Learning How

How lost I feel. How being 20 has brought me to see myself as a singular entity drawn in opposition to the world. How I feel part of something much larger than myself at the same time.

How at 16 I saw a video recording of a Black man being killed by police officers. How I do not even remember which man it was. How it is commonplace to wake up each morning to photos of new injustices inflicted in old ways. How close the internet brings us to suffering everywhere. How we are all being made to stare at it all straight on. How powerful that is.

How I only recently realized I’ve almost never thought about my whiteness. How I’ve begun to unlearn everything that I know. How the education provided to me by the state has failed me in many ways. How passivity is ignorance and learning is growth.

How long the path is for some and how short it is for others.

Cas

Summer (Solstice)

What are we celebrating when the summer solstice comes?

Longevity; the length of days, the length of our lives, all that we’ve been blessed to experience this far in the span of that length.

Warmth; the heat of passion from doing what you heart calls you to do, the sweaty glow that makes our golden hour selfies truly immaculate.

Mother Earth; for all that she has given us and all that she will give, for the humid breeze that comes through my window and pushes my hair across my shoulders.

Discover Prompts: “Elixir”

I began to write a list of moments that are my elixirs, moments that make me feel alive and in tune with all of my senses at once. But all the moments I could come up with had a strain of commonality. All of them were experiences of complete mindfulness. As cliche as it is, I first thought of pouring my cup of coffee on a morning where I was in no hurry to do anything else besides drink that cup of coffee–to taste it, to feel the warmth in my hands, and to experience that fully. Next was roller skating–those moments when I’m completely aware of all the vibrations of motion coming up from the pavement through my wheels to my feet and all of the wind and air brushing on the hairs on my arms and on my neck, and enjoying the simple pleasure of it all.

The list continued in the same manner, reminiscing on times where I was conscious of my senses and took pleasure in sensing these simple things. I find that when I am mindful of my senses, it only breeds more mindfulness–like I’m more prepared to do it again. I guess that’s what we call meditation a practice. You gain traction when you practice. You’re able to key into that state more easily when you know how to get there.

So that is my elixir–moments of mindfulness. And if I’m grateful for anything during this pandemic it is that I have no reason not to meditate to train and strive for mindfulness in everything that I do. And I hope that you can find these moments too.

Peace to you,

Cas

Reflections on Jeopardy and Reading

I’ve always been enchanted by the vastness of Jeopardy contestants’ knowledge. How can such seemingly normal people know so much about so many different things?

Around when I started going to college, I began to realize that such knowledge simply takes a long time to acquire. This did and still does frustrate my young mind. Perhaps it is a need for instant gratification that frustrates me most, but oddly enough this dissatisfaction has had positive influences on my behavior. My frustration with not knowing has created in me an obsession for knowing, or rather, a thirst for knowledge.

The contestants I watched win thousands of dollars just because they knew stuff made a lasting impression on my young mind. There they were–school teachers, engineers, physicians, folks working normal jobs like everyone else I knew. I began to wonder, “if they can know all these things, why can’t I?”

But where is one to begin? With this never-ending mountain of knowledge before me, it seems almost trivial to try to become a master at anything at all.

I still struggle with this seeming impasse, but I have found that one thing always makes me believe that I am making progress and growing my knowledge of the world–reading.

Reading a book is like walking a few miles of an endless hike–each page you read, you take a real, concrete step on your journey of learning.

When you look at all the miles that are left to traverse, you can get overwhelmed at the grandeur of it all. But rather, I invite you to look at your feet and attempt to really know how each step feels. By focusing on the smaller steps (each page turned, each book read), the grander picture fades, and you can focus on the slow and tedious work of the journey. Many months and years of this work will have tangible results–many miles walked, much knowledge acquired.

I feel that this year I have rediscovered a love of reading that I had as a child and young adolescent. I have found that as my list of “books read” grows, I can feel my mind expanding to include the experiences and lessons learned by others, a concept which is perfectly summed up by this quote–

“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for.” 

Socrates

And so, I hope that perhaps you will take a few steps on your journey today and flip through the book that has been sitting on your nightstand waiting for you to open it. As for me, I’ll be busy preparing for my Jeopardy debut…

Peace–

Why Do I Go to Art Museums?

Because I want to be in conversation with the artists who are talking to me through the art on the walls. That’s all art ever is–a conversation, some information transferred from one brain to another. What the artist means to say could be found in the colors, in the form, the composition, the texture, ad infinitum.

I read poetry for the same reason, particularly Whitman. He speaks directly to me (and to you). He acknowledges me, the reader, and explores our relationship as ever-interconnected beings. He talks to me as if I could reply, as if we were in a conversation.

Perhaps this fleeting sense of being in a conversation is what allows a piece of art to be so personally impactful. If the artist can get you to want to say something in reply, then the piece has done its job to reach you in a meaningful way.

Perhaps this conversation is why my favorite pieces leave me breathless–it’s almost like they’re yelling at me, demanding that I take part in the conversation, challenging me to linger a while longer in the moment of exchange.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself (section 52)

Procrasti-Learning: My Worst Habit

I am in pursuit of something great.

I want to be a writer. I am a writer. I write every day, in the safety of my journal. But if I don’t share anything I write, does that make me a writer? I take so much time to learn the specifics of things, to try to know everything there is to know about a topic before I say anything about it at all, and because of that, I feel like an amateur with a wide range of things. (There are a few things I feel I know a good amount about, those being yoga, meditation, poetry, journaling, but in the grand scheme of human knowledge, all that feels like nothing.)

And so I often feel nervous that if I speak on a topic, I’ll be wrong or say something wrong and be judged for it, and I think that fear comes from the whole “cancel culture” thing that’s been happening recently in our culture, particularly on Twitter. It’s like people are supposed to be masters of every topic ever and know everything that’s happening in the world in order to not offend anyone.

And so I spend a lot of time reading, soaking up everything I can so I can maybe one day feel like I can write about something important and have a real, developed opinion on the things that matter to me. But when is that day supposed to come? Am I just going to keep reading forever and ever and never produce anything in return?

Nope, because here I am. I’m done procrasti-learning. Time to talk about everything and anything that interests me. I may not know a lot about many things, but I do know that I want to be a writer, so I’m going to write.

I’ll end with a quote from one of my favorite Youtubers, Nathaniel Drew–

“There’s no getting there. We’re already there.”

Here I am, and here you are. 🙂

Peace,

Cas