116 // Understanding

A bit of a better start than I had yesterday. The week feels long already, but as the day progresses, and items on the list are either completed or canceled, time seems to pick up speed and I feel more and more motivated. I feel calmer and calmer.

Some of the things I worried about are not an issue and some things I thought would drag out are going to finish faster than expected. It may turn out to be a day worth being present for after all.

I’ve been thinking a lot about space and time lately and how each often feels like the other and how we will never have enough of both.

No matter how long I live, it won’t be long enough. No matter how many hours I can have to myself a day, I always want more. Space is limited too. No matter where I am there are other people, and even where I could tolerate their presence, I hardly get a break from the social expectations. When they enter, you must greet them. When they ask, you must answer. When they laugh, you laugh along, and when they cry you have to feel their pain too.

Humans expect you to mirror them, compliment them, or help them see. Other people expect you to belong to them and to make their world right. We forget other people have their own worlds, as real and all-encompassing as our own. We ask too much of each other sometimes.

I used to think I was an extrovert because of how easily I open up to people, make friends, and the sense of connection and community I cultivate but I never marked the way I feel irritable and exhausted after and how resistant I feel until I have time to recover. As I get older that exhaustion seems to set in earlier and earlier.

My desire to be alone confuses me and conflicts with my desire to be with people. It confuses my interest in people. I think I’d like to live outside of society, and simply observe for a time all the things people do and try to work out why.

By understanding others, perhaps I could understand myself a little more. I’ve been a person for just over 37 years now and I still have little idea of what that means. I’m sure by the time I work out even an inkling of an answer my lifespan will be near its expected end.

Existence is a long series of strange and confounding paradoxes.

Deeply Human Hate

Why do we hate one another – and how can we stop?

How and when does conflict metastasize into hatred? Dessa picks apart the science of hostility, with help from a criminologist who identifies the tipping point between prejudice and hate, and an Israeli psychologist who’s studied one of the longest conflicts in the world today.

115 // Digital Spring Cleaning

Hard start to the morning, but no one expects any easier on a Monday morning. I managed to will myself out of bed with my alarm, so I’m off to a good start, but poor quality sleep, general aches and pains, and a growing sense of overwhelm have depleted me before I could begin.

Today I am grateful for the mental and physical stimulation found in a big cup of strong cold brew coffee.

I have a few projects in the process for the morning, meetings through midday, and an afternoon I’m hoping to keep to myself. The schedule is light this week, but with us entering the last stretch of the school year, I have serious doubts it will stay that way.

I’m getting better at making use of the moments in between tasks and time spent waiting for the next event to begin. This is time to jot a few notes, write a paragraph, read a page or two, or even step outside for a short walk, though we aren’t having the best weather for it today. Still, the rest of the week is looking warmer and there’s no doubt my sour mood will sweeten in the sun.

Over the weekend, I accidentally broke my blog trying out a new theme. At first, I panicked. I cannot count the hours I put into making this place just right, but after poking around and trying to put things back the way they were, I realized this may have been the reset I needed and the perfect start to my digital spring cleaning.

When I reactivated the old theme, all the widgets in the sidebar were gone along with the custom CSS settings. I tried to rebuild them but with WordPress’s move to block editing, many of my old widgets and settings are no longer available in the form I added them in so many years ago. But, you know what? I never really needed all that, anyway. From now on, I’m going to keep it simple on the homepage but refine and expand my use of pages, tags, and categories.

My dream is to create a place in constant flux, a place with surprises, but I fear this theme, and perhaps even this platform is not conducive to that sort of digital growth. I can’t say what that means, but only ask that you bear with me through changes great and small.

114 // Resistant

This morning, like yesterday, started later than I would have liked. I was out past my bedtime last night having an amazing night out with friends checking out the mind-bending and beautiful exhibit “Convergence Station” at Meow Wolf for a late birthday celebration.

As a result, I’m feeling resistant today. My body is still protesting my daily workouts and my social meter is depleted, but there are still events to attend and people to support. I want to, but I don’t want to. To be clear, I want to more than I don’t want to, but still…you know?

It helps to keep an irrationally positive outlook. It helps to ignore, for now, that resistance and prevent any possibility of wearing myself down to apathy.

What’s worse is the eagerness with which the workweek is waiting to begin. I’ve read news stories of school districts across the country moving to a four-day workweek, and I can hardly contain my jealousy. Two short days a week is not enough to run errands, visit family, complete projects, and rest—and not so much rest as in sleep, but just time not to think, not to worry, not to work at things that aren’t for me.

Much of my exhaustion is my own fault. April is my birthday month and I traditionally celebrate the entire month. I make time for special events with my wife, and my friends, plus multiple family dinners. I’ve pushed myself too far, but I don’t regret a second of it.

111 // Wasted and Wanting

I woke this late this morning, groggy and grouchy. It turns out that when Amazon says a delivery could arrive at 4:00 AM, it will arrive at precisely 4:00 AM. The dog was sure this was finally the threat she’s always worried and warned us about and it took some time to convince her otherwise. Lesson learned.

These 30 short seconds ruined the end of my night and the beginning of my morning and it wasn’t until I left the house and arrived in my parking space at work that I was able to shake the irritable feeling. The good news is that I managed to make time for a 10-minute meditation in the car and it has calmed a lot of that anxiety and anger.

It wasn’t just this morning that I needed calming. Exhaustion put me in a bad mood yesterday evening too and I didn’t get down nearly what I planned or nearly the number of words down that I wanted. I have a post that is half-finished and the seed of another planted by the WordPress WordPrompt challenge. Perhaps I can make some progress if I can turn the day around?


The afternoon wasn’t spent as I hoped it would be, but it wasn’t wasted either. I helped out my coworkers and remembered that sometimes social interaction can be uplifting, inspiring, and energizing. The lesson didn’t last, of course. By the time I got home and through my third day of workouts—Woohoo!—I was ready to retreat into solitude again.

I feel bad for my wife sometimes. I know that work gets the best of me, but I promise it isn’t on purpose. It’s not that I am giving my time and energy away so much as it is being taken from me. Every day I set out to keep some part of myself aside, but there is so little I have available that before I know it I am wasted and wanting.

I think I may go back to taking 20-minute naps every evening after dinner. My wife calls them my “before bedtime” naps. She’s not a fan, I think, but it’s better than sulking on the couch through bedtime. This way I can feel refreshed enough to give her at least an hour or two of the version of me she misses all day and I’ll no doubt have more than enough fatigue left over for a good night’s sleep, too.

109 // Your Own and Only Obstacle

For the first time in many long and frustrating months, I managed to wake up with my alarm. I’ve tried so many tactics from going to bed earlier to putting my alarm across the room to teaching the dog to wake me up after she goes outside for the first time. None of it worked for more than a few days. What worked today, and what I hope will work long term, was telling myself two things just before bed the night before.

First, I reminded myself of how bad I feel when I hit snooze and I imagined how good I would feel after waking up earlier with time to prepare for the day and arrive to work gently. I also gave myself a reason to wake up early. I reminded myself that getting up early means I can begin my meditation practice again and I imagined how good that would feel, too.

The last time I sat for even a 10-minute session was probably more than a year ago. I started as a way to manage my stress levels, but I stopped because fatigue made early mornings impossible. After breaking a streak of daily sessions, sheer shame kept me from beginning again. I’m ashamed of that too.

This morning’s meditation wasn’t a particularly good one. My mind was all over the place planning my day and practicing possible conversations, and time and time again I had to *gently* return to counting my breaths, but even that worked like a charm. I opened my eyes and felt calm and capable of facing whatever the day had in store. I should have begun again a long time ago.

But the lesson of Zero is always relearned the hard way. The hardest part is forgiving yourself. The second hardest part is accepting you are back at the beginning.

And while I am at it, I think I’ll start working out again today too. I recently learned that the Down Dog apps are free for students and educators and I figured out how to mirror my phone screen to my TV, which means that I can work out, practice yoga, meditate*, and more from the comfort of my own home. I have no more excuses. All that is left is how easy it is, and how hard.

Since my ulcerative colitis diagnosis five years ago, it’s been hard to get back to being active on a regular basis. I was very sick, so doing all the things I used to love, like jogging and hiking, was not possible. In the last year, I have finally achieved remission, but I’m not the same person I was, and this certainly isn’t the same body. Everywhere I push, I meet resistance. My comfort zone has contracted significantly.

They don’t tell you that, as hard as it can be to get used to being sick, it’s almost as hard to get used to being well again, too. It’s hard to move from having no control over how you feel to taking responsibility for your health. It’s hard for you to be your own and only obstacle again.

*For meditation, I am actually still using the Headspace app, which is also free for educators.

108 // Mind and Pen in Hand

It was a slow start to the morning, but the day is picking up speed fast. I feel good, in general, but there is the threat of falling into a funk. What I mean is that the details of the day aren’t so bothersome, but the overarching essence is dull and irritating.

There’s very little work to do and sometimes that’s nice, but sometimes it can be worse than a full schedule. There’s less reason to feel motivated, and the empty hours tend to drag. There are two things I can do now. I can fill the empty hours with tasks and to-dos, or I can enjoy the privilege of long and languid time. Not everyone has hours they can relax in, hours they get to feel.

I think I’ll try a bit of both. The Pomodoro timer has gotten me through the morning, but I think this afternoon I’d like to cultivate and savor as much silence as I can, while I can. Instead of doing, I’m simply being. Instead of social media scrolling, I’m letting my mind and pen wander together hand in hand.

I’ve been rethinking the way I write here. I’ve been reevaluating my reasons why. I love my little blog, but lately, it has felt too static, too directionless, too impersonal when it was meant to be the very opposite. It was meant to be more.

I’d like to share more of my personality. I want this to be a place I run to again, a place that is mine. Recently, I stumbled across the concept of a “digital garden” and the ways one may differ from a personal website or blog. I’m interested but intimidated. I’d like to have something similar, but simpler. An intermediary between this and something that could grow.

Of course, I have other wide and varied interests. My ego is but one, and that’s what this place is for, but I often think of bigger things too—of humanity, of philosophy and physics. I want to have a place to run to for those thoughts, too. That’s a post for another day though…

On the surface, this is only a repackaging of old ideas and pursuits of mine that I’ve become disillusioned with or distracted from, but not quite. An incremental change, a small shift in perspective, can mean everything, I hope.

I thought my little dream was too small, but now I think small is exactly what I need. That small thing means everything. Now I think that growth is only the process, one that has no end or is an end in itself. An end to which the self is only the beginning, the rest is all exploration of life, day after day, minute by minute, with mind and pen in hand.