Take my advice…I’m not using it

My soul mate                                                                                               May 17th, 2018

By J.M. Strasbourg

Ok, this isn’t the usual “piece of my mind” advice post. I just wanted to share something personal and inspirational to me. I hope you like it…

I was watching the movie, Good Will Hunting. In one scene, Robin Williams’ character, Sean, asks Matt Damon’s character, Will, if he feels alone. And then Sean asks Will if he has a soul mate. Because of the context of the question, I began to think about the meaning of the term. What does it really mean? I think that most people feel like they have found their soul mate when they find the love of their lives. Others may think it means that they have encountered their destiny; the person that the universe has deemed to be their partner. Dictionary.com lists the term soul mate as “Noun, 1. A person with whom one has an affinity, shared values and tastes, and often a romantic bond.” I suppose the definition is true, but I believe there is more. After all, what is our soul but our very being, our essence?

Can we place extrinsic or intrinsic values on our souls? I have an affinity with many people, as well as shared values and tastes. Romantic bonds come and go, and fade as people grow. I don’t believe that you can describe a soul mate in such simple terms. Since my soul is my essence and your soul is your essence; to have our souls meet and mate, there must be a more profound connection between them. There must also be a more profound meaning in the term.

When the universe connected us, there was an instant recognition of attraction. Not just to her beauty, but to her being. It’s hard to explain in mere words how strong it was. As time went on, we came to feel that attraction grow into a bond of spirit and essence. Her soul merged with mine and mine with hers. In eight years apart, our connection couldn’t be broken because of that bond. I believe our love sprang from sharing a soul, and that once a soul is combined with another, love follows with ease. I have a wonderful feeling of oneness with her, my soul mate. My affinity with her, our shared values, tastes and romantic bonds are only the human manifestations of something much harder to explain, and much deeper in meaning. I thank her for taking my soul to hers and for giving hers to me. To be alone in the universe must be what hell is; and this, this is heaven. I am blessed to be here with her, not alone, two souls one.

As the sun begins to set on my life

I recall its arc across the sky

And how it looked down on my part in the play.

The light cast me a shadow so I wouldn’t be alone

An image, mirroring my every movement.

And then, one sunny day in spring,

While the sun was directly overhead,

You rose to forever take my shadow’s place.

My role was changed from that day on

Now we walk together and cast but one shadow

And I watch the sun set on my life with you.

Take my advice…I’m not using it.

Identity                                                                                                                May 15th, 2018

By J.M. Strasbourg

Are you who you are because you are identified with someone else or because they are identified with you? Has your identity been confused with someone else because people can’t think of you as your own entity without another person being “attached” to you? Separation anxiety is hard enough to deal with but losing your identity in the process is much harder to overcome.

If you are with someone for an extended period of your life, you start to become associated with them in the eyes of others. If something happens that separates you from that person; it is hard for your friends and family to start to see you without your partner. They don’t seem to see you as an individual any longer. They can’t remember a time before your partnership with that person. Maybe you can’t see yourself that way anymore either. It can be a difficult task to regain your sense of self after being part of a couple and going back to being single. Many people struggle with restoring their identity after a long union with and then separating from another person. It doesn’t help that those around you don’t see you as your own person. It is even worse that you can’t get through the day without thinking of the person who used to be with you.

You hear a song that sparks a memory of a particular time. You read an article that prompts you to recall something that was important to you both when you were together. You see another couple holding hands in the park on a crisp fall day amid the falling leaves and remember that it was once you and your lost love doing the same thing. You see a movie that makes you emotional because “He/she would have loved that.” You wish that they were they to share it with you. These things make it hard for anyone to regain their sense of self. How can you put it behind you? You can’t put it behind you; not completely, you just go on. The trick is to keep your memories of the past with the love you lost. Hold them close and dear. They are a part of who you are.

Your memories with that person don’t define you; they are only part of the definition. Just as your past relationship with another person was part of your life doesn’t make up your identity. It is now part of who you were. In time, you will begin to see yourself as an individual again. The people around you will start to see you that way too. Be patient. In the meantime, find something to do that satisfies your soul. Find something you’ve always wanted to conquer but never had the time or inclination to do before and do it. If you look into yourself by doing something you love, you will start to recover your identity. You were someone before the other someone. You will never be that person again because you have grown and changed over time. You will, however, discover a part of yourself that was lost or perhaps you didn’t know was there in the first place.

Many songs have been written about “without you” syndrome. Without you, I’m nothing. Without you, I can’t go on. Without you, my heart is broken. And so on. You are something, you can go on, and your broken heart will heal. I know it’s hard. I know it’s easy for people to say, “Get over it and move on!” The ones saying that have never had to deal with it, or never got over it themselves. I say, don’t get over it. If you have been a part of something that has affected you so deeply, you should keep it. Chances are it was something special and you are lucky to have been part of it. If you are really lucky, you will have that kind of love in your life again. But it will be because of who you are, not who you were with your last/lost love. When you regain your identity, your own sense of self, embrace it.

Take my advice…I’m not using it

Modern Disease

At first glance, you might believe that this term is fairly new. Reserved for millennials and a generation of spoiled, entitled young adults who have seemingly had the world handed to them. Upon further review, I can look back to past generations and see that they may have had the same affliction. It just wasn’t labeled. You can go back, at least to the baby boomer generation, and among them, you will find a longing for a different life from their parents. I will ask a few questions and then try to answer them with logic and a little passion.

Do people today have it too easy? Why are so many of the people I meet unhappy with they have been blessed with? Is the idea that there must be something more to life an anchor around the neck of a future without internal struggle? What does it take to find happiness in the crazy, disjointed, hectic world we live in? How do we find peace with what we have? Has the advent of social media and its proliferation left us longing for what others have and what they are doing? Is there something more?

Let me say a few words about why I think life is too easy. I find the whole idea of not having to get off your couch for anything…very disturbing. Because we have such great technological capability, we don’t have to reach very far for anything. You can have anything your heart desires without leaving the comfort of your home. Telecommuting has pervaded the workforce and even a workplace friendship is becoming a thing of the past. As connected as the world is, we are getting more disconnected every day. This, ease of access is feeding a world of loneliness. Not that is anything wrong with living a life of solitude or a monastic existence as an individual. But we are quickly becoming a whole culture of solitude and disparity. The human connection is dwindling before our eyes and no one seems to realize it. Or, maybe they do, and just don’t care. I think that having the world at your fingertips is one of the causes of modern disease. Along with this fact, we have too many choices, and it is dividing us.

The only people I meet that are truly happy are young children. The ones that have not been exposed to the hardships of everyday life. The ones that see endless possibility because they haven’t been told that most of those possibilities are out of reach for most, and haven’t become jaded as a result. Teens, young adults, and adults, on the other hand, are at the opposite end of that spectrum. It seems that most people, of every age, I meet are missing something. And, at some level, they aren’t happy with either what they have, or where they are, or who they are with…or something. But let me say this. With the level of sophistication and intelligence, it takes to get through this life and navigate the complex society we live in; we should consider everything we have a blessing. Not to trivialize the amount of effort it takes to just get out of bed in the morning when you feel that your life is lacking something.

Maybe I’m overthinking the whole thing. I mean, seriously, since the dawn of man we have been searching. There has always been something driving us to want or search for more. At first, it was just survival instinct; a need to eat and live beyond being a meal for some other animal. After that, our collective and individual pioneer and innovative spirits motivated us to find and conquer new lands, new heights, new worlds; to build civilizations and propagate as a species. But with that, there were things that needed to be done. That is to say, that everything was unknown territory. We didn’t know what lay beyond the horizon and didn’t care if there was a danger. In fact, we relished the danger. It made us feel alive. I suppose that this idea, of nothing more to conquer (at least in our daily lives), is just another cause of our modern disease.

Are we doomed to travel through this existence with the weight of dissatisfaction pulling us to the bottom of a vast ocean of an ordinary life? (What is an ordinary life? Is an ordinary life a bad thing?) Of course, we’re not! There is a large number of people out there that have found what it takes to get through it with a happy heart and a bright outlook. If you meet one, you know it. They are the benevolent souls. The ones that put others right up there with themselves, if not a bit higher. They are the ones that, as Joseph Campbell said, have found their bliss. If you haven’t heard of Joseph Campbell, I suggest you look into him. Deeply. Anyway, find your bliss. Help others. Create art (whatever that is in your eyes and in your heart). We all start out so bright eyed and bushy tailed. Then we lose something along the way. Rediscover a part of you that used to drive you and make you passionate Get your blood pumping again. Get out there and do something hard, even if you fail. Failure fuels desire and desire feeds your soul.

In his book, Wild at Heart, John Eldredge alluded to an idea of having and needing a dragon to slay. My interpretation of this idea is that we all need that reason to get out of bed in the morning and do something that satisfies our soul. A passion to feed on. Me, I like to hear myself talk, or write. I hope people will like it, or not, but it makes me happy in either case. It does not have to be the loftiest goal. Whatever it is, it should be hard enough that it takes some real effort. The only requirement is that it gives you a sense of inner peace. People find most of their dragons within themselves. To slay them, some go to church, some do yoga, some paint, some dance, you get the idea. Go find your bliss and slay your dragon. Try to find positive meaning in the things you already have in this life. Family, faith, love, hope, earthly possessions, your crappy car….everything. It is all good. Every last bit of it. You should let it be enough. There most certainly is more, but the majority of it is already inside you. It is waiting for you to let it out and share it, even if you only share it with yourself. Your passion could bleed over on to the person next to you, and the next one, and the next one. Before you know it, we will have eradicated modern disease and discontent.

Take my advice…I’m not using it

Hello everyone.

I’d like to say how pleased I am to have been asked to be a regular contributor. I find the premise of the site exciting. To effect some positive social change is something I feel very strongly about. I am grateful to be a part of the forum.

I write under the heading: Take my advice…I’m not using it. It’s sort of a tongue in cheek reference to the idea that as human beings we don’t always live by our own tenets. After all, as fallible humans, we all live with dichotomy.

I am an amateur philosopher, psychologist, student of human nature, unpolished poet, dreamer and eternal optimist. I believe in everything I write. I don’t stand on ceremony and will never insult your intelligence. I am, however, trying to elicit a response of some kind. Any kind. Talk back to me. Agree, disagree, bash, praise, love it, hate it, I love to have discussions. Consider this an open forum through comments.

Again, I am very happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

J.M. Strasbourg