Dance

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No, not that kind of dance, but the kind of thing where the answer is: both and neither.

In a time where people have very strong opinions about everything and have just as strong a tendency to be unwilling to hear both sides of a story, I want to remind you all that sometimes the answer is a dance between things we perceive as opposites.

Truth is always that, but in terms of dealing with most of life, we aren’t answering questions of absolute things, but rather relative things. Try to find a place where you can embrace as much as possible.

For example: happiness.

Do you need to feel happy all the time to be a happy person?

No.

Does dealing with depression mean you aren’t happy at all?

No.

There are no laws for this sort of thing. It is a dance. I am happy sometimes and sad at others. People have been touched by depression and lead happy, fruitful lives. They are doing it right now.

So can you.

Before you batten the hatches and draw the battle lines, take your feelings and your thoughts and step onto the ballroom floor, then allow those things to be free and flowing as they are. You can be constant and at peace while you process them and watch them pass.

Helping Hands

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Sometimes your sweat and tears become what makes someone else fertile.

When that happens, I hope you remember what it was like to think you’d always be grounded.

Sometimes, you’re dry ground waiting for rain.

When that happens, I want you to know, the clouds are waiting for your permission.

 

 

Storytelling: Part I

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a bit of time steeped in storytelling. Specifically, at the prompting of a friend and my own curiosity, I’ve taken up the mantle of Dungeon Master for a game of D&D.

I wanted to share all of that excitement with lessons I learned about this experience so far:

  1. Every story is told on the shoulders of a giant. There’s a lot I could have done wrong, but I didn’t because I had access to the experiences of others. I learned about things that make the story hard to enjoy or engage with. It let me go further. While my story is uniquely my own (and fabulous if I do say so myself),, it has a history and an ancestry, too. So does yours.
  2. Stories are a collective effort. I had my ideas, but then these players – five of them total – took this story and interacted with it and it became big. Breathtaking. I spend a lot of time how on earth I even got into this wonderful thing. Here’s the takeaway: your best ideas will bring other people into the fold. Remember: your vision grows in proportion to the relationships you can gather around it.
  3. Great and good are very different things. I could have made a story that is just enjoyable and full of combat, but that’s not my style. I enjoy depth to a story, so there’s a lot of elements in this campaign that make people question what they experience and who they are as people. That brings the best out of my players from what I’ve seen. There is a distinct difference between moments that you enjoy and moments that you both enjoy and remember. I’m going for the latter and that has made me have to make things not easy in this story. The challenge is worth it and I think that’s what is making this story a great one.
  4. Remember to be normal, too. I asked my players to tell me what their characters like to do in their free time. What they aspire to in life. What would make them happy or sad. That dimension is important because your characters in game aren’t just chess pieces or pawns in battle. They live and breathe. Just like us. That adds an interesting angle that allows you to bleed in reality when you want to while also providing the escapism we all enjoy in games like this.

So then: how are you telling your storiesWhat stories are you telling? Who are people becoming as they listen?

Drift and Discipline

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Drift is really hard to avoid.

You know that feeling when you’re going to the right places and doing the right things and you’re doing them for several weeks… except you’re not doing them. It’s more like a subconscious-zombie-robot doing all of the amazing things you do. You’re just kind of along for the ride for either minutes or hours.

Normally when those things come up, I like to do some small physical things to bring me back to the world and they all involve laughter:

  • Ask someone how their day is.
  • Find a problem you can help with, then help.
  • Walk to someone’s desk to ask them a question instead of messaging it to them.

However, what I find to be most needed and helpful isn’t a small break, but an intentional moment of focus. From there, here’s the path to a little less drift:

  1. Find a place that has a mild background noise. Coffee shops are cool. So is your living room and a bit of music you like.
  2. Pull out a notebook. Not a laptop. Not evernote. A notebook.
  3. Ask the questions you’ve been avoiding. Ask about your happiness. Ask about your contentment. Ask where you’re going and how you feel about the journey. Ask ifi you are scared to arrive, successfully or otherwise.
  4. Write down the answers.
  5. Ignore the texts and the pull to know all the information about everyone else but yourself because you are the only person you are uncomfortable sitting in silence with. If you have a pet, it will notice your discomfort and try to pull you away from it. Thank your furry companion for its efforts and remember that you have work to do.
  6. Keep.
  7. Being.
  8. Uncomfortable.
  9. After a while of digging you are either going to find joy, discontent, or nothing. If you find nothing, stop digging and look at things on the periphery like personal life.
  10. Repeat #3-8.

When you get to the end of this, 30 eternities will have passed. You will be tired. Only 40 minutes will have passed. Take a breather, then continue.

And continue.

The thing we are the most afraid of is our only path forward and that thing is examination. Not judgment, but an honest look at where and what we are and after that grace, forgiveness, curiosity and wonder and movement.

That takes discipline and, much as we think we’re all about that word as business professionals or adults, we aren’t in general. We’d rather things just work, just go, just be without us having to exhaust ourselves.

Truth is, work worth doing is work focusing on.

Truth is, a life worth living is worth asking lots of questions about.

Truth is, our focus needs more focus and that’s okay.

Discpline, my friends.

 

Let’s Be Honest: Part I

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Another week where my pen refuses to move so we’re here again. However, this is a special note related to social media because mental and emotional health are important as is the much-avoided subject of honesty.

So let’s be honest about things.

I’ve seen so many postings about protesters burning things and destroying their communities (football fans are immune from this criticism, of course), about being more like MLK, about how the Irish were also enslaved…

I would prefer that you just tell me that you hate me and be done with it.

That’s all, really. Just that honesty would be appreciated.

Let me give you this to chew on: it’s been about sixty years. Literally a portion of my mother’s lifetime since MLK marched for civil rights and here we are with people being murdered and paving the way to civil rights 2.0. This is where peaceful protest brought us. Which is to say, nowhere in particular.

Somehow the ability to be downtrodden but polite, quiet, and respectful as we are continuously dehumanized is the path to being respected enough by the masters of an unjust system to just be heard for a moment until the football commercial ends.

So yeah, just let me know you hate me. That you don’t see me. Tell me again how I couldn’t be associated with these riffraff on the news chanting something about systemic racism because I’m smarter than that and the media is trying to divide us.

Let’s get this over with.

Stars and Sky: Part I

The first video of yours that I watched wasn’t this one, but this is definitely one of my favorites (there have been a few) that I’ve watched over the last four years that I’ve followed you.

It really was innocent enough; a friend of mine was heavy into League of Legends and got me into the game. In an effort to find funny and educational things, he came across you. You reminded him of me, so he said “Hey, you need to watch this guy; if you were super into league, you’d be this guy” so I watched that video.

I wonder how many of these types of things you read and are afraid to believe.

I ended up watching every video on your channel excepting one by the end of the week and have continued to watch ever since. That also ended up with me following your twitter and keeping up with you there. I’ve spent a very long time watching you go through the different ups and downs you’ve gone through and seeing people both love and hate you in the process.

Every day has been a lot of humor and emotion in your efforts to conquer each of the days you show up for. That takes courage to do it at all even if you don’t do it perfectly.

I wonder how many of these types of things you read and are afraid to believe. I wonder what else is happening outside of the twitter and youtube lenses I see and experience you through and I hope they are decent.

It’s been awesome being able to watch you grow as a person and become stronger – even if only a little – every day. It’s awesome. And hard. And terrifying sometimes.

Keep going.

Flying.

Rolling around at the speed of sound and following rainbows and so on.

While you’re doing that, I’m pretty sure that everything else will fall into place; that’s my experience at least.

I’m putting on 3D shades to watch your future with. I’ve already mailed your pair to Amelia in case she meets you a second time.

o/

A Treatise On Boredom: Part II

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My pen won’t move.

I wanted to write about things I’m learning at work, things I’m seeing at home, the recently renewed desire I have to further my skills in UI design, literally anything else.

But my pen would.

Not.

Move.

Whenever I sweep my hand to draw the first letter, I bump into a dead body. You’d be surprised how hard it is to sleep when you’re tired of things like this.

I didn’t even need to read the stories before I saw how they would be distorted or shut down completely:

  • Black on black crime.
  • Something about what MLK would have done.
  • You don’t know the stresses police go through, how dare you.
  • You only have a split second to make those decisions, so you can’t judge them.
  • Can we not make this about race?
  • Something about how BLM is awful for everyone.
  • Something about how we should move past race so healing can begin.
  • Something about a significantly less important thing like a celebrity marriage.
  • Something about how white people trying to notice injustice are being sent death threats.
  • Some insensitive headline from a major news outlet while lesser known outlets are attacking the heart of the issue.
  • Something about Kaepernick was right or wrong or both.

It all becoming so normalized, I should just donate everything but my funeral clothes and remain in them. I fight my inner cynic tooth and nail, but find myself unable to win some days.

I wonder if there is a single new thing to say to anyone about this. No one is listening. We just want uninterrupted traffic and we want people to stand during an anthem made in a time when I was 60% of a person.

We want black people and other influential or popular figures to complain about all of this on their own time and not when we’re in the middle of enjoying ourselves. I wonder what it is like to be able to divest myself of an issue that is murdering people because I know it is impossible to be touched by it.

I wonder what it is like to trust the justice system. To know that, as imperfect as it is, it will likely come to the correct conclusion most of the time. To be able to rest in the fact that, when it comes to authority, I will not be judged by the color of my skin. That if I ever commit a crime – no matter how heinous – I will always be treated as a human; I will always be taken to jail alive, I will always get a trial, I will always be treated as a human by news media, I will always be spoken of in as positive a way as possible no matter the circumstances or my guilt, I will always be treated with dignity in every sphere.

I wonder what it’s like to be normal. To be treated as normal and naturally occurring. For no one to feel special for being decent to me. To not have people vying for accolades over simply apologizing for doing me harm and moving forward.

I wonder a lot and might wonder a lot more if I didn’t feel so incapable of experiencing the emotions that go with those musings. Because let’s be clear: I can’t bring this to work. I have a job to do and I must do that until I’m dead or until my immediate family dies because where I work, I’m surrounded by people untouched – sympathetic, but untouched – by this issue I think about upon waking, during lunch break, and apparently while I sleep.