The Embrace

Do you ever just close your eyes and just fade into your own space? A place that's dark and empty but unlike other things that share the same characteristics, this place is comforting. This morning as I walked outside, I closed my eyes, let the gentle snow/water droplets surround my face. A smile kind of cracked on my face and in this darkness I continued walking, toward a now seemingly forgotten destination. Why does that feel so good? Is it because I'm the only one that can be there? Is it because I am entirely myself in that space? The ultimate home for the self?

Then I could see the grass and the concrete all around me. David and I went to the playground so much we still joke about how no humans have taken as many steps on that basketball court as us. Of course no one is at the park on these days. It's raining something heavy and we're laughing at the splashing water of every dribble and undoubtedly this day would end with us lying down on the court and instead of cursing the rain like everyone else, we would embrace it. It was always a rush being the only crazy people out there in the rain. On a few rainy days where Dave couldn't come out, I would still go by myself. The ultimate in loneliness right? Out on an abandoned playground in the pouring rain. It's funny but on those days I felt the most comfortable almost as thought I was not alone. That the world around me was alive. I used to lay down on this concrete ridge near the tire swing. I would close my eyes, take a deep breath and get this feeling that very few things still give me. It put me somewhere. Everyone was inside hiding from the rain. They were scared to come out in the cold. They didn't want to get wet. I was outside basically as one with the rain as someone can get. Now did I feel close to nature or something? I don't know about that but nothing to get to me there. I was alone but at the same time felt like everyone was with me. No distractions, no complications, no worries. It was the rain and me.

How come it's so hard to find those moments as we get older? Do we get so caught up on our jobs and our responsibilities? To be honest, since I've moved out here I've been kind of stressed. It's hard going back to work and realizing that every morning you have to perform. It's stressful to think about bills and maintaining your own place. Guess what I told myself? Get over it. Life is responsibility. Everyday is going to bring some sort of challenge so you can either stress about it all night and be anxious for tomorrow or embrace the few moments you get to yourself.

Most of the people that read my blog are on the younger side I think. Time is only speeding up. I've already been in Chicago for two months. People keep telling me that it seems like I'm really embracing my time here. Am I? I am trying but I need to try harder. In TWO MONTHS I still haven't: walked to Wrigley Field, gone on a run in the snow, gone on a date, worked out enough, finished decorating my place, etc. etc. What do you still need to do? Anything you're being lazy about?

I guess what I'm saying here is at the least is, how do we better enjoy the moments between the sucky-ness? And ideally how do we change our attitude to get through the sucky-ness with our heads high so we can get to the embrace that much faster.

As I look outside the cafe windows, it's still snowing a lot outside. Now maybe it's because I'm still new to the cold. Maybe it's because I don't have to be outside very much today. It's going to rain again. It's going to snow again. You're going to be stuck in the cold or the hot or whatever. You can either fight it and defend yourself against it or you can embrace it as best you can. I have no idea what people reading my blog thing about my posts. I'm not trying to be a overly naive idealist. I'm trying to adjust my attitude to make everyday as productive and positive as possible. I fail miserably most days but the days I make it happen are incredibly sweet and on my walk home today I am definitely going to close my eyes, fade into that comforting darkness, and for that moment embrace that around us which we can't change. Am I the only one?

Dumbtron in the Booth Once More

This weekend was one of the greatest weekends in a long time. Now, by a long time I mean years probably. Rones, Vik, Dede, and Olu came to visit me and the rest of the Chicago homies. So the 7 of us partied like it was 2001 (maybe even harder than that - if that's even possible). I was going to write a lot today but the brain is definitely still marinating in cheap beer.

Here are some pictures of the nuttiness:

Which brings me to something that's been playing around in my brain for sometime now. I will come back with a great blog post tomorrow night but today, I present to you....... The Small World Project.

The Pond on the Lake

Everyday on my drive home from work I would see giant waves crashing up against these steps, that looked like the perfect place to sit and inhale life for a couple peaceful moments. I had been thinking about those steps for about a month until this weekend when I finally made some time to take a walk around my neighborhood (that wasn't a walk to a bar). I circled the pond in front of my place only to see two tiny holes in the sheets of ice where seemingly hundreds of geese were kickin' back and enjoying the water. The scene was magical to say the least. I've never really seen a frozen body of water until this weekend and then to see animals at play on and around it blew my mind. I continued my walk while the squirrels and geese and pretty white birds seemed to be playing all around me. I walked out toward the place where I had seen the waves crashing just a few weeks ago. I couldn't find it. I was pretty confused. I took a closer look. My oh my, straight out of Blue Planet (best nature documentary created by humans) the part of Lake Michigan that had been furiously crashing into the coast was FROZEN! I got a crazy giddy smile on my face as I walked closer. In fact it wasn't entirely frozen but the kind of frozen you see in the North Pole where large chunks of ice are frozen in thinner layers of ice. The only thing that was missing was a polar bear and some seals. I just stood there amazed basically by life. You ever have those moments?That was the most inspiring thing I have seen in quite some time.

That story basically sums up the last month in two ways. First, on a daily basis I have been seeing things for the first time. I've only seen snow like 4 times in my entire life and now I'm living in it. It doesn't stop there though. I have to wear thick jackets, the town I'm living in went to the Super Bowl, beer is a dollar a pint some nights, wings are 10 cents a piece, everyone loves sports and every bar plays sports late into the night (central time!). But on top of these topical changes, I also feel like my eyes are open again for the first time in years. You know when you've been walking down the same streets everyday and then one day you notice that funny door or that gargoyle that you had never seen before? Well I feel that way about EVERYTHING. It's basically like I've been given a new set of eyes and I'm hungry to learn about everything. I'm basically like a toddler than looks around real fast and seems like he has ADD about the world around him.

The second thing that story made me realize is the affect things around us have on the things around us. The cold turns the water to ice and then soon the heat will turn the ice to water and the tide will bring the water to the shore and then the cold will make the water ice again. Before I moved, I became somewhat of a thing that was no longer dynamic. I wasn't letting myself change. I wasn't letting myself be altered by the things around me. It wasn't because of a lack of stimuli but rather because I became so familiar with my environment. Anyway, the same way the sun will melt the ice, we have an affect on one another (is that a stretch?). On my drive to work, I drive by this church that says, "Mistakes are Lessons Too." I smile every morning and then I drive over a bridge that used to say "HONK FOR DA BEARS" which would make me smile again. No matter what kind of mood I am in, those two things make me smile in the morning. I have no idea who put them up but they are having an affect on me every morning.

I've been in Chicago for a month now. I haven't blogged. I haven't been the best about being in contact with people and I don't feel bad about it. I needed the last month to open my eyes again. If I didn't have internet access at all, I bet the last month would have been even more dramatic. I really appreciate all the people that have been asking about me and the people that are missing my blog. Let me tell you, I am still getting settled but I am loving my time so far in Chicago. So when the pond on the lake melts, hopefully I will have evoled just as much as it has. My eyes are open, I'm allowing the little things effect me, and I'm hungry for change. Let's just hope I don't get full too soon.