Reflections and Random Thoughts II

New Year, New Possibilities, New Future

Photo by Antonio Ruiz

“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste they hurry past it.”

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard.
Courtesy of James Monroe H.S. Yearbook 1966

I admit it. My life has been a blur. From thirteen years of age, when I entered the seminary until now, it all seemed too fast, one step in front of another at an excessive speed. Afraid that I would miss something but instead missing so much. Worrying about how I would get to tomorrow and that tomorrow was more important than today. The deafening roar of thinking and overcomplicating a task, an emotion, the moment of experience instead of just being… in the moment of being. In between trying to smother feeling anything at all, I found the act of being a challenge. Crushing me as I tried to glide through life as an unaccompanied minor first, then as a lost adult who was making it all up as I went along. I got good at it. Faking it, that is. At least in the beginning. With time, the experiences of failures and successes helped me along. The next time, I found myself in a crisis where I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. Faking it until I figured it out was my motto. And damn, I got good at it. I fooled a lot of people (or at least I thought I did) and myself.

Photo by Antonio Ruiz
Scattered beans
Like so many memories
Randomly 	    effortlessly 
Spilled from my mind
Waiting to be picked up
And read interpreted
Understood  	and then I will know
What it all meant    About how I got here
Shipped here on a plane at 35000 feet
From East Coast to West Coast
Gliding over cities and towns and
Cotton fields and rivers and monuments
To our vanity- and traffic-crowded freeways and people
Millions of them	looking down at their paths
So they don’t fall	tripping over the cracks in their lives
Hanging on to whatever 	small dreams they have
Because	what else can they do
But not look up at the silver cylinder streaking above them
And see wishful dreams pass over them
On my way	            to an unknown future. 

Holy shit. What happened to 2022? And 2000. And 1984. And 1960. And 1948. You really can lose track of time if you’re not paying attention.

Photo by Antonio Ruiz

Life is a cat crawl

Life is a dog walk

Life is a fox trot

Life is a monkey march.

Everyday Serenity by David Kundtz [Pages 8-9]
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

I must forgive myself so that I can move on. Some people- maybe most people- are not going to forgive me, but that’s okay; I know I’m different. I strive for better than I am. To dig a hole full of guilt is a waste of time and stunts growth.

Photo by Antonio Ruiz

Please Tell Me What I am. Hispanic, Spanish-Surname, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Nuyorican, New Yorker, Spic, Latino, Latinx, American, Anthony, Tony, Lippy, Shorty, Antonio, Fatso, there is somewhere a longer list that I can’t find right now that includes Bougie, Person of color, BIPOC, Gringo, Coconut (Brown on the outside, white on the inside), it’s a really long list, not-really-an-American nor really whom I say I am, I don’t speak Spanish so I can’t be Spanish-Speaking, junkie, alcoholic, sexist, misogynist, bully, liar, I told you it was a long list, you say I’m not a New Yorker anymore so I should stop calling myself a New Yorker, father x 2, parent x 2, not a good father or parent x 2, grandfather, all the jobs I’ve ever had including messenger by subway-motorcycle-walking, counter clerk at Chock Full O’Nuts on 57th street until I went nuts, junkie, seminarian, student, petty thief (I’ve got to pay for the drugs somehow), husband x 3, drunk, drug dealer, abuser of so many people and drugs and alcohol and pills and time, writer, poet, producer of images and voices, radio host, good kisser, good fucker, bad fucker, sex fiend, television reporter, lost soul, lost, protestor, traveler, organizer, television producer, obese, marathon runner, slim, possessor of two kryptonite knees, mentally unstable,  sociopath, arrestee, unindicted co-conspirator, snitch, production assistant, supervising producer, defendant, executive producer, bartender, news director, coward, sober, lover, animal lover (they always love back), builder of imaginary worlds, truth-teller, angry man, human being, college student, student of life, scholar, essayist, news junkie, reader of everything I can get my hands on, video editor, video camera operator, mentor, consultant, small business development consultant, bullshit artist, website builder, telecommunications policy analysts, photographer, grand jury witness, stalker, psycho, man with a good heart, selfish, selfless, brother, son, bisexual, unsexual, old, older, senior citizen, American citizen, resident of the Bronx New York Washington D.C. Middletown New York Hartford Connecticut Inglewood California Los Angeles California San Pedro California Long Beach California Planet Earth The Universe, I told you it was a long list and I’m still not finished listing all the names and titles and identities that people say or I say I am begging the question why I should give a fuck since all that really matters is who or what I am in this moment to me and to hell with what everyone else thinks.

Reflections and Random Thoughts

End-of-the-year resolutions that will soon die on the altar of hope.

New Year resolutions
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

What is it about the end of a year that we are compelled to reflect on the last 365 days and wonder, fascinated that we made it through the fire of days and weeks, and months of work, play, sex, love, hate, hunger, gluttony, selfishness, selflessness, the beauty and the ugliness of being here except to be able to reflect and write these words and live this life learning and growing knowing that one day we will be unable to continue anymore?

2022. I am often obsessed with the reality that I’ve made it this far, not just this one year but all the last seventy-four years of it all, even after forty-five of those years stoned, drunk, feeling nothing knowing only eyes wide shut, refusing to acknowledge that there is a better option. Eyes wide open. All the way open so that all the light, the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars, nature’s sweet calling, and the laughter of babies, children, and adults who sing in the morning and during their daily living because that’s what we should all do. Hey, it’s better than crying all the time and hiding in a closet with no light allowed to enter and no breeze, and fear is one’s only companion.

Been there. Done that. 

Goals are good. Hell, I have had plenty of them. Then, I realized that I was living for the goals and not for the moment’s journey through them. After a moment, I knew that I couldn’t tell you how much the wind breathed or the sounds of the birds and bees that sent me messages or the color of the trees and that flower that greeted me every time I stepped out of my house and the sights I passed on the freeway or city streets because all I did was look straight ahead stiff-backed eyes on the road listening only to the incessant noise of the all-news station or talk radio blabber of call in yahoos complaining about their miserable lives so then soon my life was also sad. I forgot where the hell I was or going or cared.

Kill me now, I often yelled in the emptiness of the car. 
New Year resolutions
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

2022. We’re coming up on three years of the pandemic (you do remember the pandemic). I’m trying to fly above it, being careful not to be dropped head-first into the eye of the hurricane (knock on wood that it hasn’t happened yet), trying to defy the odds while flying to Texas (three times) and San Francisco (two times) and slipping into enclosed spaces at school with a mask on. Still, no one seems to worry on the planes and in school (do they know something I don’t?). I have been scared shitless for nearly three years, and this is no way to live or die, but amid the fear, something beautiful has happened.

Resolution number one: burst the fear like a yellow-topped pimple (yuck). Yeah, it’s ugly and gross, but so is the fear that comes with constantly looking over your shoulder and to the side of you and in front of you and all around you because you’re so worried about everybody else and everything else that you’ve lost faith in your ability to make the right choices that are right for you.

Sticks and stones will always hurt me, but fear can kill my soul. If I stop fearing, the fog can be lifted from my mind.
New Year resolutions
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

Resolution number two: Be happy. Only you can make yourself comfortable. Don’t look outside of yourself for salvation. Salvation will only come from you. Don’t look outside of yourself for liberation. Liberation will only come from you.

Trust me. There is no magic pill. 

Resolution number three: Make all the goals and plans you want. Just don’t forget that you must take a path and a journey to get there. It begins at this moment, followed by another moment, followed by many more moments composed of a moment of silence and thought and meditation (something similar to stopping, looking, and listening for the eighteen-wheeler coming at you while you only think about getting to the other side of the street without looking both ways.)

New Year resolutions
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

For most of my adult life, I believed there was no time to stop for anyone or anything. I was in a perpetual hurry fueled by doubt, inexperience, and often drugs and alcohol; I just had to keep going, not knowing what direction I was headed in (I don’t know where I’m headed, but I’m going there anyway) as long as I got there only to find out later that it wasn’t the place I wanted to go to. Or needed to be there. There was no map or directions, only a meandering, sometimes blind journey. What a waste of time, I would shout.

But was it?

Here’s the last random thought. All those detours, dead ends, and misdirection somehow became embedded in my brain and eventually became guard rails, signal lights, bells, and whistles at those intersections in life we always find ourselves. I could count on them to help me decide at that moment so that I wouldn’t again drive off the road or a cliff or something crazy.

Lesson learned. 
New Year resolution
Photo by Antonio Ruiz

I got goals and plans for 2023. Big goals. Big plans. Big dreams. In the meantime, I’ll relax, lay in this moment, and be.

And that's a good thing.
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