Friday, December 5, 2014

The new Cow-Milk Relationship Philosophy

I was chatting with a friend today about relationships and men's "inability to commit". The old saying "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" came up. More than just sex, many men want the attention and affection that comes with being in a relationship without all the other things that come along with commitment. And as I tried to explain my stance on my own commitment issues, I came up with a clear milk-cow understanding of where I am. 

"I like milk, but I don't crave it. I'll take it if it's offered for free. But if it's not, I'm not buying a cow."

So until I start craving it or I meet a cow that does way more than gives milk, I'll just drink water. 

Side note: I expect the highest quality, even if it's free. I'm not a charity case. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The light in the glass box

There are certain things that I have to face as an expressive person. The second biggest of those things is being mis-understood. the biggest is actually being understood and harshly judged by the people who love you. I straddle the line of two different worlds. I am not connected enough to popular culture to desire to create popular art (thing that get you “likes” and “shares”). But I am also not disconnected enough to be unconcerned of how my artistic expression will be perceived by the majority. The very fact that I can have an idea and immediately categorize it as “weird” is a result of having one foot inside of the pop culture box. 

The unfortunate result is an enormous amount of self- censorship that occurs in my creative process. Thousands of ideas left unexplored, hundreds of pictures kept private, scores of writing that has never been read and videos that never reach any eyes. And these things go unexpressed not because of the possible reaction from strangers, but the perception from the ones I love most.

Sometimes I feel as tho having such strong approval and support can be a double edged sword. It’s a cherished and incredibly valuable possession but it has also been my bondage. The fear of losing that admiration and support keeps me from expressing my growth. I know for sure that they love the boy I was; I don’t know how they will accept the man that I am now.  But the act of holding on to person they have placed such pride in, only reinforces in my mind that who I really am will be a disappointment. 

Today, I found out that an old friend of mine passed away. Without knowledge of the events that took her out of this world at such a young age, I immediate froze up upon hearing the news. There was an overwhelming feeling of mortality and pointlessness. Instantly, the task I was doing at that moment felt completely pointless in the grand scheme of life. 

My mind spiraled; How much about who she really was did we all know? How much of her true essence was kept as a secret within herself? How much of the beauty that laid within did she take with her? Was the world deprived of any bit of her greatness or did it seep thru her pores like light trying to be contained in a glass box. What if I die now? What would have been the point of all this censorship? So that I can have a great eulogy and a standing room only funeral? What’s the point of people looking up to you if they don’t really see you? Or do they actually see me better than I see myself? Have they seen the light poking thru and have been waiting for me to shine brighter? 

I have tip-toed the line of unrestricted expression many times. Yet still, I don’t cross the line. I hope the fear leaves me and I find the bravery to show the world thru my eyes or not show it at all. I feel that this current selective display is dishonest as an artist. I want to be that light in a glass box. Shining in truth regardless of all circumstances. even when it is completely enveloped, it still shines the same. So that in actuality when people are looking at a plain box, all they really see is the light inside.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Life as a series of choices not a series of chores

It took me a little while to get the motivation to get out of bed and go for a run this morning. Not sure why tho. I know I wanted to run. I like how my day goes after I do. I like how I look when I do it regularly. I had enough sleep. I had enough time. Not sure what was holding me back. 
As soon as I actually started running the reasons for my mental block began to become clear. I found myself starting to wonder “Am I going to be able to complete my usual path since I haven’t ran in a while?”. I wanted to try an additional detour and starting worrying “if I take this way, I probably will not be able to do my regular path also. Should I just stop after the detour and build myself up to doing the whole thing over the next week?” Then came concerns if I would find my way thru this unknown area. Coupled with thoughts of my running pace and if I should slow down so that I don’t have to walk at any point. I was already mentally exhausted less then 2 blocks in.

But then it hit me… I’m running as a choice not as an obligation. There is nothing or no one forcing me to do this. I got myself out of my bed and dressed for the purpose of taking on this task. So now the looming question is “WHY!?”. What is the reasoning behind making this choice? 

I choose to run because it gives me more energy during the day
It also quickly shifts me into a productive gear
Running allows me to be 31 and look like 21
It allow me to simultaneously sort thru my thoughts, create new ones (like this post) and clear my head
And…. I want nice legs. (Which is why I chose to take the detour that had more hills and steps)

So why would I stress about it? I choose to run thru parks and along the river when it’s unpopulated for mental clarity. I choose to run in the morning to take the energy into the rest of my day. All these choices are for a direct purpose but I still managed to be weighed down with worry. Then I thought, so what if I don’t finish and cut the route short? So what if I walk? So what if I have to turn around because I hit a dead end? None of these things has any bearing on my reasons for this endeavor. Worrying about things that may never come was simply a waste of energy that I could be using to get a better run or finding enough clarity to solve some of the worlds most pressing problems. 

Half way thru I realized how this same pointless worrying had manifested in my daily life. Everything in my life is a result of a choice that I made. The point where I start getting frustrated with my circumstances is when I have made choices without a reason that resonates with who I really am or I have forgotten why I made my choices in the first place. On occasion I have  let popular culture decide for me instead of searching for my true desires in a decisions. I have made choices in my career in the pursuit of financial freedom then somehow got lost in the acquiring of stuff, bringing me further away from my goal. Then the 9-5 that was meant to serve as an opportunity became a burden. I hated going to work everyday because I forgot the purpose for my choice. 

As I neared the end of my run, I realize that this is true for all areas of my life. If I make choices based on my deepest desires, it keeps them from feeling like a chore. I instantly starting reminding myself of the reasons that I made certain choices in my life. Now it is up to me to analyze if those reasons are still applicable today. The beauty is that I can always choose differently if something isn’t serving my higher purpose. 

Needless to say, my run ended with a smile on my face. I even sprinted uphill the last leg of the route. I found myself excited about the tasks that I had waiting for me when my run was over simply because I remembered what the end goals were. So I take this simple truth into the remainder of my day; “Life is a series of Choices not a series of chores”.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Truth- "Living like there is no tomorrow"

BLP! The “Best Life Possible” has been my mantra for the past few years. Like many others, I used to think it was defined by uninhibited moments of indulgence. Throwing caution to the wind and having grand experiences. But many times I had a deep feeling that the BLP I adopted was somewhat of an impostor; simply an avoidance of reality under the guise of “living life to the fullest”. After periods of uninhibited living, I was often greeted by periods of regret. Some of the greatest minds agree on the importance of living in the now, so how could it not be a truth? Why is it that when we “live like there is no tomorrow”, we feel anxiety when tomorrow actually comes? We feel the pressure of tasks left undone, bills left unpaid, relationships left unclosed.

Indulgence, in any form, can not erase the stresses of our lives. It can only reschedule them and strengthen them. You have a great time tonight, then anxiety greets you at your doorstep like the morning paper. But which one is stronger; the joy of losing inhibitions or the stress from unresolved challenges? As days pass, the stress builds; it grows. In order to compensate, your indulgence increases. But there are only but so many amazing bottles of wine, only but so many decadent meals. Substances can only get you but so high. Our purchases can only provide but so much comfort. Sex can only bring but so much pleasure. And still the pressure caused by our avoidance grows. Even long walks in the park can cause the pressure to grow if it is used as a tool of avoidance. It’s not the activity that is harmful; it’s the purpose behind the indulgence.

This is how people who live such stereotypically fabulous lives can be so burdened with depression. They live for today without knowing what that truly means. Living our life to the fullest does not look like what we think it looks like. Eating amazing food at a five star restaurant while having an amazing bottle of wine (something I personally enjoy) is not living life to the fullest. It’s a scene from a movie about living life to your fullest! Many people do not take the time to reflect and figure out what their best life really looks like and just we adopt the pre-packaged marketed version. 

In contrast, when fulfilled and you partake in that amazing bottle of wine, the sweetness comes from knowing that you have put in the work to be able to afford it without worrying about costs. It’s knowing that there is nothing else that you are putting off doing at that moment. The enjoyment comes from not having to overindulge to drown out deferred anxiety. Joy is birthed from what you have done to create that moment. Enjoyment without creation is fleeting. It’s just a glimpse of what you could have as your reality. Then you wake up in the morning to find yourself even further back than where you started yesterday. And the cycle of frustration continues.

But there is your answer. Your BLP is about creation. Visualizing the person you want to be and walking that path; Not taking a short cut. The real secret is that the path is the pleasure, The destination, your tomorrow, is just the culmination of your many todays. The vision of your BLP  is just the proverbial carrot on a stick. Your true BLP is grander than you can currently imagine. Getting to your “destination” would be far more inferior to where the path will actually lead you. When you jump to the destination, you are just living a version of someone else's creation. You miss the connection. You miss the point. It’s empty. The beauty of the path is constantly being created by the steps you take.

The first step is to unearth the truth. Think of all your stresses, your items on a back burner, the things you don’t like about your life. Bring them front and center. You can’t avoid what is staring you in your face. Being aware allows you to make choices that free you from your burdens and moves you toward your desires. Freedom is the Best Life Possible. Not freedom from Indulgence but freedom to indulge truly uninhibited. But at this point, your indulgence will not be as they were before. You will wake up to new opportunities instead of old problems. This constant growth fosters limitlessness. You will not need to worry about tomorrow because it will have no choice but to fall in place; allowing you to truly live in the moment.

After all these years of trying to figure out the balance, it turns out that the two are one in the same. Living in the moment and preparing for tomorrow are different names for the same path OF happiness. We just have to walk it. One glorious step after the next.

-H. Alex Sanchez

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lent for the Non-Christian

I  was raised as a good catholic boy. I mean catholic school, 3 masses a week, cross carrying acolyte kind of good catholic boy. Outside of the lingering instilled "Catholic Guilt"(it is a real thing!), most people who know me today would have no idea of that past self. And it's not that I am a law-breaking, raunchy, vice-indulging person now, it's mainly because my views on religion are on the opposite end of the spectrum from the practice of Catholicism. But that's a whole other posts. 

Lent was always a big deal in the catholic church and for me. As a kid who loved punishing himself for my seemingly major, but retrospectively insignificant, indiscretions (things like inappropriate thoughts and not being nice to someone), I loved the idea of 40 days of self-denial. I felt renewed and refreshed by the idea of being able to change who I was by sheer will and faith. I felt powerful and accomplished by the time Easter rolled around. But even back then, it was more about testing the kind of person I was more so than about the religious aspect. So this year, I decided to tap into that transformative power and observe lent in my own way.

This is the actual church that I grew up in. Holy Cross Catholic Church in St. Croix, USVI

Self-denial is all fine and dandy, but somehow it doesn't feel like enough. I am not a man of vices, so giving anything up is not enough of a challenge. I go months without drinking just because I don't feel like it, so that will be easy. I have been vegetarian, pescetarian and vegan for extended periods in my recent past, so giving up meat will be a breeze. As for sex.... my parents may read this so I will refrain for going into detail about my sex-life... But I can give that up too (don't assume that means I am getting it in now, mom). I don't like television, I don't do drugs and I rarely partake in the other common abstentions. So what is the answer?

SUBSTITUTION! Since not doing something is easy for me.. How about actually doing something!? So here is what I have decided on:

Instead of drinking alcohol, I will drink 8 glasses of water a day
Instead of watching TV- I will read at least 30 minutes a day
Instead of talking more, I will listen more
Instead of sex (still not admitting that I do this activity... mom), I will work on strengthening friendships
Instead of lounging idle- I will workout daily
Instead of eating sweets, I will eat fruit
Instead of accumulating any new things, I will purge all the unnecessary clutter from my life

This will be a much more difficult undertaking. But I am relying on a few tools to help me thru.
1. Friends- I am going to rope a few people into doing some of these things with me. 
2. Technology- I downloaded the app "Lift" this morning and it provides goal tracking with a community of people moving toward the same goals. I have thousands of people to be encouraged by and give encouragement to.
3. YOU!- Once I publish this post, all my readers are now holding me accountable. I don't want to be a liar or a failure, so I am more motivated to make this happen simply by putting it out there.

Lent is a "season of spiritual preparation". I believe that such preparation is essential for moving into the next life. I just don't believe that the next life has to happen after we die. In this current existence, we can add the things that serve the grandest idea of who we are and subtract the things that don't. We can evolve on a daily basis. In honor of the Christian believe of Jesus' transforming from the flesh representation to the son of man to the resurrected savior of the human race, I am observing lent. Some may see this as blasphemy since I, myself am not a Christian. But just because I may not believe in the religion, doesn't mean I can't believe in its messages and principles. 

Lent officially starts tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. It will not be easy, but I am counting on that. I would love to hear some of the things you all are giving up for Lent. 

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