A Brief History of Brody and a short story

kylestewart09

Artwork by Kyle Stewart (http://www.kylestewart.ca/)

It looks like I haven’t posted since April and there’s good reason for that (which I’ll get into). I don’t usually talk too much about my personal life on this blog, but I recently had a talk with a friend about transparency in your life and how it brings out authenticity. So, I’ll give you a run down on what’s been going on.

In November, I went through what I call a “meltdown”. I sum it up as being an accumulation of stressors that haven’t been handled with. It seems hypocritical of me to have a blog about the different mental tools to avoid such things, but in truth, I lost all of these mental tools as a result of losing everything around me. I had lost my house, my wife and the life I had been working towards in a matter of days. The shock sent me catapulting downwards as I wasn’t able to adapt to the single life quickly enough (probably from the loss of my mental tools). There were a few other key stressors that followed and several personal revelations, but the point is that I wasn’t able to cope anymore even though I had spent most of my years developing these coping tools for such an instance. That’s why I initially started this blog. It was to document and also to share the coping tools that I’ve lost during this trauma period. Slowly, one by one, they started coming back to me, but it wasn’t easy. It was like being thrown back into pre-adolescence and trying to figure everything out all over again. Me, you, the world. Because all of my pre-conceived notions of the world tumbled down, I was able to see myself (and therefore life) a bit clearer. In Zen, they say that the beginners mind is a masters mind and though I didn’t have much say in the events that happened to me, the result was the same (not saying I’m a master here, just that my brain’s emptier :P). I’m still always learning and so I value any input you might have.

I stopped writing in April because I was going through a series of insomnia attacks followed by a drawn out physical depression (my mind was fine, but my body wouldn’t work). This I believe was a direct cause of the “meltdown”. I had to move back to my parents house during this period and have gone to the point where I couldn’t work either. It seemed like I tried everything at that time. All medications from pharmaceuticals to natural remedies. Nothing worked. That’s when I got really desperate and did a lot of research. Apparently, I’ve been doing a “half assed” version of meditation before then and I was barely skimming the “deeper” levels. I started doing Zazen (properly this time) twice a day for twenty minutes each time. After a week, I started to feel normal again and after 2 weeks I was able to start working. After all this, I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to function the way that I used to and will be relying entirely on meditation. Since then, I’ve managed to live in my own apartment and I’m working on my career. So, all things considered, I’m doing pretty good for myself and I’m now in a place where I can start writing again.

In an attempt to be more authentic as a person, I want to alter the blog a little bit. I used to try to keep my articles as short and zen-like as possible, but I need to be honest with myself, I’m not a zen master from the 14th century and I like being able to fully explain a concept so that it can be better understood (which means longer articles). I’ll aim for bi-weekly articles, but I make no promises (I do this for fun after all :P).

I’ll keep writing if you keep reading.

kylestewart05

Artwork by Kyle Stewart (http://www.kylestewart.ca/)

I have a friend who wrote me a short story about what it would be like if I were to step into her mind. I wrote her a response, basically on what it would be like for her to travel in my mind. I figure since this is one of my more unusual blogs, I may as well end it by posting the short story that I wrote. Here it is:

She came in with a thud. The space that encapsulated her was dark and ephemeral as though the air was made of charcoal which constantly moved, shifting from side to side. The chamber she landed in had no distinct walls or surfaces, but if she tilted her head a certain way, she could see that she was inside a giant sphere. She could see this because of the light of stars shinning through. Nebula, galaxies and millions of stars were all barely visible, but could be detected the same way as a fish might be able to detect the reflection of the moon. Fear set over her because of the unfamiliarity of the place, but soon she was able to calm herself and that’s when she noticed that the charcoal air would form pockets or bubbles of clearing. Her curiosity grew as she drew closer to the pockets and she would begin to ask herself questions about her situation and what was happening around her. Suddenly, her mind began to wander and she remembered. Floods of memories passed through her like rushing water without any boundaries or restraints. As soon as this happened, a glimmer of light began to shine in the center of the pocket which was then followed by a projection of the memories being played by her own mind.

This startled her but she could not run because the fascination that grew inside her, paralyzed her. The opalescent pocket grew as she stared into it more and more till it took up a large section of the dome. The stars beyond the dome could be clearly seen now and the periphery became visible. The dome chamber had become completely engulfed in her memories and this brought up a wave of sadness as she viewed the events that influenced her life. She collapsed into a fit of tears and the sobs of her own voice brought her no comfort, but the sadness within herself was soothing since it was a familiar emotion that made her feel safe and at home. Her vision was blurred as she finally looked up and a specter or shadow could be seen walking closer to her. Although the idea of a strange specter walking nearer would normally terrify her, she didn’t feel afraid. As the stranger approached, he transformed from a giant shadowy stick figure to what looked to be a scratchy drawing of a human figure. Jagged lines rolled around him to create the illusion of a body and slowly a face had started to emerge. Eventually, the lines became smoother and more fluid and the specter became a hyper-realistic drawing of a man.

He asked “How did you get here? I didn’t think anyone would come”. She was surprised, but kept calm, responding “I don’t know, but were you expecting someone?”
“I wasn’t expecting, just hoping. This place is hard and sometimes cruel, but it’s also beautiful in how complex it is. I was hoping someone would come to take the edge off from living in this place”

As soon as he said this, bright green grass began to form around his feet and ankles. He raised his hands up and small blue flowers started growing in patches around where his hands were. He looked at her with a dreary stare and said “I’m the master here. I have complete control over everything that happens.” He looked downward and the greenery around him unraveled and disintegrated till it all disappeared. “So, how did you get here?” he demanded. “I told you, I don’t know”. He tilted his head to the side in a manner that suggested he was contemplating something deeply. “There are other domes around here. You can only see them if you know how and I know they’re there because I can feel them. I think we’re all connected together and so every once in a while when a connection is strong enough, they meet. It’s been a long time since someone was here with me”. A look of shock overcame him as he stumbled over his words “c-could I…umm…offer you some tea?”. She smiled at the drawing of a man

“I’d love a cup”.

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The Truth About Truth

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Artwork El Curiot by Jeff

 

If you’re currently reading this blog, chances are, you’ve been thinking along the same lines as I’ve been for a while now. I realize that by typing this out, what I’m essentially doing is preaching to the choir. Some might say that it’s fruitless, but I like to think that maybe I can push you further. So, let me start this by saying, good job guys! Not for reading this blog, but for exploring the world in an unconventional way and getting you to this place. It’s been a hard road I’m sure, what with the criticisms of the character you’ve developed over the years. But, I’ve noticed in my life and in others that it’s usually the hard road that leads you to the truth.

 
Why is that though? Why should the truth be such a hard thing to find? Well, not always, but usually it’s because it’s also the last thing we want to hear or know. It truly hurts to know truths about yourself and it may even lead you into a crisis. Like opening up a can of worms, it just doesn’t stop once it’s been opened.
 
We also project ourselves very badly. We need to build a metaphorical mirror within ourselves to be able to see ourselves correctly. Sometimes, the closest people around you can work this way, but that mirror is always tarnished by their own perspective and not always accurate. This is why we must sit and focus within ourselves to give ourselves that much needed introspection.
 
The way that I’ve learned to build my mirror is by imagining a second self. It’s not empathy, it’s you in a different body. You are that second you and you’re looking at the first you and try to analyze. It’s much easier to criticize other people and seeing their faults, knowing which way would be best for them to go, but it’s much much harder to do that for yourself. So, that’s why I imagine a second me. Though this might sound a bit absurd, it’s really not. It’s a mechanism, a tool that you can use. In a complicated life, it’s best to have many tools. Everyone of those tools serves a purpose. So, go and build yourself an arsenal of tools. You’ll always be human, but you’ll be more prepared for the next thing that comes.