Openness to Help

Asking for help is a hard thing to do. Accepting help can be even harder which is more often the case that prevents us from even asking for in the first place. In today’s society, there is the impetus that we must strive to be independent and self-sufficient all the time but that is not always the case.

It affects our sense of pride, having to receive help. It hurts us to ask because we are told from the beginning that we have to be able to function on our own and to be successful at it. Western society says so… While we should never be completely dependent on others we should still possess a level of self-awareness that we are not equipped to do anything and everything. We must be able to realize what situations we need help with whether it be something as simple as seeking out advice or an extra set of hands to alleviate some of the burden.

Asking for help should be taken as a sign of personal strength and character. None of us have lived long enough or broadly enough to have been able to experience everything. Being able to seek out those who have previously handled whatever troubles we are encountering and heeding their advice can lead to shorter periods of discomfort and unhappiness.

Its never a burden to anyone else to give help unless you begin to rely on them. Those that give help often need help too. There is a difference between being a burden to someone else and utilizing someone else’s knowledge and experience. We don’t know everything (as much as we would like to think that we do) and its time that we stop acting like we think we do.

Only when we are at our weakest moments are we open to the greatest change. Its when we seek out help that we receive these changes with an open heart and an open mind. Even though it may be hard to do so, we have to ask when we need it.

 

Who Are You?

If I were to ask who are you, what would your response be? “I am an American” or “I am a manager” or “I am a Christian” etc… All these examples are only monikers of what you are, but never who you are. To identify by these simple labels excludes everything else, restricting further depth and meaning.

There are terms that we identify by more easily than others. Yes, these make for a succinct and quick identifier in order to convey and relate understanding to someone else but rarely are they ever completely accurate or entirely true. The problem that grows from this is that we eventually start identifying ourselves by these same terms, losing or never really discovering our own sense of self because of it.

We see everything in terms of what they are like instead of what they are. Today’s day and age appears obsessed with being able to relate to something else instead of simply being. We try to be Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, a manager, a worker, a leader, instead of just being ourselves. These terms and titles don’t identify us, but we try and let them to anyways. Never do we stop to figure out what makes us who we really are as we are a culmination of our experiences.

So let me ask again: Who are you?

The Snapshots We Take

Whenever we first meet someone, we take a mental snapshot. Their actions, mannerisms, personality, looks, hair, clothes… In our mind, carry this mental image of them and take it with us throughout the rest of our lives. This polaroid stored in our mind represents that person and what they mean to our lives.

As time passes, people change but rarely do we ever go back and change our perceptions of them. This picture does not represent them, no more than your baby pictures represent you. This even applies to different periods in our lives, how we were as a teenager, husband, wife, parent… Are you the same person as you were back in high school? I’m willing to bet not.

We continue to take snapshots as we go about our lives, however. What we don’t realize is that we take new snapshots of the same people, but only remember the first one we ever took. Are these people the same as from when you first met them? Who do you see them now as? Maybe its time to start using the more recent picture…

We are a culmination of our experiences and perceptions. Just because we may have been a different person back in high school or before we were married doesn’t mean that that’s not us, its just a different part. The people that surround us go through the same thing. So I ask you this: Who are you still trying to perceive as the same person from when you first met them? It could very well be yourself.

The American Lifestyle

Once upon a time, we believed in something that we called “The American Dream.” Over the years, coupled with the internet and mainstream society, we now have the American “Do-Whatever-You Want.” We are cultivating a sense of entitlement and selfish behavior that negatively impacts those around us.

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We see it all around us in our daily lives. More so now than what we did ten or fifteen years ago, thanks in part to the internet and social media. We are growing more interconnected as a society enabling and tolerating behavior that would have been frowned upon, tactfully corrected, or ostracized before now.

You see it whenever you are waiting at a stoplight and the car next to you is making your windows rattle because their bass is turned up as far as it can go.

It happens when someone almost runs into you in the store because their nose was buried in their phone.

You don’t notice it when you are rocketing around in your metal box on rubber wheels, too selfish to yield the right-of-way to the crosswalk pedestrian to get to your destination while never fully arriving.

We post all of our pictures and selfies to social media, but are too afraid to make eye contact with those around us, as if we have something to be embarrassed about.

For far too long each of us has been moving at a steady max speed through our lives, trying to get to where we want to be as if what we have here and now is just something to get through. “I have to make it to retirement,” or “I need to save up to buy a house,” or “I need to earn that college degree…” We dare to dream but we never dream to live.

We say that we are modern and progressing as a nation but as long as everyone remains trapped in this overrated, arrogant, fuck-you, egotistical lifestyle that owns nothing but is entitled to everything, we will stagnate and vegetate were we currently are.

 

Relationship with Yourself

The defining aspects of relationships are becoming frequently overlooked or forgotten. I have even fallen prey to this thus impacting the things that I enjoy most, to include writing. What I wished I had realized sooner is that in order for us to be in a healthy relationship we must first have the same with ourselves.

There are many different types of relationships, but here I will be talking primarily about committed relationships with your significant other. Whether you are only dating, have been in a committed relationship for a considerable amount of time, or if you are even married, this is what I will be talking about today.

I honestly did not know what having a relationship actually meant. Before, I saw it as companionship. Having someone to go through life together with and be able to share the fun with. This was supported by my perceptions of relationships when I first began learning about them in high school. My how naïve I was.

When I was in high school, everyone was getting into relationships. You weren’t technically someone unless you had a boyfriend/girlfriend, were going on dates and double dates, attending all the dances, holding hands in the hallway, and making out in the secluded corners of the school. It was yet another social convention that you had to buy into and conform with. Coupled with everyone being horny teenagers, you can see just how misguided this sort of mindset is. I grew up seeing that in order to actually be someone, you had to be in a relationship with someone else first.

Is this a Western problem? I don’t think it is that exclusive. Yes, I have met my fair share of people who had a better committed relationship in high school than the majority of adults out there today. Hell, even I can be placed into that category as well. Throughout my travels and all the people I have met there seems to be a growing impetus for discovery of someone else instead of the discovery of self. Maybe its in our genes, but I’m no geneticist.

Last night, before going to bed, I asked myself: “If I were someone else, would I want to be in a relationship with me?” My answer was a very resounding “No.” I don’t know what I want, where I am going necessarily, or who I really am for starters. All of these are self-awareness items that I would expect someone else to have pretty well figured out before being involved with them. The thing is though is that there is no expectation or emphasis placed on expecting the very same from ourselves. Hence, this is my current homework as of late…

Self-realization and actualization, I feel, needs to be more strongly emphasized over the pursuits of what you can offer to someone else. Granted, there always needs to be a balance but how can we give our best to someone else when we don’t have a grasp on ourselves in the first place? As contradictory as it may sound, the first step to any relationship is to have a relationship with yourself first.

Fatherhood for Dummies

Being a father changes things, but not how you might think. Those who know these things are either already a parent or will quickly learn in nine months time. Fatherhood is something that cannot be taught, only experienced. But I am going to take a stab at it anyways…

Fatherhood strains a relationship. Not because of any previously existing discontent between you and your significant other, but because there will be a period of time when you have not fully realized your situation yet. You never do until nine months later and you finally get to hold your child for the first time. For your wife/girlfriend on the other hand, its been real all this time. She tries to understand, but cannot. She began realizing everything as soon as the first physical changes started happening to her body. Nine months seems like a long time looking forward at it, but its a drop in the bucket in hindsight.

Life as a father is different, but that does not mean you completely lose it for the next eighteen years. Yes, you have added responsibilities as this fleshy little meat-bag is now dependent on you and what you can offer it. That does not mean that the laws of physics have suddenly changed to where the universe suddenly revolves around your child however. I have seen many people lie to themselves by saying “I’m not ready to have kids because there is so much else that I still want to do with my life.” Having kids is not about what you have to give up, but what you want to include them in…

Many others tell themselves: “I’ll have kids when I am ready.” You are never ready and I am telling you that you never will be either. But that is the joy of it. Parenting is not about knowing everything and being completely prepared for every situation you may encounter. You will raise a robot that way by trying to teach them, not show them, the things you wish you would have known. Just because you are now the teacher does not mean that you suddenly stop being the student as well. You learn and they learn, and you both become the kind of person that you want to see exist in this world.

The long nights and less free time will inevitably wear on you. You will still go to work and still do your projects around the house because those are the things that you have to do. Its not that you do not have time anymore, you just cannot afford to waste it. Time that you would have normally have spent mindlessly playing video games, gossiping about meaningless sporting events, or whatever other leisure activity of your choice. If you were wasting time to begin with, then what really were you accomplishing? Yes, sometimes you do have to waste time in order to make time but by having less of it you will be more grateful of how you waste your time in the first place.

On the outside looking it, everyone only sees the negative aspects of parenting. The crying, the fussing, the dirty diapers, the sleepless nights…  People see and latch onto the negativity, refusing to ever see the good. I can tell you, the good greatly outweighs the bad. My daughter’s smile, her laughs, her gaze, her curiosity… I know, it sounds all mushy and emotional but it is really some of the purest emotions that you ever can and ever will experience. Unfortunately, you cannot have the good without the bad and most can only realize the latter.

My daughter is five months old now. I see myself as a better person by becoming a father but not a different one. To those on the outside looking in, I probably do look different and, until now, have only been able to fathom as to the reasons why. I have not really changed, but my perspective has.

Principles of Rushing

I, like any other working-class citizen, look forward to Fridays. Today, work ended early and I jumped on my motorcycle to begin the therapeutic ride home. I merge onto the interstate and other drivers in the same mindset as me are filling the lanes. No traffic jams yet. Everyone is in a rush to get started on their weekend plans.

A few miles later I merge my way to left lane of the highway, ready to jump into the HOV lane as soon as it opens up. Thank you California, for having some sense in allowing motorcycles to use that handy feature. Cars are beginning to crowd the left lanes like normal, thinking that everyone goes faster if they are in the left lane. The number of people who have the same idea slows the traffic down to 75mph, still 10mph above the posted speed limit.

Five seconds after I cancel my turn signal for my merge into the left lane, a grey Mazda 3 appears in my right mirror, speeding up to pass. As she drives by, middle finger high in the air, she flies by me and the cars ahead of me for reasons I can only speculate. Merging into the HOV lane, I see the Mazda’s brake lights come on, now in one of the right lanes, as a traffic jam begins to form. I think about waving as I drive past but think better of it. Traffic in the left lanes continues to flow.

I understand that the Mazda was likely frustrated with the conglomeration of other cars. They simply were not in as big of a rush as what she was, myself included. She was in an obvious rush to get to wherever she was going in order to do whatever it was she wanted to do. So much so that she felt it necessary to wave the profane gesture while speeding by angrily as if to make a point. As she rushed through traffic, she was blinded to the fact that they were only in her way because she was rushing.

There are no benefits to rushing. You never get there any faster and/or you end up making a mistake along the way that costs you even more time. This can applies in traffic, at work, in relationships, and in life.

When you rush, the focus is only on the desired end state and never on the path towards achieving it. Obstacles go hidden or unnoticed. When an obstacle is encountered, the entire assembly line shuts down. The train-wreck occurs and you are the one that suffers silently in your anger.

Are you ever really in that big of a hurry? The big project at work is on a deadline, but if you hurry the reviewing process will come back to haunt you. Weaving in and out of traffic after you get off of work gains you five minutes back from the thirty that you had to stay late because your boss decided to strike up a conversation. That is only if you remember to slow down for the cop that usually hides behind the blind corner to avoid a speeding ticket.

Not rushing does not mean being idle. To be idle means standing still, not doing anything or going anywhere. Rushing is like trying to run downhill. How fast will you try and go before you trip and fall the rest of the way down? If you are always rushing towards something, you will never enjoy the present. If something gets in your way, don’t hit it like a bird trying to fly through a window.