That’s Life

It’s been about a year, a little over a year now, since I moved away from the city I have always been pulled to, even as a little kid. The one I learned to love for what it is, not for what I attempted to make it to be, for the attempt to do so would prove useless. It did and I learned and I loved it more for it.

Remaining the romantic I tend to be, for the attempt to be otherwise would prove useless as well, a classical array of Frank Sinatra numbers have always, and I believe will continue to, keep me current with the city’s lasting allure, even in my current absence. For me, no other artists have truly captured this. No other songs have ever embodied it, though I will admit there are a few honorable mentions, but who really wants to be caught on that list? This piece is about more than music though.

Though at the moment I am away from the city, I never fully left, as is true for any great romantic relationship. Much like the loving and romancing of a great woman, you’ve spent time exploring her, only to find as your knowledge of her grows so does your appreciation of her, and fortunately so does your awareness of your ignorance of her vastness which still remains. There’s still more to find.

And, not only that, but you’ve experienced with her. This life, her emotions and yours. This life, its highs and its lows and everything in between. Apart from her or entangled with, you can’t remove what has already happened, and nor should you try.

In many ways I am still there, and for the enduring and strengthening few with time, I will always remain.

But over this time many things have changed. It’s remarkable when you do take the time to reflect on the passing of another year how many things do. Some we have been aware of, but for many we only realize upon looking back.

Many say looking back is wrong. I’ve never believed this, but I have realized how heavy it can be.

That heaviness though I have always enjoyed.

I’ve never been one to believe life needs to be happy all the time. I’ve never been one to want that for myself either, though I have caught myself deep in the trap trying to make it that way. I don’t think I’d like it if it always was. I don’t believe many do trying to make it that way.

Sometimes I want the unhappy, the sad, the crazy and the impossible, the yearning, the past, the pain. It reminds me of what has happened, and it makes me appreciate every part of it more; the happy and the sad, and everything in between.

Sometimes isn’t right. Usually I find I want it more. It makes sense if you think about it. Maybe I’m wrong. But, it tends to make me feel everything more and I don’t want to be numb all the time attempting to ignore that.

Anyways, I sit here now, thousands of miles away from that city, in another one, another big one even, but its not quite the same.

Things feel different. I feel different. Not that this is wrong or bad, just different. Like anywhere else, somedays are good and somedays are bad, and some are somewhere in between.

I watched a video earlier today, one I had made the day I left a little over a year ago now, and it made me feel that way again. I know I’m not the only one that city uses. Countless eyes had seen it before me, and countless others will after me. Countless lives have enjoyed her before me, and countless others have and will after me.

But, nonetheless, I felt captured, and there, though only for a moment in the grand scheme of it all, captured felt right. Everybody wants freedom. I’d take, even if only a little, that kind of captured again. This piece is about more than just a city though.

Still sitting here now, writing this, it hits me how much truly has changed. People, places, thoughts, wants, truths, and so on.

It’s easy to think everything remains the same. It’s hard to notice the changes. Most aren’t big enough to wake you up at night. No, most are subtle. But, once noticed, their acknowledgment proves to be impactful.

Around this time last year I was leaving somewhere. This somewhere now I am thinking of leaving again. Those I guess you could call examples of the big ones. All the things that have happened in between these two points though, I wouldn’t say they add up. No, when you think about it, things just sort of happen.

Some add. Some take away. Many just happen. Many just slip on by. It’s up to me to notice what I will. It’s up to you the same.

I miss that feeling, but I wonder how many feelings I have missed since then, ones I would have appreciated if I had only noticed them then, if only I had not been caught up with just the one.

Though I can’t live them again, though I cannot go back and really feel them, I notice them now, at least I am trying, and at this now that trying is enough.

But that’s life. You notice what you notice. Who knows exactly why?

Days come and so do nights, and then they go and maybe another one comes around. It’s easy to think another one will, but things change, you never know. And if another does come around, its easy to think it the same as the last.

Again, its hard to notice the changes.

Blame ignorance.

Ignorance towards thinking things will never change, or ignorance blinding you from noticing what has.

I’ve missed many moments thinking things were the same, or at least thinking they hadn’t changed. I don’t want to miss anymore fighting this alone. There’s really nothing to fight anyways. You’re making it up. You think there is, but there isn’t.

There’s only change. Don’t take that on. You’ll lose.

Yeah, sure, I miss that feeling and I miss that city, and I probably always will, but constantly chasing the highs it evoked, or believing the lows it did as well to be only unique to its confines, both of these are wrong. It’s highs were high and its low were damn low, but most of my time there was spent somewhere in between, and most of that time I let slip away, unnoticed.

Again, its up to me for me, and its up to you for you the same, to notice what you will. I’ll still acknowledge the highs and I’ll still endure the lows, but moving on I simply want to notice more of the in between.

Because that’s life. Most of it happens somewhere in between.

We tend to avoid or pursue the highs and the lows.

Invite them, welcome them, sure, of course, but don’t hold on to them. They don’t last. They fade quickly. Feel them when they are around, but let them go.

Again, most of life is found in between. Try to notice the life in that. Don’t become numb to it. Become very much attuned with it.

Life is largely about realizations and we all feel more alive in the moments of our deepest ones.

Or maybe in the moments of our most simple ones.

We’re too blinded during the highs, too emotional during the lows to have these. Most happen after. After some time has passed. After we have gained sight again. After our emotions have leveled off. Most happen somewhere in between.

Most happen in the quiet. Quiet can be good. I’ll try to write on that sometime. That’s enough for now.

Most of all of this happens somewhere in between though. That’s the main idea here.

Right now you’re probably somewhere in there. I know I am.

Don’t let it slip away chasing the next high or avoiding the next low. Those you will meet again. Don’t worry. Don’t be scared. Those will happen again, because that’s life. But, there is so much more in between, and that is usually where we tend to be.

Neil Young on one’s Fervent, Unyielding Search for the Fabled ‘Heart of Gold’

I want to live,
I want to give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.
It’s these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold.

With an air of melancholy surrounding his tones entirety, Neil Young momentarily encapsulates the enduring travail of ones search for a treasure in its purest form, a search fed and deceived by the minds’ susceptibility towards yearn. In one of his many depictions of love, Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ both recites and reflects on a life lived in pursuit of the undiscovered, a token of fabled purity of the song’s naming; a heart of gold. Laboring away in search, expressions of love remain withheld, repressed and hoarded in hope for eventual outlet in the finding of a heart deserved. However, the search remains and time awaits no one: [bctt tweet=”And I’m getting old. Keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I’m getting old.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold.
I’ve been in my mind,
It’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold.

This pursuit has no barriers and chooses to forage rather then to remain idle, impatient and reluctant to receive, instead anxious to find and claim. Our world is vast in sense of its physical traits and in the sense of our human spirit, sub rosa of course to ones selected expressionism. Where one can travel in search for this treasure within the confines of our physical world, the same can be done in the mind with far less restraint and with far more expanse, dependent upon ones perceived attributes towards a heart of this taking and the extent to which their creative imagination can concoct it into reality; unfortunately, a reality only of the mind. There remains a fine line between what we want and what we need, what we envision and what truly exists, more so in the realm of love than in any other facet of our experience. However, obsessed and unyielding with our preconceived notions of this treasure, the search remains and time continues to await no one: [bctt tweet=”And I’m getting old. Keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I’m getting old.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Keep me searching for a heart of gold.
You keep me searching and I’m growing old.
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.

Resisting the need for acknowledgement of truth, one continues ones hunt, weathered by the journeys lacking return of invested sacrifice, but unwavering to the minds promise of loves holy grail. Keep searching one does, willingly ignoring the love which exists already, bypassing the current gleam of believed to be lesser-in-value treasures for the mining of a longed for, more precious in mind metal worthy of appreciating. Keep mining one does, discarding the nickels, the coppers, the silvers, the still worthy but devalued by the majority’s incognizant appraise, for the one believed to contain what we want, what we need, what we so wholeheartedly convince ourselves will finally be enough. But… the search continues and time, staying true to form, awaits no one: [bctt tweet=”And I’m getting old. Keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I’m getting old.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Simply put, a heart of gold does not exist. So easy it is to convenience ourselves that it does, choosing to remain in quest for someone we believe is worthy of our love and who will return that love with the same intensity and style. Remaining delusional to this understanding, we fall for the fairy-tale that someone, somewhere will be exactly what our heart desires, unfortunately turning the search into an outward aim towards someone-else, somewhere-else, ignoring our current love and it’s opportunity for deeper experience which already exists in our lives; a scenario more true now in our world of perceived to be endless options.

Carelessly, we remain in search. Why? Because we have not yet found our heart of gold. Mining wherever we find solace, exposing ourselves to other precious metals, though not of gold, tarnished due to their laxity against the elements, beautiful all the more so given their unique mar, the search continues, the journey thus far overlooked. Why settle for the less valuable while the gold is still out there? Someone-else, somewhere-else, we tell ourselves; that’s why.

We picture this heart of gold waiting for us, wanting to be found as much as our desire to find it, sitting there, only to gleam in response to our presence alone. But, haven’t other metals gleamed before in our presence? This may be true, but not like gold, we convince ourselves, though we have yet to see it.

Neglecting the other metals, we subsequently have chosen to neglect an abundance of affection on the journey, in search for something which does not exist, never truly giving chance to experiencing enduring love. Even if we were to ever find a heart of gold, meaning some attributes align with our version of this, we would find that it is not perfect, for nothing in this life is. Like the other metals, it would be worn, it would be tarnished, and it would carry with it its own unique imperfections, from the beginning never truly possessing the capability of living up to ones expectations of what it should be.

In choosing to search for perfection in love, we have chosen also to not love, for the search will deprive us of the energy needed towards the fostering and growing of what we instead have chosen to neglect. Understanding that a heart of gold does not exist, we can begin to find beauty derived from love in the gleaming of other treasures. Refocusing our outward search for myth inward… [bctt tweet=”…towards a love contained in the raw sensations of now…” username=”cityreadsnyc”] …perhaps we can experience and grow along with a love worthy and treasured in its purest form; an imperfect binding of imperfect beings, tarnished, worn and marred, but acknowledged and appreciated.

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For other beautifully crafted perspectives on love, pair this with Van Morrison on Love and its Dynamic Journey and Janis Joplin on the Urgency for Love.

Ticking Away

Awoken, laying in bed the other morning, every breath released I heard a ticking noise, like that of a clock. Honestly, it kind of scared me then, but I laid there listening for it all the more so. Whether real or imaginative, I realized truth in the moment. Every breath brought in and released from is one breath closer towards death. Typically, our natural response to such a thought stirs about momentary existential worry and anxiety about something which we cannot control. However, while engaged in the experience I reflected back to a quote I had come across just days before:

[bctt tweet=”You are afraid of dying. But, come now, how is this life of yours anything but death?  – Seneca” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Death surrounds us during every moment of our lives, and we experience it daily whether we are attuned to this truth or not. Deaths’ presence can be found in the most common and simplest acts within our days, of which take up a good amount of our time and attention; the eating of food which was once alive, the kissing of our loved ones goodbye leaving to take on the days tasks, the coming to an end of a day lived, the drifting back into sleep at night, and the act of breathing itself. All of these, though different in severity when compared to the actual loss of life, remain indifferent in nature; they all represent loss, permanent or temporary…but still loss.

Though we tend to view death as a negative part of life, one we try to avoid at all costs, it is still going to happen. Instead, we should acknowledge this truth, do our best to understand it, and come to the realization that it is out of our control. Death, no matter its mold, is a part of this world, of our experience, equal to or more so lifelike than any other truth our existence may hold. This should not scare you or bring about worry for it is simply what is; an unavoidable natural phenomenon with meaning bewildered:

[bctt tweet=”Death, like birth, is a secret of nature. – Marcus Aurelius” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Though you may have more behind you than ahead of you, none the less, every breath inches you closer. We can view this as a reason for our despair or, rather a potent force for our claim of life.  Was I listening to the ticking away of my life at that moment? It truly does not matter, for whether I was or not, the fact remains; every breath we are getting closer to the end. So… what will you do with the remaining?

[bctt tweet=”It is not that we are given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.  – Seneca” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Do not just tick away, for that would be wasteful of a life intended to be not. For all we know, this life is all we get. Do not fear what you cannot control. Be here now, for the entire concept of future is laid upon an ambiguous string. Again, this should not scare us for it is simply what is:

[bctt tweet=”The whole future lies in uncertainty. Live immediately. – Seneca” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Actualize this and you are free from the burden of failing in attempt for your control of it. However, for basis of anchor, realize that you are in control of one main component of this equation; how you spend your time, how you experience it, is in your hands. Let that provide you with your sense of control. Our autonomy is found in our perspective and there simply exists far too much good and beauty for us to worry about a perceived negative. Instead:

[bctt tweet=”Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.  – Marcus Aurelius” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Please, do not just tick away, for you are worthy of much more.

City Reads NYC

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P.S. For a healthy daily dose of this type of perspective, I highly recommend everyone to check out Ryan Holiday’s “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.” It has provided me with great thought and insight into a world that tends to confuse.

Additionally, check out DailyStoic.com, which provides Stoic Wisdom for Everyday Life. Another great thought provoking resource.