Getting Perspective

italy panorama

I’ve felt solid with myself lately after a few heavy years of change, but a bit stagnant in my new skin. My content management work at LinkedIn has been busy recently, just as I’ve also been focusing most of my free evenings recording an upcoming album project.  It’s been quite a blur this last 6 months of fumbling forward into my newfound full-time single dad life.

The first week of July – vacation time – was always blocked out in my calendar for a vacation, but all things considered I went a little bigger this year and booked a 2-week sojourn for my son and I across Italy and France starting on the 4th of July.  Kaboom.

Perfectly sandwiching itself between the United States’ Independence Day on the 4th, and the 14th de Juilliet (Bastille Day/French Independence Day), it presented an equally poignant shift between cultures.  For my son Devin, having not yet left the States, it was an eye-opening experience – speaking in broken sentences in languages he didn’t understand, adapting to strange and different local and cultural norms quickly, leaving his all-too-comfortable preconceptions of the world behind like footprints.

The trip certainly netted us both a truckload of fresh perspective.
In so many ways.

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Empathy, and Empaths

static and chaos, aka foam

For most of my life, I could never explain these waves of foreign feelings that would consume me out of nowhere. “You’re just overly sensitive,” people would say. Intuitive. Insightful. Sharp. But I knew something deeper was going on, and unfortunately for decades I’ve hid it, instead letting myself believe that I was just a little introverted, a little twitchy, a little off. Empathy is a strange topic for those of us who have abnormal levels of the sense. I’m only just now beginning to realize the depths to which it (can and) has affected me through my lifetime- both for the good and the not-so-much.

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Humility

humility

“Finish him,” the voice inside me said. The hulking late-teenager facing me may have been a brown belt to my white, but I had an extensive-yet-rusty set of kung-fu skills from my late teens/early twenties and wasn’t going to let him get the best of me.

I’d already won the fight. Young and brash, he’d pushed the offensive and showcased all his flashiest moves to intimidate me.  Being older and wiser, I let him run himself into a sweaty, panting mess of carefully-masked frustration. Yet in the split second of opportunity as I saw his chest and throat open up, I abandoned my wisdom and the safe win. Instead, I opted for the show-stopping, Mortal Kombat-style finishing move to teach him a lesson. And I ended up teaching myself my biggest lesson in humility to date.

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Remembering Jesse

Jesse climbing

Today would have been my nephew Jesse’s birthday.  We lost him due to still-undetermined medical reasons in his sleep, late last year.  The unexplained cause of his death makes it all the more unsettling, unresolved.  I’ve had to process a lot of loss over the last few years but Jesse’s death may have been the final straw, bringing me lower than I’ve been in decades.  I write to heal, and this is no exception. However, I’m writing this a few days earlier and scheduling it, as my hopes are to be somewhere along the coast with Devin at sunset to wish Jesse a happy birthday by the ocean he loved so much.

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Creature of Habit

“You’re a creature of habit,” she said, setting the same old soup and salad combo I always order at the bar in front of me with a flourish.  “It’s a great habit,” I retorted.  And it was a pretty fantastic pairing, no doubt.  Best soup and salad in town.

But that’s beside the point- it was still a pretty obvious habit of mine. Performed by an obvious creature of habit. Ouch. That feels like a lesson coming on.

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Equinox

equinox sand swirls

I woke up suddenly around 3:30am this morning.  It wasn’t just a minor stirring amidst the sheets, a quick mid-sleep water break or dazed round-trip to the bathroom.  My eyes came fully open and my head was clear, although my thoughts were anything but.  I’d gone to bed early after my Sunday rehearsal and a quick dinner. However, despite pleasant company throughout I felt unsettled and withdrawn the whole evening, and not in a particularly social mood.  Some words I’d spoken still hung in my ears:

“I feel like a stone in the eye of a tornado.  Like I’m barely holding onto balance while everything around me goes crazy. And I mean batshit crazy.”

At that moment, I hadn’t made any connections between that phrase to any other particular event or circumstance. There’s been an awful lot on my mind over the last couple years, and I know at times things have seemed a little scattered. It’s been sometimes hard to put a finger on exactly which brush fires are causing me the most heat, generally speaking. But when I looked at the calendar again things started to come more into focus.

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