Every time I sign in for my appointment at Virginia Mason. I’m asked for my name and date of birth in order for me to check in and direct me to the right floor and pavilion. With a date of birth and birth weight that are exclusive to the number seven. I’ve more than become quite versed in the inevitable follow up “Oh wow. You must be the luckiest man alive. You should play the lottery.” Well, in the gazillion times I’ve heard those words.” I’ve smiled awkwardly, before advancing to point B.
This time however, Perhaps due to the nature of my visit. Or the fact that I had yet to partake in my morning coffee ritual. I couldn’t help but respond with the first thing that came to mind. I leaned in and smiled, as the words “I’m checking into a fucking hospital. How lucky should I feel?” rolled off my tongue. While not well thought or intended to have even the smallest hint of meanness. It felt good. As if I had been holding back a sneeze or postponing a celebratory jiz. Quickly adding “Besides, have you ever heard of someone winning the lottery using a succession of the same number?” I felt a sense of release and satisfaction. A heaviness left me chest as if a curse had been lifted. “Sorry kid, I had to test these guns before I declared war on the rest of the small talkers.” The next time someone hits me with a “God is testing you.” I’ll hit them so hard, their words will be lying in blood two miles down the road. Until then…
Since moving to Seattle from New Jersey back in June, I’ve spent more and more time writing about my personal experiences. With a music column back in Jersey United By James and all but finished music blog United By Rocket Science. It’s a wonder I ever find any time to write about my own struggles and experiences.
Like with most things in life, we all experience that sense of burnout that often comes with focusing so much of our energy and time on our passions in life. Whether it’s work, relationships or other passions. We all need room to breath and step away in order to view the bigger picture. There have been many times, more than I can count, when I just wanted to fold the tents, close up shop and go home. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t.
After months of writing stories and struggling to find a name for a new writing blog. (Just about every name I came up with was unavailable.) (I was about to try Squirrel Farts.) I’ve decided to incorporate some of these stories to Photo Geek. While it might be a far cry from record reviews and interviews. It’s something I feel will be a positive addition to the blog. Besides, I can’t think of any one who wouldn’t be interested in reading about my crazy life and scatterbrain theories.
It might have taken me longer than some but, I’m quickly coming to learn that much of my happiness comes from life’s little gifts. You know, the ones that don’t make your eyes bleed when your monthly credit card bill arrives. In moving to Seattle, my hopes were that some of the stress regarding expectations, wants and needs would diminish and ultimately, help me see what was right in front of me all along.The first months of living out of a couple of suitcases at fully stocked corporate apartments I quickly realized how having less things allowed me live a fuller and much happier life. Though the wanting to be reunited with my “things” eventually came to mind. Those thought quickly turned to anxiety when I realized much of that freedom I had experienced would soon be taken away by adding things I no longer wanted or needed.
Looking back at the last ten years and how many items I’ve purged through selling, donating or just plain throwing out. I can’t help but give myself somewhat of a pat on the back. Regardless, when I look at the big picture. It seems as if I’ve hardly made a dent. Reading books and watching videos about minimalism and people who freed themselves of years of material possessions to live happier lives with less things, less worries and less things to maintain. I’m both inspired and overwhelmed. Where do I start, where does it go and what is all this stuff worth anyway? With more questions than answers, I’ve decided to start my quest with a one day at a time approach. In the end, I feel luck to understand that my happiness doesn’t come from owning things. Happiness comes from experiences, travel and being around people I love. Once I realized that. The journey became a lot easier and the destination seemed so much clearer.
As a kid, many of the sleepovers I attended at my friends home had nothing to do with sleep of any kind. If I remember correctly, and I think I do. The goal was to stay up all night in order to get a head start of the next day’s badly mapped out journey into areas and neighborhoods that often resided outside of the borders or imaginary lines our parents often forbid us from wandering past.
Years later I still have a love and admiration for those pre-dawn hours and minutes where much of the world still sleeps. The streets and adjacent pavement have yet to feel the impact of rush hour cars and hustling feet. Aside from the fact that I have to actually go to bed earlier and be aided by the sound of my alarm. Not much has changed. Upon learning that Thanksgiving morning would allow the sun to rise and proudly show itself. I once again set my alarm early enough to join in and watch as the sun peaked over the horizon.
As early as it might have been and as much as I may have waited to enjoy watching the night become day. I was not the first one on the beach. Waiting for me were two separate groups of fishermen, a loving couple, a surfer and someone who found the perfect time and place to reflect and/or mediate. While returning to my everyday responsibilities on the West Coast may not present the same opportunities to watch the sun rise. I’m sure I’ll find similar joys within time.
For our first trip to New Jersey since our move to Seattle back in June, we decided to stay in Asbury Park in order to remain within striking distance of both New York City and my Dad in Tom’s River. When we booked a hotel within spitting distance of the pier and the beach. I made it a point to get out early enough to watch and photograph the sunrise there. While setting my cclock alarm for 4:45 gave me more than enough. time to get ready. Being met with rain and per-dawn darkness, left me with few options. While returning to my hotel room for a couple of extra hours of sleep definitely came to mind.. Finding enough cover to shield me from the rain while I worked on setting my camera to manual won out in the end. After a brisk walk that included it’s share of morning strollers, joggers and dog walkers. I returned to the hotel and my wife to plan for breakfast and map out the rest of our day. Looking back, I’m glad I went with the latter of the two options.
Not a day goes by when we don’t mention how much we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to move out west and experience life in ways we might not have back east. All things considered, our move to Seattle and in particular Columbia City , has offered more than its share of rewards. Great food, weather and plenty of things to or not to do. That said, not a day goes by without talk about Seattle being a two year pit stop on the way to another town, city, state or country. Being one who lived his entire life on the East Coast. The idea of traveling to different places and living light, really appeals to me. Who knows where life brings me. If I can be happy and inspire, I’ll take it. (The pictures below were taken this morning at the park adjacent to where I am currently living in Columbia City, Seattle.)
One might ask. “What’s better than ordering delicious four dollar Vietnamese sandwiches on a Saturday afternoon?” How does doing so at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant that offers billiards and an open bar while you wait, sound? Okay, so I did leave my camera bag in the car and was forced to rely on my iPhone 7 for proof. That won’t keep me from sharing.