Tag: thoughts

Death, Dying & Material Things; Why I’m going to stop celebrating Christmas.

When I say stop celebrating Christmas, I don’t mean I’m going to neglect the important things; the supporting charities and spending time with the people I care about. The days leading up to Christmas are a splendid time of year for the most part. The lights and general cheery demeanour of others.

But, I’m at the age where I think about the mortality of people of a lot. Not in my normal semi-suicidal sense, but the basic fact that every one is going to die eventually. It’s not that I never experienced death when I was growing up, I just didn’t really get to see the after effects of death. It was a simple, they are not apart of this living world that I can see anymore.

My freshman year of college I lost my grandfather. We weren’t the type that talked every day, or often at all in fact, but he was someone that I felt I shared a mutual understanding with. A family member that didn’t need constant reassurance that we were family. Though he wasn’t the best husband or father in his day, I had much love and admiration for him. Despite his mistakes, he always tried to communicate with his children and even support me when we were able to meet. He never once made me feel silly.

After I graduated high school is when I started to think of my grandparents more as people. When I found out my grandpa had cancer, I found myself wanting to know more and more about his life. What I didn’t take into account yet however, was time. It waits for no one. I had four days left until I would move back to my father’s for the summer when my grandpa passed away suddenly. I had thought that we had all the time in the world to talk once I was back.

I was devastated. And sometimes I still am… that I never got the time I had wanted with him. I was never able to find out what life had been to him. I was never able to personally ask him if I could buy or keep his unused car. I couldn’t ask about the war photos I found while cleaning out his home. Or the birthday cards. Who his first love was. If he ever got over her. If he could change things would he. What his passions were.

Every day I spent cleaning his house reminded me of these things I wish I knew.

My grandfather always sorted through coins looking for the old ones that would be worth more money. In his older age he used a handheld microscope to check the dates, so when no one was looking I slipped this item into my pocket along as a keepsake. A thing he used probably every day.

What I was surrounded with sickened me. My family searched the house high and low… in the fire place, behind pictures; just looking for hidden cash. I had the best laugh when they managed to break into a safe only to find an ancient Playboy magazine. Bush and all. Who would have guessed while I was looking through magazines and books he kept on his desk I was the one who found 300 dollars in cash. How excited they all were to pocket it… I wish I wouldn’t have said anything at all. Because I wouldn’t have felt right keeping that money. I wish I could have donated it some way.

Watching all of my grandfather’s belongings and life collections being sized up on their value really changed something in me. Did anyone even keep any of the photos and cards I had found? I’ve never asked. But my guess is that they were thrown into a giant dumpster with everything else that was deemed “invaluable”.

I remember as my father mourned his own, the agitation in a person’s voice at him “taking too long” at the visitation. I couldn’t believe that people thought this way.

Recently I’ve been watching death unfold from a distance. I always thought that when someone passed away, if there was something that a family member was extremely passionate about keeping in the deceased’s memory, that item would be granted to them. But I’ve watched from a distance with lips sealed shut as things have been denied to those people because said item may have value.

I often feel bad that I avoid family during times of death, but we simply do not see things in the same way.

I’ve grown to detest the act of giving material things without meaning. So this past Christmas as I was in Mexico trying desperately to think of things that would make family members glad to receive, I got pissed and thought, “what’s the point?!” What’s the point in bringing them a magnet? I don’t give a damn about magnets. Why should I give them a sculpture that has a million copies that’s going to sit and gather dust and be thrown out anyway?

I’ve thought of any gift I’ve ever given that didn’t have much meaning. And I don’t want to be that person anymore. I want the things that I give to be given out of appreciation and not coercion. Not just on a day people thing means giving gifts, but any day that I feel like giving a gift.

I read an article this year on how Christmas used to be a day folks just got drunk and had a merry time with loved ones. ¬†I thought about the awkward feeling I get when people ask me what I want for Christmas or for my birthday and how much I’ve grown to hate getting things from other people just for the sake of getting. I’d rather receive nothing and just spend time talking.

When I look around on the holidays and everyone is plastered to their phones. People come up with excuses to leave quickly after eating. Etc. It’s become a sad thing since the days of playing outside or colouring with cousins.

So from now on, I want to express myself in my own way. Be it in death or during the holidays. I am different than them, and I want to take more pride in myself as individual.

 

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Trust your gut.

So I’ve moved across the country and it turns out it was harder than moving to the other side of the world. I say it’s because I know my heart doesn’t belong in Nevada. It’s been a hard week. The temperature is beyond me so I can’t step outside without feeling like a vampire turning to dust. My memory card smashed so I can’t focus on photography or filming. Job hunting is a pain, especially with a half committed heart. And a long distance relationship is just as disgusting as they say. (He’s worth it.)

But I’m leveling out.

The first week, every day I almost booked a flight back to Michigan. Even in moments the past couple of days I want to run back into the security of what is familiar. I can’t understand the struggle I’m going through because it was so easy to go to Japan. When I got off the plane at Las Vegas I wanted to turn right back around. The lights and people and gambling and beer… culture shock in my own country. I spent the past week telling myself that I couldn’t do this. Applying to jobs that I know I’m over qualified for in order to play it safe, and then becoming crushed because I know inside they won’t benefit me.

But, through all the crying and doubt I’m starting to want to realise my potential. To apply to jobs that will test me and push me. All while saving up for the jobs abroad that I truly wish to take. Even though being alone in Japan also frightens me, I’m remembering that a huge chunk of my heart is still there, and the feeling that I haven’t spent the accurate amount of time there has returned.

No matter how unraveled my world seems to be right now, there is something in the pit of my stomach telling me that I am in the place I need to be right now. So as much as I wish I was somewhere else, it’s the reason I stay. And I hope I can keep pushing harder and come out stronger.

There are people rooting for me. Some wish to see me stay held back in Michigan, but others see what I often forget. That we are capable of anything. I hope I can focus on that and start creating more positive thoughts to go to the places I want to go and see the people that I want to see.

When family doubts you.

This started as an e-mail, but I felt it was too bold. Then I thought, maybe some of you have grown up similar to me. And I hope you remember that you are doing your best. And that’s something to be so proud of.

***

Sometimes, even when you’re so far away from one another, words can travel great distances. Sometimes the words you say that you think someone will never hear end up reaching them somehow.

I have a belief that things always get found out. Even if it’s on your death bed. I don’t think that people’s true feelings about you stay hidden.

But some bad things are said out of love. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. I’m not really certain it’s all love. I think it’s our own selfishness. Usually when we say something hurtful it’s because of our own insecurities. If I say something bad about a girl I don’t know, 9 times out of 10 I’m simply threatened. If I say something hurtful about a family member, it’s to ease my own heart to justify a way they made me feel. Or act like I don’t care. Or if I say something bad about a friend, it’s because I want them to be the way I want them to be because it’s what I think is best.

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Family is probably the last one. We younger ones, we are left to grow up and think, “they just tried to do what was best.” I’m sure no matter what age all of us are right now, we’ve felt that way about the older ones in our family at some point. But despite knowing this, from generation to generation it doesn’t change. We still say hurtful things.

August 2010. Clear as day. I’ll never forget. I was told, “No one thinks you’re going to make it.”

That bothered me for a really long time. Honestly.. this might be the first second that I look at those words and I’m not bothered. Because what is “making it”?

The conversations I’ve had with family it always boils down to money. Money is the only way to be successful. And for some, this conversation always ends up talking about how I can give money to them if I’m “successful”. So I started feeling, “it’s not my happiness, it’s what I can provide.”

That’s how humans are, right? It’s always what we can provide. A service. What are we giving back to society? What are we giving to the people who don’t see our hard work, they only think our “success” is because of them.

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Most of you can’t understand me as I keep saying. It’s easy for you to say to each other, “Holly doesn’t know what she wants.” “Holly is unrealistic.” “Holly should grow up.” “Holly should act this way.”

Maybe it’s because we are from different generations that happiness means something different to us. But I think it’s just individuality. Because in each of your generations there are people like me. But I guess you probably scoff at them too.

Do all of you know what you want? Have you lived such a life where you honestly think you never upset someone? Have you done all you wanted? The “crazy” dream you had as a kid, did you do it?

People wait until it’s too late. Then one day you are taking your last breath¬†thinking, I had it all wrong.

Just because you can’t understand me, it doesn’t mean I don’t know what I want. In the grand scheme of things, hell, I don’t know. No one does. I don’t think anyone can argue that.

The steps that I take make you feel uncomfortable. They make you worry. And they make you talk to one another and say things out of frustration. I try to remember that. That we all say things in a way we don’t really mean it to come out.

I know it’s pointless to say “don’t worry”.

But just watch me.

If through all my struggles, frustrations and thoughts of unfairness in my world, I can share a photo of smiling people, a lovely flower, a sunset, anything beautiful. I think that means I’m doing okay.

And out of my life, that’s all I want. I just want to do okay. For me.

My own success is not measured in your expectations. Just as your success isn’t measured by anyone else.

And I hope you can realise that too.

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