Philosophy

The Center

Every so often I reach a fantastic state of just being.  Where literally nothing matters and I become detached from everything and connected to everything at the same time.  (And no, no substances are involved.)  I’m certain anyone who reads this will instantly label it as something specific.

The best way I can describe it, is nothing.  It is not light, or dark.  It is not the emptiness that tugs on your soul, nor is it the light warmth that radiates from your chest.  It is truth.  It simply is.  Because above all else, everything that exists on this planet is simply doing just that: existing.  Sometimes for just a little while, that’s enough.  Ego strips away, and even life and death are just another part of existence.

The realization comes that the only things that matter are what we allow to matter.  You can actually choose to not care.  But I don’t mean careless, and I don’t mean carefree (I think it’s funny how those concepts have near-opposite connotations when they mean virtually the same thing.)  What I mean is that you can choose to think without feeling.  Act without emotion.  Accomplish without stress or pressure.

Bruce-lee-be-like-waterA lot of meditation teaches that peace is nothingness.  At the same time it is everything, or rather, being connected to everything without regard to ego.  It’s true that when you can discard the idea of self, all the things that were negative in your life go with it, and stay gone until regain yourself.  As the Grandmaster I once served would say; “it is a mini-vacation.”

It is a powerful thing to be able to operate in this detached state.  I find that patience is simple.  Emotions may leak through; a moment of frustration or a smile at something amusing, but they cannot stick.  You are either high, nor low.  You are the center, and you do not move form there for very long unless you choose to.

However, though it may be ideal and enlightened to stay in this state, I never do for long.  I think that remaining indefinitely neutral defeats the purpose of this life… this stage of our existence.  Instead I slip in and out of it, so that I might experience worldly pleasures and seek the highs that life’s experiences can give me.  By doing this, I naturally risk sadness, loneliness and loss and it’s not always easy to discard those right away.  But it’s a good practice to return to the center often enough to think clearly.  It lends perspective and allows you to look at your life objectively so that you can decide what you want to keep and what you should avoid / discard.

More importantly it lets you rest.  Being caught in the torrent of emotions all-day, every day can easily wear you down, and while sleep is a great remedy, for many it does not come easily.  So especially if you cannot sleep, try to teach yourself to let go for just a little while.  Learn to stop all the superficial worries, feelings and ego in order to disengage society and simply exist.  If you start with a little you might find it becomes easier and easier to control over time.

Philosophy of Moderation – Part 3: Sleep

So this year I made “goals” instead of “resolutions” because for some reason it’s gotten to the point that resolutions are synonymous with failure.  (I’m watching the population of my gym closely, it has already declined some since the year turned.)  Among my goals for this year was to make sleep a priority.  Not just any sleep, decent sleep, like several sleep cycles (which adds up to 7.5 hours with another 15 min added to wind down and actually fall asleep.)  Previously I had shot for six a night and often missed the mark, which really added up by the end of the week in terms of my energy level, mood and ability to stay awake in what are sometimes relatively boring meetings (which is an unfortunate necessity.)

Now I know some of you hard-core folk are out there doing what you do, pounding Monster energy drinks and sleeping three hours a night with the mantra of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!!”

Well, if you’re doing that solely on principle, then fuck off.  You’re wrong.

I guess you won't sleep when you're... undead?

I guess you won’t sleep when you’re… undead?

I’m not going to go into the endless amount of science that says a good amount of sleep benefits you in nearly every way possible.  Nine out of ten doctors don’t do it for me either.  Doctors of what? For all we know they all have their PhD’s in English Composition (god knows we all know I don’t.. but I digress…)  What I WILL tell you is that I’ve been there, done that.  I’ve never taken hard drugs, but I’ve skimmed the surface by taking enough ephedrine and caffeine to keep me awake for three days straight until my body was literally trying to shut itself down while I was standing up at work.  I continue to use obscene amounts of coffee to make up for the hours lost hooking up on a work night, or simply playing an MMO until my eyes threatened to bleed and the sun was rising.  But just because we’re badass and can do that, doesn’t mean we should do that.  It comes down to quality of life and when it comes to living, if you believe quantity is more important than quality, I think you’re doing it wrong.

Now let’s back up a little and clarify something.  I know life happens.  I know sometimes you have to do what you have to do by working several jobs, overnight, military or caring for a newborn that doesn’t give a rat’s ass that you have to go to work tomorrow.  All those are situational life happenings that are important and can’t be helped.  I would never condemn somebody that is sacrificing for the sake of promoting themselves or those close them.  That’s life, shit happens, we do our best.  I get that.  I’m talking about those (like me) who intentionally and through lack of discipline put themselves in a position to lose what is essentially as important to your health and longevity as breathing, eating or drinking water.  Just like those things, if you don’t sleep for a certain amount of time, you’ll actually die.  

Handy infographic.

Handy infographic.

When you get less sleep over time, you are damaging yourself.   Most importantly, you are actually damaging your brain. It literally kills brain cells.  The good news is your brain can heal itself to some degree, the bad news is with prolonged regular damage, there’s gonna be some lasting effects.  That’s assuming you don’t kill yourself (like I almost did) by falling asleep on the road or doing something else equally stupid.  And the icing on the cake (all of this was recently confirmed): premature aging (especially skin), stupidity (literally), decreased sex drive and (that’s right) weight gain.   Add that to the overall dramatically increased chance of death (especially through cardiovascular issues) and all of a sudden those couple extra hours of MMO don’t seem so life-changing.  I love food, video games, women, sex, alcohol and what have you, and there’s nothing with losing a couple hours form time to time to partake in all these awesome things life has to offer.  Life is about experience, so live it!  But for the love of god when it’s just another night in your everyday life, needlessly throwing away your body’s ability to fix itself from all the awesome damaging experiences is just plain stupid.  Don’t be stupid, too many humans already are.

sleeping_baby_kitten

Every other animal in the world understands. Also.. baby kitten.

So then what did this goal do for me thus far?  Well, the other day I was in a six hour meeting at work to go over systems and processes and otherwise boring shit that’s essential but not boobs and explosions.  You know what?  I had a pretty good time.  Since I was well rested, I was not only not fighting dozing (which honestly sucks because you know you’re missing everything..), but I was witty enough to banter about what we were talking about and make it more fun.  Yep, sleeping made work more fun.  On top of that, my morning coffee works much better, because instead of compensating, it’s just boosting.  When it wore off, I didn’t crash, I was good.  Here’s the kicker though and it’s something I hadn’t thought about: dreams.  See before I would occasionally have a dream or two, but most times I just assumed I forgot them when I woke up.  Now I think that I just wasn’t having them.  My brain just wasn’t making it to whatever process that caused them.  Now granted I’ve been having more “Walking Dead” style dreams than anything else (hurry back!!) But even that isn’t really unpleasant because my brain has dug up all kinds of random crap I haven’t even thought about in years and it’s pretty entertaining.  I dream literally every night.  Other than reoccurring nightmares, I think most people would choose to dream rather than not… ever.   Beyond all that, I’m generally more level-headed and patient despite going through a fairly strange and isolated time in my life, so I would say this particular goal has especially good timing.  Oh, and getting enough sleep regularly also has the benefit of making it much  easier to get through days you don’t happen to get enough sleep because you’re busy being a rock star.

Having a rockstar night every night has killed or damaged many a rock star.  So, like all things, be a rockstar (or MMO badass) in moderation and get some sleep!!

Cycles: The circles within the circles within a circle of life…

They say that history repeats.  Well, it does.  In fact life repeats.  Over and over again.  In the creative industry there’s a joke (it’s not really a joke) that a good design is something you saw somewhere and changed just enough (I think the agree percentage is approximately 20% but don’t quote me on that) to call it your original work.  It’s fitting though because your life is currently doing the exact same thing.

Don’t get me wrong, obviously on the surface things change.  I’m not saying that whatever god you do or do not believe in is a lazy artist.  We grow, places change, faces change, everything changes.  It’s a depressing constant knowing that basically anything you love or grow attached to will inevitably end.  However, while that’s true on the surface, the truth is you’ve been doing a large number of the same things over and over again throughout these changes.  Thus is your cycles and you will repeat these cycles over and over again until you stop doing the same things, until you learn from that cycle and then break it using your newfound knowledge.  Then a new cycle with a new lesson begins and so on and so on.

Nothing circular here... carry on...

Nothing circular here… carry on…

Cycles are not just personal though, they come in all shapes in sizes.  The state of our planet, even our universe and those beyond are in the mists of cycles that most people can’t even begin to wrap their head around.  The evidence is everywhere, nearly every major function of a system from life itself to the state of energy is in essence circular (if you were to chart it.)  So from massive cosmic cycles that take thousands or millions of years to complete all the way down to your own daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or decades long cycles, the world is repeating and everything you do feeds into it on some level.

Ever wonder why it’s so hard to bring about real change in the world?  Well, think about how hard it is to change one little habit about yourself, and then multiply that by over seven billion, and then factor in that you’d have to get a pretty large percentage of those seven billion on board with said change at the same time.  It’s starting to sound like rocket science, but it’s not.  But it is hard (I mean look at congress for god’s sake… and that’s only 535 people!!)  I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but I honestly can’t fathom anything short of global catastrophe (or enlightenment?) affecting a change that large.  And so many of the world’s woes that might easily be solved with our abundance of resources and technology… are not.

What I decided in my infinite selfishness is that the best thing I can do is try not to be part of the problem.  That means being actively self-aware, and trying to manage and break my own cycles in order to keep growing.  I’ve failed miserably at romance for nearly a decade, so obviously I haven’t figured that one out yet (despite having a much more solid sex life than many…) but I’ve made good progress in other areas like career development and not being an ignorant drone (always a plus.)  So in order to break your cycles and learn your lessons (hopefully gracefully) the first step is figuring out how to recognize them.

A bit like this.

A bit like this.

In every cycle you will find key similarities.  The trick is to ignore the surface and look for the situational similarities.  For instance, for each round of a specific cycle of my life, there is always one girl that we’ve all but agreed to hook up at some point, but due to circumstances, it never actually happens.  It’s not casual, it’s blatant, like “Well that should’ve happened right then but didn’t because… random occurrence.”   There is always that specific role that is played.  So as soon as I recognize that person, I can try to figure out what that’s trying to teach me, and carry on differently than I did before (or, if I don’t care to break that aspect of the cycle, not.)  Also, there’s always a “Jessica”, and they always play a key non-primary role in my major cycle.  This is complicated because obviously there’s all kinds of Jessicas running around in the world, but once they find their way into my world I can usually tell who it is specifically that will play that role.  Then based on that I can figure out where I am in that cycle by looking at previous events and comparing them to how things are shaping up now.

I realize that all of this sounds obscure, and a little silly, but I invite you to take a look around and recognize the similarities between what you have done and what you are doing.  Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s not simply a matter of small things like biting your nails or showering at night. When the world throws the same situations at you over and over again, and they don’t really end great, it’s really powerful to be able to realize it and choose to make a change.  That sort of awareness is what allows you to break the cycle and grow.  When you get good at recognizing them, you can choose to keep some intact and break others.  Every time you break a cycle, you create a new one and you can evaluate whether it’s good for you or not and what to do about it.

I believe this is the actual secret to success in this world.  The law of attraction feeds into this as well, since your thoughts (positive and negative) are what affect these cycles.  Those who have an abundance of money, love, power or what have you, have developed the cycles that keep bringing these things to them.  Whether they are aware of it or not, they are maintaining certain cycles while disciplining themselves to break those that go agains them.  However, sometimes not recognizing their cycles has cause these people to lose things as quickly as they gained them.  A bad decision can just as easily break a good cycle as the right one can break a bad cycle.  So think about your life, recognize your cycles and go to work figuring out what you need to do to keep the good ones and break the bad ones.  Temporarily, change can be uncomfortable and even painful, but if you understand why it’s necessary, and the good things to come, it’s a lot easier to accept.

The Case for Being Selfish

“Being good doesn’t mean good things will happen to you…” -Rumplestiltskin (Once Upon A Time)

A long time ago in a land far far away… I was a villain.  Some days I think I still am.  I share a lot of the same traits:  selfishness, narcissism, disregard for a lot of the “rules” and a general distain towards humanity as a whole.  There’s some things that changed as I grew and if I am still a bad guy, I might be a bit more honorable… if only by my own code.  I actively try to be better anyway.

Yay for ironic double-meanings!

Yay for ironic double-meanings!

One thing I can’t seem to make it around though, is my own selfishness.  But I think I know why.  The fact of the matter is, generally speaking the world is selfish.  Humans, by nature are selfish.  People find all kinds of ways to sugar-coat it and feel better about themselves, but at the end of the day almost everyone places higher value on themselves and those more important to themselves.  What this also means, is that those who decide to try not to be selfish will never receive their due.  At the very least they will generally receive less appreciation than they are due, and at most (and probably far too often) they will be completely and utterly taken advantage of.  They are rewarded by being stripped bare and left with nothing because people took with malice, carelessness or simply didn’t think about the affect their actions would have on the giver.  When a tree bears fruit, there are proper times and ways to harvest the fruit so that it can bear fruit again easily.  The same can be said for those willing to give selflessly, but all too often the right way is ignored for the sake of personal gain.

I have, in the past, attempted to be a “better” person, by acting selflessly, giving without expectation and trying not to judge those who seem ignorant to plight of those around them.

Well, fuck that.

Though now I still occasionally, (even often) give, no longer is it without strings. It is no longer selfless.  Those I give to I either owe, or want them to owe me.  I suppose in some cases I do so simply for the feeling of making them happy and, in turn, making myself happy.  But even then it’s a form of “brownie points” with them or -at the very least- my own personal satisfaction.  I contribute to the system, I show respect to those around me on the surface and I don’t go out of my way to mess with anyone else’s world (unless they do so with mine…)  But I don’t feel I owe the world anything, and I don’t have any desire to give to it without expectation of return.  Maybe that makes me a part of the problem, but the truth is the real problem is the system and society that encourages selfishness.
Bill-Gates-about-money
Those at the top are selfish, they look after themselves and their own before others.  Even the modern-day great philanthropists: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Bono, etc. are businessmen and celebrities who amassed fortunes most average people cannot even dream of before spending fractions of those fortunes to try and make the world a better place.  Meanwhile famous “selfless” humanitarians such as Mother Teresa are loaded with contradiction and agenda (often religious) over the actual care of the people. (I’m not going into it, but head over to google and do some research, especially the last 50 years or so of her life are said to have been quite contradictory to her image.)

So what’s the lesson here?  I’m not saying “don’t give” or “don’t be selfless ever”.  Remember that moderation is necessary in all things!  I’m saying be okay with being selfish first.  Look after yourself and don’t be afraid to say no to those who ask for things unless they earn it.  Just because you have, doesn’t mean you have to give.  Many of the people mentioned above had a lot before they really began to give.  Now, you don’t have to be the asshole that I admittedly am sometimes, as I said, it’s often questionable whether or not I’m still a bad guy. But people will try to make you feel guilty about having and not giving, which is ridiculous because they are all too eager to take from you and give much less in return.

Try it sometime, if you’re a natural nice person and giver and you feel you have a lot of great friends around all the time who value you, test it.  For a little while, for whatever reason, just stop giving whatever it is you freely put out there; be it attention, money, things, affection, what have you.  For a short time, keep these things to yourself and see what happens.  I am willing to bet that a large percentage of those friends will give you less as well.  Some will call less, visit less or even disappear.  Do you know why?  Because their relationship with you was never unconditional just as you have to face that yours probably wasn’t with them either.  Even our relationships are selfish, so it’s okay for us to decide what we’re going to give, what not to give and what it’s worth.  Relationships in any form are usually some sort of unwritten contract, and when you change the terms, what you get will also change.

People like him for his selflessness...

People like him for his selflessness…

I tend to lean toward the Liberal side of politics; I think Norway has it right in terms of taxes and public systems and I believe the concepts of socialism and even communism in it’s purest forms are great ideas.  But humans can’t pull it off because they are too inherently selfish and greedy.  Even if some can reason past it for the greater good, it only takes a small percentage to ruin an otherwise perfect system.  That’s why such things only work in limited degrees when properly implemented by government, and only when there’s enough reasonable people to overrule the many that are blindly selfish.

But this isn’t about politics, this is about individuals.  This is about me.  Someday I would love to have the resources to be a humanitarian like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or even (to a lesser degree) George Clooney.  But if I am, I’m going to get mine first and I’m going to give to and look after those who earn it first.  Show me you deserve it, and I will enjoy feeling obligated to give to you.  But make me feel as though I’m being taken for granted, and I will withdraw as quickly as I put myself out there.  Whether it be attention, money, time or even love.. I will give to the right people,I  but I have to look after myself before I can give to anyone else.  That might be selfish, but that’s what this world has shown me and given me, that’s how the game is played.  Until the majority of this world decides the change the rules for the better of us all, I’ll play the hand I’ve been dealt, and win.

I wish I could help you all.

Everyday I see you.  On Social media, passing by while I eat lunch and even interacting with me on various levels.  Everyday I see a new reminder of somebody that feels like they are missing something, somebody, anything to fill that hole they feel.  They feel trapped, restrained or empty.  I get it, because I feel it too sometimes.  But what makes me sad is that you’re wandering, searching, and you don’t have the slightest idea for what.  You grasp at straws over and over thinking “Maybe this will fix it!”  “Maybe this will make me feel better!”  Sometimes it does.  But it’s usually only temporary.

2014-03-26-alone_man1440x9001When I read, see, hear or otherwise encounter you… it’s one of the few times I wish that I could say “I’m sorry.”  I’m arrogant enough to think I know what you need, and I believe that if in some cases you knew me, and trusted me… or in other cases I was willing to compromise myself, I could give it to you.  But in those cases you do not, and in other cases I cannot.

I am fortunate that the universe moves me along the path to intervene in the lives of those where it sees fit.  It is, in fact, an honor to have a lasting effect on any individual’s life.  But when I see so many others suffering, not because they deserve it, but because they believe they do… it makes me angry.  I don’t want to talk down to those people.  I, too, have a darkness and emptiness I wrestle with regularly,  so it’s not pity I feel… it’s kindrid.. and it’s resentment toward the hard lessons people have to sometimes spend their whole lives learning.  It’s not fair.

Ahhh.. but as I said, I am arrogant.  To speak as if there isn’t a reason.  I believe there is, a greater reason to a greater system.  But that doesn’t mean that now, in this moment they deserve to feel like this.  These are good people who only hurt themselves (not literally.. most of the time) and harm nobody.  They have good hearts, better than mine, and yet are subjected to harsh lessons and robbed of their ability to flourish.  Now, perhaps it will make them stronger and they will flourish even more down the road. I like that hope… I like to think everyone gets theirs in the end…In this life.

3620046579_d56a212c10

This isn’t them, it’s the fear and hate of the ones before them, but they may never escape it.

But they don’t.  That’s the reality of this world.  In order to get what you deserve in this world, you must first believe you deserve it.  But often those closest to you rob you of that belief, that hope, from day one.  This too makes me angry.  Society is broken, humanity is broken.  From generation to generation scars are passed down often in the forms of blessings.  Repression, restraint, control, greed, helplessness, wrong.. “you’re wrong because…” This is what assaults you from the womb, from day one, and often from those you’re supposed to trust the most.  Their wounds bleed on to you and you suffer their sins as they suffered the sins of those before them because from the beginning you’ve always be taught that if you don’t do what they think is right, whatever they’ve been programmed to think is right… then you’re wrong.

THAT is where that hole comes from.  THAT is where the emptiness begins.  The ego is chipped away and insecurity wreaks havoc on your soul.  This damage keeps you from feeling complete because you can’t be complete if you don’t feel right being you.  It doesn’t go away either.  It resurfaces over and over again and if you can’t fight, it consumes you.  Sometimes the people who helped put it there tell you that they know what you need to fix it.  But you don’t need to be fixed.  You’re not actually broken, you’re just afraid of who you are, so you can’t be who you are.

I believe in love.  I believe in people that belong together and compliment each other’s lives perhaps even into the next life.  But I don’t ever believe that a relationship is two halves.  It’s two wholes.  And the best way to find your other whole is to do your best to make yourself as whole as possible.  But you’re really, really afraid of that.  In fact, you may not even realize it’s what you Over-Parentingneed.  But I promise you, no matter where you come from, what your beliefs are, or what your heritage is, the one thing you need more than anything or anyone in this world, is to be you.  And be the you that you were born to be, and be so fucking happy about who you are and what you represent that nothing anyone can say or do will convince you that you need to be anything but who you are.

Don’t ever let your family, friends, teachers, pastors, boyfriends, girlfriends, strangers or (for the love of god..) media tell you who you are or what you should be.  Don’t let ME tell you who you should be.  Nobody has to, because way deep down you already know.  And THAT is all you need to listen to.  That is the voice of you in the universe telling you that you’re perfect being you (flaws and all.)

I don’t care about a lot of things… or maybe on a different level I do.  But what makes me feel… what makes me sad, is when I see good hearted, talented, intelligent, amazing people restrained, self-loathing, depressed, repressed, hurt or otherwise abused because they’ve been infected by this thing we call society.  What’s supposed to help people by bringing them together now traps them in shallow lies, evil intentions and empty promises.  It makes them scared to be who they are, and makes them hate themselves because they don’t fit what only a small percentage of people in this world believe is ideal.  These people who could potentially save the world… the entire human race… are squandered because of false pride, rampant ego, and the fear and insecurity that has controlled those before them since nearly the beginning of civilization.

Most of us have been there.

Most of us have been there.

I see it.  It makes me angry.  It makes me sad.  Even though I am privileged enough to know that in a very large picture, even suffering has it’s place, it’s reasons… it doesn’t mean that it’s fair.  The system is balanced, and it will balance itself and we are only a part of a much greater system.   But I see the individual lights.  I see you, there at night alone and afraid to face yourself.  But you have to face yourself, you have to fight all the wrong that been crammed in your head that tells you you’re anything but magnificent.  And I wish i could help you.  I wish I could help you all.  I wish I could help you be you.

Thank You

So I’m still relatively new to this blogging thing, and I do it as much for myself as I do anyone else.  I think I do okay as far as consistency and even content (though I run much longer than many…)  What I don’t do, however, is network much in the blogging world.  It’s mostly a time issue, I do actually go and check out some of your blogs when you follow / favorite me, but I have yet to really spend time diving in.  It’s all about instant gratification I suppose.  I’ll work on that.

In the meantime though, I want to say thank you, and that I’m grateful that you’re willing to take your time to read what I put down here.  Hopefully somehow you take something from it.  What I lack in external interactivity I will make up for through my interactions here.  I’ll happily answer comments or questions, and if you have something specific you’d like me to write about, comment on one of my posts or send me a tweet @JordanCascata and I’ll do my best to give you something worth reading.

I think that gratitude is extremely important for somebody as selfish as I am.  When you are grateful for what you receive, you naturally get more of it.  Gratitude has the dual purpose of both reinforcing positive bonds and making you feel good about yourself.  There’s no downside.

So thank you, for both reading what I write, and being patient when real life becomes exhausting and I don’t have time or energy to write a proper post.  I promise you minimum one a week on average, but it has been and should continue to be much more often then that.  Now though, I’ve been awake over eighteen hours straight on four and a half hours sleep and I have an awards party to run tomorrow for my company.  I should be back with something substantial on Sunday.

Thank You!

~ Jordan in the Grey Area

Interlude: A Personal Fairy Tale (Part 1)

The Tale of Kaska-Ta – Part 1

(*Note: This is what can be described as a semi-fictional history.  The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are true.) 

Long ago in tropical lands far in the south, there lived a warrior known as Kaska-Ta. Years before this story, he had been a lonely, exiled traveler going by a different name. But a group of knights had taken him in and given him a new name. The Knights of Kappo Aera taught him the ways of song and dance and war, and became his family.

Early on these knights lived under the rule of a mad king. This king was not evil, but arrogant and violent to some.   Thus, for this and perhaps some other reasons in the shadows, the Prince of Stories who led this particular band of knights separated himself from the kingdom, causing much divide and resulting in a feud that would be forgiven by many but never forgotten by all.

Tropical Lands

Tropical Lands

For a time these Knights of Kappo Aera remained autonomous, the Prince of Stories who now led them called upon some of the elder knights (including Kaska-Ta) to help him train the younger warriors properly. Overall their band was happy and Kaska-Ta enjoyed spending time with and helping his peers where he could. Often, when sparring with the Lady of Diamonds or the young prodigy known as Mockingbird, he could not help but smile. In those times there was synergy and peace, even in combat.

However, the Prince of Stories who now led newly separated tribe knew he was not yet prepared to be a king, and so over time his uncertainty grew until a general from a different tribe he had met in his travels invited him to meet his own king. This king was far departed from the prince’s previous king. Though a giant physically, he was calm and serene much like his name. This man was the King of the Trees. After much discussion an arrangement was struck in which the Prince’s tribe would join with that of King of Trees and his Gull General. Thus began the golden age for the knights of Kappo Aera who would now be recognized as warriors.

It was during this time that the Prince’s Tribe was the most active and many locals came to join the tribe of warriors in the tropical south. The King of Trees and his Gull General hailed from a much colder climate and so made the trip to visit the young warriors often. Kaska-Ta was happy, and enjoyed the company of his tribe both new and old. But as everything must, things would change.

Fierce! But...

Fierce! But…

The traditions among all the tribes of Kappo Aera carried heavy tones of misogyny and disrespect for the female members of the tribes. Though the more progressive members of the tribes didn’t believe in such things, and it was often brought up only in humor, the fact remained that it was very real occurrence as evidenced by behaviors specifically at social gatherings. There was a saying that a true lord among the warriors of Kappo Aera would have a woman in every land that they traveled to. Combined with that was the Kappo Aera tradition of deception as a battle strategy. It was very often said that the sparring circle in which they trained battle was a reflection of their outside lives. As such, this deception made it’s way into many of the member’s actions. Thus was eventual bane of Kaska-Ta.

Kaska-Ta was well liked by the tribe, and especially so by many of the female members. He was kind, flirty, and humorous and made them feel at ease, especially when others were far more aggressive and overbearing than he was. Though not initially problematic, Kaska-Ta began to hear whispers from other warriors (both male and female) that some of the higher ranking warriors were displeased at the attention he was receiving. Of course, Kaska-Ta knew not all of these whispers could be entirely trusted either, but among the many there was some truth he could confirm himself. He resolved though, as long as he had his people, he would simply carry on.

The time came to make a pilgrimage to northern climates. It was the summer months so the weather was very agreeable. One of the great kings from the far off lands in which the tribes of Kappo Aera had originally descended would come and bless all the warriors under the King of Trees.   The prince and as many of his southern tribe as possible made the pilgrimage in order to strengthen their union with the warriors under the King of Trees.

A Krawan Demon Prison

A Krawen Demon Prison

The Gull General existed in a dangerous part of the northern lands known as Krawen, but offered up his palace to most of the travelers from the south. However, Kaska-Ta was given different arrangements and was sent to be hosted with one of the students and families who trained under the Gull General. Though this family was very accommodating, very friendly and he had excellent arrangements, Kaska-Ta did not like being separated from the rest of his tribe. One of the newer females in his tribe had become close to him (intimately for a short time, but that time had already passed) and sent messages that she was uncomfortable among all of the generals and princes. Kaska-Ta expressed his desire to re-join his tribe, and the next day was allowed to stay in the Gull General’s palace (later he would learn this was much to the dismay of the General.)

The ceremonies began and all seemed well. Kaska-Ta marveled at the amazing talents the guest Kings, Queens and other royalty exhibited both in music and in combat. His extended family of warriors from the northern tribes of the King of Trees were equally impressive. It was an overall a joyous occasion filled with much learning and positive energy, which was what Kaska-Ta had always loved about the Kappo Aera tribes. In the evening he and some of his tribe-mates new and old were taken to largest city on the continent to marvel at the many towers and castles filled with mystic lights and great paintings. The day had truly been great.

The next day was another ceremony for another local tribe who was allied with the King of Trees. This tribe’s leader was a great scholar of his art named Onaib. Though not yet a king, he was well on his way and was truly a professor of the art and beauty that was the culture of the Kappo Aera tribes. Kaska-Ta was familiar with this teacher from a previous ceremony in which he had traveled south and personally tested Kaska-Ta (among other young warriors of the southern tribe) in combat. He was good natured and skilled while sparring and greeted each student with a combination of vigor and gentleness. He sought to test, not to punish the younger students and Kaska-Ta respected him greatly for it.

Her Namesake

Her Namesake

Transportation to Professor Onaib’s event was arranged for Kaska-Ta and his tribemate Mockingbird traveling in the wagon of a student of another small local tribe known as the Owl Princess. She mused that her and Kaska-Ta had similar hair color and they got along well early on. One of the wheels broke along the way, but Kaska-Ta and Mockingbird were both skilled at such repairs and before long they were traveling again having bonded some through the small circumstance. They made the ceremony right on time and all was well.

During the ceremony, the Owl Princess remained close to Kaska-Ta and would often mess with his hair or rest her head on his shoulder. He enjoyed the attention, but it drew the attention of both his tribe’s Prince of Stories and the Gull General, whom Kaska-Ta was unaware had their eyes on the Owl Princess. As the day progressed the ceremony completed successfully and after further celebration many of the warriors (including the Owl Princess) made their way back to the palace of the Gull General. Immediately after the ceremony, during the after parties and dinner, Kaska-Ta had noticed the attention of the Owl Princess was being intentionally diverted away from him, to some extent by the Prince of Stories and then aggressively by the Gull General.

Once at the palace, the Gull General disappeared to the tower, and so too did the Owl Princess.   During this time, the Mockingbird, who had long been adopted as a second son of the Gull General warned his tribe mate Kaska-Ta that the reason the Gull General had pulled the Owl Princess away was because she had long since been “one of his girls”. Kaska-Ta replied that she had told him she was without a dedicated mate, and was somewhat surprised because the Gull General had recently impregnated one of the southern tribe women, though it was not established they were dedicated mates either. “It matters not… you know this.” The Mockingbird replied. Yes, Kaska-Ta was familiar with the culture, even if he didn’t agree with or follow it.

69e8746bf35ce80eec33946f36cbb38141afaa66473df48c35c0f5fdfe727d32Later, after the festivities had died down, the Owl Princess approached Kaska-Ta, who had been distant and asked him why. Irritated at her deception, he asked her why she had not told him of the Gull General, but she did not answer and instead became defensive, denied her involvement and moved away again. However, when the witching hour had passed, he once again approached her to say goodbye as she intended to return to her home and kingdom. At her request, Kaska-Ta agreed to escort her to her carriage. When they arrived at her transport, away from the ears of the palace, she asked him to stay with her a short time so she could speak with him. Kaska-Ta agreed and for some time they spoke of her family and then her involvement with the Gull General. She was sad, and said that he confused her by sometimes treating her as a princess, and then other times ignoring or even berating her. She knew that he paid attention to other women, but sometimes when he was with her, he would be so tender that she felt he truly cared. Kaska-Ta was irritated by this as he had heard such things many times before.   But he listened patiently, trying to cheer her up and convince her  that the fault was not hers. Unfortunately, during this dialog disaster struck…

What is it to be happy?

As inevitably happens this time of year, I was prompted to think about what I am thankful for.  I worried a bit about how ungrateful I might actually be when I initially struggled to answer the question.  But the the truth is that picking any specific thing is the hard part.  So I thought to myself “Well… if I’m happy, then I just need to pick what makes me happy.”  But then the realization came to me:  I’m not happy.  I’m content, even cheerful, but regularly happy?  No.  Or am I?  On the other hand I am by no means unhappy.  Overall I’m pretty pleased with myself and the world around me.  Certainly I have a number of misgivings about that world around me and my own lack of progress in many areas thus far, but I have been depressed, miserable and even suicidal before and I am nowhere near any of these things.  I’m “good”.  But is that happy?

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Dave Matthews Band in Tampa 2014 – I was happy.

I have most certainly been happy in moments.  There are many moments in recent and distant memory that can only be described as love and/or unadulterated joy.  This can be attributed to anything ranging from Dave Matthews Band Concerts (pretty consistently.. at least once per concert..) to some sort of amazing food (often involving cheese or ponzu sauce…) to memories of when certain people looked at me the right way and it made the center of my chest warm and tingly…  I’m also a sap for certain movies / shows to where I am so happy about the story I’m almost in tears.  But all of these moments are spikes, high points that only last so long as the moment does, and then it’s back to being “good” or “alright” or “content” (with occasional low points as well… we all have them.) None of those terms sound like regular happiness so it makes me wonder… what exactly does consistent happiness feel like!?

My first inclination is to say gratitude.  Indeed I am typically in a better state of mind and feel things are going my way when I can genuinely count my blessings and be grateful for the things I have.  Admittedly (though I’m not where I want to be and/or going there fast enough just yet,) I realize I have a huge number of things to be grateful for, but it simply isn’t enough to allow me to hold on to that “happy” feeling for more than a short time.  Perhaps this means I really don’t appreciate what my life has given me, maybe real happiness is a matter of being endlessly grateful for all this life has provided you no matter how much or how little you have in comparison to others.  If such gratitude should be relative then despite having grown up relatively poor, I and most others living in this country should indeed be happy pretty much all the time.  That would also mean, though, that in order to be consistently happy we would have to compare and contrast our lives against either (or both) our own previous misfortune or that of others.  In a sense that’s almost like celebrating the fact that I have it better than so many people around the world.  I realize that I actually do.  But I can’t imagine that recognizing and celebrating that is the secret to happiness.

Some gifts make folks happier than others...

Some gifts make folks happier than others…

Naturally the way around that dilemma is giving.  I like to give selfishly, meaning that I do so because it makes me feel good to give things to those who are either important to me, have earned it or sometimes are just in the right place at the right time (such as the homeless I usually feed during Ramadan.)  All of these things give me a temporary sense of accomplishment or pride.  However, I also really hate being indebted to people (again pride I believe.)  When I was younger I was forced to rely on others for basically everything.  Now that I don’t have to, I hate to be in a situation where I feel as if I owe somebody something.  Giving to others helps me even the “score” (again generally speaking) or even shift it as far to the other side of owing somebody as I can.  That sort of standing is very satisfying, but is that happiness?  Even if it is, like all the other situations it is fleeting.

I suppose then that I want to see an example of somebody that is visibly, obviously in an elevated mood (as in “happy”.. like Pharrell?) as a regular state of being.  What’s the secret? At what point do you meet the criteria that you can be honest when people ask you “Are you happy?” and you can honestly reply “Oh yes! Absolutely!”  Maybe it is really something we all strive for as often as possibility but we are hard-wired to be unable to grasp it constantly.  Perhaps it is (as we say) “the pursuit of happiness” that continues to give us purpose and causes us to seek out new and meaningful experiences.  Having been in an emotionally grey state of mind for many years now, I’m trying to figure out if it’s just me who isn’t sure about this sort of thing, or if in fact it’s part of the human condition.  In all honesty I try to avoid classifying myself as “human” whenever possible, but some concepts come with the territory of this life and maybe the secret to happiness is accepting that it will never be a regular thing but instead the one universal goal or ideal each individual can shoot for in their own personal (sometimes really twisted) way.  Regardless if you feel you are generally happy all the time, share you secret with me!  But if you’re more like me, as the holidays descend upon us, let’s make it a point to have as many happy moments as possible.  If it can’t be all the time, let’s make it as often as possible.

(In)fidelity

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Worth Reading!

I recently finished Paulo Coelho’s newest book titled “Adultery”. The subject is exactly as the title states and involves a woman’s journey from marriage to the temptations of an extra-marital affair and the ultimate resolution/consequences . I won’t give too many details as I don’t wish to spoil it for you, but I will say that thought the middle of the book got a little bit far-fetched, the overall story, thought processes and moral dilemma presented were solid and realistic. (Do note that “realistic “ is often not necessarily a happy ending.)

As you know, during my recent trip to my Seattle, I had the opportunity to discuss this (and many other) subjects with an old high school friend of mine, and contrast my lifestyle to hers. As a regular reader of my blog, she followed up with me and was interested in elaborating her views while asking me to write about mine. Since I really enjoy answering questions and providing feedback I ‘ll all to happy to oblige, especially because this is a subject that comes up a lot.

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You know who you are. Get on it!

My friend is the portrait of what many people see as the ideal relationship / marriage. She has been with her high school sweetheart for some seventeen years now and still very happy in her marriage. I haven’t seen or spoken to this man since high school, but he was good-natured and devoted to her then, so I have a feeling he is much the same now (judging especially from the photos and what-not I see on Facebook.) They have a house, two adorable children, and if they don’t have a white picket fence, I’m going to suggest she get one. Her marriage is one of two I can think of that have the chance to be that rare, older (not even “elderly” really) adorable couple celebrating their fiftieth anniversary.

At some point during our conversations in Seattle, my friend(s) and I got to talking about relationships and those that sometimes decide to include a third party (or more) in their sex life.  I’ve been involved in situations like that in the past (both as inviter and invitee) and I mentioned I’ve observed it bringing a new element into the bedroom and sometimes reviving a situation that may have become routine or mundane.  Later, my friend commented that she believed that if that happens with your partner, they may not be the right person for you.  She said: “I believe that when you are with the right person, sex should only get better and I don’t think that you need to add additional parties to make this happen.”  Further in the conversation she elaborated that every couple has problems, and the key was to attack those problems when they are small.  She gave an example of a friend of hers who is married but hasn’t had sex with her husband in (literally) years.  She hit the nail on the head when she said the solution was communication, and should’ve happened a long time ago.  The years (or even months barring medical conditions…) without sex are abnormal and destructive to the marriage.  I agreed that it was a total communication breakdown at it’s core, but where her and I may differ is that I actually believe that such communication is MORE important even than basic monogamy.

Wise man. (I can't believe that's a legit quote...)

Wise man. (I can’t believe that’s a legit quote…)

Allow me to explain: I often wish / fantasize about having the sort of situation that my friend has.  I won’t say everyone does, as times are changing and the “ideal” relationship can differ very much depending on the individual.  But many people (including me) still dream of finding “the one” on some level and living happily ever after.  However, finding that person is difficult and as my friend pointed out, even the  “perfect” marriage goes through dry spells and requires effort on both parties to continue to be a giving situation for both.  So, when things go wrong you encounter one of two scenarios:
 

1.  This is a problem we need to work out, but we’ll get past it and get stronger.

-or-

2.  One or both of us is no longer the right person for this relationship.  Either we weren’t from the beginning, or things have changed and instead of growing together, we have grown apart.

There’s nothing “wrong” with either of these situations.  Sometimes things simply are what they are and no amount of good faith effort will fix them.  But let’s focus on situation one, because once you’re in situation two, it’s just a matter of admitting and accepting it (which unfortunately can take a number of years anyway… and I can blog about that in the future…)

Cute/Funny but...

Cute/Funny but…


When a problem grows into an otherwise great, loving relationship, the vast majority of the time is the lack of honest communication.  When almost any issue is addressed straightforwardly, constructively and honestly, the majority of the time it can be resolved.  If they cannot, there’s a good chance you fall into situation two above.  VERY often I hear a primary issue of long-time couples is a stale or near nonexistent sex life.  I can tell you now that even as a 35 year old bachelor I don’t have the obsessive drive I had in my mid twenties, but I’m talking a couple of days off as opposed to weeks, months or years.  Why does this happen?  Routine? Insecurity? Too busy?  All of the above?  It happens because one or both parties is no longer excited about the prospect, it’s not longer turning them on.  Then, the situation becomes one-sided and turns into “work” instead of “play” for one or both parties.  Situations like this are what lead to people finding alternatives: Porn (individually.. and I’m not saying this is necessarily bad as it can excite one of both partners..) Toys (again, CAN be a good thing, all about how they are used…) and eventually other people (my friend doesn’t agree, but this can also end up a positive situation.)

The solution again is wide open communication.  But what get in the way is that people are afraid to tell their partners what they want.  After years, they worry about damaging their ego, being judged for something different they are craving, or coming across too needy or unreasonable for being wanted.  But I believe there’s nothing wrong with wanting something else or having expectations of your spouse on a sexual level.  If this is an ideal “forever” pairing, a partnership, both have to try to give the other what they need.  So many people are brought up on the outdated belief that love and sex have to be exclusive (and if that’s your preference more power to you), but it’s scientifically proven that this is simply not the case.  But instead of talking to their partner and being wide open about their deepest, darkest desires, they bottle it up, feel ashamed and tell themselves they are “wrong” for wanting these things. Then they try to pretend they are okay with the routine they have, but lying to yourself like that never ends well, and the all too common feeling of feeling “trapped” sets in.

Oh jesus.. THAT guy..

Oh jesus.. THAT guy..

One day, they come across somebody who is flirty and seems interested in them superficially.  Normally they probably wouldn’t even give the possibility a second thought, but two things come into play: 1. Human nature magnifies the feeling of wanting something when you feel you can’t have it (the initial desire has to be there first though.) and 2. Compared to their spouse, this person is not connected to their “real life” and is for all intents an purposes, a toy.  There is no marriage, no children and no responsibility to be an ideal spouse in this situation.  The opportunity arises to be fun, flirty, desired and greedy.  They get to demand what they want and if the person doesn’t like it, they are more or less discardable without issue.  The freedom is a huge turn-on, especially for somebody that has gotten into the habit of having to repress themselves.  I hate to bring Disney into this conversation, but this is the chance for them to “Let it go.”  Sometimes it’s a fling and nothing comes of it, others they are found out, or can’t handle the guilt and the world comes crashing down.  But it’s only a temporary solution either way, eventually the problem marriage still exists, or it’s been destroyed.

So, how do you avoid a situation like this?  I keep mentioning communication, but on a whole different level.  I’m talking about a soul-bearing, demon revealing, perverse, fucked up, this might hurt your feeling but you need to know this, holy shit this is scary but only you are worthy of this level of communication.  This is supposed to be your life partner, so you have to be willing to tell your deepest, darkest secrets and show them all the sides they signed up for before you end up feeling like you need to show that to somebody else.  Once the communication is on that level, you can figure out how to work it out (or not.  As it’s possible they simply can’t handle what you have to say, at which point I would be more likely to say you fall into option two above.)

Problem... solved?

Problem… solved?

Regardless sometimes that communication alone will solve the problem through new activities (red room anyone?)  But where I disagree with my friend I mentioned earlier though, is that when this communication takes place, it’s possible that another person, or even some other people might be discussed.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s ok.  It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re with the wrong person.  As long as the relationship has a totally open and honest level of communication, including potential feelings of pride, jealousy and inadequacy, and they are addressed respectfully with a constructive solution sought, then I don’t believe infidelity has occurred regardless of who does what with who.  The bond between two people who love each other is not merely based on the physical, and to say that somebody being involved with a different person negates a legendary bond of love is just ridiculous.  What matters is the trust.  If that is intact, so too should be the bond.

Oh son of a…

When I have these conversations, people try to flip it on me.  They say: “Well that’s very ideal, but what if the love of your life came to you and told you she wanted to be with somebody else sexually, or that she already had but she still loved you!  Could you really still be with her?”  Short answer: Yes, probably.  Longer answer:  If she had already done so, I would be pretty upset, pissed even to the point I might need some time.  But would I end it right away?  No.  I would try for the level of communication I mentioned above.  I would need to understand why she needed it, and what the solution was.  If I was satisfied with it, and I felt I could trust her based on that communication, I could stay.  In fact, once, a long time ago I already did.  But then many years later when I was similarly tested, I couldn’t open up and be that honest, I couldn’t bear my soul and make myself vulnerable, and so, I lost.  Rarely is it the actions that will kill a real relationship, but the reasons behind them that are locked away and never addressed.

When love and trust and that level of communication exist, I believe the right people for each other can overcome almost anything.  Then again, that’s awfully romantic of me… what do I know?

Homecoming: A Long Epilogue

Coffee + Magical Sky Juice = Writing Fuel!

Coffee + Magical Sky Juice = Writing Fuel!

I’ve been in the air for a little over an hour now (likely somewhere over Idaho) heading toward a short stop in Texas before the second leg of the trip back to Orlando. I think the most important thing I took from the short trip in Seattle is that I like it there. I like the weather, I like culture, I like the city and I like the people (My friends, arguably more so than I used to.) My path and the place I belong now is Orlando, but if and when the opportunity to return to Seattle made itself know, I would follow it happily. Granted there are many places that I would be willing to go in order to take the next step, but Seattle previously carried a stigma to it that no longer exists. In fact, because of my familiarity and the people I have there (friends and family both) it carries a specific appeal for sure. I have a hometown.

Shortly after my last post I was picked up and spent the evening (after all too iconic Seattle traffic) in Bellevue catching up with three young ladies from my high school days (all three of whom I’ve had a crush of some sort on at some point or another.) We began at a Mexican restaurant, three of use with appetizers and shots of tequila while we waited for our fourth to arrive. We told many stories of our classmates, and ourselves, went through some 16 total margaritas (combined), took many selfies and laughed about our misadventures in high school and since.

Tequila!

Tequila!

What was fascinating about these discussions is that each of them knew me in a different way. One hadn’t really kept up with me over the years (in fairness neither had I kept up with her…) but was the fortunate enough one to be stuck in traffic with me, allowing us to get a head start on catching up. We’d covered some relatively deep subjects, so when I began telling stories to the group she had a contextual reference the others did not. Another is a regular follower of my blog, so she had a great deal of background information both recent and historical. The third has been keeping up with me on Facebook and through regular messages for some time and was probably the most knowledgeable on my current life status.

I told them one thing I was quite jealous of was their children. As of now, two of them are married (one to her high school sweetheart) and the other is an amazing single mother (as evidenced by the stories of her children.) For the longest time I’ve wanted a child (preferably legitimately) but obviously I have to find the right person first and so far not a lot of headway has been made. In the car ride (traffic) over I had mentioned that we always want what we can’t have. So (especially in our thirties) some that have long established families and routines look at my lifestyle and see it as adventurous and free (I do my best anyway…) while I listen to the stories of their children, families and well-established careers and can’t help but wonder if I’m falling behind. Of course, as it stands, I don’t think any of us would trade, and though all three have two children (ideal in my mind), they are each in pretty different set of circumstances (perhaps I will elaborate on them a bit more in a future blog.)

As the night carried on we wandered the mall called Bellevue Square that we had spent a great deal of time at as high school kids. One had promised a friend she would pick up nifty scented bath soaps/oils of some sort and then we (predictably) found ourselves in Sephora (a makeup store) at which point one of the girls who hardly wears makeup and I slipped away to find more drinks. This was an education for me as I was introduced to Nordstrom’s having a full bar dead center in the middle of it’s store. Prices were surprisingly reasonable considering what the clothing usually runs. Eventually the other two caught up to us and after more discussion/selfies we made a quick stop to see my car (Tesla!!) and moved on to our final destination.

It was a Dark and Stormy night..

It was a Dark and Stormy night..

One of the girls had promised her friend she would take a photo of a huge blown glass chandelier that was crafted by a famous local Seattle artist (kicking myself at the moment for not having a photo to include in the blog.) When that mission was accomplished we moved upstairs to a pool hall I had talked to them about called “The Parlor”. Shortly before I left for Orlando I had spent a fair amount of time there. It had an upscale vibe (because Bellevue…) but was reasonable on prices and had pretty good happy hour specials. With fifteen minutes until happy hour we settled in for our last round.

Perhaps it was the drinks adding up or the hours getting later (in truth it was only 11:00 PM but people have families now and it was a Tuesday…) but the conversation turned to sex and was primarily based on me. As it happens I have a number of entertaining stories (don’t worry to some of you reading this… probably not THAT one… probably…) that had reactions ranging from laughter to a great deal of eye rolling (a not uncommon reaction.)  We finished off our drinks that accompanied some really great happy hour appetizers and decided to call it a night.   (I should point out that those who were driving had moderated their drinking responsibly as the night went on… and those that weren’t… probably felt it the next day.)

Addiction Manifested.

Addiction Manifested.

The following day I slept in and then took the Sounder (Seattle’s rail system) to go and visit my father. It was my first time on the train and I enjoyed the random local conversation along with my ability to plug in my electronics. The ride was quick and easy and before long my father picked my up in Lakeland where he now lives. After a quick stop to show off his new place, we headed out to Potlach (Hood Canal) to the house on the water to visit with his girlfriend and her son whom have become a part of his/our family throughout the years. Naturally as I lounged fireside I was fed and fed well. Meat, cheese and wine precluded my father’s amazing signature buffalo wings of which I ate entirely too many (as usual.) Feeling fat and comfortable I retired to my room for the evening, caught up on some shows and drifted off to sleep with an early morning and a day of flying ahead of me.

The morning went smoothly, I did my best to capture a few images of the water in the dim foggy morning light and we were off to the bus station. I arrived just in time to say goodbye and walk onto the airport bus. Upon arrival, I easily made my way through security with plenty of time to attend some business, pick up my new book (Prince Lestat!) and do a bit of shopping. The plane is completely full, and I’m in a middle seat, but I’m fortunate enough to have relatively small people on either side of me who seem to have good personal hygiene (the girl sitting next to me is also pretty cute. Bonus!)

The house on the coast.

The house on the coast.

As I near my landing in Texas I just keep thinking about the combination of familiarity and newness that Seattle has now that I carry a fresh perspective on it. It’s easy to see why people who travel there fall in love and never leave. Additionally, with the disappointing recent results of the Florida elections, it’s also easy to see why living in such a liberal state would be appealing. Seattle has culture, food and a specific vibe that is hard to find anywhere else. My father tells me every time I return that I need to move back and go back to school, he will be going for his Master’s soon and thinks I should follow suit. I might. But as much as I would like to say that my goal is to move back and live there indefinitely, I cannot. The truth is I will go wherever it takes to take the next step, to “make it”. When I do, I can visit, and catch up as I did this time whenever I like. It may or may not be home again someday, but it will always be my hometown.