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Existing 

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About twenty minutes had passed and there was an abrupt silence so loud in the air I nearly had to cover my ears. Up until that moment there had been animated banter and passion filling the room around me, which had eventually turned into white noise in the background. The deafening silence broke and the man says to me, “Now how’s that for a statistic?” I paused to quickly think of something even remotely sensible to respond back with. I replied with something  generic in agreement, something safe like “yeah, that’s amazing.”  

How did I just miss that entire rant? He really had my attention at the beginning and I was eager to learn all about the topic of conversation, but somewhere in the midst of a one sided conversation my attention wandered and I became lost. I found myself buried in the illuminated screen at my finger tips. It was almost an involuntary response to pick up my phone and begin scrolling. Was I actually processing whatever insignificant information my eyes were quickly skimming over? Was any of it more important than the conversation I should have been engaged in right in front of my face? Definitely not. 

I snapped back to reality and it seemed the conversation was approaching the end. I felt a sense of emptiness and guilt from having just robbed myself of what could have been a fun and informative conversation, but more importantly, a bonding experience with my father. 

I can’t help but notice a disconnect from my surroundings day to day. The capacity of this sensation varies depending on where I am or what I am doing. I feel like I’m seldom ever fully present. Part of this is due to how my mind wanders, but an even greater part of it is due to the numerous distractions surrounding us in our daily lives. Phones, computers, video games, Netflix, the list goes on. I want to truly feel present every day. I don’t want to miss out on connections with people and I certainly don’t want to pass up meaningful experiences.

It made me think of a quote from a book I read recently. I believe it’s a motto we should all actively strive towards living by. 

“We are surrounded every day by the wonders of life, wonders beyond comprehension that we simply take for granted. I decided that day that I would live my life-not simply exist.” 

Something has to change. 

Reality Strikes

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Sometimes reality can hit us like a ton of bricks, when we least expect it. And sometimes it’s force can strike so hard, that it even sets us back. Understanding other people’s pain is something we as humans will never have the ability to do. Just because there is always someone else out there suffering more than us, does not mean we should disregard our own struggles by any means. However, it should really make us sensitive to the fact that we shouldn’t push our own problems on people all the time. We never know what that other person is going through.

Yesterday I received news that an old friend of mine from high school passed away. He was one of the sweetest people I have ever encountered in my life. So genuine and humble, he really was. But he was also one of the saddest people I knew. He was never able to conquer his own demons. And they got the best of him. Perhaps he is in a better place now, free from pain. I hope so at least.

As I get older I hear many more shocking stories that I don’t want to accept. The harshness of reality is not something I am ready to take on. The world can truly be an ugly place’ compiled of many ugly people trying desperately to make the most of it, put on a mask and appear beautiful.

 

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Who knows

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As I move from new location to new location I find myself meeting many new people of all different sorts. I’ve seen so many new faces this past year that my head could explode. I remember the names of some of the important ones. I pick out their quirks and admire their good qualities that set them apart from others.

And I suppose others observe me in the same way. I’ve been asked a lot lately by people I don’t know too well to tell them about myself. What do you like to do for fun? What is Paige about? What makes you, you?

I find myself dumbfounded whenever asked these questions. I guess I could tell them the truth and that I really enjoy stuffing my face with unhealthy food, abusing my brain and body with chemicals, sleeping, and doing absolutely nothing… But why would that seem appealing to anyone? So instead I tell them “I’m not quite sure yet”. Because excluding the things I just mentioned, I really don’t know what I am about anymore. It seems the more I relocate, the more of me is left behind in the previous place. It’s hard to understand current Paige. Is this normal?

I don’t have a deep-seeded passion for much, I’m not especially talented at anything, I don’t really have a hobby. So really, what AM I about? How do I figure out WHAT I am about, and what my strengths are? I feel as though I am at a very long stand-still. And I’m kind of itching to get out of it.

11 days

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I was sitting on the dock beside a girl buried in her phone, afraid to look up- wondering if she too was about to face an emotional journey like mine. I looked around at all the families, couples, friends- they were all enjoying their beautiful vacation, in a place many would die to get a chance to visit.

I was leaving.

Whether I would return was still a question racing through my mind. It wasn’t much of a vacation for me anymore- it was hatred, fights, tears, and unhappiness. It was the bottomless pit in my stomach wondering where things went wrong. It was the fear of no longer being loved, and having nobody left to stand by me.

It was loneliness.

I was the first to board. I sat by the door to be the first one out, much like I always did. When the boat finally pulled away, I passed by every landmark where we had built a memory. Every single surface of the shore had a goddamn memory. The last bit of land within sight, before drifting into the middle of the ocean, was the beach where we spent many of our days. Tangled up in one another; collecting sea glass, challenging one another to stone skipping contests, and long, freezing walks through blizzards with Gypsy. The house that sheltered us from every season of weather was now miles away. The man who I had adored more than any other was now miles away.

I spent four hours traveling home, racking my brain for answers. Who was I going to turn to? How could I fix this? How would I even explain myself? What was going to happen next? I did a good job lying to myself that things would be better and nothing would change. To my disappointment, that was no longer the outcome. Two days later I reached out to the people I had. I quit my job, I collected a years worth of my memories along with my dog, and I left the island behind me. I roamed the city for two consecutive days and got myself a new job. With more disappointment and a weeks worth of failed success first to come, I finally found myself a beautiful apartment to live in. I confided in the people who really have stood by me, fought through the aching and pain, and pushed myself to achieve what needed to be achieved.

Our lives can change within a blink of an eye. Never assume that things will go according to plan, because that’s not the journey life has set us out on. We are here to face challenges, to meet people who will affect us for eternity- and leave them too. To feel pain, pleasure, and everything else in between.

Be strong no matter how comfortable you may feel.
Strength is what will make us the superior ones.

Daily Prompt – Birthday

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You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory. GO.

Coincidentally enough, today is my birthday. What better day than today to reminisce on a previous birthday experience.

Today I am turning 12: Finally my parents are giving me new responsibilities and I’m kind of starting to feel like a real grown up. All I have wanted all year is a laptop of my own just like my big brothers. After all, isn’t it fair that we are all given the same things? I’m 12, I think I deserve the world…

I wake up and can’t even make it until the end of the day to open my present from my parents because I know exactly what it is! I convince them to let me open it immediately. My eyes have never fallen in love so quickly with anything before. It’s a beautiful, shiny, blemish-free, Acer laptop. A bit big (17”) but who cares, it’s a computer of my own. I run to my room and begin exploring the alternative world of the… INTERNET! I think I must have visited every single website known to man in a matter of two hours. When all of a sudden…. It stops working? What has just happened to me? What Gods from above are out to get me today?

I run down to my father to complain about my defective machine that he had just given to me. Of course the real problem is that the computer had a virus, which was probably my own fault for being reckless. I did not admit to it though. I continued to blame the product for being defective. Being the bratty 12 year old I was, (and probably still am) I demanded they return it right away and get me one that worked. This was back when Comp USA was still around, so my determined parents drove almost an hour down to the store to demand I receive a functioning computer.

I am home waiting eagerly with my brother, praying their return is quick so I can pick up where I left off exploring the cosmos of the inter-web. Hours pass and still I have not heard from them. Until all of a sudden everything begins to move at warp speed and every thought of my laptop has been pushed to the back of my mind. My father races through our front door to grab something for my mother and tells us there has been an emergency. He tells my brother to keep an eye on myself and the house while he goes to the hospital with my mum, but does not tell us anymore. We look out our front window and my mom is in the drivers seat of her car with firefighters and EMTs pulling her out because she was in so much pain she could not move.

We finally hear from my parents hours later to let us know my mum is doing well and she was recovering from a very severe gallbladder attack. They profusely apologized for ruining my birthday, which never even crossed my mind. My brother and I quietly celebrated ourselves that night, with my new computer.

Why we force ourselves to live in seclusion and why it is actually hurting us.

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“And in this curious state I had the realization, at the moment of seeing that stranger there, that I was a person like everybody else. That I was known by my actions and words, that my internal universe was unavailable for inspection by others. They didn’t know. They didn’t know, because I never told them.”  – Kim Stanley Robinson

 

You surround yourself all day with people, whether it be at your job or taking classes at a university. You finally make it home at the end of the day; you realize there’s nothing you’d rather do more than turn your phone off, ignore everybody’s calls and text messages, and shut the world out. You repeat this routine daily until you’ve slowly found yourself working from home and taking occasional classes online. You can’t seem to remember the last time you had a good night out with friends. The vibrates from your phone seem scarce and before you know it, your closest friends have given up trying to keep up whatever relationship you had left with them. 

Okay this is getting kind of depressing and we can’t keep living like this. 

Though the solitude may feel exhilarating and it may feel like you’ve begun accomplishing all your personal goals and that you’re moving in the right direction – you’re wrong.

You miss people aggravating and harassing you. That is because this kind of connection with the “outside world” is absolutely necessary to live the best life you are given. We thrive from human contact, we learn from other beings, and work fantastically along side likeminded ones. 

A few reasons one may want to seclude themselves in the first place are:

1. Lack of trust in others – This could have stemmed from consistent (or just one person) betraying another’s trust. Often times people will disconnect due to lack of faith in others. Usually others will begin seeming less and less trustworthy over a longer period of time.

2. Depression/Anxiety – Some people suffer from internal difficulties when it comes to interacting with others. It could be due to environmental or social factors as a young child, or a traumatic experience happening to them during their life.

3. To be in peace – Sure being alone can be peaceful for a certain duration of time. People like to have the ability to escape in a sense from everyday struggles and reality. For some, being alone can be very therapeutic. 

Though some of these mentioned reasons may sound relevant and appealing to your life, they are not in the long run. Living in seclusion can actually enhance the first two reasons I mentioned and give people a warped sense of reality, a delusion of perception if you will. We trust less and fear more when we are not given the ability to experience interaction first hand. This then increases levels of depression and anxiety because we develop less control of much of what we were once able to control. The greater the fear, the greater the chance of running away, for many. It does not allow people to open up to others and robs them of the ability to relate to the many people out there that share similar minds.

What many tend to forget is that there about about 7 billion other people in the world.. This means a few things.

1. There are probably 7 billion other people out there who feel the same way as you.

2. There are 7 billion other people who are worrying and judging themselves, they aren’t living to judge you.

3. There are 7 billion other people out there for you to teach and learn from.

In the large scheme of things, we are all nothing compared to the many others out there in this world. In the small scheme of things, we still have very high chances of meeting others who can help better our lives in ways we may never even comprehend.

Turn your phones on, get out there and try new things. Open your hearts to all the people who may pass by and show interest in you. One day when you are old and wise, you will be able to look back and be grateful that you were able to learn what you did from all the other living beings who are lucky enough to have met you.