Saturday, December 29, 2012


It has been over a year since I've posted anything on here.  I even went so far as to remove my blog during that time.  The past few years have been very difficult for me, and the past year has been especially difficult.  I can look back on my life and state unequivocally that this has been the worst year of my life by far.  There have been great moments, but they are often overshadowed or tainted by the bad moments. 

I have moved back to Florida and left all I had and knew behind.  I wanted to start my life over.  I knew it would be hard and would be a difficult journey.  I just had no idea how hard it would really be. 

There have been ups and downs, and the shift from each is quite extreme.  I find myself getting my hopes up or getting excited only to be knocked back down.  I keep moving forward, determined to make my own way and be the successful person I once was.  But I find myself questioning everything in my life and my decisions.  Should I do this?  Should I do that?  Is this the right thing?  Is this the right time? 

I've always been one to help and support others and do everything to please everyone. Along the way I have ignored myself and forgotten to make choices that make me happy and are in my best interest.  Ultimately, I find myself living for others and I'm the one who always pays the price.  It is a tough habit to break. 

I wanted to reestablish my blog because I think not writing much the past year has denied me an outlet for my feelings and motions.  Where do I go from here?  I don't know.  I only know that it is time I start living for me. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I'm Back

Blogging will resume soon...I have a wonderful source of inspiration and plenty to share.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

MSP...Do You Have It?

MSP.  My Sensory Perception.  In my last post, Carpe Diem, I took a somewhat lighthearted look at living for the moment.  But, with the death of a close friend’s mother and contemplating the poor health of my father, my thoughts have become more serious over the past week.  From thoughts of dying and living, I began to explore several ideas.  What would you say to a loved one if you knew you would never see that person again?  What would you do if you knew today would be your last?  Have you made each day count?  Have you explored life?  Have you lived?  After nearly a week of struggling to organize my thoughts for several different posts on these ideas, I finally realized there was a connection between the themes I was focusing on. 

As our species and society continue to evolve, we all find ourselves racing through space and time at what seems like an exponentially increasing pace.  Often we lose sight of all that surrounds us.  We never take the time to stop and smell the proverbial roses.  Think about this for a moment.  If you had to describe many of the sensations you experience throughout the course of a day, how well could you convey those experiences?  How well could you describe life?  Could you easily describe the feel of running water rushing over your fingertips?  Could you readily describe the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the sensations that greet you every second of your life?  Most likely you would have to stop and think about it for a while.  In fact, you may even find it necessary to go experience these things and take notes of what you are feeling.
But what if you never got that chance?  The world around us is full of mystery, beauty, and wonder.  It is up to us to take the time to marvel at the beauty of it all and bask in the warmth of its radiance.  You may be surprised at the emotions and sensations you can experience when you try this.  Even the most seemingly simple things in life are the result of complex reactions that would take me and most other people years to comprehend. 
Me?  I am a sensory person.  I am a wonderer and a wanderer.  I am a dreamer.  I get lost in the moment.  I stare in amazement.  As far back as I can remember, just before my third birthday to be exact, I have always felt this way.  As a small child, I was amazed by the world around me.  Then and now I can lose myself for hours just watching, feeling, pondering, and listening to the beauty of it all.  From the smallest of creatures to the brightest of stars, I enjoy it all.  I don’t know why or how.  It was not something that was fostered or encouraged by my parents or anyone else.  None of my brothers are like this.  It is something inside me I cannot explain.  Yet it is such a strong, almost palpable feeling.  I have never been around anyone like me, but I know there are others out there.  Okay, enough of that, lest I start to sound like I am a self-proclaimed prophet or savior of humanity.
By the time I was five years old, my parents had given up their efforts to thwart my “lofty ambitions.”  Climbing.  I’m sure if I were so inclined I could find a word that defines the opposite of a fear of heights.  Such a word would describe me.  I would climb to the top of trees and onto the garage roof late at night to lie on my back and watch the stars, observe the planets, and spot the occasional satellite purposefully navigation the sky.  Five years old and there I was.  On top of the garage reciting in my head the arguments for and against alien life in the cosmos beyond.  Not much has changed for me other than the abundance of knowledge I have gleaned from the scientific discoveries and theories since then.  I never doubted the existence of planets beyond our solar system.  We now know of thousands.  I never doubted the existence of water beyond Earth.  Now?  It is conclusive. 
Water also has always been another source of great fascination for me.  Whether it is rain, a stream, or an ocean, I am drawn to it all.  My mother never had to teach me to swim.  She said I just took to it on my own almost immediately, unlike my three older brothers and their water wings.  When swimming in a pool, I often preferred to let all the air out of my lungs and sink to the bottom and listen to the overwhelming silence below.  Naturally, I was thrilled to become a certified SCUBA diver many years later.  I can spend hours alone, adrift on anything that will float, in the middle of the ocean, soaking in the vastness of the world and the beauty of it.  I find it nearly impossible to resist the urge to dip my fingers into the water.  Slowly, carefully, I will lower my hand, fingers outstretched, toward the surface until I make the slightest of contact, testing the limits of the surface tension.  Then, one by one, I curl my fingers through the water.  Is it cold?  Is it hot?  Or is it just right?  Then, I slowly pull my hand out and rub my fingertips together as if trying to roll the liquid into a ball.  Most of the time I walk away with the same thought…I could live my life on the water.  Perhaps I am destined to someday be a scraggly, cranky old man with a face aged by the wind and sun, living alone with a dog on a sailboat tied to a pier, always ready to cast away and sail the high seas at a moment’s notice.
These are but a few examples.  Life is full of them.  The sounds that surround us as we move through the day and night.  The smells that waft through the air we breathe.  The things that are right in front of us we never notice…an eagle perched on a fence post, a rabbit waiting patiently to spring from the dewy grass and cross the road one last time as the sun rises on another day.  The sensations that lay at our fingertips often are ignored or overlooked.  I pause to feel the velvety petals of the roses my mom so lovingly raises in her garden.  I stop to feel the smoothness of the bark on a maple tree I planted in my parent’s front yard twenty five years ago.  Walking from the front to the back yard of my parents place, I think of how different the St. Augustine grass feels compared to the Bermuda grass I have in my own yard.  I could, and often have, gone on for hours about things that are there waiting to be admired. 
Take the following for example.  If you asked me what I did one night last week, I could give you two explanations.  First, I could, as most would, simply say “I went for a walk.”  Or, I could say:
“I found myself inexplicably drawn to the sidewalk for a midnight stroll under a clear sky with the stars and a glowing moon as my companions.  During my walk, I was one with my companions.  Slowly, everything else faded away and I began to search for words to describe the sensations I was experiencing.  The steady, slightly warm breeze blowing in my face.  The sound of crickets chirping out their rhythmic song in unison.  The smell of dry grass, severely parched by the unusually brutal temperatures and extreme drought this summer.  A dog barking in the distance, no doubt to ward off some phantom intruder. 
A few hundred feet ahead of me, I could see the outline of a teenage couple sitting on the curb, her head resting on his shoulder as they enjoyed a brief reprieve from the prying eyes of their parents.  Above me, the midnight sky was oddly pristine despite the abundance of red dust borne of the dry Oklahoma clay that has been ever-present the past few months.  Perhaps the unexpected rainfall a few days earlier had settled the atmosphere, briefly. 
But I was thankful for this night.  I carefully surveyed the sky, locating my celestial friends, occasionally catching myself repeating their names aloud.  As I drew closer to the amorous teenagers, I could hear the occasional word or two of their soft whispers.  “The runner.”  I heard the girl say, sounding confused.  Most likely she found it odd that I was out this late and walking rather than running as I usually do most evenings.  I moved to the other side of the street to give them their space.  Ah, young love.  Still innocent and hopeful, not yet tainted and jaded by the countless experiences they will encounter in the years ahead of them.” 
Then, I realized the front, right pocket of my cargo shorts was weighed down.  Oh yeah, my phone.  In an instant, I was snatched from my meditative state and reunited with fast-paced buzz of modern society and my new-found addiction to Twitter…must see what everyone else is doing.  As it turned out, they were going to see the latest Harry Potter movie.
I will leave you all with this…there are two ways to live.  You can go through the motions, every day moving closer to your last.  Or, you can open your mind and senses to the world around you begging for your attention.  The choice is yours.  Thanks for reading, this is my sensory perception.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Carpe Diem (Try the Tomato Soup)

Carpe Diem.  Seize the day.  What a cool phrase.  But it is so much more than that.  It is a way of life to some.  For me, it is the only way.  I have always been a restless soul.  I love learning new things.  I love straying off the beaten path.  I love a challenge.  I love life. 
If you ask a random person to give you a brief explanation of what life entails, you’ll likely get something similar to this: “You’re born, you go to school, you get a job, you retire, you die.”  Yes, that is a very concise summary.  But for most people it is not very far from reality.  For me?  It is a protracted death sentence.  I cannot imagine anything more painful than not exploring life.  Life is finite.  It will end.  It is up to you to make the most of it. 
Let me back up and explain.  I understand that there are many things in life that must be done.  Breathing.  Eating.  Drinking.  Paying taxes.  Okay, some people manage to avoid the last one.  But here is what I am getting at…Many things we have no control over.  We must do them.  But, what about everything else?  What about the moments in between?  We are creatures of habit.  We adapt to routine.  We hide behind our comfort zone, the “same ol same ol.” 
But do we really have to?  No, we don’t.  Think about it.  We don’t have to drive to and from work the same way every day.  We do it because it’s convenient.  It is usually the quickest route.  It is comfortable.  It is the path of least resistance.  But at what cost?  What are you missing?  I am not suggesting you will find the secret of life by taking a different route.  But you will find something different. 
Unless I am constrained by time or circumstances, I typically take a different route to work each day.  I don’t go from BFE to Timbuktu, but I do take a different route.  It may be just a one block change.  But it is a change.  You would be surprised at what you may find by taking a different route.  Around every corner is something new. 
Of course, driving is but one example.  You can find dozens of things throughout your day to do different.  Here is a great example of how even I, Mr. Carpe Diem, failed to heed my own advice.  For ten years, I have been eating at Panera Bread Company.  My first experience with Panera was in law school when one was opened in the mall behind my apartment.  I became a regular there.  I quickly determined that the Bacon Turkey Bravo was my favorite sandwich.  But a sandwich does not a meal make.  Ah yes.  The sides.  Mine?  Baked potato chips, unsweetened iced tea, and, most importantly, macaroni and cheese.  I always ordered the “Pick Two” combo—half a sandwich and soup, salad, or mac-n-cheese. 
The macaroni and cheese at Panera is a large elbow noodle, sharp Vermont cheddar concoction.  It is divine. To me anyway.  After discovering this combination, I never strayed.  Not until a month ago.  After revealing that I was going  to Panera for my Saturday lunch ritual, a friend suggested I try the tomato soup for two reasons.  One, it is delicious.  Two, apparently, macaroni and cheese is kid’s food. 
I must admit, I was very offended by the “kid food” remark.  Where I grew up, mac-n-cheese was a staple.  In fact, I believe it was a key element on the food triangle.  Maybe I am exaggerating a bit.  But, most adults I know would not think twice about eating a good serving of mac-n-cheese.  Maybe my friend has images of the blue, cardboard box that delivered the first taste of mac-n-cheese to most of us.  I am going off on a tangent, but my point is this:  macaroni and cheese is good.  In fact, it is great when my Mom makes it. 
Despite my love for the M&C, I began to wonder how far I had strayed from my Carpe Diem motto.  It was decided then.  I would try the tomato soup at Panera on my next visit. 
I have a confession.  I did not even know Panera served a tomato soup.  Why?  Because I have not looked at their menu for ten years.  I actually love tomato soup.  My Mom used to make a great tomato soup that she often served with the best grilled cheese sandwiches.  As I approached the counter, I carefully rehearsed the order in my head.  It was quite a surreal experience.  But, I did it.  I managed to place my order without any mistakes.  Soon, my name was called out.  “Ray.”  “Order up for Ray.”  As I retrieved my plate from the counter, I could not help but feel as if I had mistakenly grabbed someone else’s order.  What is this?  Where is my Macaroni and cheese? 
With a sense of trepidation buried beneath my confident demeanor, I sat down and organized my meal as I had done nearly every week for the past ten years.  Sandwich.  Chips.  Mac-n-Cheese.  Wait.  Tomato soup?  Oh yeah.  Finally, the time arrived.  Just dig in, I told myself.  Lips sealed, hand trembling, I raised the spoon to my mouth.  Coaxing my lips open, I sampled the first taste of this alien side dish.  It…was…hmmm.  It was good.  No, it was delicious.  It was new.
Carpe diem. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Totally Random

Although I have received some wonderful feedback on my first two blog posts, I am going to take a detour for one or two posts.  It seems my random musings on love came across a bit sad.  Although there is an element of sadness to the topic of love, there can be happiness also.  But until I learn to express my thoughts in a more positive manner, I'll blog about something silly instead.  :-)

A few days ago on my way to work, I had a front row seat to one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time.  Real life Angry Birds.  True story.  But, instead of little piggies, the target of the avian anger was a terrified squirrel. 

As I was waiting to make a turn at a stoplight downtown, on the sidewalk across the street I saw a squirrel running toward the intersection.  I should clarify.   This squirrel was not just running, he was fleeing for his life.  I could see the terror in his cute little widened, hazel-colored eyes.  I could see the terror in his frantic pace as he pumped each leg forward at breakneck speed on the curved section of sidewalk approaching the intersection. 

Then, before I could process any of this, I saw the source of his fear.  A bird.  Then another.  Then two more.  Almost instantly, nearly a dozen birds materialized behind this fleeing squirrel.  It was clear the birds were targeting him, as they flew almost in a wedge formation just a few inches above the pavement. 

Suddenly, two of the birds broke formation and dove at the squirrel's back, each delivering a vicious jab with their beak.  As they slid back into formation, a few more took their place delivering the aerial assault. 

Just before reaching the intersection, the squirrel flung himself into a densely-limbed fir tree.  Unable to pursue their target into the prickly cover of needles, the birds, in unison, pulled up hard and fast.  Ascending into a vertical climb, the birds avoided a potentially embarrassing collision. 

As quickly as they came, the birds reversed course and disappeared around the corner. 

Having grown up in the South, I knew exactly what had happened.  Mr. Squirrel had invaded a bird nest,  most likely in an attempt to enjoy a small meal of flightless hatchlings.  In the South, mockingbirds were brutal and fearless in the defense of their nests and their young.  I have been dive-bombed from behind many times simply for straying too close to a nest I never knew existed. 

These birds were mad.  They were upset.  They were Angry Birds.

Monday, July 4, 2011

What is Love II

An emotion?  A sensation?  A learned response to a stimuli? A biochemical reaction?  Perhaps love is different for each person—defined by one’s own experiences.  I remember a line from the movie The Devil’s Advocate in which the Devil as played in human form by Al Pacino bluntly stated that love is “biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate.”  I love chocolate and I loved it even more in my early 20’s before my metabolism revolted against my gluttonous ways.  But no matter how much chocolate I have ever eaten in one sitting, I have never felt an overwhelming sensation of longing or care.  And I am quite sure that when others say it is orgasmic they are joking--I hope.  Sure it tasted great, but it was not the same as love.

One thing I have learned is that love is not something that can be stripped down and explained by a single definition.  Love can also take many forms.  I love my parents.  I love my brothers.  I love my nieces and nephews.  I love my friends.  I have dearly loved the wonderful pets in my life.  But my love for each is different.  Moreover, my love changes—it evolves.  The love I have for my parents now is much different than it was when I was a child or when I was a teenager.  I have always cared about them, but now as I see them growing older and in failing health, I now find myself feeling like the concerned parent.  My love for my brothers, especially the closest one, has gone from a friendship to a camaraderie that is unbreakable. 

And although I always wanted children, I don’t have any, and likely never will.  But in my life pets have filled that role for me.  As long as I can remember, I have always loved animals.  It seems the wounded or homeless animals have always found their way into my hands—and I remember most all of them.  I regularly risk my own life to rescue a turtle crossing a road.  I know no other way of living than to have love and compassion in my heart and life.  This is not something that was fostered or encouraged by my parents, it is just who I am.  It is my love. 
But what about LOVE?  The love for someone other than a relative?  What about a love that engulfs you and leaves you thinking I want to spend the rest of my life with that person. What about a love that so consumes you that you cannot focus on anything else but getting back home to that person?  Sadly, some people do not believe in something like that.  There are those who believe that love is not important but what is important is whether that person gives you stability and is a good provider.  Often this is cultural.  How sad it is to me when parents and children do not say I love you.    Other times it is a result of bad experiences in relationships or a loss of hope. 

I don’t think I have really found true love as I believe it to be.  Sure I have been in love with women and been in serious relationships with them.  I loved them and would have done anything for them.  But, I chose poorly or I have settled.  I have wrongly hoped that I could change a woman into what I want her to be.  I have believed that if I spent enough time pouring out my soul and showing my love that my partner would reciprocate.  They never have.  They were not bad women, but they looked at love differently.  I know there are women out there who feel as I do, but I have found it is not easy finding the right one.  I think it is a case of cruel irony that there are so many people in this world yet it is so hard to find someone you would not hesitate to die for and have them feel the same. 
Well, that’s about all I have for now.  These are my random thoughts.  This is my love. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

What is Love?

Securely tucked away behind the sternum, between the lungs, is a tough, fibrous piece of tissue that carries a workload like no other muscle or organ in the human body. As if this well-protected location was not secure enough, this muscular organ is forever encased in not one, but two tough, protective sacs. Forever destined to live in darkness, silently working away to ensure every cell in the human body survives. One misstep, one missed assignment, and the temple will topple around it.

I find it very fascinating that the very organ humans have designated as the seat of our emotional soul is as protected and guarded as the spiritual heart. Then again, perhaps the analogies fit perfectly. Both hearts can be damaged, starved, or broken. Both are often taken for granted, only to be overworked or abused other times. Both can ache or cry out for attention and care. Both have been known to be replaced by a cold, sterile, artificial replacement that just goes through the motions but is not truly alive. Both can shut down, never to be heard from again.

There once was a time when people actually believed the heart was the center of the human soul. Today, we know that is not true. However, we have never escaped this belief—instead, we embrace it. With a few creative modifications, we have a beautiful, symmetric symbol that is instantly recognized in almost all cultures as a symbol of love. ♥ So then, this brings me to the questions that have been on my mind lately. What is love? Where does love come from? Why is love so important to some, merely tolerated by many, and ignored, if not shunned by others?

First, I ponder the idea of love itself. What is love? As I write this, the first thing that comes to mind makes me laugh. When I think to myself: what is love? I cannot help but hear the 1993 Haddaway hit song by the same name that was featured so prominently in every Roxbury Guys skit on SNL. Now, you too will have this song on an endless loop in your head as you read this. You're welcome. Hey, a bit of levity can be good for the heart.

In my next few entries, I will be examining these questions, and I welcome any feedback any of you may have on this topic.