Perception

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My lamp shreds the dim, morning darkness agonizingly. The room is the same way I left it only hours ago, diving into the warm blankets and the unconscious equally as ferociously. Yesterday is done, soon to be completely forgotten. The work piled and undone, which felt so pressing previously, now feels motivating and exciting. I can hardly contain the passion I feel, rising promptly from bed, rested, even on so few hours of sleep. The office glistens in the crisp wash of lamp light. Today will be a good one, I feel.

My day has only just begun and already I feel powerful, motivated, and ready for what is to come. So much like the others is this morning, but it feels unique somehow. In hindsight, the events that tortured me so over the last weeks seem miniscule, so much less implacable than I once felt they were. The onerous happenings seem to fade away, leaving in their place a sense of renewed hope for the future.

Not so much was it about the instances themselves but the arbitrary set of emotions assigned to them each day. The places I went, the people I met, and even that actions I took were, and are, shaped by the unsupported, often undecided views I took on them momentarily.

Perception holds such an incredible place in our lives as human beings. For, while other creatures observe their world on a subconscious level, we are able to not only observe, but also cogitate on our perceptions and explore them in order to glean comprehension.

Only a week ago, I would have told you that only two basic categories of comprehension exist in this world. I would have described to you the reality as I believed it then— we either observe and perceive the world in order to understand it or we are passive to all objects around us by concerted effort to shelter ourselves from reality. But what I now hold true is that our comprehension is also highly dependent upon the specific way in which we perceive every moment, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. I too used to believe that one simply viewed the world as it was, that I could easily perceive the difference between the reality in my head and the reality exterior to my mind. My view of this has changed as well, even in this short time period. Our internal ideas, preconceived notions, and a lack of true objective perception often lead to the horrible phenomenon of miscomprehension and misperception, I now understand.

After a bad week, Friday felt the worst of all, despite the inherent reprieve that is naturally associated with the end of the week. And in hindsight I realize that Friday was in fact the end of my sorrows though I didn’t feel so at the time. My deep resentment for all that had happened that week had poisoned my perception of all experiences and actions for the entire rest of the week. My thoughts had been negative towards all around me and I was stuck because of it. But I didn’t exert any effort to change this fact; I felt so comfortable in just allowing my negativity to stew and eventually boil over, thinking that my attitude towards the world was set in stone, unchangeable by mine or anyone else’s hand. But the weekend brought with it the time to journal, converse, and reflect on the week as it had been. And what I realized was that the week had gone exactly as my poor attitude had predicted going in. One misfortune on Monday morning had soured the rest of the week, promoting numerous conflicts, anger, and eventually, unproductive self-pity and depression. And it was my fault. No, the world had not sent me a week full of problems; my own mind had created all of that. The way I dealt with tiny daily issues had sent me into a downward spiral from which I did not recover quickly. Instead of seeing the value in all of my experiences or noticing the smallest beauties of every moment, I had fallen prey to the easier, yet more detrimental cycle of negative energy, unproductivity, aggression, and irrationalism.

I now view positivity as a personal choice, rather than a predestined factor. As I have chosen over the last week to think positively in the face of adversity, I have been much happier and felt less stressed too. Yes, the inconveniences, the conflicts, and the stressors still exist. But I have been dealing with them in a very different manner. Even when I find it difficult to remain positive, I try to utilize the passionate emotions as motivation to keep growing, keep working hard, and keep moving forward.

The beauty of perception is that it is unique, manageable, and easily controlled— this is what I try to remember each and every day.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Copious Variety

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The ride to the bus was quick but lonesome despite the NPR I was listening to. Stories of people all across the world were mentioned. How many different people there are in this world. Looking out the front windshield, I couldn’t help thinking of the lives of the people around me, all on their own way, following their own path, living their own separate lives. Early in the morning as it was, the gentle golden glow was only slowly beginning to crest over the mountains in opposition to the gray dawn and the roads were very lightly trafficked by both vehicles and pedestrians. For the cars that were out on the road, I couldn’t help but create narratives for each of the assumed occupants.

For the dirty, blue Toyota truck, rusting along all edges, I imagined a workman, going off to some construction site. He was mid-forties in age and somewhere well below mid-forties in income. But he was a good man, making an honest living for the family he loved so dearly.

For the spotless white Mercedes, I visualized a narrative of a woman in her late thirties. With striking red hair, perfected nails, a tight pencil skirt, a royal blue blouse, a black blazer, and a pair of empowered, peach-colored pumps, she cut quite a figure. I imagined her to be intelligent, hard-working, almost detrimentally so, and above all, in control of all aspects of her life. But with this pristine façade, I associated a much deeper story, one of loss, regret, and loneliness. I imagined that when she was young, she had envisioned herself wealthy, powerful, and happily-committed by age thirty-five. Most of her vision had come to fruition, but one crucial piece was still missing. And so, she spent many nights alone, her apartment feeling open and cavernous, the walls seeming to mock her lack of romantic intimacy. But she was alive.

I arrived at the bus, late as usual, gliding in a blur past the driver and the hordes of watching eyes. I wondered what lay behind those eyes— contempt, judgment, emptiness, or perhaps even depth of thought. The back of the bus, the last frontier in terms of seats, and the prime location for observation is where I landed. As they sat in the darkness within the bus, so did I­— observing and contemplating their lives.

I created scenarios for each of their lives too. I thought about the sorrowful-faced man. I pitied him; he seemed compassionate. But underlying his sunken countenance was a morose back- story, one of heartbreak and loss. I thought of him as average though; we all had loss. I just wondered why he seemed to take his loss so deeply, hanging on to his depression for so long.

The boy who sat next to me seemed pleasant enough with his youthful, humorous attire and attractive face, but his affliction was cigarettes. From his breath and that nervous, energetic twitchiness, it was clear to me that he was addicted, tragically and absolutely. I wondered what tormented him so that he was driven to the so-called cancer sticks. Perhaps a father that was nonexistent or a single mother who was working two jobs was the source of the anxiety that plagued him so. Still, deep within his brown eyes was a boyish hope in tandem with that childlike fear that is rooted in abandonment.

I cogitated on the young skiers in the seats just ahead of me. They poked fun at each other and chatted loudly and immaturely. I wondered exactly why they felt it necessary to converse in such a way. Had they just left home and never grown up. They seemed middle-aged in the physical sense, but in terms of psychological development, they seemed naïve, uneducated, even somewhat stunted.

My day continued on with these scenes in my head and soon, the bus ride was over. Walking along the street mall, a very different group of people surrounded me. Looking haughty and disconnected in their rich fur coats, they seemed altogether disinterested with the pedestrian world around them. A woman of considerable stature as well as apparently considerable wealth pranced past me, walking elegantly, almost levitating in her pretension. She was chattering into her phone, seemingly unaware of the entire world around her own particular realm, no doubt unaware of me as well. I wondered if she felt ashamed of her narcissism, but I already knew in my mind that she had neither interest in the outside world nor any anxiety for her lack of outward compassion.

Over the course of the day, my sense that everyone was separate and unique evolved and I became aware that my life and other’s lives are more similar than different. I began to feel that my motivations and drives were the same as everyone else’s. While I knew that my life was not without pain, suffering, and heartbreak, I realized that other’s lives were not either. Joy and love were most important in life, I soon recognized. My life is not unique; while variety exists, experience is universal for all of us.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

The Skyline Destiny

Flying in, I could feel the electricity in the air, the constant state of unrest, and the love of productivity balanced with longing for the life of the party. Outside the small plane window, buildings so tall that they could scrape the underbelly of the plane were lit up, bright and perpetually awake. Everyone was out on the town from the paupers, to the wealthy, to the college kids, to the happy families from Brooklyn and Queens. New York City looked alive, as it did almost every night. From the moment we disembarked, the air was muggy and warm, even at that late hour.

The city of love welcomed us with open arms. That night, I too fell in love, not with a person, but rather, with New York City itself. It was that night when I finally felt everything that I had worked for truly come to fruition. All my work and long hours had led up to this trip, to this city.

You know how people say that they saw this one person, they locked eyes, and it was love at first sight? That’s exactly what I experienced that night. The moment I laid eyes on New York City, I fell instantly, completely, and hopelessly in love. I felt like I belonged there- like it was meant to be- like I was already at home in that beautifully-foreign oasis.

One of the best things about New York City is the incredible diversity of people, lives, landscapes, and personalities. Each street is a new neighborhood, each area full of a very different set of people. Every street is more glamourous and lovely than the last. But it is also as historic as any museum and as modern as the empire it represents. Everyone is so unique in New York, but many of them remind me of myself- dreaming always, working constantly, staying up late every single night, bitchy as ever on a regular basis, and opinionated about everything.

Maybe one day I’ll call New York home. And maybe one day I’ll get tired of all the hustle and bustle. But for today, that’s all still in the future. Today, all I can do is dream, work, and wait to see what my future holds. For now, I hope it’s a skyline destiny, and I think it will be. The city is as diverse as I am, and love is love. I made a promise to myself and the city that night that one day I would make it there and I will find it hard to renege on that. I belong in New York and I always have. One day at a time, one little step at a time, one day closer to my skyline destiny.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Someday We’ll Be Smarter

Source: lovethispic.com

Source: lovethispic.com

We wake, consumed in the fleeting bliss of dreamland. But soon, reality sets in and we realize that we are back in the drowning layers of despair. We long for the days when everything was perfect, when our lives were simple, when nothing really mattered much; because now, it does. We loathe ourselves for the mistakes of the past, knowing full well that this is pointless – the past is gone, unchangeable, and starkly painful. We miss the love we used to have but know that logically, it could not last. Love lasts only as long as it need to, and then life moves on. We are left, as quickly as we’ve fallen in love, with nothing but the words “Goodbye; Thank you for loving me.” And then they are gone.

Someday, we’ll be smarter; we’ll realize that happiness and love never last and are only ephemeral- this being the only reason that they matter at all. We’ll love more honestly someday- we’ll try harder and stay longer.

Someday, our lives will have meaning, we’ll love each other, and we’ll be ourselves. I dream, as I’m sure you do, of a world where hatred is nonexistent and injustice is rectified.

But this is today. We are delusional in thinking that one day the world will be better- that we will be smarter- because we are human- incorrigible and inherently imperfect. We love one another transiently, wandering towards our future loves rather than focusing the moment, finding joy in all that we possess now. Too quick to fall into sullen depravity, we push away even those whom we are closest to. We deride each other for the sheer joy, finding the pain of others conciliatory to our own morose depression. We are capricious when it comes to relationships, surprising even ourselves with our lack of empathy and quickness to leave. Recognizing and controlling even the simplest joys in our lives becomes routine and innately pedestrian. And for what, so at least we can fall asleep knowing we’re in control?

We are beings of habit, fearful when confronted with change. Constraining our feelings, we hope to deter pain; although it still reaches all of us in its way.

Someday, we’ll be smarter. We won’t let ourselves get hurt. But because of that, we won’t live. Pain and sorrow allow us to live, to learn, and to grow. We are all infantile without the complexities of our own mistakes, and in turn, the lessons we learn. Our past and the subsequent hindsight allow us to look back and be grateful while also moving on with our lives. All we can hope for is that one day, we’ll wake up and say “Thank you. I love you. I always will, but my life moves on and so will yours. I will never forget you.”

Only on that day, will we truly be smarter.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Lost in Life

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Lost. Looking up and having no place to go. We are lost, longing for some glimmer of hope, waiting for a rescuer that isn’t coming. We are alone in this life. When we trip and fall, no one cares. When we lose our way, no one is there to save us, and not a single person will guide us on our way without desperate imploration.

Waking up, we are dead before our feet even hit the ground. Our life has lost all purpose and we are just drifting on the gentle, savage waters of depression. Life is gray, the days are gray, the nights are gray; all is gray. Groping for our savior, we are drowning in the deepest black waters, sliding into forever while mercilessly adhered to the agonizing moments of today.

Our career has swallowed us up, and we are but another mindless, expendable employee. Frowning faces greet our every moment. Each hour seems to grow exponentially longer towards infinity, the excruciating days never ending.

We get in the car and just drive, hoping to god that life will just end. We drive on and on, driving on a journey towards nowhere, waiting for hope to come racing around the next curve towards us. The world goes on forever and we believe that if we just keep driving, perhaps we will hit the end of the darkness, that just maybe, our life will be cut short, thus ending our misery.

But we move on, because we don’t know what else to do. We have lost our way, and we are ignorant of which way to progress. We miss the life we used to live, and we miss the hope we used to feel. Locked in cynicism and depression, we see no hope for the future; but life moves on. We move on, and no one is there to hold our hand as we go forward.

We are alone in this world, and we are lost.

And life moves on…

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Masterpiece Composition: a Life of Words

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Words flow; they define; they articulate; words alleviate and reminisce; they sprout and flourish and simmer; words swell, protrude, decipher, transcend, and inspire; words are the pulchritude of life.

But what really makes words uniquely glorious is that they express everything that can be expressed and go beyond and beneath reality into the consummate realms of knowledge, perception, and thought. Writing is the sole art form that has the power to inform and evoke in the exact same piece. Writing makes us remember, ache, aspire, and imagine. It makes us analyze our lives in ways that no other art can.

A single word can induce cerebration on an incogitably variable range of subjects. The word “home,” for example, may cause us to think about our own house, and then possibly the unending, unmanageable list of chores we have to do. We may think about our childhood house, the friends we knew then, and the person we were. The word may compel us to consider the very subjective definition of home that we ourselves possess as well as the scientifically factual definitions of what a home or habitat looks like.

It is in this way that we discuss language and its potential for greatness and spiritual simplicity. Language is deeply connected with our comprehension of the world around us. Each and every analysis we make is linguistically based. We observe the world through the lens of language.

Words take us to places we can only dream about. Those words grant us access to the inner sanctum of or own mind where our deepest, most complex thoughts come from. They elicit our most potent and intoxicating emotions, carrying us to places we remember and places we are yet to go.

But, most importantly, words are what we crave, what we devour, what we’re stimulated by, and what defines the fabric of our lives. Words write the script of our lives, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Love,  Ethan Brown Jones

Love Is… A Life Story

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Love knows no boundaries. Love is limitless. It is undiscriminatory. Love is unconditional and blind in its stark equality. Love is both indefinable and definite.

For all that love is, it remains as an underlying context as well as an all too familiar companion in life. But with its numerous virtues aside, love is painful, bitter, and heartbreaking. Love strengthens our resilience while in turn silencing our pride, humbling our very being, and squelching our quasicomfortable facade. We are in love, we are out of it, but the line between the two is existentially undefined as well as inexorably finite. We feel each experience with clarity, we know the journey of life is ephemeral and stern, and we contrive our self-esteem and self-sufficiency every day in preparation for love; but in all reality, not a single one of us isn’t blind-sided by the sheer intensity, the rancor, and the turmoil caused by love and its repercussions.

We cover our pain and sorrows in the scarves, the clothes, the cars, the handbags, the shoes, the alcohol, the makeup, and the hairstyles, but deeply recessed within the impenetrable layers of concealers, we still experience vivid sentiments of hatred, anguish, vengeance, suffering, and most of all, heartbreak.

Love never withers; nor does it succumb to vagrant dormancy. It is seldom forgotten. Love as coincident with passion flames vivaciously in fury. Love is raucous, it is undeserving, it is timid, it is venomous, it is pretentious, it is stubborn, and it is ignorant, but it is paramount to existence. A life without love is purposeless, cruel, and discontent. But incidentally, a life with love seems just as discordant and spiteful.

But, we live onward; we love onward. We try to forget; we try to remember; we try to live and laugh and love as best we can. Failure isn’t an option in love and so succeeding becomes the solitary alternative as necessitated by our aspirations for our lives. Our fate is indeterminate and our love is similarly unstipulated, but we live each day hoping the next one will be the day we fall in love. We are imprudent with love, but we are reasonable in our decision to keep trying, to keep hoping, to keep living, because tomorrow could be filled with love, and only time will tell what the future holds.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Confusion of the Individual

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Yearning for uniqueness, we travel onward in this world. We strive for a futile individualism that seems unreachable in our age of growing monochromatism. But we somehow lose sight along our way; we forget whom we are just as everyone else seems to do. On day, we wake up in the morning and don’t recognize the visage staring back at us in the mirror. And we stop and wonder- when did we lose track?

When did we ever really know exactly who we were?

There are moments in each of our pasts that illustrate at least a small portrait of who we were, but do those moments exist in our present lives as they delicately used to do? If we ever really had and clarity about who we are or who we were, it was futilely ephemeral as most things in life truly are. We remember temporary states of unambiguity, but if we were really sure of our path at any point in life, why would there even be a purpose to keep on going.

Life is as much about finding oneself as it is about the confusion we all face each and every day. Although we won’t admit it, we are all a little bit lost, continually tangled in webs of memories, hopes, dreams, and emotions.

If any of the journey of life were genuinely easy, it would be meaningless, another pedestrian, pointless experience. But the fact is, it’s not simple; it’s not without adversity or plight; it’s not free of heartbreak and failed aspirations.

The confusion we all experience at some point along the winding, fickle path of life only assists in our growth and maturing process. For to grow is to have been lost and to have realized a new enlightenment. Without losing sight of whom we are, we will never truly gain insight into the person we are today, the person we have left in the past, and the person we aspire to metamorphose into.

Our confusion helps us to learn and grow as individuals, professionals, and unique personalities. When we lose ourselves completely, we finally see the person we have never known, the person we have always hoped to discourse with but have never had the courage. When we lose ourselves in the confusion, we find out what lies within, and that is what’s truly transcendental.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Solitary Comprehension

 

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When we look at a life, what do we remember? When we look at a day, what is it that sticks with us?

Waking up each morning at 5:35 AM reminds me of how much life happens when we are alone, utterly and truly alone. Darkness in the early morning is both all-encompassing and isolating. One thinks so much about one’s life in the solitary darkness that is the morning. One remembers the days gone by, the people they miss, the dreams they’ve lost.

When I wake up in the mornings, lying in the blackness, alone in my boudoir at night, and on the solitary drive to work, I tend to think about the people I love, the dreams I hope to accomplish, and the past as it will never be again. I think about the meaning of life, trying desperately, as many have for millenniums, to understand my purpose for existence. Comprehension of our own existence is the one adversity that we will all struggle with and most likely never overcome in our lifetimes.

When I am alone, I try to dig as deeply as I can into the depths of my soul, groping for the answers I so perilously desire. But alone time also leads to magnificent insights into the existential truths of life. The biggest asset we all possess in life is that of our ability to think critically. For when we delve deep into the mind, only then do we begin to really understand life, love, emotions, and relationships fully.

One can spend a lifetime thinking about living, but without immersing oneself in life, one can only begin to comprehend the vast number of minute complexities that make up the incredible existence that is life. One must think and learn and grow every day in order to better comprehend everything that life discloses to one.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Defining Our Own Persona

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How do we define ourselves at the end of the day? When we get home after the longest of days, what is the single most important thing we do to maintain inner clarity?

Our careers define us more than almost anything else in life. They are often what we spend the majority of our time thinking about, so why shouldn’t they define us? For the luckiest among us, our career is both our livelihood and our passion. But inevitably, we will spend many years of our lives if not a majority of our adult lives at work, whether we enjoy it or not. Work sets the stage for us not only economically, but also socially and culturally in many ways. Our work friends become our only friends at many times and our work almost certainly defines our values and outlook on life in a lot of ways. But is career really all that we hold dear?

Relationships with people in our lives also play such a vital role in our overall being and emotional health. Relationships outside of the ones we have with ourselves make up most moments of the day and so the way we interact with people, the ways we organize and categorize relationships, and the deep relationships we possess all have an unforeseeably-large impact on our life path and daily happiness.

So much of daily contentment is based on this principle as well. The ways we define and thus advertise ourselves in the real world greatly influence our emotional stability and overall health on a life-size scale.

Each piece or ourselves that we divulge to the world is not communicated by mistake, but is rather shown as to “create” for ourselves and others a whole vision of a person, one who is happy, healthy, and enjoying life.

We define ourselves by the many characters we assume each day. From professional, to peer, to coworker, to fellow empathetic human, we assume many roles each day which each highlight a different definition of the real us. We are all incredible actors when it comes to assuming a single person at one time and cunningly concealing the complete remainder of us.

But what is so important about how we define ourselves is the fact that when all else fails, we can fall back on to the plush cushion of the person we have cleverly built for so many years. Whatever else happens in life, we somehow never manage to lose sight of that fragile, amorphous character deep inside of us. Each definition of us works to point the way for us in the rest of our life.

We are our own person as defined by us and only us. We have the sole ability to define our lives as they are today and as they will be for eternity. We truly are the solitary creators of our past, our present, and most importantly, our futures, and we must never forget that.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones