Sometime I look for a sign from the Universe, from God, or from my Angels. Yes, I believe in Angels. I’m surrounded by them every day. They’re the people in my life who make my world better on the daily. I saw this sign recently, “Everything Is Going To Be Alright,” and I had to take a picture of it. It came at the exact moment I needed it. Ever notice that? You get a sign, or a person shows up, or you read something on a bathroom wall – no, not that cell number for a good time – I’m talking about a sign that life is going along just fine. You’re okay. Life is not as difficult or bad as you thought it was, and the challenge or situation isn’t ever really as big or little as I think it is. Again, get your mind out of the gutter, I’m putting out existential chat here, not ass.
I find things do have a way of working themselves out, and sometimes in the most unexpected ways. And isn’t that a part of what makes this ride called life fun? I mean if I knew all the results, outcomes, and finales how boring would that be?!?! A little bit of mystery and intrigue keeps me going. Oh, yeah, I have my moments when I curse my process, wanting to know the answer now. Take my car lease for example. I was supposed to turn it in next month, but I couldn’t find the new car I wanted to replace it, and man did I look for months. Other pieces to the lease turn in weren’t working out either. I needed some body work done but didn’t have the cash on hand to do it right away, along with some other maintenance, and I just couldn’t see how everything was going to get done by my turn in date. Then, one day while car shopping on-line, Google’s algorithm popped me up a photo of a new car, and it was love at first sight. Do I have to pay Google a finder’s fee? I had discovered my new car, but with a catch – it’s not available in the U.S until later this summer. I then called my car company and asked if I could extend my lease, and low and behold I could, and I did for six months which holds me until the new model arrives on the car lot of my local dealer later this year.
But let’s be honest, I never could have worked all that out with my own mind. I had to surf the unknown waves of my universe until I reached the shoreline and a solution. And the result was way better than I’d ever have imagined. And that’s usually my experience. I believe the Universe, God, our Guides, work with us and have a far greater ability to vision for us than we do. Not to take anything away from our visions, they’re an essential part of our existence. We need vision to grow and to move forward, to work towards something and to be excited. And I’ve found it best to not lose sight of the fact that this whole process is a co-creative one. We’re doing this along with some very important partners, many of whom are unseen.
Some of you might think I’m crazy, or a little too spiritual for your taste. That’s okay. Just do yourself a favor, and the next time you’re in a situation that’s not going the way you’d like it to go, take a breath, ask for some assistance from the Universe, and see if there’s any response via a resolution, a next step, or a person or situation showing up “out of the blue” that leads you to what or where you’re working to get to. You’ve heard the popular phrase, “Things have a way of working themselves out,” because they do. As a matter of fact, things already are, just the way they are. And remember, nothing stays the same for long. Change is the one thing we can be sure of. It’s inevitable, so ride the wave, set a course for adventure, and trust. And if you can’t muster up any trust at this precise moment, fake it till you make it because everything is going to be alright, eventually. I swear.
It was a crisp fall evening in New York City. The year 1986. I had, in the proverbial sense, arrived, and was living my childhood dream. After years of holding a vision through junior high, high school, and two years of Dutchess Community College, I had finally made my way to New York City as a transfer student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
I was a theater major, and soon to be actor, singer, dancer, waiter. It was a very exciting time for me as a young artist. What better city could there be than New York to study live theater. Of course, there were other great theater cities in the world – like London – but I was a young American artist, so New York was the perfect destination for me to begin my artistic training.
The thought of being part of the rich theater scene at that time was intoxicating. There was “A Chorus Line,” “La Cage Aux Folles,” and “42nd Street” on Broadway. Off Broadway there was the avante garde La Mama Theater Club doing “The Gospel at Colonus,” which would launch the career of Morgan Freeman when it made its way to Broadway two years later. Playwright David Mamet was “born,” soon to be one of America’s great playwrights, and a cute little show called “Little Shop of Horrors” was playing at the Orpheum. Uptown there was Peter Martins and Jerome Robbins, two of the greatest choreographers of our time who had taken over the New York City Ballet after George Balanchine’s passing in 1983. They were both Co-Ballet Masters in Chief at that time. In the art world Warhol was legend, with Keith Harring plastering the most insanely beautiful graffiti art all over the city. By 1986 he had opened The Pop Show on West Broadway in Soho, where the public could now buy his work that was otherwise installed on public buildings and other public properties all over the city. Madonna released her third album “True Blue” which included “Papa Don’t Preach,” and “Open Your Heart.” Madonna was the sound track of our gay lives, well really all our lives, in New York City at that time.
My arrival in New York brought so many firsts for me including my very first all-male cocktail party. On that crisp fall evening in 1986, with the smell of smoked chestnuts in the air, I entered a distinguished doorman building on East 57th Street. This was an older prewar building. When we stepped off the elevator my friend David and I walked down a quiet, well-manicured hallway done up with crown moldings, mahogany wall tables and gilded sconces. I was not in Poughkeepsie anymore. I would later learn the cleanliness and caliber of hallways in Manhattan were a telltale sign of either care or neglect, moneyed folk or starving artist. This hallway was all money.
The door to the apartment home we were about to enter was inlaid with woodwork that had been artfully designed and crafted for both security and aesthetic. It would both welcome a CEO and keep out a burglar. But the true height of the art would be revealed behind this gilded door.
My friend David and I rang the bell. We had one more moment to primp our hairs and say good-bye to our innocence. When the door opened we were greeted briefly and ushered into a new world of Fabulous neither of us could have ever prepared for.
The apartment was filled with gay men from every part of the New York City art and business scene. Broadway performers, Wall Street brokers, and interior designers. It was a who’s who of the most creative gay minds of Manhattan, and it was this same group of men in the years to come who would all but disappear due to the devastating effects of AIDS, which was taking center stage in New York and acting as a most tragic common denominator among all these beautiful souls.
For us younger gay men at the time, new to the city, we would watch with a horrific and stunned disbelief as a whole generation of gay men was wiped out. We lost friends our age, but the vast majority was the generation just ahead of us – the boomers. We were Gen X’ers. It was the boomers who were devastated. Well, we were all devastated.
I’ll never forget a visit I had to the city some ten years later after moving to Los Angeles. It was the first time in many years I had been back to the city. I was walking with one of my college roommates Michael, and we commented on a very handsome “older” man, a daddy type, who walked by us. I looked at Michael and said, “That’s a hot older guy.” He said, “They’re back.” I said, “That’s wild.” And Michael said, “They’re us.” We stared at one another, both recognizing on a very deep level what this meant. We had weathered the AIDS storm and lived to the next stage of our lives, and now we were the age of the generation of gay men that had been taken. It was a sobering awareness, one that left us both silent for several blocks as we walked through this west side Chelsea neighborhood, an awareness that got etched in our consciousness, and one that had forever changed us. For me, I was grateful and nostalgic in a most heartfelt way. These men who passed were our brother, or “sisters” as some might say, our lovers, and they were other people’s sons, brothers, uncles, cousins, and best friends. Some were fathers. While it’s easy to think this significant loss of men was something that happened only to the gay community, it was so much bigger than that.
That virgin night for me on East 57th street was the beginning of the end for many of those men. And for those of us who survived the AIDS crisis it was the beginning of a new world in which we learned love could equal death, friends can sometimes trump family, and never, ever can we take what we have, including our lives, for granted.
I truly believe this stunned many people of my generation, both gay and straight. And I was lucky. I could count on two hands the number of friends I lost during this time. This was minor compared with those individuals who saw large swathes of their world disappear. I remember hearing stories of 20 or 30 friends lost, and it became common to hear the phrase, “I just can’t go to another memorial service.”
As kids in college at the time, we did what we could. An AIDS benefit, participating in an Act-Up demonstration. For me it was such a dichotomy of trying to begin my young life while so many people were dying around me. We were so full of life, and yet colored with a rather gruesome reality of our city, our community of artists, and really all our lives at that time.
I know for myself, and this is a more recent discovery for me, I shut part of myself down and built a protective wall around my heart. Love was scary. Love could kill me. Today, this is a scare that has needed tending with loving compassion and awareness. Back then, it was a reality that we faced as young people with every step we took in the city. We lost acting teachers, choreographers, and men from every walk of life. People we worked with in restaurants died. Friends of friends. Fellow performers gone. All a devastating reality of life in New York City in the late eighties.
That beautifully decorated apartment on East 57th street is etched in my memory. It had fabric walls, something this boy from Poughkeepsie had never seen before. I was mesmerized. But what I remember most were the vibrant souls of the men at this gathering. They dressed with panache, all of them expressing their creativity in their beautifully tailored clothing. They were handsome men, well groomed, elegant even, the kind of man I would aspire to be. But what I remember most was how kind they were. These were men who talked to me, asked me my name, what I did. Maybe they knew I was new to the world of New York City’s gay life, or maybe they just recognized a young one of their kind and took mercy.
The one man I will never forget was a Broadway dancer, which was something I aspired to be at that time. He was Latino, very handsome, and he wore a burnt orange turtle neck for warmth. I remember his dark hair, skin, and eyes, and the fact that he seemed to have arrived in his life. He was where I wanted to be, to get to. Making a living doing his art. He encouraged me to pursue my dreams of performing. He shared a piece of his life experience with me. And then, he was gone.
Whenever I imagine this beautiful night, I see a slow motion time lapsed film where the room slowly empties out. One by one, the men at this party disappear from frame, each one flying up to the heavens.
His shoulders are the ones I stand on today. He, and this whole group of men, paved the way for my generation. They lived and loved courageously, and out loud. They were men throwing off the prejudice and repression of all that came before them in their early lives. They were unapologetic in this expression of loving. Many would be our greatest advocates during this time of crisis – Vito Russo, Paul Monette, and Larry Kramer to name just three, and from these men and their experiences would come our greatest healing.
So East 57th was, for me, the beginning of the end. But with each ending comes a new beginning. Even if it takes thirty years to start. Writing this book (this blog is an excerpt from a forthcoming book of mine) was my new start. Maybe I’m a late bloomer, but better late than never. Time takes time. And maybe, just maybe, the best is yet to come.
Barry Alden Clark has coached thousands of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who they truly are. He & his creative partner Eliza Swords are currently delivering uplifting content on social media every Wednesday via “Best Day Ever with Barry and Eliza”, a Facebook and You-Tube phenomenon reaching thousands of people around the world. They are also inspiring love and joy through creating heartfelt and entertaining content via their production company Pure Honey Ink. Currently they have projects in development for social media, film, television and publishing. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.
These days we all pretty much use our cellphones for everything. I could probably use my cell phone to iron my dresses shirts, ice a cake, and zip line down a mountain side with the right app.
Texting has become the gold standard of our new, quick-short communication style. Like instant oatmeal, there’s less cooking time required. Tear open an envelope, pour in bowl, add water and microwave for 90 seconds. I use the Trader Joe’s Organic Oats with Brown Sugar. It’s not too heavy on the sweet, only 6 grams per serving. Perfect for this recovering sugar addict.
Like instant oatmeal, texting is instant talk. Why talk when you can text! Newly pregnant? Text your friends. About to walk out on your twenty year marriage? Text it. “Bu-bye. I took the kids. You can keep that pesky parakeet.”
Texting brings communication to new heights. I’d go so far as to say texting makes actual conversations passé. Now I can express myself and all my varied thoughts and feelings much more clearly via my collection of personalized emoticons. Some of us even use large look-alike cartoon caricatures to express ourselves. These cartoon characters usually have one clear message like, “Happy Birthday!” Or “Oh, Shit!” Who needs real people singing “Happy Birthday,” or an actual shoulder to cry on when your mother dies? It’s just too messy, and it requires dry cleaning bill.
Texting, text icons, and even sexting are how we roll today. Real, actual, live sex is, at this point, just weird.
Every new technology has its pluses and minuses, its light and dark. Texting allows a quick connection, where perhaps, there was none. And it creates a general tone and nature to our communications which over time can build a distance between people and lessen our level of intimacy.
In this new world of texting, I believe there’s a need for text-i-quette: etiquette for texting. I’m by no means a tech expert, nor Emily Post, but to the extent I understand human behavior, I’m aware there are some ground rules we need to set up in order to more clearly understand each other via our cellular devices. So here’s some text etiquette from me to you. Take it or leave it, but know texting has consequences.
To start, please don’t deliver important news, like telling me you’re pregnant, via text. You’re only going to get my initial reaction of pure, ecstatic, jump up and down joy once. Same with an engagement, or job promotion. And if we’re going to break up after a year of dating, let’s have the balls to do it in person. We’ll both need the closure, not to mention our toothbrushes, spare undies and socks. But actually, I just remembered, you don’t actually have balls. Still, no reason not to break up in person. You’ll need the story to text your best friend, which is a huge part of why we have to break up to begin with – you spend more time living in your virtual world than the real one.
But I digress.
Texting is not a reason for anyone to expect an instant response. I don’t take my phone into the bathroom. Trust me, no one needs to hear that. Texting does not trump a live and current conversation, though I know there are times when we mistakenly go there. Texting does not trump a date, sex, or a weekend get-a-way. Texting does not paint a clear picture so know there are more details we’ll need to talk about in a live conversation, and maybe even in person. Gasp. Texting does not work well in walkways, on a bicycle, mixed with driving, or while you and I are talking to one another.
Do text me your ETA if you’re running late. Text me contact info. Text me the name of that book you recommended. Text me a photo you took from our day at the beach. Text me an inspirational quote to uplift my spirit. And I even appreciate an “I love you” text. Very sweet. Though don’t get carried away.
I may or may not respond to your text. Don’t take it personally. I’ve also got a ringing cell phone, four email accounts, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook IM, Google Plus, a blog, YouTube channel, and yes, an actual physical mailbox for my home. Also, I do need to sleep.
Hopefully you’ve found my #blog #useful. If not, that’s just one less text you’ll need to send. But if you did like it, please text all your friends, cause the best use of your texting abilities would be to spread the word on #textiquette. We might just be saving the world, one text at a time.
Barry Alden Clark has coached thousands of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who the truly are. He & his creative partner Eliza Swords are currently delivering uplifting content on social media every Wednesday via “Best Day Ever with Barry and Eliza”, a Facebook and You-Tube phenomenon reaching thousands of people around the world. They are also inspiring love and joy through creating heartfelt and entertaining content via their production company Pure Honey Ink. Currently they have projects in development for social media, film, television and publishing. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.
Published to over One Million Readers via PositivelyPositive.com
Where do we find our life’s purpose? Can we order it on-line? “Get your Life Purpose now, for just $9.99, on Amazon. Free shipping included.” We’re all traveling along this road of life trying to figure it out, the “it” being our lives. I know trying is a word that gets a bad rap sometimes, but upon closer examination I see action and an attempt to do something, anything, and more than inaction. How many times have we all gotten what seemed like or felt like a stroke of genius only to set it down and leave it to wither? Why not give it a try?
For me, these flashes, these little sparks of light are sent to us from heaven. Yes, I’m inferring that these ideas are divine inspirations. Now if one or two or ten go by at some point we have to wake up and start to notice, or they seemingly stop happening until one hits us so hard it knocks us down or takes our breath away. Most likely, at this point, we’ll wake up a little bit and start to notice the idea, the seed. Then, if we have any hope of birthing this new inspiration we have to nurture it by giving it some measure of our attention and our action. Growing the concept will require our energy, like the energy of the sun grows a plant. And eventually we give rise to our idea in the physical world. It’s a process, like tending a garden, with the soil being our lives and the ideas seeds we plant and tend to with our loving intention and action.
Searching for ourselves and our purpose is lifelong. Oh, we get it at times and live it – our purpose – and then it changes. Yes, throughout the different chapters of our lives we have different jobs, friends, lovers, and places we live. In my teenage years I worked as a paper boy, then waiter in college, and performer. I got into casting and eventually television production and then life coaching. Did I have one purpose for my life? It seems there were several. The numbers are not important, but rather the examples I’m sharing here represent different paths I chose with purpose. Each path had a service to my growth and learning, and hopefully served others in the process. If there is a theme of purpose in my life it would be service. Helping others, whether serving them food, entertaining them, or coaching. And it’s different for every person on this planet. I think finding our purpose is really what life is all about. It’s a journey of discovery, of adventure, and taking the opportunities as they come doing our best to enjoy them.
I’ve worked with thousands of individuals over the last twelve years on their individual journeys of identifying their purpose. It’s a bit like a treasure hunt with each person holding the key to their own treasure chest with its seemingly secret map. We all have our purpose woven into our very being – our entelechy. The entelechy of the acorn is to become the oak tree. We all have our own metaphorical oak tree inside us. Wait, that sounds a bit scary. I don’t mean we’re going to sprout branches one day, but rather we’re all programmed at the soul level to unfold each moment into the person we were always meant to be.
For many people, it’s this very awareness that shifts everything for them. Suddenly, with a sense that they actually might have a clue as to who they’re meant to be, life begins to look a little different. I guess in some ways, many of us are Doubting Thomas’s or Susan’s as it may be. I like to be as gender neutral as possible. We doubt our inner knowing, our intuition, and our sense of things. That’s where we usually trip ourselves up.
What I’ve found over the years in working with individuals exploring their purpose is that not too long into our coaching conversation it all comes out. It’s a colorful confession of rainbows, moonbeams, and daffodils. I love this part. It doesn’t take much and usually my client starts talking about their dreams, and sure enough, the cat leaps out of the proverbial bag. The great secrets of their lives come tumbling out. They want to be a painter, a scientist, or start a family. The list is limitless, as are the possibilities within each individual.
Somehow our Creator, plug in your title or namesake here, has built us all in such a way as to make sure our awareness of who we are and what we’re meant to do comes clearly into our consciousness at just the right time. That’s why for me, being a Life Coach is so rewarding – I get to be there at the birth, or rebirth if you will, of each person as they re-discover themselves and their raison d’etre. In English, Barry! Okay, okay, it’s their reason for being.
We will all find our purpose, one way or another. Some people will be conscious of it, others will not. Many of us simply stumble upon it. Other’s will search long and hard, fighting many battles to learn whatever it is they need in order to fully and successfully express their true calling. We’ll most likely have to learn a boat load of life lessons to be all that we can be, and everything will unfold in God’s perfect time and way. Trust it. And if you can’t trust, follow the legendary acting teacher Stella Adler’s great adage – pretend as if. Eventually, you’ll be living your life in just the way you always knew you would.
Life really is a grand experiment. Have fun, and smell the flowers along the way. Say hello to children, and other passersby, and remember, you will be you. Come hell or high water, one way or another, who you’re meant to be will emerge. Keep on keeping, and remember, you’re not alone. We’re all in this together. And we can. We will. And we are all ultimately and as only we can be – ourselves.
For me, freedom is a state of mind. It’s a place in our consciousness that’s as natural as our breath. But for most of us, our internal freedom is boxed in to some extent, giving us ample opportunity for pain, suffering, and ultimately for learning should we choose that orientation to life.
Freedom is a lot like a garden. Not only must we tend to it, planting seeds, watering, and pulling out the weeds, we also have to work with the various elements that affect a crop such as rain, sun, animals, and sometimes frost. The external elements can damage a crop, but really, growth never stops. It may be affected by slowing down the growth, or by yielding less, but the life of each seed, and the entelechy of each human being pushes both to their fullest expression, accounting of course for all those external variables both plants and humans will encounter.
Those of us working in the social sciences – clinical psychology, social work, therapy, and coaching, have one major common goal which is to assist clients in becoming their most fully expressed selves. Those of us working integratively know we cannot leave out the spiritual part of ourselves. And it is exactly the spiritual part that assists in opening up the consciousness of freedom, and the fuller expression of that deepest part of who we truly are.
How, though, can we create more freedom for ourselves? Where we are in our consciousness and where we are physically on this planet has a lot to do with our internal state of freedom. Based on our belief system, the way we were raised and programmed by our parents, culture, religion, and country, all play a large part in our personal definition of freedom or lack thereof.
I have lived in so many boxes. The good kid box, the heterosexual box, the good employee box, and here’s the kicker, while these boxes come pre-made in our culture, I am the one that ultimately chooses which box I’m gonna stick myself in. I know, this part sucks, because I have to admit to myself it really is a choice, past the pre-programming, and then I have to take 100% responsibility and completely rewrite my own personal narrative. Cue the Betty Ford Clinic. Shit. Seriously, it takes work and commitment. I‘ve had to keep my eye on the prize. The world we all live in has a negative polarity. But really, if we can begin to work at changing our thoughts and the actions that follow we begin to create an authentic space we actually want to live in and in which we actually feel free, not boxed in.
The best example of this I can think of is from Victor Frankl. Almost everyone I’ve read or trained with uses Frankl’s story because it’s deep. While imprisoned by the Nazi’s in a concentration camp during World War II, Frankl realized he had a choice as to how he thought about where he was. Were the conditions atrocious? Absolutely. Were the crimes being committed among the most horrible in human history? Without a doubt. And still, Frankl chose to hold a loving, positive focus despite the abhorrent and inhumane circumstances. He was in the worst imaginable box and yet was able to create a sense of freedom for himself which eventually manifest in his being freed in the physical.
This example for me teaches something so important, we have to believe, even when it looks like all odds are against us. For me, that’s the best way to work with negativity. You have to be stronger than it is, and more persistence. Persistence is one hell of great quality to nurture in your consciousness. It’s one of my favorite. But be prepared, the minute you call it up you will be tested, continually. I recommend making a nice cool beverage. I like to mix cranberry juice and San Pellegrino over rocks in my adult sippy cup. Okay, sometimes I use vodka. Whatever your mixer, enjoy the ride. And like Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seat belts, you’re in for a bumpy ride!”
And isn’t the ride why we’re all here to begin with? Life’s a journey for all of us, and finding freedom, or creating it is a huge part of the process of living. I believe our need for freedom is hardwired into our consciousness, a part of our entelechy for who we are in this lifetime. And the degree to which we experience the sense or feeling of freedom is the degree to which we’re aligned and on point with our life purpose. Feeling stuck in your current work, relationship, or physical state? This lack of alignment and feeling of freedom is your indicator that more work and exploration are in order to create a greater level of feeling and more experiences of freedom in your life. Lucky for us we have to have it, so that need usually pushes us forward in the direction of where we want to head and what we want to experience.
For years I wrote – scripts, journals, essays, lyrics, poems, and reports – much of my writings were work and academic requirements – and always I felt a very clear internal push to write more. The writing I did for work and academia felt stilted at times, and I felt boxed into a form of writing that was required of me. It did teach me a great deal about structure, content, organization, and producing for deadlines – all great training and experience for a writer. It supported my life as well with paychecks and degrees, but always there was this underlying need for a more creative expression with my writing. And it was the discomfort that pushed me forward, often times in a painful way, to really define my expression creatively. Thankfully, I honored this ongoing inner push, often times against great odds, and continually sought my own creative expression, and bit by bit, or “bird by bird” as well-known author and writing guru Anne Lamott says, I was able to find more and more freedom, a clearer path to travel, and a fuller expression of my life purpose. I listened. I followed. I found freedom. You can, too. Take action. Free yourself. And enjoy.
Technology is like an unruly child. Who will take a stand to discipline this wild horse? Somehow it seems to me that the ever expanding realm of technology is the pink elephant in the room. I love technology. It fascinates me, and at the same time can cripple me. Isn’t that like being in an abusive relationship? Isn’t there something alarming about anything that “cripples” us or takes us over? Alright, I’m being a little dramatic here, but technology and how we use it really has taken over. I’m not a big fan of right or wrong scenarios, but rather a different paradigm in thinking which is more about a learning opportunity. Okay, so technology cripples me at times. The question then becomes what do I do with this paralysis?
Technology has, for the most part, made every part of our lives better. Electric cars help preserve our fossil fuels, cell phones and Skype allow us to connect with our loved ones around the world, and medical advances both improve and often extend our lifespans.
But, and this is a big but Becky, now technology allows us to carry our work computers home via our laptops. We always have one cell phone on us so we can receive work or personal calls everywhere we go, including bed and the bathroom. You know you’ve heard this scenario. You’re in a bathroom stall and the person next to you is on the phone. First, I don’t want to hear anything that’s happening in the stall next to me, up to and including someone’s phone conversation. Shut up/Get a room! We have texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any number of new technologies that will birth themselves in our lifetime still to come.
But of everything we receive, emails are the worst. Whether at home or work, emails are rampant. There are literally like a virus, they keep spreading and there’s no antibiotic that will stop them.
I’m old enough to have lived in a time without emails. There was a lot of paper used, but not nearly as much back and forth. It was a more clear and concise time for communicating, and something I strive to practice in my Facebook and email ecology. Less is more. I was a casting assistant at that time, and people actually talked to one another. It was the call that was key, not the email.
So here’s what I find happening with emails – they’re like one live conversation broken down over an extended time frame. If I wanted to handle something in a timely fashion I call. Communications of a business nature usually require a bit of exploration or questioning for clarification. One phone call can handle it. Emails have a tendency to go back and forth, and both parties usually get tired of typing. Oh, you know yourself, this happens all the time. Just when you think you’ve typed the last word another question. The big difference as I see it is there’s an extra step in email communication. You have to press send, and then you wait. If the office hottie walks by the person you’re emailing, games off. You could be waiting a long time before the attention is directed back at you. The same thing with a child, a spill, the UPS man. All will trump the email. Not on a phone call. The live conversation trumps email.
Also, emails require Japanese like gardening maintenance skills. You have to stay on top of them, or they grow like weeds. Eventually you’ll need a machete to cut through the overgrowth. You know how it goes, suddenly you have 4,000 emails in your Inbox and you have to call the National Guard for assistance. Yes, it’s a national emergency, but no one seems to be answering the call.
And every time a company asks me for my email I have to be damn sure I want to have an intimate relationship with them. The Gap, Starbucks, and Harry & David, know more about me than my internist. And they’re on my laptop, cell phone, and in my consciousness on a daily basis, until I break down staring at my computer screen trying to find the unsubscribe bottom which is camouflaged to keep me from ending this unsatisfying, one way relationship.
Think about it. It’s completely one sided. Harry & David are not two hot guys fighting over my love, no, they want my daily attention and whatever’s in my wallet. Oh, sure, they have delicious chocolate covered nuts, but they’re expensive. A fifty dollar bill at the minimum, and they tell me it’s for a good cause – my mother needs a basket of fresh fruit and candy, she is, after all, my mother. Starbucks tells me I can earn a star with each blended beverage of my choice this week between the hours of 2-5 PM. I’m just going to leave work, I need the stars.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I love my Starbucks, and my Harry and David. Starbucks even rewards me with free lattes and Harry and David are so generous with their $10 off my next purchase. But wouldn’t I shop at both places regardless? That’s a part of my question here about technology. I’ve got to advocate for less is more. I still use the same paper towels I was raised with. I haven’t seen a Bounty ad in years, but I still buy them. Yes, they are the quicker picker upper, and I learned that via a great advertising campaign years ago, but I don’t get emails.
My experience with technology is that when it happens, we jump for it, overuse it, level out, and eventually it finds its rightful place in our lives, usually. And we have to keep our eyes open at all times, because like a child, technology requires tending and loving discipline, otherwise it becomes unruly. Personally, I’ve found my rhythm with emails and my mainframe computer cell phone, but just as soon as that happens another piece of technology is birthed. For now, I’ll simply turn my ringer on silence, choose an out-of-office reply for emails, and pretend, for a moment, I’m Amish.
Is my cell phone the new love of my life? All right, I can’t take credit for this question. I heard it on the radio.
But I can definitely say it’s worth asking, and finding out my own answers. When I asked myself this question I immediately came up with another question that I have a hunch is connected to the cell phone and that’s, “Why all the rushing around?” And, does my cell phone have anything to do with said rushing? Or am I just crazy for coco puffs? Maybe I’ve got some mental illness not yet defined in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. I say this half-jokingly, and half not.
If rushing is a disease, then what’s the cure, the Rx, or treatment? Maybe exercise for the calming endorphins, a good night’s sleep, or perhaps a few therapy sessions to explore the early childhood experiences that programmed in me a need for speed. Maybe there’s some kind of neck brace I can wear that would slow me down. My mother used to put me in a harness when I was a toddler. She walked me like a dog. She said it was because if she let go of my hand for one second I would vanish. Albeit to inside the nearest dress rack, but that’s another story. I could hire a dog walker, or lion tamer, but frankly this is all starting to sound a little bit more S&M than I’m comfortable with. I’ve never moved beyond feathers.
Now as fun as all these potential treatments sound, I have the feeling I may need an inner-vention. That’s right, an inside intervention. I need to Feng Shui my mind. My prescription involves letting go, easier said than done, releasing attachment, also hard to do when I have glue like emotional connections, and forgoing perfectionism, a land I hope none of you have the misfortune to visit at any point in your lifetime, all of this in exchange for sanity, sex, and slowing down. Trust me, you can’t have sex if you don’t slow it down. As my favorite real life character Paula Pantalayo used to say to me, “Slow down, Gunsmoke!” I’m trying.
It’s the thoughts that keep everything flowing so fast, I think. Are all these thoughts of mine real? Or are they just a figment of my imagination? I’ve been listening to them for years, and sometimes they’ve gotten me into real trouble. There was the one time in 7th grade Woodshop, or was it electric, when I took a wood plane, you know the thing that takes a slice of wood off like a cheese cutter? And proceeded to plane several of the worktable stations. What a little dick I was in that moment. Luckily I got caught, and sent to the Principles office where I pleaded guilty, with the intent to redecorate the electric shop. I believe I was sentenced to banging dirty erasers on the blacktop for an afternoon. Needless to say, any shred of a handyman I had in my ballet body was put to rest. I would grow up to pay for these handyman services in perpetuity.
So back to questioning my thoughts. Are they real? Are they right? Or should I listen to them, sort them out like a sock drawer, or completely ignore them? Sometimes my own thinking overwhelms me to the point of a full on anxiety attack. It seems like my thoughts have so much to say they keep on talking. But what’s really important? How do I weed out the thoughts in such a way as to mine the gold I imagine is buried somewhere in that ocean of words gushing through my brain at any given time of day or night.
Do the laundry, clean the bathroom, workout, go through the mail, pay bills, call your mother, finish the edit, prep the show, go on a date, buy new shoes, get blood work – these and a myriad of other thoughts stream through my mind constantly. But wait, I need to write. Then begins a process of negotiation between two parts of myself, the do it and get it done part that loves crossing off the To Do List, and the creative part that needs space to operate effectively. Add to this all the external voices from parents, friends, lovers, co-workers, and there’s a lot to sift through in order to prioritize my most aligned next action step.
These days I have a daily talking to my thoughts. More words, I know, but it seems to help me. It’s as if my brain has two distinctly different parts with their own unique function. One function is, I believe, to drive me crazy, while the other is to safely guide me along my way. After years of battling these two parts I’ve learned to co-exist peacefully, for the most part, often resembling a three ring circus where I now charge an admissions fee. I think, opportune word here, I made it work for me.
I let these thoughts flow, identify which part is working, the get it done part or the creative part, and then make choices based on what is most important needs wise at that moment. Sometimes it is to do the laundry, while other times it’s to sit down and meditate. Figuring this out has taken me a great deal of practice over many years. I’m getting the hang of it, and I’m still a work in progress. One thing I know for sure with this whole process is that if I’m not paying attention to both parts of myself I will begin to burn my energy out. I will feel off, out of balance, and I become resentful. It’s a sure fire way for me to know when I have to course correct, and then I do. Sometimes the course correction is me getting sick with a cold. That usually shuts the whole operation down and I get to regroup. I’m working on refining that methodology; and it’s not my cell phone’s fault. In the meantime I’m gonna send one more text, wish two happy birthdays on Facebook, and then place my cell phone in the off position inside my gym locker and go for a swim. I don’t think Apples made a waterproof iPhone yet, have they?