To Be Cynical is to be Human

Hello, dear readers and happy Monday! I know, I know, Mondays aren’t happy. Mondays are for being tired, and grouchy, and remembering all the things you don’t like about your life. Mondays are for wanting to crawl back into bed.

But, let’s try something different. Let’s think of Mondays as a chance at a fresh start, every single week. Each Monday is our own personal reset button. Let’s take this opportunity to do it differently. Let’s make the changes we want to see in ourselves and the world, okay?

“Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.”

― Mike Royko

We are living in the age of positivity. We are living by the rule of mind over matter and the fight fight fight for hope and optimism. We are walking around smiling, hoping, and telling ourselves and everyone we know that it’s all going to be all right, and it’s exhausting.

Yeah, it’s nice to always be positive. I am always trying to be positive too, but honestly, expecting to live a life where you wake up every day full of optimism is not going to end in anything but disappointment. You can’t do it every day.

It’s good to see the best in people, and it’s good not to be blind to the worst. It’s good to know you can make a difference and it’s ok to be exhausted and infuriated by how hard it is. It’s ok to see all the pain of the past and worry that we’ll go on repeating ourselves into the future. It’s ok to have a less than perfect view of our future, and it’s ok to feel overwhelmed and discouraged too.

And yeah, it’s nice to want to change the world for the better every day. I want to do that too but honestly, sometimes I want to step back and just worry about myself for a while too. Expecting to give yourself day in and day out to other people without ever wanting to give up or give in lead directly to exhaustion and disappointment too.

The fact is, no person can sustain one emotion or one way of feeling or expressing themselves forever. We do our best to keep to the middle when we can but often before we can recognize it, let alone stop it, we are swinging wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other. This is normal. This is okay. Being positive all the time sounds nice, but that does not mean it is the best way or the healthiest way to live. It might not be the right way for most people. And that is okay.

We all want to believe the best of the world, and every day so many of us are fighting to make the belief into a reality, but sometimes we have to take a break. Sometimes we just have to be real with ourselves. The world is shitty, people are shitty, and the whole damn system is set up so that you have to work so damn hard just to feel like you aren’t going to your grave feeling useless and forgotten. It’s a hard life. It’s unfair, and it hurts, and no amount of positivity changes that for everyone. I might not even change it for you.

Here at Zen and Pi, I advocate for feeling the full spectrum of human emotion in ways that are heathy for each individual. That means sometimes being angry, sad, and yes, even cynical. Sometimes, because we are human, no matter how hard we try we want to feel bad, and we want to express that too. Sometimes we are mean, or indifferent, or unforgiving. Sometimes we just can’t be the bigger person. It’s understandable! We are hopelessly flawed. It’s okay!

They say cynics can’t learn, can’t grow, can’t change or help anything or anyone, and maybe that is true, but the perpetually positive are just as blind and stunted if you ask me. Each one lives with only half the story, half the human experience. Each condemns the other, and both are fools.

To be human is to hope, and to be human is to be hopeless too. Both stem from having an accurate view of the world and the people inhabiting it.

So, this week, if you can’t always smile, say nice things, pay it forward, or let it all slide, it’s ok. Do your best and fuck the rest, you know?

I know I’ve had a pretty hard time keeping my chin up, putting one foot in front of the other, and smiling while the world seems to be burning all around me. There is so much going wrong in the world, and there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot we can do about it right now. Some days I’m pissed! I’m disappointed! I’m fucking tired! And I’m going to be, off and on, forever because that’s what people do.

So, I’m buckling in and turning on my frown y’all. I may have to sit through this, but I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to be chipper, and I do not have to start every morning with telling myself that it’s all down to my attitude because sometimes that is nothing but a dirty lie and here at Zen and Pi we do not lie to ourselves.

I’m not saying give up hope. I’m not saying give up the fight. I’m not saying happiness is impossible or that real change will never happen. I’m just saying it’s ok to let your cynical flag fly because the world is a shitty place sometimes and being a human is hard. It’s ok to be less than enthusiastic about society and human potential at the moment. We are all disappointed, still, and we will be for a long time. Let it out. Express it, share it, and don’t feel bad or apologize for it.

Give yourself permission to be a Negative Nancy if you need to until you don’t need to. Don’t let the world tell you how to feel about whatever you are going through. Don’t let the world tell you that suppressing or denying emotions they deem unnecessary, or “wrong” is in your best interest. Just feel, and be real, that’s all I’m asking.

Fight when you can, smile when you can, and step back and curse it all when you want to too.

It’s all human, and it’s all right.

***

Check out my weekly-ish newsletter for important weekly reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering (:

Featured image via Unsplash

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I Hope I Die Before You

When you are young, and you say you will love someone forever, you have no idea what that means.

You never imagine that this beautiful fairy tale could ever end. Nothing could sever such a rare connection. You know, somewhere in the back of your mind, that people die, that people you love will die, and so will you, but your brain somersaults around logic, and you believe the rule does not apply to you, let alone the one you love. Love transcends all. Love makes all things possible.

So, with forever to look forward to, you build a home, you make a family, you share bank accounts. You fight, and you forget each other because you have all the time in the world. You never stop to consider the pain one of you will feel when one of you will leave this world and the other behind. You realize what you’ve wasted only after it’s too late.

After 31 years on this planet, and 14 years with the girl of my dreams, it is sinking in, one day one of us will be alone. Forever isn’t quite forever, not the way I thought. Life seems so much shorter than it used to and even if I got 100 more years with her it wouldn’t feel like enough.

***

I am scared.

I often dream that I am roaming from room to room in our home calling her name and searching, but I can’t find her anywhere. Sometimes I dream that I am in choking and sobbing telling her story at her funeral. Sometimes I am calling to her from some kind of white afterlife where I am alone and afraid, but she can’t hear me. Sometimes I hear her calling to me, but I cannot get to her.

I suppose my mind is playing out a trauma I might one day experience. Somewhere inside I am working through what I think it will feel like to be torn from her.

I talk to her about my fears of course, because talking to her is the only way I know how to work things out in my mind. I tell her that I can’t stop worrying about her and that my heart hurts when I think about one of us dying before the other. She tells me not to worry about it. She tells me she will be fine. She tells me we have plenty of time before we need to worry.

I tell her she doesn’t know that.

***

I become obsessed, trying to work through what will happen to each of us when the other is gone.

I tell her that if I die she has to go live with someone, preferably with family. I know her, she is very private and will try to cope alone. Someone will have to make sure to gets enough sleep, eats enough food and doesn’t work too hard. Someone will have to do all the things I do for her now. Someone will have to stand up to her for her own good, but I don’t know anyone who can.

I tell her that if anything ever happened to me, I want her to date again and find someone who will love her and take care of her when she is ready. She says the same back to me. I feel relieved. At least neither of us will have to worry that the other wouldn’t approve.

I tell her that I am afraid if she dies first my heart and mind won’t be able to handle it. There is no way I will be able to stay in our home, or throw away her things, or go back to the job where we both have worked for so many years.

I am certain I will lose my mind. I am certain I will self-destruct in one way or another. I will be desperate to find her in the place we all go when we aren’t here anymore. I will be desperate to escape. I know I will not recover.

She tells me again and again, we have time, we are okay, she is okay, everything is okay.

I only become more anxious.

***

We bury the pain that comes with facing mortality in jokes that aren’t jokes at all.

We laugh about double suicides and imagine ways we might die together. What will happen to the house and the animals if we are both in a car accident, a plane crash, an earthquake, a bombing, anything! Dying together is the best case scenario, and these are our secret hopes.

One life without the other makes no sense. How could the world will go on spinning? How could people keep doing what they have always done? How can we wake up again in bed alone? This is impossible. This is insulting.

Laying in the bed, both of us staring at the ceiling through the dark she squeezes my hand and tells me this is how she would like to die.

It is sweet.

***

More and more often these thoughts come to me, and when I look at her, I want to cry.

She is so beautiful and so strong. She has shown me so much love and made my life something truly good. I am sad that such beautiful and rare things have to end. I am angry there is no way out or around the inevitable. I am angry she would be yanked from this world, and me, the one who loves her best.I am angry that I must go too. I don’t want to leave her lost and alone in this world.

I tell her I hope I die before her.

She doesn’t know what to say anymore.

I wonder if I am crazy. I wonder if I am the only one trying to cope with the future. She never seems to be as scared, but I do notice that, from time to time, she clings to me at night too after dreaming I was lost to her. She lays on my chest and cries because it felt too real. I pat her back and try to soothe her, but I don’t know how.

I say the only thing I can.

I tell her I am here, I am fine, and we have so much time before we have to worry about anything like that.

***

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I am Sorry

“Would ‘sorry’ have made any difference? Does it ever? It’s just a word. One word against a thousand actions.”

― Sarah Ockler, Bittersweet

I have hurt people.

I have hurt them in big and small ways, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I am human, I am flawed, I am scared, and I am hurting too. I don’t want to be like this and, trust me; I am working every day not to be. Eventually, I may learn to cope in some instances, but I will always have a tendency to fall back into old ways. I will always want to do what is easy, and it is easy to hurt others.

The world is a confusing place, and all I am looking for is a way to find some solid ground. I am looking for some control. I am looking for a way to feel safe.

Sometimes that means I am unkind. It means I pretend at not caring. It means I do things to hurt you, push you away, and keep you near. I just want to love you, make you happy, and help you love me back. I don’t know how to do that, and I feel inadequate. My actions are wrong, and they don’t make sense. I get frustrated with myself, and then frustrated with you. In the end, I blame you for my inability to act like you are important and worth my time and patience.

I am sorry.

“I feel sorry for anyone who is in a place where he feels strange and stupid.”

― Lois Lowry, The Giver

Hurting others feels better than feeling strange and stupid.

We hurt each other to avoid our own hurt feelings. It’s pathetic, I know it, and you know it, and there is no excuse for it, but to be human is to be burdened by more feelings that you can safely hold. We suffer but we have been given no means of alleviating that suffering in any meaningful and permanent way. Anything that makes it even a little better only leaves us with more anxiety. We live in fear of losing what we find soothing, and we act in increasingly erratic and insane way to keep it.

We should all be apologizing to each other. All humans are guilty, and all humans are the injured party. None of us deserve to be on the receiving end of another’s insecurity and disappointment, and none of us have the right to use another as an emotional punching bag. We all do it in our personal relationships, but we do it on a much larger scale too.

Have you hated whole groups of people? Have you refused to listen to another point of view? Have you decided “those people” don’t deserve the same rights and comforts as you? Have you ever hit someone? Have you agreed that bombing another country is the right answer?

You may owe the world an apology.

This letter has been mine.

It isn’t good enough, though, because I cannot promise I won’t do it again. It isn’t good enough because I know I will do it again. I can only say again I am human, and I am hurting and like most humans, it is my first instinct is to spread that pain around. I am sorry I do this, I know better, we all do, but it takes a lot of work to be better. A lot of work, every single day.

I beg your forgiveness and ask for your patience, and I hope you can find it in your heart to give it to me.

I will do the same for you too.

“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevski, The Brothers Karamazov

***

This post first appeared as part of my weekly newsletter, if you like it, consider signing up. You’ll get a bit of experimental writing from me—something more emotional, more private—and some interesting reads from a few other people. All made with lots of love, every week ♥

Original image via Harsha K R

P.S. Inspired by the video Why and How to Say Sorry by The School of Life

Currently // June 2016

We’ve come to the end of the month again and as always I like to share with you all that is going on with me, all the changes I have made, and what I am looking forward to. This is what I am currently:

Writing a few bits and pieces—just ideas mostly—of what I hope will one day be my first novel. Eek!

Planning a camping trip for the weekend of the 8th. It will be the first time I bring my puppy into the great outdoors. I’m worried she won’t mind her manners, and we’ll have to cut the trip short. Cross your fingers and wish us luck.

Making up a new daily to do list. One that will lead me to the goals that are important to me know and follow the philosophy of progress not perfection with items such as “Spend 15 minutes writing flash fiction.” or “Spend 10 minutes working on a drawing.”

Thinking about blog design, email design, and design in print. I’m not good with things like choosing colors, or fonts, or images, but I’m getting to a point where I need to start incorporating these concepts into my “personal branding”, whatever that is.

Reading Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, still. I will finish it in July!

Watching a series on HBO called The Leftovers. The show “takes place three years after a global event called the “Sudden Departure,” the inexplicable, simultaneous disappearance of 140 million people, 2% of the world’s population, on October 14, 2011″ and follows the lives of people who were left behind.

Feeling super excited about my goals for next month. I have never made anything that I could sell before, it’s scary and, well, exciting!

Needing to spend more time writing in quiet places instead of on the couch while the TV is playing in the background. TV is not good for productivity at all. Shocking I know. The plan is to start setting aside four hours or so every Saturday to write in my “Creativity Room.” A place in my house where TV is not allowed!

Loving the sweet gingery taste of Moscow Mules. I had one for the first time last month, and it was so delicious I can’t believe everyone can not drink them all day, every day.

Hating this joke of an election. Seeing Trumps face on the news every day and hearing his hate speech is beginning to get real nauseating. Election day can not come and go fast enough!

Hoping that everything I am doing, and want to do, are things that will lead me into the kind of future I want. One where it won’t be so hard to find time to do all the things I love.

***

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The inspiration for this post comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Featured image via Unsplash

Currently // May 2016

Writing my first piece for the newsletter I am starting up. Right now it’s a way for me to share where I am with my projects, how I am feeling creatively, and share my thoughts on human nature and experience. Oh, and there will be links to things and people that inspiring and helpful too.

Planning some big summer projects. There will be a collection of essays and poems, maybe artwork if I can make it look nice, and, hopefully, work being submitted to small publications. I might even get my shit together and start working on a book :/

Making a real effort to silence my inner critic and let go of my fears. There is so much I want to start doing and I haven’t because I am afraid and because I think no one would care what I have to say or share. I need to stop thinking about all of that and just do what feels right and good. I need to start having fun.

Thinking about how little I know about what is happening in the rest of the world and how that ignorance comes from a place of privilege as a US citizen. I am trying to find ways to become more informed.

Reading Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. The book and the reader have to fit together for any wisdom of understanding to flow between the two. Catch-22 and I don’t fit together easily but the more I stick with it the more we see eye to eye and the effort is reaping big rewards.

Watching The new Roots miniseries on History Channel. I never did watch the old miniseries but the book has always been among my favorites so I was very excited for the premiere last night. It did not disappoint and I look forward to watching the rest all week.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the demands of the world and the demands of my dreams and passions. There never seems to be enough time for both and I am in constant fear that I will have to give up on what I love so that I can be a normal functioning person in the real world.

Needing to clean up my “creativity room” and get to work in there. It’s a mess and not conducive to any sort of creative process what so ever. I need an entire day dedicated to getting it together but I’m not sure exactly when that will happen.

Loving the strange combination of fruity vinegar flavors and the fizzy foamy texture of Kombucha, or fermented tea. It sounds weird, and it is, but it’s weirdly good and I think you should try it. I want to start making batches of my own at home :)

Hating the fact that my phone decided it couldn’t go on any longer and overheated, froze, and died in my hands. Hoping the replacement won’t give up on me so easily.

Hoping that the summer won’t fly by so quickly and that it won’t be too hot. I hope my girlfriend and I can make the most of our time off and make a few memories. We need the break from the bleak and boring days at work. We need to get out and see a little of the world.

***

The inspiration for this post comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Featured image via Pexels

Currently // April 2016

Writing my last Blogging A to Z Challenge post. I’ve had a lot of fun with this challenge, even the times when it was frustrating me and bringing me to tears.

Planning what I want to do next. Fiction is going to become a regular part of this blog but I think it is about time I start working on a real project, something a bit more tangible.

Making an effort to get up and put one foot in front of the other every day. I’ve been feeling anxious and burned out at work. Before the end of the month, it will get better, though.

Thinking about all the ways humans in America are losing their collective minds lately.

Reading Kurt Vonnegut’s amazing novel Slaughterhouse-Five. I started it awhile ago but took a bit of a reading break in light of all the time I needed for blogging stuff

Watching Game of Thrones season 6 and Vice season 4 on HBO. I also caught Beyonce’s Lemonade special and am wishing it was still available to stream rather than for purchase.

Feeling weird. I blame the crazy Colorado weather, and my inability to go to bed at a decent hour anymore. I’m hoping with less stress and warmer temperatures I’ll be feeling better soon.

Needing a nice weekend trip up to the hot springs. I think a few days away good soak in the warm mineral water pools will do me and my lady a lot of good.

Loving the Slaughterhouse-Five shirt and the set of Frida Kahlo magnets my girlfriend got me for my birthday this month. She knows me so well lol

Hating the fact that it is about to be May and I am currently looking outside at a blustery snow storm. When will winter be over already?!

Hoping that I am doing everything right and that I am being the girlfriend, daughter, and sister everyone needs me to be. I am hoping that if I am not, the month of May will mean more effort on my part and an understanding of what I can do better.

***

The inspiration for this post comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love.

Featured image via Robin 

Monday Motivation // Let Yourself Be Sensitive

Hello dear readers and happy Monday. I hope your work week has started off well. The beginning of the work week is usually rough, and we all stumble and struggle, but try not to let it get to you. Don’t let a day go to waste over complaints and bad tempers. Mondays aren’t as bad as you think, not if you do your best and go easy on yourself.

This week I am feeling a little out of sorts. I am not as irritable as I am most Mondays but I am feeling sensitive and fragile. I feel tired, the kind that threatens to turn to tears if anyone should sound a little too frustrated or answer me in too snippy of a tone. I feel everything is about me and take every joke personally. I feel like a walking wound today, open exposed and hurting, and without understanding or comfort.

I have always been the sensitive type, ever since childhood, I am usually able to hide it well or hold it in until I am at home and can release all the hurt or anger. Being a sensitive type in a work environment is frowned upon, it shouldn’t be but that’s a post for another day. For today, I have to learn to navigate this place and cope with the way I feel.

“I despise my own hypersensitiveness, which requires so much reassurance. It is certainly abnormal to crave so much to be loved and understood.”

// Anaïs Nin

When I am like this I want to stay in bed. I want to feel warm and cozy and all wrapped up. I want a hot cup of tea and a feel good movie. I want to be with my girlfriend. She makes everything better. When I am like this she takes care of me.

But she has to work and so do I but instead of pushing everything down until all I feel is bitterness I think this week I will allow myself to feel. I will allow myself to feel however I need to. There is no reason I should have to walk through the world pretending this much.

So this week I will let the people around me know that I need space and understanding. I need them to take it easy and try to keep things positive around me. I know they don’t have to and some people may choose to be their usual harsh and grouchy selves around me and I will choose to keep my distance. These people are my friends though and I think they will understand that I need this for now, but that I will be back to my usual self soon.

I’m am also choosing not to feel bad for needing that. I am always so hard on myself for being so thin-skinned but I can’t help it and I can’t beat myself up over it either. Being a sensitive type means I am often in desperate need of self-care. This week I’ll give myself that understanding and comfort when other people can’t and I’ll try to protect my emotional soft spots the very best I can.

In addition, I want to be aware of the other sensitive people around me and make sure to treat them gently and with the same care I long for in my day to day life. I think a lot of people are like me, walking around with delicate hearts but they try to hide them which only serves to hurt more in the end. Be mindful of others and always treat them the way you wish everyone else would treat you.