As my next birthday looms around the corner in the next few weeks, I find that I am at another series of milestones. I was incredibly vague in my last post about some “changes”, and while elusiveness can be one of my defining traits, I usually don’t announce things until I have either finalized plans or said plans have already taken place. It drives people crazy, I know, but you’ve stayed with me this long, so I figure that you’ve grown to accept that by now.
It’s no different these days. Plans are in the works right now, and when the time is right, I’ll reveal them. What I can say that I am planning the next stage of my life, and changes are coming. To save people from pounding their heads against the wall, I wanted to discuss how I’ve been doing of late, and some of what’s next for me.
Whether you may or may not know, I sometimes struggle with depression. It’s not all the time, and yes, there are moments that I do feel happy, feel joy and excitement, pride, love, and all that as per normal. There are also days where it feels like an act of strength and bravery to get out of bed. And some days, it is. Sometimes, it internal. Sometimes, it’s situational. But it’s something that I’ve come to accept, and can work with, or just wait it out.
What I’m working on now is eliminating situations that cause me to not feel my best, not like something about myself, things that need changing, and things that aren’t working.
So in taking a long look at myself, here’s what I’m planning to focus on:
Spend more time with family.
Before anyone asks, yes, things are fine with Jen and the “Trilogy of Terriers”. I’m talking about my family at home in Texas: My sister, the kids, uncles, aunts, cousins…. Basically whatever family likes spending time with me. But that extends to long-time friends as well. Those I gave up calling “friend” a long time ago, and refer to these days as more “brothers” or “sisters”.
So that means spending more time with those I love, because those relationships provide me with a sense of contentment that I’d like to foster more in my daily life.
Be a better friend/Put aside those who are not.
What I plan to focus on here is being more mindful about what’s going on in the lives of my friends. I can be wrapped up so much in events in my own life that I fail to look outside of my personal “me” bubble from time to time. So I’m going to work on being better about remembering things like birthdays and anniversaries, celebrating life milestones, and supporting and promoting my friend’s personal/professional projects. I need to be more involved and proactive than simply “Liking” something on social media. I deeply value my friendships, but I feel that I need to show that more. Talk, give feedback and advice, and share through meaningful communication that’s not entirely found on a screen.
At the same time, I am also too patient and forgiving to the wrong people. Some people who have called themselves “friends” have not done their part in our relationship. People who have been blatantly unsupportive, lie, take advantage, scam, steal, bring drama…. I can’t do it anymore. It’s too much energy with too little benefit. Differences of opinion and the occasional argument? No real friendship is always gummi bears and rainbows 100% of the time. And oh, my friends and I have come to words and silent treatments at times, but value of relationship and sentiment of built history win out. I take after my Dad in the fact that I’ll sometimes growl loudly, but immediately feel badly after, and try to fix things. But I’m not going to further cultivate relationships that aren’t supportive and respectful of me in return.
Be more spontaneous.
No one has ever accused me of not marching to my own beat. I’m the guy who will do a roadtrip at the drop of a hat, met more celebrities than a season of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, or try anything or meet anyone at least once, but there are also moments where I get into “life ruts” or wrapped up so much in myself that I don’t focus on the adventure that I not only love, but has also been one of my more defining traits.
I’ve been doing better lately. Everything from a day trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to seeing the Cabazon Dinosaurs, I’m trying to get out there and see things that break up the routine and give my life a little jolt to remind me that most of our “ruts” can easily be broken as long as we are willing to take that first step out the door to change it.
Actually, due to recent events, this instance will be discussed a little later in this post.
And not via a computer screen or pad. Actual physical books. For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to read the “high school books”: The classic books that we were required to read in school, but this time sans the prospects of book reports and pop quizzes. I want to explore the classics for myself as an adult and with more experience under my belt. But I also want to read new things. New narratives and stories. Read character development. I’ve been wanting to get inspired so that I can actually work on that one book I’ve had saved for nearly a year now, and finally get past the first chapter. So whether it’s something I pick up from Barnes & Noble, or the latest issue of Batman, I want to put more new stories into my collective imagination.
Watch more movies.
I’m going to be upfront: I loathe reboots and remakes. As much as I love acting, I think a lot of the creative ideas coming out these days are collectively lazy due to not bringing new ideas to the table. Look at how many ideas and properties that we were introduced to in the 1980′s and 1990′s… and now we’re getting the exact same stories again instead of building new ideas. Like high school, I’m going to draw inspiration from my time in film school, and start wanting more independent films, foreign films, documentaries, and movies “before my time”. I want to feel something and get inspired. Enough to work on some ideas in this medium that I’ve been mulling around.
Disconnect from social media.
One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned in just the last few years is that social media, if used improperly, can become a toxic place. Everything from demanded scripted responses, fluff pieces like listicles (I don’t consider this entry one, as I’m not having you click through 30 pages to get to the damn point), skewed news stories without fact checking, faux “outrage”, comment sections, and sometime… the actual real world news happening is enough to make me push my computer away and say “I’m done”.
I’m not learning new things from hashtags or food photos (unless there’s an accompanying recipe). Any link that takes 30 pages to make a single point aren’t going to get my desired “clicks” anymore. I don’t like my reading interrupted by ads for car insurance or how “#7 was so shocking that you’ll lose control of your bowels”.
Will it really?
There’s a whole big world outside. I don’t want to be stuck reading “clickbait” stories when I have too many of my own stories to make.
Mind you, that’s not to say I’ll be shunning all the social sites as I do like the connection with people I otherwise couldn’t stay in touch with easily, but I want to better control my influence with social media rather than having it control me.
Get back into writing.
Writing is one of the things that I do best. There’s boastful egotism, and there’s accepting that some things simply work well. I have been able to affect people with my writing, and I like using my stories to reach out and connect with other people (hence this blog). The problem is, I feel my writing has atrophied over the last two years without good direction, and I’ve lost a lot of my personal style. So I am working on getting “inspired” again. Everything from the aforementioned reading and traveling, to adding more life new experiences and just sitting down to write for myself, as myself. I’ve been taking notes for a novel, as well as wondering if it’s finally time to write my biography. I’m wondering if I should write it as an anthology of short stories. I’ve also been wondering if I should write it as a comic book.
Eliminate physical clutter.
I am a king of owning things (though not a candidate for Hoarders). I have a lot of stuff, from collections, things that I needed at the time, to things that I needed to sort out, but never got around to. So in light of future plans, I am looking through my various collections of film props and memorabilia, travel artifacts, trend based collections, and more to see what I can do to simplify my life and provide less clutter. I plan to keep family antiques and heirlooms, leftovers from childhood, gifts from friends, and a few other special “moment” pieces, but it’s time to dig deeper into my collection of things and start letting go.
Media (books, music movies, games) is a tricky one from me, as I tend to largely shun digital in favor of showcasing a library. One of the biggest problems is my video game collection. I wanted to really have this massive collection, but I think I’m going to pair it down to beloved classics and still played games. After 35+ of playing and 10 years within the industry, this is going to be a challenging one for me.
Digital clutter is on the “remove” list as well. Delete old e-mails. Unsubscribe to unwanted groups and forums. Eliminate the spam that comes into my life so I read more personal/business messages, and less junk.
Eat better/Get healthier.
I’m getting better. I have to. My body has a tendency to reject “crap” these days. When I eat well, I have less “old people” upset, so I am trying to note what works better for me. Primarily, having a more seafood and “finer meal” diet are the most successful, and I’ve toned fast food (especially McDonald’s) down to a handful of visits each year, primarily out of necessity. While I still retain my smaller frame, if I don’t exercise, I get that “middle age pooch”, which on me, looks as bizarre as it sounds. I don’t think I’ll even turn “vegan” either. I eat salads. Let’s celebrate the victories where we can, okay?
Work towards being happier.
A few years ago, I tried the “Quest For Happy”, which was a noble goal to strive for. The thing is, “happiness” as a state is not a permanent one, nor when you reach it, it doesn’t mean that “problem solved” and you can focus on other things now. Happiness is something that you have to work on, whether it’s trying a new experience, planning a family member’s birthday, or just letting someone know that you love them.
It’s also about setting realistic goals. People bring up my life, and honestly, it wasn’t any set plan. I just got “lucky” with all of it. In the right place at the right time, and determination to see some things through. And for that, I feel like I’ve at least lived two lives. It doesn’t always take moving around all the time or being in front of a camera. It’s what we surround ourselves with, from home life, to job, to people. And if it’s not making me happy, then I can’t justify its place anymore.
I still think of that hospital stay two years ago, which was a combo of stress, depression, and anxiety. I realized that if being “sad” can do that, then it’s an illness same as any flu, and negativity is a poison. I’ve done some neat things. But those are only moments in trying to reach a larger goal. I need to work on something more encompassing. People may not always like my plans (and they’ve let me know about it in the past), but the thing that I wish I knew then is that as long as I’m not hurting myself or others, then it’s my life to lead as I see appropropriate. I need to live my life in a way that is more in tune to the honest and genuine version of myself, without compromising to do so.
I say that a lot. Sometimes in the genuinely humorous sense, other times with a sense of irony, a culmination of experiences that have brought me to today. With my birthday coming up, I see the age that tells me what I am supposed to be, and yet sometimes, I still feel like the kid that spend so many lazy summers and uncomplicated days in my hometown. I’ll be having a chance to explore that again this week, as family matters have unexpectedly called me back to Texas for a few days. While my intended goal is primarily family time, I’ll be taking a few moments to reconnect and revisit where it all began for me. A “You don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been”, sort of thing. But as I said, family and love come first right now. I’ll figure out the rest of the details later.
In the meantime, I still can’t help hitting the open road from time to time, sometimes revisiting old favorites. After all, if you can’t enjoy an Arizona campground that features life-sized statues of the Flintstones from the 1960′s, then it’s not much of a life worth living, is it?