It is 4:56 AM on Friday September 13th, 2019. The weather is warm, even here on the coast. You know it will be a hot day when there is no need for a jacket in the morning here in Pacifica. At the moment there is no wind, it is already warm, there is no fog and there is a wonderful silence that will slowly and steadily begin to be broken as the town awakes and turns on the motors of their cars.
This silence really is wonderful. I feel calm as I sit here in the dark, the only light being from my laptop, three electric candles and my electric fireplace. I can hear the ocean which is just over a mile away and see a couple of stars. It makes you realize how the majority of our lives are filled with noise. The invention of the motor has been great for transportation but an absolute disaster for mental health. One could say the same for lighting which in their relentless electric glow blot out the stars and disrupt our natural sleep cycles formed over a millennia.
I have about 30 more minutes before the motors start. When I went to Ohio this past summer I sat out on the porch swing as I usually do but this time was acutely aware of all the motors. In Ohio everyone has a lawn and that lawn needs cut very often. But the cost of aesthetic beauty is that even a moments quiet is lost. Your eyes feast but your ears are completely shattered. Even if there is nobody cutting the lawn there will be cars, airplanes, helicopters, some other source of noise to break the fleeting serenity. And so it begins this morning. It is 5:18 AM and I hear the beeping of a truck backing up. Shortly after a car driving by. The first one of the morning rush.
What will I do to combat this noise? Well, add more noise to cover it up of course! I’ll play music through my speakers or in my headphones. There will be no more silence unless I’m able to wake up in the very early morning again. This is the first time I’ve been up this early in a while. My body does wake up early after hard karate lessons the day before but for the past couple of months I haven’t gotten out of bed preferring to fall asleep again. It is at this time I have weird dreams I don’t care to remember.
But going back to lawns and the motors involved with their upkeep I found this video from the New Yorker explaining that the manicured lawn is a relatively recent invention going back to the early 1900s in America: The Great American Lawn: How the Dream was Manufactured.
Time is running short and soon the household will be awake so I wanted to get a few different thoughts down.
I’ve been thinking of the ’80s; I’ve been watching old cartoon introductions, videos on “sounds every 80s kid would know” and so on. It got me thinking about the happiest times of my life, those times when you feel pure joy. For me, there are three that stand out.
The first was in the summertime going to the Grandview pool, playing with my friends and then coming home completely exhausted. I would lie down on the orange/brown shag carpet with the fan blowing on me and I’d fall asleep.
The second is swinging both at Trinity Elementary and next to Pierce Field (Oxley park). At the Pierce Field park I remember swinging while looking at the Columbus skyline and just being so happy. I think that being able to remember not only the memory but how I felt is something that isn’t very common.
The third is the summer of my 8th grade year when my Mom would drop my best friend Ryan and I off at Wyandot Lake which was a water park. We would walk around, ride the rides, play games such as Paperboy in the arcade and of course check out all the girls in their swimsuits.
When I compare that to today, that pure joy of childhood no longer exists. I’ve heard that recovering heroin addicts will no longer feel joy in their lives as they’ve destroyed the parts of their brain that create the chemical that causes joy.
Well, I think age acts the same way in destroying the pure joy felt as a kid. Adults have too many worries. I’m worried about my kids. Are they doing well enough in school, are there bullies, are they safe? I worry about America overall with half the population cheering on a complete conman. I worry about the planet and all these records being set whilst those Trump supporting morons continue to deny the fact that is global warming. It truly is that monkeys have taken hold of the ship and in their stupidity are steering the planet towards the rocks. But perhaps most of all, I worry about finances.
In my line of work the numbers must continually go up. I’m always anxious about losing an account, having my numbers go down and so on. It comes with the territory and I can deal just fine with it but this worry eats up any pure joy that might have been felt. I think to experience that pure joy you need not have a care in the world which is possible when you’re a young kid. It is not possible now. Even though the finances are strong there is always some unknown out there.
There is the unknown of home/car ownership. When will I have to replace the fence, or roof? That will be between $5K – $30K. Car maintenance, I just had a bill for $3K. There is insurance, karate fees, the Japan trip, property taxes, bills, bills, bills and above it all, the threat of recession. Recession means not hitting goal which means less money. But the bills only increase, even if we are responsible. That is the way of capitalism, bills, spending and so on must always go up, not down.
I miss the feeling of lying exhausted on that shag carpet in front of the fan after returning from the pool, or swinging at Oxley park looking at the skyline all without a care in the world. Those were times of pure joy. Unfortunately, like the recovering heroin addict I no longer feel that type of joy now.
The adult way of trying to get that back is to drink alcohol which does bring on a very nice feeling but unfortunately as we get older the debt owed the next day is too severe and I have half a mind to not drink anymore at all. In fact, I don’t drink except at the various social functions but even then have cut way back as I don’t want to feel bad the next day.
So I look for other ways to try and feel the joy and have found meditation and quieting the mind is a way to feel good. The mind is everything and by simply quieting it life takes on a beautiful quality that is hidden when the mind is distracted by too many random thoughts, by noise, by pressures and by the lack of alone time.
Perhaps swinging on that swing as a child while looking at the Columbus skyline was a form of meditation. I was in-tune with myself and experiencing the pure joy of simply being alive. Maybe as adults we lose that because life is not new anymore, we are loaded down with all types of baggage and so what once came naturally now must be worked at to achieve. As a kid I could experience euphoria quite easily but as an adult I need to sit down, quiet the mind and meditate to make it happen.
The time is now 6:00 AM. My oldest has woken up and come into the living room. It looks like he has fallen asleep again though on the couch. The wife will be up in 15 minutes and cars are now passing by in 1-2 minute intervals.
Friday has begun and the weekend schedule. Weekends used to be fun but not necessarily anymore. We have karate from four fifteen to around 6. Then it is time for dinner, watch a little bit of a show then bed. Saturday is Japanese school for Kai and karate for me and Ren. This weekend however, there is a karate test I don’t need to go to since I have an upper belt test the following week. So I’ve been thinking of heading down to the Renaissance Fare with Ren since I’ve missed it the past two years! Our schedules are just too full on Saturdays and Sunday is really needed for relaxation and/or other activities already planned. In fact, the next two Sundays are already planned out. There is the upper belt test next Sunday and then the following Sunday is the karate BBQ. I really don’t want to miss another Renaissance Festival.
Anyway, times up on my peaceful early morning. It is time to start the day.