Sea of Dreams

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Photo by Andrew Montgomery on Unsplash

Today’s song is “Sea of Dreams” by Oberhofer on their album, Chronovision.

 

It feels like years since I have written you.

So little, yet so much has happened in the past month.

My life’s purpose has been laughing in my face for quite a while.

My ex contacted me recently to “get back together” (see “Loser”). Clearly, I said, “no” (that’s putting it delicately). However, it made me think about all of the shitty things that happened over the past two years: how I “wasted time” with this person and with myself, how I felt alone even when I was with him, and how I sacrificed my needs for someone, who didn’t appreciate a damn thing.

This past weekend, I discussed life goals with someone that eerily resonated mine. We are the same age, though I felt like he is light years ahead. He teaches Psychology courses full-time and is finishing his PhD. We talked about how we want to write some sort of novel or film. We both haven’t achieved this goal yet, but who knows?

However, I felt embarrassed that I am the one sitting on my hands with two part-time jobs that aren’t really going anywhere, because I don’t have a doctorate or am working on one. I’m not working on anything now or sometimes it feels that way. I need to make this change.

Then, I recalled a recent conversation I had with one of my college students about how it would be amazing to live in Colorado—to live among mountains that make us feel small, yet a part of something bigger. On that note, she talked about how she could have been there now, how she should have made different choices like how she transferred schools, and how she felt she has been “wasting her time.”

In response, I played on a spinet of wisdom: “We are always wasting time.”
She laughed and said something like, “That’s true,” in affirmation.
I reassured her that she would find her place and get to where she needs to be—it isn’t about when you make something happen, but that you make it happen, at all.

Consequently, as a friend said, I have to find a way to fulfill my Ikigai.

No, Ikigai isn’t a hipster term for “happiness”—it is a Japanese term, “iki” meaning “life” and “gai” meaning “value or worth.” Basically, it is your life’s purpose.

I know my Ikigai is writing and teaching, but it involves much more. How do I accomplish these goals? How do I afford them or make a living from them?

I thought about this principle and how we can achieve our Ikigai in a few steps:

1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
This step is crucial in our journey to find our Ikigai. I was so tempted to continuously compare myself with this person, who seemingly has accomplished much more than I have. In these moments, I run away with the thoughts that I will never accomplish my goals, because “I haven’t achieved them yet,” or “I am not trying hard enough.” Honestly, when you think these things, it is probably bullshit because it’s not accurate or even worth thinking about. Comparing ourselves only gives us a reason to hold ourselves back from achieving what we truly want.

2. It’s okay to “waste time.”
Some people may think it’s a waste of time to go out drinking with friends, meet new people, or binge watch Netflix for hours on end, but these experiences can be refreshing or even inspiring. Did you ever get drunk and think of the most amazing idea for a novel, because you overheard someone say something crazy? It may just be a drunken idea or infinite wisdom? Either way, write it down. Worst case scenario, it can provide a good story. And if you feel like you’re really wasting time with your life: Do something about it, even if it means opening that GRE study guide and re-learning Algebra. It will be worth it in the end or another waste of time. Regardless, move onward.

3. Don’t look back in anger.
It is so easy to dwell on our past mistakes, what people have done to us, and what we have yet to do, that we forget our purpose. We drown in a sea of anger and resentment, that we lose our sense of balance. We can’t stop our thoughts, but we can circumvent negative thoughts sort of speak. The principles of Aikido, a defensive approach to martial arts, teach us about redirecting attacks or negative energy per se, thus defending ourselves without harming others. My Sensei joked that I was like “Gumby,” so I translated this as I am freely moving and cannot be caught, spiritually or otherwise. Consequently, I learned how to fall down stairs without killing myself and how to redirect my negative feelings somewhere else in a positive way. Find it in your heart to forgive others and more importantly, yourself.

4. Most importantly, be kind to others.
“Life is chaos; be kind,”-Michelle Eileen McNamara
As the late wife of Patton Oswalt said, we need to be kind to others. We need to forget about ourselves for a little while and focus on sharing our kindness with others, even if they don’t appreciate it. I refuse to let myself give up on others, even though I had so many negative experiences being kind towards others. I realize I don’t need anyone to complete my happiness, but it’s okay to want someone. It’s okay to want someone to join you on your journey in achieving Ikigai or maybe sharing your love with others is your Ikigai. When we communicate with others, especially with dating, we can tend to simply take “pieces” of others to fill a void without any intention in returning affection—”ghosting,” particularly. We tend to forget that there are other people on the other side of an unanswered text. Sometimes we don’t have the energy or it might be the lesser of evils to avoid people, but try to be kind as possible. Psychotherapist, Esther Perel explains this phenomenon of “ghosting” and other related concepts succinctly in her video: https://www.facebook.com/Jezebel/videos/10154831710036356/

I will leave you with these thoughts. We may not know what our Ikigai is or how to achieve it, but don’t forget that we are all looking for our purpose in some way. We are not alone and don’t have to be. Until we find our purpose, we can enjoy our paper sailboat ride downstream. Remember in the words of the fictional character, Bojack Horseman, “In this terrifying world, all we have is the connections that we make.”

Best wishes,

A. Dawn

If you would like to listen to our playlist, you can find it here and on Spotify: thirtythirdwheel

What Will It Be This Time?

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Photo by PICSELI on Unsplash

This poem was written by our columnist and creator, A. Dawn Pica.

What Will It Be This Time?

I run my fingertips
Along the grooves of the bricks at my knees—
I grit their teeth between buried secrets
And the cracks are like those of his fallacies.
They are rudimentary
Buried in the cemetery
Of our unspoken words
That still linger in drafts
Of text messages.
I put my back against the universe,
And choke back my tears
In a single shot.

“What will it be this time?” he asks again
As I watch the fake candle light
Flicker its brightest star,
Then die in effigy,
Leaking battery acid.
“I’m not a hopeless romantic
Anymore,” I say,
And he gives me the usual
Overstated with gold flaked parlay.
This glass swirls and spins a fairy tale
Of someone else’s fantasy,
Full of unfulfilled promises.

I am lucky to have you.

 

If you’d like your written work to be featured in this column, e-mail A. Dawn at:  adawnpica.ttw@gmail.com

Never There

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Photo by Jordan Jensen on Unsplash

For your listening pleasure, today’s song is “Never There,” by Cake from their album, Prolonging the Magic.

 

Fall is a time for leaf changing, freaky 90-degree weather for weeks at a time (it did not even get this consistently hot over the summer), pumpkin spiced everything, and my favorite holiday, Halloween. People say that Spring time is a time of romance, but I find roasting marshmallows over a bon-fire on a seasonably normal crisp Fall evening and drinking spiked cider at an impromptu costume party a means of sparking romance. Speaking of which, did I mention that Americans spent an all-time record of 8.4 billion dollars (thebalance.com) on Halloween decorations last year? It’s because Halloween is the best!

With the emergence Halloween comes the spooky stuff (I can’t wait until the Stranger Things, Season 2 Premiere), which includes scantily clad costumes, Charlie Brown’s “The Great Pumpkin,” B horror movies, witches (I’m not a basic witch), and most importantly, ghosts. Whether you believe in them or not, they are out there…ghosting your text messages (insert the voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, here)!

You can’t unread it:  I said it. And this is probably one of the reasons why I am single.

Anyway, we all have encountered these ghosts or have turned into them ourselves (probably by being bitten by Pacman ghosts or our lack of giving a shit). I don’t know if you have been through this, but I would like to relay to you a situation for example. My friend was recently talking to a guy she would describe as someone who “doesn’t suck,” but then again, we have been wrong before. She and this guy (let’s call him Inky) talked every day through text for about a month. Inky and she bonded over numerous interests. There was an apparent attraction between them, but he never would make plans to see her. However, he constantly talked about how his life sucked and how he missed his ex-girlfriend who broke up with him four years ago. He talked about how his ex destroyed him, yet he was still hung up on her. He couldn’t or didn’t want to see anyone else, yet talked about how he liked my friend (this seems to be an issue with dating guys in their late 20’s). His ex contacted him eventually and they sort of got back together (a fling, whatever it was). And that was the end of that. He ghosted.

I did my research and want to share this pertinent information with you. There are all sorts of ghosts out there in any gender, and I want to teach you how to spot and avoid getting eaten by them. All of the ghosts share one thing in common:  selfishness.

Ghosts come in different colors, too (to be exact, they are red, pink, aqua, and orange). Please see this highly scientific diagram below:

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  1. “Blinky” (the red ghost): Blinky may appear to be a slow-learner, but Blinky will eventually learn your moves and bite you right in the ass (perhaps literally if you are into that sort of thing). Blinky will slink back (literally or metaphysically through the internets) and watch your every move. Blinky will ask seemingly innocuous questions about your interests, yet never ask direct questions about yourself or make plans related to these interests. Blinky will also never talk about themselves. Blinky will play it cool, yet creepy. and clingy. Blinky will find out where you hang out and will just randomly appear there (“Oh! I was just in the neighborhood”) or like random photos on your Facebook from three years ago stuffed in some Mobile Uploads folder. Yet, try to pinpoint who Blinky is or where to find where they will be, and you will have no idea. One drunken night, Blinky might confess true feelings for you that are so outlandishly deep like a marriage proposal, but then try to discuss it the next day, and Blinky has packed their bags and moved on to another newbie victim, slasher style.

Advice: Stay away! Blinky may masquerade as being chill, but Blinkys are creeps. They will be passive-aggressive if you approach them about their stalking behavior. There is no helping them. If you feel like it, get what you can, but beware the consequences of a one-night stand. They may expect random repeated booty calls with some bizarre demands and non-profound declarations of love sprinkled in between.

  1. Pinky: Pinky always seems to be confused about what direction Pinky is going in on a regular basis. Pinky is a dreamer and is super flighty. Pinky might have a new goal every week. You might see potential in Pinky’s upbeat personality and seeming sense of accomplishment, but Pinky is all about Pinky. Pinky does not return texts and then will at 3 a.m. the following Saturday. Pinky fronts as wanting a relationship, but Pinky just wants followers. Pinky may also front as a leader, but Pinky has no idea what the hell Pinky is doing. Pinky would rather be told what to do by Pinky’s crew and leave you in the dust unless you happen to pass in the same direction, then you are screwed. Pinky has not quite gained the sense of Object Permanence (babies when they realize their caregivers exist when they are out of babies’ sights). Pinky is a people pleaser, but does not care about pleasing you if you are a permanent fixture in their line of sight.

 Advice: Enjoy the ride. Take what you can get, because it will probably disappear. Don’t act interested either unless you want something. Beat Pinky at their own game.

  1. Inky: Inky is probably friends with Blinky, which Inky likes to manifest in dark alley ways and smoky bars. However, Inky is the seeming soft type who brings their journal to the bar and takes notes. Inky likes to people watch and talks about deep topics like poetry or philosophy. Inky typically is frozen in perpetual stasis of Freshman year of college and wears ill-fitted printed clothing, which may be considered hipster, but is just strange. Inky has a lot of insecurity issues and talks about their ex…a lot! Inky can’t be bothered with the mundane aspects of having “a relationship” and wants to talk about their problems all of the time. You may see this as “bonding,” when in reality, they just want an ego boost.

Advice: Don’t waste your time with Inky. It is going nowhere fast. Inky is a stray cat that only wants affection when it’s hungry. However, Inky isn’t that cute to begin with, so is it worth it to deal with Norman Bates?

  1. Clyde: Lastly, Clyde can care less about anything and has the attention span of a squirrel. Clyde is here for a good time, not a long time. Clyde likes to hook-up with basically anything that slaps Clyde in the face. Clyde is too stupid to be self-loathing and has no sense of self-awareness. Clyde may seem like relationship material, but Clyde is just looking for the best opportunity at the moment. Clyde likes to party and may join you in your misadventures if you are bringing your hot friend along or buying rounds of drinks. Clyde is the group message texter. Clyde also traps you in their drama when they need your attention, but is nowhere to be found when you need them. Clyde is just a douchebag.

Advice: Similar to Pinky, take what you can. However, Clyde is not as charming and sophisticated as Pinky, so Clyde may get annoying, fast. Take what you can and run.

I hope this advice as provided you safe travel throughout your journey through mazes while you collect cherries, apples, and maybe if you are lucky enough, the key.

Godspeed!

A. Dawn
If you would like to listen to our playlist, you can find it here and on Spotify:  thirtythirdwheel

You said What?!: How to comment on social media while maintaining friendships and a healthy lifestyle.

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It can be demoralizing and frustrating to comment on a post that you have an opinion on. Sometimes, you can even get people to misinterpret what you said, assume that you meant something that you did not mean, or because they disagree with what you said, they go on to attack, insult, and demonize you for everyone else to see.  I know that this has caused me to take pause on many occasions and to decide not to post when I felt that public discourse was a great way to resolve a conflict between my friends on Facebook.  Even researched facts can cause an emotional reaction that will make your well-meaning post turn into something ugly.

So, what do we do?  Do we sit back and stay silent on things that we think are important?  Do we privately message our friends and asked them politely if they would you mind if we disagreed with them? Or do we let loose, and risk becoming king social media pariah? I don’t know about you, but none of these options sound very appealing to me.

Something that tends to work in face to face conversation could be a healthy solution to these sticky situations:  it is called active listening. Active listening is a way to begin in conversation was someone that allows them to teach you more about how they think and who they are. Active listening requires a few important steps in order to make it effective on social media.

1. Eliminate assumptions.

If you begin questions or comments with assumptions like “Do you just hate all animals?” you will immediately put the person you are asking about on the defense. When we are defensive, we are not ready to open up to someone. This will stop the active listening process before it even begins.

2. Charity is key.

My philosophy professor in my first year of college taught this principle to us when having a debate that I will never forget. It is infinitely useful in trying to really understand someone’s argument. Charity is when you assume that the person you are speaking with knows what they are talking about. You argue against the strongest position of their argument that you can. If you can exercise charity on social media, you will be listening for the most valuable position the person you are posting about has. This will allow you to wrestle with potentially difficult problems with your own world view. It will also give you a much better chance to change the mind of the person you are having a discussion with, as you will be able to speak to the most well-thought-out position they have.

3. Express interest in the person you are speaking with.

It is important to people to feel that you are interested in them. We respond well to people who see us as human beings who are intelligent and have something valuable to say. If the person you are commenting back and forth with is more similar to you are than you think is a good way to practice this principle. It will help build connections with the person that will allow you to gain credibility with them, which will be important if you plan to change their minds on any topics. Not just what they think about the current topic.

4. Ignore the hate.

This is probably one of the most obvious and difficult things to do on Twitter and Facebook. Often there will be people who agree with you who just want to spit venom at people who disagree with them. They clearly have not read this article. Stop. Breathe. Send them the link to this and wash your hands of their actions. There will be people who disagree with you. They will call you racist, a hippie, stupid, brainwashed, ignorant, hateful, and a host of other things. These are not arguments. Stick to the topic and asking questions, and these trolls will run out of fuel for their fires. You are not in control of others in the thread. But you are in control of how you react to irrelevant comments.

There are many other tips and tricks on how to stay healthy in the technological age we live in. I will be posting on them occasionally, and you can feel free to reach out to me with any other help you need on how to keep your friends in the age of social media etiquette. I hope you were actively listening!

My Purpose is Peace

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Photo by Chris Ensey on Unsplash

I receive daily emails from a woman who has been a spiritual seeker and leader for years now. She has followed and studied under don Miguel Ruiz, writer of the Four Agreements. Whatever the subject of the daily reminder, I find it relevant and always timely with what is happening in my world. One of this week’s reminders was no exception. She wrote about having a life’s purpose, and how it is that we know what our purpose is. She invited readers to think about one word that they would choose to best describe their overall purpose in life, and in the world.

I thought about it for quite some time. At first, I thought of words that are often in my daily lessons: Forgiveness. Love. Inspiration. Yet, the one that came to me, that makes the most sense, is Peace. Peace is my Purpose.

From my perspective, if I do not start from a peaceful center, the rest of what I will encounter and experience makes no difference. I will either be judging it, resenting it, avoiding it, embracing it, depending on where my mood scale is. If I am in fear, then I will most definitely choose judgment and being a victim more consistently. Even though I encounter feelings of fear frequently on most days, I know that I always have another choice: I always have the choice to come back to a Peaceful center within myself.

Choosing Peace is not always easy. I have been experiencing some interesting, drastic changes in some of my relationships, particularly with members of my family. Changes to the structure more than anything. And, I have at times, felt very dramatic, upset, depressed, tearful and discouraged about them. I even have embraced being the Victim to the “circumstances” around me that are “out of my control.” However, in the last few months, I have consciously and deliberately chosen to get off the Drama Rollercoaster, and instead, embrace Peace that is always with me.

We all have the ability to choose it, but we just forget. The more gentle and forgiving that we can be with ourselves, about our not remembering, the more loving that is. I am not perfect, and I no longer strive for perfection (most of the time anyway!). However, if I focus on what makes me feel really good, then I choose differently than when I want chaos or discouragement.

When I begin with a purpose of Peace, everything else falls into place. My day is more fulfilling and joyful, my surroundings are pleasing no matter what is happening, and I am willing to accept the world around me just as it is, without expectation and room for disappointment or judgment. When I begin with Peace, everything is a gift.

A gift that I want to consciously keep giving myself, every day.