May 11 2019

You know, I look back and realize for the last five years we have been gradually and consistently purging our things. At first it seemed like she was shedding more than me because I had less to start, but that doesn’t consider I’ve been alive for twelve years longer, and had more history — it is part of the reduction, too.

We both have accomplished material changes, but our emotional lives have also improved. I’m sure we will continue the process. At the same time we are chucking our belongings, we are slowly diminishing our past by letting go of old decisions, and since we met, our connections to our old selves have steadily declined as we build our present life together.

I make this observation only to question what life might be like after five more years. Who will we be then? Will our reductions be consistent and adequate to our goals? How much will we have? What kind of connections to our present selves will remain?

52Weeks.

Our weekly stream-of-consciousness journal.


May 04 2019

Every day I write at least five pages in a journal. It’s impossible to write that much without repeating myself.

Constant iteration on old mistakes can be frustrating, and when I think about the magnitude of my poor decisions in youth, it often makes me feel like I’ve wasted my life. But, I’m learning to deal with those pointless emotions. Obsessing over them may seem like schadenfreude, but continually facing those issues is a sobering way to consider the emptiness of who I am now.

I am nothing, and the memories are my antidote to the seductive arrogance of being alive, so I'll keep writing about them. Successes in the present are meaningless, too, but at least I realize the fallacy of mourning the past — other than awareness, it gives us nothing.

April 27 2019

There are those who discover they can leave behind confused reactions and become patient as the earth;
undisturbed by anger, unshaken as a pillar,
unperturbed as a clear and quiet pool.
Dhammapada, verse 95

April 20 2019

Since I grew up with basically the same story as you, my recent understanding about the worthlessness of love often seems crazy to me, too. That’s because denying the usefulness of the “feelings” I so intimately took for granted my entire life is extremely uncomfortable. Yet when I honestly think about it, my rational conclusions are always the same.

We consider ourselves different from all the other animals, so we glorify our feelings out of a sense of uniqueness. But humans aren’t really driven by emotions. Those are only scapegoats to justify our self-deception, which is ultimately what controls our lives.
me

I wasted a lot of time writing yesterday. These are the only two paragraphs I kept, not because they are intelligible, but because they mean so much to me. I don’t blame you if you don’t understand.

They were supposed to describe the depth of affection I have for her. I was going to say I’m not really in love, but it almost seems inflammatory to describe that way the most profound relationship I could possibly ever know. I was going to say instead of being in love, our personalities are like two planets incapable of overcoming gravity, or some shit like that. Doesn’t clarify anything, does it?

Well, after three hours of thinking, I don’t know how to explain us. To understand, it just has to happen to you. That's all I can say.

April 13 2019

Our decision to be intentional vagabonds who relocate every few years has made us into better people. There are two main reasons why.

By moving consistently, we have inadvertently reduced our capacity to develop a persona. That may sound negative, but it's not. It means we focus more on the meaningful because we have elected to be observers, and that's a state well suited for our relatively apathetic personalities.

But more important, our detachment is a great tool for establishing the right relationships because the wrong people always defend themselves from our departure. For whatever reason, they cannot see beyond our temporary presence, and don't value that vulnerability.

C'est la vie.

And that's how you weed people out of your life.
Hannibal Buress

April 06 2019

Besides love, perhaps happiness is the most misunderstood and elusive state of being. Don't believe me? Then ask Tony Robbins and his financial planner. Americans alone use millions of hours and ten billion dollars every year attempting to find it in their lives, and spend a countless amount of time and money on contrivances to distract themselves from a troubled existence. Yet, our search is a wasted effort that would not exist if we simply understood one thing about ourselves:

You can stop spending your money because happiness does not really exist. It is just a word, a myth we use for coercion. Our pointless pursuits are only a distraction from the real meaning in life, which is in the living itself — not our labels.

Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.
Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso

March 30 2019

My life story is probably similar to yours, even if its duration is different. I spent the first 40 years of it as a trial and error experiment, constantly reacting by instinct and then testing afterwards how I felt, and the only thing I learned is that I suck at leading a life this way. Now, when I feel anything, I mostly ignore it because, as long as I can remember, making decisions based on feelings has never turned out well.

Of all the things we are taught, none of it is ever about how to use our emotions, and I suppose that’s because no one really knows what to do with them.

Just do what feels right
no one rational

After all the years of completely misinterpreting the presence of emotion as a mandate for following them, now I understand how useless they are. I’m convinced if I lived the rest of my life on the pure consideration of rationality, I would do quite well and would’t miss out on any significant aspect of being alive. In fact, life would probably be better. So, now I’m attempting to change it all with a new perspective, and I’m starting with the big one.

Fuck. Love.

How I didn’t realize until my recent conclusion that love is so stupid, I’ll never know. For instance, can someone please tell me why in the hell we celebrate it MORE on one day a year than all the rest? It is the epitome of self-absorption. It assumes. It needs. At its best it is empty, and it’s an irrational motivation to make dumbass decisions when we use it severely.

But worst of all, love is irresistible. As much as I want to rid myself of this narcissistic, seductive emotion, I question whether I can fully let go — even though I know it’s only an obstacle to the empty bliss of joy.

March 23 2019

Last week she told me that I may be the only person she knows who has their life together. I think I chuckled at her comment, because what do I know.

But, really. Do any of us know what we are doing? Does it even matter?

You didn’t ask me, but I’ll tell you a secret. Even though this project is important to me, I am frequently late producing entries because I cannot come up with material that I feel passionate about. I just don’t presume anyone gives a damn about my point of view, so this project can sometimes feel like a wasted effort.

You see, I’m thankful for mine, but I do not believe life has meaning, and I don’t believe anything we experience is real. That’s why I often have a hard time taking my thoughts seriously, and this effort to collect them — and life in general. That’s why her comment was so funny. I mean, who the hell am I, anyway?

March 16 2019

If there is tragic limitation in life there is also possibility. What we call maturity is the ability to see the two in some kind of balance into which we can fit creatively.
Ernest Becker

The next ten years will bring a substantial transformation, and it often scares the fuck out of me to think about how much life will change. I have always suppressed the fear of nonexistence without considering that perception changes as we collect experience. So, maybe in five years I don’t care as much because the next five years are that much closer.

But, fear is just a scapegoat; I dread the inevitable only because of the difficulty I have with change. The inability to let go is proof of my untrained awareness.

March 09 2019

There is only joy in nothingness. It is a simple counterintuitive thought, and ultimately true.

Yet, we are not here to be alone, so we share ourselves. Although they served a higher purpose that evaded my awareness, I learned a second truth in twenty-five years of a cyclical pursuit of happiness, often interrupted by the heartache of a relationship with an incompatible partner: trying is empty.

The proof is in the release, and can only be realized if you let go of everything.

March 02 2019

You have practiced all of your life to be what you are, and you do it so well that you master what you believe you are. You master your own personality, your own beliefs; you master every action, every reaction. You practice for years and years, and you achieve the level of mastery to be what you believe you are. Once we can see that all of us are masters, we can see what kind of mastery we have.
Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love

Translation: change what you believe, and the reality you take for granted holds alternate meaning.

February 23 2019

Science says the universe has existed for 14 billions years. It also says this planet is 4.5 billion years old.

Human civilization as we know it is young, and has only existed for 6,000 years, or about 0.0001% of earth’s age. Our lifespan is an even smaller fraction... if earth’s age was equivalent to the surface area of all its land, then the area representing a human life would only be a 500 foot square.

In terms of size, the known universe is nearly 500 billion times the Milky Way, and the galaxy is 10^28 times as big as our earth. Yes, that’s a 1 with 29 zeros behind it. In fact, if we scaled the Milky Way down to fit inside the diameter of our solar system, earth would be smaller than the size of a water molecule.

We develop a sense of self-importance because we view reality through our own eyes — yet we can only see so far. Sobering comparisons like these show us that we are meaningless.

How do we deal with such enormous insignificance....

February 16 2019

Before my first marriage ended, I insisted through the turmoil that, from the beginning, I was the same person. It was a truth firm enough to cause many of the arguments that doomed us, one of the seeds that eventually grew into the bitter end.

Despite the signs of a shifting value system, pain and my insistence of an unvarying self over twenty years were the only constants during the most difficult time in our dividing lives. But, the reality of it didn’t matter — I told myself whatever it took to sustain the change.

I lied to myself to get through. I believed what was obviously untrue. If you judge me, then consider we all do the same thing to bear the stress of living. It is human nature to do whatever it takes to make it happen, because the alternative is death.

We call people crazy who don’t live in our reality. I used to mock them. But now I even admire the delusional; at least they freely live in their own reality without guilt.

February 09 2019

A few days ago someone asked me why I post self-portraits and write about death and such. I’m pretty sure they were being sarcastic by asking, so I didn’t answer honestly, but it was a fair question that got me to think about the evolution of this project.

Since I am married to someone substantially younger than me, life is a bit out of phase with my age and I often forget that fact because I just don’t feel like I’m nearly fifty. These self-portraits serve as a reminder. From the outside they initialize the self-examination I’ve developed over the last few years, and quite honestly, without them I would not really know how old I am.

On the other hand, the writing is a byproduct of awareness. There are days when the hair line, eye circles, and growing wrinkles I see in these images converge in a debilitating, sorrowful realization that I am getting old; I write to embrace that fear so that it will pass with appropriate acknowledgment, and I share it as a form of therapy.

But there is nothing unique about me. Ultimately, the issues I contemplate here are the same everyone faces — especially the people who ask questions, but don’t really want answers.

February 02 2019

Like everyone else, I go through cycles of interest and boredom driven by random daily events, and lately philosophizing on esoteric and ultimately meaningless nuances of life and death just isn’t on the agenda.

This project often serves as an outlet for serious thinking, but not so much this entry. I just want to read and think in the quiet, and forget everything outside this white and snowy window.

We’re apes. We think we’re all sophisticated with our toaster ovens and designer footwear, but we’re just a bunch of finely ornamented apes. And because we are apes, we instinctually measure ourselves against others and vie for status. The question is not whether we evaluate ourselves against others; rather, the question is by what standard do we measure ourselves?
Mark Manson

January 26 2019

Somewhere in our room, between the cold dark air above and our body heat beneath the covers, there was a metaphor about the value of living, but I haven’t thought much about it since the night she heard me crying. ‘Few things mean much outside these sheets’ is all I can remember thinking, and one day even that sentiment will be gone.

She asked if I was okay just as the tears were welling in my eyes. My polite dismissal was an obvious lie, but I didn't intend to ruin that moment in the dark, holding her — instead, I laid there with my eyes closed, nearly shaking.

In the face of grim fate, sometimes it's a mystery how we live at all, but we find a way despite our unique awareness. Some bear it better than me, yet sooner or later we each must face the end.

Death is our ubiquitous dilemma; at least we can all find common ground in our mortality.

January 19 2019

Words, emotions and actions make up the web of our social conventions, and humans live suspended there, pulled in all directions. Yet, despite the attempts to share our life with others, we are inherently isolated from everyone since we can only be sure of the thoughts in our head.

Perhaps our rationality is simply a response we evolved to deal with this paradox, but I don’t really know because I struggle with real empathy, and find it hard to relate to others.

Each of our experience is unique, and our communication is approximate, so, regardless of our intent, we really only have the potential to understand each other. But, if we are aware of this limitation, then we can realize the autonomy of our thinking is also the greatest gift we have as living beings, even though it renders us alone.

January 12 2019

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
Albert Camus

Forty years passed before I understood that being fulfilled only requires an active role in living, but it was only after realizing we all face the same insignificance that I was able to thrive without giving a damn about you or anyone else. And, now I am am joyful because I don’t care, and I feel closer to everything because of that particular apathy.

We are not entitled to anything. Being alive does not give us the right to feel or behave, so hoping for a condition, whatever it may be, is a total waste of time. If you want something, stop wanting it. When you react, don’t.

Yes, life is that simple: just go do it.

January 05 2019

This is the first of fifty-two related contemplations on interconnection. In 2019, my goal is to better recognize spirituality as the source of my creations by paying homage to the people and events I find inspiring, and these entries will be part of that process.

The last year has emphasized that our artistic work is not an end, but a vehicle for this family’s improvement. It has become a focusing mechanism that provides the friendships and experiences feeding our insights, a self-refining process that guides us to new discovery and new creations, which bring into our lives more new people and unique experiences that reinforce our world view.

It is clear, more than ever, that our creativity drives us more than we drive it, and enriches the family's lives every day with new awareness; hopefully I'll look back at the end of the year to find that I have paid respect to all that makes us who we are.