Tuesday, February 1, 2011

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” -Muhammad Ali

It’s been a while… too long actually. In fact, I realize I am a complete stranger to my own keyboard, aside from Facebook messaging and Twitter updating. Anyway, I’m back.

Like women during different stages of pregnancy or certain times of the month (I don’t know how you do it), I get cravings too. Although far less predictable and calorie laden, these feelings come in the form of perspective, humility, and urgency. Well, consider this one of those moments. Now bear with me as I try to convert this “thundersnow” (a term unknown to me until it happened recently) of emotion into a more layman version…

I will make a difference in this world, even if it means giving up everything in mine. As real as my heavy breathing and feverish typing is my desire to completely surrender everything predictable and comfortable to find solace in the unknown. Although I acknowledge and appreciate the broken road that finds me here, I can’t ignore the revealing glimpses of myself seen thousands of miles away.

It’s hard to argue we aren’t all byproducts of everyone and everything we’ve encountered thus far in our lives. Furthermore, I believe our unique collection of backgrounds, conversations, experiences, friendships, tragedies, and triumphs not only compiles and completes our own reflection but also allows us to become one, layer by layer. Does that make sense? If not, maybe this will…

Every day you wake up, step into the bathroom, and (after your eyes adjust to the unfamiliar light) look into the mirror. What you see is rather self-explanatory, but what you may not see right away is quite self-exclamatory. Imagine standing in front of that mirror as a mirror yourself. Now what do you see? A reflection of a reflection of a reflection… You see infinity.

Now, getting back to my point, if we carry this mind set with us every day to work or school, you may notice a strikingly different exposé. Now, interacting with a co-worker or classmate, because of their composite “reflections,” is so much more. Whether we like it or not and for better or worse, we simultaneously reflect off one another, creating a limitless vision for all willing to embrace it.

On average, a human being blinks over 6 million times per year. And, with every blink, the mind takes a picture. While only a fraction of these images stick, we are capable of saving them much longer if we attach meaning to them. With that, I desire to simply breathe optimism and positivity into deserving picture frames so that others may proudly decorate the walls of their spirits.

I may have stumbled vicariously through my first 25 years, but I guarantee the next 25 will be paved with refined purpose and renewed precedence. Anyway, I’m going back…

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hello World (:

OK, you got me. I fell for it. As a product of societal and parental pressures, I was driven to pursue a cookie cutter career path with a comfortable financial frame all the while surrounding myself with endless physical beauty. What could be better? A guy with a steady, healthy paycheck who works alongside half-naked women 5 days a week should be the last one feeling completely drawn elsewhere.

Even I successfully convinced myself that “this” is what I, and no one else, wanted. Even I became obsessed with the comfort and security provided by “things” that could be taken from me tomorrow. Even I denied the presence of any duty to humanity above and beyond the 70 hours a week I already dedicated to “the” hospitality field… until NOW. Because, despite relentlessly pursuing and attaining all of “that” and more, an undeniable emptiness still looms behind my eyelids every night when I fall asleep.

So, my thoughts naturally revert back to those indescribable flashes of life where preparation met opportunity and I, like Lou Gehrig, considered myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth…

Now, I’m not talking about pulling an all-nighter with your best friend to get a B+ instead of a B for the semester in Operations Management. I’m also not referring to shooing an innocent and injured bunny rabbit from the middle of a busy neighborhood street with your coffee stained morning paper. Sorry, but the rusted, lint-consumed pocket change you tossed into the hat of a homeless violinist with limitless talent doesn’t count either.

Not to discount these moments and render them meaningless as they often represent the lower rungs of a much taller ladder. If I may, the glimpses I strain to identify are not once-in-a-lifetime feelings but moreover only-in-a-lifetime feelings. I may never fully verbalize what it means to completely live, even if only for a brief instance, but I feel I’ve been privileged enough to float on air a time or two.

Selfish to selfless. Insecurity to ingenuity. Hardship to happiness. Anguish to awareness. Poverty to progress. Temptation to trust. These are just some of the new mantras you may find me randomly muttering to myself throughout the upcoming days and months. Better than ever, I can see past the present and into the future. I know where I need to go, so it’s only a matter of time until I get there. Simply put, I want nothing more than to feel comfortable in my own skin again, and this has nothing to do with the occasional blemish…

I never again want to look into a mirror like I do now. I no longer want to depend on a projected image with such conviction to determine who I am and what I’m worth. Maybe there’s a reason why natural usually captures and captivates. Maybe there’s a reason why untouched and untainted often intoxicates. Maybe there’s a reason why I want to again see myself how she always has…

Hello World. How you been? Good to see you my old friend ☺

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Every day is the start of something beautiful.

No matter what, today is always worth living. Yes, there will inevitably be insecurity, fatigue, uncertainty, embarrassment, desperation, betrayal, tragedy, and the like. Maybe all in the same day and maybe all at once. Regardless, no matter what…

We, as human beings, are ultimately defined and determined by our ability to boldly confront, deal with, and hopefully overcome adversity. I am aware this is at first much easier said than done, but once done, it’s much easier said and done the next time. So, here goes my best Dr. Phil…

Exercise: Think back to the last time you were dissatisfied in any way with the hand of cards life dealt you. This could be an hour ago when the old lady in front of you at the convenience store insisted on completing a deep-sea diving mission in her purse to pay for her denture adhesive with an expired coupon and exact change. Or, yesterday when the “Check Engine” light in your car you had been ignoring for months finally warranted more than a shrug and a prayer after it found you stranded on the side of the road miles from the nearest repair shop. Or, it may be earlier this week when you pulled your first all-nighter of the semester for a test you later found out covered a different chapter than the one you studied because you conveniently slept through class all last week.

Whatever it may be, how did it negatively affect you then? Probably unjustly and unreasonably. How has it positively affected you since? Probably not at all. After all, why would a temporary problem harbor any possibility for long-term benefit?

My point is simply, no matter what, today is always worth living. Because, no matter what, tomorrow is always worth looking forward to.

Life almost always offers us an E-ZPass to emotional equilibrium, so to speak. The good will balance the bad, the “wrong place, wrong time” will cancel the “I can’t believe it’s not butter,” and the heavenly will offset the catastrophic. If you don’t believe me, complete the above exercise instead with your most recent moment of elation. I think you’d be surprised at how quickly you can recall something, anything that makes you again smile.

More often than not, we allow ourselves to be completely controlled by events and circumstances that are completely out of our control. However true, our fortress of solitude is always protected by attitude and perspective, two things controlled only by the man in the mirror (shout out to the MJ song :). A difficult choice and a learned experience, but also a destiny we permanently and firmly hold in our own hands.

The next time you feel your glass is half empty, remember life is full of free refills…

21 Going on 22?

The 21st century. Where to start more than a decade in? How about right here with a clear view of it? From Panera on scenic Route 4 in Hackensack, NJ, I see the sign, literally. Century 21. I honestly don’t have a clue what they sell besides the beginnings of a revelation… my own.

Unlike most notable experiences or plans in my life, this one simply rose like the morning sun above the increasing traffic outside. How do I make it to the 22nd century (figuratively speaking at least)? I have so much I want to do… so many places I want to go… so many people I want to touch…

The anxiety of these concerns kept me up all night thinking, now writing. Call it a quarter-life crisis, but I’m going with a quarter-life awakening. As my mind races across the horizon and through the clouds, I try to stabilize it around the one question most spend a lifetime attempting to answer… Who am I?

Why do I matter? What was I meant for? How will I be remembered? How do I want to be remembered? Does anyone else wake up every morning wondering how this day could again be better than the last, which existed merely one blink ago?

Side note: Maybe there’s some truth to the idea that life can flash before your eyes. Every time you blink, consider it an invitation, an opportunity to see a strikingly similar image in a completely different light. After all, perspective does not necessarily require a change of scenery but a change in how we choose to see the mundane and ordinary.

And, I guess that brings me here, the once typical. So, what made this flash of life different from the previous 200 million (nearly, seriously)? That I may never know, but I sure am thankful for it!

Exactly 3 years ago, I was volunteering within the confined walls of a magical orphanage outside of Pretoria, South Africa. It doesn’t have an address because it’s not accessible from any known road. In fact, you have to drive for several miles off the main highway past homes without attached roofs or front doors (but homes nonetheless) to get there. Anyway, I suppose my main purpose behind creating this blog is to provide you with directions to the fireplace burning in the living room of my heart. It too has no official address, but it too, can be found by hanging a right here…