The not-so-subtle art of being a New Yorker.

There’s a not-so-subtle art about being a New Yorker. Much like a Jackson Pollock piece–every movement defines a very strong emotion; deep urge; challenged spirit; unseen possibility; thickness of character; blurred intent; desperate hope; and a thinning line of innocence–hard to understand until you really see it up close.

It may take someone smarter than you, perhaps a fellow New Yorker, to point out that Pollock is to be felt and not explained. Suspicious, as any good NY transplant will become, you walk up close to see the intense imperfections for yourself. Pictures and postcards–the second-hand accounts–do not capture the beautiful chaos of One: Number 31, 1950. Standing in the MoMa PS1, you understand Pollock’s masterpiece, and like the city that brought it to you, the allover approach is now all over you.

A closer look at this work reveals some of the decisions made in the act of painting: the selection of colors; the use of contrasting matte and glossy paints; if the lines would be thick or thin, fast or slow; whether to wait for the paint to dry or to work wet-on-wet, so that different paints bleed and pool; and a host of others. Only when the painting was completed did Pollock determine where the edges should be. In One: Number 31, 1950, Pollock left a breathing space bordering all four sides of the field of paint. However, in other paintings, the lines and spatters continue beyond the edges.–MoMa

After an unspecified amount of time has passed, you walk away with a Pollock-thick inspired aesthetic that you carry with you wherever you go–this is the art of being a New Yorker.

I can’t quite say that I understand Mark Rothko, so maybe I’ll bump into a Los Angeles transplant at the MOCA who will open my eyes to the brilliance of color.

New York, I will miss you.

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The Passengers of Life.

At the end of 2010, I vowed that 2011 would be about others, and it certainly has.  This year was full of sting and complex evolution, but mostly it was full of re-connective charge that can only be found in those people left at the crossroads of life.  It makes sense to revisit those push pins in the where-I’ve-been map of life once one finds themselves yet again pinned at a crossroad; how did I get here and where am I going?

While visiting the roadside attractions of my past, I was not without forward movement and formed karmic connections pushing me toward my own dharma path.  Circumstances created by the aforementioned people–who stretched me in directions in which I could have never predicted my own  flexibility–that shaped my human condition.

The reflection of the past year’s floundering , life signs, people, and identity, formed an overarching theme for the upcoming year: 2012 will be devoted to breaking Samsara–the wheel of suffering.

To do this, I look to attain the below:

  • Be fully present.
  • Bond in joy with people versus bonding in misery, pain, and helplessness.
  • Cease activities of disowning myself.
  • Redirect negative thinking.
  • Possess a sense of humor and lightheartedness.
  • Do not attach identity to success or failure.
  • Have the ability to give/receive support from family and friends.
  • Approach life with more fluidity, grace, and peace of mind.

This stems from what someone told me during one of my journeys in life, “It’s your life, I’m just passing through.”


5+1=A Story

There’s a silence in all of us that allows us to know the 5 W’s and 1 H; who, what, when, where, why, and how.  In my undergraduate studies in Journalism this was the basic investigative formula for getting the facts of any story.  At the very least, it gave you the lead to something bigger.  I’m finding, later in life, the concepts previously learned are applicable in other aspects of life not exactly academic.  In my graduate studies, Leadership specifically, the concepts can be applied in life at the very moment of conception—if you’re in the action you cannot see what’s truly happening.  Other than the age gap, the true difference lies in the person (who) you are (what) at that moment (when) in time (where) when you’re truly left alone to process “how” (why).

This is my story, at the moment…

I’ll be 34 in almost exactly five months and the overarching theme of most people in my age bracket isn’t mine.  I could have had this Cleaver-like existence, but it wasn’t me.  So WHO am I?  I’ll keep this aligned to the five-point theme and in bullets (so this may be super difficult in choice but here goes):

  1. Stubborn – This has been with me the longest of any other descriptor and perhaps the go-to word for anyone that has ever cared for me.  It’s served me both well and poorly at various stages in my life.  Being stubborn in my early twenties, paid off in ambitious endeavors as I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and forged through impossibility to succeed.  However, there is a fine line between stubborn and pride that is painfully uncomplimentary–not knowing where this line is can create a cascading failure. While I have admitted to learning far more in my failures than successes, the irony lies in my stubbornness.
  2. Loyal – I’m fiercely loyal, which is problematic at times because anything “fierce” is intense and there are few people willing to succumb to such devoted attachment much less reciprocate.  However, loyalty comes in many levels and the duty I place upon others may very well be impossible outside of me.
  3. Creative – This gives me the ability to transcend myself, others, and discover something more meaningful.  Perhaps my only saving grace in the world.
  4. Hopeful – I’m confident that while I cannot control the events, people, or circumstances that come into my life, I believe that it’ll all work out as it should and the best for everyone.  That every exit is an entrance into somewhere else, and in the words of Mark Twain, “Dance like nobody’s watching; love like you’ve never been hurt. Sing like nobody’s listening; live like it’s heaven on earth.”

The sum of the above abridged characteristics is my partial identity–the WHAT to my WHO.  This, of course, could be different from those that know me or have known me, so this potential difference gives me a separate identity from my own.  If identity is a necessity then what does that say about “me”?  That we’re more than who we are because who we are isn’t isolated to who we think we are, but rather who we are to others?  We live in half-truths until we relate to others because 1+1=2.

“Now ‘WHY a thing is itself’ is a meaningless inquiry (for — to give meaning to the question ‘why’ — the fact or the existence of the thing must already be evident’-e.g. that the moon is eclipsed-but the fact that a thing is itself is the single reason and the single cause to be given in answer to all such questions as why the man is man, or the musician musical’, unless one were to answer ‘because each thing is inseparable from itself, and its being one just meant this’ this, however, is common to all things and is a short and easy way with the question).” – Aristotle’s Law, Metaphysics Book VII, Part 17

WHEN I was a child, the identification came mostly from my family.  This is both good and bad because while the definition of you is contingent upon others–it’s also tied to them and less to you.  This helps you be grounded when you fly too far from your roots, but it’s confusing when belief systems move out of orbit from the Mothership.  This is WHERE you begin to define your own life and how it fits or doesn’t fit with others.

So, HOW do you get to where you’re going? This route is different for each of us, and in realizing this I’ll figure out my story.


Life is a mix tape.

Over the weekend I discovered a mix CD that an acquaintance made for me.  Thinking back in the history of my sometimes fleeting, sometimes lasting, and always significant connections, there have more often than not an exchange of  music in whatever new format.  Perhaps, that is the nature in which my life veered as first a passion and then into a career that makes people express themselves in the medium of sound.  The dualistic side of me also expresses sentiments in words to which books are given earlier and found much later – in transition – when needed.  On this mix was a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” by Letters To Cleo.  Truth be told, it’s a really great cover and I’m a complete and utter hater of covers, mostly.  But, this particular cover started playing as a day of Spring seeped into my Land Rover’s windows during a drive around Washington Square Park. One of those much-needed soul-lifting type of days injected with Vitamin D from the long-lust sunshine of Spring warding off Winter’s discontent.  The weather is just right, the sun kisses your cheeks, and the world wraps its arms around you, for just a moment, to let you know that everything is as it should be.

It was in the verse, “Now here I go again, I see, the crystal visions / I keep my visions to myself / It’s only me / Who wants to wrap around your dreams and… / Have you any dreams you’d like to sell? / Dreams of loneliness… / Like a heartbeat drives you mad… /
In the stillness of remembering / What you had / And what you lost,”  I found perspective.  That moment left an indelible imprint in my soul; the moment I could now put a name to this particular song, a face, an experience that would forever be conjured up in any future playing of the song.

There is nothing easy with the ending of a connection, really, and if it’s too easy to disconnect  then perhaps you should look around at the company you’re keeping.  The point is…you never can fully disconnect because you absorb them into you.  But, that won’t stop you from trying to abandon them (and perhaps you will).  After all, life is a mix tape.

A Sea of Broken Windows

In the intensity of people you’ll often times find a misaligned suffering in which if you’re not careful could pull you under.  An amorous disposition here would likely result in a near drowning in the immortal songs of Jeff Buckley.  You hear the warnings of lifeguards, you see the no swimming signs, and for a minute you stand with apprehension and watch the sea swell and then break upon the shore.  The velvet of the sand beneath your feet massaging from ground up and basking in the sun of contentment should be enough to keep away a vehement desire to swim in an erratic ocean.  Digging your feet into the sand, there you go, running into choppy waters.

The mightiest of all emotions, passion, overwhelms reason every single time.  I’ve told people that there was only a small but significant window of time in which your mind has a chance to save you before you fall into the abyss of love.  But, at that juncture freewill is rarely exercised so you tumble downward.  You would think, I presume, since those are my fighting words that I would be exempt from love foolery.  Alas, I am not.  I am clumsy at best and vying for a second-coming of naivety.  Despite this awareness, I break windows. I just hope the cuts heal in time to collect the sea glass.

 

Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Running of The Bulls With Inconsistent People.

A lot can be learned in the consistency or inconsistency of a person; where they are, who they are, the direction they are headed, their vehicle of getting there, and whether or not they’re a hitchhiker.

Historical data wouldn’t necessarily say that I was a good driver, per se, but I’m confident in the forecasts.  I’m much better as a passenger, really.  Even better as a backseat driver.  I’ve never hitchhiked, unless you count the one time I was doing one of those charity walk-a-thons and hijacked the tailgate of a pickup truck until a quarter-mile of the finish line, but I have picked up hitchhikers – which could be considered more dangerous.  Inside our windowed instruments of transportation cohering to the road, protected from the incontinence of those afoot, we know our intentions are to drive. The unpredictability of the accidental passenger diverts our attention, but the pull of the story lures us into picking them up along the way.  At least if you’re a driver like me.

I make no excuses for my dualism, and what you see is always what you get.  While I may always change, I try to remain consistent with others as it’s the form of trust that speaks louder than a promise.   This has brought into my life the stability to simply “be” and be loved as I am, and the consistent people surrounding me, albeit crazy in their own right, my support system

Being with an inconsistent person is like being at the Running of The Bulls;  conflicted excitement of adventure, risk, and chaos, until you become the casualty. All it takes is one trip before you have a bull’s horn through your heart. If you’re mostly consistent then you’ll have people to help you when you fall, otherwise you’ll get trampled on running for your life.

Eventually, you’ll want to grab the bull by the horns and jump into the vehicle of consistency because…well…how else will you get to the hospital?

 

Me, Myself, and Ignorant Ego.

There’s much said about ego, but I really like this Buddhist take on it.

“The ego needs activity in order to exist. Like and dislike, attachment, aversion, greed and hatred are the main overt activities of the ego. The more desire and aversion we have the more alive we feel, the more real and concrete the ego seems. In reality, the ego depends on desire, its life-blood is desire. The ego and desire are like the two sides of a coin — one cannot exist without the other. The ego is projected desire, and desire is projected ego.”

I supposed, with the above, I can’t really delve into ego until I jump into desire.  Desire has many levels of intensity but it’s always about the abandonment issues of ego-identified self.  A grasping for something that will always, more than likely, be just outside attaining.  If it is attained, well, there will be other desires to drive us to the facade of purpose.  Who am I if I am not my desires?  After all, it is desire that pierces through the chatter of the crowded mind and once its gone can you live with the echo?

I’ve been told, on several occasions, that I write a lot about the past and the future.  Certainly, I’ve been known to hide away in those places observing their contrast.  Something as fleeting as a smell can project the liveliest of person from my past onto the white-wall of my mind leaving me to rewrite a riding-into-the-sunset moment where the future is more aligned to the happy ending of today.  The problem becomes that no matter how I approach time with the knowledge that it is not, in fact, linear, my ego constructs linearly against me.   For an intelligent person, I’ve got an ignorant ego. The strength of that ignorance is quite astounding at times, but luckily for me I’m not really the clingy type, which allows me to break free – even for a short while – from the stronghold of “I”.  But, the realization of this division leaves me weak and wanting to prevent ego-death.  Who am “I” without the illusion of “me”?

Even in scanning this post the paragraphs – separation of thoughts and ideas – begin with “I” and ends with “me”.  The muck I must go through on my journey won’t be easy to clean off my boots, but there is a soul at the door of delight that begs to be touched standing on a humorous welcome mat.

“It follows that in this surface or desire-soul there is no true soul-life, but a psychic deformation and wrong reception of the touch of things. The malady of the world is that the individual cannot find his real soul….” -Sri Aurobindo “The Life Divine

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