Surrounding Yourself With The Right People

I had this great blog entry planned out, but then I decided I was too tired to write a post and edit it. Instead I decided to vlog and it took just as long…but at least it exercised a different part of my brain and I feel as though I’ve learned something new. Yay iMovie!

Here we go…

So, what are your thoughts? How will you strengthen your support network?

My Theory on Reincarnation

On a cold afternoon one day, I sat down in my car with my mother and had a heart-to-heart with her on the concept of reincarnation.

Samsara - The Concept of Continuous Flow

In the traditional Buddhist teachings, reincarnation was explained as the afterlife. After your physical form passes, your spirit transcends that physical form and takes place in a new vessel. That could be as a new person (moving up) or an animal (moving down). Your karma dictated your ascension or descension and it seemed limited to only the physical being. It was as if you were living your entire life for the possibility of a “refresh” button or a chance to start over.

For me, reincarnation happens the minute my spirit dies. I’ve had a few instances in my life when I’ve felt a spirit-crushing pain so strong that there’s no other way to put it but true spirit-death. When that happens I usually feel that I come to some sort of breakthrough. I vow to make a change that will never allow myself to feel said pain again. Perhaps I resolve to do things differently next time. Maybe I choose to forgive but never forget. There’s been a myriad of instances in which I’ve experienced this spirit-death and was able to reframe my perspective instantaneously. It’s freakishly powerful, usually uncontrollable, and probably one of my subconscious survival mechanisms.

In addition to this emotional pain, I can actually feel a physical sensation as well. You can actually compare it to an adrenaline rush coupled with a mental high: my heart and mind races, my skin begins to feel flush, and I become hyperaware and sensitive to everything around me. It is usually in that moment that I begin to make changes in my environment — physical and/or mental — and it is only in retrospect that I realize that I am doing it.

So, in short, reincarnation isn’t limited to the passing of your physical form. It can happen everyday. The instant you decide that you want change in your life, close your eyes. When you open them again, it’s your chance to make your world right.

The Problem With Christmas

As a child I really enjoyed saving up my allowance and buying stuff for my friends and family. My father never really took well to the whole concept of buying stuff and I think I finally know why.

The course of events this last year has really pushed me into the realm of “the bigger picture.” The thoughts that cloud my mind include, Where do our actions today take us tomorrow? How do the little things we do help us in the long run? How do I help plant the seeds for a better tomorrow?

You see, I have friends, family, and loved ones who all want stuff for Christmas. Unfortunately the stuff they want doesn’t necessarily fit into any long term goals. The fleeting desires for material items and temporary satisfactions actually serve more as distractions than they do long term solutions to their problems. I want to help them tackle the latter, not the former. But, how do I do that on a limited budget of time and money?

Some of the weighty goals of said family, friends, and loved ones include:

  1. Traveling Europe
  2. Finding inner peace
  3. Succeeding in nursing school
  4. Saving enough money for a wedding
  5. Getting healthier
  6. Pursuing their passion, and
  7. Fulfilling a lifelong dream

Because of the nature of my relationships with these people, I believe that I either play a role or SHOULD play a role in helping them achieve whatever it is they are aiming for. I try my best in my interaction with them to nurture these ambitions and to drive the conversation and actions towards these end goals. The problem with Christmas is that most of us use the holidays as an excuse to distract ourselves from the real issues of setting goals and achieving them through actionable steps.

So, with this Christmas still a few days away, I am remaining hyper-cognizant of my unfortunate dilemma. I’m hoping to come to some sort of creative “baby-step” solution that I can offer as a gift soon…seeing as though Christmas is only a few days away.

I am not super religious but I am spiritual and I truly believe that this time of year — better yet, every day of every year — should be spent in pursuit to improving the human condition. It doesn’t matter if you want to tackle the problem on a macro or micro scale, because the trickle down/up effect is inevitable. All I ask is that you do SOMETHING. I end this statement with a video I came across a few years ago, when I found a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Homelessness in Los Angeles

Living in mid-city Los Angeles I frequently face the issue of homelessness. My particular section of Wilshire, called Miracle Mile, has a few regulars. When it gets too hot out, they chase the shade with all of their earthly possessions. When it gets too cold out they huddle in thick blankets and build forts out of cardboard boxes and newspapers.

Yesterday, in my privileged state of being, I was enjoying a hot cup of tea while reviewing some reading for my public relations class. I love to people watch so I get very distracted if a tea house begins to fill out with transient or purposeful souls who are looking for a quick respite from their everyday routine. I stared at my book but opened my ears and listened to a man who had just sat down to converse with a woman at a nearby table.

“This is the time of day I hate the most” he says.

“What do you mean?”

“…Night. It’s when I can’t go home, because I don’t have one.”

“Oh.”

“It’s the stigma of being homeless, I guess.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes before he got bundled up and left the coffee shop to seek temporary shelter elsewhere.

Homelessness is an unfortunate reality here in Los Angeles. With it comes a myriad of social stigmas, psychiatric issues, and financial ramifications. I try to help as much as I can by giving out food. (Unfortunately, that is not always the preferred method of dealing with the homeless.) I purposefully don’t finish my Subway footlong or carry an extra full bag of groceries hoping that I will be able to help someone for just a few hours with their problems. Sometimes when a homeless person is refused service inside of a coffee shop or convenience store I try to speed through my checkout just so that I could hand them a small gift card…but they’ve usually already snuck away. What breaks my heart the most is watching other people ignore their cries for help.

The only real difference between the sheltered and the homeless are four walls. The fact that my mother was on the brink of homelessness when she and her eight other siblings were orphaned at a young age probably have something to do with my hypersensitivity of this issue. It is a large-scale problem with multiple variates, and it requires the attention from and coordination of many different societal institutions to fully address. I hope that one day, somehow, the playing field will level, but I suppose that transcends our current material world. After all, some people can still feel spiritually or emotionally homeless within their own home.

Do what you can…and do something!