You are invisible and that’s ok

Something I realized lately is that to most of the population I am an extra at best in this play of life but for the most part no one is looking at me. Even if they are they don’t know who I am. Even if they do they probably don’t care.

You are special to people who know you. The people who love you cherish you, and to them you matter.

But to know someone takes time. Time is limited and so the number of people you truly can know beyond the trivial is minimal

Not to mention that most people are just like you, paying attention to their actions , thoughts and feelings.

Finally, add in the pull of the smart phone which people are buried in and you realize that for the most part you could do whatever you want and as long as you aren’t hurting anyone no one is gonna even notice or remember.

While this might seem like a great existential problem, reframing it as a human boon can help you immensely.

Since no one is watching really, you can do whatever you want, in the private of your own life. You are free to dye your hair green,or dress like a hipster or wear an anime tshirt.

Because at the end of the day no one is really gonna care except you.

There is no End Point

This is your life.

I know, I know, this is some Gary Vee, motivational stuff, but I don’t share his grinder philosophy, I am not saying this to motivate or move you.

I am saying this because this is reality.

I spent my life sweeping the floor hoping that it would never get dusty, but entropy happens. Energy has to be spent to reverse it, and ya know that’s ok.

The sooner you make peace with this the more you can just enjoy the process.

That sounds simple, but it isn’t, because here is the secret, you are never done.

It’s just change. All of it is change, and finishing is only temporary. That means that trying to hold onto anything can only cause pain.

So revel in your human mistakes, they will pass. Revel in your victories, they will fade, and Revel in your life, it will end. But not really. Something somewhere is always changing.

The key is to stop looking for the end point, but even in this you will fail, and that is ok. The key is to keep on keeping on.

Simpler typed than done.

If you must suffer, Suffer Well

One of Monet’s works Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

It is curious that if ones looks hard enough threads of humanity link us together. At the core of nearly every philosophy there is a supposition, a rule, a dictate, or a truth.

One must suffer.

This is not exclusively an eastern philosophy, and it can be found in the works of Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankle, and in the works of many Existential philosophers of the western cannon. This consistent thread is one of the reasons I am currently convinced of it’s veracity.

Now many take this truth and turn it to Nihilism. They learn like the dog in the electrified cage that there is no escape from suffering and so fall into learned helplessness.

However, unlike the poor abused animal in that horrific experiment in the past, we are not bound by our physiology, instead if we allow ourselves to we can learn we are helpless to suffer, but able to choose the type of suffering.

“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”

― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Why does this matter? Because not all suffering is made the same.

Suffering is not some meaningless thing thrust upon us, but our perception of change. The world changes. I often struggled with the idea that accepting everything as is without judgement would be impossible.

Would I not simply stagnate?

How could I accomplish such an insurmountable task?

To answer my own questions:

No, the world will not stop by accepting it, by accepting it you instead become able to respond better and more efficiently, change is not optional, though you can choose to grow.

To be frank, you cannot do it. I know sounds super Kooky right? Well it’s not. You can simply try and practice at it, each time moving away or from it, but moving none the less.

Suffering is the price of admission to life.

Though there are some that might scoff at it’s simplicity, it is my current belief that you could not know that something was pleasurable if you did not know what pain was.

I think this is why we have what we generally call first world problems. Suffering always measures itself in relation to the situation. If one is hungry they suffer, if one is fed they might complain about the quality of the food. If one has nothing but high quality food they might suffer the dread of boredom.

By being cogniscient that suffering will come along, we are no longer at its behest, and instead greet it as an old friend, knowing that our labors have been paid for and any boons or banes we earn are our own.

So if you must suffer, choose to suffer well, but if you can change something, then do so!

It’s a Grand and Noble game

“Let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream that you wanted to dream. And that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time. Or any length of time you wanted to have. And you would, naturally as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes.

You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive. And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each, you would say “Well, that was pretty great.” But now let’s have a surprise. Let’s have a dream which isn’t under control.

Where something is gonna happen to me that I don’t know what it’s going to be. And you would dig that and come out of that and say “Wow, that was a close shave, wasn’t it?” And then you would get more and more adventurous, and you would make further and further out gambles as to what you would dream.

And finally, you would dream … where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today.”

So suppose the above quote is true. Let’s suppose this is by choice our life. That what is going on is what we chose to do.

Well then it certainly means that this is all a game!

The real worry comes from not knowing. All anxiety is the recognition of how invariably complicated this all is. Think of even a simple task, say going to the market, and begin to think of everything that will go wrong.

Even excluding subtle variations, you could list a thousand things, and still not being close to done. Thus anxiety.

But the quest to eliminate anxiety totally is also a fools errand!

Peoeple miss that the game is the interplay between anxiety and calm, between past and future, and want and satiation.

Life is not, as we so often see it in the west, a problem to be solved. That sort of thinking is both reductive and dangerous, as is all too often seen in the Utopianists of the world, be they Mao, Stalin, Hitler, or nameless Southern Slave owners.

So given this, what is a person to do?

Well, I’ve not the foggiest idea.

Actually, I have some idea, and that is the most anyone can ask for.

The idea is to play the game sincerely. Not for some outcome, as outcomes aren’t real, they are imaginary devices we invented to help produce real tangible results, but the goals aren’t actual physical things.

No, the idea is to play to play, and accept if there is a boon or bane, that is a nice treat or an unpleasant shock, but it isn’t the point.

Some people call this state flow, where the mind becomes immersed in the moment, and loses track of the grand societal narrative, they become sincerely dedicated to something they want to do.

You see when we play the game with results in mind it taints it. If we talk to an attractive person we’d like to get to know, and we really want to get their number, our sincerity is removed, and we come off as a sales pitch. Only when we go in knowing that we might fail and being ok with that, can we really fall into ourselves and away from the objective.

This all may sound a little crazy, and it is. But I’ve come to find some sort of peace in the knowing, that it’s all a grand game, and the point is to play it.

Advice for young men: It’s all a Practice

Watchmen by Alan Moore

In Western thought, a single pervasive fallacy, largely perpetuated by a long-running obsession with the Judaeo-Christian end of the world, is that things end.

While the science of the Heat Death of the universe is compelling for instance, there are some rumblings that not even that is the true end of the universe.

This obsession with ends trickles down through our culture, permeating the sociology and priming it for dissatisfaction.

The truth is that nothing really ends. Nothing is finished, simply abandoned. No project reaches completion.

A common Buddhist metaphor is a floor. One does not sweep a floor with the intent that it will never need to be swept again. Instead, he or she decides to sweep the floor because it needs doing in that moment, and for the immediate gain of having a clean floor. The floor will always get dirty again but that is not the concern of the sweeper. The only concern that particularly matters is the doing.

I bring this story up to deliver a simple message that is supremely difficult in today’s world to follow that nothing really ends.

And if nothing really ends, then well, it’s all a practice, it’s all a skill, and there is always the next time until there isn’t.

We Earn our Leaders

It is no secret that the United States, my preferred nomenclature for the country so often regarded as America, is in limbo of sorts.

Love him or hate him, the president of the USA ‘s actions are ineffectual for the most part. At the beginning of the pandemic he denied how serious it was.

This is not a political statement, though I am sure people will make it one. I can understand from a historical and personal perspective why many of his supporters chose him.

The current US President is precisely why Plato hated democracy.

However, I do not think, as ineffectual he can be he’s the problem.

We’ve not changed in 20,000 years always demanding leadership and sacrifice but not demanding it of ourselves.

We’ve lied to one another. We’ve acted against our best interests. We’ve earned our leaders.

We allowed our merchant class to export our jobs, because we feared what unions might inspire. We allowed our politicians to take money from special interests because we’ve swallowed the lie that the government is too corrupt to distribute funds to campaigns.

Each freedom stripped away did so in the face of great fear, and like all fears each time we did nothing to challenge it, each time we ran from it, it grew stronger and demanded more.

In the years of the Obama Administration we grew complacent. We did not demand accountability for things he’d done, we assumed racism was fading, we assumed people were simply going to do the right thing, that the historical forces were now one their way to permanent utopian levels.

We gave up the good, slow, habitual work that led to the first black president, and in that void others, powered by fear, hate and poverty elected a man unfit to lead.

The current state of the united states is on all of our heads. We all have work to do. We will always have work to do. That is the nature of the universe.

And the worst part is… we are all doing the best we can.

I am a highly critical individual. My primary focus is myself. Lately, I’ve been working on becoming more accepting of the universe. More accepting of the sticky F key on my laptop, more accepting of my erratic sleep schedule, and more accepting of my penchant for emotional outbursts.

The world is on fire right now, but in it’s defense it’s been burning for a long time. The embers that started this fire are at their youngest 500 years old. I am not the right person to comment on all this, I am a Hetero white guy, living in an upper middle class suburb outside one of the richest cities in LA. All I can say is, well F#*$.

My mind jumps to be critical, but the voice of mindfulness puts a gentle hand on my shoulder, and I recall, there is no better reality where none of this happens. Everyone, including me, is doing their best, and it’s all a tragedy.

That does not mean we cannot change the future. I’ve just realized that I cant fix now because now is already too late.

It’s hard to see a path forward in this land of desolation, where 100 companies create nearly 70% of all pollution, a corrupt political system rots slowly around us, and people of color are gunned down without cause or consequence to the killer. But, what else can a man do?

This morning I sat with this overwhelming sadness, before reminding myself of my favorite metaphor of mindfulness.

One does not sweep a floor with the intent that this will be the last time the floor will ever have to be swept, one sweeps the floor because it is dirty. The floor will become dirty again, but that is a problem for the future.

Night 3 and Morning 4: Adios Tokyo

My stay in Tokyo was growing near its close and I felt a bit sad, as I realized that I could spend a year in the city and never delve even a small portion of it’s secrets. Being the massive geek I am, I decided to spend the last few hours I had in the Akihabara district. 
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This was a retro gamer’s paradise.  I found but didn’t want to shell out 5000 Yen for an unopened copy of Pokemon Red. High school me was pleased enough.



My final meal in Tokyo was this Kebab shop. It was run by a man from Turkey who knew only a little anguish, and I knew broken Japanese, it was bizarre, and wonderful all at once. IMG_0709

Gundam Cafe, yup… gotta love Japan.


My last venture into Shibuya at night!IMG_0714 IMG_0719 IMG_0726

A bit more western style food. IMG_0729

Frankly this Hot Gingerale is amazing. It comes out of the machine warm, and it is an experience. These heated drink machines need to come out in the States. IMG_0736

One of many Onigiri I ate in Japan, they 100 yen buys you a heck of a lot of calories. IMG_0737

Japanese children’s show…no words. IMG_0739

I was excited to head to Kyoto. Japan’s ancestral capital. I was even more excited to ride the legendary Japanese Bullet Train!
IMG_0740 IMG_0764 IMG_0765 IMG_0767 IMG_0771 IMG_0780

This picture accurately captures how fast we were going, my camera slanted the picture simply because it couldn’t shutter fast enough.
IMG_0782 IMG_0787 IMG_0821The Japanese countryside from what I saw consisted of extremely populated townships, and then vast empty farmlands and lonely mountains. I like small town architecture quite a bit as much of it captures the ancient Japanese style while being modern still. There is something nostalgic from these places, they remind me of anime, and my youth, of wishes, long since forgotten.

IMG_0846 IMG_0847And with only 2 hours taken out of my day I traveled nearly 500km! Fantastic! More of Kyoto tomorrow!!

Japan Night 2: Two bars and a crossing

When I was a kid I wondered why fantastical realism was so popular in the anime I watched. Every anime hero found some lost shrine or hidden place and I having grown up in a population dense but geographically spacious area could not truly appreciate the mysticism of having things packed so tightly next to one another. Most of the buildings I encountered were multilevel and filled to capacity with every type of shop imaginable. I recall quite on accident pressing the third-floor button on an elevator and having it open directly into a restaurant.  No foyer, no hallway, and no host stand, just a table with two people eating, maybe 3 feet from the doors. Tokyo is a place bisected by time, with the very old clinging to the edges of where the very new is not.

I returned from my first trip into Akihabara tired, as I was still sick. and I slept for a few more hours before I decided to head out. The sun was setting as I trecked along.

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It was odd, and many people questioned why photograph this man’s converse, but it reminded me a lot of home, and despite being gone for only a day or two international travel tends to summon up homesickness readily.
IMG_0494One of the few one on one interactions I had with someone who was japanese. Harajuku is very close to Shibuya, and there was actually a photo op location near my hotel, so I ran into these lovely ladies. Not pictured is the part where they took about 20 photos of themselves with me.

after narrowly escaping the lovely ladies above, I read online (read 7-11 WiFi)  about a bar that was also a collectables store, and so I headed out in search of it, and despite Tokyo’s incredibly hard to navigate address system, I found it!


the stock , and On the second floor of a (relatively) small building was a little shop called mint. From the outside, it looked like a card and comic shop. I ventured in browsed the stacks, found some deals, and then found the bar. IMG_0485The bar is ingenious. The tables had play area below a glass sheet which covered the playing field, meaning you could drink and even spill on accident without having to worry about getting your game of choice dirty. The bar also featured sports betting from what I could tell.


When I finally pulled my jaw off the floor and got back to Shibuya crossing it was in full swing. I have never seen so many people all walking all at once, except maybe at Comicon, but instead of being overweight pop culture aficionados, they were  all well-dressed Asians. (quick note, I saw only 2 people in my entire time in Japan who didn’t look like they’d spent considerable time in front of a mirror. Both of those 2 people were old ladies, who had a look of IDGAF about them.)IMG_0529 IMG_0526 IMG_0512

Sorry for the blur, I took these while moving through the crowd.IMG_0505

As I walked along I found this wonderfully beautiful dress. It was in a bridal shop and the color and cut really caught my eye.


This is something we need here in the States. It’s a smoking room. Japan is very strict about where you can smoke, and this is one of the area’s designated for smoking. I can see this being really useful when it rains or snows. IMG_0496BEHOLD THE BEHEMOTH That is Starbucks. I actually never tried Japanese Starbucks. A 12-ounce coffee was 5 USD and I decided to stick to canned coffee.

IMG_0532So to be completely off kilter I decided to visit a bar in Shibuya. I settled on one right up the street from my hotel, a British-themed underground pub. (for a country that has earthquakes the Japanese seem to be enamored with being below ground). Within I drank the best damned Rum and Coke I’ve ever had. They added a fresh lime, and it was glorious. Even at the time the comedy of the situation was palpable, as I was sitting in Tokyo, in a Brittish Pub, Drinking and American soft drink mixed with a Puerto Rican Spirit.

I’d like to say I went galavanting into the night and that I was too drunk to take pictures, but I did not. I had three drinks, and then stumbled back to my hotel, and passed out. (pardon me for being a light weight!)

Day three-tomorrow dear readers! Thanks for reading!