Brandon's Journal

Reflection

This morning felt a little different. It was a darker than normal which is usually the first hint that Fall is around the corner. It feels so weird to say that, since the normal ebb and flow of the year has been disrupted by all that has been going on. I almost feel like we hit pause on the world back in March and nothing has progressed since. Of course, the seasons wait for no one, so Fall is coming and so is Winter which means Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are just around the corner.

I'm not sure why the holidays were on my mind, but I guess I thought about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and whether or not it would happen and if spectators would be allowed. I felt a twinge of sadness at the thought of it not happening, but that empathy was for others, not myself because the parade hasn't really meant all that much to me over the years.

I didn't grow up watching the parade. Sure, I watched parts of it here and there, but it wasn't a tradition for me or my family. As an adult, I've turned it on occasionally, but the stereotypical day of parade, turkey, and football is just not something I'm used to.

Holidays weren't ever a huge deal for my family. My grandmother always went all out, but we didn't establish traditions and when my parents divorced that disturbed things further. I actually began to hate holidays as time went on since most of the time I spent my holidays traveling between parents and grandparents, and it was most exhausting than fun. By the time I moved out on my own, I swore off decorating for holidays and decided to be a Scrooge about everything.

That lasted seven or eight years, before I really started missing the idea of celebrating the holidays. I got back into watching holiday movies and I bought a Christmas tree. I started decorating my apartment and while I didn't go too crazy, I did just enough that I was comfortable and not over encumbered.

Obviously my little attempts at making the holidays my own didn't make up for the lack of traditions or cohesive family, but I started a tradition of my own which was watching holiday episodes of 90's sitcoms. Every Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, I dig into my favorite sitcoms from my youth and spend the holidays with my favorite characters. My goal is to one day design my own holiday DVD sets containing my favorite episodes, but I'm still discovering new ones and I haven't put it in the time to make that happen yet.

Last year, I spent Thanksgiving in Memphis but the five or six years prior to that I spent them with my grandmother. Every Thanksgiving my mom and step-dad would go visit his family, which left my grandmother alone on Thanksgiving. My brother and I would spend our Thanksgiving with her. It was nice because she was one heck of a cook and always put a lot of effort into decorating and making her place feel special for the holidays.

I recall showing up while the parade was still on, catching up with her and my brother before enjoying a nice dinner at her dining room table. She'd pull out the good dishes and cloth napkins and we'd all enjoy whatever feast she put together. She'd have to prepare two dishes, since my brother is vegan, but I fondly remember the last dinner being a huge bone in chicken breast that she panned fried along with some fresh mashed potatoes, rolls, and green beans. After dinner, we enjoyed slices of cheesecake she picked up. It maybe wasn't the most traditional dinner, but it was good.

I think this memory glows so brightly for a couple of reasons:

  1. She passed away last year.
  2. It was similar to some of the best memories of my childhood.

As previously mentioned, my grandmother was the one person who went all out for the holidays. She'd had nice decorations that she brought out and she'd play Christmas music both at home and in her car. She built beautiful holiday displays at work and there was just something warm and comforting about those times with her. I think it was because she didn't just sling cheap decorations everywhere, but she intentionally decorated with some solid pieces that made her apartment feel classy.

I spent a lot of time with my grandmother following my parent's divorce and I credit a lot of my childhood interests to that time. She made sure that the time we spent with her, we spent it as children and not young people being forced to adapt. We enjoyed cartoons, trips to the library, and toys. Everyday she'd make dinner, lay out a huge towel on the coffee table, and we'd eat sitting on the floor while watching Full House and Ducktales. It was a bright spot in my childhood that occurred when everything seemed so dark, and those few Thanksgivings where it was just me, her, and my brother, were sort of a progression of those times. I wish I would have appreciated them a little more while they were occurring.

I will say, that last Thanksgiving together in 2018, I remember sitting on the couch and proclaiming that this is what the holidays should be like. Calm, enjoyable dinner, good conversation in a location that felt special. Then again, I'm sure the nostalgia of being around her decorations played a huge part in all of that. My brother was fiercely defensive of my other family members who weren't in attendance, but for a few minutes I appreciated what I had.

I'm not sure what the holidays will bring this year. My mother was so distraught at my grandmother's death last year, she wanted to do something that wasn't normal and didn't remind her of my grandmother, so we all brought Asian dishes. Now with the state of the world I have no real expectations for this holiday season. I guess, I hope that maybe everyone can find some patience and kindness and we can end this year better than we began it.

I'm gonna enjoy my 90's sitcoms. I found a great Christmas episode of Wings a few months back where Joe gets in a fight at a video store and it'll be a great addition to my normal viewings of Roseanne, Home Improvement, Sabrina, and Just Shoot Me.

#Reflection

I spent the morning browsing some old fan sites. I didn't mean to, I just ran across an article discussing USA's Blue Skies format and I wanted to research it more. Until earlier this year, I never gave any of the Blue Skies shows a chance. Then I started watching Psych and quickly fell in love with it. I'm hoping to check out some of the other shows once I finish.

Yesterday, I talked some about morals and television and while the Blue Skies shows at USA weren't full of moral messages, they were positive, thus the Blue Skies moniker. It sucks, because I feel like in 2020, we really could use these types of shows and there aren't that many around.

Anyway, I found myself on a Chuck fan site (another show I just gave a shot this year) and I had a lot of fun reading through it. I've only seen two episodes of Chuck, so it wasn't something I could completely understand, but it was great seeing the effort someone put into that site. From there, I clicked on some other links in the sidebar, then some more and more and so on.

Most of the sites I ran across have been dead for at least four-to-ten years. They remain on the web as remnants of a fandom once loved. A few of them grew into other sites, that have long been abandoned as well. One site author became a published author and left her fanfiction behind to write stories with original characters. It's so interesting to see how things evolved.

Reading over these sites really made me miss not having a sidebar. I love the simplistic look of my blog and I like having the ability to hashtag things, but one of my biggest issues with Write.as is the lack of a sidebar. It severely limits some of the organizational abilities blogs offer and make it more difficult to navigate in my opinion. Whenever my year subscription is up, this may be a deciding factor on whether or not I renew.

I miss reading fan sites and I wish I could find more active ones. I like the commentary, fan fiction, and episode synopsis. I love how parts of the authors personal life invade the page and the sites tend to stay on topic. But like the Blue Skies era of USA, I think these maybe something of a by gone era. A time when things weren't so dark and people were a little more optimistic. When people celebrated their love of things and didn't sling hate and disgust at one another. I miss those days.

#100DaysToOffload 66/100 #Reflection

I haven’t wrote much lately. I’ve wanted to, but I haven’t had much to say.

Things have been rough the past few weeks and I’ve been working on dealing with some issues along with managing my own mental health. I promised myself this blog would not turn into one of those “cries for attention” sort of experiments, so what little writing and venting I have done, I’ve done privately, where I feel that sort of thing is best done.

What follows are just a collection of random thoughts and commentary of things going on.

The Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1+2 demo comes out Friday. I’m super excited to see a proper HD version of Tony Hawk exist.


I’ve struggled sleeping the last few weeks but on Friday, all that changed. Two events occurred that evening that I think led to my sleeping better.

  1. I had a good discussion with my significant other.
  2. I watched a horror movie.

I wish I could say for sure it was the discussion, but I really think the horror movie had something to do with it. I’m not sure if it’s because I dove back into one of my passions or just experienced the anxiety relief that comes with horror films, but I slept good and have every day since.


I’ve realized that I have to take things off the table in order for me to feel better a lot of the time. Sometimes that as simple as saying, “I just can’t talk about this stuff right now.” I believe the low grade anxiety that’s going on for everyone just compounds with regular anxiety and I struggle with that.


I watched the first episode of Lower Decks. It was okay, but nothing great. If it wasn’t Star Trek branded I’m sure I wouldn’t continue to watch, but it is, so I will. It’s a very easy twenty minutes of comfort television, at least so far.


I’ve been reading quite a bit. I’ve finished up He Crashed Me So I Crashed Him Back by Mark Bechtel a week and a half ago, then read Stand Firm by Svend Brinkmann, and now I’m almost finished with Shock Value by Jason Zinoman.


The prices of run of the mill DVDs and blu-rays are going up as physical media winds down and I'm assuming people are buying more because of all the streaming wars mess. I'm slowly trying to build up my collection without breaking the bank.


I have no idea what this movie is about but damn if this poster doesn't make me want to see it.

(I actually DuckDuckGoed this after typing up this blog and discovered the plot is about Wild Bill Hickock and Crazy Horse teaming up to take down a fabled white buffalo. Now I GOTTA SEE IT)

#100DaysToOffload 57/100 #Reflection

Earlier this week, I spent seven hours in a room with someone who was blasting angry, alpha male podcasts. You know, the type of podcasts that tell you to walk in front of people and not beside them so you can show your dominance. To the person's credit, he had a door closed, but in this tiny closet of a room, he also had a box fan on high. So, the sound of voices carried well throughout his room and into the lobby portion of the room where I work. So, for seven hours I listened to grown men with questionable backgrounds scream, shame, and tell you how to live your life. Needless to say, my head was killing me when it was all said and done.

In fact, the headache that it gave me lasted so long I ended up not going into work the next day. I stayed home with the TV and Spotify turned off and I cleaned and relaxed in silence. The assault on my senses the day before had overwhelmed me and I craved the silence.

I find myself craving silence more and more. I don't listen to Spotify on the way to work some days and I stopped listening to podcasts a couple years ago. I realized that when I listened to podcasts, I wasn't relaxed. It was just too much talking going on in a world where people don't know when to shut up. Again, I say assault on my senses, because that's the way it truly feels to me. It's like my brain has reached a limit on how much intake it can take on any single day.

I feel this way not just on audible noises, but the written word as well. I believe this why I've been so intentional about weeding out the trash that I read on a daily basis. I try to avoid the rumors, skip over the “What if's” and avoid anything that doesn't truly bring substance into my life. I just don't think we are wired to absorb this much information on a daily basis.

Again, I reference back to a blog post I made a few weeks ago about being Disconnected and I wonder if I need to scale back even more.

#100DaysToOffload 56/100 #Reflection

Forty-eight hours ago, a blog that I've read for the past four years closed. It was a place for the author to share childhood memories and interests along with a daily journal to discuss her personal life. It inspired me because it was a blog that wasn't advertised or written to impress anyone. It existed on a very small corner of the internet by an author who remained anonymous. It was a real person exercising their thoughts online with no agenda. It took many several years to get back to this core of blogging.

Blogs close all the time, so what's the big deal?

Well, in this case, the blog closed down because the author felt shame. They felt like their ideas, thoughts, and energies were no longer valuable because they weren't fighting a large social justice fight. Online bullies and social media made this author feel like her writing was no long valuable, because it wasn't controversial nor combative.

I understand if someone decides they want to spend less time blogging and more time volunteering or fighting for something. That makes sense and is just a change of focus which is natural. But to close off your writing because you feel it no longer holds value or will be judged and condemned for not having certain content bothers me.

The internet, for me, has always been an escape. It's like television. I don't want to turn on every channel and see depressing stuff. I don't want to spend all my time hearing about the injustice in the world. I need to balance that negativity with positivity and that means I need some fluff. I need some content that wasn't created to inspire rage or fear, and sadly, the internet has become a rage and fear factory. We are manipulated on a daily basis to experience these emotions because they make other people money.

Earlier this year, I was pretty much done with the internet. I debated about just walking away from it altogether. I felt like I was alone in wanting the internet to be fun. Then I decided to empower myself and just bend the internet to my perspective. I closed accounts and re-directed my focus to reading personal blogs and avoiding all the mainstream stuff. I found other people frustrated with the internet world who just wanted a less stressful and happier place to hang out online. I started building up a huge catalog of personal blogs to take up my online browsing time instead of the news, social media, reddit, and the like. And for the first time in a very long time, I found the internet to be stimulating, fun, and relaxing.

Now these very people are having shame spill over into that more peaceful existence online and that really sucks. We can all do things to make the world a better place and people online or even society as a whole, shouldn't make you feel like you aren't doing enough. For some people just being nice is enough. For others donating time or money is enough. But the one thing I don't think you should do is destroy all that makes you happy because you feel shame. You shouldn't take away your outlet for expressing yourself because you don't have a certain banner or don't talk about certain topics.

I feel like this post violates my own blogging goals of not discussing controversial/political/news events, but I just don't want to see anymore blogs die because of shame. The world needs balance and the internet is full of enough negativity, please don't snuff what little light remains.

#100DaysToOffload 39/100 #Reflection

Recently, I've been doing a little internet archeology by checking out some old websites from the 90's and early 2000's. I like to see what people thought and wrote about before the internet was so obsessed with itself and usually it's pretty entertaining.

Between the .gifs and gaudy wallpapers, one design feature I noticed is that the writing on these websites seemed to be written as a permanent record. Every page was carefully planned, written out, and appropriately linked. Each page served a purpose (to pass along a specific set of information) and when put altogether the sum of those parts created this interlocking website.

Blogs didn't exist yet, and not too many websites featured journals. A lot of the sites were fan sites that discussed a specific interest such a movie, book series, television show, or hobby. The sites were designed to teach the readers something, share graphics, and at times connect fans through Web Rings and Guestbooks. Everything was designed intentionally.

Now... I feel like few sites have this type of design. Instead, we opt to allow Wiki's to serve as a database of knowledge and instead we just write. Those entries get shuffled down the page as the weeks pass and eventually our posts are forgotten. You don't see links to them from the home page and unless you click “More Posts”, “Other Posts”, or go digging, they aren't easily accessible. I guess, for something that is designed to serve as simply a journal this is fine, but I wonder what have we lost by not actually having pages. As much as I love my minimalistic look here on Write.As, I do feel a bit handcuffed by design options.

I guess, when I reflect on my own experiences with blogging, I feel as if my writing is more temporary now. I write a post, some people might read it, get gets shuffled and forgotten. Sure, I can break things down by Categories and maybe a new reader will be willing to wade through the old posts for little nuggets of gold, but for the most part my writing seems to serve its purpose for the day its published and then no more.

If I wanted to write something more concrete and permanent, a traditional website might be a better platform. However, those seem to be few and far between these days.

Have we lost something by not writing pages and instead focusing on just simple posts? Or are the way we blog simply the evolution of how webmastering changed? And was it for the better?

#100DaysToOffload 36/100 #Reflection

Note: This isn't the most well structed post. It is more or less some random thoughts regarding physical media that I tied together loosely.

Last week, I went to Goodwill and bought a VCR. While in Goodwill, I picked up a handful of DVDs, blu-rays, and a CD. At .69 its much cheaper than renting anything online and I get to keep it should I choose to. If I don't like it, I just return it to Goodwill and it's like I rented it in the first place.

For years, I've bought lots of media while thrifting. I love looking through all the movies and music, mostly because there aren't many places left to do that. The days of waking up Sunday and seeing what movies were on sale in the paper are over. The movie/music selection at Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are all almost non-existent. Even most of the used movie/CD stores in my state are now closed.

Sure, I can go online and buy just about anything I want, but I'll pay a premium for it and there is no fun in that. I love to browse and to pick up random titles. I like to hold the box in my hand and read the back cover. I guess, it's the closest I can get to the old video store experience.


I stopped by my local dying mall yesterday. For years, this mall has been losing stores and various announcements have been made about something to replace it. At one point it was going to be an Ikea, then a Drive Shack, then apartments. It was recently sold and is going to be a mix of commercial and business properties, meaning my childhood mall will be no more.

I'd say no more than twenty stores remained prior to COVID. The pandemic finished off a good portion of those stores. GameStop is closed, and the FYE still hasn't re-opened, but I think what saddened me the most while walking through the mall was remembering how it looked as a kid. There was an overpriced music store called Waves. Suncoast was open until maybe five years ago when it was turned into an FYE. B. Dalton's books was always a place I loved to stop and browse and I couldn't even begin to count how many movies, CDs, cassettes, and books I bought inside that mall.

Even now, I make at least a trip every six weeks or so to browse FYE. I don't usually find too much to buy, but I still enjoy bumming around and seeing what they have. Occasionally, I'll find a good deal on a movie or a t-shirt, but I think I enjoy walking in there because its one of the very few places I can still browse physical media.


The CD I bought at Goodwill last week was The Offspring's Americana. It was an iconic CD when I was in high school, but I was too busy jamming to 80's music to appreciate it. I could easily boot this album up in Spotify and play it, but there's something about holding that CD, looking at the artwork, and physically putting the CD in that brings me joy. Also, when I have a CD, I don't tend to skip tracks and I can't make a playlist out of it. So, I'm forced to listen to a lot of the songs that I would give up on rather quickly if I was streaming. I've found so many good songs over the past few years because I bought a CD and actually listened to it all the way through.

Americana was no different. I knew the hits: Pretty Fly For a White Guy, The Kid's Aren't All Right, and Why Don't You Get a Job but I hadn't heard the Have You Ever, Staring at the Sun, or She Has Issues, all of which are fantastic songs. All are songs I probably wouldn't have listened to had I not bought the actual CD.

Sure, I could exercise more self control when using Spotify, but I don't. I guess, it's kinda like when you rented a bad movie back in the day, you usually watched it because you had nothing else to watch. Nowadays, if a movie is bad you just turn it off and quickly boot up something else from Netflix's selection of thousands. Again, this isn't a bad thing, but there is something to be said about trying to enjoy something new.


Throughout my adulthood I've struggled with some insecurities regarding my living arrangements. I won't bore you with the dramatic details, but basically I adopted minimalism because I enjoy clean places and because I felt it was necessary to be mobile. I felt comfort in knowing I could pick up and leave at any time with very little to lose.

Because of this, I live with very little. There is very little that I regret getting rid of and I feel like this lifestyle served me well for many years, but I'm beginning to think I can loosen up a little.

Recently, my fiancée and I were discussing my movie collection growing up. She noticed how I perked up when discussing my room and how much pride I took in my movies and she commented on how very few movies I own now. I guess, I never realized how much pride and love I had for my movie collection. It was an intricate part of my growing up and my passion for film has never ended. I think this stuck with me a bit.

When I purchased the box of VHS tapes last week, I took some time to display them on my shelf. I organized them and I took care lining them up nicely. And I've admire my little row of tapes ever since. I look over and see all these simple VHS tapes and I feel joy.

I felt joy browsing through all the old movies at Goodwill and I feel joy thinking about rebuilding my collection. I think I feel the most joy thinking about how I finally feel like I might be able to have my movie collection again and not feel so scared about moving or losing it.

I have to give my buddy Michael credit for some of this. It was his sharing of his movie collection that reminded me so much of mine. It was his decision to start collecting VHS that planted that seed that led me to buy a few VHS tapes.

I also have to credit an old friend of mine who passed away several years ago. He once had an entire room dedicated to his vinyl collection. He was forced to get rid of it when his wife got pregnant in the mid -90's. Seventeen years later, life was different and he bought his first record in many years. Slowly, over the course of several months, he began rebuilding his collection. Then he got a player and then a cleaner, and slowly and intentionally his collection grew.

I never collected vinyl, but the joy that it brought to this man was unsurpassed. He spent his free time browsing forums and testing out new online shops. He lit up like a schoolboy when he came into work and he received some album he'd spent weeks looking for.

It was a hobby that not everyone would understand, but it made him super happy. He died a year or so later and seeing how much joy he got out of those albums, even for a couple of years, made me happy that he re-discovered them. Everyone deserves to have something that makes them happy.


I think what I've learned throughout all of this is: life is hard and if you find something that makes you happy, you need to engage it. You need to just do it because you're only running out of time. I'm not thrilled with the state of the world and looking back to the past brings me joy. I don't want to live in the past, but I do think some of the ways we lived were better. At least for me. I've noticed that once I simplified my blogging and focused on writing and not marketing, I enjoyed it 100 fold. That decision was made out of nostalgia for a simpler time. I'm hoping that resurrecting some of things I loved from the past will bring me just as much satisfaction and joy as blogging does these days.

#100DaysToOffload 30/100 #Reflection

On Monday, June begins and we are officially half way into 2020. What a strange and interesting year it has been so far.

I spent some time thinking about January, which seems like it was so long ago. I was working out the details of two trips to Tennessee in May, a trip to California in October, and possibly one or two more in between. I was trying to find the perfect date to attend another AEW show using our air line miles and I was following a few comic cons, concerts, and other fun outings to possibly do over the next few months. Plus there was some wedding planning going on.

Some family drama was spilling over from last year on my fiancée's side, and my family was beginning some of their own. My work wasn't going great and I was actively looking and planning an exit for spring/early summer.

Also, I was eagerly waiting for the new Bond film to come out in April.

I guess, like everyone else in the world, I had things I planned on doing that didn't get done. Some disappointments were big, others were small, and in some ways things weren't so bad. Staying at home more meant we saved more money, and thanks to the stimulus checks I was able to get out of debt quicker than expected.

As much as I was disappointed and annoyed with my job, I feel lucky that might job held out through the pandemic and I didn't lose hours or forced to take a pay cut.

I've been writing since early January, almost on a daily basis. Its been my favorite year blogging yet and the move to Write.as was a blessing. I now have found a community that I enjoy participating in and its nice to find likeminded folks who appreciate a good personal blog.

I'm not exactly what to expect in the next six months, so I suppose I'm just not expecting anything. I'm trying to take things day-by-day and be as happy as I can possibly be. I anticipate more family drama, more work conflict, and more pandemic stress, but honestly, I can't worry about that right now. I just need to breathe.


TLDR

The Good

-I've stayed employed and paid off my debt. -I've hit a grove with my blogging that I'm happy with.

The Bad

-The relationship with my family has deteriorated. -Mentally I'm not where I want to be.

#100DaysToOffload 29/100 #Reflection

I used to save everything I wrote. In fact, I have a Word document with around 70% of what I blogged between 2005-2014 which is 803 pages and over 275,000 words.

Once I put all of those blogs/journals into one large document, I got pretty lazy about archiving my written word. I opened and closed various blogs and journals and not much of it has survived the past five years.

Recently, a friend of mine is undergoing the process of turning some of his best blog posts into a book. It reminded me of a book project I had back in 2015. I was attempting to compile a series of articles I wrote about working at a video store that I never completed. I had gotten busy and just uploaded my work to the Cloud where its remained ever since.

I decided to pull the zip file off my OneDrive and take a look at what was inside. Not only was there my partially put together book, but several documents of finished and unfinished scripts, short stories, fan fiction, and blogs.

I decided to read through some of the blogs and journals. What I found was very much a mixed bag. I decided that it would make things a lot easier if I compiled them into a single document.

So, I spent some time pulling anything I could off post-2014 and putting it into individual .txt documents. I figured it would be a good way to preserve some of that writing and it gave me sometime to see where my mind was specifically in 2015. Wow was I ever in a different place.

I noticed my writing was less focus. Topics were even more diverse and I had no problem showing my full range of emotions online. Some topics were controversial while most were just me talking about entertainment I liked and was looking forward to.

I'd say 85% of what I found was pretty useless. However, that 15% that remained was good. I had a series of blog categories entitled Life and Stuff which chronicled the ins and outs of my life on a weekly basis for about six months. These provided a nice snapshot of what was going on in a very turbulent time in my life. I had lost my job and was scrambling. I also had begun college for the second time, and I chronicled my experience on a semi-weekly basis. It was also interesting to look back on.

Looking over my old blogs it got me thinking about how much my writing has changed and grown over the years. I gotta say, I am proud of myself for improving as much as I have.

I also thought about the quality of stuff I post. Is what I write today stuff I'll want to read in five years? I'd like to say, mostly yes. I spend more time writing about things that interest me and the way they make me feel and less about announcements and reactions to news.

That's not to say that fluff doesn't serve any purpose. One post I ran across was simply a quote I liked from a Men's Health interview with author Chuck Palahniuk. I must have liked it, but I had forgotten about it until I read it. It came in handy today and I hope this little tidbit of advice can serve me well in the future.

MH: Any words of wisdom for us? Anything that might make a contemporary man’s life a little less horrible?

Chuck Palahniuk: A friend of mine, Suzy—she's in my writer's workshop—said to me many years ago that she’s always conceived of herself as three people. There’s Suzy of three days ago. There’s Suzy of now. And there’s Suzy of three days from now.

So whenever she finds herself in crisis, she can choose to be the Suzy of three days ago before this crisis was even a possibility, or she can be the Suzy of three days from now when the current crisis is really mitigated.

It gives her perspective. She's not just reacting to something that occurs in one point in time. She can be in movement with whatever’s going on. I don’t know. Is that useful?

#100DaysToOffload 28/100 #Reflection

My parents weren't around much when I was a kid. Divorce, alcoholism, and running around kept them from being present in my life a good portion of those formative years. I've been known to say (and they'll agree) television and books raised me. I learned right and wrong from the entertainment I consumed and not my actual parents. Which probably wasn't the best but it seemingly worked out for me.

Luckily, I grew up in the 80's and 90's, and television was a bit more balanced at the time. A good portion of entertainment produced during this time frame came with morals and simplified messages of right and wrong embedded and I picked up on that. I took inspiration from superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Spiderman to guide me on what was morally correct and how to handle myself. I was taught messages of peace, self-sacrifice, doing what is right no matter who notices, and to intentionally be a good person.

These, along with The Golden Rule, are messages we try to embed in all children. Sadly, these messages meet a lot of resistance once we grow older.

The black and white world I thought existed, does not in fact exist. And judging from what I've learned, I don't think it ever truly existed. All that really exists are various shades of gray and that can hurt someone like me, who grew up only knowing the black and white.

I knew the things my parents did was black. I knew the things that Superman did were white. I knew that I didn't want to be like my parents, but I did want to be like Superman, so I modified my behavior accordingly. I grew up a bit of a prude, because I didn't drink, smoke, or party. I concerned myself with principles and ethics at a young age, which is sad. I robbed myself of years that I should have been naïve, but instead I was studying the truth about life and how to navigate it.

Recently, I've had some flareups with my mental health. I try not to spend a lot of time talking about it, because everyone seems to have a mental health problem and no one will shut up about it anymore. It was once taboo and shameful and now people flash it around like a badge of honor. I'm not saying either way's correct, but my mental health is my issue and something I have to deal with, its not something to flaunt for internet sympathy.

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to figure out what is causing this my drop in my mood. No doubt, the state of the world is playing a huge part. I'm upset about the ravaging effects of the coronavirus and my concern for my job and my fiancées job in the upcoming months. I'm upset about the way people are treating other people and the seething hate that seems to boiling up everywhere. I'm angry with my job for taking advantage of me and treating me poorly for several months. I was hoping to change jobs this spring but obviously that didn't work out with the massive layoffs happening.

I'm mad at the media, the politicians, and the rude people at the grocery store. I'm mad at my family for self-destructing over the past six months, after finally offering me a little bit of peace and stability over the past couple of years.

I'm angry, disappointed, and frustrated at the world around me. I've been struggling to find a little hope in these bleak times and I realize my ideal world is crashing with the real world and that is what is causing me such suffering. The world does not look like the world that the entertainment that raised me told me it was, and now I'm suffering because I'm struggling to accept that.

The solution is easy. I must reframe my expectations. I remember reading a long time ago the simple solution for happiness:

Reality – Expectations = Happiness

While I think its difficult to encompass everything that goes into being happy or content, I do think that formula is a good place to start. Buddhism teaches you something similar in that the world is full of suffering because we are attached to the ideas and expectations we have of it.

Life would be so much easier if everything was black and white, but its not. I guess, I'll just continue to learn how to adapt in these shades of grey.

#100DaysToOffload 26/100 #Reflection