Thursday, April 24, 2014

Arriving in Brazil

So how has it been being back in Brazil? Well, the situation is mixed. I can already feel that the city has changed. Something about it, just the vibe of the entire place. You can also visually see it in the all the new construction that’s going on, the price hikes, and the overall rhythm in the people. But I will say this: Walking into my old apartment was like going back home. The smell, the space, the energy, all of it hit me in a wave of blissful nostalgia. Flora had also been kind enough to clean the shit out of my apartment to where I didn’t know things in this place could be that clean. 

And her. My friend Michael told me when I was in Seattle that I wasn’t going to know how I really felt about the whole relationship until I was in her arms. He was right about that. Maybe it’s being swept blindly into love, but everything disappeared. All the fights, the arguments, the minor betrayals of the past, they all faded away when I saw her in the flesh. I’ll put it this way. We got back into the apartment at around 10AM yesterday and I didn’t leave the apartment until noon the next day. There’s something special when you can spend THAT much time with someone in close quarters and only wish that the time wouldn’t end when it does (and it’s not like we were having sex the entire time, I mean we did, but jesus, for that long? That’s inhuman, you fucking pervs).

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy catching up on all that I left behind and preparing for what's ahead. I spent most of the day taking care of the canceled accounts that weren’t really canceled and just stacked up in overdue bills, getting the small necessities like soap, water and toothpaste, and calculating the right equation between food purchase frequency and refrigerator space. But it’s also been good just walking down the street. All the random people that I used to know greeted me with open arms, asking how my time away has been and how glad they are that I’m back. There’s something refreshing about coming back to a place that you already know that isn’t your home, but in some ways always was. 

Now I’m meeting up with old acquaintances, trying to get a feel for what’s left in the city, how much has changed and how much I can still really do. I still don’t know what to expect. These coming weeks will be really telling about whether or not I’m going to choose to make Rio a new home or just a fond memory. But I was talking to Michael about how I felt at the time in which we were speaking. I told him how good it felt to be reunited with this city, this life and of course, this girl. I told him I didn’t know what to expect from any of them, but at least for this moment, I’m just going to enjoy the feeling that I’m feeling, and live in it while I can.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Leaving Seattle

A friend asked me how I was feeling last week. I told her that if I was to sum it up in one word, that word would be "tired". I feel beat up, in every sense of the word. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially, everything has kinda flipped onto its head since I first arrived to Seattle. I had a plan, I thought I had it all figured out, but now, everything has changed, and if I had to sum it up, I could attest it to three things: work, love and taxes.

So first is work. I technically work three jobs and own a business. I think after being in Brazil I've become more aware of my emotions and I can say that I've become more cognizant of the jobs that put me in a state of emotional (and sometimes physical) anxiety to where I find myself questioning the point of living. Then there are those where I quite enjoy and feel a renewed sense of purpose. The problem is that the latter very seldom pays anything. And it's not as if the former doesn't serve it's own purpose; I've come to understand much more of the world in doing what you would consider "legitimate employment" and in many, practical ways, it is needed. I guess there is always a human element in everything. 

Then there's love. Something happened during the time I was here, something that I'll write about one day, but not today. I'm still not in a place where I'll treat it fairly. But the take-away is very clear: life is about impermanence and nothing is guaranteed. You also find out the truth about yourself when you are hurt. That's all I'll say about it for now.

Now taxes. This is the first year where I've actually produced a significant profit from my business and the money from the Fulbright bumped me into a different tax bracket. Not getting into the specifics, but I've had to pay a lot more in taxes than I anticipated, to which the majority of the funds that I was saving for Brazil have disappeared. I still have enough to return, but it's made the circumstances a bit more dire. In some ways, I'm grateful for it. It's like when you're being starved, and forced to go out and find food. It pushes you to a place to where you either survive or you die. In some ways, I think that's what I've always needed, the pressure to succeed or fail. But that possibility of failing is very real. What if I do fail? Where will that leave me?

But it hasn't been all bad, I mean in retrospect, I would say I did pretty good here. In spite of all the things I've gone through, never once did I abandon my training and I chose not to hurt someone who hurt me when I could have. I have a better understanding of friendship, family, and good god, did I get a fucking lecture on love. But it was my people, always my people, that carried me through. 

I actually haven’t lived a lot of life. The majority of my understanding comes from hearing the stories of those I know. From heartbreaks to victories, to new births and the passing of kin, Seattle has been just as much a stage for the human condition as Rio was, I just haven’t been paying attention this whole time. Seeing how people have grown through pain and joy, suffering and triumph, has really made me respect life much more than I did before. 

I have good people here. My final goodbye party meant a lot, the people that showed up. People from all different eras of my life came to see me off, and seeing them interact with one another moved me. Some of them came from far cities and new families, and I asked them to come out to see me in a bar in Capitol Hill. That's not exactly the easiest thing for some people, but they did it, for me. I felt loved that night, and that was probably the most beautiful gift they could have given me. 

The people here have sent me off well, but while their stories have made me appreciate the city more, I also know that I'm not supposed to be here right now. I don't know if that place is Rio, but it's not here, not right now.

I no longer know if I am going back to embrace a new life or to say goodbye to an old one. Part of me feels like I am trying to recapture something that is no longer there. Everything has changed since I left, at least everything that mattered to me. They pacified Maré, my landlord may sell the apartment in which I live, and my relationships with Flora is different. Maybe stronger, but it's still too soon to tell. Different is all I can be sure of. 

If I’m to say how I feel about going back to Rio, I’m scared. Plain and simple. I have no idea what to expect. But I'm also tired of waiting. I miss the city, I miss the spirit, and goddamn, I miss my fucking girlfriend.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Controlling the Beast

There is a beast inside all of us and it feeds on our rawest emotions. It is the part of us that wants to eat, to fight, to fuck, by any means possible; a pure unadulterated passion that will cease at nothing to be satisfied. 

My friend H’rina once commented about my work on boxing, saying how the sport was such an interesting phenomenon. 

“Basically, you got two half-naked guys, inside the ring, beating the shit out of each other,” she told me. “It’s like we are stripped down to our barest animal instincts.” 

For the most part, that's true. The physical act of hurting another person is part of our human nature (which is why I always ask the naysayers of boxing to look in the mirror), but the thing about boxing is that it is a place to learn how to harness that impulse, to wield anger into a skill, and where violence brushes against friendship, against valor and perseverance, and maybe even becomes something somewhat honorable. 

It is essentially a metaphor of what we are trying to do with our lives. Our beast is our power in this world and we have all been given one. There is a moment everyone should take to ask themselves: why was I given this power? What am I to do with this all this force? 

We hurt in the acting of complete passion, both to others and to ourselves, and if we let the beast take control, we become lost. On the flip-side, a life without passion makes us boring and fucking dull, afraid to do anything meaningful in life. Thus, the training of this beast is the becoming of what it is meant to be: a force to make us do good in the world. 

That is why discipline is crucial. Not like the conventional notions of discipline where we mindlessly obeys some arbitrary set of rules, but instead serve a self-determined internal code that we have created through all that we have lived.

There is a fine line between discipline and conformity. One is controlling the beast, the other is disconnecting with it. I damn sure don’t believe in losing touch with our instincts, but I do believe in learning how to control them, to coexist with them, and to train them into something that can create more love. 

It’s always been about the middle, always the middle. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Notes from my 26th trip

Do you ever wonder, Flora, why you've been given this much power?

           I've been very afraid to assume my responsibility as a teacher

What it means to be a teacher:
I am in the driver's seat. I will steer you away from the darkness that I know. I know the power of my role and I will not abuse it. You can trust me because I know the value of trust, and I guard it with my life.

Each day we have we are just trying to find a better way to harness the beast.

Flora has to be present when I am weak. I can't just show up w/ unexplained bandages. 
That wouldn't be fair.

How we react to a homeless person's request for money, whether a lie or truth, is always a choice.

You have a duty my son. You have a duty.

I'm a lot more like Flora than I give myself credit for. It makes perfect sense why we are together. We're trying, we really are, but we're together, at the end of the day.

How we are to the world is really a choice.

The search for fame and acknowledgment is really a sickness.

What a beautiful friendship me and Rudolph have had.

Be kinder to yourself, Desirée.

A solider being sent to war before he is ready is a crime.

When did you first wage war upon yourself?

Always ask yourself: Who is in control?

I need Flora to remind me of how another person sees me. 

You are meant to go through all the emotions in a true relationship. 
Not just the good ones.

If you've disappointed me according to my absurd way of living, I just want you to know that I love you.

I brush upon that person every so often, the one that is on a mission. 
You can see it in the eyes.

I take myself too seriously at times. Ok. Most of the time.

It is all a choice. Every moment is a choice.

You can choose the path of forgiveness when you have been betrayed.

I can see it now. My dad trying to make up for the times he wasn't there.

When you are a good writer, you have to leave a lot of it to chance, only hoping that the reader has prepared well.

I guess I'm kind of an intense person. God only knows what it's like to date me.

I am starting to see Flora, where I have wronged in this time apart. And I am trying to correct them.

We are all just looking for a path, looking for a path, looking for a path we can trust.

Michael, I have to apologize for my ego disrespecting the master you have inside you.

Sometimes I think that's all martial art is. It is trying to pull out that master that is w/in all of us.

Fuck. I can't be a lawyer. I think I've grown up enough to realize that. But I've also grown up enough to know that I'm gonna need a couple of good ones in my life.

Now I am understanding what Bukowski meant about being afraid of the walls.

When you are out there in your lives, in the darkness, always remember the light. Always be searching for the light.

Sometimes we really need to get out of the way of ourselves.

Take care of those who have come seeking your guidance.

I meet so many women to where I think, "God. I hope I marry someone like you." 
I see Flora in all those women.

The people who make Japanese Anime have some fucked up minds.

Our love is meant to inspire, Flora. If this is too much for you, let me know now. 
Otherwise, I'm in.

                 Shed your fears.

Every time before I set foot on the mat at the dojo, I ask myself: "Did I make a mistake in coming today?"

You're presence makes a difference. It means something.

We only have fragmented memories on how we were.

It is okay to be weak at times. It is okay.

I think a part of getting older is to stop expecting others to treat you in the way in which you treat them.

I don't have to choose that path. I don't.

To really know someone does take some time. But that feeling of wanting to be w/ them. That, that is almost immediate. 

The whole world could be burning down around me, and all I would think about is love.

It's all about becoming aware of the energy around you, to make the decisions clearer.

I feel like I am frantically giving Flora everything I have to prepare her for her journey. That is probably why I don't care about being hurt as much as I should. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

6 things I learned about love while riding a motorcycle

1) You're more likely to crash when you panic.

2) Sometimes it's better to let go of the brake and accelerate through an obstacle. 

3) Making a stop is about technique, not force.

4) Positive emotions can be just as dangerous as negative ones.

5) Turning away from mayhem will often drive you straight into it. 

6) When making a turn, keep your head up, look in the direction you want to go, turn the wheel, and have faith that you'll get there.