Archive for November, 2006

I watched a movie called Brokedown Palace tonight. Its a travel movie. What’s that other movie…with Vince Vaughn, Joaquin Phoenix, and Anne Heche???…Return to Paradise. That’s it. And there is Before Sunrise with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I suppose The Beach with Leonardo Dicaprio also falls into that category, and Lost in Translation. They are specifically about travel….and not the Spring Break kind.

It is strange that every time I hit a low point I think of travel. I am pretty sure that its not because I long for it…but I long for what it symbolizes: everything that we do not currently have but believe we need. So it is no surprise then that revisiting where you are in life would cause those memories to spring up again.

I remember when I was in college, and near after I finished, Peter would say about himself and/or his friends “He is at a crossroads right now”. After a while I realized that we are all at an eternal crossroads, as there is never a more important moment in our lives than right this second…..we just don’t always slow down to realize it (which isn’t a bad thing).

My sister said she hasn’t been happy lately. She lost her job…I think she is having trouble with the opposite sex (aren’t we all in some way), and she said she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life…all serious concerns. She is definitely at a crossroad.

My mom hasn’t been that happy lately either. Her kids live hours away. Her husband isn’t supportive. She takes care of her senile parents. It is a humbling experience to have to bathe your mother. I am not sure I could do it….and cannot believe she does as well as she does. She is able to internalize a lot…..and is definitely at a crossroad.

Many of my friends are newly married and new parents and wondering if there is nothing more than that for the next twenty years. I am not sure there is other than to say that I am sure they miss the unquestioning friendships they had in the past. There are far more expectations and much more questioning that come with those responsibilities. They are at a crossroad.

I am at a crossroad as well. There is only one kind of “crossroad” for all its guises…..the one that asks, “who am I and what am I doing here?”. That, I suppose, is the definition.

Take my sister. She is literally asking the question, being laid off from her job without an establshed career, and young and without a family of her own…..”what am I here for?”.

My mom as well, in a different way. “My kids are gone, I am now caring for the very people who used to care for me, and my husband is little more than a ghost in my own house. I am not a mother, or a wife, or a daughter. What am I here for?”

My friends…much the same. They are redefining their lives in terms of fatherhood, responsibility, and being a husband. I do not think we are well prepared for that transition. Beforehand we are sons, and students, and friends. Unless we had a strong father figure it is unlikely we have the tools to make that transition smoothly. Some are better than others I suppose.

As I am so good at dissecting everyone else in a paragraph or less, what about myself? I often ask myself what I gained when I left the country for the better part of a decade? Well…..that’s a good question.

I have never been an overly happy person. I was not born that way. I have always seen things differently than other people. Sometimes it is an advantage, as I was smart and creative by being able to look at everything from a different angle…however, overall the things I saw did not always seem happy. Life is sort of sad to me. I think if anyone stops to think too much, they would say the same thing.

However, during all those years away and somewhere in those hundreds of books I read I found a way to be basically satisfied with myself. I consider that the major achievement of my life.

In some ways that is a selfish statement….after all, I am saying that MY happiness is among my greatest achievements (even though I cannot sustain it). What about everyone else??? Why not, “The food I gave to the homeless” or “the child I adopted from poverty”??? I am not discounting those things in any way; however I do have a precedent for concern over my own happiness.

It was Jesus and Buddha and every one else who ever made such an impact on mankind that had a similar statement about themselves: “This is how I have become happy and at peace with myself….follow me if you want the same.” It is the greatest gift to have a peace with your life. If you do then there is a chance that you can give it to other people.

Otherwise it is just the misreable giving favors to the misreable. Not that there is no value in that….but certainly it is not the goal.

I have thought of writing a book called the Thirteenth Disciple. Why were there only twelve? The book would be about the thirteenth that wanted to follow Jesus and be one of his chosen followers, but because of some selfishness or defect or lack of committment or simply the want of the number 12…Jesus could not let him. The book would be about the hatred and envy of the thirteenth disciple and the guilt of Jesus for not being able to make him happy.

When people say they would like to be loved and accepted for who they are that is what they are saying: “Please…..I have found a way out of the forest….do not throw me back in alone. This is all I have.”

That is not a figurative statement. It is literal. When your circumstances cause you to reconsider whatever peace you have made with yourself and life……it is asking you to re-evaluate everything.

We are all at a crossroad.

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I have laid low at work since coming back. (on a side note I checked the grammar on that and the correct usage is “I have lain low”….although that sounds a little pedantic to me).

I am at a low point for sure. 4 of my coworkers have left in the last few weeks (the 4 I liked the best), and our busy season at work is nearing an end so there isn’t much to do…which is boring. Also, there is no tennis right now to distract me and get me exercise, which I need to stay sane. Then there is just general life stuff which takes up the majority of my brain cycles, and never seems to get anywhere….which takes up more brain cycles getting frustrated with that.

I have been writing a whole lot in my personal journal, which is never a good sign. I haven’t written this much in years. I don’t find it nearly as cathartic as I used to. I used to get really excited when I had something to write….now it just makes my hand tired. Typing is much better.

I guess when I was younger I used to solve things when I thought. Now I just get frustrated over what I cannot control. Maybe I should start meditating?

My mom came down over the weekend. It was really nice to see her. She needed a break anyway. We went to go look at houses for me for a while on Saturday because I knew she liked that. (I am not nearly as excited about getting a house for me as she is.) She liked all the houses that cost too much money. I did too.

I’ve been playing the guitar alot lately too. That is an exercies substitute I think, since I also find that very soothing. I’ve been going to sleep earlier too…that usually helps, but I still have really dark circles under my eyes. I’m having a repeating dream these days too. Its really weird.

I am rambling aren’t I? Oh well….I think I’ll watch TV.

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This picture turned out really nice. Its of the cloud forests at Monte Verde. It almost looks like stock photography…like the archetype jungle shot.

I was reading an article online today about happiness (my favorite subject). It asked whether you would be happier with a new car or a trip to Europe? I think most people would pick the new car because it lasts longer, but the study said the trip to Europe would actually be better for the precise reason that the car will stick around. You will become acclimated to it; it will get older; it will break etc. The trip to Europe doesn’t stick around and the brain can play great tricks with our memories. The memory of the trip will soften around the edges and even the parts you hated will make funny stories. The trip to Europe will make you happier than the car.

Anyway, here is the memory/picture:

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My taxi comes in an hour and a half. It was a nice trip…much more like a regular vacation than I am used to, but nice nonetheless.

My Spanish is still fine. Our guide said she could get me a job if I wanted. They get paid to travel around Latin America (although they do have to tend a group as they do it). Of course, I declined. I

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Its been hard to get to computer. I was in the jungle for three days. I killed a scorpion and tarantula in my room. David told me they weren’t deadly…only very painful. I ate well, and napped in the afternoon in a hammock with rain on the tin roof. His small lodge is literally in the middle of nowhere. You go to sleep early when there is no electricity.

Then we were rafting and camping for three days. I enjoyed that after the three days of hiking in the rain in the jungle….it gave my legs a rest and now my arms are sore.

It rains all the time in the rain forest. I never thought about it like that, but it is very true. My clothes smell like mildew and I’ve given up putting on dry ones. I just wear the same thing everyday.

The group I’m traveling with is interesting. Our guide once made 800 paper cranes in elementary school because she “liked it”. The guy from Canada has a degree in math and 10 IT consulting experience….then quit and now he is a cop. He talks about shooting things all the time. I asked him how many times he’s fired his gun in the line of duty: “Never…I did draw it one time though.” There is the guy from Norway who is a professional gambler. All he does is play poker on the Internet. He played for a while tonight and said he just paid for the vacation. The girl from California surfs all the time and just graduated in biopsychology. She uses words like “rad” and “gnarly”. I didn’t think anyone said that anymore.

I saw a friend of mine from B-school in San Jose. He is managing a hotel close to wear I was staying. I asked him for a job, because he said he was trying to buy another one.

Now I’m in Monte Verde. Its a big tourist destination….where you can see the cloud forests, and zip line through the canopy. There is no paved road to or from the city (which was oddly enough founded by the Quakers). I think that’s weird. All in all, Costa Rica is very developed and the prices are high…except its roads are crap.

I’m listening to the guy behind me who owns this internet cafe. He is from the US and hates George Bush. I think he’s implying that he left the US because of that. I’ll have to ask about that in a minute.

I’ve gotta go. I think I’m going to try to convince one of the laundry places to dry my clothes. Everything is soaked and its raining outside right now.

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