Carry On

Porter, Sky, and I hummed up to Point Reyes on Sunday morning. From the start, we were uncertain of where we were specifically aiming towards; Point Reyes is massive, including numerous hiking spots and beaches. Once we reached the general vicinity, we followed the beach roadsigns to an off road, marked with a stretch of cars parked on the shoulder. This will do, I thought.

Subsequently, we trekked down a two-mile path, which meandered under the tall hills and patches of slanted-tree forests. The trail spurred out to a thin beach, which stretches and curves up to the point. The water was tame, as packs of birds floated over the crest of the slow-breaking waves. Couples and families strolled by us sporadically. Overall, the scene was calm.

We proceeded to march down the strip and eventually settled down on a log washed up on the shore. I wrestled out of my sweatshirt and t-shirt and exposed myself to the sun. My companions appeared weary, from a combination of the hike, the weekend, and the completion of another week. With that, there was nothing to do but rest, and so we did.

The nature which surrounded me was unchanged, for the most part. Man had come and gone, and nature carried on. It’s beautiful being able to witness the same scene, which pioneers did hundreds of years ago. Obviously, that is not the case in most of the United States, but these unadorned spots still exist.

Nevertheless, it strikes me: I have come, and I will go. Most people don’t, justifiably,  contemplate their departure, however, when one does settle on this notion, allowing it to sink in, acute, poignant feelings arise. It’s a forewarning, signaling an end is inevitable. We all recognize the cliche saying “all good things must come to end,” but not often do we identify that we, as well, are one of those good things.

Therefore, it shakes me up, accepting the fact that these waves will crash whether I’m here or not. The sun will drop off the edge of the Pacific Ocean, only to ascend back over the San Francisco hills. Sand footprints will wash away, only to develop again when the next group visits. With that, nature carries on. I shall, too.

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A Good Day

I woke up just after ten, aching, paralyzed to the bed. My hangover rocked me, and in no way did I originally plan to reach that point of debauchery last night. But similar to the previous Friday, I did, and the next morning I suffered. My stomach was filled with toxins and my head was filled with misery. I needed a few hours to recoup before any plans would materialize.

After a couple hours of lounging, a bagel, ibuprofen, and an ocean-load of water, plans to leave the house appeared imaginable. Porter insisted on rambling over to Dolores Park–the prime mid-twenties weekend-hangout spot– to meet up with people. The weather was delicious and my well-being was lifting, with that, I brewed a small round of coffee and moments later, I stepped outside into the light of day.

The walk to Dolores Park lasts about thirty minutes: trekking up hills, bracing down the vertical slopes, and rolling under the sun. Once we reached the park, we converged with old friends and newly-made friends under the California Palm trees. The park was scattered with groups lie out on tapestries, characters selling joints and truffles, and ice-cream men pushing coolers. The scene was lively but at the same time, peaceful.

My friend, Josh tempted me with beer, but all it delivered was an unsettling feeling in my stomach. I buried the nausea with handfuls of lentil chips and scoops of hummus. Then, I slipped off my shoes and strayed off to play corn-hole.

As the afternoon carried on, Dolores Park filled up and the good times rolled. It was a good day, and most of the time, a good day far exceeds any other wants in life. It eclipses one’s goals, lofty hopes, wild nights, and in addition, compensates for rough mornings.

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The Hero’s Journey

Two weeks ago I was nestled in a Starbucks in Denver, slamming back coffee and jabbing away at my keyboard. A man in his forties–presumably homeless and later confirmed–asked to bum a cigarette off of me, most likely because of my unkept hair and bohemian attire. I don’t smoke, so I was of no help.

About thirty minutes later the same man stumbles back towards me again; this time proceeding to squat down across from me. He claimed he was in need of an outlet, despite the rest of the cafe being vacant. Whatever, I thought, carrying on with making headway on my story. This man, with scruffy facial features and blood-shot eyes, yapped away into his sob story, indirectly attempting to hustle a few dollars for the bus or–now that I think about it–a pack of cigarettes. I listened and then continued back with my work.

A few minutes of silence floated by and he asked me what I was working on. I told him, then he informed me he was a poet, spitting out some titles which I wasn’t familiar with. Well, one thing advanced to the next and the next moment we’re admiring great writers from the past, sharing great fondness. He suggested a book to checkout; I jotted it down, unfamiliar with the title and artist. The conversation subsided and he departed for the bathroom. I wrapped things up, tossed a few dollar bills on the table, and carried on my way.

Well, that man–didn’t catch his name–put me on to Joseph Campbell, and the title of the book was The Power of Myth. Campbell was a mythologist, lecturer, writer, and coined the phrase: “Follow Your Bliss.” Campbell emphasized the hero’s journey, which each person has the opportunity to explore. It’s a call to something–most likely unknown–but there’s an urge to follow it. It’s akin to our intuition guiding us to the next phase of our life. In my case, I recently moved myself, my life, and all of my precious belongings to San Francisco. I don’t have a job, moreover, I’m not certain what I will soon do for work. Nevertheless, something drew me out here. There’s a reason I’m here. Yes, my girlfriend lives out here, but I feel I will be aligning with the next piece of my life.

For instance, last spring I possessed the urge to sell shirts at festivals. I plunged into the investment and rambled out to the midwest by myself. Subsequently, at the first festival I met my current girlfriend. I had no expectations, but an impulse to act on.

Joseph Campbell said, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” I identified that at my previous employment and in turn, jumped off it. And at the moment, my future is in no way etched out, which is somewhat daunting. But after all, it should be: this is my own path.

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Hope

“Do you wanna go for a walk?” Porter asked, slipping on her sneakers.

“Sure, I’m down.” I said.

“Cool, I have to move my car anyway.” She responded, leading towards the front door.

Porter and I shuffled down her front steps onto the dimly-lit sidewalk. I immediately veered right, aiming in the direction of her parked car.

“Let’s go this way. I’m bored of the other way,” She insisted, turning in the opposite direction.

I followed–I could care less which way we went.  We cut onto Page Street and started east, away from her car. Page Street encompasses the iconic Victorian-style row-homes, including some adorned with modern remodeling. Although the homes aren’t enormous or overly lavish, they remain stunning. By far, it’s my favorite architectural aesthetics within the city.

“I wonder how much the rent of these homes run at?” I tossed out, admiring them as my eyes peered from one to the next.

Well, this conversation spiraled downward into the uncomfortable subject of money, specifically, my lack of it. The conversation rolled as each of us jabbed indirect shots at each other: her ignorance of money, my unemployment, etc. We passed block after block, lost in a financial miscommunication in the U.S’ most expensive city.

Eventually we settled down on a bench, keeping silent and staring off in opposite directions, reflecting our different viewpoints. Joggers and dog-walkers passed by, dodging our tension. This scene is common in San Francisco. Moreover, everyone in San Francisco seems to be financially burdened; whether it’s the Silicon Valley CEOs ceaselessly investing in start-ups or the homeless people on Market Street begging for change. What you have is never enough.

Minutes later, I stung the tension with the facts of what is: unemployment expires in April, my heavy bills, etc. And after a little back and forth, we settled on hope. Hope that I will land a livable-salary job at a university, so in turn, I can enroll in classes as well.

Hope. Hope is what Obama preached to the wretched U.S population in 2008. Trump advocated change, “Make America Great Again,” but basically, he insinuated hope. Hope is what downhearted America clenches to, and what leaders and motivational-speakers sell, promoting infinite possibilities. Along with reality, this sales pitch may just be an illusion, nonetheless, life is merely a ride.

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Watch and Listen

I kick my shoes off and dangle them as I trek along the brown shore of Ocean Beach. Ocean beach lies right on the outskirts of Golden Gate Park, and it’s a primary destination for loners, smokers, surfers, and anyone seeking a peaceful place of mind. At least in my experience, you won’t encounter myriad of beach chairs, umbrellas, volleyball, etc. This strip of shore–bordered by a graffitied ten-foot wall–is not akin to the Jersey Shore; rather, it’s a place of refuge from the commotion of the city and one’s own mind.

The ocean breeze provides comfort, the damp sand delivers support, and the sunshine cleanses one’s perspective. I feel better, merely walking for three minutes. My mind, however, continues to runs as my legs walk, therefore, I ring up my parents to close the gap. My mom’s voice booms through the phone with exuberance, excited to check in on how I’m doing. Connecting with family or friends slows things down, descending us back down to the earth and away from the endless stream of consciousness.

Afterwards my dad hops on the line, catching up with how I’m doing. I have some thoughts to exchange and specifically one, which now begins to resonate louder.

“I might go back to school,” I share.

I’ve been working in solitude for the past few months, reading and studying in public libraries. But one can only learn so much from himself. With that, some feedback and guidance, along with structure, can contribute to my progression. Previously, I enrolled in college to obtain a degree and a job like most incoming students, however, foolishly and unfortunately, not just to freely learn.

The University of San Francisco is within a ten-minute hike from my current residence. Last Friday, I wandered over to the campus, hoping to break into their library—for literary pursuits–but to no avail. And the other night, Porter suggested investigating open jobs there. The sky illuminated with light, shinning down a good idea. Moments later, a position was discovered (staff accounting), which I am certainly qualified for, however, most importantly, free college tuition is an included benefit.

This idea was well-received by my dad, as encouragement to apply promptly ensued. On his end, most things sound better than me just aimlessly floating from one stopgap job to the next. I partly agree– but learning, apprenticing, finding a mentor are the paramount aspects of my inclination.

Reaching my car, the phone conversation concludes. They’re happy. I’m intrigued. After all, it’s a possibility: another path to ramble down. Subsequently, I pull open my driver’s door, shove my knapsack on the folded-down backseat, and proceed to wind down the front windows. Cars are parked on both sides of mine, passengers inside. On my left, one man is reading a book. On my right, a man watches the tumbling waves and listens to soft classical music. I watch and listen as well.

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The Meaning

I pottered through the cramped library aisles, aimlessly scanning the titles of the non-fiction books. A world philosophy book, covering life outlooks over the centuries, snagged my attention, despite the black book’s unadorned appearance. I wandered over to a long wooden table, slumped in a chair, and flicked through the eras. I was in need of some insight.

In my final college semester of senior year, I became acquainted with eastern philosophy by enrolling in a class to fulfill my Chinese-major requirement. I had an affinity with Daoism, agreeing with the primary principles: The Dao and Wu-Wei. I skimmed through that section, refreshing myself once again on Laozi’s wisdom of being in harmony with life and nature as it unfolds. It still hits home.

Subsequently, I forwarded to a section detailing Jean-Paul Sartre’s and Friedrich Nietzsche’s views–existentialism. Although I rejected the philosophy in my post yesterday, two points did resonate with me. First: Nietzsche emphasized the celebration of the awakening or awareness of one’s existence. Though, this process may be overwhelming and daunting, it should ultimately be cheered. One is now conscious of the options available to himself and is no longer limited by the original illusional ideologies. Freedom is now available. Second: Nietzsche did not believe the purpose of life was to deliver meaning or essence to it, despite widespread misunderstanding; rather, he believed the purpose of life was to live with vitality. Do whatever you wish, chase after goals, become “someone,” but more importantly, live with zest.

And this–this point alone delivers me the solace I was reaching for. Yes, easier said than done, but it’s vital. Zest or vitality is not synonymous with happiness. Discard the notion that the point is just to be happy. Rather, live with curiosity, excitement, gusto, goddamn madness. That’s the point. That’s what evokes the feeling of being alive.  And that’s what I was attempting to stamp with my trembling finger yesterday.

Making meaning or living out life purpose is rooted in the ego, because the ego bases itself around self importance. Therefore, it’s reasonable to accomplish goals, surpass obstacles, and make a career, but these endeavors should not drown oneself. They can compliment one’s liveliness, of course, but regardless, whether it’s getting dressed or creating art, zest should be interlaced with it.  And that–that is simply what I wanted to share.

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Forget Meaning

The rain drops beat down on my grey umbrella. Porter and I balanced on the edge of a one-hundred-foot cliff, peering down at the crashing waves. Down below, the shore was vacant. A fog settled in around us, complimenting the already grey, dismal day. It wasn’t a beach day, nonetheless, we were there.

After about twenty minutes, we fled and took refuge under a cypress-tress fortress. Sparse raindrops slipped inside of our spacious dry camp. We hunkered down on a moist log, waiting for an opening. A black crow swooped in as well, ceaselessly chirping away about the foul weather. I glanced back at him and agreed; We were all in this together.

It’s been raining in San Francisco for the past few days. Glimpses of sunshine crack through sporadically, but all in all, the weather has been dreary. Coincidentally, my internal feelings mirror my outside surroundings. Apathy lingers, with the occasional glimmer of inspiration galvanizing myself for a short while. I rather be frustrated, but unfortunately, I lean towards indifference.

The crux of my indifference might rest in my unclear message. What am I trying to say? For instance, I’ve been hovering around a hour-and-a-half trying to compile words, hoping to spur out some meaning. I mean, everything needs some type of practical or even divine meaning, right? Like how my knapsack carries belongings or how the activist fights for a cause: both serve an existential purpose.

And this existential beast has been clawing at me. I’ve teetered through this existential crisis for months, grasping for any type of purpose. Because a man, especially with this evolved level of consciousness, needs to have some type of purpose, right? I scream, “I MUST BE USEFUL!” It appears that everyone on social media possesses some type of purpose now, whether it’s just them flaunting in front of a mirror, encouraging followers to workout because you should want a healthy figure as well. Or it’s the oversupply of self-help books scattered across the internet and book stores, guiding you on how to discover your purpose–most importantly, written by someone whose purpose is to help you locate your purpose.

My viewpoint might be labeled as cynical or disgruntled, but I’m discerning through the bullshit which another generation is being fed. It’s akin to the American Dream illusion that was portrayed in the 70’s and 80’s, except layered with a “positive vibes” undertone. All in all, they’re still trying to sell you meaning for your life. Our society is driven on productivity and efficiency: every action must have purpose.

It’s time to abandon this “provide meaning” mindset with the rest of the barrels of necessities imposed upon us. I’m not advocating a hedonistic lifestyle to run amok and go sought after new highs, but at the same time, go ahead. Moreover, this post doesn’t serve as a nihilistic public service announcement, proclaiming that nothing in life matters. Rather, what I am attempting to compose is that not everything in life needs to matter. Allow your weekdays to be chaotic, your breakfast items to be contrasting, and your written stories to serve no point. Go to the beach when it pours and buy that one meatball dish from your local Vietnamese restaurant. If you make it to the next day without hypothermia or food poisoning, that alone provides enough meaning to celebrate. Forget the lofty goals of purpose, you’re already doing it–you’re living another day.wordpress-1-23-17