Contentment

Once a fisherman was sitting near a seashore, under the shadow of a tree.

Suddenly a rich businessman passing by approached him and inquired as to why he was sitting under a tree smoking and not working. To this the poor fisherman replied that he had caught enough fish for the day.

Hearing this the rich man got angry and said: Why don’t you catch more fish instead of sitting here wasting your time?

Fisherman: What would I do by catching more fish?

Businessman: You could catch more fishes, sell them and earn more money, and buy a bigger boat.

Fisherman: What would I do then?

Businessman: You could go fishing in deep waters and catch even more fish and earn even more money.

Fisherman: What would I do then?

Businessman: You could buy many boats and employ many people to work for you and earn even more money.

Fisherman: What would I do then?

Businessman: You could then enjoy your life peacefully.

Fisherman: What do you think l am doing right now?

Sports

Growing up, sports were my life. I don’t talk about them all that much nowadays and people are usually a little surprised to hear it. My love of sports began with baseball then moved to basketball, where I spent the majority of my time as a child. College or the NBA, it didn’t matter, I watched it all. I also enjoyed the NFL and the NHL, but basketball was my true love. I spent hours editing the NBA Live video games on PC customizing shoes, jerseys, and rosters. I played daily and re-watched my various NBA tapes year round. Then one day, I started having issues. I’d watch sports center and I’d see my heroes, being bad. I see them getting arrested and not representing what I thought they should be. I didn’t buy into Charles Barkley’s “I am not a role model” comment, because marketing, NBA Inside Stuff, and Space Jam told me otherwise. These were good guys, loving a sport that I loved. Yea… I was naive.

Following Michael Jordan’s retirement, I stopped following the NBA. After a few key arrests and outbursts, I realized that the morals of my NBA heroes didn’t represent my own. The same went for the NFL and MLB (which I had abandoned during the strike). I still followed hockey until the third lockout (I think) when finally, I had enough of the millionaires battling the millionaires.

I turned my attention to pro wrestling. At the time, I didn’t see wrestlers getting arrested on Sports Center every night and I was naive to the dark side of the ring as well. But at first glance, it seemed like a much better alternative than traditional sports that seemed riddled with crybabies and criminals.

My love of sports never did fully return, although a few years ago, I started dabble with NASCAR and the NFL again. NASCAR didn’t stick, but I found myself quite excited for the return of the NFL season each year and I became invested in the various storylines and underdogs.

Of course, there was still the issues of criminality and a lack of morals, but I tried my best to overlook it because it seems thats something you have to do in everything these days. But after this season, I just don’t think I can. I found my excitement for the NFL season starting off super hot until now where I’m just tired of hearing about it.

I’m sick of Aaron Rogers and the NFL not enforcing the same rules throughout the league. I’m sick of the NFL covering up for the Washington Football Team and the owners. I’m sick of the NFL creating scapegoats. I’m sick of seeing spoiled millionaires trying to kick in doors, waving guns around or beating their wives with little to no consequences. I’m sick of seeing innocent people killed in car crashes because some asshole decided he wanted to drive 150 mph drunk in a Corvette.

I tried to turn a blind eye to it all and convince myself to love the art, hate the artist. I tried to say there was corruption in every industry, but I just can’t. I don’t watch the WWE because of various scandals and shady business practices, why should I watch the NFL? It doesn’t align with my values so it’s time I turn the channel.

An Affair to Remember

Recently, I’ve been sorting through some of my grandmother’s old photos. I ran across a small photo album full of pictures of her and her boyfriend, a man I knew as Papa Cleon. It forced me to slow down on my sorting and take a minute to reflect on forty years of memories as well as controversy.

My grandmother and grandfather divorced sometime in the early 70’s. My grandmother ended up raising all four of her children on a meager bakers salary. It was sometime during this period in her life that she met the man who she called the love of her life, Cleon.

Growing up, I never analyzed her relationship with Cleon. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and he seemed to make her very happy. He wasn’t around all the time, but we’d see him every few weeks for a night or two. He’d come take us out to dinner and then be on his way. He was also very gentle and kind, and was always handing out $20 bills to my brother and me. And in the 90’s, if you wanted the affection of some children, hand them a $20 bill.

He took my grandmother on mini weekend trips and vacations and pictures of him could be found throughout her apartment. It was a good, healthy relationship, maybe the only one I ever saw as a child. He treated her well, they never fought, and they seem to have genuine love and compassion for one another. But there was just one hiccup, he was married.

Yup, Papa Cleon was not my grandfather, but he was somebody else’s. He was married, with children, and grandchildren. His wife, knew of the affair, and while I’m not sure if she approved, she tolerated it for decades. I found out when I was around ten years old. My other grandmother dropped the bombshell on me when I called him Papa. She was still a bit sour that he asked her, “How is it living out in the sticks” when she ran into him at the hospital when I was born. She was a proud, poor, Southern woman and she didn’t take too well to having her home referred to as “the sticks.”

So, she let the family secret slip that everyone was already aware of. I guess, my mind was just too narrow, naive, and young to realize that the relationship didn’t really add up. I do recall once asking her if they were going to get married, but that was the extent of my questioning prior to this revelation.

Once I became an adult, my grandmother was very open about her relationship and never once showed an ounce of shame from it. As she got older, Cleon decided he needed to stick closer to his wife, and I believe he had a child die as a young adult and that made him recommit to his family. He didn’t stop loving my grandmother, he still called her almost daily and sent her money to help with the bills. They didn’t see each other like they used to but she never stopped loving him. Even up until her death, she said he was the only man she truly ever loved and could have been happy with. She talked about how she treasured every moment she had spent with him and how they seemed to fulfill each others lives. It was just bad timing or situations that kept them apart.

I haven’t seen Cleon since I was a teenager, but he is still alive. At least, he was two years ago. He kept in touch as my grandmother was slowly overtaken by her cancer, and I actually looked forward to seeing him at her funeral. Sadly, he did not make it. I believe her death was just too hard on him and that’s a shame.

As I look back through this carefully curated photo album, I see smiles, happiness, and love between these two adults. It wasn’t a moral relationship, but I do not doubt that they both made each other happy. I just wish my grandmother would have had an opportunity to experience the love and companionship that Cleon gave her, on a full-time basis and not as the other woman.

You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.


Marcus Aurelius

I did the being edgy and self deprecating thing. It gets old. I wanna be soft and easily impressed. I wanna appreciate all the little things that make me happy the same way I’ve dwelled on every single thing that upsets me.

Does It Even Matter

About ten years ago, I found myself watching football on Sunday afternoon. At the end of the 3.5 hour long contest, my team lost and I instantly thought to myself, “I just wasted three and a half hours that I could have been doing something I enjoyed.” It made watching sports hard for me ever since.

I’m not knocking on just sports, but I guess anything where you have a good chance of being disappointed. In sports, it’s almost always a 50/50 deal. Either your team wins or they don’t. When watching a movie, there is always a chance you won’t enjoy the movie or you will, but behind the scenes there are people working hard so that you will be entertained and you get your moneys worth. Where as in sports… the fan is the last person anyone cares about.

I was once a big NASCAR fan, where my odds of being disappointed were even greater, something like 40-1. The races were often four hours in length and after my revelation regarding being disappointed occurred it made it almost impossible to watch a full race again. For the time cost of watching one race, I could watch four to eight TV shows, or even two movies that were all created in attempts to entertain and please me. Why do I waste time watching something where the odds are I’m going to be disappointed?

There is an argument for the joy of the sports or the athletic competition, but that’s what highlight reels are for. Or maybe, it’s feeling apart of something bigger than yourself where the best of the best face-off to see who ultimately is the better performer. I guess it’s up to each individual to put value on how much they appreciate those aspects.

I’ve realized that in the past, I’ve done a lot of things out of my own expectations. I’m a fan of this so I must watch this game. Or I enjoy this show, so I need to read all the related books. Or even, I really like The X-Files, but can I say I’m a fan if I quit the show after Mulder left?

Where did this pressure come from? Certainly some of it came from social expectations of “mega-fans” but somewhere inside of me I feel the need to be a completionist, and in doing so, I’ve stuck with things much longer than they ever deserved. I found myself watching TV shows I was completely disinterested in, just because I wanted to “finish it up.” And I guess the biggest shocker for this is, why? Who am I trying to impress? No one cares if I watch all of a show or not. No one cares if I’ve seen ever episode of Futurama twice or if I fizzled out in the fifth season. It’s just entertainment, and the moment you are no longer entertained, you should venture out to something else that meets that need.

While sick, I laid in bed looking at all of the TV shows I have started across several streaming apps and I realized I didn’t want to watch any of them. In fact, I wasn’t really enjoying any of them. I was just watching them to watch them, and maybe a few weeks from now I feel more compelled to watch an episode of Dharma and Greg, but for right now, what I want to do is rewatch Mad Men. So, I restarted Mad Men from the beginning, leaving dozens of shows to be neglected in the process. And who cares? If you are reading this, I’m certain you don’t. And why should I? It’s just a TV show or book or film series, or video game or stamp collection or car restoration or whatever else you want to fill in the blank with.

Please, Stop Talking At Me

A few months back, I was reading through some of the earliest blogs that I had written and I was mortified by what I saw. I was in my early twenties, cocky, and my writing was an embarrassment. I cannot tell you how many times I found myself talking to the audience in brash ways like, “Well if you don’t go see this movie, then you’re an idiot” and I may have toned down that quote just a slight bit.

I realized that my tone some fifteen plus years ago, is not too unlike what I see on the internet now. While I’m mortified by it, it seems that others have adopted it for daily use. The name calling, the “I know better than you know” attitude, and general unpleasantness is rampant. Even if you avoid places like Twitter, it seems this sort of talking down to your audience shows up in news sources, entertainment pages, and what-like. I guess, I expect it on social media, but not so much on a video game news site.

But, I guess this is the world we live in. You either agree with me or you are a fucking idiot. I don’t attempt to win you over with an intelligent, calm, explanation, instead I’m suppose to name call and shame you into changing your opinion. Wow… when did this happen.

It’s actually made reading a lot of the internet unpleasant for me. I’m sick of being talked at. I’m sick of people positioning me to sell me an idea or brand. I just would love for the information to be laid out without a motive behind it. But I feel like this sort of writing now extends past the internet as well and into alot of the non-fiction books that I come across. Well, at least those of the self-help nature. It’s all this talking at you and none of this having a dialogue with you. Which is funny, because when I open up a novel, I feel like the author is inviting me on a journey into a world of interesting characters and curious places and within it are no expectations for me to buy into anything. I’m not written to, instead I’m written for, and it’s okay for me accompany the writer on the journey and if I choose to stop the journey, no hard feelings. That story just wasn’t for me.

I’m beginning to feel the internet is not for me anymore. It’s almost like a reboot of what I grew up with. I loved the original and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart, but this new version isn’t for me. It wasn’t made for someone my age or emotional maturity, and that’s okay. It’s made with others in mind now.

Something Tangible

Recently, I began sorting through a bin of pictures that my mother has. This bin is full of pictures that were my grandfathers, my grandmothers, and my own mothers photos from over the years. There are hundreds of memories, many of them lost to time, sitting in this bin just waiting to be sorted out and possibly discarded.

Looking through these photos has stirred up something inside of me. There is just something about these snapshots in time that were once so important that someone felt the need to try and archive it. These little moments of people eating dinner, showing off a new house, coming back from the war, or just laughing and smiling. Two generations of moments, tucked in an organized and dusty bin, left to be forgotten.

There is something magical about picking up these photos and instantly being able to date them. Some of the photos are 4×6 and come from my childhood. Others are black and white and much smaller, but on much thicker paper. Some of the photos are crystal clear, while others have that hazy look to them. Not a single photo is perfect that I’ve run across, but that doesn’t matter.

One of my favorite photos is one of me and my grandfather as I attempt to put bunny ears on him. Both of our heads are turned, the camera angle isn’t great, and its not the clearest of images. But in this moment, capture in time, I can feel the authenticity. I can zoom out, like a fly on the wall, as my jolly grandfather played with me and maybe even tried to set up for a proper photo. My being shy and a bit of a smart ass, insisted on giving him bunny ears, which only made him laugh, and also probably my mother who took the photo. The photo was not perfect, but the moment was even if I don’t remember it. It’s what the photo reveals to me, or at least the story I surround with the photo.

Photos are like little time machines, that take you back to someplace that we have all lost. Someplace that we all wish to be again. I find myself nostalgia for old photos of Christmas dinners from the 1950’s, which I was never apart of. It’s amazing what a good photograph can do.

When I look at these old photos, I don’t see wasted shots. I don’t find six attempts at one angle and six more at a slightly different one. Things are touched up or edited or even fabricated like they are today. What you see is what you get and the most falsehood you will find is in fake smiles and carefully arranged food items on a table or presents around a Christmas tree.

It makes me wonder if we lost something in our attempts at capturing the perfect shot and instead of just archiving the messy life as we see it. Is there a bit of humanity washed away in the sanitized and over glamorized attempts at documenting our lives. Is nothing really, real anymore?

The single most impactful part of sorting through these photos is having something I can hold in my hand. I never realized how much I missed that. Sure, one might argue that this disorganized bin of photos is exactly why things went digital, but I counter with how dusty would your old digital photos be had they been printed out? How often do you look at them or enjoy them or do they just rot in the cloud somewhere, only pulled out for the occasional moment?

I sometimes feel that we have everything at our fingertips and equally we have absolutely nothing. As my life has continued to become more and more digital, I wonder what is left. Has the feeling of instant gratification overtaken the pleasure of waiting and anticipation? Do I get as much joy out of the nice digital photos I take as I would waiting for them to be developed and anticipating the results? I’m sure for a professional photographer the answer would be yes, because the images are instant, editable, and cheap. But for sure regular folks, who are just navigating through life on a day-to-day basis, has the progression been for the betterment of everyone? I’m not so sure.

If you can’t hold something does it truly have value? Is it even really yours?