Sitting and Breathing: Day 5

I’ve considered coming up with more creative titles for these posts, but meh…

Anyway, today went (in my opinion) really well. I felt sort of frenzied beforehand because I’ve imposed a lot of deadlines on myself for getting certain things done (planning to move to Europe and get an advanced degree apparently involves a lot of steps), and today was going to be my day to knock some of those things out.

Given that I work at a bar that doesn’t close until 4am, that usually means I’m not home until at least 5:30am, which means I’m not asleep until 6:30am, which means I’m not awake until 12:30pm. By the time I’ve walked and fed my dog, made coffee and breakfast (lunch) for myself, and settled into any kind of head space for getting things done, it’s already 2pm.

I put my anxiety about my to-do list aside (my realization that it was MLK Day, and many things are closed today helped), and reread the directions for the Letting-Go-of-Thought Meditation on my schedule for today. I put my dog in his kennel, set my alarm for 21 minutes out, and sat, and breathed.

In essence, the task for today was to say, breath to myself on every inhale and every exhale. When a thought or sensation arose – positive or negative – I was to label it not breath and return my focus to the breathing. I found it to be fairly easy to return to my breathing today. I’m not sure if that’s a cumulative effect or today was just a good day, but it was heartening.

Likely as a result of my time in JROTC and ROTC, I have an internal voice that calls me Farrell, and when it chides me it sounds a lot like it’s a drill instructor. Honestly, though, the drill instructor voice was pretty quiet today, and didn’t add much to my experience. The soft-spoken hippie woo woo voice that I’ve developed internally over my years of exposure to counter culture was much more chatty today, and surprisingly, more difficult to shut up.

My mind would wander to things I was upset about, hippie voice would say, “It’s okay that you feel angry.” Then I’d imagine myself in a field lightly scattered with trees, sun shining, wind blowing through my hair, and he’d say, “It’s important to stay in the moment, remember, the point of…”

“Shut up, Hippie! You are ‘not breath!'” I finally told him. Then I laughed, and focused on my breathing again. While I appreciate his input, he makes it difficult to concentrate on a given moment with his kind, considerate prattling on. We get it, you eat organic and recycle, and you dole out self-love like it’s going out of style. Thank you, now shush.

The time seemed to fly by today, which I attribute largely to my attention on each breath component, as opposed to the experience as a whole. I’ve also been able to pepper in some mini-meditations in the past couple days. I’m a doorman at the late-night bar, which means I spend a lot of time by myself in a foyer, staring out a 1′ x 1′ window.

As you might imagine, this allows for a lot of reflection. When I’m not interacting with guests, I spend a lot of time lost in my own thoughts, but last night, I also spent some time here and there just focusing on my breath and on the individual sights and sounds being presented to me. I let them enter and exit my consciousness, then put my attention back on the sensation of inhaling and exhaling (my left nostril is still fucked up, if you were wondering).

Last night, I pondered whether or not my years of exposure to hippies or studying psychology put me ahead of the pack when it comes to self awareness, but I think it ultimately doesn’t make any difference in this endeavor. The truth of the matter is that everyone – from monks to plumbers – can improve on what they’re working with. The practice of meditation is not a cure for the human condition, but a coping mechanism that we can always be better at employing right now. Or now.

Or now. Especially now. Point is, I’m enjoying this.

Clever Title Re: Online Dating

Nothing says, “your life is different than it was” like walking your previously nonexistent dog down a snow-coated alley surrounded by tightly packed brick buildings. It’s so counter to what kinds of things filled my senses four months ago, that it’s comical and jarring and beautiful. On the flip side, nothing says, “your life is the same” like my restless right and left swiping on dating apps.

As it happens, I spend a fair amount of time each day on Tinder or OKCupid doing not much of anything at all. I swipe left and right based solely on a three second judgment of a person’s appearance. Sometimes, if I find their photos particularly attractive, I’ll take a second to read what they have to say about themselves. Then I find myself falling in love (maybe only to a small degree, but that’s definitely what the feeling is) with a person I’ve never met, based on five photos and an elevator pitch.

Brief aside: get your artsy landscape photos out of your profile pictures. That’s what Instagram is for, and you’re slowing down my rapid-fire judgments of a person’s potential for connectivity with your bullshit about flowers. 

Anyway, I don’t spend much time talking to people on dating apps. Presently, I have 215 matches on Tinder and more on OKCupid, and I’m only passively engaged in one conversation and actively engaged in none. I find that my reasons for being on the app as opposed to seeking out dates in a more “traditional” fashion, are the same reasons that I don’t end up actually dating or establishing a meaningful connection with these people – lack of money, lack of time, or lack of emotional currency.

I can’t tell how upset I am about that. I feel like I want a connection with someone. I feel like if my brain is trying to tell me anything with all of its daydreaming, it’s that having a partner would be nice. Then I think about it more, and I find myself wholly satisfied with the quality time I spend with my dog, the quality time I spend on Pornhub (separate quality times), and the quality time I spend with myself, writing or reading or doing whatever random thing pops into my head.

I like this life, and it feels like adding another human to it holds the potential to bring all that enjoyment to a screeching halt. Then I’ll have to deal with a whole other person worth of nonsense, and I just don’t want to. If history is any indicator, I’ll do a complete 180 on that pretty soon and dive headlong into a doomed-from-the-start relationship with someone who would have been perfectly happy having never met me. I’ll make it through about a year of an emotional whirlwind of happiness, anger, and ultimately sadness, and the cycle will start anew. 

Ah well. *SWIPE*

Let’s Talk About Anything Else

It’s Thanksgiving, and given that I’m in Chicago, I won’t be making it to the family dinner this evening. I am, however, a proponent of holiday traditions, so in the spirit of the season, I’ll be submitting my awkward dinner conversation piece remotely today, via blog. 

Thanksgiving 2013. Seriously. How perfect is this?

I’m bisexual. Here’s what that means: I’m attracted to both men and women. It isn’t an even split, though. For example, I have no romantic interest in men. I don’t have any desire to go out on a date with a guy or pursue a longterm relationship with someone who identifies as male. Will I have sex with someone who identifies as male? Absolutely. Happily. But as soon as they start talking about brunch plans, I’m out (actually, I’ll take the brunch, but we’re just friends). 

To clarify: I am not gay. A lot of people (gay and straight alike) seem to be of the impression that being bisexual means that I’m really gay, but that I just haven’t fully come out of the closet. Firstly, who are you? How do you know me? Why do you feel like you can make broad stroke statements about me based on a single identifier, and in doing so, call me a liar? Or if not a liar, then willfully ignorant? I have gone to great lengths to get to know myself, and I assure you, I know myself better than those people know me.

If you don’t know me (yeah, you, random person at a bar), here’s some history on the subject of Sean: I have had multiple, long-lasting, satisfying, passionate relationships with people who identify as women. Is that a fluke? Was I faking joy and happiness and true love in all those instances? Were my feelings lessened by the fact that I think penises are cool, too? I don’t think so.

In fact, I know that I love intimacy of all kinds with women. I regularly find myself lost in daydreams about cuddling and intensely kissing my imaginary partner (usually a real person, but like… someone that was pretty that I saw on a bus once and thought, “I bet we’re soulmates and one day, we’ll run into each other on another bus or train and realize it as we smile at each other with our eyes!”), and in each of those fictions, it is woman on the receiving end of my affection. 

Trust me, I was there when it happened. Or ya know, don’t trust me. Continue with your hard-line thinking if it makes you more comfortable. That’s what you’re going to do, anyway, but now you also have my permission. 

Here’s another thing it doesn’t mean: I do not necessarily agree with everything the pro-LGBT majority espouses. Despite being secular and socially forward in my beliefs, I spent a few years in politics and I pay a fair amount of attention to local, national, and international news. That is to say, I have detailed and nuanced opinions on the world and its goings on. Here’s an idea – if you’re curious about how I feel about a given issue, ask me about it. I’d be more than happy to tell you – I am comfortable being uncomfortably open about my life.

I think I started this without a point (as one starts any uproarious holiday dinner conversation), but what I’ve come to is this: we are all individuals. We were all born under different circumstances, and we all have a lifetime of influences that have lead us to where we are now. I don’t care if you like me (except that as an artist, I desperately need you to like me), but I do care if you’re a douchebag to me or the people I care about. So put on a smile, have another drink, and hug it out.

Now, let’s talk about anything else.