Different Path, Thinking

What not to forget.

“It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die and it is a good thing to think about it while there is still time.” – Ecclesiastes 7:2

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When will you take your last breath?

Is it something you like to think you’ll deal with much, much, later?

I know I do.

Death itself isn’t the problem. I imagine that death as an event is probably less bothersome than a visit to the dentist in 8 out of 10 cases. What concerns me is all of the choices that lead up until the moment our hearts stop beating.

I wonder if I’m making choices with death in mind. If I recognized how omnipresent the end is, I’d probably attack life a bit differently.

What if we could see death?

What if when we were born, we could only see death as a blip on the horizon. A dark spot beside  sunsets that could just as easily have been a trick of the retina. What if by the time we were middle age we could only just make out the outline of a figure in a bowler hat and a pocket watch in the far distance. As the years rolled by the figure got closer but we really couldn’t tell if he or she was fat or slim, tall or short, walking or just standing still.

If every evening we could look at the horizon and see death, lay down and wake up the following morning, glance out the ice-frosted window, and notice that death must have taken just a step closer to us while we slept.

What if by the time we were in our seventies we could make out the brand of the pocket watch and from time to time could see death leaning towards us a drunken sailor at port.

What if after years of growing comfortable with, and ignoring death we were shocked that somehow, while we weren’t paying attention, death had spent the last couple years in our homes, moving from the porch, to the living room, to the guest bathroom, and now seemed to making himself quite comfortable in the chair across from our bed.

Too tired to do much of anything, we watch him somberly as he stands up, reaching and stretching slowly, looking at his antique pocket watch critically and taking one step to the head of the bed. He’d lean over us and we’d feel his humid breath on our cheek as he breathed into our ear “It’s time.”

But we don’t.

Because, (1) that would be creepy.

And (2), that would drastically change the way  we lived day-to-day.

That’s the reality, however.

I wonder what you would change if you started being able to see death.

-OFO

 

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Self-Improvement, Self-Therapy

Relationships & Responsibility

 

Being in a relationship can sometimes be an eye-opening experience.

At it’s base level there is  a element of two realities clashing. The way one person see’s the world is interacting on a day-to-day level with the way the other person sees the world.

Toothpaste squeezed from the top is neither good or bad.

However, in one person’s reality – it’s a major offense. For the other partner – it’s not even noticeable.

What one partner doesn’t notice, the other partner is disturbed by and given enough occurrences this partner then potentially considers ending the whole relationship.

How do you fix the discrepancies?

“Communication” is key they say.

But what about when the differences are more than skin deep or trivial practicalities. What about when differences are cultural, or things that you were raised with?

Sometimes it’s not until your years-deep in a relationship that you realize that you and your partner have some fundamental differences in the way that you view the world.

If you can’t agree on what the world looks like, how can you navigate it together?

“Can two walk together, except they are agreed?” – Amos 3:3

Relationships can also make you question the validity of your own feelings. Are you unhappy because of a history of independence and not being used to having to compromise? In which case you should probably learn to be uncomfortable until you remember how to sacrifice.

Or is this a real red-flag that is trying to save you from hurt feelings and wasted time down the road?

When emotions are inflamed/involved, how are you supposed to know what is real and what isn’t?

Is there a person who I can’t possibly leave?

Looking back there were definitely people who it hurt me to leave.

When I’m not given enough alone time, I overwhelmingly feel relief when the opportunity to not hang out comes up.

Maybe its because of my attachment styles.

Because I’m of the avoidant attachment category, I require large amounts of free time otherwise I end up feeling smothered.

One way to reclaim responsibility for my happiness is to ask for and make space for myself. To a allow other people the opportunity to respond to my requests and sacrifice for me.

If I need alone time, communicate and take it.

Visualize and think about what you want from a relationship, week to week, day to day and what the most successful relationships in your past felt like. What do you need? What do you want? where can you not compromise?

Fly or Fall,

OFO

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Uncategorized

Becoming (in your thirties)..

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I think it is interesting how we spend a good portion of our early life (0 years to mid-20’s) in the process of becoming.

From 0-18  society is interested in making sure that we become productive members of society. From 18-24, we have the tailwinds of youth behind us, and mistakes seem to have both lower stakes and an air of youthful indiscretions surrounding them.

From the 25 year on, the world’s expectation of growth is pretty much non-existent. The only applauded areas of growth are relational. Parent’s and potential grandparents  love to ask when they’ll get to hear the sound of little feet running around the house.

As the 30’s approach and responsibilities mount it becomes clear that personal growth is pushed to the back burner as responsibilities mount. This can be a problem for people who sacrificed in their 30’s for stability. Health professional’s I think, fall into this category. You spend your youth learning and preparing for your career and trading large portions of your time for this.

“Do you feel good in your role? If yes, that’s the perfect time for you to experiment with something new, to get out of your comfort zone. This willingness to learn is probably the most important thing for leaders of today and tomorrow.”

Pierre Nanterme

So where does this leave young professionals who spent a good portion of their youth chasing a stable career?

How does fit in self-experimentation, entrepreneurship, after a decade spent chasing stability?

Is huge reinvention possible?

Can you make huge jumps before the responsibilities of family and social expectations tie you down?

How do you find the courage to make those types of shifts?

Stay Tuned

OFO

 

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Uncategorized

Positive Reinforcement.

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Atl. 

One of the things that I’m currently trying to figure out is how to engineer my daily practices especially around my work routines. 

My job is relatively low-stress. I’ve been in my current position for going on 3 years?

I can pretty much predict what a day will look like. I’m feeling like this day-in day-out monotony is creating rust when I should probably be learning more and producing more. 

Maybe this is a symptom of a bigger workaholic issue but I don’t think it is. I think I’m perhaps looking for more consistent ways to create meaning in my day to day experience. 

One of the things I want to do is commit to doing something productive daily.  I know that one of the reasons I haven’t seen the acceleration I want to in my life is that I’m not as consistent as I should be. 

So I’m going to commit to the D1TQD (Do 1 Thing every day (QD)) plan for 7 days, then I’ll report back on what I did each day and report back as to whether it was helpful as far as moving me forward. 

In the past when I would try these types of challenges, I think I would over-commit to very long time frames and inevitably fall short and beat myself up. This negative reinforcement does less than nothing for my motivation to try again or to experiment. I’m realizing I need to experiment and possibly fail more in order for me to find my way to my next level. A big portion of being able to do this is discarding my tendency toward perfectionism. 

I might have to learn to get more comfortable with a low level of chaos in order to learn which brush strokes are art and which are mistakes. 

Sometimes falling is flying. 

OFO

 

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Stranger in a Strange Land

Fog.

I’m an immigrant. 

1st generation. 

But not the obvious kind. You’d be hard pressed to identify me in a crowd of Americans as someone who was born in another country. 

I don’t pronounce words with any discernible lilt or lisp. My clothing is more along the lines of a GAP ad than what you would find at your local international farmer’s market. 

I spent my formative years in America, and could talk more about the Kardashian’s rise to fame than I could perhaps elucidate on the post-war post-independence condition of my fatherland. 

With all of that being said..

The cultural thumbprints of “home” linger. 

I see it in the difficulty I have navigating some of the culture of 2018 America. Being African means that I didn’t have to deal with some of the baggage that African-American’s had to deal with. This can lead to confusion when I look at my path and compare it to theirs.  

I see it in my struggle with dating. Trying to find someone who understands my unique history and the views I have is somewhat more difficult for people who have not had the immigrant experience. 

Trying to figure out what aspects of my culture are helpful and should be kept and what aspects can be modulated and mixed with more progressive viewpoints is mildly annoying. I try to use a rational framework to decide what to keep vs. throw away. It’s not always an easy task. I think respect for elders translates well across all cultures, but there are other features that don’t make the transatlantic trip as easy. 

What’s even more difficult is that you’ve been raised in a place that automatically separates you from your home country via distance. You are not in the strictest senses African and yet, not quite American. You spend a good portion of your life, feeling a bit like an outsider in both groups. Each group has a claim to your heart but neither seem to allow you a perfect fit. There is always the faint reminder that “s/he’s not really one of us.”

And maybe, this is more a personal, but I suspect that it is the same for all immigrants who emigrate at a young age. 

There are of course, choices that can be made to ameliorate these issues. The most common is to fully adopt the culture of your new home. This is probably the most commonly chosen for those of us who arrive in America at an early age.

Because truthfully, it’s easiest to adapt when you are young. You can disguise or destroy any accent you have. You can adopt the slang, mannerisms, clothing styles, and learn what the social cues and practices are. Often because you’ve made an (unconscious) study of the new culture you’ll understand the unwritten rules in a way that even natives don’t quite grasp. 

The problem is that you’ll have something to compare the new culture to. You’ll grasp the hypocrisies and see the places where your new home falls short. You’ll be bewildered as to why your new home does things the way that they do. And when you go back to your fatherland, you’ll see the inefficiencies and foibles that live there. 

Being an immigrant, I think, is a good place for an introvert. You get to live in two different worlds at the same time. It is as close to as super power as I think I’ll ever get.


“The truth is, immigrants tend to be more American than people born here.” 
― Chuck Palahniuk, 

Choke

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Being Seen

I’m an introvert. 

This usually means that I prefer to stay out of the spotlight. When I hear about solitary confinement, I don’t always think of it as a punishment. 

This is a problem, because, I think, I want to do great things. And I want to be admired for them. (tough writing that last sentence, but its true, who doesn’t?)

I want to inspire others and be inspired to do even greater things. 

This will be require that I be seen. Sometimes judged, and sometimes fail in the full view of others. 

I think building integrity and bravery around all the things in my life, not just the things I’m proud of, will lead to much more authenticity and a life that is more cohesive. 

Fly or Fall, 

OFO

Strive. And often Fail. But it’s ok. Just be yourself. 
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Artiste.

Art. 

&

Creation. 

These are fancy words. My analytical mind has a hard time making space in my brain for the realization that this might be what is missing from my life. 

It’s funny to think that thinking isn’t the solution. 

Instead it’s making. For an over-analyzer it always seems to catch me by surprise when I get around to creating and the next morning get the opportunity to look back at the product of my labors. It doesn’t matter what I’ve created, it only matters that I actually made something. 

I think I’m going to try to do a quick mini-challenge – starting at 5 days, then hopefully growing it week to week until its a everyday practice so that everyday I’m creating. 

I think that I get continually fooled by the messaging that more success will fill up the holes inside of us. 

It doesn’t.

So I work harder, read more, and generally plot on how I can reach some imaginary end point…which funny enough, seems to retreat into the horizon, the closer I get to it. 

Obviously a change is required. 

So here is to day #1. 

FOF

OFO

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