Thursday, June 22, 2017

Talking With the Dead

I was scrolling through my phone yesterday, while on one of my daily walks I take. It's a ritual of mine I've had for years.  I set aside time in the morning and afternoon to get outside, stretch my legs and clear out my thoughts. This time has come to be invaluable for my self-esteem and overall well-being. Yesterday I happened to find myself in my contacts list on my phone, which I rarely ever find myself in. While I was in there I noticed the myriad of numbers of people whom I no longer had contact with, many for several years.

In the spirit of clean up and declutter, I decided to sift through all the numbers. The idea was daunting at best; I had 1,000's of numbers saved (that's not an exaggeration). I didn't even know where I would start or if I could finish while staying sane. But it also felt like the right thing to do. Lately, I've been going through my closets, both emotional and physical, and getting rid of what I don't need. It seems like a necessary thing to do regularly to maintain any sense of balance.

So here I am, sweating profusely in the 95° weather as oncoming traffic watches, scrolling through my contacts list, deleting numbers left and right. The person whom I asked out as a nervous return missionary from the yogurt shop. Gone. The parent of a child who I supervised while performing humanitarian work in the Dominican Republic. Deleted. That person I home taught while going to school at BYU. Sianara. I honestly think I only ever saw her once anyways.

I was on a high, saying goodbye to all these numbers of people who no longer served a purpose for my life. Like the way Leslie Knope comically described eating a brownie she thought was loaded with pot (see Parks & Rec Season 2, Episode 2). It just felt good. Really really good.

Then I came to another number I hadn't seen for years. But this one was different than the rest. This number I hesitated to delete. This number was my Dad's:

I was speechless. I still am, really.

Here it was. My Dad. Not even that but it was my dad's number with his face right with it. Like he was still here. Like he never left. The number he used to call me from, always in a hurry. Anyone who knows my Dad knows that if there was ever a word to describe him, it was: Efficient. He did not like wasting your time or his. I don't think I ever had more than a 30-second phone call with him on the phone. He was so "efficient" that when the time came to hang up the phone, he would never even say "goodbye". He'd just hang up.

It's been 2 1/2 years since my Dad's passing. And seeing his number again for the first time in years, it brought me back. And a big part of me in that moment wished I could go back. Even if just for a moment. To be able to call that number and hear my Dad answer on the other line. Even if it was just to say "Hello Bryan, How are you", in his very strong but sincere tone. A moment ago I was riding a high and racing through life, and now, I felt humbled. Bewildered really. Was it respectful of me to delete my Dad's number and move on, or was it better to keep his number there for safe keeping? Just have it there, because what harm would it do?

I know my Dad loved me.

No one more than myself needs to remind me of the issues my Dad and I both had, up until he died. Issues that felt defeating and otherwise insurmountable. Issues that nearly cost me taking my life.

But he loved me. And acknowledging where I am now, from where I was while he was alive. I feel closer to him now than I did then. I can actually think of him or "talk" to him and not be afraid by that. And as crazy as that sounds, I'm really glad. I'm really glad for my own sense, that I can now benefit from my Dad's influence, rather than feel hindered by it.

I miss you Dad. You were a remarkable man who loved greatly. And my life is all the better because of it.

So for now, I've decided to delete his number from my phone. I can't call it again and ever hear his voice on the other end. I won't ever have another phone call where my Dad reminds me to get home and clean my boxes in the basement. I won't ever see him physically again and look at me with pride, like he used to, knowing that he didn't have to say anything. He saw how precious and worthy I was of his affection.

But in my own metaphysical world, I've been able to find other ways to connect and talk with him.

And that's making all the difference for me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Self Insight

Hi There.

For any of you who followed my blog previously may be able to presume, much has changed for me since my last post. I don't feel the need to cover the details leading up to those changes, as I'm sure those who were curious to know anyways have already come to their own conclusions. That works ok for me. Life is a constant progression of thoughts and experiences and I am no longer the same person I was before. I wouldn't want it any other way for myself, or for any of those who are reading.

What I do hope to convey in this blog post are some of the insights that have benefited me, from my experiences, both dark & cheerful, that I've had. I don't see myself making blogging a regular thing again, at least in the same light I went about it before. I prefer to keep my more vulnerable thoughts and feelings for more intimate settings, where I'm able to control the narrative in a healthier fashion. I do however find meaning in sharing the ideas and beliefs that shape my life in an open setting like this, which I find more valuable anyhow.

 I wholeheartedly believe the ideas I share will benefit anyone looking to improve their lives and feel happier with themselves. And I'm grateful that to this point I've been able to surrender what was needed, in order to gain such understanding. The past 2 years have not been easy. In spite of this, I can say with sincerity I am happier, more loving and more devoted than I feel I've ever been. So without further adieu, I'd like to share the self-insight I've recently acquired:

1. There will always be people who care, no matter what happens. While my own relationship with myself should always come first, the relationships with those who care should be the ones I value next highest.
2. Self- love should always be the top priority. I can't fix the world's problems and it's selfish of me to think I can. Doing so will only make me worse off. The healthiest way to change the world is to change myself.
3. The best medicine to prevent mental/emotional exhaustion is to stake a step back and breathe. Be in the moment. Allow the moment to be as it is, without feeling the need to fix it.
4. It's human nature to develop coping mechanisms when dealing with struggle, whether good or bad. My primary coping mechanism is to over compensate when I feel insecure about the situation or problem. This mechanism only ever ends up making things worse off for me and exhausting me of my resources needed for survival. 
5. It's important to surround myself with people who help me recognize the ways in which I inflict self-harm and remind me to get out of my head & follow point #3 above.
6. I should be more confident in myself and not doubt my instincts, nor seek validation from others. Validation from others is cheap currency and low-quality happiness.
7. The more I allow myself to know myself, the more I allow others to know me, the more I'm able to control what others see/think.
8.  Be secure in believing the best of myself. No other opinion matters.
9. The agreement I currently have the most need to work on (of the 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz) is: Not taking anything personally. My life is better when I remember that every person is doing the best they can. 
10. I value sensitivity & kindness above all else. Any other traits and qualities are just ice cream toppings, and should not be considered the base on which to build my sundae (I can't make a post without making a pun referring to my love of ice cream 😄).
11. Kindness (for myself and for others) is the only way I've seen to live a happy and peaceful life.

So, there they are. As I said before, while these past few years have been the toughest years I've yet endured, I am so happy to be where I am now. There has been kindness and love everywhere I've looked for it. And that's a really beautiful thing.