Why We All Love Friday

Ah, yes, tomorrow is Friday. That holiest and most wonderful of days where the pleasures of sleeping in past our alarms’ urgent ringing and the allure of making up our own schedule (which may or may not consist of doing absolutely nothing) beckons. And who doesn’t wait for Friday? Who doesn’t give in to its romantic appeal? Brittany, it says, Brittany, we’re going to happy hour. You love happy hour on Friday. Aren’t you so excited?

Yes, Brittany. Of course you are excited. You’re allowed to take your mind off things and take things off your mind on Friday. It’s the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card. (Depending on how much you like your job, you can take that whole “jail” concept as literally as you’d like it to go.)

But I have a theory about why we all really love Friday, and it’s not simply because it’s the beginning of our weekend. Rather, it’s the day that we no longer become a slave to time.

Think about it. Monday through Thursday, you work to fit your activities into a single 24-hour period. You’re watching that clock to see when you have permission to stop one thing and start another. Okay, I can take my lunch at 1:00 today since I have a meeting at 2:00, but I can’t forget to drop off the marketing materials at 3:00…Put simply, your entire life is run by what time dictates.

However, there is a different philosophy on Friday, isn’t there? It’s a It can wait ideal. It’s a At least I made it to Friday mindset. And everyone stops looking at the clock. Not because they no longer care about their responsibilities for that week. Not even because their mind is already on the weekend. Quite the opposite: they want time to finally slow down. They want time to take an extra minute’s rest every once in awhile, now that it’s Friday.

My theory? Everyone loves Friday because they are finally living in the moment.

And what does that mean exactly? Well, it means that people have stopped thinking about what will happen next or what has happened before. On Friday, everyone is peaceful because they are present. And so, they are unknowingly practicing mindfulness, a core principle of meditation.

Of course, if this is true, then how do we master this technique on a Tuesday, for instance?

Personally, I like to read to achieve this same result. I can’t jump the track, so to speak, only reading one word at a time, so this is my version of living in the moment. But for you, it could simply be breathing or sitting quietly. As your yogi is probably always reminding you, bring yourself back to the moment. This is all we know for certain, and it is all the peace we have.

So, the next time that you feel yourself yearning for Friday, pull yourself back and cover the hands of the clock with yours. Everything arrives in time, and in that same time, it leaves.

In simpler words, make every single, solitary moment count. Even Friday.

The Potential to Be

When you look at a tree, what do you see?

Yes, okay, smart guy. You see the bark. The leaves. The branches. Potentially the small creatures and birds that call it home, the ecosystem it contains. You might also see something that gives life to humans on Earth by producing oxygen. (If you want to get that scientific or poetic about plants.)

Now, imagine someone else is looking at that same tree. What may they see?

Maybe lots of books that could be made from the tree. Maybe a really nice mahogany table or cherry tree chair. Heck, they may even see toilet paper. At any rate, they are seeing the tree chopped down and then chopped up into smaller pieces. They see the tree as it could be, not as it is now.

So, who is right?

Both are correct. Simply because trees serve multiple purposes, living or dead. It simply comes down to what stage of the process the tree is in, and what potential can be seen in it at that time.

Now, erase the tree from your mind, and think about the last time that you faced rejection or pain due to the fact that you did not fit the mold. That you didn’t meet the expectations of others. That you didn’t fill a position or a void for someone. Of course this is hard to experience. But again, your perspective isn’t the only one to consider.

If you have experienced this feeling, it means that someone has looked at you during a different stage in the process. It means that someone has perceived you and thought “paper” instead of “ecosystem.” It wholly depends on what they are seeing, not on who you are.

My general point is that you can be more than one thing at a time. But if people aren’t able to see past something or aren’t able to see you, it’s due to how they are perceiving you at a current moment, not with how much potential you have. And that’s okay. A tree is not offended to be called paper. It is simply useful. A tree is not offended to be called a shelter for others. It is simply useful.

Remember that you are useful in whatever stage of the process (AKA life) that you are in, even if it is hard to see right now. There is as much potential in a seed as there is in a fully grown tree.

Woohoo, A Wrinkle!

Let me hit you with a commonly accepted idea that is not necessarily true: Many people believe that it takes more muscles to smile than to frown. In fact, people think it takes 17 and 43, respectively.

Except, that isn’t true. Actually, depending on how you count the muscles in your face, smiling may be more taxing. (Sorry, Care Bears. You’ll have to find another way to make us smile.)

Now, what happens to your face when you smile or frown? Your lips turn up or down. (C’mon, this is hardly news.) But what else happens? Well, if you are older and have a certain genetic makeup or if you smoke or if you are out in the sun a lot, you could get wrinkles.

Wrinkles, as our youth-obsessed culture knows, are the lines you get on your face from any of the factors above. But wrinkles can also form by repeating a certain facial expression. Of course, frowning over long periods of time can put wrinkles on your forehead, and smiling can also put wrinkles near your eyes, as crow’s feet.

So, what should we do? Get botox? Hold our face as still as possible? Try to smile without moving our lips? Well, as I’ve already mentioned, there’s a lot more that goes into whether you will get wrinkles and from what catalyst.

But my own belief is that if you have to get them, why not make them good ones?

I simply mean that unless you are the late Joan Rivers (may her plastic soul rest in peace), your face is going to move. Whether to express extreme joy or uncontrollable sorrow, you are going to react to the issues in your life by making a face. Now it’s up to you to decide what that’s going to be: a smile or a frown.

And look, I get it. You don’t have to greet every day with a smile to prove that you are committed to this “happy wrinkles” thing. The point is that wrinkles develop with repeated behavior. You are what you do most.

So, make smiling your favorite thing to do. And everyone will be able to see it on your face long after your smile fades.

What if I Never Eat Cheese Again!?

Okay. If you haven’t read The Opposite of Loneliness yet, I suggest that you leave your computer and go do that. (Or just read this post to catch up really quickly.) Seriously, guys. This isn’t the first time that I’ve mentioned this book, so you should probably just go read it now…

But if you truly have not gotten around to reading it, The Opposite of Loneliness is essentially a collection of stories, poems, and nonfiction essays by an incredibly talented young lady named Marina Keegan. Sadly, Keegan died in a car crash only a few days after her college graduation, making her words all that more poignant, if they weren’t already. The young lady had a worldliness about her that is hard to pinpoint but that is so evident in her words.

Keegan was an absolute shooting star of a writer: far, far too talented, she burned brightly and quickly. I would love to say that we have that in common, but I could never live up to the accolades that she had achieved in her short time here on Earth.

But there is one thing that I do share with her: we both have a food allergy. (Catch up on that discovery by clicking here.) She had Celiac’s disease, which meant that she couldn’t digest gluten. I have lactose intolerance plus a soy allergy, which basically means I can’t eat anything at all.

I was actually in the midst of diagnosing myself with the latter allergy when I was reading Keegan’s book. In her one essay, she talks about being unable to eat gluten, and explains that she already has a plan for her final meal. On her death bed, she will eat bread, and pasta, and pizza to her heart’s delight after being denied them for so long. She will gorge herself and then hopefully fall back onto the pillow at a ripe age and die peacefully.

In a very stark moment of realization, we all know that this event will never come to pass.

But I have to wonder: Is anyone really so lucky that they can set themselves up to go with all of the ceremony and dessert platters they want? In fact, I think death row inmates are quite blessed in that sense, in that they are given a proper, final meal, when most of us don’t know when ours will be. We’ll never know if the breakfast, lunch, or dinner we just ate will be our last.

So, what should we do? Especially those of us with food allergies. What if I never eat salty, melty, yummy cheese again?

Well, I can’t lie to you. Eating food that irritates my allergy hurts. It is absolutely unpleasant, and it affects my quality of life. I would obviously not choose to eat cheese or soy everyday, due to the repercussions.

But then again, Marina Keegan has shed some light on the matter: everything in moderation and probably not all at once. I think as long as your throat doesn’t swell up and you don’t need to be impaled with an epi pen, you should partake in the foods that make you happy once in awhile. Occasionally, your own happiness does trump your unruly stomach.

I mean, if I had to plan a grand feast for the end of my life, I would certainly invite macaroni and cheese, pesto, cheesesteaks, and bagels and cream cheese to the table. But I also need to remember to plan a little feast for now, just in case I don’t get the opportunity in the future.

The point is, if there is anything that Marina Keegan can teach us, it’s that it is absolutely useless to wait for what you really want out of life. Basically, eat the pizza while there is still time. (And if someone is able to make that into a bumper sticker, I will absolutely buy 10 of them on the spot.)

A Case for the Broken Heart

Do you remember when you first had your heart broken?

Was he or she the love of your life? Was it love at first sight when you first saw him or her? Was he or she the most beautiful creature you had ever seen? And at the same time, the cruelest for breaking your heart?

I can’t really say that I’ve ever had my heart broken. I mean, I guess when I found out that I was half Johnny Depp’s age. Or any time that I go into the kitchen, and there are no salt and vinegar chips. And I’ve certainly experienced the acute pain of an unrequited crush (and the elation of a requited one).

Of course, none of this has stopped me from wanting to have my heart broken. I know, that’s like writing “get run over by a car” on your bucket list. But think about it. It’s sort of a rite of passage, isn’t it? You can cry and sing along to really depressing songs. You can indulge and eat whatever you’d like and watch movies in your pajamas. And the best part? No one looks at you weird. No. They bring you more ice cream. They comfort you and spend time with you. Or at least, this is the picture that the movies paint for us.

But there’s another reason that it is important to sometimes be broken-hearted: it makes you all the more stronger. How do I know this cliche is true? Because I realized it while ripping up a Post-It note today. Yes, if you thought I had gone off the deep end before, then you are in for a longer dip now.

Today, I used a Post-It note, as one does, and as is the case with this infernal invention, it had lost its stickiness within about three seconds of my placing it onto a surface. I wanted to discard it. But I didn’t want anyone rifling through my trash to look at it later (because I’m obviously paranoid and self-important). So, I ripped it. It was quite satisfying, actually. It split almost in perfect halves. So, I did it again. And again. And again. Until finally, I was unable to rip the pieces anymore. (No doubt you’ve heard a similar story about it being incredibly easy to break a single stick but incredibly hard to break a bundle of them.)

My fun was over with the sticky note at this point, but it did get me thinking. Maybe, just maybe, when we’re torn apart, ripped into tiny, tiny pieces, made less than whole, we become stronger, more resistant to damage.

While I don’t know from experience, I can almost assure you that this is the same case with a broken heart. It isn’t that its cracks and fractures make it vulnerable to more destruction. Rather, they fortify it. The heart defends itself with its own undoing.

So, I recommend getting your heart broken as many times as you can. Do you know why? Because it means that you felt something. And it made you stronger. That is something no one can take away from you, and it is something that you can’t teach yourself.

Three Wishes

You know, genies are a little stingy.

In return for letting them out of a cage, basically, they give you three wishes–with a ton of stipulations. You can’t wish for more wishes. You can’t wish that the dead become undead. And usually, if the fairy tales are to be believed, you accidentally wish away your wishes before you’ve even got started.

I’ve sworn off genies. I’ll stick with dandelion seeds.

With one small puff of air, a cluster of seeds are afloat and away. And with it are attached all of your hopes and dreams. It’s simple and much less stressful than rubbing a lamp with some elbow grease.

That is, unless the seeds get stuck in your throat. I was sitting in my car today in rush hour traffic when an entire cloud of dandelion seeds floated through the air. And a few lucky specimens slipped right into my mouth. Upon choking and sputtering, I got to thinking: what is the point in wishing? And a better question: who released such an army of wishes on so many unsuspecting commuters like myself?

In this vein, I sometimes feel like wishing is like winning the lottery. No matter how much you desire something, you’re not likely to get what you wish for without working for it. Or maybe it’s more synonymous with luck: you need to make your own.

Or maybe it isn’t any of that. Maybe it’s similar to exercising in the sense that you feel good just because you’re doing it. And maybe it doesn’t carry a heavier meaning than that. (It can’t. Most wishes have to float through the air.)

But despite all of my metaphors, there is nothing in this world that is more of an expression of hope than a wish. It’s a tiny admission to the world that you want to give your desires their own voice. You might do it on candles, at 11:11 on the clock, or on a shooting star. But the sentiment is always the same: please, someone, listen.

I sometimes lose faith in wishing. But then again, I also lose faith in hope. I feel like it is so fragile, and that if I’m not looking where I sit, I’ll squash and shatter it.

But unlike hope, wishes are not fragile. Even when sliding down an unsuspecting person’s throat. Wishes keep hope intact because they act as the vessel. They give us something tangible to hold onto when everything seems so abstract. They were built to last and withstand all the negative forces in the world. Specifically doubt.

So, the next time you are hoping for something to happen, capture it in a wish. Oh, but don’t tell anyone what you wished for. Much like hope, you have to keep a wish close to your heart and your chest.

The Ripple Effect

When we’re living our day to day life, it’s hard to imagine that something half way around the world could affect us. So, don’t. Don’t imagine it.

I mean. It’s absolutely true. But it’s hard to grasp, isn’t it? You can’t quite reconcile the fact that the metaphorical flap of the butterfly’s wing in one distant land could set off chaos in another. Because that’s hard. How could a decision made miles and miles away affect your life in this very second? You can’t really see that, can’t really touch it. It’s such a massive thought that it barely has borders or parameters.

So, let’s try to forget that concept for a moment. Rather, let’s try to imagine that something very close to you in your life changes. A loss of a friend. The death of a loved one. A new job. A college degree. These things we feel acutely, and with good reason. We’ve played some part in their happenings. We are somewhat responsible for what occurs as a result of them.

Now, consider the possibility of someone close to you doing something, that has absolutely nothing to do with you, with their own lives. An action that you cannot control and has everything to do with what they’re doing. Yet, it, somehow, still travels back to you. Still finds you.

This is called the ripple effect. Or at least, I call it that. For obvious reasons. A rock hitting the surface of a still pond or lake only touches the water where it falls. However, it sends energy to places that it never even touched in the form of ripples. But they do not extend completely across the entire body of water. It is, after all, a single rock.

Every decision you’ve ever made is like that. From deciding what to order at a restaurant to deciding which college you will attend in the fall. You’ve affected someone with your choices, whether you’ve known it or not. Whether you will ever know it or not.

Of course, I’m not trying to tell you this so that you become even more paranoid about the outcomes of your decisions. I’m not trying to strike fear into your heart at the thought of potentially ruining someone’s future because you ordered the salmon instead of the steak.

I’m simply trying to help you become more aware of the good and the bad repercussions of everything so that you won’t be paralyzed by what you decide. The reality is that you could actually inspire someone with the changes that you’re struggling with today. And you could actually come to appreciate a lapse in good judgment as the years tick forward.

Life is, and always will be, rather funny that way. But enjoy it all, every moment. You may not know which moment will count to you or to someone else. You may not ever know the depth of your ripples.

Looking at the Night Sky; Looking at my Life

Author’s Note: I won’t be able to post a blog tomorrow, forgive me! But let’s enjoy the time we have together now, shall we?

When you look at the night sky, you can’t help but be a little pensive. You think about how beautiful it all is, or how futile. You think about how we’re all in this together, or you think that we’re all just clinging to this spinning rock. You think about how big and bright the moon is, or you think how dark it can get.

Me? I think about how much my life is like the night sky.

And there are two phases of gazing at the sky. First, you’re all like whoa. It’s so big. And there’s so little we know about it. I mean, there could be aliens staring at the same sky. That kind of scares me. Actually, that really scares me. I’m American; it’s hard to imagine that I’m not the center of the universe. And what about black holes? They just take over everything. What if an asteroid hits us? What if we’re all living on the moon in 50 years? 100 years?

This first phase is how I look at life a lot. It’s so vast. And it’s filled with so many things I don’t know. And it’s mostly frightening. And filled with black holes that go on forever. I want to believe that there is more to life, but like space, I’m not always sure that there are intelligent beings.

Then there’s the second phase. I am able to pinpoint individual constellations, planets that I’m not able to see in a winter sky. The more I look, the more light I see. If I’m lucky, I’ll see something shooting across the sky. If I’m luckier, I might see the moon peak out from behind the clouds for a moment, bathing me in its borrowed light. I know I’m nothing, but I feel like something looking up at a sky that Shakespeare and Anne Frank were seeing too.

And this is also sometimes how I see life. I see it as awe-inspiring with so much to offer. The more I look, the more light I see in my life, too. I can find things to be grateful for, and I can find things that make me want to be more than what I currently am.

You can tell how I’m seeing the night sky because it reflects how I’m feeling at any given point of my life, like the moon reflects the light of the sun. But with anything having to do with perspective, it all depends on you. Space can be as scary or as glorious as you want it to be. And so can your life.

You Probably Already Know How You’ll Die

One of my favorite movies is Big Fish. It tells the story of a man whose tall tales and colorful lies create a beautiful life in retrospect but a difficult reality to accept for his son. It is a gorgeous film about what happens when cliche and skepticism meet with a truly masterful lesson at the end.

It opens with a few boys sneaking onto the property of a “swamp witch” that lives in their neighborhood. The story goes that if the witch lifts her eyepatch and peers at you with her milky eyeball, you will see how you die.

She inevitably comes out to scare away the rabblerousers. And as you probably guessed, the main character’s friends, one by one, look into her eye to see their fates. When it is the main character’s turn, he dutifully looks and watches himself die. (The audience doesn’t get to see it.) Interestingly, however, the knowledge doesn’t haunt him throughout the movie. Instead, it informs him. Much later in the film, when he gets into some trouble, he rationalizes that this isn’t how he saw himself die in the witch’s eye. Therefore, he tells himself, he’ll probably get out of this pickle unscathed.

I don’t think this thinking has to be exclusively relegated to movies. If we’re completely honest with ourselves, we already know what will probably kill us in the end, too. Or at least, we can make an educated guess.

For example, you may know that you have a lot of cancer in your family. You may live in a dangerous part of the world. You may smoke. (Enough said.) Heck, Elvis died on the toilet, for heaven’s sake. So, maybe he didn’t know, but he couldn’t do anything about it, either.

Me? I know I’ll die of something heart related. First of all, I have too many feelings, so I will probably die of a broken heart when my favorite television show is cancelled. Or I’ll simply give up and eat everything that my food allergies say that I can’t have until I clog my arteries in one fell swoop. (Talk about dying happy…)

Now, I’m not trying to be morbid. I’m simply saying that this is one less thing that you need to worry about. If you’re wondering how you’ll die (and you shouldn’t because it is a waste of time), you have to rationalize that you have probably already encountered how it will happen. In fact, you may have been the one to initiate the behavior in the first place, by crossing the street or lighting up a cigarette. And, in actuality, that is a freeing thought, to be lifted from the accusations of time and the punishment of “what if…”

Oh, I’m sure it’ll still be a surprise when it happens, which is good, to keep the suspense up and to keep you on your toes. But you can’t be afraid of how it will happen. You can only hope that your death will be fitting of the person you were in life.

But in the end, we’re all staring into the witch’s eye. It’s how we react to the information we see that shapes us.

My Theory about Time

Do you ever feel that time could race a snail to the finish line and lose? Do you ever feel like if there were 25 hours in a day you would be able to get everything done? And when Friday rolls around, do you stare at the clock, willing it to go faster? And what about Sunday night, do you ask time to take it easy?

I don’t think anyone at any given moment is really pleased with how time is going. We want it to stop and slow down and speed up, sometimes all at once. And we wonder why it doesn’t, why it disobeys.

My theory is that it does listen to us. That we absolutely have power over the time we have. We can make the second hand tick faster with our desires alone. And we can pause the timer in order to appreciate what we have.

But whatever you want the clock to do, there is someone, actually lots of someones, who want it do the opposite. If you are waiting for the weekend, there is someone out there who is praying the week lasts a little longer. When you are looking for the morning so that you can see the sunrise, someone is praying for the night when they can lay with their lover. When you are counting down the moments until a certain event, there is someone who is counting the last minutes of his or her life, wishing that they had more.

So, my idea is that we are able to control the clock. But since there are so many people pushing back against what we may want, time stays confined to 60 seconds to a minute and 60 minutes to an hour, and so on. And when it flies? And when it is slower than molasses? That’s when we’re not actually thinking about time. We’re thinking about what we’re doing or what we could be doing. We’ve stopped fighting so hard against time.

The point is that even though we may be able to control time (maybe), we need to be able to live in the moment too. If my theory is correct, we need to all stop wasting so much energy trying to push the clock forward or backward. We can only do what we will with the time we’re given, no matter how fast or slow it goes.