Just Keep Smiling

As I was relaxing beneath the sunrise in my hammock this morning, sipping on a fresh cup of coffee, and thinking on what I should write about, I, just up and realized that I was grinning from ear to ear.  

At first, I didn’t know how to put two and two together, but soon the mindful recognition of a month long frown finally turned upside down sent a current of kinetic joy through my soul, even as far down as my toes, and then, back up to the ends of my right index finger and it’s neighboring thumb.

And in that one little instant this springlike morning, I again knew, what it felt like to be happy without any attachment whatsoever.

It had nothing to do with any particular circumstance. It was not because of any other person’s actions. It was for no reason at all. As a matter of fact, I’m sure that there is nothing at all concrete that actually triggered it.

And that, to be 100% honest, is the absolute unblemished beauty of it all. To be in an organic state of happiness was like a long-awaited gift that seemed lost in another dark night of my soul.

Said smile in itself symbolized a sort of unforeseen awakening of someone I thought was lost forever in the darkness of spiritual and mental solitude. That being myself.

See, life has a way of unfairly delivering blow after blow in the form of trivial little tragedies, and is very formidable with its equitable approach in its worldwide distribution of pre and post traumatic spells of stress it places upon us all.

See, trauma has its roots in all the moments that represent the deepest suffering we have each uniquely and individually experienced — a broad and variable indicator represented by the highest points of peaks and the lowest of valleys, in the midst of all the unpredictable events that make up the untimely timeline of our lives.

And certainly I am aware that my pain and suffering will never be comparable to the pain that others in this world have endured, but the very nature of trauma is absolutely relative to the lives of each of us, even those that we touch, but especially our very own.

And for me — like most everyone — to climb back up from that lowest point has been a deeply difficult process with many mental trips and falls along the way.

Because in my search through the wilderness of my own life for what they call contentment, I climbed upon the highest of highs in an attempt to prove that I could still conquer the world however it needed conquering — to try and prove to others that my world hadn’t completely collapsed. But it had.

And maybe to possibly prove to myself I was still worthy and deserving of living a joyous and creative life to the fullest of extents no matter what happened around me.

And still, no matter what I did, those highs were fleeting, very much temporal, and the lows often went lower than rock bottom.

And in the wake of all of my anxiety and the passing pain, I found myself imagining, and then, fully believing that my happiness was just an imperceptible state of mental relief from a life that would always seem impossible to endure.

I began to accept that once you have experienced guilt, shame, pain, and humility, maybe life would always be arduous, with the brief moments of fleeting happiness needed to sustain the desire to keep going through this thing in a fluid and forward motion. But that’s not the way it is.

And as to why such a simple moment of seemingly unattributable happiness mattered so much to me, that I felt like writing about it this fine and dandy morning.

It was like a little hint of what’s to come as we approach things getting back to the way they somewhat used to be. I was finally able to see again when I opened my eyes up to the unwavering hope of a better day, something that I had seemingly given up on as of late.

Because I have been distracted by externalities out of my control and my own shortcomings more than I should’ve been. That’s complete honesty. I wasn’t mindful of the fact that I had to regain complete control over all the mental distractions that I can always see from the corner of my eye.

And to be mindful in a world full of distraction is in itself an arduous journey.

Distraction in every last one of its forms is an extremely addictive force, because it offers us the opportunity to avoid all of the internal pain and suffering by focusing on something outside of us.

And that’s the thing about distraction — it’s nothing more than the avoidance of what we must really focus on — healing ourselves in holistic sense.

Mindfulness is an investment in fully believing in ourselves. Mindfulness forces us to be alone with our thoughts, and through metaphysical osmosis, eventually come to terms with the demons that occupy the shadows in our mental space.

But through mindful practice, the act of practicing solitude with ourselves is a sword that helps us to protect ourselves, and eventually slay all those finicky demons so full of grief without projecting them onto others.

And with that smile, I realized all the joy that I thought was fleeting in life, that I thought was lost in the shadows of mental and soul-crushing suffering, was in fact just waiting for me to welcome it back into the light and reaffirm my hopeful mentality that everything is going to be alright.

So when I caught myself grinning from ear to ear this morning over a delightful cup of joe in the first waking moments of a beautiful day, smiling for no good reason at all, well except for the fact, that I am alive and I am still breathing, was exactly what I needed to continue, and maybe you do to.

So if you take anything away from this post, I hope it makes you smile.

Til the next time.

Yours Truly,

Ryan Love

A Sense Of Direction

Most people think that finding yourself lost is the worst possible outcome when wandering into a wild unknown.

Yet, it is really rather simple to gather a sense of direction, if you let your wildish instinct guide you around.

You pick a trail and you walk it, maybe observe pristine nature in its purest form, shed a pound or two, spot some sort of wildlife—though, not necessarily the kind when you find yourself hovering knee deep in sagebrush with your pants around your ankles asking the accidental passerby, “pardon me ma’am, but might you know of a bathroom around here?”

This I’ve learned from experience. And we’ll leave that little backstory up to the reader’s imagination.

And even though, I’m the furthest thing from the Clark half of the duo known as the infamous Lewis & Clark expedition, but I often wander deep into an unknown wild, mighty fine without knowing where I will end up.

Nothing has ever helped me as much as losing my way in an unknown stretch of woods.

Now, I’m not talking about the thousands of square miles that make up Central Idaho’s Frank Church wilderness here, where wild beasts might feast on you. I’m speaking of the sort of woods that some might consider their neighborhood church, and I—with them—wholeheartedly agree.

One is much better off seeking normal woods, a dozen miles or so across, which you’re bound to pop out on top of a mountain, or, at some point, wherever you’re meant to be, no matter how far off the beaten path you go.

Off The Beaten Path

This day and age, so much of our stress and anxiety about future, about where we might end up, most often stems from all the analysis and over thinking we do as adults.

We ask ourselves all sorts of questions constantly. Even now, as of recent, I recall countless nights lying awake, entertaining ideas, and wrestling with my heart and soul via my mind.

I was trying so hard to figure out where I would end up that my heart felt defeated before the following day even began.

But all the over-analysis got me nowhere; it just burned away more precious time, not to mention, precious sleep.

But the reality is that no matter how smart and organized we may think we are, we cannot predict the future. Things are moving so fast and we’re so interconnected today that it is impossible to predict where you’ll end up a year from now, and most likely, even tomorrow.

You just don’t know what tomorrow may bring. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because you will not be basing your sense of direction on a forecast that’s likely to be absolutely wrong.

You’ll be making your choice on what’s really important to you, right here and right now, not tomorrow. But by what’s right in front of you.

By recognizing and ultimately accepting the unpredictable nature of life, we can stop overthinking and overanalyzing, and start living more in the present moment.

This helps to open the mind up to the possibilities of today. But that’s hard when our moral compass is slowly being recalibrated by all the technology that control our lives nowadays.

Even though we do, we like to think that we have so much control over our lives, and yet, it’s ironic that we feel so frighteningly undisturbed, without really having any.

We have phones attached to our eyes, telling us what to believe no matter if it’s true or not, and in our cars, directing us when to exactly take that left turn. We have watches on our wrists chiming in on how many steps we’ve taken and how many more we need to take to hit the goal of our predetermined daily movement.

We wheel and deal in rhythmic analytics, mostly over-evaluating the quality of our own thoughts, creations, and strength by how many likes we rack up on whatever social media platform we choose to share our creative self or life on. Everything is a comparison to someone or something else.

Our self-absorbed problems today are more complex and threatening than at any time in history.

Sadly, it is not easy to solve those problems, because our orientation of reality is lower than a snowman’s blood pressure.

We squint at the reality of our existence through the thick veil of personal and societal ignorance, covered up by even more opaque screens of disinformation, most thoughtfully provided by our news of choice, social media, the state, the church, and big business. And more often than not, these are all one in the damn same.

Though, I’m not here to talk about all that jazz today, I’m just here to discuss what it takes to gather the right sense of direction, when there are so many wrong ones to choose from.

Back On Track

You see, the human soul can surprise even itself when lost and untethered from the “real” world.

It was Thoreau whom advised that we should walk in the woods as though “never to return”—which is to say, being perfectly fine with being lost forever—and that our heart may come back in a purer form than it was when we left.

When we get lost, we must necessarily forsake control out of necessity, all but saying to our wild inward nature, “Here I am, guide me in and funnel me out.”

In that moment there’s a pretty solid chance that you’ll meet up with a little friend of yours, who often only shows up when one has completely let their guard down.

He means no harm whatsoever, but most folks have a knack for walking the other way from him when they’re too damn focused on the end results, of daily tasks—even the little ones; like trying to find our way based on which way the damn map attached to our ass tells us to go.

Who is this friend, you might be asking?

Tickle The Truth

Well, to put it frankly, he’s the truth.

Sometimes it’s the truth of things you’ve done that catch up to you, the things you’re great at that you never give yourself enough credit for, or the painful changes you should make without chewing endlessly on the things that you royally screwed up.

It is damn near impossible to walk purely in that moment, without the bother of what turn to take, and not encounter the truth for at least a hot minute or two. But that’s when you must let instinct take the lead, and from there it’s a crapshoot.

But the truth of the matter at hand always comes unsought, sometimes even sans surly attitude. He’s nothing more than a high-stepping companion of thoughts, trampled underfoot to the sound of crunching leaves. And his name is reality.

Running hand in hand with reality is a lot less scary and stressful than trying to escape it. But at some point we have to meet up with the truth in spite of the reality of ourselves.

See, in my opinion, to find your way is to take the shortcut straight through all the difficult parts, to make that formal decision to face things like fear, self-doubt, and most importantly, the truth of yourself.

And I—like most everyone—am the type that doesn’t always end up back at the official starting point of the journey, where it all began, but I can and I will find my way back to where I am meant to be, from wherever it is I end up, and you will too, and that my friends, is the plain and simple truth.

So go. Hit the road.

Take a walk. A little hike. Get lost.

As much as possible.

Because if you find your way through an unknown stretch of woods enough times, and meet up with that little unseen friend of yours, you’re bound to become an ace navigator in all other arenas of life.

Perhaps even, a veritable version of your truest self.

And for now, if you’ll excuse me, I finally found the bathroom;)

Til the next time,

Ryan Love

A Note To Self

First things first, turn off your television.

Help yourself fall asleep earlier. Start with 10PM, then 9PM, then 8PM. Wake up in the morning feeling revitalized and alive.

Force yourself to get up before the rest of the world. Start with 6AM, then 5AM, then even earlier. Walk outside, bundled up as the weather sees fit, gaze at the stars, watch the sun rise.

Get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful & simple breakfast. Lightly sauté some fresh vegetables in real butter with some lively herbs, a little salt and fresh ground pepper. Fry yourself a couple of eggs, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. Think vibrancy. Sit and eat breakfast in silence, do absolutely nothing else.

Stretch. Start by reaching your arms to the sky as high as you can, then try to touch your toes. Roll your eyes;) Stretch your fingers. All your limbs.

Buy a hydraflask. One of those obnoxiously big ones. Start by making yourself drink the whole thing before lunch, then try filling it, and drinking it, twice, before lunch.

Go pee;)

Buy an expensive leather bound journal and a beautiful black fountain fine point pen.

Write down everything you do, what triggered you in a negative way the day before, what you can do to absorb those triggers and see things in a positive way. Include what you ate throughout the day, what made you smile, how much coffee you drank, what the weather was like, what to do with the day ahead. The week. The month.

Because when it comes to however you do you, no detail is ever too small.

Strip your bed of your sheets and toss them in the washing machine. Wash them. Hang them in the sunshine with clothespins and care. Let your children run through them, as we did as children. Bask in the joy of their laughter. Make your bed, freshly laundered, and in full.

Go pee again. That’s a lot of water. Wash your hands.

Maybe make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a late morning snack. Spread way too much of both delicacies all over it. Let it ooze out from all sides.

Spread it like…

Next, go play in your creative garden.

Dig your fingers into the earth, plant a few seeds. See to their growth, and watch in awe as your own positive mindset grows with them every passing day.

Wash your hands, again.

Cleanse your mind.

Organize your room, or your office. Just get organized. Fold all of your clothes, clean your mirror, your laptop.

Light a candle.

Take a breather. Breathe. Practice breathing deep as much as possible. Breathe more deep breaths, and practice breathing some more.

Inhale all the good, exhale all the bullshit. Ground yourself.

Breathing, is after all, critical to our well being.

Force yourself to go for a run. Or exercise however you see fit. Put on your headphones. Break a sweat, either way.

Go for a light hike, if that’s your thing?

Smile at strangers walking the other way and keep smiling when they smile back, maybe make a little eye contact, even a little small talk.

Practice working on your body language, as it speaks louder than most any conversation.

Pray for something that doesn’t include your well being, or your wants and needs. All the while still practicing your deep breathing.

Take a steaming hot shower with your favorite music blaring. Wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth.

Cleanse yourself.

Message a childhood friend with an old personal joke. Laugh. Reminisce. Suggest to catch up soon, even if you don’t feel like following through. Make yourself follow through.

Think long and hard about what creative interests you have long forgotten about…

Painting? Learning a musical instrument? Cooking? Photography? Cross-stitching? Woodworking? Writing;)

Find a book about it and read it thoroughly. Study it. There is literally a book to figure out how to do everything nowadays.

There’s even a book that teaches you how to love your neighbor.

Let cars merge into your lane when driving.

Pick up someone else’s coffee shop tab.

Pay it forward.

However small it may be, because you’d be surprised at what sort of positive energy said style of kindness throws into the universe.

Make funny faces at babies. Help a senior citizen out. Compliment people on their qualities, leave them be to their own faults.

Look them in the eye.

Ask them about their story.

Listen to them.

Challenge yourself to not ridicule, or judge anyone for a whole day. Then two. Followed by a week. Then a month. Maybe a year.

Become the person you would ideally fall in love with.

Exude the type of positive energy that wherever you go, you add value to the space and lives that surround you.

This is how love spreads like wildfire.

So spread it far, and spread it wide.

Now stand up. Go outside. Walk with amazing posture. Take a seat on the cool grass with your legs crossed.

Close your eyes. Feel the sun shining on your soul.

Visualize your life as if failure and pain were never an option.

Visualize it again and again;)

Have faith in your dreams.

And know.

You are enough, every sunrise, every morning, and every damn day.

Smile. And laugh out loud.

Because after all, you are alive.

Now, open your eyes.

It’s time to wake up.

Love.

P.s. Remember to smile;)

In Light Of Letting Go

One way to begin the letting go process is to ask yourself, “If I let this go, what will it make room for?”

The general answer to this will most likely always translate to something of equal or far greater value.

But it takes awhile for most to logically accept this answer and allow the process the time it needs to come to fruition.

An example of this might be that you’ve been holding on to some words that you’ve written over the course of your life but you haven’t shared them in years.

You love the words. They once inspired, not only you, but others too. You remember the day you wrote them and what happened behind the emotional scenes that inspired you, but you know that you probably won’t feel that way ever again.

Maybe their meaning is slightly off and is a bit out of style now. They no longer inspire you, or others, the way that they once did.

But if you let them go, you clear some space in your creative closet, and it becomes a place to hang new words that you find might inspire, not only you again, but as well as others too.

Maybe the message will fit you more forgivingly and be more in style with creative originality. It will be a better look for you all around.

It’s an extremely metaphoric example, I know, but the idea is the same in an even more perplexing way of getting the message out loud and clear. Think of an echo in an empty chamber.

You see, when we let go of something, the love that we had for it is never truly lost, it just transforms itself into something more beautiful, like a memory.

This is the truth because now we have made space for something new to come along. Memories don’t take up as much space as unhealthy attachments do. This my friends is absolutely true.

It’s considered by the author that it is important to keep in mind that even though we have to let go of something that we cared so deeply for, we don’t have to put away the gentle memory of what it brought to our life at the time that it was meant to make us happy.

To keep us going.

Letting go does not have to mean forgetting. It means forgiving. It means to release something’s ability to affect you in a negative way so that when you think about it, you are not bombarded with the not-so-positive feelings.

Can you miss something forever?

Absolutely.

Does something feel eternally empty inside after letting go of something you’ve held on to for so long?

This too, touches on the absolute, but you must also keep in mind that you now have so much more room for all of the positive things that need that room for what’s truly meant for you.

Letting go is really hard. I get it.

Especially when you have to let go of something you really thought made a difference in your life, and others too.

But even by thinking this you give way too much power to your expectations and that power gets in the way of what the universe has always had in store for you. And by letting go you allow the universe to present to you what’s meant for you.

Letting go is more painful when things seem “stuck”. It feels like it’s impossible to do, but the truth is if you reach this point, it means that you’ve been trying too hard to make things work in your favor, or to reach the goal. And the only option often left is that you just have to let it go.

It will feel like we’ve tried to hard or come so far that if we let go now, it will feel like a waste of time given the time and effort we invested in it.

But nothing is ever a waste of time, even if it feels like it is, we are here to make mistakes and learn lessons to grow as individuals. But if we hold on to those mistakes they become toxic to our well-being, and the lesson is never learned.

And if we keep holding on to things because we feel we’ve already given too much or it’s too late to see things for the way they are, then we are only setting ourselves up for a miserable life of unlearnable lessons and unbearable pain.

There is a forgiving motion in light of letting go, a motion that brings more peace and serenity than being stuck in situations that weigh a bit heavier each and every day. It’s called moving forward.

Moving Forward

It’s the same motion that is applied to a door, when you push one door to close another opens. Life opens new doors for you all the time. You just don’t notice them.

We all have so many keys to open so many doors. When you let go of a door that you have been holding open and that door shuts, label the beautiful memory on the front of it and walk away.

You will be surprised by the number of doors that were waiting to be opened by you and only you, only to create so many more cherished memories.

For instance, imagine that you are a key to multiple doors and you just think you can only open one door. Yet we are all blessed with so much potential, so many talents, so many things/keys to give back to the world.

When you let go there will be something more waiting to fill that space behind new doors.

It just so happens that I like to fill those spaces up with new words that happen to string sentences together with paragraphs and questionable grammar, like what follows.

A Little Dream

Sometimes I have a little dream. The same dream over and over. A silhouette of someone is carrying something with both hands, it walks up to me and says, here you’ve forgotten something, and drops it right in front of me. Sometimes I pick it up and it’s nothing but pain, sometimes I pick it up and happiness spills all over me, and sometimes I keep walking right on by it, instead of paying it any attention. But then it chases me down. And I wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat.

Am I being chased by the things I’ve thrown away? It seems to be that way.

But I’m not the only one being chased by what I’ve thrown away. And I’m not the only one who’s thrown something away, who’s lost something. I get that. His shoes, her shoes, we all got issues.

I know there will be more pain, just as there will be more happiness, but I would rather feel that happiness instead of staying stuck in the pain that I’ve held on to for so long.

Waking Up

After waking up, I lay there staring at the ceiling. It’s an ordinary ceiling, nothing special to write home about at all. I close my eyes and let go of the dream. Of trying to figure it all out.

Eyes closed, I listen to the movements within my thought process. I might very well have already let go, but my mental capacity has been filled to the brim with where and the hell did I go wrong for way too damn long. It’s unhealthy.

And to be aware of this, might mean that I am in the midst of a change. Because I have to change, and the only way to do that is to let go. Of what you ask? Thing is, that it’s probably me.

Now, I’m not sure if I can muster the strength. But I know it’s there, I thought. I’ve done it before.

Nothing can help me, especially holding on to things just for me. As far as I can see, any expectations that I have are just something that I unhealthily hold on to, to fill the void as far as my eyes can see, and that void is simply what it is, a void.

I’ve been stuck in that void before, put everything I held on to, into it. And just like then, I had to force myself to let go of it all and adjust to my new surroundings. And now here I am again, right back where I began and I have to accept it. No one is able to fill that void, except me. No one is coming to weave my dreams for me—it’s my creative purpose to weave my dreams with fantasy and reality for others.

That’s what I have to do. Such dreams and things should hold no power over me, or others, but if my life is to have any meaning whatsoever, that is what I have to keep doing.

I have to let go of it all in order to bloom from the wound. That is what I have to do.

A New Day

Dawn fast approaches, I give up trying to get back to sleep altogether. I throw my most trusted hoodie on, make my way to the coffee maker, and with a finger I smash the brew button. After a moment, I pour a cup and head outside, just to soak up the beautiful morning.

The sky grows brighter by the minute. It has sincerely been a long time since I paid any real attention to a sunrise.

At one end of the sky a line of silver appears, next, a thread of blue starts to slowly show too, like blue ink on a sheet of paper, it spread slowly across the horizon. If you put together all the shades of blue in the world and picked the bluest epitome of skies so blue, this is the color that you would choose. My hands fall away from my mind. I immerse myself in the scenery, my mind as blank as fresh canvas.

The sun plays peek-a-boo with the day ahead just above the candlelit horizon, and the blue sky is slowly swallowed up by sunlight.

A single cloud hangs above a wide open range, a pure white cloud, it’s edges distinct with a touch a grey. A cloud so sharply etched with a memory you could write your name on it.

Indeed, a new day had dawned alright. And in the light of letting go, what this day will bring, I honestly have no clue. But I’m going to make sure it’s beautiful.

And so you’ll see, some endings are not bad; sometimes they are not even endings at all—just the dawn of a brand new beginning.

See y’all soon.

A Way Out

Start over.

Begin again.

All at once, or piece by piece.

Start with the little things.

Breathe.

Read something…

You are not someone who is supposed to give up so damn easily when lost in the wilderness of life.

You’re not even the person that you were yesterday, or the person that your surroundings often demand that you to be.

This world is continually shifting, spinning, out of your control.

And you are continually spinning and shifting with it, moving in whatever direction you choose.

If you don’t like that direction, then turn.

But don’t turn back.

Don’t turn around.

Just turn.

Left. Right. Diagonal. Spiral.

It matters not which way, just don’t give up.

Take the shortcut. Take the scenic route.

Create your own path.

Just keep going.

It’s never too late to turn things around for the better.

To leave behind what’s broken and be aware that you will never be able to put it back together like it was, but instead, better than anything you’ve ever imagined.

There is no way back towards the pain of yesterday except for in your brain, but you can walk towards tomorrow in stride with a hopeful heart for a better day.

But you must smile and be thankful for the things that cannot be replaced, that cannot be fixed, that tried to break you, that were not perfect.

Because without them, you wouldn’t be where, or even who, you truly are.

Nothing is perfect.

You are not perfect.

I am not perfect.

Yet, we are all perfectly and gracefully flawed.

It’s why we are all so damn beautiful in our own little ways.

Life is imperfect.

It’s gorgeously complicated and burdensome and messy as hell.

It will knock you down.

But you have to get back up.

You are responsible for getting back up.

To play your part in it, the part that grows, changes, laughs, nurtures and loves.

To allow yourself to be broken, just to put yourself back together, stronger than ever before.

So, let go of the pain holding you back.

Of the semi-conscious urge to inflict pain on others.

Of the fear of being hurt.

Of the anxiety over what people might think of you.

Of the past that is behind you.

Of the worry that you always feel over a future that you cannot control.

Let go of all your expectations.

Just let fucking go.

Because when nothing is certain, anything is attainable.

Gather your thoughts with a positive mindset, and wrap it around your heart and soul.

Create yourself into the truest version of you that you were meant to be.

Practice patience as you begin again, becoming new, becoming the best you.

Readjust.

Rejuvenate.

Reevaluate.

Recalculate.

Recreate.

Reshape.

Reconnect.

Rewrite.

And rebuild.

And know.

If you feel lost, you my friend, are not alone.

Because lost, is a lovely place to be.

So rise.

Shine.

And become.

Love.