kintsugi

I’m staring at my glass of iced tea. Half sweet, half unsweet — a wishy-washy southerner thing to do, they say. Oddly enough, it is so delicious and is covering the heaviness of a day spent running in circles.

There are the people that see right through me. I know they do. They’ve seen me change from quiet to awkward to strong and have helped me pick up more than my fair share of jetsam and flotsam.

I always love that picture in my mind. A shore, with the tide fading, leaving behind the things it decided to discard for a day. Shells and plastic bags and all sorts of shit.

That’s what it feels like.

In my heart there is a forever exhausted thing. That thing reads the news and sees the horrific acts of people.
God, I want to be stronger. Something feels wrong about this stuff just sort of, rolling off my sleeve like it’s nothing. It is actually quite something and it digs into me like some sort of awful animal.

Like anything, it is laced with hope and strong people pulling themselves and others out of the despair and brushing off their pants. “Let’s go again.”

Getting older, those truths are starting to settle in a bit more. My younger days of dreaming to be a wild revolutionary are fuzzy. I am conflicted with my own actions and the actions of those I used to see as heroes.

I am settling in the imperfectness.
The broken belovedness.

We had a tornado rip through a big part of our city a few months ago, and I found myself very close to it — hiding in the doorway of my bedroom and kitchen. It was loud and the trees were cracking and bending around me.

I was lucky, but hundreds were not, and lost their homes and peace of minds and routines.

I sat there and wondered what it might be like to lose my life here. Alone, in a funky green and brown cottage. I still think about it. In a way, sort of gambling. I questioned my life in the midst of a storm and I think that is all it ever actually really is.

Being a human is painful. There are nerves and bones and water. We are always being pulled by someone, somewhere. Then there is that pain of being pulled by a human into the very depths of their soul. It is a heaven and sometimes it is a hell. A pure and good example of human love — and when that love ultimately shifts, that separation can feel much like its own hell.

Love anyone, and you will know this.

So, you take the broken pieces, and put them back together. Never as perfect as it was, or will ever be. Your hopes of keeping this whole piece yours and safe is gone.

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Kintsugi is the Japanese art of embracing the damage of an object. When cracks are mended, they are highlighted in gold. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. It is hard to lose a whole piece of something, especially when it’s so important to you.

Sometimes it breaks and you store it away in some dark corner of your life.

And sometimes, you choose to bring it out and examine. The hairline cracks, leading on to the bigger breaks that ultimately brought you to your knees. Repairing an object is acceptance. It is knowing that it will not be the same as it was.

That’s why it’s so powerful. Examining brokenness. Not only repairing, but highlighting. Saying, “THIS! THIS IS HOW IT’S BROKEN!”

You discover that brokenness is a gift that lets others see into your life, that they too can heal and mend and move.

We break, and we become whole again, all the time and forever.

Life and breath is forgiveness and grace.

This is how you are broken.
But your pieces are still beautiful,
forever and ever.

to love at all

Nothing sends me into auto-drive more than someone asking me why I haven’t brought any significant others to Christmas.

It’s no fault of theirs. They’re curious. They care about me. I don’t get mad or even aggravated. I just start saying things that I feel make sense so I don’t have to go overboard into anything I don’t want to.

On my drive home this past weekend, I started to question that. I looked at myself and my life and wondered why my answers felt so lazy. I’m not a fan of saying things that I don’t mean.

I decided to dig a little deeper, since I was on the road alone, with the windows down on our pleasant 75 degree day-after-Christmas weather.

I’m getting older and my answers usually fall along the, “Well, folks my age are just really cautious about things and it’s hard to tell if people are into you.” Or, “It’s just easier to be single sometimes.”

Both of those things are true in their own way. Some people are jealous of my single life while I am envious of their marriages, and their families. But, being human is being comparable. What does the other person have that I don’t? What do they have that I want?

What I miss about marriage, or should I just say partnership, is having one’s back. Sometimes I think all I ever did in a marriage was rant and have someone believe in me and talk through the things I needed untangled. (That wasn’t the only thing I did. But I think you get what I’m trying to say.)

It is nice having someone on your team! Or someone to cook dinner for, or look forward to connecting with — those are simple pleasures of partnership.

I started to get a little weepy. Some of that was a mixture of being hard on myself and the music that was playing.
I heard myself say, “It’s okay to let hurt into your heart again.”

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I didn’t think that would be something I’d have to say to myself. No one wants to be hurt again. But, speaking for myself, being hurt is just a part of being the Beloved. Being hurt allows us to heal and grow and is one of the most human things about, well, being human. Being single gives me the option to control {quiet fiercely} what I let in and what I get to give out. I have a better say on who I get to let in and what they can do with my feelings.

There is a quote attributed to C.S. Lewis about keeping your heart concealed in a coffin. There is safety in hiding away. You can keep a lot of the hurt out.

But to me, there is no life in maintaining walls. I spend a lot of my time working on myself in how to digest conversations and what other people mean and want from them. Most people don’t mean to hurt your feelings, it’s just between their mouths and your brain that a billion things can happen.

So, I let that feeling wash over me for a few minutes — the truth, that I have been keeping out pain, because it feels really good to feel good and that I need people. I value my vulnerability and it’s in all of that, that I feel most alive.

I felt things shift a bit as I welcomed in the ghosts of former selves and made amends with whatever I am at the present. With love comes hurt sometimes — among so many other things. It is worth it to take chances on people, I think.
When I think of a hard moment in my life, I often wonder what it might be like to have skipped over all that. The truth you know as well, is that you grew tremendously because of it.

That doesn’t mean you want it to happen again. As the old hymn goes, “…hard times, come again no more.”

My voice told me that it was okay to let hurt in again. I’ve been shaking my head at it for a while now and spoiler alert, the world wants more for me than to block off my heart.

So, I will listen. And it will probably hurt. That’s what we got, though. This is being alive on an Earth that is violent and heartbroken — we move forward though, and we always will.

Keep your heart open to listen and let things in. A concrete box is a cold, and dark place and that was never the intention of your life here.

To the New Year,

let’s give this thing a go.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

-C.S. Lewis

rabid bits of time

I’ve been processing time.

I think about it a whole lot. If you’ve ever read this blog, you know I’m always rambling on about brevity and grace and how messy all of this is.

There is so much going on in the broader scheme of things that worry me — that load me down and sometimes it feels like the light can barely get in. It’s an anxiousness. Perhaps even a restlessness that I feel — like a bad dream where you open your mouth to talk and nothing comes out.

This is the dark part. How people don’t recognize their dark parts is beyond me. I am in a constant state of sinking into my body and learning about myself in ways I wouldn’t if I didn’t allow myself to wander around.

I wish I was easier to understand, sometimes. I wish I didn’t speak out as much about things people don’t agree with or comply to the standards of my own name.

I sense the sins of a past. All I want to do is cover them in grace and move forward. Being stuck in that life is no way to live. I have made bad decisions based on being deeply emotional and full of that urge of wanting to be right, and wanting to feel good. We all do that. Then something happens. We change. They change. We get shot out of orbit and find ourselves once again, floating around something that is familiar, but altogether different.

We are not a graceful people. If anything, this past months shows us that there is a force pushing forward and another pushing back. (And I’m not taking sides here.)

I am opening my mind to everything, trying to see the most good, for the most people. To me, some things feel like they’re moving backwards. For others, it looks like things are going forward. This is where I get lost in everything. It’s when I feel the most chaotic and raw.

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God. I have no idea what to do next. Life is mostly simple sounding. We go to work and we come home. Some of us have kids that we take care of — and we do the whole thing over and over again. That is what life mostly is, spotted with bits of sadness and joy and vacations.

We get to have it, though. Just for a little bit. I am not built for changing governments or being in a trench. Truly. I support some people who are, but I’ve always said my place in a revolution is hovering over pots and pans and feeding bellies.

My heart for justice came first out of that. I know that I am not in Calcutta or Chicago anymore. But I am still feeding people, and giving them good memories. I am still caring more than I have to about a silly sandwich and maybe hoping my co-workers still believe in me enough to be a decent leader and friend. These balances are awfully hard.

Most of the time I write I do not come to any conclusions. I don’t have a sense of clarity or any answer that might turn on some switch in my brain.

I write to explore and to explore myself. My little galaxy spinning almost effortlessly in the midst of a vast sea of space and time.

We are moving in rabid bits of time.

It is impossible to know the next step, but we take them regardless.

So, keep pushing on and keep pushing forward. Time has an easier way of moving forward than back. Whatever it is you are hanging on to, it’s time to start loosening your grip. You don’t get a lot of time here.

You are your own little time machine and have the incredible opportunity to use it to the best of your ability.

Open yourself up. Wander around in your own truly unique humanity and let some the light in.

After all, it’s the only way to see where to go next.

becoming

The cicadas have been loud lately.
I’m sure some of you have them where you live, as well. To me, they sound like home. I’ve been finding them on the small walk to my car, when I suppose they’ve given all they’ve had to give, their lifeless bodies and empty shells. Their wings, still shining and glossy and helping me to remember small beautiful things.

The acorns are falling as well. I hear them hit the tin roof of my small cottage every five minutes. More so, when there are squirrels rustling about. The perks of living under a giant Oak.

The pathway to my front gate is becoming over grown with things I know not the name of. My statue of St. Francis is still sitting out there — hopefully bidding some sort of peace to all the things that pass. I try to do the same.

It’s the changing season I feel. It’s hard to see where I am now, but I can listen to it. There is a small frenzy of things shifting. Some things are dying and some things are meant to harvest.

It’s always a season to reap what you sow — except now is when there is some quiet respect for what the Earth gives us and I feel the same.

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No doubt, the months ahead have me feeling a little weary sometimes. We are going to be busy at work and we’re going to be missing traditions to help other people hold theirs. Sometimes that’s hard. It’s my job, though — I don’t mind it in this season.

I have put other things on hold — not because I don’t think I can find it — but because there are so many other things I am having to give. And also, I’m doing okay. It might not fit your vision of okay-ness – but that’s not up to you.

Still though, I hardly recognize what day it is. Only now it’s “Who has a table at what time?  When do we have to be there to setup? What’s the menu? Who’s coming in today? Do we have enough celery until Monday?”

Maybe my mind will clear the clutter. Maybe it won’t in this season. Regardless, I am still open to the mysteries and uncertainties. I am letting go more, and more. I am getting to see the darker ghosts of my past disappear and I am shedding their weight.

The trees aren’t the only things that lose those heavier things. We do too. And sometimes when they fall, they are meant for different things. Things you may not ever see in your lifetime, but they are there and they are growing.

Do not fear the moaning and growing because that is all that life will ever be.

Letting go. Moving on, and growing ceaselessly into your own becoming.

the lonely generation.

Let me first start out by saying I really just speak for myself, and not the entirety of my generation, and certainly not for folks in other parts of the world.

For some reason, I’ve been wanting to talk about being alone. And I always say “being alone” rather than “being lonely”, because I feel they are two very different things.

Being lonely, to me at least, can happen regardless if you’re actually alone or not. I know people who feel lonely and have a large, supportive family and are maybe even married or have a partner to share their life with.

Being alone, well, that’s where I come in. I came across an article recently that said we, at least my generation, are going to be the loneliest generation (because of various social networking habits). Broad statements like this always rub me the wrong way, because it’s such a large generalization of a generation that is barely into their 30s. People can’t always, or if ever, control the things that happen to them in their lives.

I think often that I might have a kid by now. I might have had a lot of things by now. But I don’t, and that’s okay. Life took a sharp U-Turn a few years ago and sent me on a different direction. Part of me feels sad, not as much for me, but for the people in my life who wanted to see me have those things — maybe some family — maybe some friends. I can’t control these things, and that is something you have to understand.

What I want to say, is that I may be really difficult. Whether that is my standards, my dreams, and whatever it is I may be pursuing at the moment. Some people have an easier time in life living with other human beings, and some work better being on their own. The part of this that is difficult is merging those things at some point.

I think being with people is important. I know we joke about staying in at night instead of going out, or people telling me how much they know about being an introvert when it is all so damn complex. People don’t like feeling hurt. As I get older, I will admit it takes a lot more energy to try and try again. To connect…and to hopefully really connect with someone who happens to be going your way.

I am okay with being alone, mostly.

But, that is me.

I also feel lonely at times. Especially when you’re sick or need some squeezes. I think that’s understandable. I love seeing people together, and working out. I remember what that was like and I am hopeful to have it again one day. But you have to try things out. More often than not, it doesn’t work. You can’t lose hope in yourself or the world.

I always want to say people are stronger than they make themselves out to be, but it’s not my (or anyone else’s) job to coach you like that, because those people, in time, will probably let you down and then what?

That is what it is to be a messy human. This is your story, moving at your speed.

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So yeah, maybe I should have two kids by now.

Maybe I should be thinking of having my own business or working towards some other grand thing.

I am doing something that I love. Love that includes lots of things, though. Bits of rage and exhaustion, as well.

I have people that care about me, and loads of people that I care for, most importantly. I have a lot of reasons to wake up and try to create something that gives me, and hopefully others life.

I try to let go of my want to be understood, and focus more on understanding.

We are all different little monsters sometimes, and that’s a little scary. But deep in my belly I see a lot of love and a lot of knots that need untying.

You will feel lonely, sometimes. We are all full of cracks, you see? Because of that we get to fill up with all sorts of things.

Right now, I’m learning how to make Kombucha, and I’m running a lot more than I ever have each week. I am preparing myself for a busy Fall season, and also what that means for me,

when our seasons start to change, and we feel new life in our bellies.

 

stuck.

I have been stuck on this awful and violent week.

I feel as though I owe some sort of apology to my co-workers, who over the past couple of days have had to walk on egg shells around my fragile and angry state. I am not even close to the ones who were affected even more personally by the things that have happened.

It is still something I, and many of you, have felt tremendously this week. I am an overly-sensitive dude and have always been.

Unfortunately, I cannot hide behind the legs of my mother anymore. Instead we are pushed into little rooms full of videos of men being killed and we are supposed to handle it like adults.

I was stuck on the video of the son pulling his shirt over his face to wipe his tears and prayers to God, denying her partner getting shot. Those moans are so haunting that I wonder if it’s even possible to get them out of my head anymore.

Really, all I’ve wanted to do since Tuesday is bury my head in the cool sand, like we used to do with watermelons when we were kids at the creek. Quiet. Mumbled. Cold and tranquil. We aren’t ever promised that space to heal ourselves, though.

Sometimes we have to work through it all. Sometimes that’s having to move through anger non-violently, and non aggressively with a super person’s amount of compassion and grace.

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With so much violence and grief, the smallest amount of love and goodness feels like cold water after recess.

That small relief fills your belly with some peace.

This world and its growing pains. We are all here for it, right now. It is the most messy and heartbreaking thing we will see in our lives, but in all of these things we learn and our hearts grow and mend.

My eyes have been watery on and off the past week. Yours too, probably. Hopefully.

Hopefully we have all felt broken, and put back together with a few pieces missing. Pieces of us that were hanging on to hate and injustice and complacency. And gaining something new, maybe.

Maybe our love is stronger now.
Maybe we our stronger now.

Regardless, we are stuck with carrying each other’s pain, now.

So let’s do that. And let’s be wounded healers and cook food together,
or mow someone’s grass, or just have a little grace on someone who’s having a hard day.

We need you here with us, okay?

Okay.

moon stuff.

Sometimes I wish I was on the moon.

Maybe near the sea of tranquility, running my fingers through space-cold star stuff.

I would look upon Earth with hope knowing that everything tremendously good and bad has happened there forever and ever. Moaning and twisting. Settling, too, from time to time.

I would feel all sorts of ways. The moon sometimes feels sad to me. Because it is often trumped by the Sun — alas the moon has always been my favorite. Quiet. Pulling us in and out of her grace.

I would see a place of heaven and hell.

Dark and Light, of which I embrace both. You have to, really.

It is all so awful sometimes. But you can’t say anything. And you can’t blame anyone. We are only filled with our experiences. We are not a very open world, that is for sure.

There we are anyways. Just hanging around in the middle of whatever space is. This brilliant and short lived thing and we get to sit on and complain about our fries being soggy.

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I hate that people kill other people. And I wish guns were just used for shooting clay discs out the sky or birds for people to eat or other animals for sustenance. I hate that we’re all unhappy with our world that we drive so many people not to like one another.

None of that really matters, and I don’t really care anymore. I don’t care that you have really expensive legal guns. It’s your life, and I really don’t care. And I know you don’t care about what I think — trust me, it all goes full circle.

People hurt though. And I don’t trust myself with any knowledge that any of this is okay. The depth of a human being is filled to the brim with fear and passion and rage — all sorts of love stuff too. It gets all mixed in together, as well.

The part of me that hurts the most is my numbness to all of the conversations. Of all the people I love and respect.

All I can think to do anymore is keep the conversation light, and to keep close the people that I can spill my guts to, which seems to get smaller and smaller as life goes on. I don’t know. I guess at some point I will change. Something will happen to me over a very long period of time, and I will change.

But not today.

Today I just want to be on the moon.

Far away.

Waiting for the dust to settle,
in hopes that I can listen well and act justly when I am supposed to,
and sew good and love into whatever fabric we are becoming.

retreat and reconcile.

I’m not quite sure where my head is at.

In between a lot of layers of self doubt and pride and movement. Each layer is built upon what I consider my deepest self. The one that I return to before I fall asleep at night, and perhaps in the morning when I have a few quiet moments.

Who the hell am I becoming? Is this person good? Will this person be lonely? Can I find some balance in this wonky world?

No big surprise you probably ask yourself the same questions. Getting older (and older) I am pressed by the second hand moving around the clock. I live my life in seconds, really. At least when your job is putting food on plates, seconds matter.

Okay. Write about what hurts.

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Often, the answer for loneliness is to seek out a person, or people to do life with. But it’s awfully complex. I fear writing about it because it’s got all those layers, too. And I really don’t want to receive worried messages. Actually, I’m quite good with how my life is working.

I am reaching into the places that I feel a little worn and for lack of better imagery, desolate. Being reminded almost daily of lives that I’ve had already. Images that are burned into my brain of people leaving, of me leaving, and also ones of great love and warmth. I like those, a lot.

Daily, I reconcile the person I am becoming. The person who has to be tough on employees and himself. Who is often careless with his words and how they sink deep into another. I have a responsibility for all of that. One could lock themselves in a room forever, but I cannot think of a worse reality than to not feel or to fear the responsibility of feeling the depth of one’s humanness.

I wish I could afford spiritual retreats. Or perhaps more spirituality in general. I think this is also what hurts. Food, in my world, is my way of communion with people. Its facade is one of hipness and energy and hustle — but what I crave at its marrow — communion. And that involves all the moving parts. Sort of like your church. Sort of like your people.

While a restaurant is not by any means a place of spiritual reckoning, it is often where my feet are planted. It is my holy ground that knows too many curse words and blood and sweat. It knows stress and dirt and fear. These were the things I didn’t know as a home cook.

But this is my life now. I have the marks and I breathe in the warm oven and the first pot of coffee in the morning. I dip my spoon into everything.

I taste and I taste and I taste.

When I come home I toss my body onto my bed and often miss the presence of another next to me. Maybe giving me a back scratch. Or a run down of their day, which is often a nice retreat from the noise inside my head.

But really, I have myself. Perhaps the squirrels that run along my tin roof and the occasional lady bugs that still happen to find their way on the edge of my water glass.

My world, as small as it is, seems impossibly huge sometimes. Even when I see the earth from space, falling into nothingness, I am still alive and aware of that gift.

Of Existing. Feeling. Moaning. Laughing. And really just, being.

When I write about what hurts, I often find what heals.
They often stem from the same things.
That is life, I think.

Reconciliation and Communion.

Over and over again.

Layer upon layer.

happening

I wonder if I can learn to be reckless again.

After something breaks you, you try to be safe so it won’t hurt as bad anymore, but it’s becoming very clear to me that things are always happening to us. Whether they are good or bad. Things are happening.

All of the time.

There are some days, where I can float above my body. Already, I live every day remembering people and places and how they made me feel. It’s a cycle I run through, and I’m not sure I’ve had a day where I don’t think about the moments that sent me onto a different trajectory.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I am a bit afraid to love another person deeply again. I know for a fact that I will give myself up to it. I will lose something in my cooking. I will regret some of that life, I know. Of being obsessed with some form of my occupation and wondering if any person out there would be able to accept the moments where the thing I love to do, competes with their relationship with me.
This absolutely breaks my heart.

I am a stubborn fool, quite often.

Raw feeling, many days. Where I just don’t think I have any more to give, when it’s the thing I love the most.

These days, my cup is so full — I s’pose of everything a human can be full of. Hunger. Fear. Love. Regret. Compassion. Rage. Wonder. Contentment.

And I come home, and push off my shoes and collapse onto some soft surface big enough for my frame. There are times I want to weep with it all — to really just — let the skies have it all. Maybe something up there is listening after all.

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Today, I am jealous of free weekends. Of an easier love. Sun-burned faces and Sunday naps wrapped tightly with a warm body or animal (or both). And in my head, I wonder if I did good enough today.

If I was fast enough. Or kind enough. Or if I hurt someone’s feelings or whether or not I’ll have the energy to muster up a soft hello at a local church meeting. Truly, I have a lot on my shoulders and a dull pain riding up into my neck.

But, things are always happening to us.
And like the prayer goes: it’s for our healing.

It’s all happening for us to move through and to become so wonderfully and tragically human, with the world and the people of it pulling us in a million different ways.

For now, I will rest my head and give the dull ache in my neck some time to take it easy. I will wrap myself tightly in this brown blanket and probably wake myself up with a snore or two.

I have my own Sunday kinda love, and today, it looks like all of the things that have made me — and have made me goofy and flawed and tenderhearted — and know that all along, everything’s been happening.

 

moving.

I will be moving in a few weeks.

Not very far, so don’t worry.
Moving up, a bit. I like to say. A little more room. A little more of a quiet space. Not so much because I need my surroundings to always be quiet and still — but because my day to day life contains a thousand moving parts and some of them have voices and all of them are important.

I am happy and sad and weary and full of many things. That is my heart, most days. This is starting off to be a heavy year for me and many of the people I love. Waking up to news about another person I love having to carry an impossible weight — how any human does it is still a mystery to me.

People still help, ya know? This whole adulting thing is tricky. Really, we all have to learn from scratch. We all have to figure out how to handle loss and divorce and sickness and pride. But people are still around, and many of them actually listen to you and are willing to give you some of their time. That is invaluable. That is something I’m learning right now.

Time is that precious resource. Always moving forward, always losing it and wishing somehow that it would go faster and slower. Like kissing soft lips for the first time — or being at a table where things seem to stop.

There is the other side, where we have to keep our mouths open at the dentist or wait for our test results. Sometimes that is agony.

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I stood outside the back door of my apartment and realized I’d outgrown it. Maybe a little came from the new tenant above me who shakes my ceiling when he walks. But I knew this feeling of having to move — slightly familiar, and with it comes some hard stuff. I teared up a bit.

I rebuilt my life in this tiny home.

I fed a lot of people out of it.

I struggled with my craft and almost left a few times.

By some weird luck, and I believe hard work, things have shifted and I am changing again.

Being a chef in the capacity that I am is one of the coolest and hardest things I’ve gotten to do. It is such a blast and can also be so absolutely brutal. But there is a peace to waking up every day and going to a kitchen where people are cooking and laughing and venting.

I’ve built a family too. I love that.

Y’all, I’m on the move again…

and as always, pressing into the horizon.