physical

365 Challenge: Day 40 – Spiritual

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Spiritual: relating to religious belief or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things

As I awoke this morning, my mind drifted to today’s topic, first focusing on the count of days. When I determined it was day 40, something about the 40 days of lent stuck in my head and I attempted to choose the best word to represent how I feel. I considered religious, but I am not prepared to go into all of those details, so I settled in with spiritual.

I was raised Catholic, as were most of my family members on my mother’s side. My father’s side doesn’t appear to have been all that religious. I attended church every weekend from about 8 until 21.

In college, I was a Eucharistic minister and worked in the religious center’s main office as one of my part-time jobs. When I graduated and moved back to Long Island, I stopped going to church except for the occasional holy days until I was about 25. I don’t believe I’ve been back since other than a few weddings and whenever I’ve been on tours or trips and make it a point to stop in. Nothing significant occurred to change my attendance, I simply stopped going. But I’m not planning to discuss church attendance. I am discussing spirituality.

I would consider myself your average “smart” person. I have some common sense, but also lack so in many areas. I’m book smart on a lot of things, but missing some key basics. I accept these things. It also means that I often, as I’ve noted before, have impartial feelings about situations and usually see both sides of the coin on all issues. Spirituality is one of those things. I do not know the history of all the major religions. I am not familiar with every major detail of evolutionary science. But there are a few things I believe I struggle with when it comes to “how did it all begin”?

I think of it like the chicken and the egg scenario. If there were no chickens, how did we ever produce the first egg? It’s a catch-22 for me… which came first cannot be answered in my mind, and I don’t have the energy or interest in devoting my entire life to solving that puzzle. I feel the same way about the creation of life. My mind has trouble fully accepting Darwin’s “Origin of Species” and natural selection. I understand it. I’ve seen it. I know things change over time. But have we truly existed in some form for billions of years, once as tiny little cells, now evolved into modern humans? What exactly caused each of those changes? I know there are tons of books and research to help explain the big categorical shifts and changes, but my brain is too tiny to really understand and accept how far we’ve come, or that so much time has even occurred.

I sort of feel like we all began somewhere around 3 or 4 thousand years ago, as I’ve read enough books and history to almost see those numbers are tangible and reachable. Then I think about the beliefs of Catholicism where God built the world in 7 days, Adam and Eve were the first people, Jesus died on the cross for his people and we worship everything in this realm. I have difficulty believing in something I cannot see or have never experienced. But the genealogist in me yearns to believe and accept that everything started with 1 man and 1 woman, and we all have a biological mother and father, generation after generation of human evolution.

Side Note: This is not meant as commentary on parents, necessity of a mother and a father, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, et al.)

For the record, I’ve always believed people can and should do whatever they want as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Therefore, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t hurt… but what two other people do with their lives has no impact on me… plus, if I was against it, I’d be a hypocrite, which I’ve noted before. And a child needs loving caretakers to grow up properly… whether it’s two men, two women, transgender, a single parent, a grandparent… I don’t care. Love the child, raise them well and prepare them to be a good person who continues that cycle. OK, now that I’ve gotten that out there… back to spirituality…

As I’ve noted before, I always seem to feel like two people. And in this case, I believe both in the theories of evolution and those in religion, and I also have doubts about both. But there are many religions, each with a different take on the origination of it all. As I’ve evolved, I believe where I’ve ended up is in something more spiritual. It’s less about the specifics and particulars of what you believe, but that you do believe. There is something out there higher or greater than me. Whether it’s a God who created the world or is a scientist from another dimension conducting experiments, I have some level of faith that there is a bit of control being exercised.

Though less now than in the past, I find myself looking toward the sky saying “Help me out here.” I will on occasion pray for the health or improvement of a friend or family member. I will wish and hope for someone or something to give me a chance. I believe in past lives. I feel connections to things I’ve never seen before, for some reason, and question if it’s deja vu. The thought of people being tied to the land around them is comforting. The concepts of earth, water, wind and fire feel like pillars of our lives. I would not be afraid if I saw a ghost. I strongly hope for an afterlife where all the problems and pain people have experienced are gone, and everyone is happy and healthy.

The best word I can use to describe how I feel about all of this is spiritual. All that functions in our bodies is a physical component of who we are. But how we think, feel and process, though partially physical, comes from somewhere else. Perhaps it is our soul, perhaps it isn’t. But it’s that part of who I am as a person that determines how I live my life today and in the future. And that’s the part of me that has felt various connections to a multitude of things across the expanse that’s been my life thus far. I have appreciation for other people’s beliefs, those who are committed to their religion and all that comes with it. I accept and want everyone to have their own personal calling, whether I agree with it or don’t understand it. And I’d never tell someone else they are wrong for what they believe, when it comes to spirituality.

It’s rare I discuss these types of things. Politics and religion are the two areas where I absolutely hate having discussions with other people. Partially because I do not like arguing or any discomfort when there are differences in opinion, but because I do not have the answer, nor will I ever have the answer until… and only possibly… until I pass from this world. But until then, I’m content with having my own beliefs, keeping myself open-minded to others and living the best life I can without hurting those around me.

To me, that is being spiritual. Whether I light a candle and dance around a fire, attend church every Sunday, pray every afternoon or practice some other form, having a connection to something you believe in, that is more than physical, is healthy. And for anyone reading this, hopefully I have not offended or upset you. Not everyone agrees with the things I’ve mentioned in this post, and that is each person’s prerogative. All I ask is that people never force what they believe on someone else. Focus on yourself when it comes to these things and let others do the same.

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

365 Challenge: Day 38 – Passive

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Passive: accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance

Passive is a tricky word. We’ve adopted it across so many aspects of our lives. Passive meaning we do not stand up and fight in a war. Passive meaning we prefer to relax and rest more than rush around. Passive meaning we are lost in thought. For today, I plan to focus on my energy level, which means I am much more passive than I am active.

There are lots of people out there who are energized by running around all day, constantly involved in something and unable to sit still. Folks who get up super early (4am?) to find the time to accomplish all their goals. Those who can survive on 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night. And some who must be doing some physical activity throughout most of their day. That is NOT me. But it isn’t all that bad.

I’ve always required 7 to 8 hours of sleep per evening. I can survive on less, even for a few days in a row, but I’m a bit listless and slower than usual. Productivity and quality probably decrease in all that I do, so I know my limits and try to put myself into bed around 10pm each evening, read for 30 to 60 minutes to relax and fall asleep somewhere between 11 and 11:30. I am not a quick sleeper… it takes a while for me to nod off. I’ve never been able to nap. I’m usually awake between 6:30 and 7:30 each morning, without an alarm, as my body says “let’s start the day.”

I’m good with about an hour of exercise each day. I try to walk if I need to handle any errands, or when traveling on my way to/from work where possible. But when I’m done with work or errands, or socializing at meals or events, I am a passive person. I much prefer to be sitting in a chair / couch / bed, where I am reading, writing or watching TV. By no means am I lazy. I certainly go out to do things, take trips, try new opportunities, play with the dog (he likes to run around the apartment in circles… therefore so must I, it seems). Generally, I could sit for 8 to 10 hours keeping myself busy without feeling the need to get outside and go for a jog, run off to the sports center to play tennis or plan a trip to climb some mountain. I’d rather go walk about a museum, drive through and stop at view points, or poke my head in a few stores for an hour and call it quits for the day.

Some of you are thinking… wow, he’s boring. Yes, probably true. But it’s part of who I am. My brain or body don’t need constant physical stimulation, as they’re both content to express creativity and action in my head. When I am flying in an airplane or in a long car ride, even up to 8 or 10 hours, I can go without needing to stop for any sort of break or even getting out of my seat. Part of me thinks it is “mind over matter,” meaning I can tell myself “this is your plan for the next 8 hours… no need to try to change it.” And then I am capable of sticking closely to it. Of course, this isn’t always the case… and sometimes on a weekend when I have no plans on a Saturday or a Sunday, I get a little stir crazy. Then it’s time to take the dog for a walk, find a store to dash into or look for a friend to go out and do something different.

I certainly wonder how these affinities develop in people. Of course DNA and health have a large factor in it, but how much of one’s upbringing defines how passive or active they are in their activities? Is it about availability of money and time? Or is it about how much you’ve been forced to do as a child that determines what you want to do in your future? Do you choose these behaviors yourself or do they develop as a byproduct of those around you?

I am an only child, so I often spent time alone. I had friends and saw them a lot. But rather than go play hoops on the driveway or climb a tree, I stayed in my room to read or watch TV. It may have contributed to me being shy, I’ll acknowledge that part of the impact. I was a really good child, never asking for things or to be entertained, so my parents never felt the need to yell “go outside and play,” just so they had a moment’s peace. They certainly pushed me every so often to be more active and get outside, but only when they thought I was spending too much time shut up in my room.

If I had a child, it would be about balance. I don’t agree with setting up activities all day and evening long for your kids to be busy. Whether it’s 50/50 or 60/40 (either direction), alone time is important to help develop your analytical skills, as well as build your ability to learn things other than what someone else forces you to focus on. I’d limit the amount of reading, TV and computer time, ensuring at least an hour a day was some sort of physical activity. Maybe even an hour a day of some group activity or sport. Weekends would be 1 down day and 1 up day, meaning they’d go to some cultural or community event, but also need to focus on the whole eat/pray/love theme.

When I started this post about 10 minutes ago, I never intended to discuss parenting styles, but I let the words take me where they did today. And if I were to interpret what I’ve written, I’d say perhaps I’m being a little too passive in my own days. I should challenge myself to try something new every month, get out at least once per weekend to some physical activity other than my normal trips to the gym, and I should probably join a group (book club, writer’s group, museum or community thing) to help expand my self-imposed limits.

How often are you out and about versus home and relaxing? Do you find yourself with 15 minutes of free time on a normal day or 3 hours of free time? How do you balance it all? What’s your preference? For those who can’t just sit still, what’s happening in your mind and body when you just need to bounce?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.