scattered

Loving other people means you will often feel as if bits of you are scattered in too many places. But you are not broken, just in pieces.

This was the thought from my friend C, who lives in Oregon.

It stuck with me, like the best things do.
I think often about the struggle to hold such a community in your heart that is so spread out and wild and different. You would think I would have no North to look onto. More so as I get older, these people who helped shape me, still hold me.

When I sit alone at night, processing another life I hold them snug-as-heirlooms. They are, after all, my story. Anytime a person is curious of my spirituality or my story, they make their way through and I share how they cared for me and showed me different heavens in the midst of some hells.

There’s another part of me that wonders what it would be like to only know that a little bit of the world actually exists. Maybe if I didn’t meet people who took me to far away places for the sake of love and beauty, or God and truth (or maybe all-in-one.)

jim_campbell_scattered_light

My heart is big and it is always in pieces!

The truth of the matter is that it will always be this way. Like the presence of a family member or close friend that leaves you into a Great Mystery — they are always deep in there. You will laugh and feel sad about your memories of them and that is the realest thing.

I’ve always said that heaven is maybe all those people together, around a table. We’re not talking politics, but we are digging deep into one another. It is my favorite thing to do around a table. Perhaps that’s why there are so many pieces scattered about — left under rugs of old friends who have kids and better jobs and forget about how their words were so heavy.

You also surround yourself with big hearts. It is inevitable that you are going to smash up against someone who is just as achey as you and that is also super real.

I guess, what I’m trying to say, is that you’re supposed to be this way. You are supposed to wake up and help with the pieces that people have left with you.

That is being loved, and loving in return.

So many pieces,

scattered. (not broken)

pick them up!

they are all made in love.

treasures.

It is something.

All of this.

I push inward to what hurts. I tell myself not to think or write about it anymore, because the idea of peoples thoughts and opinions always seem to oppress what I’m feeling.

Sometimes, it is lonely. And I fear people get angry with me when I complain. That it’s my fault I have defense mechanisms and am afraid of wandering into another universe.

Perhaps your universe. Perhaps navigating my own.

Mine has been so safe. I toil here and there. Adjusting a picture when it’s slightly off. Leaving a few dirty dishes for tomorrow. Or the next day. I guess these are the things I can control. It is a luxury and is also a heavy loneliness.

But it isn’t a lonely where I feel sorry for myself. It is merely the self-awareness that I am moving quite singularly among people who live closely with one another.
In the softest places of my heart I miss it so, so much.

That love was a great gift for me. Even when we are quick to turn folks into enemies for what they’ve done — there is some kind of residue left behind of memory and little treasures.

I am okay to be messy. As much pride as I take in keeping my shit together for the people I see and do life with most, there is a burden of something unfair. An unfair expectation I put on others because it’s what I want. That is the raw thing that is tender and sore.

It’s how I love proximity and vulnerability, but push away a person because I so love to be free to move and stretch and maybe at times fall asleep with my hand in a bag of popcorn.

It’s the realization of sacrifice — of wanting it all — but understanding that you have to give up what you’ve built for yourself, in your own little universe.

9-Trust-the-Universe

I’m okay with losing it again.

I’ve never been one to close my heart off, and I find myself more often than not having to make decisions that hurt another person’s world. Never anything physical — but perhaps toying with emotions and feelings. Pulling them in and not being responsible to who they are: real people.

That is it, really. Navigating all of these uncharted territories like I know what I’m doing.  Most of the time, I just want to wrap myself up in some ridiculously healthy form of myself and exist. But I can’t. I have the bits of space and time that’ve been pulled into my universe and they are mine.

Spinning and tilting. Each showing some light as to what they’ve been to me. It is all this beautiful gift that involves nothing short of tiny miracles and mercies beyond me.

And as messy as we all are to start, we are working it out every day.

I am working it out every day.

I welcome you to it. My mess. My imperfect universe of treasures.

I keep them close,

and I give thanks.

finding a universe

The more I learn about people, the more I find myself exploring their depths like a newly discovered galaxy.

I wish I could say Interstellar didn’t have some role in this piece, but I cannot deny that looking for a habitable planet is a lot like looking for a suitable mate. Now I know, I don’t usually talk about dating on this thing. I generally save that for the thousands of other blogs that are much better and braver for it.

Too hot. Too cold.
Not enough oxygen.
Too much space.
Not enough space.
Hard to read.
Habitable?
Thin atmosphere.
Hospitable.
Barriers of communication.

This life is about thriving in your conditions.

So often I find myself living in a truth that timing is one of the most difficult things. In the ways our planet wasn’t able to support life for millions of years, I often think how rare it is to actually find a place to settle for a while. I have no doubt there are many people good for each other in a lifetime. The fact that we find people who we can share a life with at all is pretty amazing, when you think about it.

Many people dwell in a place for an entire lifetime. Some bounce around, finding a space more quickly, and others, through choice (or not) are left wandering around the cosmos trying to find the energy to again explore another.

Those who know me are probably really nervous that I appear to be way into astrology these days. Fear not, I will not be joining a cult soon, and I will not be drinking the kool-aid.

That is not to say that I don’t relate a lot to our world and our wonderful gift of a planet. It is just too perfect for us.

But I have to submit to my own wonderings.

tumblr_static_galaxy-background-tumblr-hipster-gxowgipe

I find this dating thing to be extremely difficult. I have forgotten how many variables are in play and just how much it seems like a dance. A super frustrating, but fun dance.

Deep down, there are so many things about so many people that I just love. I see all these strengths and I have this idea in my head of what things would maybe be like. I guess I have this odd advantage of having been married, and I recognize both worlds.

I spend a lot of time with married people, and remember the ebb and flow. I spend time with people who are in relationships outside of marriage and people, like me, who are single and floating around in the midst of a world where it can be hard not being tethered to another human being.

When I was married, a friend of mine would often ask me what I’d be doing if I wasn’t married…or to imagine the freedom of being single again. Often times when I’m around married people, and I let them divulge in the bits and pieces of drama I scrounge up, they say, “Oh, I’m so glad I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Well, I don’t either.

But I must lay down my arms and my panic.

Finding another place in all of this space takes time. Along the way you will experience so many other worlds and it will still be wonderful and sometimes suck. That is the duty of exploration.

Drifting, into other worlds,
exploring and fumbling with the right words.

To me, it is infinite.

I am traveling at the speed of my own body,
embracing the great spirit of that same body.
Knowing always the importance of movement,
and new discoveries upon the horizon.

put away your phones!

I take pride in being a good dining companion.

But, I also have one of those damn iPhones.

I know, right?

I’m hear to say that it’s okay to put it away when you eat your food.

Let me start by saying, a lot of my job is built on the philosophy of hospitality. Meaning, we work hard and run and cook your food, and you pay us for it. There is so much more, though.

There are times when I get to peak out of the pass to see tables full of people with their heads down scrolling through their phones, seemingly wishing to be anywhere but there. They eat their food without talking, and they go back to work or home. Most likely, they will get back on their phones at their final destination. Regardless, they are paying attention to the wrong things.

I should also say that I am one of these people, quite often. Head down. Thumb mindlessly tapping and swiping. The peripheral is a blurry horizon but at least I have checked and I have no new emails, and that burst of joy from someone liking my Instagram picture has faded. These past few months, I have been solidly working on NOT checking my phone at every urge just because I can. The idea is that we’re missing out on something that we should know about.

There’s something so discouraging about sitting at a table full of people with their phones. That in turn makes me pull out my phone because I’m left staring at a wall. When you disconnect yourself from people, they feel it. Well, I feel it. If you need to take a call or get back to someone because it is important, be intentional with your companions.

I’ve gotten into the habit of checking my phone any time I am by myself.  I am reminded of the Louis C.K. bit about being afraid of being alone with your emotions.

While there is that, I want to take this space to talk about its form in the dining world.

phonestacking

As a person who cooks all day for other people, and who occasionally finds himself sitting at a table with good folk, I encourage you to keep your phones tucked away for a while.

I realize, we live in a world where things can change so fast. We want to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

We want to see and know everything but we also want that distance that keeps us safe.

So, I think, people aren’t very safe. We are unruly and unexpected and we say things without the proper space to react. We rejoice in awkwardness because it is our generations new form of humor. We are afraid of being awkward people, and phones are making us even more awkward people.

All of this, is coming from an introvert who really loves the space of text communicating with people. But just because I recharge away from people, doesn’t mean I am shy to speak to another person. It also doesn’t mean that I am socially awkward. I actually think I’ve grown a lot these past few years by putting myself out there, only to realize that we are all the same wobbly boat, just trying to figure some shit out.

Am I right?

Being in the restaurant biz has helped loads, as well. You get the opportunity to speak to and meet new kinds of people all the time. It becomes second nature to absorb people’s words and attitudes. Separating yourself from that can take some time to figure out.

Take a couple of lessons from the guys at restaurant Joe Beef up in Montreal:

Come prepared with some good stories. Nothing too long, because you know our attention spans are maybe ten seconds long.

Don’t over do it with the alcohol. When you become a liability, folks have to start looking out for you. Save the spins for home, that way you have the comforts of your own toilet to pass out next to. 

Eye contact. And I am the worst, but I’m working on it. When people are talking to you, look at them. Affirm their words, even if you don’t agree. When talking back, try your best to make eye contact again. If that’s too much for the first bit, stare in between their forehead. Hey, I hear that works.

Eating is one of the only things that we separate from our usual days of work and hustle and sleep. It is when we sit down to feed ourselves. Eating alone is OKAY. I promise. Instead of your phone, maybe read a book, or sit outside on the steps and get some fresh air.

If you want to play a fun game with your friends, place all your phones stacked in the middle of a the table. The first to reach, has to pay the tab. That’ll show em’!

But for real, y’all.

Let’s work on being better companions. With dining, and with our relationships. I promise, we are worth our weight and it’s always such a joy to discover another person again and again.

(ps. and here’s some Jungleland, if you wanted to hear it.)

love is potato chips.

Today I want to talk about love.

Poets and prophets have probably said it better,
but I suppose we are all entitled to our own thoughts on love.

I listen to people a lot.
Some that are going through heart break. Some that are questioning marriage/big commitments.
Some that are in that weird spot of going all in, or backing out.

What a heavy thing, love is. I suppose it also feels light as a feather, too.
We are not safe from it. Neither is your heart.
Love is not safe. You are taking a risk on a daily basis to be vulnerable. To hug. And kiss.
And also just…being there. Providing another person your ear to listen and heart to process it all.

I am sorry to say that you are not perfect in your love. There are days where you want to play video games and maybe fantasize about what life would be like given a perfect scenario. You will stress about money, still. Or whether kids are a good idea.

You should ask yourself these questions.

Is it worth the risk?
Perhaps. But this has all been said before. There are religions and movements based on the idea that love is greater than fear and death and darkness. It is true. To love is to suffer, to some extent. The world is an endless supply of questions, greater than the sum of its parts.

It is and was worth it.
For me, at least.

I think it’s worth it to love someone your whole life.
I think there’s too many of us not to.

Shirtless Man Laying in Giant Field of Grass

Real love feels safe. At least to me. Even when things break down, love is strong. Even when I feel angry and tired, my love is strong.
You’re still taking a risk, you see?
That is not dull. That is big and difficult. It is worthy of your time, to love another.

I once thought I could change the world. That is until I lived with another human being who required my everything. And so I gave it to her. I gave her all I could. In my heart, I wish I would have hugged more. Kissed more. Said more wonderful things, but let’s be honest, many days are spent just trying to feed one another and have a few laughs in between a short amount of time you actually get to be with each other.

But those things are important too. Laughter. Food. Ice Cream. Cuddles. Big fluffy Downton Abbey love.

And it’s having a someone there to process a life together. To filter. To digest.

There is no end to your love. I guess that’s what I feel. There are millions of others who have felt such distress and the feeling that all is lost. I realize my hurt is universal. But our pain is unique.

As well as our love.

Love is watching your partner fall asleep on the couch after a long day, imagining how you helped provide for them some safety. Maybe a plate of food, and some kisses.

Maybe a foot rub, or a back scratch.

Experiencing love made the absence of it terribly lonesome.
I think a lot about how much I miss hugs. How that proximity was good and probably did good things to my brain. I think about closeness and chemicals. How those things help us to bond. I enjoy my space, like most humans. But there is something to be said about having another presence close, who is safe and loves you. I believe, deep down, we were meant to have that.

Marriage is what happens when two people decide to spend their lives together, whether that is under God or a state or with their friends and family. Sometimes they’ll have a lot of food and dance and write thank you notes for all the gifts they were given.

And then you have trouble sleeping in the same bed.
Or being on weird schedules.
Who does the dishes is a big deal.

I can attest that loving another person is worth the risk of being damaged. Pain is what shapes us. Being happy smooths the edges, but real love, is accepting both and doing it day after day, regardless of what might happen tomorrow, or next year.

It is settling into a world where you have to work hard at loving each other well, but to also lay in the sun with potato chips and chocolate and to breathe in the same air.

I will always have that. Yes, deep deep down in my belly, I will think about all that love that still flows through me.

And maybe again someday, I’ll get to give it to another as intimately as I have before.

That…is how I know it is real.