that was trying something new. I never compromised my role as husband or father. But there was no support, only tolerance. I remember, in an argument, her claiming that she supported my comedy by “letting” me do it, (go to a show, etc). If you “let” someone do something, you are tolerating them. If you help them get there (physically, morally or otherwise), you are supporting them.

This is something that I am trying to get better at myself, with my kids, with other people and more importantly, myself.

If you really support the troops, it’s more than a yellow, magnetic ribbon on your trunk. If you really support something, it’s got to be more than words or a symbolic token of your support. Are you really being supportive of those you love, including yourself? Or, maybe, are you just being tolerant.

Until next time,

Marc

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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








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