No Day But Today (I Know That’s A Line From A Rent Song)

Today I had a revelation. For so long I had been waiting to achieve the next level of enlightenment. I don’t know when I bought into such a Scientology way of life, but apparently somewhere along the line John Travolta wormed his way into my brain and I was under this strange impression that once I reached a certain point of maturity and experience that everything would fall into place, and I would achieve serenity. Obviously, this is not true, although that was not obvious to me for the last 23 years of my life.

I read somewhere that there are only two days that you can’t get anything done- yesterday and tomorrow. I know that sounds like one of those annoying motivational pictures my mother posts on facebook, along with things like “I hope when I die my kids turn me into a tree like in this cool video! Ha!” Even so, I think that it’s true, today is the only day I can do what I want to do. I try to remember that, but inevitably I tell myself that everything I need to get done I will get done tomorrow.

I’ve spent the last seven months of my life working at a job that caused me incredible amounts of stress. I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life, it was just to pay the bills so that I could live in Los Angeles and become a television writer. But I let it consume me. Now, I have a new job at a place I’ll call “Fancy Starbucks”, working for a woman named Katrina who is a dear friend of mine. We got to know each other because I used to come into her coffee shop and complain about the stress of my old job. My new job is much less stressful and takes a huge burden off of me both financially and emotionally. But new challenges present themselves. I have rediscovered monotony, and am continually finding myself making new excuses as to why I haven’t been writing, or going out, or doing anything other than sleeping and working.

Today was different. Because today I realized that I can be as happy and serene and fulfilled as I have ever wanted to be today if I really made the most of it. And if I was present. I’m saying yes when people ask me to do things that I’d rather sleep instead of doing. I’m showing up and being present. I’m turning all of my bad feelings over to God. And now I’m starting to appreciate things.

For example, A homeless man came into my work and asked for a sample of coffee. My coworker generously gave him a cup of coffee. The man thanked him by going outside, pulling the flowers out of the flowerpot in front of the store, and dropping them on the counter. He then proceeded to go outside and rip out more flowers, when my coworker had to go outside and ask him to stop. This was beautiful to me.

I saw a billboard with a drawing of a whale on it that said “Whatever you’ve done, I don’t care. I forgive you.” I’m sure that doesn’t apply to things like mass murder or genocide, or else that is a very forgiving whale. This whale meant a lot to me.

I got a $76 ticket for talking on my phone while driving today. While this normally would have upset me, today I just chalked it up to fate and resolved not to talk on the phone anymore while driving unless using a hands free device in accordance with California law. Also, it helps that the cop was a dreamy Latino on a motorcycle.

Each day is a separate entity, and each day I have the opportunity of getting a daily reprieve for my alcoholic brain. I can’t prepare for tomorrow by thinking and planning and worrying about it. The best way to set my future self up for success is by making the most of today. And if I do that, then maybe I’ll be able to find a few moments of serenity. Just for today.

-Theodore Dandy

 

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Live Without Fear.

I hate my body.

This is something that I almost never talk about to people. I know that this doesn’t make me special, but rather, it makes me just like everyone else in the world. And that is why I don’t talk about it. I hear countless times every day people, especially women, going on and on about getting fat, not liking the way they look, feeling ugly, feeling unattractive, undesirable. And it annoys me. We all feel this way. We all have insecurities about our bodies. There’s not much use talking about them in everyday conversations with simple acquaintances, all you’re really doing is looking for some sort of validation, fishing for compliments to prove to yourself that you’re wrong, that you are attractive.

I don’t talk about hating my body because it makes me feel pathetic. It makes me feel like I am powerless over making some sort of an effort to change my lifestyle and become more healthy. And I am powerless. I have been uncomfortable with my weight ever since the third grade. I used to tell my self on an almost weekly basis that soon I would get my life together, start dieting, exercising, lose weight, and that everything would work out. I have viewed losing weight as a panacea, curing all of my problems and opening my life up for everything to just fall into place. It has always seemed like the unattainable, something that I told myself would happen eventually but in reality would never come. So I just sit, hating my body, every single day.

Now this might sound, like I said, how everyone else feels. But I’m beginning to realize that, in my mind, it goes beyond that. I don’t feel bad about my body when things don’t go my way, or when I eat unhealthily for a few days, or when I don’t go to the gym. I feel bad about my body every single day, all day. I look at myself in the mirror and I feel disgust. People compliment me and I get resentful, because who would ever find the way I look attractive? I feel uncomfortable everywhere I go, and I always tell myself that I am not good enough, and I never will be until I am thin. The extra weight on my chest and my stomach always feels like the elephant in the room, only it’s in every room that I go in. My mind always tells me, “They’re looking at you. They’re judging you. No one finds you attractive. You’re not normal.”

A good friend of mine keeps telling me that I’m only going to achieve serenity and be content once I realize that I am good enough exactly as I am, that I don’t need to change anything. I know that this is true. But it feels impossible to be content with the way things are when I am so discontent with my body.

Even writing this now makes me feel pathetic. I am perfectly fine writing about my homosexuality, my alcoholism, my character defects. Because those are things that I have accepted about myself and am unashamed of. But my body and the way I feel about it is not something I am willing to accept, much less talk about. I have so much shame surrounding my body. I look in the mirror and think that this is not how I am supposed to look.

But my biggest character defect is my laziness. I would literally sleep my life away if I could. But to be honest, that isn’t true anymore. I don’t want to sleep my life away. I don’t want to be afraid anymore. I want to act without fear. Being afraid of how I look has held me back from so many of the things that I want to do. I don’t want to let it anymore. That’s why I’m writing about this now, because if I can’t write about it, I can’t do anything about it. I started dieting and exercising about a year ago, and lost over 40 pounds. But I still wasn’t satisfied with how I looked. I graduated college, moved across the country, and stopped everything. I was lucky in that I stayed at the same weight, but I still felt the same way I did before.

Now, I’ve started exercising again, but I have so much fear still. I have fear that I won’t keep at this. I have fear that I won’t do enough. I have fear that I’ll plateau in my weight loss. I have fear that I’ll never like the way I look. I have fear that talking about this makes me just like everyone else. I have fear that I’ll get what I want and it still won’t be enough. I have fear that I will never be content with the way that things are.

But I’m choosing to act without fear. The more that I do that, the more I know I’m on the right path. I know this article isn’t funny. But it’s the truth, and it’s something I needed to write.

-Theodore Dandy