30 July, 2012

If you were to die today...

How would you be remembered?

I was walking home today, and that thought crossed my mind. It wasn't a morbid thought. It wasn't rooted in fear. It was borne out of curiosity, actually. How would I be remembered? But it wasn't stemming from some desire to know what people really think of me, or to be a fly on any sort of wall. It wasn't coming from a place of ego. I'm sure there's a bit of all of those things that I'm saying "it wasn't," or I probably wouldn't have synthesized those non-things-that-it-was.

But what it was really about was this: Asking myself "How am I living my life right now? How have I defined myself? Who do my actions make me... right here.. right now?"

There's a reason why they have sayings like "Live every day as if it might be your last." Of course, that type of saying gets hijacked, misinterpreted, and abused into justifying all sorts of fanciful or reckless behavior. But I think what it's meant to point out is the inescapable fact that we are always in a defining moment. Whether we know it or not. There are not "important moments" and "unimportant moments." There are only "moments."

How do you want to be remembered?

We are in complete control of that. In fact, irrespective of what has come before, we can begin redefining ourselves right now. We aren't trapped by our history. We aren't stuck in our prior selves. Of course, we must accept consequences what has come before. But that doesn't bind us to that definition of our character.

Who are you right now?

Do you know? It's not even really about "What would people say about me?" It's more a question of "What was that guy all about?" It's about the story.

What is your story?

We all have a story. Stories, actually. We have stories we tell ourselves. We have stories we tell others. These are often not the same stories. We tell others about what we find inspiring, important, interesting. We tell ourselves about what we think we're supposed to have, want, be. What if we could find a way to make those stories converge? What if we thought about what we find inspiring, important, interesting, and then focused our intention on pursuing that inspiration in our own lives.

Become the story you want to tell most. But instead of telling it, simply live it.

10 July, 2012

What would Brian do?

I was riding the bus home tonight, across Downtown Seattle, around 11pm. It was a reasonable-sized crowd for a Tuesday night. We stop in Lower Queen Anne, and several people get on the bus. One of them is a tall, young guy, wearing all black. Long black coat, stylish black pants, and a top hat, with giant furry rabbit ears protruding from the hat. He's a kind of spectacle, yes. I immediately wonder if he's a "furry" or if he's gay, and if he's going to some sort of party, or if this is just standard attire for Tuesday night. But it's just observation, not really any significant judgment (at least, not intentionally).

A couple of stops later, a few more people get on the bus. One of them is a tall man, with a belly, medium-length white hair and a beard, wearing stone washed jeans, and a denim shirt. He looks extremely disheveled, both in terms of his clothes, which are covered in paint, and his person. He smells. And he seems intoxicated, as he plops down into the bus seat in front of me, in the seats that face inward. So he's facing me diagonally.

The bus starts moving again. After a moment or so, he notices the rabbit ear guy at the back of the bus, and he begins loudly speaking verbal assaults, of a homophobic nature, at the guy. He calls him a fucking faggot. He tells him he looks stupid, and that he's gonna get what's coming to him. I can't believe people still say these things. I can't imagine that bus driver doesn't hear it, because it's loud. But nobody says anything. I don't say anything. The guy tries to make a connection with me, by "clarifying" that he's not speaking to me (I was in direct line of fire), but to the person behind me. He informs me that "it had to be said." Apparently he's doing a public service here.

I am angry. But I don't say anything. What I want to do is tell him to stop it. Or to ask him why he is bothering a complete stranger on a bus. But I am non-confrontational. I don't say anything. I just sit there, mad.

And then he gets off the bus. The moment is over.

As I sit there, my mind wanders to "I wonder what would Brian have done?"

Brian (not his real name) is a friend of mine. From time to time, Brian will relate a story of some encounter that happened, usually where he stumbles into a situation where some wrong is being done by someone. And Brian always gets involved. If you drop litter on the street, Brian will tell you to pick it up. If you do something really rude or obnoxious, Brian would not hesitate to inform you that you should not be speaking that way. In some cases, his stories sound like he's even done things that could present a danger to himself. But it comes from this place of altruism and ethical standards. And, whether he's endangering himself or not, the reality is that he's doing the kind of things that will make people applaud (although this is not something he seeks in any way). And often, I think he may even succeed in making the wrongdoer think twice about their behavior.

I try to imagine what Brian would have done.

And I think about what I did... nothing.

And I wonder... did I do enough?

07 July, 2012

Seeing the trajectory

I reread much of the 2008 content. Lots about relationships. Lots about valuation. Lots about death. That was a raw year for me. My heart was cracked open. What did it? Was it my mother's death? I think it had already started, and the process was escalated by the loss. So many things happened that year, and I think it was a kind of emotional mining expedition. This blog, before that time, was a series of witty commentaries and observations about the world. I haven't actually gone back and looked, but I pretty much know that's what I'd find.

It's kind of interesting, now that I am practicing yoga, and engaging in a more "formal" exploration of inner places. It's a quieter kind of exploration, more modest, less concrete. But I was doing my own version of "moving toward the discomfort" in 2008. Full-on reality show on discomfort. I dug up a whole bunch of shit, and had the workings of a philosophical manifesto laying among the piles of dirt. But it sort of fizzled out in 2009. It's like I got tired of the darkness, and tried (again) to be something I was not. I'm not sure that's accurate either. But I stopped digging, and various windstorms covered over a lot of what had been unearthed.

In 2010, more trauma could have kicked off the process again, but instead I opted to shut down the emotional channel and focus on career. I would not really have characterized it that way, but it's what I did, and largely continued to do for the past couple of years.

At some point last year, the exploration resurfaced in this "less verbose" fashion, and triggered the yoga practice. And finally, the two have started coming together and there's a bit of both the "Classic" and "New" me happening, with the writing (mainly in the other blog) and the yoga.

Looking back, I can see now how slowly "growth" occurs in our lives. It's not actually that slow, when looking backwards. A few years. But, in the day-to-day, it feels almost imperceptible. And when I think back to those first urges to find another way of seeing the world, when I was 24 years old trying to read about Zen, it was certainly a long road. I'm not suggesting in any way that I think I've made huge progress on that road.

Changing channels.

I want to be writing here. In this blog. I want to be making those witty observations of the world that I used believe I was making. I want to have "Something To Say." And right now, it mostly comes through the yoga blog, because I have held myself to this standard of writing every day. There's only so much you can write, right?

I see where I was. I see where I went. The trajectory is always clear in hindsight, like a vapor trail. And the blog helps preserve that trail in a way that it can forever be revisited, unlike an actual vapor trail that becomes more and more vague and diffuse, until there is no trail at all, except a memory.

But do I see where I am going?

Shouldn't I be able to look at my current state, my present actions and focus, and predict where the trajectory will lead me? Shouldn't I? Can I tell you what this life will look like in 3 months? 6 months?

If you envision it, will it happen?