I’ve been putting off writing this post. Not because we haven’t had anything good to share. Not because life is too much to write about. I think mostly because so much has been happening so fast that it’s been hard to sit down and think of it all at one time. The first half of the year has not been what we expected it to be for both good and not so good reasons. We went into 2016 with some big plans and some big goals. Though we have accomplished much, there has been enough of the not so good to happen that has made the good a little less easy to fully enjoy.
Since our 2015 in Retrospect post, we have been able to move into a new place, in a safer neighborhood. We are incredibly thankful for this. Our last neighborhood was in such flux for so long, with the construction and crime rate rising, it was time we felt safer where we lived. We definitely feel safer now. On top of that, after driving a car that was entirely too unsafe for the two of us, Ive finally been able to lease a new car that has some of the highest safety and features ratings, which has made both of our minds feel at ease. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate having this new ride. I grew up believing that you get what you get and you make do with what you have. I had always bought previously owned cars from the owner of the car, and never went to car dealers or lots. This ensured that I didn’t have to deal with interest rates or hidden fees. What I didn’t understand is that this prevented me from having a lot of the insurances that buying a car from a dealer or a lot would have given me in the past. If my car ever broke down before, I had to rely on my Dad to help me fix it, which was inconvenient for the both of us. Now, if something goes wrong, I can just take it back to the dealer and have them take care of it for little to no money. Its been a huge load off my mind, since transportation has always been a big deal for us in doing our projects.
I wanted to talk about the good that has been going on first in this post because I believe it is important to acknowledge the positive things that happen in your life. Though the positive things don’t always make up for some of the harder things that have happened, it is important to not dismiss the opportunity and privilege one is afforded. I’ll never deny that I have had some kind of privelage in my life. I think as a white, 20something male, it would be extremely ignorant of me not to say so. But I am also not one to dismiss the fact that I’ve come from a complicated and unprivileged past. I don’t have a trust fund. Our parents or grandmas didn’t pay off our student loans for us. I don’t have parents who are super well off and have some big safety net for me to fall back on. That is not to say that my family wouldn’t be there in whatever way they could if we were to fall on hard times. Even with so little, they give and give, in whatever way they can. That’s the type of people they are. I feel extremely thankful for them in that sense.
But to return to my point, I did not grow up with the same privelage others may have been afforded. I come from a family of construction workers, farmers, loggers and folks who work whatever odd-job they can to get by. Folks who find a way to get by is probably the best way to describe them. It’s a mind set I think a lot of folks in the states have had to adopt since facing such turmoil in the past decade, in midst of the Great Recession. I, to some extent, had adopted the mindset as well for some time, but it comes to a point in many young persons’ life when they make the decision to either learn how to compromise and settle into a state of apathy, or fight back against the mediocrity that society has carved out for them. I feel like I’ve been fighting a lot since last year. I was tired of accepting less in my job, so I got my shit together, and got my masters degree in business. It’s not something I would have even remotely considered five years ago, but it seemed like the only way I could make a difference in our lives is to learn how the economy is structured, and how to better take advantage of the opportunities that may be waiting for me. I’ve had 3 job changes in the past year. I went from working in technical support, to working remotely for a massive consulting agency, and now I’ve procured myself a managing role in the marketing department of a company who helps fund charter schools. I am extremely thankful for this, and it has been an absolute blessing in both of our lives. I came from living on a non-functioning farm in the middle of nowhere to living in ‘the big city’ and working for a company that actually does some good in the world. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that to some extent, at such a young age, I am living some portion of the American dream. But to some extent, I am not sure if it’s the American dream that I actually want for my life.
I don’t think I would be saying this if it wasn’t for other things going on in this country the past six months. This has been one of the most heated election years I have experienced. Even more heated than Bush vs. Gore. Oh yes, I remember the outrage and the intense calls for recounts. If you follow me on social media, you’ll find that I have been a pretty steeped supporter of Bernie Sanders. I have been interested in politics in the past, mostly around election years, that always sparked the idealistic individual in me. When Obama ran in 2007, it made me feel like anything was possible. His messages of Hope & Change were inspiring. I don’t think I would have pursued finishing college the way I did if not for the positivity from his campaign. But the realities hit once the Great Recession was in full swing, and so much hardship came to our country. It was a bit of a sucker punch, and made me realize that even with a great person with such an important message leading the country, there are problems and people even the president cannot fix or persuade to do the right thing. This election year, I somehow forgot all of that again… with the promise that there is still good out there which can change this country for the better.
I had been fiercely digitally campaigning for the Sanders’ cause online. I had been following him way before he announced his run for presidency, and once he did, I knew I wanted to be a part of it somehow. I engaged with others in educated conversations online in support of him. I reposted content which sparked conversations about the corrupt nature of establishment politics, and how democratic socialism offers a direction which is more all inclusive of the morals the founding fathers created our country upon. Real true equality and equity, governmental structure designed to be for the people and by the people, one which provisioned social programs that would and could enrich our society with healthcare and education, while regulating those who are taking advantage of the legal system and not contributing their fair share. Bernie Sanders is the first person in my lifetime that has made me feel proud to be American. That is saying a lot.
But the election season has shown me just where the dual political parties and corporate medias priorities are; suppressing the idea that we are all, truly, all for one and one for all, and instead refocusing the spotlight on intentionally ignorant and corrupt individuals. Its been disheartening. It’s been exhausting. And though I know the fight goes on, I am afraid I am just too tired and too sensitive a person to continue to fight the good fight, because it still feels like a losing battle. This is not to say that I no longer support my candidate. I support him with all I am. But for my own personal sanity, I have to step back and refocus my priorities because it really has done a number on me… and Jade for that matter. We both are just so fed up with the way politics work here in the states, and the twisted priorities of the deeply divided factions in this society, that its made us reticent to continue to fight and defend what we think is right. That is not to say that we will not continue to be the change we wish to see in the world by being kind, giving back where we can or being decent moral individuals. But this feeling doesn’t only come from being battered by the extremists and societal divisions. Deep down, all we want is peace and equality, and fighting for peace is extremely redundant. No, my need to step back to protect myself against all of this stems from what has made me feel extremely sensitive and reexamine what I want in life.
I recently lost a really good friend of mine to suicide. He was a good guy. Truly one of the best. He too shared much of my feelings on peace and equality in our society. I think its one of the reasons I was able to become such good friends with him so quickly. We started a job together a few years ago on the same day. Just me and him in the same training class. There was something about him, a kindness and genuineness in his character that resonated with me. I could tell he was someone who had struggled a lot in his life in one way or another, which created a real, true humbleness and understanding in him. He was one of the first people in a long time I felt like I could talk to about real things. About life, relationships, how the world worked, and how it didn’t. I felt an immediate kinship to him. He got my random sense of humor and I got his. He could tell when I was having a bad day and came to check up on me and I could tell the same with him. To some extent, we had each others backs. I can’t act however like he was my best friend of all time. That would be doing his memory a disservice. We hung out a lot at work, had lunch together often, and shared much humor and real thoughts through instant message and email. We didn’t do much hanging out outside of work, except at work functions. But he was the one person at those functions I felt like was my safe place. He wouldn’t judge me for being too strange or for my thoughts about the world. He was one of the good ones. Losing him felt surreal. I literally had just talked to him no more than six or seven days before he passed. It’s something that I am still processing and dealing with my feelings about. I can’t say that I am in shock or am even wholly surprised, but I am deeply saddened and it all has left me with many questions.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had someone close to me pass away from suicide though. I worked with a girl a decade ago who was, too, one of the kinder souls I’ve ever met and met the same fate. i’ve always heard “that its always the quiet ones…”, but its not. Its those who may not be able to speak their truth. That they are hurting inside. They feel alone. I’m not sure why, but I always gravitate toward people who seem like they are troubled or alone. Maybe it’s because I sense they need a friend. Maybe it’s those people who have a different grasp on reality that I appreciate and share to some extent. Whatever it is, I just want all those who I meet and befriend to know that they aren’t alone and others care. I care. My caring doesn’t come from a selfish place. I don’t want to make friends because I get something from them. I make friends because I want to share something; friendship, kindness, love, joy, sorrow, unhappiness, all of it. But it’s not just friends who I have lost to suicide. I lost my grandfather to it, a man who was dying of cancer. I didn’t know I lost him to suicide until my adulthood. It was something my parents felt like that shouldn’t be shared with me when it happened. Which is probably good because I was seven years old, probably a little too young to deal with that sort of loss. Beyond that, I also lost a cousin a couple years ago to drug abuse, and in the end to suicide as well.
I lost another cousin, her name was Summer. She was someone I felt very close with in my youth. Her death was my first experience of suicide. She was in her mid twenties and had been fighting a lifelong battle with Crohns disease, among other issues. I was fourteen when she passed. It was something I didn’t quite understand and I also understood all too well. I understand wanting to be released from suffering. I understand that you would have to be in such a tortured and defeated mental state to resort to ending it all. It’s hard for me to blame her or anyone who passes from suicide. In fact, I don’t blame them or anyone. I don’t see them as selfish. I don’t see them as careless. I see them as individuals who were feeling and experiencing things that you and I may never experience or fully understand, and we have no place to judge their decisions. We have to learn to forgive them if we feel like they have done us wrong. We have to understand that we cannot and could not change the decisions that they made. Most importantly, I think it is imperative to remember that we cannot blame ourselves, because they likely would not want that for us. I choose to believe that they all are in a better place, a place where their suffering, in whatever form, has subsided and they now are able to find true peace. How can I blame or be upset for someone trying to find peace?
Losing my cousin Summer made me think hard about a lot of stuff when I was younger. It made me confront a lot of the sad feelings I had at an early age, where I realized in one way or another that I suffer from depression and anxiety. I was labeled too sensitive, too emotional or just ‘a teenager’. I did not come from a family however that this was wholly and openly talked about, so I was never really diagnosed with those issues, and had to find my own way of coping. Coping with loss is hard. Coping with depression and anxiety is hard. Especially when you feel alone in it. But I managed to get through one way or another.
A few weeks before my friend passed away recently, my aunt Sue also passed away. Aunt Sue was Summer’s mother. Summer’s passing was the hardest on her. Aunt Sue passed away due to health complications She was in her early sixties, but still too young to have passed so soon. She was one of the most eccentric, funny, feisty and hilarious women I had ever had the pleasure to know. She is one of the reasons why I respect strong women. She was definitely one of the strongest, and was always able to laugh and be kind even in some of the most trying times. That’s a quality I admire in many individuals; the ability to laugh when the going gets tough, but not ignore the fact that life can be hard, and sometimes you need to step back and feel your feelings too.
I think we both have been feeling a sense that we need to step back from things the beginning of this year. Of course, life doesn’t stop even when you just want to lay down in place, so we have been pressing on. We’ve been dealing with immense change in many different forms, not all bad. In fact, some of it has been pretty incredible. Jade had the immense opportunity early this year to sign with Cycle Media, which has provided some crazy opportunities to work with companies and brands in creating new projects based around her photography and illustration, which she and I are both immensely thankful for. A lot of what has changed is because we willed it to change, and much because certain opportunities just came to pass that we took advantage of. But I think we are both thinking bigger about life. We are not only working to better understand what we want in the present with the many decisions being presented to us, but also what we want for our future. We have found that just because we are presented with some opportunities that we may not have in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean that we want them. I had always been of the mind set that how can I complain when something good comes to me? How could you turn it down? But what I think we are both realizing is that though some amazing opportunities may come your way, we have to think about what we really want out of life; what we really want for ourselves, our careers, our fulfillment, our happiness, and think about if the opportunities being presented to us will actually get us to where we want to be.
Even though we may be privileged in a way we never were in the past, is the privelage or opportunities really making us happy? Are they really getting us to where we want to be? I know its absolute truth when they say that ‘your life won’t always turn out the way you imaged it would’, but why should we make compromises and accept whatever comes our way when we could be focused and dedicated to something we may actually be more passionate or care more about? I understand this is a privileged problem to have, but it doesn’t make the decisions any easier. Just going with the flow of life and accept what is given, or make some hard decisions to go in different directions to try and reach something we believe will make our life better, happier, more fulfilled, more successful in the long run? I hear a lot of people calling this sort of conundrum a quarter life crisis, but I don’t really know if that is what we are experiencing. I don’t think we are unhappy where we are, but I know where we are isn’t exactly where we want to be. We aren’t unappreciative of what we have in life, we just imagined things a little differently at this point. I’m not sure if we can say exactly what we imagined before, or what we want exactly right now… but I believe we can say that we are still searching for the right thing.
I think it’s been hard to take part in sharing our life during this period of uncertainty. We had big plans at the turn of the year to start a Youtube Channel, blog more often and start some big projects. We didn’t plan for the losses. We didn’t plan on the country going nuts this election season, or for more occurrences of gun violence to take such a toll on us. We didn’t plan for this overwhelming sense of lack of safety. When you are experiencing such highs and lows in life, its hard to want to share it with others. Social media is a funny thing in that, yeah you can share whatever you want about the things you are doing and the life you are living, but who are you sharing it for? Are you trying to please an audience of followers, or are you trying to please yourself? To some extent, if you aren’t getting enjoyment out of taking part in it, why are you doing it? There are many elements of social media that were, at one time, only for fun for us. Overall, there seems to be much for us to think about, plan for, step back and refocus on.
A Youtube Channel is still something we would like to do, but in the right way. This takes planning and time. This post itself is means to talk about some of the things that have been weighing heavy on my mind, brush off the dust and cobwebs, and recommit to finding the enjoyment and passion to some degree behind our creating content for Endlessly Enraptured. I think going through these emotionally and physically traumatizing times have simply made us rethink where we are going. We still feel a overwhelming connection to our home away from home, London. Much of the way they structured their healthcare system, how they manage their firearms laws, and the sense of community they have is ever appealing to us. We still have goals of ending up there, and with current state of American politics, it seems more and more like we are meant to be there. The gorgeous flowers in this post are from our last trip there, in the store front of Liberty of London. There is a simplicity about life in and around London is calling us. I am sure I am being a bit jaded and idealistic in imagining a future there would be absolutely perfect, but at this point, the reality of it is it seems it would better than here. Now we just have to make plans and make the right decisions to make an international move possible.
We truly hope the first half of your 2016 has been less rocky and full of ups and downs as ours has been. We have faith that the rest of the year will be much better now that we are getting our heads back on straight and are refocusing on only the good and the positive. We’ll be sharing more posts soon and excited get back to what we love to do.