The Right Path

I recently had a conversation with a friend who is having a rough go at life. They took on a new endeavor that landed them in another country and while they were filled with optimism going into it it didn’t pan out well and they were devising their exit plan. It has been a reoccurring theme in their life. They try things out, it doesn’t work for them, they’re miserable so they move on to the next thing. When you’re in your 20’s this is a bit more common place but eventually you find yourself later in life and there’s not a whole lot of stability in your life which is where they are now.

I on the other hand have been working for the same company for almost 26 years now. I’m not going to say I have my dream job that fills me with happiness because it isn’t. I find working in a corporate environment tiresome most of the time. I try to ensure a good work/life balance which helps. What also helps is that I’m at the point where my I have essentially no debt except for my mortgage which is almost paid off. I have money in my bank account and my 401k is doing ok after a quarter of a century of contributions. But I got to this point by trudging through it day after day even when I was completely miserable.

My takeaway from the conversation was that I admire their lack of compromise and refusal to settle and they admits my tenacity and ability to suck up and deal with it.

Who’s right? I have no idea.

I can appreciate the stability I’ve created for myself but at what cost? How much did I miss out on? What other experiences could I have had? Could I possibly have been in my “dream job” for the past 20 years if I would have just said “That’s enough – I’m out of here!”

Hypothetical questions are great rabbit holes to go down in to.

I’m still trying to find my path to happiness and perhaps the one I’m on will lead me to it. Or perhaps I’m on the wrong path and I should made that left turn at Albuquerque. I know that sounds like a depressing thought but being that no one really knows what the purpose of all this is so who’s to say.

I feel like they still have the opportunity to find their path in life and that all of this struggle is just leading them to something. Or perhaps the unhappiness that the ones who trudge through their jobs feel is equivalent to the unhappiness the ones who can’t find their way feel.

I did mention I have no idea right?

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So close…

… but in the end it looks like I’m drinking through my nose. All of the angles are nice though

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1995 – You Can Never Go Home Again

Two weeks ago I rode my bike from Manhattan to Staten Island to go get my hair cut and in doing so I passed by the apartment building I lived in for exactly one year. I very rarely ever end up on this side of the island anymore and for some reason I felt compelled to snap a quick photo in front of it.

I lived on the second floor with my friend/roommate Todd. Like I mentioned – it was only one year that I lived there but as I was looking at this picture later on I began thinking about my life during that year.

While you can never go home again you can still visit from time to time.

In January 1995 I turned 24 years old. I had been at my company for a year and a half at that point and was still living at home. I needed to change my life as I had nothing to show for anything so I started thinking about getting a place of my own. I was hanging out a lot with my friend Todd and he was also looking for a place so we decided to look for a place together. We found this place after a few other places, signed the lease and moved in on February 1, 1995.

This was the first place of my own. From my bedroom window I could literally see the window at my desk at work in Manhattan. It still took me an hour to get there everyday which has been the shortest commute of my adult life.

Three months later I wanted to kill Todd. Apparently having a roommate wasn’t something that worked well for me. Perhaps that’s not accurate – maybe Todd and I just weren’t meant to live together. We were very close friends and hung out a lot and thought it would just carry over into a living situation. I didn’t and we clashed. It did teach me a lot about living with someone which I’ve done continuously since that time so there was a bit of a silver lining.

My wife and I had been dating just shy of three years when got in engaged at the end of May 1995. The engagement ring sat in that apartment for around four months as I waited and planned the perfect time to propose. I got a grey patch of hair during that time. I blame her and say it was the stress.

In early September 1995 I was experiencing a dull aching pain whenever I walked for a prolong period of time which I did for my commute. After a self-examination I felt an abnormality on my right testicle. After a few visits with the doctor, a surgery to remove the testicle and a biopsy it was confirmed that I had cancer. I had detected it so early that they were no indications in the blood work on whether or not it had spread. They gave me two options: Do nothing now and if it spread come back and do chemotherapy treatments or have a retroperitoneal lymph node dissection. I decided on the latter.

Before my scheduled operation I was offered a new position at work. They were willing to wait for me to come back from medical leave.

The morning of my surgery I remember standing in my bedroom and listening to “John, I Love You” by Sinead O’Connor off the Universal Mother album. That album never resonated with me previously but for some reason on that day that particular song did. Whenever I hear it I’m transported back to that bedroom.

In early October 1995 I had my surgery. I wasn’t prepared as much as I thought I was. The recovery was a lot harder than I envisioned. I now have an eleven inch scar down my abdomen and a few less lymph nodes in my body. Everything was successful and I’m still cancer free today.

In November 1995 I went back to work and started a new career as a desktop support technician in the IT Department.

On February 1, 1996 I moved in with my wife Sarah.

There was a lot of life in the 12 month span. I haven’t seen Todd in many years at this point but the last time we did we were quite friendly again. Absence make the heart grow fonder I guess. I’m still at the same company but moved on from IT work and now work as a Creative Director. Sarah and I are still together and though I needed to seriously consider whether or not we wanted to have children back then we never have. We have dogs – we like them better.

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She listened to me
Because I screamed
But she didn’t hear a thing I said
All the thoughts inside her head
Came out rapid fire
Just before the pauses
Each word: lost causes
Destined to be repeated

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What I Learned At College

I feel like I’ve been discussing a lot of heavier topics lately so let me lighten the mood with my takeaway on the 2019 College Admissions Bribery Scandal.

I’m not really surprised to learn that people have tried to use their wealth to influence things to their favor. At this point I somewhat expect people to do that because people have been doing it forever.

The main thing I’m thinking about is how horrible these people are at parenting.

Obviously graduating from an Ivy League school carries more weight than from a community college so you could argue that trying to get your child into a prestigious school by any means necessary shows they are thinking about their child’s best interest. But with the amount of money they’ve spent they could have hired tutors and trainers throughout their childs developmental years. Did they not consider that? If they had taken a more active role in their upbringing perhaps these kids could have gotten into these schools on merit alone. And even if they didn’t get into the school they wanted to attend they probably would be better, more productive members of society.

Let’s say that perhaps some of these parents did take an active role and their child wasn’t very athletic or good at academics. I was a smart child you did poorly at school so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. If you tried doing the right thing their entire lives only to try to scam their way into college then you’ve ruined every lesson taught along the way.

So now we’ll have a reinforced image of spoiled rich kids getting what they want because mommy and daddy will pay for it – good job parenting. Way to make all the parents and students who spent all the time and energy trying to achieve things on merit feel like it doesn’t matter anyway. Thanks for taking away spots for students who actually want to learn, get degrees, do things with their lives besides be another “celebrity” who will keep the circle of depravity going.

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Reflective Rant

I feel there is no greater burden to bare
Than to know oneself and to be self-aware

I just wrote that poem, just now. The opening line of this article was rhyming so I turned it into a poem. Anyway.

I have been very reflective lately and taking careful stock of myself. I find that as I get older it become more necessary to me to grow as a person and realize what I contribute to the world as a human being living in it. I can’t say I was always a great person or even a good person at times. There are things I regret doing and saying but also some that I understand better through the filter of experience and knowledge. I spend a lot of time trying to do the right thing.

It’s exhausting.

I mean if you’re really paying attention to everything you do and why you do it, well you spend a lot of time thinking and analyzing. That can be mentally draining because that’s not all you’re doing – you still have to lead the rest of your life while you’re doing that. So it would be much easier to I’ve your life not being self-aware or worrying about what you’re contributing to the world.

Even just in writing this I’m expending a certain amount of energy while being introspective of myself and passing that along to whomever feels compelled to read it and perhaps it lights a spark within them to be more self-aware. And then there’s someone in the next train car over talking loudly on a cell phone annoying everyone around them and not caring at all who is expending no energy and will most likely be happy because they have no understanding of what they are contributing.

So it led me to the line “Ignorance is bliss” which was first written by Thomas Gray and in context meant it was better to be ignorant of your own fate but out of context has been made to mean a multitude of things including how I’m going to use it now.

It is easy to be happy when you don’t care about anything or anyone around you. You can be a horrible person and still sleep soundly at night. You don’t worry about things as much or at least not anything of any substantial value. In some ways it doesn’t sound half bad but the reality, at least for me, is that people like that anger and annoy me to no end. That in turn causes me to be self-aware of my own anger and need to do something about it. Then I think of how judgmental I’m being and feel the need to do something about it. And then I get angry that I feel like I need to do something about my anger and being judgmental and the cycle continues dissipating slightly with ever go around until it subsides to a point where I’m somewhat in a good mood.

It’s exhausting

I do feel I am a better person for going through the mental exercises but sometimes I want to be the asshole who gets into a fight with their best friend in a restaurant and flips over the table and belittles the waiter while storming out but then still calls the friend the next to see what’s up. I mean I really don’t but I think you understand my point.

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For thousands of people this view was the start of a new life. It easily gets taken for granted but every so often I like to imagine what that must have been like. Empathy is a powerful thing if you allow yourself to embrace it.

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