Wednesday, November 4, 2009

came across this a while ago, can't remember where..

sometimes, i really dig simplicity.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I am headed in too many directions, and my mind is headed in even more. I want to go everywhere, and that gets me nowhere..

Nothing will ever be perfect, there will always be something else, the grass will always seem greener (until you actually get to the other side, and realize the shade of green is exactly the same, and discover that the color of the grass is worthless anyhow if your loved ones are on the other side) so all that is left is for us to be damn grateful for what we’ve got, who we already are, what we are currently capable of, and for the fact that we are yet breathing, yet alive, and yet full of possibility.

So keep on..

“To follow, without halt, one aim: There’s the secret of success.” -Anna Pavlova

Monday, September 28, 2009


Music is something new to me today. and yesterday it was too. and tomorrow.. well I'm expecting the same. Because in any given moment, there is potential to literally change the way you see the world, because of some words and sounds strung together to seep out the speakers. Could any listening moment ever be identical to another? A song, though heard a thousand times over, must press it's way through the atmosphere before reaching the ear. What if we looked at that process as a sort of mechanism, the air and feeling floating in a space act as a shaper, to take the song as it stands, and press into it the imprint of the present moment, molding it into what it needs to be at that precise point in time. What if we saw each moment not as a passive background, but as an active force that determines how a song would be received by the listener.. not adding or taking anything away from a song, but molding it to be fitted for any given point in time? What if we thought of songs and music as dynamic in that way, never losing power.. then I think we might develop a deeper appreciation for hearing the same song multiple times.

I want to listen so deeply; I used to say I wanted the music inside me. Now I think I want to be inside the music. Saturated and surrounded, complete. Because more than just sounds, music will never run out or end the way that games and fads do.. never leave you the way time always does.

I've been wishing I had another word for it, so I could do justice to what it has become to me. You hear the word 'music' 50 million times a day, but it's an injustice to give just one ordinary, worn out word to something so broad and complex and life-saving. I've always had this dissatisfaction, with lots of things not just music.. this discontentment (near frustration) with the words used often. Especially when referencing things heavy and true, things real and saving, things of the soul, I need something more. It's caused problems before- my unwillingness to concede and be happy with speaking in simple terms. But I'm sorry, it's just that life was not made in simple terms, and I do not feel in simple terms, and so it doesn't seem right to speak as such. I still do, because commonplace verbiage is often just easier, but let it be known I don't like it. Sometimes, I'd rather not speak than say something you've already heard.

Maybe it's like the way it feels when you have a nickname for someone you care about that nobody else calls them- it's something perhaps only you two understand, but it signifies some part of the relationship that is one-of-a-kind, authentic, and grown. Well I think nearly everyone develops something of a relationship with music. And even if there are 50 people listening to the same song, that song will probably play a completely unique role in each individual. For one it triggers a thought in the brain, for another a drop in the pit of the stomach, or a tingle in the hand, or a gasping for breath, or a stream from the eye, or weighted heavy eyelids, or a lessening of pain, or a surge of movement in the limbs..

It can't be enough! To use a single emotionless word to discuss the things of greatest importance to me- like "Friend" or "Love" or "college" or "Music".... So maybe the same challenge poses itself for all of these most intense and significant things: When one (or a few) word(s) is a disservice, all you can do is give in, share & describe what you've been given, and then give back. Do what you can, however possible, to sustain the life and meaning of the things that matter most.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I was just flossing and thinking how it's no fun at all, yet it's so worth doing. I liken it to this whole constellation of things in life that we do, or should do, or try to do, that are no fun in the moment yet have significant positive impact in the long run. Every day I wake up and take part in this world, I realize more and more that much of life is like this- critical and yet not fully, or even hardly, enjoyable in the moment of action. Some of our most basic disciplines in hygeine and health may parallel the need for discipline in other pursuits:

..just as I floss to avoid gingivitis, so do I need to write regularly in search of new ways to view, communicate, and connect with the world

..just as I try to drag myself out of bed to go to the gym, so do I need to set aside time to read consistently and cultivate a learner's spirit

..just as I take vitamins every morning, so do I need to work with my hands when I feel the tingling pulse of creation inside

I think there is some validity and wisdom in all those phrases like "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey" and "It's all about the process." But there are some essential aspects of living that are absolutely nothing about the physical process of doing, but are rather entirely about the end result. Depositing the efforts now to withdraw meaning and growth from later. Investing now (however mundane, ineffectual, or tedious a task may seem) to make small additions that, ultimately, will layer up a life well-lived.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm curious, if I asked you to finish the sentence- "There are 2 kinds of people in the world: ____" and you could only choose one answer, what would it be?

I'm still thinking about mine....

Friday, July 24, 2009

Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, freedom and boundaries are not enemies. I've been seeing in myself that certain measures of limitation or constraint are necessary to enable myself to maximize the freedoms I have. Because most of the time, boundaries are necessary in order to maintain balance. In the absence of balance, freedom can exert itself as uninhibited excess; self-destructive free reign; cyclical behaviors that lead us nowhere... Freedom Wasted.

So in some ways, I'm trying to shift my perception of boundaries from something that limits my freedom- to something that enables it.
A lot of the time I think faith is selfish.
And I wonder if that is okay.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The mark of a true artist- To continue producing, especially when you think you suck and your work is crap

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

$2.15 and No Cream

Just now the girl told me how many dollars I owed, and asked if I wanted room for cream. I reached into my wallet and paused.. left her for a moment in expectant and confused silence. Don't know why, but I was suddenly inundated with thoughts of how quickly my perspective on life changes. I re-focused momentarily to tell her ‘no,’ but sitting here now I’m trying to grasp the impermanence of my views. I’m a fickle being; I can dance between optimism and lackluster indifference within a matter of hours.

I wish I was better at creating visual representations of my thoughts.

Because I’m wondering what would happen if I were able to take the way I feel right now about myself and my future and translate it into an image on a transparent sheet, and then tomorrow do it again, and then next week do it again… and so on and so on, until 40 years from now I would have stacks of transparencies filled with myriad designs. And I could lay them all on top of each other to see the lines of doubt and optimism bleed into each other. Splotches of discouragement and drops of apathy could seep into the curves of hope. And I think that’d be nice to see.

Many people think that each phase of life contributes something to the ‘big picture;’ that every experience and relationship holds some kind of significance, whether or not we understand it. But individually, a moment feels like just one moment, and sentiment for the current experience is isolated.

But imagine seeing all of it together in one comprehensive image- a glimpse of how even the ugliest and most pessimistic of days contributed to the stunning final piece. I imagine I'd be wonderfully shocked at how instrumental each ordinary moment really was..

Monday, April 6, 2009

to the tired but hopeful one.

I’ve been away for a while. I could say it’s because of magic vacations, or the excessive weights of work, or crazy days and crazier nights….
But no, it’s been lazy-on-myself-ness, that has kept me in the dark. And I have been,
In the dark,
Quite so.

I don’t know when it got to this. I think somewhere along the way it became a process of forgetting that the choices I make today, are the choices I make for life. I’ve become a master of projecting into the future the goals of today.
“Ooooh I’ll be like this tomorrow. And I’ll do that next week! And when things really change, I’ll say this and that, and I’ll be the girl who chooses this not that…”

I forget that what I do today, who I am to you today, is who I am for life. Because today is life.

Where on earth did I get the notion that the current moment is somehow exempt from the responsibility it takes to change?? As if discussing the noble call to shed an old skin for the likes of a new one does anything to actually move us forward. As if talking about sacrifice, is really giving anything up at all. If I am not willing right now to do what it takes to change, how can I expect to be willing tomorrow?

Humans and the world have taught me, that you can say whatever you want.

And as it turns out, saying things and not doing things has become too easy for me, a detrimental easy. I speak the things of fantasy.. things that are neither impossible nor free of demands. Change begs discomfort of us, much. But mostly, I think one thing that change could give a shit about, is words.

I’ve been one to confuse admiration with envy. I’ve been through that forest of confusion and I still go back from time to time.. And beware! It’ll catch you, twist, sit you down and pull you back, behind the face of what you’d like to be. Alternatively- let yourself be inspired by others’ success and exotic adventures, not diminished by your envious gaze.

I’ve become too good at giving up on the day, letting it just be- bland, vanilla, decent (gag). Unwilling to give what it takes to become something better, to produce something fruitful, to be made new again and again. I’ve lately given in to a so-called ‘lack of energy;’ which is, in fact, one of the many masks that a non-committal heart likes to wear.

But don’t fret, I literally said out loud to myself in the mirror this afternoon.. you’re ok.
A creative dry spell (or any other kind of internal obstacle or battle for this matter) can only go as far as your accommodations for it last. And I choose for this one’s stay to end with me now.

No, struggles won't just disappear on a dime. They undoubtedly reside, but I've found it matters a great deal how hospitable we are to our weaknesses; and let's say I've been putting mints on the pillows, serving continental breakfast and the whole nine...

Choosing (making) better for yourself seems so simple, yet can prove difficult as hell, for some odd reason. But when you do, it carries a certain clarity: one that reminds me of thanksgiving day, or the air after rain, or the breath you can see on that annual cold morning before the sun’s grand entrance, on the mountain called Helix overlooking southern San Diego....

Monday, March 9, 2009

To be honest- sometimes I wish that art and poems and literature would stop. Hold on, even back up.. and just let me freaking catch up.


But then I realize, ohhhh right.. that’s the absolute perfection of it all- it will never end and I will never have seen it all.

another response to a response

So perhaps it would have been good to preface the previous entry with some parameters, something like the following:

As alex mentions, it’s certainly true that not all circumstances allow for interpretation. Many situations are objectively unfortunate in a way no one could contest. No matter the perspective, regardless of attitude, opinion, or background, some things are just factually difficult. So what should have been prefaced was that this whole thing about choosing the tone (or ‘song’) to which you move through your life is necessarily directed at, and in fact limited to, those that have ‘options,’ those who are fortunate not to find themselves in circumstances for which positivity is irrelevant.

By no means are we able to change the actual reality which we’ve been dealt. But to elaborate on the childish proverb “when life hands you lemons….” I do believe it matters significantly the stance we choose to take in moving forward with our lives.

Life happens- we can’t change that.
Life’s significant events stick with us- we can't avoid that.
We have to move forward (if nothing else)- Here we have a choice. [enter perspective]

Alex I’ll expand using your 'singing together' analogy; I think my previous entry was meant to complement this concept rather than overlook it. I agree that it can be too easy for us to base our perspectives on narrow worldviews, failing to acknowledge the songs of others. By living with intentional perspective when possible [i.e. situations that foster interpretation] we deliberately choose to open ourselves to the reality that there is a world bigger than ourselves, than the narrow playing field we actually see from day to day.

The previous was written upon recognizing a struggle within myself, and feeling that I could gain something more if I simply shifted my outlook- ditch the ‘woe is me’ frame of mind and move forward- new lesson learned, and a world to keep facing that’s full of much more than my own strife. This is not to minimize the healthy process of facing the shit life throws our way, but rather addresses the moment that follows- the crossroads of moving on. It seems the self-focused nature of personal struggle often causes failure to attend to the rest of the world. In other words, you aint singin with nobody else if you’re locked in your room cryin about your life. You cannot recognize the songs of others, let alone sing with them, if you haven’t taken initiative to move forward with your own life. Stagnancy with oneself inhibits connection with others.

So I’d never claim that struggles are comparable, because they’re all relative, always. It’s just a human fact that we are incapable of knowing anything beyond what we’ve faced thus far. But at least being open to that surprise ‘interlude,’ or ‘someone else’s song’ we can ensure that when another comes along, we will be ready to harmonize. It’s like walking with one headphone in as we walk down the street- playing the song we choose to walk to. But always leaving one headphone out, an ear left open to the other songs passing by…

Sunday, March 1, 2009

There will always be great things and terrible things and fun things and not-so-fun things and hard things and new things and surprises and plans and changes in life. Of course, it matters a great deal how we responsd to our world.. but it's critical to recognize how we perceive and process the events of our lives before we respond. Perspective changes everything, I mean every. thing. I see perspective as the music you choose to play in the background of your life.. it may change to reflect different seasons or circumstances, but ultimately.. what theme songs have you adopted? Do they promote openness, or prejudice? Do they compel you to grow, or dwell in the past?

...what perspectives have you been operating with, and is it perhaps time to change the station and find a different tune?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I wish that i talked less. and walked more.
very literally.
and very figuratively.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Word Salad

“Word Salad” is a phrase used to describe a common symptom among schizophrenics- muttering a series of jumbled, illogical words, strung together in a manner that’s often as incoherent for the mentally ill speaker as for the listener. Often, the only connection is rhyme or similar sound among the otherwise disconnected words. It’s peculiar.. I’ve sat and listened to bouts of genuine word salad before. And I wondered at myself, why I would listen attentively to something so blatantly incomprehensible? I think it’s because- Some definitions of word salad mention “seemingly meaningful words that together, mean nothing.” But I consider- what if it could be that in certain instances, it’s the other way around, that seemingly meaningless singular words, when strung together, mean everything? Like there are fragments of truth so small that independently strike no harps, turn on no light bulbs, lead to no epiphanies.. but when joined by a precision so rare that it could only be by accident, they could break down walls and build up confident armies of revelation.

I would imagine that this concept I am pondering is the foundation on which many cultures have based their belief that the mentally ill are actually the most valuable in society, like shamans, deserving the highest place of honor for their power to deliver spiritual enlightenment. Now I’m not suggesting the same extreme- that the mentally ill are like gods- but just that perhaps they are not what our western culture has come to label them..

Those dealing with a mental illness are no doubt dis-eased. But how much of that is due to the actual disease, and how much is due to their treatment by the outside world?

Being simply categorized on the sidelines of mainstream ‘normality’ is one thing, because in the end why should we give a shit what Joe Shmo thinks of us anyhow? But as social ‘placement’ in our culture has come to usher harsh and broad-sweeping stigmas, the impact on those being marginalized has grown: these aren’t just internal thoughts some may hold about ‘the other,’ but instead a projected and felt behavior which tangibly affects the life of that person so different from what’s comfortably acceptable.

Ray McDermott and Herve Varenne wrote an article about the need for change in the mental health system, and in it they highlight that Western society, over time, has developed an extreme emphasis on single-mindedness, focus and hard-work, environmental mastery to achieve success. They bring to light the irony that a culture so set on enabling success, has become a powerfully disabling institution.

I can feel the vigor of my sociology seminar class arguments on social justice brewing back up, so I’ll step back for now.. (My ramblings can tend to get passionately disjointed when not kept in check)
It’s just that I began ruminating all this because I’m reading a book on a paranoid schizophrenic who frequently tosses word salad. And it occurred to me how shockingly poetic it is at times.. and poetry, to me, always has the potential to be a conduit of great truth.

So I can't help but wonder if wisdom surprises could rise from a sea of chaotic babbling, about the workings of the world, or about something bigger..

if mental illness could foster unwitting revelations of light..

if truth leaks from unquiet minds..

Question mark.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

No matter where you are,
or what you are feeling,
or how you look,

or or how you do not look,
or what you are thinking,

No Matter Who You Are:

You are not,

the center,
of the world.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Side note: Paper bags are my new canvas. For everything. They start off imperfect and that makes me comfortable, and ready.

Happy face.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Response to a response

it's funny. because sometimes there is a black hole in certain lifey moments (particularly, the ones involving loneliness) that silently sucks you into feeling like the absolute only one on earth feeling that way. So confidently, and so easily, I'm convinced I am the only one I have, to figure things out..

i've seen 2 faces of solitude: a peaceful one I seek for rest, and a bewildering one- overwhelmed with insecurity. Drown in thought, or drowning in the inability to think anything straight at all..

Funny how all these intricacies we try to rummage through by ourselves, can be unraveled at the seams by the simplest of gestures by one good friend. Something as simple as a text or message from one responsive friend reminds us that we are most definitely- not- alone.

He told her about lifey moments. And then she said,
Let me know next time you have one,
so I can remind you you're not alone in it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Side effect #1 of me being stressed: Sharp decline in the already weak ability to make decisions.

Exhibit A: Jam vs. Honey

I spent a good while staring, contemplating, debating. jam, honey, honey, jam, jam over honey? little honey little jam? Until I decided I couldn't decide, and had to have both.

I think our minds do strange things when they're on overload...

The bread crumbs left from 2 days of away:

I left for 24 hours, maybe not even that long. These are disjointed tidbits of a mind in the mountains.


The Drive: Great songs, great in different ways, and strung together randomly by the mystery that is 'shuffle'....

Inner Light: ‘Arrive without travelling. See all without looking. Do all without doing.’

Blessed to be a witness: Like good questions never asked, is wisdom wasted on the past? Only by the grace of God go I,

go I.
I am blessed to be a witness. So gather ‘round, for today won’t come again, won’t come again.

[The volume’s @ 6]

Sweet mistakes: Bless your sweet mistakes that crumbled you down to your knees, changing you by degrees. So raise to the future, drink to the past, and thank the Lord for the friends he cast in the play he wrote for you.

Scenic world! When I feel alive, I try to imagine a careless life.. a scenic world where the sunsets are all breathtaking

[take it to 7]

I’m flying away with those Byrds.. to everything, there is a season.

Let go: well whatcha waiting for? There’s beauty in the breakdown.

[skip to 10.. my ears kinda hurt but it’s just wrong to listen to this quietly]

Cat Stevens and I- we’re thinking about the world as one, and the good things to come..


Elevation got to 3,000:

I yawned to pop my ears so I could hear the music louder and more clearly..
The ipod selected a gem of a song, and the sounds of the Beatles brought that beautiful image of last week to mind:
~ The funeral had just ended, and to continue the ‘togetherness’ of commemorating a loss, we all congregated at gramma’s. A group of the ages, we looked lazy, but no.. just tired. Not much speaking, just together-ing. And then he came in, sat at the piano on that old bench I used to hide important puzzle pieces in to drive my family crazy when I was 7.
He patiently started walking his hands through Let It Be..
And in the instant they all recognized the tune, I saw heads turn towards him, a pause- he kept playing, unaware; and the look we shared on our faces was weighted with acceptance for the present hour, and sad, but knowing, half-smiles.
It was as though that light but heavy song walked into the room with a somber gratitude that tipped it’s hat, and said ‘thank you, for the most fitting words you could find for a moment like this.’


Mountain playtime:
Sometimes, I try to strategize my way to a restful soul. Oh foolish! Often, it’s playing that brings the most clarity and calm.. I might say there’s a form of meditation in times of reckless abandon. A new focus, born from a time of unfocused release. It’s effortless, this most natural expression of liveliness..


If you haven't got a pen to create....

alone was the first and the last place i wanted to be.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ecc 7:3 ..beacause a sad face is good for the heart.

i am wondering what this fully means..

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Not surprisingly, I've been thinking about big-picture kind of lifey things lately. So much so that I've had a hard time caring about the day to day responsibilities that continue as normal. When my state of mind is as it is right now, I find it annoying that we have to keep up with the minor duties of life like oh, say.. our jobs.. while simultaneously musing the greater purpose of living and breathing. But, I suppose the truth is that just because I'm choosing to spend the majority of my time thinking about things more lasting than a patient review meeting, or the rent check, or my insurance claim, doesn't mean it's wise to abandon my place among my duties. ..or sometimes, to some extent, is it?

i don't even know what i mean by "wise"...

sorry i don't think this thought is going anywhere. i'm just tired. i'm too tired to even continue capitalizing my i's.. much less process the mysterious balance between living in the real world and living in the curiosity and idealism of existential thinking.

..if i were to write a movie scene about how i've felt the last few days, it would read as follows:

[Me, sitting at a weathered dining table, quiet, patient, a bit disheveled. I'm staring out the window, hardly acknowledging the presence of anyone else. Real Worlder busily passes through the kitchen for a moment..]

Real Worlder: "Hey Tobin have you figured out what you're doing for dinner? Oh and have you had a chance to phone the cable company yet? The connection keeps cutting out on us. i just can't believe they raised the rent again.. Do you want to go down to the landlord's place tomorrow and take it up with him?"
Me: "No thank you, i'll just stay here and have a cup of tea with my mortality."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

..written in a furious fit of thought as i was driving down the 5. Too too much was going on for one day to handle. One hand on the wheel, and the other throwing out the bagel from this brown bag to have something to write on. it was somewhat of a tear-stained trip from LA to home..

We are not meant to be kept in neatly packed boxes of emotional organization and efficiency. We are meant to run wildly through the streets singing Ole! holding hands, falling down and skinning knees, talking about things that hurt, things that are real. I recant what I've said before [see post 'There's Tobin Rambling on Life Again']- I don't believe we're supposed to be able to compress the extremes of life into pre-set frames of convenience. We cannot hope to dodge the intensity of pain born from loss..

For some reason, we do need to cry when one is lost.