Don’t forget to breathe

I got my teeth cleaned today and throughout the ~45 minute procedure, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe.

For some reason, I always tense up my body.

I call it barber anxiety.

When I get my hair cut, I need to remind myself to relax.

When I get a massage, I also need to relax.

When I get my teeth cleaned, I need to remember to breathe.

It just feels inherently awkward to me: another person “operating” on me, while I sit there. I can look at their face and realize that they aren’t even really looking back, because, well, they need to make sure they don’t cut my ears off.

In reality, there is no reason for me to feel tense. Maybe I can feel awkward or slightly embarrassed. But tense? Why? I’m literally not doing anything. Feeling tense while getting massaged by someone who you are paying to massage you is perhaps the most paradoxical sentence I’ve written this year.

Barber anxiety sucks… But it also doesn’t make sense. So don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget to relax.

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Knowledge is power

How much do you value education? Books? The internet?

And how much do you value your knowledge?

Knowledge is power. It’s an overused aphorism that remains true.

The 21st century saw the world enter into the digital information age, propelled forward by the internet, the smart phone, and soon, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Those with access to this overload of information should be utilizing it as much as possible. Obtaining knowledge left and right.

IN a world where everyone is trying to connect the dots, sometimes it’s instead the time to collect some dots.

Hey

Hey Jeff

I’m sorry for the way I used to be

I’m sorry for the person I am

I’m sorry for putting you in awkward situations

But actually, I love my life right now

Not because it’s perfect.

No. My life is far from perfect.

But I love life because somehow, despite how broken I’ve felt, despite my failures and pains and rejections and tripups and awkward situations…

Despite my vulnerability

I’ve still managed to be happy.

There is beauty in my life and I just need to find it.

Once I do, I’ll never let go again

Finding beauty in the mundane

In essence, if you breakdown what meditation is, it is simply doing nothing. Yet, I continue to meditate. I’ve been meditating at least 10 minutes for the past two months, some days going up to 30 minutes. And I’m just doing nothing.

And what about the other mundane perfunctory tasks we must complete?

Like doing laundry. Or walking. Commuting. Washing the dishes.

There is a certain art to being able to find beauty in the mundane. I personally enjoy walking. It’s therapeutic for me, especially if the scenery is nice. And even if not, it’s often very relaxing for me to just walk, either with or without a purpose, with or without destination. 

Some people have made a habit to enjoy washing the dishes. Or doing laundry–mundane tasks that need to be done but in actuality don’t really fulfill a deeper purpose in life. It’s just something that needs to be done.

But if it needs to be done, can we somehow find a way to make these tasks more enjoyable? Can we find beauty in them?

If we want to scrutinize these “chores”, these tasks that in themselves don’t really fulfill a purpose so much as the result (ie. we wash dishes to have clean plates, do laundry to have clean clothes), then we have to also scrutinize meditation.

Meditation is literally doing nothing. You aren’t fulfilling any purpose or completing any tasks, per se, during or after meditation. But why has meditation been so good to me? Why do people who meditate and practice mindfulness often lead happier lives?

It’s because people who meditate consistently and thoroughly are also the type of people to find the beauty in the mundane. They are mindful of their existence.

I am here.

I am walking.

I am folding my laundry.

I can breathe.

This is my life and I exist. I am enough.

That’s what meditation has taught me.

And if you struggle with this idea of “doing” things that are entirely mundane to you and feel as if there is no purpose or lack direction, then I present to you a great analogy that my friend brought up in our Human Person class.

Imagine if you were stuck in the Sahara Desert. You can’t see anything in the distance, 360 degrees. What do you do? You have the option to just sit there, OR you can decide to just walk. Walk without direction or purpose, but in hopes of finding refuge, in hopes of finding hope. You’d probably decide to walk.

Sometimes life won’t always give you direction. Sometimes the mundane sucks, but sometimes we can make the mundane beautiful. We can give it purpose. Sometimes, we just need to walk, even if we don’t know where we are going.

I’m not ready

Tomorrow my friend is driving us back to Villanova… 

A 7-hour drive. Thanks Philip.

But I’m not ready to go back and leave these vacation days. I’m not ready to go back into reality, to school, to my life where everything becomes more consequential.

But I’ve been reading this book called The Art of Possibility

It’s written by Ben Zander, who is the conductor of the Boston Philhamonic, and his wife, Rosamund Stone Zander.

Using music as their metaphor, the Zander’s taught me this important rule when it comes to approaching not only musical performance, but also life: Rule Number 6.

And Rule Number 6 says to “Don’t take yourself too seriously”

I think I really could have used that lesson when I was in high school. When I played violin, every missed note and every mistake to me seemed like a catastrophe. Getting a B on a test was blasphemous to my morals. And of course, I was heartbroken after not getting into my dream university.

But here I am. None of that matters to me now. Why did I need to take myself so seriously at the age of 17?

I’m 19 now, and I need to still actively practice this lesson. 

I recently did very poorly on my marketing test, and it’s probably a first for me for getting such a low grade on an exam. But I spent no more than 30 minutes sulking. And moved on.

And tomorrow, even though I am going back to school, back to this reality of life that I am consciously afraid of, I think I just need to apply Rule Number 6. Don’t take myself so seriously.

Vacations are great. Reality is also great, if you can learn to not take everything so seriously. (Obviously, some things that ARE serious need to be taken seriously).

But ask yourself: will this matter to you in 5 years?

If the answer is no, then don’t spend more than 30 minutes feeling regretful about it.

It’s time to go back to reality. 

This time, it won’t feel as stressful as before, because reality to me isn’t that serious. It’s life. And I intend to enjoy it.

Oh, and what are the other rules? There are none!

A reminder

I’m here

I’m existing

Through life you will forget who you are

You will create yourself many times

And then recreate yourself twice as many times

You’ll say you’ve forgotten who you used to be, but you know that’s a lie. You know deep down that you’ve been carrying that baggage since it arrived.

My insecurities do not define me. They shape who I am. They allow me to flourish in a world of hurt–a world where everyone is different yet everyone is trying to prove that their way of different is better than your way of different.

Can someone carry me out of this abyss?

I look up and no one is there. Except further up, I see a mirror and remember that I must pull myself out of this well that I willingly dropped into.

Do not forsake my past, and do not forsake who I am in the present, and most importantly, I will not forsake who I may become in the future.

A reminder to be thankful of your life comes at least once a year in Holiday form. But gratitude is not something that should be shown once a year. Instead, I need to be grateful for this existence. For my friends. For my family. For myself. For this Earth. For this world.

Be Grateful for love. For hurt, for sorrow, for joy, for success, for failure. Be grateful for the tightrope of life because you know that there is also a safety net down below. And if there isn’t, please build one.

This is a reminder.

A reminder that the voice inside your head reading this means you exist.

It means you have the ability to be grateful for this existence. To continue walking that tightrope. To continue getting rejected by love and to relish instead in friendship, in family. To pull yourself out of that well. To being happy, to being accepted, to being.

No regrets

The only time I regret not studying more for a test is immediately after the test for maybe a few hours. To this day, I still regret not asking out the “pretty girl” in high school for a prom-postal or not starting a YouTube channel earlier or not learning Chinese or saying “No” to potentially great opportunities. Life is more than just grades and tests.

-college student recovering from exams PTSD