The second thanksgiving I had for my twelfth or thirteenth birthday was my most memorable and favorite childhood meal.
Mother asked me, “What do you want for your birthday dinner?”
I half jokingly said, “Thanksgiving.”
She didn’t seem to get the joke (I was hopeful she wouldn’t anyway) and before I knew it things were in full swing a few days before my birthday. A giant iced butterball was thawing in our extra fridge and my father was putting together all the ingredients to make home made croissants. They did it that way. Dad always did the baking and Mom did most of the heavy stuff. Even in home repairs it was my Mom we bought the tool box for.
Thanksgiving was always a standard spread. I can’t think of anytime that we deviated from the normal recipe list:
The ritual never changed either and on my Birthday it was no different. My Mom would wake up at like 5am to put the turkey on. The lettuce was soaked in salt water and a whole loaf of bread was torn apart into a big stainless steel bowl for the stuffing. They were like that though (my parents). They were both from the old school and things rarely changed. Much of that was passed down to me.
In many ways my upbringing was very a traditional “Leave it to Beaver” when it came to the way our home life was conducted and the values I was taught. Some of the biggest pet peeves I have (and my little family unit can attest to this) is table manners and having dinner together at the table almost everyday.
The meal went off as most thanksgivings do. We ate our faces off and it was glorious. I can’t even remember what the present were or if we had cake but damn do I remember delicious turkey and dressing.
Danny Machal April 17th, 2015
My son was born this year and I’ve never really taken ownership of that fact until this very moment. Still feels weird to say, “my son.” Just weird. I never thought I was the type who would ever be in a position to say it (says nearly every father ever).
Chaos is one word to describe raising a newborn. Insane is another. These are the things you are feeling nearly everyday leaving little time for reflection. I need reflection and I just haven’t had it until now. I’m not stranger to the stewardship of fatherhood. I inherited a seven year old girl a few years ago through the ‘rent to own’ family plan. She is ten now and her level of communication is extremely satisfactory. She has just the right amount of thirst to learn about the world around her and the aptitude to take it all in. That is how I operate and how I want the people around me to operate.
Babies however do not have the ability to communicate beyond the primal grunts and screams when something is wrong or too stimulating. So it is a struggle for me to find pleasure in the interaction I have with my son. He is still quite young (9 weeks). So maybe as he develops more motor skills and personality I will be able to speak his language and develop that “crazy retarded happy parent” attitude where I shove pictures in strangers faces’ and beam with pride that my sperm worked.
But for now I will continue my relentless quest to lose popularity among my peers from my extremely unpopular view on infant parent relationships.
If I were to introduce my son as a character in a novel he would be tiny obese infant regressed old man who had lost all his faculties requiring constant care from others to survive. That doesn’t seem right but it would make for a good story as he gets to experience the world for the first time -again.
Removing the fact that he is a newborn and focusing on the allegorical experiences he is having is probably better.
In Band of Brothers there is a scene where the E Company boys are in Holland at night and they stumble into this old mans farm. He has a boy with him and one of the soldiers gives him a piece of chocolate. The boy takes a bite and chews quickly. But his face. His face erupts into the biggest smile. To which the old man says:
“He’s never tasted chocolate before.”
The world his full of a lot of awful experiences and one of them can easily overshadow ten good ones. So when I think of my son experiencing things for the first time I want it to be like the little boy tasting chocolate.
While I am not the “giddy” type of parent about my children I am a reasonable and logical person.
It motivates me to make sure the boy feels love and is cared if not for the simple fact that EVERYONE deserves to feel they matter. Even though he is a tiny little poop machine that is constantly violating my posted noise ordinances I did have a part in bringing his consciousness into existence.
It is my duty and responsibility to shepherd this little creature into the world, instill him with strong morals, teach him to be a gentleman and do the best I can to nurture his young mind to be ever starved for knowledge.
Love you buddy. 🙂
Danny Machal April 13th, 2015
Last year I was having a hell of a time dealing with my daily life so I sought out some online therapy. I could have tried to post my sad sack story to Reddit but 100 replies of garbage memes wasn’t going to help me. I needed someone with some pedigree to really help sort me out. So I signed up for Talkspace and I had a therapist through them for about 3 or 4 months. It was a really good experience and helped me out a ton.
One thing my therapist really tried to impress upon me was the value of “being present.” Living with Anxiety, Depression and all those other screwy things in your mind you sometimes are not even aware that you are alive RIGHT NOW. You are far too busy being worried/sad about things that have happened or that you have convinced yourself WILL happen. There is no brain power left to pay attention to this very moment making regret REALLY easy to stumble into.
My Therapist recommended to me some books by Thich Nhat Hanh – a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Monk. This was great because I live in Vietnam right now and felt like I could connect to the place around me a little more. So I picked up a couple of his books and started to peck away at them at night before bed. These are the “put you to sleep type” of books so it took a while.
I’m going to save you a ton of time and reading here by just telling you to pay attention. When you can’t pay attention you learn to pay attention to your breathing until your mind has refocused. The concept of mindfulness is essentially the methods and techniques used by Monks for thousands of years to force themselves to pay attention to what is going on around them. When they find they can’t focus they turn toward the most common bodily function there is -breathing. They analyze “breathe” in details you can’t even imagine.
Having full control over your minds’ focus makes you a better present lover, a good listener and you become much more genuine in all your day to day interactions. You are suppressing your microcosmic emotional decision making by letting your macro values (the ones buried in your subconscious) envelop you, govern you and steer you. You are more genuine because you are not spinning up your precognitive thought processes.
You are experiencing and living as it comes without the ability to judge or analyze. Things come and go quickly as your mind only takes the moment to acknowledge what is happening, accept it is happening and moving on. Feathers are unable to be ruffled and your temper can remain calm as a windless sea.
Breathe becomes your savior and your rock solid foundation to being mindful of the world around you.
Danny Machal April 11th, 2015
In the most recent episode of Black Sails Anne has a great dialogue with Jack about how perspective and distance can change the way you see things.
Jack: Last night you said you’d thought about not returning, but?
Anne: Standing there on the jetty in Port Royal I realized that was the first time you and I had been separated by that much water since we was f!@#$%^ kids.
Anne: Being that far away, you see things differently. Helped me see what we are. Maybe what we ain’t. You saved me from something awful, Jack. And I owe you my life for it. Maybe there’s some part of that you just can’t owe.
Regret is the type of loss that you don’t feel right away. It is like the slow heat of an Asian spice vs the instant fiery burning of Mexican chilis. Sure you feel them both equally the next day as they make their painful lava like exit from your behind but with regret you don’t feel anything at first.
The birth of a regression pain is, well, painless. That is why it is so easy. You just get so caught up in whatever moment you were in you fail to allow your macro values dictate your current micro actions. It happens to us all. The pain and loss of regret isn’t even noticeable until we are distances away from the situation that caused it. Only then do we have that, “Oh sh!@,” moment.
Regret is easily identifiable by some key indicative phrases we see in common usage everyday.
The thing with regret is that you don’t realize you have lost anything until it is too late. Maybe you lost a lover, an opportunity, your car keys at the bar last night or all of your money in a high stakes investment company (You knew Robotic Rabbits was NOT going to be a thing right?). In the end most of us just lose the trust of another person or ourselves. How could we be trusted if we were so ignorant? Surely this indicates a repeating behavior and we are all horrible people?
No. You are not horrible. You are just human (Unless you are a robot. (01110011 01101111 01110010 01110010 01111001).
Tomorrow we can talk about how to make less mistakes and how we can harness the present to prevent a burning sensation in the future.
You should know that there isn’t one person on the planet who cares about that one time you forgot to wear a belt in grammar school and your pants fell down. Just you. Late at night. Trying to go to sleep. Oh god! Why?
The prompt today was to be brief. But sometimes you just can’t.
Danny Machal April 10th, 2015
Loss is like a bucket full of water bleeding out after a plug is ripped from its bottom. The bucket is going to be empty eventually but not before it feels every agonizing drop slowly drift out powerless to stop any of it. At the end however, it will feel lighter, it will get a new plug and it will fill back up again.
People are like these leaking buckets when it comes to loss as it feels exactly the same for everyone. The only difference is how big the bucket is and how much water that plug was holding back.
The prompt today was to write about something that we have lost and stretch it out over a three part “series” of posts. Since loss feels the same across the board, the way I have felt losing someone or something, is going to be the same as you and the next post you read. Dealing with loss is a simple formula: pain -> sadness -> discovery -> healing.
Let’s move on and talk about a certain type of loss, where it comes from and how we can learn to avoid it. Cool?
I want to discuss the loss that is felt on account of ones inability to appreciate the present.
You know this one. Al Pacino’s speech from Any Given Sunday sums this up pretty well.
“…You know, when you get old, in life, things get taken from you. I mean, that’s… that’s… that’s a part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losin’ stuff…”
Regret is probably the most ubiquitous form of loss. You hear gurus and “#yolo#swag” hipsters preaching it all the time, “Live with no regrets (man? Oh, let me comb my beard first).”
Anyone who tells you they live with no regrets is simply a coward unable to own up to their own mistakes and I don’t have much tolerance for those toting self perceived invincibility as bravery.
Tomorrow we’ll discuss the different mechanisms that generate regret. I’ll also touch on what forms regret manifests itself in our minds before transforming to aching chest muscles and watery eyes.
Danny Machal April 9th, 2015