What Is My Bliss? …Really.

My mind moves at a million miles a minute, I swear. I’m constantly thinking about 5 million things at once. Yesterday and today it’s been: What is my bliss? No – really.

I don’t think we’re truly self-aware if we don’t constantly question everything we know, or should I say – everything we think we know.

A few months before graduating college I kind of had this profound, deep existential crisis that spiraled into about a week of depression, which consisted of: I don’t want to do music anymore. I hate it and want no part.

And I don’t know where it came from. Maybe anxiety and doubt due to the fact I didn’t have a job lined up, nor did I want to think about one. Could have been a childish response to a part of my youth coming to a close. Maybe I felt too dependent on it and that scared me. Maybe I was just tired of being in school for so long. When talking (or should I say shouting) to my my mom about it, I kept saying things like, “It’s been my life for so long, it’s like I’m not interested anymore” and “I feel like I know all there is to know, and I don’t know what to do with it anymore”.

I don’t think I feel this way anymore. I actually ended up crying in my room for a long time listening to Saves The Day’s Sound The Alarm, so music did get me through it after all (which I really resented at the time). I am still currently pursuing jobs in the music industry, I listen to music everyday, I still write songs, play guitar, etc. I think I just had a crack-up. But there are days (many days) where I catch myself making excuses when it comes to my own songwriting pursuits: Oh, I don’t feel like going to that open mic today and I don’t want to record this week and I don’t feel like going to that show. I almost feel like I’m sabotaging myself (which apparently really is a thing women tend to do according to Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes). I am I really lazy and harming my ambitions in the long-run, or am I just generally not interested and should just accept that fact and move on to something else?

All my life I feel I’ve pushed myself (or have been pushed) to do things I sometimes didn’t want to do, and sometimes when I did them, I’d feel really glad that I did. But I don’t know what this is – this feeling of hesitancy and closeted introverted-ness. I cringe at the fact at lugging my guitar somewhere. I like performing, but it’s mainly the fact that I have to go somewhere to go do it. And then that annoying question always lurking in the back of mind: Is this really all worth it?

I like doing things if I can anticipate a positive end result. Maybe that makes me spoiled? I’m not sure. But that’s the way I like to do things. But to be a musician is such an unknown. And I might I sound like a baby going on about this, but I’m really battling these feelings. Does it matter at all? Does anything matter at all?

And I got business cards with my songwriter info on them, I got a new feedback suppressor for my guitar. Why not use them, right?

I guess these thoughts are plaguing me as of late because there was an open mic at a place near me last night, and I decided not to go. To make myself feel better, I decided to go to my friend’s show instead which was in the same town. But then as the hour ticked closer and closer, I became less and less enthused and wanted more and more to just stay home and read or something. I didn’t like how that’s what I felt I really wanted. I felt like I was bullshitting myself – I should have pushed myself to go. Have I just been home for too long and that’s why I feel this way? I’m too comfortable here? (For TNG fans: Will Riker much?) I ended up getting a headache and went to bed right after dinner last night, anyway. So maybe I needed rest and I’m just making a big deal out of nothing.

The place I go to has a weekly open mic and I played it at the beginning of the month. It went great. The next week I had an interview scheduled for the next day, so I decided not to go, opting to go to bed in order to wake up well-rested and prepared. Then yesterday came.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is if I feel at peace, is it worth disturbing that peace to go and pursue something that disrupts that peace in a way? See, I hate the idea of wasting my life. And honestly, right now, I don’t feel that I am. But it’s the thought of the possibility that I am that creeps up on me. What if I could be doing more? But then for what? Why even push myself if it leads to nowhere? Do I just think music is my bliss because it’s been constant in my life? What if it’s not? What if I’ve transcended past that and it’s something else now? What if I’m just wasting my time pursuing some childhood dream? What is my bliss, really? Is there something more or am I just following a shadow of what I think I know?

Has anyone felt like this about anything? Let me know in the comments, y’all >>>

Peace and love,

<3-Roe

Thoughts On Graduate School

The concept of graduate school always makes me heated.  Anytime somebody brings it up in conversation I almost always find myself immersed in a passionate debate.  Despite my own insecure feelings about my own future at times, I think it just ticks me off because so I see so many people wasting their time with it.  Graduate school seems to have become a plan B for those who find themselves on a dead end street; It’s become a failsafe for a twenty-something who finds him/herself stuck in a directionless life.  But why has it become a failsafe? It didn’t always used to be that way.  Welcome to the 21st century, where graduate school has transformed from a place of high, scholarly pursuits to a cop out; A place to waste more time, borrow more loans with high interest rates while falling further into debt, spend three paychecks on books you’ll sell back for 25 cents each, and to sit in a classroom like you’ve been doing your whole goddamn life so you can get another overpriced, shiny piece of paper with a stamp, a seal, and some signatures.  What bullshit.

Now if you are going to grad school for something you love, something you believe in and are passionate about, my little blog post does not not apply to you.  …And if you fully believe in your quest for knowledge for whatever field you’re in, you should know that and know that my words are not speaking to you in the least.  Grad school can be GREAT when you know you’re on your path.  In fact I encourage you to pursue your bliss and reach for the stars!  Enjoy, soak up that knowledge like a sponge, and come out of there as a PRO.

The thing is higher education in general has gone to the dogs.  Probably because it has become the societal norm to attend college.  There are too many people enrolled in colleges and universities who frankly don’t belong there and classroom environments suffer because of it.  Aside from the fact that no one can live on minimum wage, it’s extremely difficult to accomplish anything in life without a college degree…or so we’re told.  The drop out geniuses do show themselves and the fruits of labor every once in awhile (i.e. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc).  College can prove to be a great experience but in all honesty, not all minds are wired to march to the beat of the intellectual drum.  Many do not do well within an academic context.  And that’s OKAY.  Or at least it should be.  Yet why does society say otherwise?  Don’t have enough money?  “Here, take out $30,000+ loan per year with 7%+ interest for 4 years.  Don’t worry.  That job you’ll get or that thing you’ll invent while you’re smoking hash in your garage will get you so filthy rich, they’ll be wheelbarrowing your money to your front door.  You’ll pay that off in no time.  You’re a smart kid.”  Don’t have a computer or books?  “Use your loan to pay for it.  Yeah, don’t worry about it.  By the time you have to make payments you’ll be working at some corporate office counting your stacks like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.”  Scholarships?  “What’s that?  Didn’t hear you.” THIS IS THE SYSTEM WE NOW LIVE IN. WHY?  We all know how ridiculous this sounds and I know many have experienced this first hand.  These are things I’ve witnessed are within an undergraduate context; Why on Earth would anyone subject themselves to this again?  We all know that for the most part the jobs aren’t there (unless you’re willing to sell your soul to some ungodly field in pursuit of a dollar), loan debt is a problem and then falls into a catch 22 in the “funemployment” world where you have $0 income, and scholarships (for the most part) are wasted on the dropouts and the ones who don’t care and drink their weight in tequila every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of their 4 year (or 5 year if their a supersenior) college career and end up looking like Mrs. Puff by the time they graduate.

The more I read, the more it appears that in the past college used to be a big deal; It was a way to heighten your intellect, learn, and go back into the world with your knowledge and put it to good use; And maybe if you’re really good, help make the world a better place.  I am ashamed of my generation because college is now an excuse to get away from Mommy and Daddy to obsess over Facebook and your iPhone, excessively drink, and sleep around with anyone who has a pair of legs. It makes me laugh though because all these Mrs. Puff lookalikes passed and got their diplomas just like I did.  At first that bothered me because I worked hard in school.  I always have and I don’t care how nerdy that makes me sound, but it’s true.  But then I reinforced the thought I’ve always had since high school that grades really don’t matter.  GPAs really don’t matter.  It’s what you get out of the experience what counts and that alone shapes who you become as a individual.  It’s what you can take with what you’ve learned and how you’ve learned it and apply it to your future, whether you’re employed or not.  I live in a materialist generation where everyone cares about the wrong things.  I wish I could persuade everyone to disconnect from their devices and put down their credit cards and persuade them to read again, things they’ve always wanted to read, philosophize and think and dream, to talk about art and music that’s not on the radio.  Maybe that’s my utopia or something.  But life’s too short to keep partying like you’re 18.  Life’s too short to keep playing Candy Crush and post Facebook statuses for attention.  Do something, make something, create something, teach yourself something.  Engage in conversation that’s not gossip.  What about Life?  You’re living in right now and you don’t even know it.  Put down the phone and marvel in the world before you have back problems and become bedridden.  Take care of yourself and stop destroying your body so you don’t die later on down the road when you finally decide that life means something to you.  By numbing yourself with technology and bullshit you are committing an act of the slowest suicide.

Graduate school will not fill your void but will only delay the inevitable.  Once you’ve achieved all you possibly can within an academic spectrum, you will realize the worst thing of all – That you have missed Life.  And you will realize all the things you made time for and thought were important only caused you anxiety, frustration, debt, and grey hair.  Then you will slowly fall into yourself and realize you don’t know who you are, who your friends are, what you’re doing here, and the job (if you end up finding one) you swore would provide everything for you and be the answer to all your problems, you will realize that that job is not enough.  And you will be older and feel the weight of time tightening its grip around your throat.

Now more than ever is the time to self-discover, read, and be alone for awhile.  To hell with the system we live in. Let us meditate on ourselves, learn as much as we can (without the burden of papers and tests), and shape the future to display positivity, togetherness, and love.  Those three things unite like no other.  Enough of chasing the broken American Dream that died with Gatsby, enough with ignoring our loved ones, enough with staying inside when the sky is so blue.  Let’s breathe and ask ourselves what our soul is really yearning for.  Let’s not suppress it with empty promises and the hollow shell of graduate school.

Dragonfly

You ever feel like the universe is trying to send you a message, either through certain happenings or symbols? I think that those types of messages exist and I become more sure of it as time goes on.

For example, yesterday (and frequently when I have been driving lately) cars kept cutting me off, making me have to brake somewhat abruptly so I wouldn’t hit them.  No close calls or anything but all of these careless drivers could have definitely waited until I passed.  I noticed many of them even flew past STOP signs and just swerved out into the road.  Right turns, left turns; They were all going for it.  I was on a main street in my town (Franklin Ave and Centre for those who live in or around it) and was coming to a light, which turned yellow as I approached.  There are two lanes at this light: One to make a left and the other to go straight or make a right.  I was making a left but an Astro van in front of me (and the only car in front of me) had positioned itself between these two lanes, in front of the crosswalk with no directional.  The light turns green and this car immediately makes a left hand turn.  Oncoming traffic was heavy so I had to wait for all the cars to pass and didn’t make a left until the light was about the turn red again.

Okay, so I’m driving on Centre St. now.  I then approach the next light at Centre and Passaic, which is red.  I’m the third car in line.  Light turns green.  The first car (a Chevy Impala) is making a left and has to wait for traffic to pass, the second car goes around the first to go straight, and I am also making a left and wait for the Chevy now in front of me.  After the traffic passes, we make our lefts in succession.  Now this Chevy was going so slow, exactly 25 mph and braked for every slight turn, every person walking on the sidewalk, every approaching car, it even braked when the breeze was blowing.  It was so irritating.  I joked to my friend later on that whoever was driving was either a young new driver, extremely old, or high out of their mind.  If you know me, you know I love to drive somewhat fast preferably with my windows down and music blasting, so this was a bit of a struggle.  But I slowly breathed and told myself to have patience, the universe was telling me something – slow down. Don’t rush.  This pattern, especially while driving has been extremely recognizable over the past few days.

Much to my displeasure, this car seemed to be going exactly where I was – all the way down Park Ave and over the Lyndhurst Bridge.  We finally separated at the light that comes right after the bridge – the Chevy was making a left.  I was making a right.  As I made the right I couldn’t help but put a little more weight on the gas, so glad to be free of that tortoise driver in front of me.  I’m driving smoothly along with no lights, no traffic, and no pedestrians.  I was starting to feel so liberated.  Then I slow to 25 mph again – in front of me there appeared a white Honda Civic moving at the same pace as I was, and a garbage track in front of the Civic moving at a snail’s pace while smelling up the entire road.

I guess you can say these are all coincidences.  Hell, any skeptic could.  But I think the universe has a lot to say if when you keep your mind open, breathe in the open air, and take in everything with a clear state of mind.

So you might be saying, “Okay, fine.  So what?  You had to drive a little slower than usual.  Big deal.”  But something happened to me this morning that I am still in disbelief about.  The universe sending out more messages?  You be the judge.

After stepping outside this morning I was taken aback with how beautiful it was outside.  No humidity, cool air, and a slight breeze.  The sun was shining, birds chirping, and the air smelled so sweet.  Since graduating, I’ve rediscovered the joy of reading.  It sounds awful but I never could make the time for it while I was in school, specifically most of high school and all of college.  One of my favorite things to do now is to go outside with my book, a glass of ice water, my sunglasses, and just read.  My backyard has become such a soothing and peaceful environment to me lately.  So I put on my sunglasses, poured my water, grabbed Pathways to Bliss by Joseph Campbell, and went outside to read at about 9:30.  It was so quiet and beautiful out and I quickly became absorbed in my book.  At one point, I glanced up at a dead plant that was on my deck and noticed a leaf on it that looked like a dragonfly.  I paid it no mind and went back to my book, eating up all the Joseph Campbell knowledge I could about myth, the psyche, and the importance of archetypes.  About five minutes later, I noticed something fly over my head and saw the shadow in my lap.  I glanced back up at the plant again and noticed the leaf was a dragonfly.  It’s wings were translucent and had green lines towards the edge of all four of its wings and a green dot in the middle of each wing.  (I can’t find a picture of this type of dragonfly for the life of me, so if anyone knows what species this might be, let me know!)  I stared at it for awhile.  I don’t ever recall seeing a dragonfly ever, nevermind in my own yard.  Every time I looked away, I looked back.  It was near motionless on this dead branch of a plant in front of me.  The wind would blow hard enough to shake the trees and the leaves.  The dragonfly would sway but still remained locked on to the branch, looking at me.  It became difficult to concentrate on reading at this point, so I closed the book and stared at this funny little dragonfly staring back at me.  It was not afraid when I moved my arms and legs; It did not budge.  Sometimes it moved it’s head/eyes to the side but they always came back to me.  We were pretty close to each other, only about two or three feet away.  And we sat like that for 10 whole minutes.  I timed it.  After the 10 minutes, it flew away.

It left an impression on me.  What could that possibly mean?  I was shocked.  I had never had that type of experience before.  I thought about it all day.  In the afternoon I did a brief Google search on strange dragonfly behavior and found a few things that piqued my interest.  One thing that did is the folk tale that, “dragonflies have traditionally been one of a select few creatures that have been known to carry a deceased person’s energy (soul) to their loved ones. Contact from one of these simple, yet splendid creatures brings peace to a grieving soul.”  I have been thinking about my grandmother from time to time, who passed away in 2004 but because I was only 14 when she died, I never really mourned her death until this past Easter.  It kind of caught up with me then.  Could it have been her somehow?  Then I started reading about what the dragonfly symbolizes and this really got me going:  “The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization; and the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.”  The dragonfly’s iridescent properties are believed to represent, “the end of one’s self created illusions and a clear vision into the realities of life. The magical property of iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one’s own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. This again indirectly means self discovery and removal of inhibitions.  Well that’s totally what I’ve been trying to do!  I’ve been eating up the teachings of Campbell, Jung, and Sagan like crazy!  Trying to learn everything, rediscover myself, transition myself away from my student self which has died and transform into something great, something better.  I’ve been trying to remain objective about this rebirth, yet keep tabs on my subjective feelings.  As I was reading and discovering the symbolism of the dragonfly, I was in utter disbelief at parallels I was finding.  “The dragonfly normally lives most of its life as a nymph or an immature. It flies only for a fraction of its life and usually not more than a few months. This adult dragonfly does it all in these few months and leaves nothing to be desired. This style of life symbolizes and exemplifies the virtue of living IN the moment and living life to the fullest. By living in the moment you are aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you want, what you don’t and make informed choices on a moment-to-moment basis. This ability lets you live your life without regrets like the great dragonfly. The opening of one’s eyes The eyes of the dragonfly are one of the most amazing and awe inspiring sights. Given almost 80% of the insect’s brain power is dedicated to its sight and the fact that it can see in all 360 degrees around it, it symbolizes the uninhibited vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self. It also in a manner of speaking symbolizes a man/woman’s rising from materialism to be able to see beyond the mundane into the vastness that is really our Universe, and our own minds.”  Who knew this deep symbolism even existed?!  “In many regions and as a norm of this day, the dragonfly is considered to be an agent of change and presumably symbolic of a sense of self realization.”

If this isn’t the universe sending me a message, an affirmation of everything I’ve been doing thus far on my journey of self-discovery and personal enlightenment, I don’t know what the hell it is.  How do you explain these things?  Too many things make sense to me.  Too many things fall into place, so why fight it?  Let’s just go with it.  Might I also add that when I first went to go outside to read, I shattered a drinking glass and spent at least 20 minutes cleaning up, picking up shards of glass and vacuuming.  If I hadn’t stalled myself by doing this, would I have even had this dragonfly experience at all?  Think about it.  Sometimes these real life, waking dreams can have such an impact.  I can only encourage others to lead their own journeys of self-discovery and see what they find.  It can be hard work but it gives you the gift of understanding and the possibility of reaping infinite rewards.