Meaning vs. Experience

Some days I just want to be content with everything – Be genuinely content with everything and everyone.  But would that be me?  Sometimes I wish it were – just to be so easygoing and positive. Maybe that’s what I subconsciously aim for on a day-to-day basis – to be some likable creature.

I want to be thinner, less insecure, more savvy with everything.  I have this subconscious quest to learn everything, know everything.  I’m not sure if that’s healthy or not.  I’m sure the cons will eventually flare up. But nothing beats a content headspace.

Staying home for the better part of the past four months as been a wonderful blessing.  But as with the equilibrium of all things, there is a darker aspect to the half of the whole.  Once Commencement was over and I cried my eyes out for most of the day, I continued to stay firmly resolute in my heartfelt rejection of society – How it works, how it functions, what it revolves around, the types of people involved.  It broke my heart (and still does) to realize that after all this effort, all this hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and emotional turmoil this what it all comes down to: A job – A foundation for a life, for a type of future I do not foresee myself having because I can’t see past the end of the month, nevermind the next five years.  But throughout these past few months, I think I’ve slowly been coming to peace with it.  Joseph Campbell’s always in the back of my head, telling me to say “yes” to everything – the good and the bad.

So the past few days I’ve been diligently drafting emails and cover letters to send to six different companies.  I know there’s something out there for me.  It’s just my worst fear is to not utilize my fullest potential, to feel like I’m wasting my time, or not being a part of something great.  That’s what I want – I want to move mountains with no bullshit.  I want to mean every word I say and make every action count.  Joseph Campbell says it’s not really the meaning of life we’re looking for at all, rather it’s the experience of life we’re seeking.  And maybe starting now, I’m willing to search for a different experience – One does not require staring at the four walls of my house all day.

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.

Post-Grad Psychotherapy

Does the word “frustration” even begin to cover it? C’mon. I know you’re all with me here.  As the day darkens the pressures and anxiety completely overcome you, squashing you, leaving you in some peculiar claustrophobic headspace.

A job seems so daunting because that’s the springboard into the rest of you life, you know?  That’s the springboard into your future and how terrifying!  How terrifying it is that for a quarter of your life, it all adds up to this.  This is what you’ve worked for:  The sweat, blood, and tears, the sleepless nights and caffeine overdoses. Late nights into early mornings, fleeting friends, the social highs and lows that accompany a young adolescent life.  We’re carted and compacted into an academic system and we’re supposed to come out of our respective institutions like some factory assembled windup toy, walking at an even pace with a frozen smile painted on our lips, waiting for someone else to wind us back up when we run out of gas.  We spend the better half of our lives as a sponge, soaking up as much as we can before someone squeezes us out, takes us for all we got and then leaves us to dry in the summer sun.

What am I supposed to do with myself now? How am I supposed to act? What can I do? What can I do well?  What do you want?  What do you want from me?  Are you really interested in me? Or should I be predicting some ulterior motive? You’re gonna use me, aren’t you? Why should I trust you if you’re just gonna use me? Well, I’m nobody’s doormat.  I can be myself but you’re not gonna like it, you’re not gonna get it – at least not right away.  And that’s the kicker, isn’t it?  Everything takes time.  And it just makes me laugh because time doesn’t really exist.  It’s a human organizational construct, like mostly everything else we perceive I guess.

Don’t worry.  I’m just losing my mind a little bit.  But you probably are too.  We all are.  You just have to look inside yourself to see the fracture.  And it’s okay.  It’s all gonna be okay somehow.  Because like Joseph Campbell says, we have to “joyfully participate in the sorrows of the world”, right?  Gotta say yes to it, even when it hurts.  And I’m trying.  But it gets hard sometimes when you’re just floating.  Ambivalent to everything, indifferent to everyone.  See, I’ve always been resistant but it hits you so much harder when you don’t know where to go.  It’s like my soul is vibrating so fast because it doesn’t know what direction to turn.

What got me on this spiral in the first place was the realization of my need to go to shows to see bands that really matter to me; Bands that are my main source of inspiration and means of survival; They give me a reason to live, you know?  But tickets cost money and the limited funds in my checking account won’t last me forever.  I know that.  So cue my begrudging admittance to the system, my reason to conform to the capitalist culture…It just sucks that at the end of the day, we’re all slaves to a goddamn piece of paper.  I think that’s the main concept I constantly struggle with.