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Posted by james on Aug. 29, 2002
<span style="color:gray;">This is how it usually feels late at night... slow, dreary, <a href="../music/playlist-pedro-finish-line.m3u">pedro</a>.</span>
Occasionally, when I'm feeling a little crazy, I like to stay up really late.
I've got this funny kind of smile on my face because I know that's not true. At least not the first part. I stay up late all the time, occupying myself with anything. Sometimes I'd rather watch the worst reruns on TV of all the stuff that convinces me that America is a lost cause (for example, any sit-com on TV ever) or clean my room, rather than go to bed. I get to thinking why I do this all the time...
The first thing that comes to mind is that I have a certain creative cycle. I can feel it, and I know when it's coming on. Certain nights I'll be walking around the house, and then about midnight it'll hit; I need to do something creative. And I take it. I've learned to run with things like that, because if I sit down later when I have enough free time to do anything I want, the inspiration is gone. So I'll stay up until 6 in the morning, when the little birds can feel the sun coming around the horizon and let everyone know about it, while I construct random little trinkets out of cardboard and duct tape, and occasionally some wire coat hangers (which are really fun). Creativity... what a funny thing.
That's the light side of things. But recently I've found another reason why I stay up late. Lately I've been turning my life around in small ways... I've started eating right (that's a lie, but it's close enough to true). I've started seeing the sun at least once a day. I'm trying to help out around the house, even the things I really don't like doing. I've been trying to fight my laziness. And I've been trying to get to bed earlier.
But I've also lain in bed, staring at nothing for hours. I realize that one reason why I stay up is because I can never get to bed. I can remember when I was little I would lay down in bed with my eyes open, starying at the wall in darkness and listening to the sounds of my family falling asleep. I could tell by their regular breathing that they had fallen asleep minutes after they went to bed. I, however, would lay there for much longer, wondering why I never could simply sleep. Later, when I was in high school, I would look out my window at the city lights below me and pretend that they were stars above a sea, and start imagining what it would be like to fly, or be the popular kid at school, or admit my feelings for some girl I had a crush on.
And now, I lay awake thinking. My mind is always thinking about things whenever it has enough free time to do so. I laid in bed for 3 hours one night not even particularly worried about any specific event, but still I spent the entire 3 hours with my mind racing. It's as if my mind is a run away train, and any time it doesn't have some occupying task chaining it down, it takes off on a course all it's own. I can't shut it off, I can't calm it down. And when that happens, I can't sleep. There are things that never quite settle down in my mind, and when my mind is free it always goes back to that old closet, digs up the things most important that I've been keeping there happily stowed away, and starts trying to show each one to me. It goes through all the familiar arguments, runs over bulleted lists of the pros and cons that I've already checked over and signed. And it keeps jumping from one worry to another; there's so many to choose from.
My friend and I had a joke that the TV was where your mind turned completely off, and your brain chooses not to think at all. It's explains why I used to sit on the couch and watch TV, anything at all until my eyes stung and the hunger pains reminded me that the light coming into the room was tomorrow's light and I'd stayed up too long. As long as I'm doing something mindless, I don't have to think and don't have to worry. Maybe that's normal for being in a transitional stage, as I am. But I know there are so many things that race through my mind, and sometimes it's all I can do to shake my head, put those worries back in the closet, and push my mind into another mindless task to gain a moment of peace.
Posted by james on July 25, 2002
I love the song "Yellow" by Coldplay. It always makes me feel a certain way, think of certain things...
One day, back in high school, I was standing in the TV room of my family's house in front of a very frustrated father. It was mid-term time, and again I'd gotten myself into a mess. I wasn't doing so well in classes and it was because of simple things. I just hadn't done my work, even though it was so easy to do. And my father just couldn't understand why I wouldn't do the simplest things to help myself out. I remember him asking me, "Don't you care?"
I'd almost answered, "Of Course," when instead I paused and thought about it. And I realized something; that I really didn't care. I didn't care at all about school or doing well, and that was the thing that crippled me. If I was going to improve at all, I knew I had to figure out a way to motivate myself. Since then, motivation has been such a big deal in my life. I know that without knowing why I'm doing something, I find it very hard to do it well.
So now I'm in an interesting position in life; college is gone, jobs loom ahead, and I don't know where I fit. I miss the Dominican Republic so much because I knew why I woke up every day. Now, I don't. I can set myself goals; today I will get a new car battery. Tomorrow, I will find my guitar and play my songs. But where am I going? People around me are heading off to the goals and plans they've set, jobs and new states, weddings and missions. I have opportunities, but no direction, and it is a confusing place to be. I know where I would like to go, yet there are good reasons for staying here, so I figure there must be some other good reason I'm still here; some overall purpose that makes being here worthwhile. But somehow, it feels like I still don't know what that is.
So for now, I'll take these simple, single steps. I don't accomplish things very quickly (as anyone will tell you), but if I take one or two steps a day eventually I'll get somewhere. For now, I'll walk with my head down and a blue stone in my hand, and my eyes on the one or two steps in front of me that I can see. And I'll try not to fret too much about the others that I can't.
Posted by james on July 14, 2002
The other day I was walking in Newport with a friend, around sunset. Across a street corner, I could see a woman with a walking stroller trying to get a paper from a vending machine. As we approached the corner I could see that she was taking longer than usual to get her paper. When we were close enough, I could overhear her talking to her baby. She looked like she was giving up, then she sighed and said she would have to come back later. She mentioned something about finding out when the yard sales were in the paper for tomorrow. Something struck me, and I offered her some quarters. She was glad, said all she had were canadian quarters. We made a trade, and she tried to figure out how much she still owed me since the canadian quarters were worth less. I laughed and shrugged it off, and we continued on our way. She hollered thanks at me as we walked down the street.
There are certain things that make me feel like a little kid. They make me feel vulnerable, when a simple thing has made me sad, if only for a moment. I imagined being in the midst of a hectic day, trying to get what little I can done since there's no way I'll get it all done by myself. And in the middle of this, while I'm out relaxing for the small amount of time I have, I'm not even able to buy a simple paper and I know I'll have to make another trip back as soon as I get home. And I imagined how in that single moment I'd feel sad and disheartened, like a kid with a fallen ice cream cone. It's such a small thing, it doesn't even make sense.
I don't know if that woman was having a hectic day, or if she felt that way about not being able to get a newspaper. But I'm glad I could do such a simple thing to help her out. I hope someone can do that kind of thing for me someday, when I look with downcast eyes at something that has, just for a moment, broken my spirit. And I hope someone would help my mom out if she needed some quarters.
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