Death’s End by Cixin Liu

How did you come across the book?

So, it‘s a Sci-Fi novel written by a Chinese author who is the first Chinese author to win the Hugo Award for Sci-Fi; a very famous Sci-Fi award. This is the third book of the trilogy. So it’s um… it’s really great. I listen to a lot of podcasts and some of the ones I listen to are like tech podcasts and so… and pop culture and stuff like that so, some of them they had mentioned this book, and they had all read it and fell in love with it, and so I was like “hell yeah”!I love reading and I love losing yourself in a good book, so, you know.

So far, what have you gained from it?

A perspective that I’ve gained is to look outside of yourself, and to look outside of our current day in age and to… well… it’s kind of like uh… it’s a mind expanding read, because it asks the question, “if humans had actually contacted an extraterrestrial life, when they first sent out messages into space, what would have happened to humans in society, over like a 400 year span?“ You know, would it have been a friendly encounter, or otherwise? He goes into all sorts of crazy things, you know. So, it’s really good, and it’s very… from a technological aspect too, from a science aspect… it touches on a lot of aspects that you don’t get from a lot of popular authors. By the time the third book comes around (this is the third book) there’s this alien species that is going to attack earth and so… you know, their figuring out ways to get around it and eventually ask the question, “is there any way to actually send a message into space that tells whoever’s out there that we are a safe and a friendly species?” I literally read the first book in like 2 sittings!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Absolutely! Um… specifically, I would recommend it to people who, you know, like to … well, first of all, who love fiction… and second of all, who are intrigued by extraterrestrial kind of, you know, “what’s out there?” stuff. And then thirdly… anybody who’s scientifically minded, you know. Anybody who has that “what if?” mentality, or who really pays attention to the details and who gets their kick out of things like NASA and SpaceX and going to Mars and stuff like that. You know, it’s just amazing!

handed a ticket through blood

the circus is in town and I’m handed a ticket through blood.

a strong man melts to nothing at the sight of his sorrow not standing there.

the siamese twins don’t share much in common besides loose cloth.

the bearded lady holds on by a thread and smiles through to the strangers.

there are wrestling midgets who don’t fit anywhere from what they’re told, but they enjoy the company and they let the sweat roll.

the clowns all run around the field playing tricks on each other and you.

and a woman in a box who is soon to be sawed in half by a magician who’s lost his touch wonders how she got here.

i hear they have elephants under the tent held together by ego and loose chains, few people in the room for now.

and a lion locked in a cage he can’t see with a hurt paw from last weeks show.

the acrobatic brothers don’t know each other, and never have and haven’t tried and never will.

the cyclops is afraid to lose himself though he dreams as clear as you or i.

and no one likes the room of mirrors, so they reflect nothing in return.

the tunnel of love is a quick ride with a cyclical queue and charges the most per ticket compared to the others despite its tendency to break down and rumored to have killed a man before.

there’s a fortuneteller wearing bifocals in between the carousel going backwards and a snake charmer who can’t find his flute.

and that snake charmer just the night before couldn’t sleep because he misses a girl who’s never there.

and that snake is in the mood for familiar sounds and spits poison when he’s agitated.

a man who can guess your weight forgets his own with each lame guess.

the $2 kissing booth describes our existence well.

and there’s a three legged dog who trails behind the whole gypsy carny from town to town because he’s still able to and doesn’t have much else to do anyway.

the circus is in town and it may only pass thru once and things pass quicker these days.

and it’s just in your backyard.

and you’re passed along a ticket while standing in line with the others.

Thanks For The Poetic Warning

By Justin Cude

What strange times we’re living in. 

The times they have-a done changed, old friend. 

Thanks for the poetic warning. 

A scene far stranger than the governments anti-psychedelic propaganda campaigns of the sunshine years. 

Only the lookers could see this coming. 

You can’t unsee this madness unfolding.

You don’t come back from this trip.

 Neither might the world. 

What an abstraction on the horizon. 

I’ve seen light from the cracks once or twice. 

Leonard told us to notice.

Gold even poured once before. 

The mind’s alchemy says twice, and might again. 

But concrete dries quicker than it mixes, and they mix it quickly, don’t they?

And, I might be gone a long ole’ time. 

That’s the way its been feeling. 

Ghosts from the past made human again. 

Sleeping with those still more recent. 

Darkness dies to light then has its revenge again before its over. 

A worthy opponent who shocks the crowd with each landed blow. 

An underdog for unknown reasons with blood in his eyes from years of irreversible attrition. 

The only fight worth a damn to hands untouched. 

The birds still fly south though we’ve confused them. 

It’s harder now to know the way. 

I’ve slept under clear skies with no stars. 

But have held the sun in winter til dawn. 

The world needs her then so I must stand to go despite the cold. 

Wild poppies provide rich and vital blood for the fields they devour. 

And color when you chose to look at life for the way she moves.

Long Years Fade Swiftly into Smoke of a Dying Candle

By Justin Cude

Short stories come from long years of living. I once met a woman who handed me many in a single night. Some I can still recite with my eyes closed, others have fled for now. Some maybe have gone forever, but I won’t know until the end. Others have left nothing in my mind. Maybe they have, I just haven’t heard from them yet. They’re in there dormant maybe just waiting to live. But, I can’t wait around for them to reveal to me anything that may or may not help in my own living. The sun burns out quickly and who knows what year we’re in. Sitting down for a coffee seems like a trip to me. Its one of the few things that brings it all back, then, with a bang bigger than the big one we believe in, expand outwards towards areas I’m led to explore, to visit. Love of a good woman, love of a wild one, both in the same, physical exertion, a read which melts your brain, the occasional hand-rolled cigarette, a few whiskeys or wines have done it temporarily, the wind, a few walks in nature have revealed to me something, feeling breath, an animals stare and affection, travel at times when I’m not looking for it to, a written line which stops me, love towards anything when I try, and coffee, black, sometimes with cinnamon or butter. There are others but I don’t want to taint this with lists. I also don’t want to share everything. A good secret is OK to have long as your soul doesn’t burn you. As long as you’re not scarring yourself. You have you’re own things which reveal to you the world you’re looking for. Don’t copy others. Don’t blind yourself either from the world which actually exists. There is truth in both. The sky remained gray lately, but I’m aware its of our own doing. The air we breath is poisoned with our filth. So to the rivers and the bodies they bleed into. The land as well, but the world fights back. Its has to. Its all it knows. Not in hate but in life and with love to live that life. But our filth is dumped into our DNA and we’ve done it. This is chosen, not fated. It blocks the sun, too. At times I can’t see mountains only kilometers away. I’d say miles but those don’t work here. Not everything works everywhere. Love tries and its damn good at it most of the time, if we allow it to be. If we allow ourselves to be. Love does conquer all, but we’ve made weapons for that at some turning point in our evolution. What an idea. At times I can’t see my reflection in a window an arms reach away. But there are those days when the mountains sit with peaceful calm intensity and my reflection shows compassion for the one it reflects. Those days keep me hopeful. One day the sky was mahogany brown. It was an absurd moment to have passed through. Was if all were drowning in a pond of spoiled red China tea, or mud. We put it there and now we must wear masks to keep from suffocating. Quicksand we’ve submerged ourselves in with small steps towards progress. An oddity of the modern world. Something one day they’ll hopefully look back on in disbelief like we have so many times looking back at others mistakes from the past. Its not a mistake when suffering is packaged and labeled for resale in what we call foreign lands. Its not a mistake when we can see but look away. Humanity chooses and it tends to be against ourselves, like a mouse going for the cheese. Maybe our brains are that simple too. Maybe we can’t see the trap we’re walking into. But, art tells us differently. Art tells us we can see, radically. So does love. More so love. The abstract and the realism. If love was there we’d choose differently. Radically differently. But cheese looks good to a hungry rat. Art means nothing when our gaze is locked on the outcome. Neither does love. But, when the simpleminded have had their hit, and the daze of satisfaction withers, and the cheese is nothing but cheese, where do we find ourselves? What are we so hungry for? Do we really know our own answer to this? Bob Dylan stares at me as I write this telling me with a single look to keep going but only if you have something to say. He wears a harmonica on his neck which reminds me the beauty of music. How powerful that beauty can be and how widespread it’s embrace. “Write that way” he says, and I try. A girl hugs his arm looking for warmth but provides a fire in the snowy streets of Greenwich Village back when the snow use to stick. Another, he’s confident but only in his questioning. He knows its a joke to play with. The next, still confident but with sun glasses on inside after recording attempted answers looking into the unknown of his own, which is also ours. He’s talking to me in still pictures but I hear his words clearly. His words have always whispered to my soul the truths I’ve needed to hear. That there aren’t any written in blood but blood still flows, so follow it. Go where your blood boils, or make it boil if you can. We all know how. Answer me this; what have we all been deprived of? I’d say love. Then I’d ask, why does this deprivation continue? I’d say we allow it to. We block it or ignore it, we withhold or we fear its life, or turn away when light from beneath horizon starts to illuminate the memories. Then I’d know the answer to this deprive. And I’d say love again, but as an action not as a label. There’s little work this morning so I’m looking in. We all have so much to say but it never comes out exactly right. I’m trying just to get it out mostly these days. It doesn’t need to be exactly right. It never is even when you try for it to be. Even when you struggle for it. Just getting it out is enough at times. There’s no wind today either. Here there’s either none or there’s the type which can blow you over. At least it tries to. Inertia will hold you down. The mind can be heavier than those mountains I can’t see at times. It can also be as light as the dust blown in from the desert just over those mountains. Dust from the Middle East reaches the shores of Brazil I read once. I’d rather be blown away or challenge the gods head on. Inertia is only good in meditation. Even sleep is dynamic. Contemplation has blinded be many times. The mind never stops but you can sit with it and watch it go by. And when you do watch it go by, when you can glimpse the light through the filth, when you’ve said what you’ve had to say, exactly how you wanted to or not, when suffering is accepted and not feared, when the air you breath is just air, the moment just the moment, the mountains just mountains, your reflection just that, when you understand how much we make-up, the malleability of stories, the degradation of self, the empowerment of illusion, the anything of everything, the everything of anything, love is all remains, and love is there if we get out of our own way. Short stories can all be summed with a shorter one, and can be learned even quicker before those long years fade swiftly into smoke of a dying candle; love. No story amounts to this, though they’re all trying to say it, one way or another. No words can say it better. No other action contains more truth, though there are so many which happen. Everything comes from this, and everything is just attempting to make its way back home to it. The shortest story in the world makes the most sense, but we write others to hide it, or to attempt to reveal it, to rewrite it to justify our victimhood. To complicate it. That’s what I just did, and I feel good for relieving myself of the clutter, that is a practice worthwhile, but, yet all this gibberish, all this nonsense, all the these words, one after the other trying to say something, leads back to this; love. That’s it. That’s what we’re all really trying to say. That’s what we’re all really trying to do. That’s what we all really just need to do. Just love. You’re allowed to.

A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

How did you come across the book?

I was back home in the Philippines when I first saw a copy of the book and it seemed interesting to me at the time but, I wasn’t… I just wasn’t at the point where I wanted to purchase it because I was reading a few other books at the time so I wanted to finish those first. And then, when I got to New York a few days ago, I was at The Strand Bookstore over on Broadway and 13th, I saw this book again and decided to buy it then.

So far, what have you gained from it?

Well, I actually had no idea that this book was written in the 1950s or 60s, but I think the reason that its coming back to the shelves and coming back to popularity is because the message and the core of the book is very relevant to us now. Like… basically the premise of ‘A Brave New World’ is society has become a place of homogeneity and a lack of individuality, because everyone is genetically engineered and conditioned from birth to have these certain traits and there’s this caste system thats involved where every caste and every person has a specific role to do, and… to me… I… I consider myself an individualist. I like to do my own thing. I don’t really like corporations and institutions and things like that, so… the perspective that I think is worth looking into is… how trends and things that are popular nowadays… look into how they come to be and why people subscribe to them, and if at anyway that takes way from their sense of identity… even though I think its important to have things in common, but… the extent to which we subscribe to these ideas and institutions is reflective of who we are as a society and I think while its important to have these things which we have in common, I think we should all strive to maintain our own passions and individuality.

Its a heavy read. It plays a lot on the concept of human sexuality. And now, more than ever, women are being objectified and taken advantage of. Women and men, for that matter. But, this book kind of… well… it’s obviously through a male gaze. Aldous Huxley is a guy, he’s writing from a male perspective, and… the women in the book, they are treated as sort of objects. First of all, there’s no emotion involved in personal relationships in this book… its all just like people getting together and having sex and absolutely no emotional attachment… literally hit it and quit it, and nobody has any emotion. But, yeah… the character that I most like from the book is named Bernard Marx, and he seems to be the only person who can think for himself. And, what’s interesting is he’s different from everybody else in the sense that… like for his level, he’s an alpha so he should be like tall, strong and buff, but he has a physical defect and he’s small, he’s frail, he’s thin, but aside from that, aside from himself being estranged from society because of his physical defect, its also… intellectually he’s different. You can tell because of the way he thinks. He has passions. He’s an individual and he can think for himself, which I find to be interesting and I kind of relate with him on that level.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Absolutely. I don’t think this book is meant for any particular demographic. Its hard to just humanize people in general, so, like I said early, it’s very relevant to our society today and the things we have going on in that society. And, like… old, young, whatever, there are themes which definitely reflect the world we’re living in today, so absolutely anyone should read this book. I definitely recommend it. Like, I’d make my kid read this, for sure! Yeah. I think its timeless.

Life As A Playwright: A Survival Guide by John Klein

How did you come across the book?

Um… I frequent the drama book shop quite a bit and I picked up another playwright book beforehand, saw this one and knew I wanted to come back for it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from it?

Um… that I’m lucky that I don’t care about money! And… dedication to your craft.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah, I would… it has an interesting perspective that it isn’t so much of a guidebook as it is annotation about experiences. It has a lot of really deep, comprehensive interview chapters with several really well known playwrights. So… I think that gives a really nice perspective on everything.

The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth

How did you come across the book?

My friend who is also a very avid reader was purging her quite enormous book collection… she ran out of space… and she decided to announce anyone feel free to take through so, I purged her shelves and just saw what was interesting and I grabbed it actually from her… and she never ended up even reading it, so… I’m reading it instead of her!

So far, what perspective have you gained from it?

Initially I thought it was going to be going in a certain direction, and now that I’ve gotten a good way through its not what I expected. Um… but its… very interesting. Its really about the relationship between writers and reality…. which is what appealed to me.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Uh, I think so far my first gut reaction would be yes, I would recommend it. Um… and… I would definitely recommend it to other avid readers. Other people that really enjoy reading. Only because that… that’s what this is really initially about. Um… its… really good for those who appreciate that, you know… discussion, the intellectual… the questions that come from reading books, um… so, that’s why.

Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington

How did you come across the book?

It was assigned to me by my class. That is, ‘Spiritual Autobiography‘ at The New School.

So far, what perspective have you gained from it?

Oh! The perspective of the religious… intensely Christian in the south… there are snake handlers, which I’ve never heard of before. And so, this is all new to me… and its very interesting.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh! Um… I’m only a little bit in… like page 20. But, I’d… so far, I think its written really well and I would recommend it to people looking to learn more about places they don’t know, and parts of religions that they don’t know. And… for anyone looking for just a good book!

Once Again

By Justin Cude
I’ve been out 
there
in the
burning
wind
the ground
roaring
under
and
I’ve seen
it
and felt
it’s
power
it’s
rage
til it’s
end
and I don’t like
new
to
begin
when I can’t
see
can’t see
back
over
where I’ve
over where
I’ve
been
who does?
who can?
who
than?

But I’ll turn
either
way
so it goes
now
to the wind
burning
as it does
so it goes
Once again.

Don’t you know,
now,
by
now
you’re
my
friend, and
always you
always you have
been
and
I’ll be there
without,
without
all this,
we’ll see,
seen,
seeing,
pretend
and I’ll know
you
from back
when?
but we won’t feel
like that,
no
not like that, no
not
like that
then
again.

So I’ll turn now
to the
wind
burning with
and
within,
against
until
faced
with
as it will
we’ve seen
Once again.

I won’t stop
turning
and the wind
it
wont stop
we learned
burning
and I
won’t stop
trying
no,
I can’t stop
it’s
trying
So I’ll keep
turning
And I’ll keep
trying
and
I’ll

Turn now
again
till the
and its
end
to the
still burning
and trying
wind
once again
friend.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

How did you come across the book?

So… I…. I’m the director of a nonprofit. Its a national nonprofit I started 37 years ago here in New York City. I now lead the Dallas office, so… I’m from New York originally, but I’m back here for a trip to see family, kids and retreat from the job, so… I go back after Labor Day, but… the book…. long story… long answer… is because I lead a team and I’m new at management. One of my board chairs… actually not one of my board stairs… he says this is a good book for you to read because my team seems dysfunctional at times. So I was like cool. Must be a great book to read. So, here I am. It’s a nice day.

So far, what perspective have you gained from it?

So, well, one… that I’m not a babbling idiot! Seems like… I mean the book is… it says a leadership fable, but its set around an executive team, the whole C-Suite team… and after they tell the story I’m like my team deals with this too. So, it kind of… you know… and to hear it from other people it takes the onus off me that I have to figure this out alone and that I’m doing something wrong. You know. People have natural tendencies of how they hear things, how they be, what they’re afraid of, conflict and how they build their team so… I’m feeling very confident that I can build some new strategies within team. Its a fun thing.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah! Actually, so yeah… one, I’m gonna recommend it to my whole team, cause they need to know what I’m reading and kind of thinking about. Two… I think this is… I mean, it’s just… I’ll say this… I don’t read very well… I read slow… so big books take me a long time. This is like one of the easiest reads I’ve ever had. Say its more than 200 pages. I’ve been reading it a day and I’m half way through. It’s engaging! Once you pick it up its like one of those, “Ok, I’ve gotta finish this story right away!” It’s like a good Netflix series… I’m just gonna binge watch this book! Three… you know, I think anybody in any type of leadership capacity, running any type of… any type of team, you know what I’m saying… I mean this could be a family book. Anybody who has to manage any bunch of… a group of people, so… yeah… its pretty good!

The Books We Read

By Justin Cude

I’ve read tons of books lately. Hold on. Bear with me. I don’t say that with any type of pretentious. Its just a way to start this piece. But, seriously, lately I have read tons of books. From Self-help horrors to border-line erotica novels. From the lone pessimists attempt of optimistic existentialism to the bonding painted along a band-of-hippies psychedelic rove. Books which reign the top 100 to ones spawn from the endless graves of underground novella. I’ve read deeper into the works of authors I truly love, and have flirted with the lines of authors I’ve only just met with a glance. I sat down yesterday and read a whole damn book. I’ve only done that once in my life, years ago, and it felt wonderful to experience this again. But, this piece isn’t about the number of books I’ve read through in the last few weeks, but rather about what I have noticed, as I have before, by doing so.

The books we read influence us. Greatly or subtly, it doesn’t matter. They teach us. They touch us. They lead us and they push us. Some can hold you back. Many will move you, either which way. The ones we love, we do so for many reasons. There’s not just one reason we read and continue to. We read for many. And, we keep reading because those reasons are always further affirmed the more words we finish, the more pages we turn, the more books we try. We know why we read, individually, and our knowing of that is enough to continue forth. Every book I have ever read has provided me with at least one line of life; life learned, understood, challenged, gained, lost, made aware of, or changed. Even if only a line. I read for that one line. That one line that provides the life I needed to experience as to allow my own life the right, or the acceptance of, to just be, and for me to just be along with it. For life to be what it is, at any given moment, during any given experience of its provide. And, for me to be who I must and who I choose to be in response to and in demand of that greater providing.

I read for that one line. And, I read for this one life. Because, the books we read provide the life of others, while we’re out learning and living towards the writing and the sharing of our own. There’s wisdom there. There’s trial and error. There’s love and the exploration of its layered and endless complexities, along with it’s simplicity. There’s death and our questions. There’s wild stories from all walks of life, and there’s devout peering into the uncertainties we face. And, there’s us, reflected in the words so humanly placed. The books we read are shared closely with the lives we live. The lives we live are steeped in the richness of books we read.

So, I encourage you to read on.

Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino

How did you come across the book?

I was, uh… bookstore hopping, in the city. I just moved here. So, I was trying to find a favorite, and it was super esthetic, and um, so I decided to take a chance on it, and bought it. That’s it. I can’t tell you what bookstore it was! I don’t remember where it was.

So far, what perspective have you gained from it?

Um… so, its actually a collection of short stories, so there are a lot of like varying perspectives that I’m getting from it. They’re all about like… intimacy, between people, with themselves and with other people, so. I’ve read two short stories already and its just… it kind of makes me reexamine my relationships with people and how I navigate those, and the degrees of intimacy that exists within like… within everybody, especially moving to the city… like the intimacy you have with a stranger sitting on a bench with you… that’s kind of examined in this book and that’s kind of what its making me think about.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah! I definitely would. I feel like, for most of my age group, it might be a little bit, um, pretentious. I’m a first year college student, so, maybe like somebody who’s beginning to navigate serious relationships. Kind of up there with The Course of Love… I feel like it really kind of helps you understand your place in relation to other human beings, so… if you like to have existential crises, I think this book is really good! I absolute would recommend it, but I think that there’s a lot of internal reflection that it spurs, so, definitely be cognizant of that. If thats not your thing, its not your thing. It also has some kind of antiquated writing. Its very like flowery prose, so um… and its not necessary modern in a convenient sense.

What More?

By Justin Cude

What more is there to say?

What words are left to write?

You’re born from the sun,

you live with the day,

and you die into the night.

I know there are tricks in between,

but all we can do is live,

try to figure them out,

and love while we try.

The Way Things Happen

By Justin Cude

“It’s not suppose to go a certain way, it’s just suppose to go.” — Unknown

We all carry with us expectations, for every facet of this life, it’s path and the way we envision things to go.  This is dangerous, and we know this, though the temptation of it truly does invite one in with a certain seductive appeal, one that ignites our desire, puts flame to the fuse of our strive. There is nothing wrong with these feelings of passion, pursuit, of tenacity; they are the spice of life, the feelings we all long for, work for, dream of, crave. What is wrong here however, within our blinded view of their true existence, is our naively hopeful presumption of encounter with the byproduct we believe their pursuit-of, or withholding-for, promises to provide. We hold our expectations, feel down to the bone their premature existence, surer than death of their inevitable arrival, left ignorantly vulnerable by a belief system we have curated in our own mind, made real by a psyche ran wild, by faith chanced on a baseless mirage, delusion. Expectation blindfolds our deeper need of actualization; the makings of reality, not an ideal, more convenient alternative. From actualization, further actualization is made available through our efforts; I hope you find where to direct yours. From expectation, further illusion ensues, understanding impedes, knowledge narrows due to ones dwindling view. Expectation impetuously promises everything and delivers nothing. Actualization provides the world, in acknowledgment of the way things happen no matter our feelings towards this. The way we want things to go strangles us with lies. The way things happen provides freedom in their unbiased telling, their steadfast here-ness, and in our…

“Objective judgement, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance — now, at this very moment — of all external events.”

— Marcus Aurelius

Ice by Anna Kavan

How did you come across the book?

Umm… I saw the cover of the original. I think I saw it in a used bookstore… its a much better cover than this version. This one looks kinda like Twilight or something. Yeah. The original, it was published in the 60s, and its a really nice black and white cover… and, I read the back, put it down, and I’ve never been able to find that same copy anywhere, but like… I went back to another bookstore and saw that Penguin put it out, and I really wanted to read it, but I didn’t want to read this version of it. I went back like two or three times and finally just gave in and read this one. So I just stumbled upon it. Yeah, also… I don’t like reading a book, when its, like… when the cover is… like it just feels weird holding a book you don’t like the cover of! It contextualizes it, and whatever.

So far, what perspective have you gained from it?

The book is by a woman, but its about a male protagonist… he kinda like satirizes the short of film-noir detective type like, you know, cosmopolitan international guy, and he’s desperately trying to rescue this woman that he… she never speaks, he speaks on her behalf, he fantasizes about her, he believes she needs his saving but she doesn’t… like she never asks for his help, and its like… I just find that really kinda prescient and kind of depressing. I don’t know… its kind of disorienting me in my own life and making me question my own motives and intentions.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah, I would recommend it. Uh… its easy to read. It’s an extremely disorienting read though. It’s really strange. She’s constantly describing things that aren’t true and things that contradict one another… um. I would recommend it to people who are… who have dealt with drug or alcohol abuse in their life, or who have been in abusive relationships.

The Internal Narrative

By Justin Cude

Many times in our lives we are the only one’s keeping our story or our narrative alive, through the internal dialogue we choose to let run in continuum, many times allowing it the autonomy to remain on repeat; stop this, unless of course you remain entertained by the story you partake. Become more aware if you don’t.

This can be hard. This is hard. But, it doesn’t always have to be.

Lately in many ways I haven’t been entertained, but I will admit, in a few I have, but that’s not what this is about. Walking down the street today after grabbing an unusually timed coffee to sip on, I caught myself, well, thinking.

Catching yourself thinking can be an enlightening moment, and today it was for me. I realized today, as I have realized before, but have failed yet, until now, to write on it, that by catching yourself thinking you are grabbing a moment of complete awareness of you and of your long running, usually tumbling, narrative you have playing within. And it hit me. In the moment, surrounded by so many unfamiliar faces, embedded within a place becoming more familiar by the day, I alone am the only one aware of my own internal narrative, and I don’t necessarily know how or what to think or to feel about that, which is probably the reason why I’ve chosen to write on it. I want to see where this thought takes me.

Lately I’ve been in my head a lot, and not in the most productive or endearing of ways. Though I have understood where my mind has been of late, I admittedly have not been able to make much sense of it, finding myself overwhelmed by an unorganized clutter. Even as I write this I feel there to be no point or direction, no ending to this thought, no clarity to its muffled presence. I don’t know where this will end, but I will continue to try to write anyhow.

With this I have felt lonely lately. Alone. Not in the physical sense, because I am surrounded by people everyday; ones who love me, strangers who quickly becomes friends, apart of a group even, working towards something that the collective gathering has deemed as worthy. To me it hasn’t been lately and I don’t know why. I just feel here, somewhere on the planet, with no grounded sense of place, no anchored sense of self. Yeah, that’s what it feels like. I’m here, I know that and I see it, but lately I have not felt it and I have not understood why. The only part of me lately that feels any type of anything is my mind, my thoughts, my internal narrative which I feel I have little control of. It hasn’t been running wild, though at times it has slipped away. No, it’s very much so been here, steady even, though too heavy to pick up, too frivolous to grasp, it’s been here and I am caught in audience of its oration.

I started writing this piece almost a year ago to-date. Having just recently revisited it, I am approaching it with a different perspective from which the life that has been had since its commence has cast its influence and provided more of itself.

The internal narrative is powerful. It’s with whom most of our conversing is had. Where ideas are honed and thought through, and where the thinking of what our lives are, at any moment, occurs. That’s the big one. The thinking of what our lives are, at any moment, occurs in the internal narrative we carry with us, and that influences our lives a great deal.

Throughout our waking moments, of any given day, the internal narrative is playing. And, usually we allow this to occur without our influence. We just let it play and we find ourselves lost within its rolling. If its words are sad, we are sad. If its words are joyful, we find our selves joyful the same. If they are lost, we can’t find ours either. And if they are directed, we focus on their point. Whether this is good or bad, I truly do not know. But, if the question is asked whether or not we have influence on this, the answer most definitely is yes, if only we practice such awareness, of ourselves, of the narrative, and of the relationship between the two.

Awareness is not concentration. We do not have to focus solely on either participant of the relationship (the narrative or ourselves). Rather, we simply must be aware of the relationship between the two, the conversation they are attempting to have, and the influence both have over the other. Neither is in complete control of the other, and I don’t believe we should allow it strive for this to be so. That may seem frightening, given that we like to think we are in control of our mind, or equally as frightening to think that our mind may be in complete control of us, but the relationship is one more of involvement rather than of control. Like any strong and meaningful relationship, this is one too built upon communication.

View the narrative as open space for dialogue. Interact with the words of the narrative and communicate back with your own. If they align at moments, allow them their connection. If they don’t, given no mind to it. Give space and they will find each other again. Both will always be there. They are able to coexist in harmony or in disagreement, and they will. Nether is the end of the other. It’s a relationship to be maintained. A dance, sometimes a fight, to be had. And, simply, it’s the most meaningful conversation you could have. The catalyst for every other relationship within your world. Acknowledgment of this dialogue, awareness of its exchange, becoming apart of it rather than an a sufferer to either, ends the horrific monologue it can unrequitedly and unrelentingly become.

“You are always a slave to what you’re not aware of. When you’re aware of it, you’re free from it. It’s there, but you’re not affected by it. You’re not controlled by it; you’re not enslaved by it. That’s the difference.” — Anthony De Mello, Awareness

Change, As It Is

By Justin Cude

“It’s funny how people just won’t accept change.

As if nature itself — they’d prefer — rearranged…


If you have followed my writing for any stretch of time now, you will have noticed that most of my words dance with some form of change occurring in our lives (love, place, ideas, thoughts, wants, people, ourselves, etc.); reflection on how that change comes to be, observation on how it proceeds, and how it can hurt and or teach us something in its stay and its passing.

With this piece however, I want to try something else. I want to acknowledge from the beginning line that change is already set to happen, not to be shocked by this, and with this steadfastness, I want to try to be understanding, aware, welcoming and OK with that. To emulate the Stoics way of naming such practices, lets call this one: premeditatio mutatio, or premeditation of change.


I’m sitting here at my little brown desk in Beijing, China, typing away at an article that I hope to post soon, in a room that’s not mine and where I won’t be forever. I just poured myself a cup of coffee that I had heated just moments ago, and am now waiting for it to cool just enough so to drink from it. Sitting here, thinking of the words to say, only to delete a few which sounded right and then which didn’t, only to try again to maybe like their sound better and to continue on, with this line of thought and work I am also thinking of change and how I will meet it again, or rather how it is here always working, not behind the stage curtain, but apart of the same play as I, as all of us, always and forever.

I notice this now as it consumes my mind that I have always viewed change in a past tense sort of perspective. Never really having ever greeted it when it had arrived, only looking back on it after having noticed its supposed departure. And with this thought I realize that this line is wrong, but I will keep it here anyway as to track this thoughts progression. It’s not that we ever have or are even given the chance to greet change, or to say goodbye to it for that matter, either. Again, as said just a few lines up, in the paragraph above, change is always around, as active as the breath which keeps us alive, autonomic by the same nature.

This is not to say that things are ALWAYS changing, or that what we know now will not be the same as what we know tomorrow, but that little by little things are in fact ALWAYS changing, never stagnant, no matter the efforts of our wrestling with them to be here always, never to budge, never to fade.


The coffee is cooled enough now to drink it. A connection comes to me. The cooling of the coffee in a way describes what it is I am trying to say. The coffee cooled, just sitting there, in the same cup I had poured it into, without my influence and without my tampering. It changed, though not drastically or even visually noticeable to the degree of my vision, right in front of me as I was sitting here thinking of how to proceed with this piece, only moments having passed. And, not only did it cool, but it decayed, spiraled within its confines, sent steam into the air which faded, heated a circular area of the little brown desk of which it sat upon, became sweeter or more bitter due to the origin of it contents and the influence of the environment it now occupies, and so much more, again only moments having passed.

And, as I scan around the room at all of the inanimate objects surrounding me, none of them are the exact same as they were only moments ago. It sounds crazy I know, but it is true. I may not notice the changes visually, I may not be able to touch the changes or taste them, or to hear their movement, their transitioning from what they were to what they are, onto what they will be, but not one thing in this room, if left untouched, if not tampered with or influenced, would remain the same forever, and that shows further what I am attempting to say. Everything, all of this surrounding us, down to its biological level, is constantly changing, from one form on into another.


There’s a little bug in front of me now just weaving and hovering through the air only a small height above my desk and all that is positioned on-top it. And now that same bug is gone, away from my visual field. He could be behind me for all I know, because he is not making enough noise for me to hear, doing the same thing; just hovering or weaving. Or maybe its tired now and taking a rest on my shoulder, on the TV behind me, on the clothes rack, on anything. I look back. I don’t see the bug. But, I do see the city outside through my window. The bug is back. And now gone again. I look outside the window again. The world is moving. The cars seem to be gliding silently atop the road given that I cannot hear their rumbling-along from here, through the single paneled glass window, from this distance. Through that same window still, I see the newly sprung Spring leaves of the trees waving with the swaying wind. The bug returns, still weaving and hovering. Leaves again. A cough that I’ve had for a few days now barks, then fades. The coffee even cooler now, I notice as I go to drink from it again. I hear the person in the room directly behind the wall in front of me click his lights; on or off I do not know. The little fridge behind me to my left creates a noise. The bug returns. Gone again.


I left my desk for a moment and just returned, the thought of all this still with me. I’m going to move on now from noticing and attempt to get back to thinking.


Again, things don’t change as drastically as we expect them to. Not all the time at least. Sometimes they do, and we notice those, the big ones. They hurt us. Maybe some excite us. But, either way, they force change because we notice them. We don’t notice the smaller ones. The every day subtle changing of things largely goes unseen, unnoticed, unfelt, unbelieved. And because of this, when the big ones happen, though they have always gradually glaciered towards being, they catch us by surprise, and again they tend to hurt us. Some excite us maybe. Either way, they are demanding change, which they themselves will abide, but which we tend to argue with, reject and resist, and claim victim to their “harassment”.

This has always been my relationship with change. Though I myself, and others in my life who know me well, believe me to be open, understanding and even courageous with the changing tides of life, and though I am, maybe more so then I am not, they have always bothered me, changes.

I am unashamed to admit this. Even the exciting ones. Not just the ones that hurt. I’m a human and I like to know my surroundings. I like, and strive, to have some sense of comfort and security, gathering “resources” and stock piling “abundance”, whatever form that may be for the time and place and purpose, because they promise loyalty and steadfast protection. Even living a life thus far which disproves this, which has both shown and thrown me into states of scarcity and limitation, deprive and unknowing (I’m grateful for this ) we believe having protects us from the transitioning of things. It doesn’t. It never will.

This is not to say that having more so than not having doesn’t provide any type of benefit or worthwhile promising of pursuit for, but rather that having or not having, either one, doesn’t protect us from the every day subtle changing of things, and on towards their subsequent perceived-to-be colossal transitions, from what we know now onto what we don’t. With or without, nothing protects us from this.

But, is there anything about this that we need to be protected from? I think this is a better question to be asked and to be examined.


Premeditatio Mutatio, or again, the premeditation of change. In other words, the practice of noticing the subtle everyday changing of things, and the attempt to understand that things will not always be the same. Anything. Nothing.

Nothing which we as a species have monumentally constructed (cities, walls, infrastructure, systems, etc.). Nothing the world itself with all of its controlled and relaxed might has provided (terrain, environment, weather, resource,etc.). Nothing which the mind has attempted to maintain and or progress (religion, science, understanding, reality, etc.). Nothing which the universe itself contains (space, matter, limitation, unknown, etc.). Nothing about the vehicle which is our body nor the conductor of this vehicle, which is our mind. Nothing about anything remains the same, besides the only truth which has yet to be disproven; the changing of things.

So I revisit again, is there anything about this that we need to protection from?

I’m going to go close my eyes for a little while and allow my mind to just be. I will return to this later on.


It’s the next day.

I’m sitting at a coffee shop I have come to frequent quite a bit lately. The sun is burning the back of my neck as my head casts a shadow across the screen and keyboard of my computer. I like it here and I like this feeling. I won’t go into line by line detail of what I am about to share, but sitting here aware of it now, it is amazing, truly, just how many things have crossed my mind, have come and gone and influenced, since the beginning of this piece just yesterday, just about 24 hours ago exactly now.

Another example of the movement of things. Nothing is stagnant, even when they seem to be. Our thoughts, our beliefs, our understandings, everything which makes up the integrity of our contemplative consciousness, even this is in constant movement. Thoughts repeat, beliefs aren’t easily budged, understandings fight for their footing, but none are able to withstand or to go against the evolution of every moment, of everything within the confines of what we know as life and its moment by moment evolving. And, time doesn’t just evolve, but it fleets and it also continues. It may fleet for us, and for other living creatures, due to our ultimate demise, but time itself fleets from nothing. The mere fact that we will die, and that time will continue on its usual course, again supports the reality of change. We die, time evolves, and this is all manipulated in a moment by moment evolution, onward from now on into something else.

To regain traction, to get back to my proposed question from yesterday, I do not belief there to be anything we need to be protected from in the changing of things.


I stopped typing this and am just now revisiting it two days later, now. I am no longer at the coffee shop, but back at my little brown desk in the room I currently live. I had nothing else to say that day, but I feel now that I do and I hope to finish this piece and to move on to another, or to other projects of mine I need to work on.

To continue…

I do not believe there to be anything we need to be protected from in the changing of things.

I started reading a new book which I purchased just a day ago, ‘Awareness’ by Anthony De Mello, and in its reading came across the following quote:

“The first reaction is one of fear. It’s not that we fear the unknown. You can’t fear something that you do not know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear. “

It’s a powerful thought and its deeply true.

I am not, and I am sure the same for you reading this, afraid of what is to come. In the past I never was, and currently in the present I still am not. I was however, and again I would bet the same for you reading this, afraid of what I had lost, of the understanding which I had before the changing of things; of myself, of my environment, of others and of anything which made up my consciousness of which I was aware. The future doesn’t scare me and never has. Again, its always been the idea or the actual transitioning or realization that I had lost or had moved away, been pushed away, pulled away, fallen away, from a place of understanding, from one of knowing, to a place without either, and was scared to turn away and to proceed without them.

Another quote stuck with me from my reading:

“Because if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.”

Yet again, powerful and deeply true.

By attempting to keep things the way they once were, our understanding of what is is unable to be. By yearning and focusing on what has been, we remove any possibility of understanding and of knowing what is. By hoping they still were, we are blinding ourselves from knowing that they are no longer, and of what is right now, this very moment, this existence.

But, what leads us to not wanting things to change? Why are we so against these transitions?


“All of our miseries are nothing but attachment.” — Osho

If there is nothing to fear in the changing of things due to our ignorance of what is to come, and if the past is an ever fleeting place of which we have nothing physically to grasp on to, attachment to once was is where our agony, our anxieties and our fears are born from.

Simply put, we hold on to things that once were but no longer are…

… and I do not know exactly why. I am sure there is someone out there who understands with greater depth the mechanism in our brain behind this, but I myself do not have the answer. What I do somewhat know, whether it be backed by proof or not, is that somewhere within our thinking brain, we are able to turn away from this and to cast our focus towards the ever present now. And, in my experience, this is done by noticing more of the moment to moment changing of things. By being more aware of the transitioning of life from one moment to its successor, and so on.

But, how?


Days have gone by now. I didn’t finish this piece by the first deadline I had set for myself. But, here I am, back at my little brown desk, sitting here drinking a perfectly tempered coffee in the morning hours of a clear-sky, Beijing day (I’m grateful for this). I have other places to be soon, but I want to be here now, working on this, so I am and, well, here we go.

Just above I stated that I didn’t have the answers as to why we hold on to things from the past, and I still don’t. I’m not necessarily looking for a version of this answer either at the moment, or even for the finishing of this piece. But, reading a post from a writer I like, which had within it a link directed to another post, a New Yorker article titled, ‘The Possibilian’, a piece by Burkhard Bilger focused on the near-death experience of David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and author, and what it taught him about the mysteries of time and the brain, I stumbled upon ideas which invigorated me to return to this thought.

“Time is this rubbery thing,” Eagleman said. “It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.” 

It’s an amazing article, one with great depth and a variety of insights, one which highlights topics ranging from near death experiences to a theme park ride coined SCAD (Suspended Catch Air Device) sending people free-falling from ungodly heights somewhere in the middle of Texas, from drummers and their superhero sense of time to the great Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan and how he gathered intel from throughout his empire. However, though it does not directly deal with what I am attempting to say within this piece, again, it did invigorate me and by doing so provided me with more knowledge to attempt to piece together and to say. What stuck out to me the most, with this work-in-progress held within my mind, was the concept of time and how we perceive it in certain moments.

Another quote:

“One of the seats of emotion and memory in the brain is the amygdala, he explained. When something threatens your life, this area seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Re-read that last line. Here it is again:

…The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

Though the piece at large and the quote above are speaking of time in terms of life-threatening scenarios, I believe this same phenomena could serve in our favor towards the awareness needed to acknowledge the moment by moment changes we are constantly subjected to, but also usually blinded to, and by doing so, lead us in the direction of better handling and experiencing the thing we all seem to fear the most; change.

Another quote:

“The best example of this is the so-called oddball effect—an optical illusion that Eagleman had shown me in his lab. It consisted of a series of simple images flashing on a computer screen. Most of the time, the same picture was repeated again and again: a plain brown shoe. But every so often a flower would appear instead. To my mind, the change was a matter of timing as well as of content: the flower would stay onscreen much longer than the shoe. But Eagleman insisted that all the pictures appeared for the same length of time. The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them. The shoe, by its third or fourth appearance, barely made an impression. The flower, more rare, lingered and blossomed, like those childhood summers.

Re-read the bolded line above. Here it is again…

…The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them.”

Hell, read it one more time…

…The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them.”

I’m not going to attempt to speculate here, or to turn these words or these findings into something that they are not. I’m not looking for a far out connection here. Instead, I’m saying something that we may all already innately know, which the example above proves, but which we are too lazy or too tired, too distracted, too asleep or too dead to apply the energy or the will needed to experience life in a different more engaged, more aware, more understood and accepted way, to tap into our moment by moment existence as it is rather than what we believe or wish it to be.

Simply put, life requires our attention. The more unfamiliar we view our lives, the more information our brain writes down, and the more slowly time seems to pass.

But, how do we make our lives more unfamiliar?

Remind yourself constantly that you know nothing, then look around.

I just did this right now while writing and I already feel more emerged from my smug sense of knowing and engaged with the vast and unknown world around me.

Try it, now…

Did your perception change?

If you say no, you’re lying to yourself. Or, you’re just not aware. You’re not ready to be awake. You’re still asleep in the dream of knowing.

Keep trying.


But how does this apply to change? What is it exactly I am trying to say?

I started this piece unknowing of where exactly I was to take it or where it would, in the typing of its words, take me. All I knew from the beginning is I wanted to view change as inevitable, or rather as infinitesimal, as occurring moment by moment despite our awareness of its activity. Having gone back and re-read each line, from beginning to end, I notice that I have attempted to fulfill this action by bouncing back and forth between thought and observation, thinking and simply looking. And, after having reached this point, what I believe at this moment is:

Time and change are indistinguishable. Inseparable rather. They are identical twins. I might reach to even say they are conjoined twins. Or, two deeply harmonized lovers, maybe. Whatever the correct analogy may be, either way, two separate phenomena, however entangled with each other and dependent upon one another for survival, for harmony and for continuance. They move together, running along the trail of eternity. Running isn’t right. Dancing I believe is. Running implies their movement to always proceed linearly. This has been disproven, both in time and in change. Both are plastic. Malleable to the forces, emotions if you will, of life. Running doesn’t explain this properly. Dancing does. Twirling, spinning, stomping, jumping, leaping, pacing, strutting, waltzing, stepping, toeing, etc. Their coexistence is a dance, a dance however which wouldn’t exist without their conjoining. Without time, change impedes. Without change, there is no marker for time. Time is tracked, noted and observed by the changing of things. Change is seen only in the passage of time. Given their conjoined coexistence, they are subjected to the same laws of nature, most notably our ability as a species to attend to the world around us, to provide attention to the workings of a mechanism. The soul of the universe (time, unknown, infinity, space, understanding, etc.) is in constant flux, infinitesimal change, and so to its body (matter, nature, inanimate objects, living creatures, us).

How can we experience this awareness?

The more attention we pay to the moment by moment account of our lives, the more detail our brain notices, and the slower time seems to pass.

So by relation,

The more attention we pay to the moment to moment changing of things, the more detail our brain notices, and the greater our understanding of change becomes.

Change, as it is, not what we believe or wish it to be.


…So hard to move on when you’re down in a hole,

Where there’s so little a chance to experience soul.”

— George Harrison, The Light That Has Lighted The World


I’ll probably revisit and revise this piece again someday. But for now, this will do.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

How did you come across the book?

I was sitting in this park actually, saw the bookshop over there and I thought, “Well, I’m sitting here. I want to read“, went in to the bookshop, and well, this book is actually a recommendation from a friend of mine, so I asked there at the counter if they had it, and they had it, so. I bought it today, yeah.

So far, what perspective have you gained from it?

Well the book is about mass production and how, uh… eventually the world could completely turn around; where people are not born by their mother, or parent’s, but are produced in big factories. And, it’s actually, at the moment it’s sort of depressing. And, its sort of mind blowing. But, uh, I’m starting to like it, a lot. Yeah, it is quite dark. It is quite dark.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

After page 50, yeah, for-sure. And to whom? To people buying mass production goods. Yeah.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

How did you come across the book?

It’s the basis of a TV show; Outlander. So, this is the third book in the series. So, I decided to read all the books.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Almost done. 875 out of… over 1000 pages! I think its interesting because I came back from Edinburgh recently, and its during the time of the Jacobite Uprising, so its interesting to see that historical perspective after coming back from the place where the uprising happened near. Yeah!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Umm… I guess to anyone who is interested in historical fiction or who likes the TV show.

Dreams, Suffering and Love

By Justin Cude

“Only three things can change our life: Dreams, Suffering and Love.” — Paulo Coelho

Think about it.

Think of all the changes you have experienced thus far, no matter your age nor any other differentiating factor between you and someone else. Only consider the common fates of us all, our common lot and our common existence as human beings, and think all of which you have already endured and have transitioned from and to.

Really, I beg you.

Think about it.

Have dreams not lead you towards the facing of the biggest changes of your life?

Have they not demanded from you your answering of the most important questions in their confront?

The ones where decisions were heavily considered, subsequently hard fought against, accepted, second-guessed, approved again, rethought the same, and then finally made, maybe?

Has suffering and love not lead you towards the same?

Have all three not coexisted within the same moment of life’s changes?

Think about it.

In reflection of this now, I know this to be true within my own life. Every change I’ve faced, let break me, endured, overcame, reflected upon, all have stemmed from one of the three, but also, have contained a presence of the trios teaming.

Dreams have taken me places; some having been in their meeting, others in their losing. Some of the ones I’ve met, I have also lost with my understanding of them. Others I still pursue due to their continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have followed dreams that weren’t mine, readjusted and found mine again, then lost them same; this process has happened many times, and again I’m sure it will.

Again, the same with suffering.

Suffering has taken me places; some in its meeting, others thereafter its time. Some of the ones I’ve met, I also have lost with my understanding of them. Others I still find myself a part of due to their continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have allowed suffering that wasn’t mine, readjusted and suffered through my own again, then lost the same; this process has happened many times, and again I’m convinced it will.

And, again, the same with love.

Love has taken me places; sometimes in its meeting, other times in its depart. Sometimes the love I have met, I have also lost with my understanding of it. Other times I still yearn for certain love due to its continued ominous position. Regretfully, I have pursued love that wasn’t mine, readjusted and found mine again, then lost the same; this process has happened many times, and again I believe it will.

And again, in this process, the three have coexisted. I do not believe they are able not to. One tends to take the lead in regard to intensity and situation, but the others are always there.

In this, this is where the mind and the body differentiate, but where they are also subject to the same process of change. The body does not consciously chose what it will face in order to change; rather it takes on the challenges this life provides and does its best to adapt accordingly for continued and bettered survival.

The mind however, us as human beings, the pair, chooses, though choice is not always advantageous. Maybe this is a lesson where the mind can truly learn from the ways of the body; take on the challenges life provides and do its best to adapt accordingly for continued and bettered survival. Remove thought. Just act.

Some changes demand of us to accept them thoroughly for what they are, others we are able to manipulate their meaning. Regardless, we must face them, and we must adapt to them. There will always be a demand to change when facing this life. This you have no choice over. The body knows this. The mind sometimes, it forgets this.

Life will provide the challenges, and though the majority of them will originate from either that of dreams, of suffering, or of love, whether we are of the mind to confront them or not, we will have to, no matter. This will be hard, as it always is, when the three come from a place of authenticity, and in their changing we are truly affected.

If your dreams are real to you, they will bring about change, desired or not.

If your suffering is real to you, it will bring about change, prepared or not.

If your love is real to you, it will bring about change, understood or not.

Begin to understand this. Acknowledge it. Accept it. And, again, if they are real to you, then embrace them. Neither one of true meaning can exist without change, nor can it progress, nor can it grow. So, in their inevitable confront, choose to take on the challenges they provide, and do your best to adapt to them accordingly for continued and bettered survival.

For, without dreams, without suffering, and without love, life is meaningless, I do believe. And, without change, neither can truly exist. So, in accordance, without change life is meaningless. Our dreams, our suffering, and our love, they understand this. Sometimes, us… we forget.

For Those Along and to Be

By Justin Cude

“This too shall pass.”

At the onset of any new change, the moment you realize that of which is upon you, far before your understanding of its presence begins to even attempt, before you allow yourself to succumb to the brutality of what is to come… pause for a second, and remind yourself of the saying above, recite it even, over and over again, and then again:

“This too shall pass.”

It hasn’t started yet, the changes to come truly unknown, the challenges, the good, the bad, the new to come and those of old to fade away. You don’t really know what’s ahead, so don’t fool yourself, but remain hopeful, because faith in this hope is enough, even of the slightest degree, no matter how hard or how impossible this seems. No matter how heavy or how dark either. Everything in this world passes on. The good, the bad, the new, the old, and us; you and I and everyone else.

But, stop, and remind yourself of this statement, this truth rather: “This too shall pass.”

Then step forward, into the abyss of uncertainty, no matter the length of your first stride, because failure to do so, inaction upon this demand, halts the process of nature, not that of the whole, but of your own nature’s sustain within the grander. You can’t simply exist. Either way, action or inaction, you are subjected to stressors of this life. Both can be powerful, however. Action or inaction. That’s for us to decide.

“This too shall pass”, yes, but not without your involvement.

I have found this to be a very helpful belief to mediate upon and to act along with, though it has not always come easy for me; for many of us the same, I’m willing.

Many times in my life I have not believed this, sometimes desperately believed against it even, definitively convinced myself that my current lot, my current experience, was to remain, and I myself, weakened by circumstance, stuck within the amber of this pathetically defeated existence.

I was wrong. Many times I still am wrong. It was me all long.

No matter the magnitude of the alarming change brought upon us, it is hard to stop, hard to slow down, to think nonetheless upon anything. But we must, if we want to move forward with any sense of self, any belief in progressing past this, any faith in survival beyond this.

To believe against this, though easy and justified the same, I understand, truly I do, however, is corruption of the mind, a corruption we have choice over. Believe this, put your faith into it…

“Because the corruption of the mind is much more a plague than any such contaminating change in the surrounding air we breath. The latter infects animate creatures in their animate nature; the former infects human beings in their humanity.” — Marcus Aurelius

I have been there, we all have been there, and we all have choice to whether we remain there, stuck at the beginning. I was there not too long ago, during a very difficult time in my life, thrown into a change I wanted nothing to do with, no want or deserve even I thought to be apart of, but that is not how it works; life happens. Many times I still find myself revisiting this moment in my life, others before it the same, others past this, those will come. Again, life happens.

Circumstance provided me with this new context, but it was up to me, and with choice in moving forward the same, whether or not to believe in its eventual passing and to move on along with it anyway. For a long time though, I was unable to act upon either, I told myself. And I believed this, so I didn’t.

During this time however, thrilled at the opportunity to attend the book launch of one of my favorite authors new works, Tim Ferriss’ release of ‘The Tools of Titans’, a perspective was carefully shared by Tim in response to a confidently convinced onlookers questioning from the audience. Though I do not recall exactly the individuals question, I do however strongly remember it having to deal with the nature of being stuck and debilitated by circumstance, by fate. And with proper time taken to consider the question asked and the response to come, Tim shared the following:

“For anyone who thinks they are disadvantaged, set back, unprivileged, or so on, it will always become a self-inflicted prophecy. We all have demons.”

Simply put, powerful and true, and relevant to any situation, no matter your contemplate, especially when faced with the inevitable changes of life. We all face them, no matter their degree, no matter their magnitude, we all feel them.

With understanding, and sometimes without, many times these changes are not what we bargained for, not what we prayed towards, and in no shape or form what we believe we deserve. This change upon you is simply what is. It is fact, it is occurring, and it is your life. What benefit is found in plea for an alternative? It is your life, and your life is now, and this now includes all this, so accept it’s presence and proceed.

That is something we sometimes forget in these moments of uncertainty, but, it is something of deep importance of which we must understand; that this is your life. Accept it, accept the changes of now and of to come, for they are apart of the context of your life, and your acceptance and understanding of them is crucial towards your overcoming them, and your key to releasing your chained and bound attachment to that which at once wasn’t and at another won’t be again.

This isn’t made up. In fact, it is excruciatingly real, and it is upon you. But, always remember, like everything else in nature, “This too shall pass.”

This change, like every other act of transition seen and unseen in nature, is short lived, relativity of course apart of the equation. This short life can last a lifetime though if we allow it.

With this, however, understand though that your feelings towards this moment are justified; they too are real and should not be shamed nor made to feel inadequate, your being and your life the same. I believe this to be important to acknowledge; vital even. We are worthy of our struggles, and we are righteous in our enduring them and in our sustained attempts to overcome them. But, in accordance, the change upon you deserves the same, for it too is real, the demands of its asking and the acknowledgment and acceptance of its purpose.

You are prepared for this, mind and body alike, you are built for this.

Think of the changes you have already faced, the many challenges life has presented you, the stressors you have already adapted to… and here you are, and here you remain, intact and built mightier to move forward, to confront again yet another change, though you may not believe this, though you many not yet feel this… again, here you are.

Powerful. Hopeful. Prepared. Adapted.

If examples are needed for your belief towards this truth, look at nature:

The day succumbs to night, but returns to reveal the beauty of another day, no matter the life of the one before it.

The storm drains itself of rain to allow the sun, and brings with it life, no matter the ferociousness of the storm passed.

The dead of winter succumbs to the coming of spring, allowing it its place, its life, winter however leaving all stronger for having endured its subtle asking to rest, no matter seasons length, its cast, nor its unpredictability. No matter either the time passed before this new strength is realized.

You are no different to this, and neither is this change upon you, this stress. It is here now, but it will not remain. Of nature, nothing can, nothing will, and nothing has.

Will change repeat? Yes. But you will be ready. Innately you already are. Again, you are prepared for this, mind and body alike, you are built for this.

And in this short lived state, all this moment is asking of you, all this moment suggests of your being, is to allow fully your innate ability of meeting the requirements of this situation its role, to live accordingly with the nature presented, and to have faith in your eventual adaptation to such.

Remember, believe wholeheartedly, and turn to nature if for needed reference, of the body and of the universe; “This too shall pass.”

Afrikan People and European Holidays: A Mental Genocide, Book Two by Ishakamusa Barashango

How did you come across the book?

Well, I was down south for the holidays. I was in Virginia. I left North Carolina on… my sister lives in North Carolina… I left there Christmas Day to go to Virginia. I left Virginia Thursday and I’ve been in New York since. So, my brother had it in his house, and I noticed it and I was like, “hmm, that’s kind of interesting!”

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well, uh… it just gives an introduction of, hmm… historical facts from another person’s point of view, which is not really the view of the textbooks that we receive in schools and stuff like that. It’s just another peoples’ perspective who claim that the descendants of Neanderthals, Europeans, have inflicted a lot of strife upon the world, especially when they received that very power that they held from the original people, which is Afrikans. So, that’s the kind of point of view that I’ve gathered so far. Yeah… I’m not done with it yet.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Hmm… I would recommend it to all peoples’. All peoples’. You know, because its not only people of color who are miseducated in America. It’s all peoples. So, I would definitely recommend it to… anyone who is interested in history or just doesn’t like the way the world is run right now. People who are interested in those things should definitely check out this book.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

How did you come across the book?

It was recommended to me by two of my closest friends, on tour, three years ago.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well, what’s cool is I just finished reading another book called, “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy… and finding nuggets he gave in that book reflected in here has been really interesting. Just reading them so closely together… that’s been really cool.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah! I’d recommend it. I mean, I’m not… I’m only 36, 37 pages in… uh, but so far, it’s good. It seems like anybody can read it. It’s not too challenging. And, I’ve heard only great things about, like, once you finish the book, what it does for you, so… why not everyone, yeah?

The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck

How did you come across the book?

Uh… a friend lent it to me.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

It’s amazing! Well, maybe you know it… maybe you’ve read about it. It’s set in the 1930s, Great Depression, where a lot of people in the South of the US were forced to move to the West because of the… they were losing the land, the banks were taking it away from them, and… it’s just an amazing book. I really like it. It’s very humane. It has that… from the start, it’s perspective, it has the mix of the very nice prose of the author, and the descriptions… and with the dialogues of the characters, that are very… you know, uneducated, and very popular from the sense that they talk like people in the South… it gives you the sense of the time and helps you learn about the South through language, and how they spoke and interacted during this period. So, its a very nice book to read from that point of view, and also, it helps you understand how the American society came about, to what it is today.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I think everyone should read this book. Especially if they live in America. Or, even if they don’t, because the US is such an influential country… politics and economics, quotes… for everyone.

I have nothing to say here. This is only an attempt to break a horrible, inactive writing streak…

By Justin Cude

I haven’t sat down to write in a while. I haven’t been able to find the words. They just haven’t been there lately. I’ve had nothing to say and I don’t know why. And, well, this is my attempt to break that streak. Bear with me. I don’t know where this may lead…

It’s not that I have been lazy. I keep a pretty rigorous schedule with most things in my life, writing usually being one of them. But, again, lately, I just haven’t had anything to say.

ANYTHING. NOTHING. NADA. ZIP.

And, again, I don’t know why.

As I write this now, and as I force to the forefront of my consciousness, reflection upon why, I still don’t know why. It’s as if my brain just hasn’t made connections lately. Not in the world around me, not in the people, not in nature, not in anything.

I’ve never felt this “blank” before, if you will, when it comes to writing. And, as I continue to think of it now, I don’t think there exists anything, any one thing even, causing this. It’s just what is lately.

I have nothing, for no reason, to say.

And, as a writer, as you can imagine, it’s not a great place to be. I love writing. I love how challenging and how raw it is. I love words, simply, put together, even if the words today aren’t. I love emotions from those words. I love reactions to those words; mine and the readers. I love messing up, becoming frustrated by it, and trying again. I love thinking I’m done, to only catch myself fooling myself, and then forcing myself to start over, to keep on, to earn it. I love writing, and I love all that comes with it. There’s more there, but no need to push it more. If you write, then you know.

Anyways, even now, as I continue on with this unguided attempt, I’m still having trouble finding the words. I don’t like this as I write it, even. I hate even the way it sounds. But, I do like the feeling of my fingers, typing away. The noise of the keys. They sound confident in themselves, though I know their conductor to be not. Not in these words. Not in this attempt. But, whatever. Confidence at times is overrated. Sometimes, you just have to show up and try, confident or not. Or whatever other driving force you call it, or not; Confident; Courageous; Impassioned; Angry; Sad; Stupid; Whatever. Sometimes, the feelings don’t matter. You just have to show up. And, again, that’s what this is. I’m just attempting to show up today.

I think I may have found something here. Isn’t that the case with life. Couldn’t that be argued. That your feelings don’t matter. At least not all the time. Because, no matter what, you just have to show up. You have to wake up, everyday that you are given, and you have to show up. For yourself, for others. For your craft, your vision. For anything. For everything. Even if you feel that you can’t and that you won’t, you’re only fooling yourself, because you will, no matter how you feel about it. You still must wake up and face life. There’s no hiding from that. For now, its not going anywhere, and neither are you. You must show up. You will show up. You have no choice in that.

Don’t be narrow minded here. I’m not talking about showing up to work, or to class, or to anything given a specific place or goal. I’m talking about showing up for it all. For whatever life is, that moment. Every moment. Again, YOU CAN’T HIDE FROM THIS. Even if you tried, where would you go? Is your mind not still with you? Is your body not still intact? Hell, even drugs can’t take this away. Life is the force of it all. The provider. The creator. The do all be all, of it all. I don’t mean to get too grim here, but maybe even death doesn’t provide retreat. Who knows. I don’t know. And, I won’t act as if I do. All I’m saying here is, you’ve got to show up. You will show up, no matter how you feel, prepared or not, ready or not, whatever or not. You will show up. There’s no hiding from life.

Showing up by choice does feel better, though. Even now, I still hate this piece. I hate the words I’ve thrown together. I hate my lack of direction here. I still hate the way it sounds. But, I chose to show up, and I chose to try, and I chose to stick with the attempt. And, for that, because of that, I feel better. I feel here.

I’m going to post this, unedited. I will not go back and change anything about it. Not a word. Again, today, this was my attempt at showing up, and it serves as proof to myself that I did. Unguided. Unconfident. Without excitement or anything to say, even. But, I showed up. I tried. And, again, I feel better for having done so.

P.S.

An interesting practice for any of you self-proclaimed writers out there. Just show up. Write whatever. Even if it sucks. Even if you hate every word. Could be an interesting practice for anyone attempting anything out there, really. Just show up. Try. Even if it sucks. The act of doing is a very powerful thing, no matter the outcome.

A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

How did you come across the book?

I was at my girlfriend’s house, um… and, I saw the book on the shelf, and I was like, “Hey, I watched the series, so might as well read the book!” And, yeah… that’s how I found myself reading it. I asked if I could borrow it and… yeah.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

I don’t know. I use to… I’ve always read books for different reasons. I was into fantasy a lot. And, this is also fantasy. But, they’re written differently… and like, especially when you’re younger, you look at different things and you get lost in different things. Your whole mind wanders. I end up not reading usually. Half the time I usually just look at the page, kind of just dreaming and thinking about it… and that’s why I like fantasy. So, to answer the question… yeah, I don’t know!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah. I mean I’d honestly recommend it to all ages, but like that’s always a weird thing, cause I feel like kids understand violence… there’s a lot of violence, a lot of blood, vivid descriptions of different things, you know. But yeah, honestly, I feel like kids my age… 19… I mean 16-19 also, violence is on like every TV show… and it’s on Netflix, so… anyone can watch that. So, yeah… honestly, all ages. Why not?

Willing Slaves of Capital by Frederic Lordon

How did you come across the book?

It was recommended by a friend.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well, uh… I’ve got a very new perspective towards capitalism. Yeah… it is… I’ve learned to admit the fact that we are all, slaves in a way… willingly though. Because, the system is designed in such a way that we need to willingly go into servitude to get what it is we desire, on a daily basis. Or, otherwise… or else… you can’t live in this system. You have to live somewhere else.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh yeah. I would totally recommend it. Especially to the young people… to the youth. Because, uh… they seem so caught up in the… in everything that’s going on. Everything seems to be coming at them so fast that people don’t have time to take an objective look at anything. And, this book takes an objective look to capitalism, if you want to… if you may put it like that. I think it would really be a good read for… for the youth, anywhere… not just in the overtly capitalistic systems, but than those that are covertly capitalistic, or whatever they may want to call it, as well. Yeah… I think its a good read.

Moon of the Morning Sky

By Justin Cude

It’s a contradiction, but it happens.

It’s not supposed to be there, but it is.

It’s a symbol of the night, but I’m enjoying its presence this very morning,

amongst a sky bluer than the richest of ocean,

caught within the vastness of life made visible by the Sun’s provide,

sketched between the purest of white, wonderful clouds washed across the canvas of the scene.

My mind grateful for this. All of this. All beyond this, even.

But,

more so for the accident.

Grateful for what is, but wasn’t meant to be,

for the abstract nonconformity of it all.

A whole world to be grateful for,

beyond this world, even more.

But,

an accident reminds me.

It reminds me of the mystery which is life,

challenges any attempt of mine to be right,

brings to question things I may be unwilling to confront,

to be confronted by,

or to completely turn away from.

It reminds me its okay to be where you’re not suppose to.

It can be beautiful, even.

Where am I suppose to be, anyway?

Where is the moon suppose to be?

Not there, but it is.

Not here, but I am.

And it’s beautiful.

All of it.

The contradiction.

The misplaced.

The accident.

Moon of the morning sky,

thank you,

deeply,

for reminding me.

Behind That Door

By Justin Cude

There’s so many things in my life that repeat.

Maybe for yours, the same.

I’ve been there before.

I’ve felt that way.

I’ve seen where this leads.

I’ve experienced that pain.

Maybe for you, the same.

I know what’s behind that door, but I keep opening it.

Most moments I know I shouldn’t. That could be a fool. But it only takes one.

I usually fall for that moment.

No matter how much thought, how much hesitation. I fall for that moment.

I open it again.

Sometimes its me knocking on the door. It’s not always answered. It’s not always ignored, either.

Other times I hear the knocking. Sometimes I’ll answer. Other times I wont. I’ll ignore it.

But again, it only takes one. One fool. One moment. And, that door’s open again.

And, I know what’s behind that door, but its open again.

It’s not all bad, though. It’s not all good, either.

It’s not all the same. It’s not all different, I’ll admit.

The first step back tends to be different. The first gaze makes it all seem foreign.

I think we want it to be. I believe we need it to be.

Then, you notice what hasn’t changed. Not everything does. Most of it, yes. But, not everything.

I believe we want it to be. No, I think we need it to be.

It’s not about the changes, though. It’s not about the things which remain the same, either.

I don’t know what its about. I’m tired of guessing. Something invites you in, though. It is welcoming.

There is a home to it.

And you fall for it.

Maybe home is what its about. At least a sense of it.

A gypsy’s mind yearns for that, too.

A traveler’s body.

A sailor’s devotion.

An artist’s attempt.

A carney’s hidden sorrow.

A soldier’s sacrifice.

All the same. They yearn for that, too.

At least a sense of it.

But, I know what’s behind that door, and its open again.

It’s not that, though.

It’s not that, anymore.

It’s not even yesterday, anymore.

Not yet tomorrow, but, not even…

this…

… anymore.

This becomes that.

Now its not even that, anymore.

I’m not even me, anymore.

Not the me from before.

Maybe a sense of it.

Maybe for you, the same.

Maybe a sense of it.

That could be a fool.

So much uncertainty.

But, I know whats behind that door.

That could be a fool, too.

No.

I know whats behind that door.

But, there’s those moments again when I don’t.

Maybe I’ve forgotten. Maybe I’ve wanted to have forgotten. Maybe I honestly don’t know anymore. Maybe its all a lie. Maybe I’ve lied to myself. Been lied to, maybe.

Maybe we all have.

Maybe we all do.

No.

I know whats behind that door. But, its open again.

But, I’m not asking why no more.

No expectations.

No thought of how come. No wonder of what if.

They come back around, I’ll admit.

But, I know them now. I know their presence and I know their stay, and I know neither are very long. Not anymore. Not as long as before.

I never expected to pass through here again.

I’ve learned that too; I’ve learned that to be a fool.

I was just looking for what was looking for me.

No. That’s a fool. I was looking for anything.

I never expected to pass through here again, though.

But, here I am.

Again.

The first step, different. The first gaze, foreign.

I know what’s behind that door. Do I, though?

There are similarities, though. And, there are differences, too.

I know what’s behind that door, but this one?

I’ve been there before, but not here.

I’ve felt that way, but not this.

I’ve seen where this leads, but not end.

I’ve experienced that pain, and I will again.

Never have I felt like this before, though.

And, never will I again. Not exactly like this. No, not ever again.

Not exactly like this.

There is no door. The whole damn thing a fool.

There’s only this. That from before. And then, maybe, there’s more.

We’re all exposed to it.

Subjected, rather.

Behind that door, no longer I hide.

My mind no longer blind.

Blocked.

Closed.

Shut.

That could be fool. It only takes one.

There is no door, though.

There’s only this. That from before. And then, maybe, there’s more.

Behind that door, from my mind, no longer I hide.

Fendre l’armure by Anna Gavalda

How did you come across the book?

I bought it in France before I left to come here. And, I don’t know… bought it because I know the author, I’ve read a lot of her books and I really like them. It’s easy to read and, this one, it’s just like a bunch of novels that I really like. It’s about people that are becoming vulnerable and opening themselves. So, yeah… this is something that I find really interesting.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Hmm… I’ve learned that probably opening to people isn’t a bad thing, and making yourself vulnerable isn’t bad at all. It’s not a weakness. It’s uh… you feel less lonely when you open to people and this is pretty much what this book told me.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah, I would definitely recommend it, and I would recommend it to pretty much everyone because it is super simple to read. There are so many different histories that identify to most of the characters, so… and… it’s a great book.

You Have All You Need

By Justin Cude

More. But why? Look around; you have all you need.

Your entire being a vehicle, designed for survival and for thrive, for experience and for expression.

No more gimmicks, no need for external aid, be gone with the thought ‘with this there is more’; look within and you will find that you have all you will ever need.

With what you are, you are enough.

‘But what I want is to relax.’ Sit still and observe your being within the world around, allowing yourself this simple, righteous pleasure. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to learn.’ Go where your nature directs you and open your mind, taking it all in, taking with you what you will. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to feel.’ Allow your senses to succumb to the raw sensations of now, letting go of your attempt to make it anything else. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to progress.’ Know how it is you want to first, then aim and pursue, but willing to fail along the way. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to love.’ Do so, the ways you know, and the was you want to try, unafraid to be afraid, inhibitions met but also overcome. You’re here and here you are able.

‘But what I want is to live.’ You are, and you must, right now, the ways that you want and along with the changes of those ways. You’re here and here you are able.

No more gimmicks, no need for external aid, be gone with the thought ‘with this there is more’; look within and you will find that you have all you will ever need.

With what you are, you are enough.

You’re here and here you are able.

A Western World by Michael DeForge

How did you come across the book?

Uhh… I like DeForge’s work… its by Michael DeForge. So, I liked his work anyway, and I kind of found it spontaneously when I was shopping. The colors of one of the covers of his books just like called me out, so then I bought this book and then I realized it was unlike any other kind of sequential art book that I’ve read. And so, then from there I’ve just been getting my hands on as much of his work as possible.

So far, what perspective have you gained from the book?

Well, its really cool because this came out I think… I think it came out like last month… its really new. And so, its his kind of zany, like almost absurdist art-take on real world issues that are happening right now. For instance, there’s a part of the book that kind of dabbles polyamory and like how society perceives it, and how people still feel like they have to kind of keep it a secret if they’re into those types of things… so, it just does that but in a more visual way, because its all drawn out, like a comic book but its focusing on real things, not just like superhero’s and stuff.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes, I would recommend this book, to anyone who actually doesn’t like to read but is interested in trying to get into reading, because, I really wasn’t a reader until this year and then I had a sort of strike of reading and I feel it was brought on because I originally found interest in these books. I’m an extremely visual person, but that comes with actual shapes and images and photos, and so words kind of just don’t hold my attention, but ever since I started reading his work, and me being able to relate it to real world stuff, even though it is a comic book style and its drawn, its gotten me to read more and more things because now I’m just into the idea of that narrative. So, it was almost like an introductory… it got me as an adult back into reading when I haven’t for years.

This Place Is Empty

By Justin Cude

The day was hazy as many before have been, and many beyond this I’m sure will be. I’m in a different place, and even here my life, this moment, feels the same; hazy.

The air is hot, no wind to cool the skin, not fresh enough to enjoy, nor to be active in, for its contents are as unnatural as the loneliness I find myself clutched by.

This place is empty. Not that others aren’t, just this one seems to fit the feeling. This day the same.

In the back seat of a taxi, driven by a man I only know a little of his language to communicate with, the conversation over before it had begun, we head North East towards something I want to see since I find myself close by.

I plan to spend the afternoon, most the day even, to explore this area, to witness its history first hand. I’m excited, sure, but I am also alone on this trip and I can’t seem to shake that awareness, much less the feeling I am attempting to describe.

Maybe it would be different if this had been my first extended time alone, but for reasons I am unaware of I have become quite familiar with this kind of loneliness. Again, I don’t know why. That’s just how it has worked out up to now.

Whether here or somewhere else I have traveled, somewhere else I have lived, I have often experienced deep feelings of isolation, deeper moments the same.

I have found I am able to go many places, be many places, live many places, alone, and yeah there’s some good in that, but there are moments when I battle with anxiety of being there by myself, with no one to help if needed, no one to experience it with.

These feelings have haunted the journey as well.

As irrational as this sounds, this can be felt deep within the explorations of a foreign country, or even down the street at a familiar coffee shop within my own hometown. It’s limits know no bounds. It’s creativity either.

It’s not that I am scared. It’s more that I am aware, overly aware maybe, of this feeling of empty, of alone. Aware to the point where it is sometimes hard to notice anything else. This isn’t always the case, but it still hurts at moments.

I’ve felt this in some of the worlds largest cities surrounded by a thriving populous.

I’ve felt this in the middle of a starry high-desert evening sitting alone reclined in the front seat of a rented truck.

I’ve felt this crosslegged on many coasts, staring out into the blue abyss of both ocean and sky.

I’ve felt this intwined within a shared embrace.

I’ve felt this almost everywhere.

Not all the time, but almost everywhere.

And I feel this now as I write about it, or else I wouldn’t be able to. This isn’t something you can conceive out of nothing. It’s describe very much so depends upon a well to pull from, no matter how empty it feels.

However, I hope none of you take my writing as a cry, but rather an attempt to add to our species collective desire and strive for a relatable human condition.

Notice, I didn’t say for an understanding of our human condition. I believe many people do not necessarily care for the answers to our questioning of why, nor do I believe they would benefit from them either.

Why us? Why here? Why now? Why all of this?

Forget that.

We fool ourselves with such romantic questioning at times, thinking that their answering will provide comfort. Well, we’d still be here even after their finding.

No, I believe many would benefit more from the understanding of our shared and relatable existence. Not why we are here, but rather a collective effort to help and to understand while we are here.

It doesn’t make sense to worry about things which we cannot control, things we cannot see. It makes much more sense to care for those that we can, those we are able to touch; each other, our world, ourselves.

This place is empty though, and at moments its able to make you feel the same. Again, as irrational as this sounds, I can be anywhere and this feeling of empty can overcome me, in many ways even.

Empty of mind, of conversation.

Empty of feeling, of sensation.

Sometimes of the very breath which by nature fills.

Sometimes I can’t feel it and it scares me.

I sometimes feel as though there is nothing there at all. Nothing but an empty container we find ourselves roaming about within the confines of its elaborate ruse.

I’ll stop there with the existentialism. That’s too easy. Too shallow. Too predictable. I don’t want this piece to run off the rails. I want it to lead somewhere. I want it to mean something.

I read a book recently.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging‘ by Sebastian Junger.

It talks openly and bluntly about these feelings of empty, of lonely, of isolation. I’m glad I finally decided to pick up and to give it a read. It helped me understand these feelings deeper. It made me realize I’m at least not alone with them.

Read it if you’ve ever felt this way.

Read it even if you haven’t.

It might help you understand the struggles of another in this light.

It made me understand more of my own. It made me understand better those of other’s. I’ll read it again one day because I’m sure I’ll have to. I’m sure I’ll want to the same.

Anyways, there is a story shared amongst countless others within its pages that resonated with me at the time of my writing of this piece. It could have easily been another, but at that moment it was this one which really filled the gap. I won’t go into too much detail about it because I feel its words alone are enough. However, its setting is war, but its meaning translates to any degree of life you may be experiencing, at this time or at any other:

“I missed being that close to people, I missed being loved in that way,” she told me.

“In Bosnia—as it is now—we don’t trust each other anymore; we became really bad people. We didn’t learn the lesson of the war, which is how important it is to share everything you have with human beings close to you. The best way to explain it is that the war makes you an animal. We were animals. It’s insane—but that’s the basic human instinct, to help another human being who is sitting or standing or lying close to you.”

I asked Ahmetaševi? if people had ultimately been happier during the war. “We were the happiest,” Ahmetaševi? said. Then she added: “And we laughed more.”

And that’s what I am trying to get at. I’m not blaming my feelings of alone, of empty, of isolation on anyone other than myself, ourselves; your’s too. Collectively we all can do better. Collectively we all are designed to do better.

To help one another.

To talk to one another.

To listen to one another.

To acknowledge one another.

Simply, to be there for one another during our time within this labyrinth named life, because it’s really the only thing that makes any damn sense anyways. The only thing that really leads anywhere. The only thing that really means something.

What else are you going to do?

Sit and ponder the heavens, and waste every second we’re allotted, instead of embracing and engaging with the place, the moment, the people of which also we ourselves are embedded? Of which we ourselves come from? Of which we ourselves will one day soon leave?

Yeah, this place feels empty sometimes, and I do too, and I’m sure you reading this can relate, but that emptiness, it falls on myself, ourselves.

The day was hazy, but I chose to ignore that. I had felt empty, but I decided to fill that with life, which was all around. I met a stranger, who shortly thereafter became a friend, even if only for the day. We experienced the place together, and we both felt better for having done so.

That’s Life

By Justin Cude

It’s been about a year, a little over a year now, since I moved away from the city I have always been pulled to, even as a little kid. The one I learned to love for what it is, not for what I attempted to make it to be, for the attempt to do so would prove useless. It did and I learned and I loved it more for it.

Remaining the romantic I tend to be, for the attempt to be otherwise would prove useless as well, a classical array of Frank Sinatra numbers have always, and I believe will continue to, keep me current with the city’s lasting allure, even in my current absence. For me, no other artists have truly captured this. No other songs have ever embodied it, though I will admit there are a few honorable mentions, but who really wants to be caught on that list? This piece is about more than music though.

Though at the moment I am away from the city, I never fully left, as is true for any great romantic relationship. Much like the loving and romancing of a great woman, you’ve spent time exploring her, only to find as your knowledge of her grows so does your appreciation of her, and fortunately so does your awareness of your ignorance of her vastness which still remains. There’s still more to find.

And, not only that, but you’ve experienced with her. This life, her emotions and yours. This life, its highs and its lows and everything in between. Apart from her or entangled with, you can’t remove what has already happened, and nor should you try.

In many ways I am still there, and for the enduring and strengthening few with time, I will always remain.

But over this time many things have changed. It’s remarkable when you do take the time to reflect on the passing of another year how many things do. Some we have been aware of, but for many we only realize upon looking back.

Many say looking back is wrong. I’ve never believed this, but I have realized how heavy it can be.

That heaviness though I have always enjoyed.

I’ve never been one to believe life needs to be happy all the time. I’ve never been one to want that for myself either, though I have caught myself deep in the trap trying to make it that way. I don’t think I’d like it if it always was. I don’t believe many do trying to make it that way.

Sometimes I want the unhappy, the sad, the crazy and the impossible, the yearning, the past, the pain. It reminds me of what has happened, and it makes me appreciate every part of it more; the happy and the sad, and everything in between.

Sometimes isn’t right. Usually I find I want it more. It makes sense if you think about it. Maybe I’m wrong. But, it tends to make me feel everything more and I don’t want to be numb all the time attempting to ignore that.

Anyways, I sit here now, thousands of miles away from that city, in another one, another big one even, but its not quite the same.

Things feel different. I feel different. Not that this is wrong or bad, just different. Like anywhere else, somedays are good and somedays are bad, and some are somewhere in between.

I watched a video earlier today, one I had made the day I left a little over a year ago now, and it made me feel that way again. I know I’m not the only one that city uses. Countless eyes had seen it before me, and countless others will after me. Countless lives have enjoyed her before me, and countless others have and will after me.

But, nonetheless, I felt captured, and there, though only for a moment in the grand scheme of it all, captured felt right. Everybody wants freedom. I’d take, even if only a little, that kind of captured again. This piece is about more than just a city though.

Still sitting here now, writing this, it hits me how much truly has changed. People, places, thoughts, wants, truths, and so on.

It’s easy to think everything remains the same. It’s hard to notice the changes. Most aren’t big enough to wake you up at night. No, most are subtle. But, once noticed, their acknowledgment proves to be impactful.

Around this time last year I was leaving somewhere. This somewhere now I am thinking of leaving again. Those I guess you could call examples of the big ones. All the things that have happened in between these two points though, I wouldn’t say they add up. No, when you think about it, things just sort of happen.

Some add. Some take away. Many just happen. Many just slip on by. It’s up to me to notice what I will. It’s up to you the same.

I miss that feeling, but I wonder how many feelings I have missed since then, ones I would have appreciated if I had only noticed them then, if only I had not been caught up with just the one.

Though I can’t live them again, though I cannot go back and really feel them, I notice them now, at least I am trying, and at this now that trying is enough.

But that’s life. You notice what you notice. Who knows exactly why?

Days come and so do nights, and then they go and maybe another one comes around. It’s easy to think another one will, but things change, you never know. And if another does come around, its easy to think it the same as the last.

Again, its hard to notice the changes.

Blame ignorance.

Ignorance towards thinking things will never change, or ignorance blinding you from noticing what has.

I’ve missed many moments thinking things were the same, or at least thinking they hadn’t changed. I don’t want to miss anymore fighting this alone. There’s really nothing to fight anyways. You’re making it up. You think there is, but there isn’t.

There’s only change. Don’t take that on. You’ll lose.

Yeah, sure, I miss that feeling and I miss that city, and I probably always will, but constantly chasing the highs it evoked, or believing the lows it did as well to be only unique to its confines, both of these are wrong. It’s highs were high and its low were damn low, but most of my time there was spent somewhere in between, and most of that time I let slip away, unnoticed.

Again, its up to me for me, and its up to you for you the same, to notice what you will. I’ll still acknowledge the highs and I’ll still endure the lows, but moving on I simply want to notice more of the in between.

Because that’s life. Most of it happens somewhere in between.

We tend to avoid or pursue the highs and the lows.

Invite them, welcome them, sure, of course, but don’t hold on to them. They don’t last. They fade quickly. Feel them when they are around, but let them go.

Again, most of life is found in between. Try to notice the life in that. Don’t become numb to it. Become very much attuned with it.

Life is largely about realizations and we all feel more alive in the moments of our deepest ones.

Or maybe in the moments of our most simple ones.

We’re too blinded during the highs, too emotional during the lows to have these. Most happen after. After some time has passed. After we have gained sight again. After our emotions have leveled off. Most happen somewhere in between.

Most happen in the quiet. Quiet can be good. I’ll try to write on that sometime. That’s enough for now.

Most of all of this happens somewhere in between though. That’s the main idea here.

Right now you’re probably somewhere in there. I know I am.

Don’t let it slip away chasing the next high or avoiding the next low. Those you will meet again. Don’t worry. Don’t be scared. Those will happen again, because that’s life. But, there is so much more in between, and that is usually where we tend to be.

The Bible

How did you come across the book?

Someone handed it to me in charity. They gave me it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

The first book I read in The Bible is Jobe. It’s the trials he goes through. I see it as sort of my trials in my life for myself. It’s just where I am right now. I’m homeless and I’m just going with God trying to figure it out.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I’d only recommend it if you had a Bible to give somebody. It’s better than money. That’s it.

The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick

How did you come across the book?

… I have no idea! I don’t remember. Probably… graduate school? I may of come across it… oh, you know what… OK… I remember, sorry! This was recommended to me by Rob Spillman who’s one of the editors at Tin House News, also a sometimes professor at Columbia University in the writing program.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Ooh! Um… I feel like I have to pull my notes out! One of the biggest takeaways for me, because this is a book about essay and memoir, its about personal narrative, and one of the biggest takeaways for me is that an essay is exploring a topic through the lens of the narrator’s persona, whereas a memoir is exploring the narrator’s persona through different topics outside the narrator. And so, that really gave me a lot of perspective on my own writing and in ways that I could kind of come at the self obliquely through other topics.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend it to somebody who is probably a later writing student, or an experienced writer. The first time I read it, it went over my head a little bit, and so, I’m not sure that it would be helpful for many people, but, there is a great reading list kind of worked into it because she goes through all of these different examples of essays and memoir and personal narrative in the book. But, I’d probably save it for somebody who’s stuck on their current writing project.

Anthony Bourdain’s Life, Confidential

By Justin Cude

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain

On the outside, this man seemed to know more about life than everybody; its subtleties and its limits and its secrets alike, and I’m sure on the inside the same, maybe more. I mean, how couldn’t he? The places he’d been, the people he’d met, the pleasures of this life he’d most definitely indulged to the fullest, and the lows he’d cared deeply, and with understanding to speak openly, about. And not only that, but dive into his work; his shows, his writing, his sharing of his life and his experiences. All beautiful works of art in their own right, all poetically crafted and uniquely and meaningfully his own, derived from his acts of doing, not from his assumptions of what if. This man had “the best job in the world”, and we all thought that, and we all said that, and we all believed it to be true, but this story is about much more than a profession. This sends shock waves across generations, around the world, forcing us all to question our own lives, our own values and beliefs, our own sufferings, because that is how broad and how deep his influence reached; spanning cultures and people both young and old and in between, infiltrating our souls and our desires on the basis of our allowing of and our hoping for, and challenging our beings with sensory liberation. This man was an influencer, probably the realest among countless other’s attempts of our generation, and, staying true to his approach towards it all, even in his last act of expression, he kept things real and he brought to the forefront, life.

At the radically experienced age of 61, he was in rare position, enabling him to possess multi-generational influence, ranging from the young and the reckless to the old and the restless. However, age alone did not provide him this effect. Much like ‘The Rolling Stones’, in my fanfare opinion of the pair, he was able to keep current, entangled with the up and coming, while also remaining defiant, engraved with and by the stuff of legends; all with a keen sense of real, all with an innate ability to do so.

Look at me. I’m talking as if I knew the man.

Well, I didn’t. Personally, no. But, nonetheless, I understood his presentation. At least, I tried to. In many ways I’ve tried to embody it, even if only a little, for the attempt to do so promises to be worth it, again, even if only a little.

Authenticity encapsulated this man, rather, authenticity had no chance to hide from him. He would find it and I’m sure he would enjoy it, and then he would tell us about it, and you could not help but be infatuated. Maybe infatuated isn’t the right word, for what he proposed was much more lasting. Infatuated from the onset, yes, but appreciative, all the more from the initial encounter onward. Don’t deny it. He had you thinking. He had you questioning. He had you wondering. And then, he had you acting on it, and you were appreciative for having done so; appreciative of him and of your listening to. And if you haven’t yet, you will be. You’ll see.

Again, this man had it all, and we all believed it to be true; travel, food, freedom; what else? He would be in Hong Kong one moment, perhaps dizzying through the bustling streets, indulging by choice and by circumstance the beautiful frenzy of it all, and Paris the next, maybe accepting the moments expose, directing one to succumb to the city’s subtle but charming asking to simply allow and to enjoy its offerings. But again, I can’t say for sure. I didn’t know this man. Most of his admirers didn’t. This is all assumption, but assumption hinted, supported even, by his heavy persuasion bestowed upon us and by our willingness and eagerness, or maybe our surrendering to, to take on its weight, to abide by its claims and to, again, even if only a little, see for ourselves its truths and its essence.

If you’ve tried then you know. If you haven’t yet, then eventually you will. Maybe, if of course you choose to do so, and if you do it the way he proposed; authentic.

“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund.”

Look past the glamour of it all though; the food, the travel, the freedom. What really was he presenting? What really was he asking us all to see, or to at least try to?

I believe it to be just that. I believe he was asking us to just see, or, to at least try to; to see all that we are offered and all that we can experience and all that we are able to live through, to feel life through. Don’t just eat the food, but taste it. Don’t just travel somewhere, but become it. Don’t just dream of freedom, but live it and understand it and allow it. It doesn’t truly matter what dish may be served, or what city or escape you find yourself temporarily inhabiting, or what level or what medium of freedom you feel yourself yearning to express, quivering in hesitation before releasing your guilt or your shame or your dogmatic restraints and simply trying. I don’t believe he gave a damn what it was that turned you on, only again, simply that you would try. What else?

“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find the perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”

Letting the happy accident happen. How beautiful is that? How perfect does this simple line define our sublime undergo of life? But, unfortunately, how often do we find ourselves willfully protesting against its proclamation, holding firm our restrained consent to simply allow it to be?

I’m not talking about vacation itineraries here, and I don’t believe his words are either in their truest sense. You could just as easily hear him say, “Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of our live’s miss”, and he’d continue to try to push us to allow those things to happen rather than sticking to some rigid plan we have laid out for ourselves, and for that we should be grateful; someone devoting their time in this world to remind us that there is more, and that that more is found here, now, in our letting it happen, not in our planned attempt to take control of it all for some far off future arrival. Besides, how can we expect to have a good experience here without a constant willingness to experience a bad one? The good comes with the bad and we should have it no other way.

But again, this story is about much more than a profession; about much more even than the man himself, and I think we would of liked it that way. Outside the enjoyment of it all, outside of the food, and the travel and the freedom, it reminds us bluntly of the other side which remains, lurking within us all, able and ready and willing to demoralize our efforts, burden our thoughts and our inhalations, tame the very spirit which once burned through our worries and our blockades. This story, however contradicting and sad and surreal it may appear, is much more about our sufferings than it ever will again be about anything else.

His life influenced us all profoundly, but his death, I suspect, will do so all the more, in time and in reflection; it’s happening already has, at least for those who admired him and attempted to emulate his approach. His life and his words and his actions alike first challenged us, then they dared us, then they empowered us, not to withhold from this life, but to withdraw from it; to withdraw all that we can and to share it with all of whom we will and are able. His death I believe has and will continue to do the same. I know it has already for me. At this moment it is challenging me, then at another I am sure it will dare me, and then I believe it will empower me the next, to question everything, to intuitively re-evaluate my values and my beliefs on my own accord, and to be aware and to try to understand my sufferings, as open and as honest as I can. What else?

But, as is always the contemplation following another’s departure; where do we go from here?

“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

How did you come across the book?

Uh, I read his first novel… ‘Kitchen Confidential‘… and so, found there was a next one, and decided to read the rest.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

I guess the shift that the author went through from, you know… well, the first book, ‘Kitchen Confidential‘, is way more about the restaurant industry itself, and then this shows his shift into becoming a celebrity chef and, yeah…. it shows his perspective that he gained out of it; the retrospect and everything. I like it because it’s still… it’s not just about that… it’s still about food and the industry and what not, so yeah. I’m a cook right now, and I’m inspiring to be a chef, so any bit of information I can get, you know, is good.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I definitely would recommend it. I mean, because I personally enjoy it, a lot. I think though that it could be interesting for anyone, just because he’s…. I’m mean, I only have around a year or so experience cooking and all that, but from what I’ve seen so far, he stays true to what everyday life is in a kitchen. And, on top of that, you know, he’s uh… he’s a pretty entertaining writer; he’s funny and all. So, yeah… if you want to have a good laugh and you happen to be interested in food, yeah, I definitely recommend it.

Stuck In The Amber

By Justin Cude

Here we are, such as we are; and whether or not we are pleased with this moment, we have no other choice than in accepting it.

“All time is all time. It does not lend itself to warning or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”


I’m currently on a train, traveling through mainland china, enroute to a new city, a new experience. At this very moment, I am leaning against a cushioned human shelf up against the window, among a chattering crowd in the dining cart section, a small elevated table in front of me where my keyboard now rests as I bug it with type. To my right, the kitchen dishing out a foreign menu, both by flavor and script; I’m hungry, so I’ll try it. “N?h?o. Menu?!” “Ah, xièxie!” To my left, the crowd, filled with wide smiling faces, made up of families, friends, associates and strangers, I’m guessing, and a little girl barfing into a plastic bag, being helped by her un-phased, “been-here-before”, loving parents; no one minds, they are busy enjoying the scene, though a few pair of curious eyes are caught by the bald “M?iguórén” (American) lone and curious himself in the corner.


Here I am, such as I am.

The moment in time with which we are given, the one we currently find ourselves encompassed by, embedded with rather, this is where we are, and to the best of our understanding, this is what we are; people, stuck in this spec of existence, alive.


“The flat car sometimes crept, sometimes went extremely fast, often stopped — went up hill, downhill, around curves, along straightaways. Whatever poor Billy saw through the pipe, he had no choice but to say to himself, “That’s life.”

This is life. I’m surrounded by it. A part of it even. I am life, and so is everything and everyone else around me, far beyond me, beyond this place, even more. Yes, this is a moment, and though we are limited in sight, sometimes in mind, to only our little pipe hole view of it, this moment is massive. It encompasses everything and everyone you know, and for that matter, don’t.

You are only a part of it.


I return to my seat, only a short time later to again return to the dining cart, due mainly to restlessness, part also out of angst; I’ve never been one to rest easy during travel. I’m too curious. I’m too wound up. I have too much on the mind. I wonder where everyone is heading? And if they’re heading there, where ever there is, by choice or by have to? I’m heading now by choice, on return by have to. No one from the looks of it seems concerned, at least on the outside. What about the inside? There are a few dull expressions filling this cart now, whether by idleness, worry, contemplation, or something else of this sort, as we maintain impressive speed, hurling with grace and subtle rocking through farming lands along the route. The younger crowd is still playing. Some drawing, some eating or attempting to eat, others yanking the fake flowers out of their waterless wicker vases placed on each table and examining them, then quickly reaching to yank out another. There’s another little girl twirling about, table to table as she ignores the call of I’m guessing her father. She might need to throw up too later on due to the dizziness she’s playfully tumbling into. She’s having fun though. All the younger crowd is. I don’t know about the more-aged crowd anymore. Some are eating or attempting to eat, others are poking around on their phones or laptops, one man is putting pen to paper, maybe he’s drawing, and some are examining the fake flowers shoved into their waterless wicker vases, not yanking them out, though. They’d probably like to yank them out. They seem preoccupied this time, though. Aren’t we all? I wonder if by choice or by have to? Either way, we’re all heading there; somewhere.


“You sound to me as if you don’t believe in free will,” said Billy Pilgrim.

“If I hadn’t spent so much time studying Earthlings,” said the Tralfamadorian, “I wouldn’t have any idea what was meant by “free will.” I’ve visited thirty one inhabited planets in the universe, and I have studied reports on one hundred more. Only on Earth is there any talk of free will.”

Here we are, such as we are.

And, this thing we call time has no care or concern of our wants or our desires anyhow. It doesn’t work for or against us in any way, though we’ve played it up to do that, for us or against us, romanticizing our lives for needed substance, I’m guessing. Hell, time isn’t even a real thing, Einstein said it, I think. Anyway, it’s as if we needed something to fill the spaces between this and that, the spaces between until this turned into that, the spaces until this became that, or the ones found pointing us to do this first and then that next. Time we’ll call it, and we will tie to this thing now known as time all of our most important things this life can, not must, contain. But, this can we will turn into must, so now this life must contain them. And we will spend our time making sure those things happen. And to make those things happen, time will need to be spent. So we will make things worth more time then they really should take, increasing in mind the value of this time, because the big things now take and demand the most of it, and applying it in pursuit towards things which take more time to acquire, demands thus more time for you to give, and you willingly will, and more and more time for it to take, and it gladly will. Give the time, give them time, give the time, only to have it taken. And then, no time left. Where is there free will in this? I guess you can choose how you fill said time, but following the form of times design, do you choose, or is it chosen for you? I think I’ll order a coffee. “N?h?o. H?i k?f?i?” Yeah, I’m in the mood for one.


“Why me?

That is a very Earthling question to ask Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Have you ever seen bugs trapped in amber?

Yes.

Well, here we are, Mr. Pilgrim, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

Take me back to the amber. No. Let me realize it myself. Wait. I’m already here.

I’m ready now.


Back in the dining cart again I find myself. It’s full this time, again with families and friends, associates and strangers; people. The aroma of the foreign cuisine fills the space as my hunger again toys with the thought of succumbing to its warmth, to its welcome, as others have already decided to do so and have delved in, face first, enjoying the innate pleasantries of its simple yet meaningful serving; there are three plastic microwaveable options to choose from; one with chicken, one with the beef, and the other a vegetable option I believe, but damn do they hit the spot when hunger finds us. A baby awakens and begins to cry, but is quickly eased down by the loving caress of her mothers embrace; she’s now sleeping again. Another mother watches as her young boy devours the plastic container of food in front of him; she’s concerned and hopeful he finishes it all; you can tell by her look, she’s a mother. A dad of two catching some much needed sleep either before the trip begins or now after its end; you can tell by his look; he doesn’t have one; eyes closed, body limp, the arm he’s slumped upon without doubt asleep as well. Others are still poking away at their phones, maybe texting a loved one, maybe reading an article, perhaps playing some video game, or maybe doing whatever it is that makes them happy; it doesn’t matter, let them enjoy it if they do. Some are conversing amongst each other as we continue our trek through this massive stretch of farm land, still hurling by, still subtly rocking; their conversations remaining as foreign to me as the menu, but their presence shares a commonplace; their warmth, their welcome; it doesn’t matter what they are talking about, it’s human connection and thats a wonderful thing. Another little girl, standing between her fathers legs, head barely clearing the table, appearing to be eating a bowl of noodles for the first time, excessively and forcefully attempting to blow away the heat of the bite, only to find that her efforts are spent having not cooled the spoonful; she’s not concerned, shes hungry. She takes a swig of water from a bottle which dwarfs her little hands to wash away the sting of the scalding noodles, coughs because the sip must have gone down the wrong pipe, then hurries back to begin again with another round of excessively and forcefully attempting to blow away the heat of the next scoop; she’s enjoying those noodles and she finishes the whole bowl of them in this manner; still unconcerned, tongue slightly burnt, I’m guessing, but fed and happy to be so. Stewardesses carefully toeing around, hurried taking orders and taming the nerves of the crowd as they serve out not only plates and snacks and drink, but more effectively and appealing, attention; they are great at what they do and impressively patient; also, a sight for sore eyes I’m unashamed to admit, or admire. Farm land has turned into outskirts of towns, still rural, but in its own ways charming; I could spend sometime here; only a short while though. And I, the bald lone “M?iguórén”, again in the corner, looking around and typing away, taking it all in, and realizing the richness of this amber, of this moment I’m a part of; all of this, and much more my capacity of attention missed, in this one moment, the only one either one of us here can see, but rich enough none the less, no need for anything more.


We may be bugs, stuck in the amber, but this amber is enough. There is everything we could ever need, here, now, in the amber which embodies us.


“That’s one things Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.”

“Um,” said Billy Pilgrim.

Here we are, such as we are; and whether or not we are pleased with this moment, we have no other choice than in accepting it, and I believe we can do so by realizing and embracing the richness of the amber we find ourselves stuck in. Free will is found in the appreciation and the realization of the moment we are embedded; in our acceptance and in our contribution to such. This moment is all we are given, its richness derived from our acknowledgement, our autonomy actualized in our choice to partake, in our chance to just be.

Though a bug stuck in amber cannot choose to move freely, no matter its struggle to, at least that amber is rich, and in its richness it is sweet, it is warm, and it is golden. It’s not nothing. It’s very much something, indifferent to our neediness to know why me, why us, why anything.

It is something.

Here we are, such as we are.

You are only a part of it, yes, but you are, most definitely, a part of it.

A little bug, stuck in the amber of now, and its enough.

“So it goes…

Oh, wow! We’re already in Xi’an. “Zàijiàn”. “Bàibài”


***

This post was inspired by my reading of Kurt Vonnegut’s classic ‘Slaughterhouse-Five‘. I recommend highly your reading of this book as well.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

How did you come across the book?

Ohh, that’s a good question! Uh… I was looking up comedy related books… and than this is like… this was just suggested on a Google search… on like Amazon and stuff, so… and I’ve heard about it, so I was like, “Ah OK, maybe it time.” So, yeah.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Ohh… perspective in my own life? Yeah… ahh… perspective? I don’t know. So far its pretty cool. It’s about… ahh, its kind of a cool… well, I’m doing research on the book… I took a break from reading it to read the Wikipedia page. The book is hailed for its accuracy of said New Orleans… hailed for its accuracy of its description of New Orleans, and of its description of its language. Being from the south its kind of cool given that I like the way people talk… I can hear the voices in my head as I read which is kind of cool… that New Orleans southern draw.

Would you recommended, and if so, to who and why?

Oh… yes! For… right now I’m only a chapter in… the foreword and the chapter, but so far its fantastic; its great; its definitely… well, I was looking for a comedy book, because I do stand up, so I was looking for something like this. But this is a great novel so far, again, I’m only in chapter one, but I absolutely recommend it, and… why? Probably because its… I mean, so far its living up to every review that I’ve read about it, so… so, yeah… yeah man.

If The Fates Allow

By Justin Cude

I am away.

Far away now from most of the things in this life I have come to love, to accept, to miss.

And that I do; I miss them all, deeply.

But this I chose, and this choice was hard, as most the greats tend to be.

Something inside of me though has always yearned for adventure, and that is where I currently find myself, both in terms of mind and of body.

This too happens to be something that I have come to love, to accept, to miss as well.

How couldn’t I?

Now you see where the contrast lies.

Life does that.

It never matches up.

Never offers everything at once.

Never allows you to find your stride in one without tripping you up with the other.

On one hand I want stable, I want unity, I want consistence.

On the other I want movement, I want differences, I want unexpected.

Currently I am experiencing the latter, and though I am enjoying it fully, currently I am yearning for the former.

So what to do?

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” – Viktor Frankl

So then,

I will begin to both allow and to challenge myself to find the two within the same.

Within those and thats that my life has formed into my stables, I will find the movement, the differences, the unexpected.

Rather, I will allow them their opportunity to flourish within my life.

No longer block them.

No longer believe them not to be.

And,

Within those and thats where my life has provided my movement, I will find the stable, the unity, the consistence.

Rather, I will allow them their opportunity to grow within my life.

No longer stunt them.

No longer doubt their strength, their purpose.

And,

If the fates allow,

I will do this with those and thats that I have come to love, to accept, to miss.

This I hope they do allow.

And,

Since I am still here, this they do.

So,

One final effort before the sun sets.

If, of course, the fates do allow.

Over the Edge of the World by Laurence Bergreen

How did you come across the book?

Well, I’ve read it before. One of my friends in Hawaii gave it to me actually.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Uh, I’ve gained a lot of interesting knowledge actually. It’s kind of like a text book, but it’s still like storybook, so it’s still really, really easy to follow and interesting… a lot of information in here. I was surprised!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes! I’ve been trying to get my dad to read it for the past year… just because he’s into the whole history thing… and I mean, if you like history, its definitely entertaining enough.

“The fun of talk is to explore…”

By Justin Cude

The next conversation you find yourself in, do me favor; explore, and have fun doing so.

How many times do we find ourselves a part of the typical, mundane, monotonous sharing of words, of which we all care very little of asking and of sharing, and even more so of hearing? No need to respond, for we all already know the answer. You ask this, I tell that, I ask that, you tell this, and so on. The thinking of it now makes me sick, depressed even, for that is where most of our breaths are wasted away. They have their place, this I know, but they do not deserve a grander lot when compared to the potential.

There is hope though, as there always is with any endeavor in which the mind, the body and the soul of a human are involved. The mere involvement does not guarantee the improved quality of experience, but the opportunity is always there, if those involved are willing and are courageous enough to delve and to act.

As Hemingway so simply, yet powerfully put it,”The fun of talk is to explore…“. So, let yourself do so, and allow the same for others involved. Ask for the answers you so deeply desire to learn, open the gates to those you have not yet even thought of, share the truths of your being and listen to the truths of others, all of which will inevitably appear in this exchange of words and of life, again if you and if all involved are willing.

Want to learn something of another, to a point of excruciating intellectual or primitive interest? Then ask the damn question, and do so with passion, with innocence and curiosity, and with life, and allow the conversation to go. Be courageous and confident enough to ask and to share, but even more so of the pair in your acquisition of response. Responses, yours or theirs, are not always what you dreamed them to be, but they are real, no matter their basis of truth or of origin, or to the degree of their reveal. However, the deeper the better.

Are you scared to do so? Good. You should be. You should be scared to the point of faint, to where consciousness approaches the fall, mere steps away from being lost. Feel it. Be afraid it, but join it, and share your words to the same extent in your response towards the expression of another, and give them the same. They deserve it, we all do.

Cautious to offend someone with question or with view? To hell with that, for taking offense only shows one has not yet accepted the harshness of the world, of reality; not yet ready to dance with, yet to even acknowledge, it’s toil, it’s strife. Offense taken to words shared, towards ideas expressed and thoughts revealed, of questions asked, symbolizes only one’s poor attempted defense of their own internal, an attempt to hide themselves from others, even more so from themselves. A cowardly act, but one I will acknowledge as common and as difficult, for the choice to do or to not is enough to debilitate even the strongest of us.

The truth? No matter what you say, someone will always take offense, and that is not within your control, so share and pursue anyway, of course again, if you and if all involved are willing and courageous enough to do so.

And if someone responds with malice? Confront it, don’t shy away. We are designed for the challenges of life, to confront them and to overcome them, be them physical or be them vocal. We are built for this, though even more, we yearn for this; for the confrontation of life and for the overcoming through expression of self.

And, what about the fun? Didn’t you mention it would be fun? Have your fun, explore the secrets of the mind, of the opposites, of the people you know nothing about, and of those for which you think you know much. The fun is in the exploration, so there truly is no limit, only that of what you set for yourself. Ask, share, try, fail, connect. Then? Ask, again. Share, again. Try, again. Fail, again. Connect, again. Then? Again. But, have your fun, for, “When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.

The fun of talk is to explore…“, so do so, no matter the conversation’s nature. The mystery of the exchange had and of to come, where may it lead? One cannot truly tell, but this should not stop us, nor do I believe anyone would like for it to. There is no shame in this, nor should there be. We are all here together, experiencing the same world, though of varying context, of varying frame. Good. Intellectual, or that of a more primitive nature, approach the familiar and the uncharted with growing experience and innocent curiosity, and simply, explore, for, “You may talk. And I may listen. And miracles might happen.

Playing The Piano For Pleasure by Charles Cooke

How did you come across the book?

Um… I’m a musician, so I just pick up as much literature as I can on music and try to extract from it what I can to serve what I do play. My mother does estate sells back in Long Island… she cleans out houses and a lot of contents end up back at home, and this book made its way from one of the houses… and she thought it belonged to me and uh… so, I took that as a sign to take it home to go through it. I’ve already read it before, but I’m going back for a second time to see what else I can get out of it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… as a musician it’s all about this, uh… I believe he wrote for the New Yorker back in like the 20s or 30s, this guy Charles Cooke… he was big on the amateur musician and how, as an amateur musician, you don’t have to compete with professional musicians… you can sort of enjoy it for your own pleasure and develop at your own pace… and get a lot out of it without the stress of having to compete with top-tier musicians, and… I think there’s a lot to be learned from that approach, as I feel there’s so many people in the city trying to quote-on-quote “make it” in a creative sense, and if your serious about it, that will drive you to compete on those top-tiers, but… if you can sort of take a step back and enjoy it on the many tiers below that, and figure out your own level, there’s a lot more pleasure to be had that way.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend it to any other musician or artist for what I laid out in the previous question, just… I don’t know… I’d recommend it to anybody!

To Each Their Own

By Justin Cude

I’m tired. However, and I realize this, I’m tired of all of which I know to be of my control, of my choice.

I’m tired of the comparison. Of comparing myself with others; their wants, their needs, their dreams and pursuits, their current lot and the futures they speak of, and so on. It’s not me, not at all, but its easy to. It’s also easy not to, if of course I choose against it. Similarities, they can exist, but the same? No, not at all. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the doubt. Of doubting myself, my worth, my place, my acts, my thoughts. It’s old, it’s tiresome, it’s cruel, self imposed I know, but cruel the same. It’s not me, its my choice and I can stop this at any moment. To allow it to remain, to persist, how much of a fool can you be? Stop your pity, instead choose to try, choose to do, and then you will know. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the confusion. Of confusing myself, of being confused by others, or rather, allowing myself to be confused by the pair; the words they say, the actions they take, and the same of mine; my words, my actions. Choose, choose now, then choose again, not to be confused and you won’t be. Confusion from curiosity, let it live, that’s fun, but confusion from your own allowance of both the internal and the ex-, let it pass you by — give it no mind. Remember, to each their own.

I’m tired of the hatred. Of the kind from others, but even more so of the self-loathing of my own partake. Do you enjoy the act of self-defeat? Of self-betrayal? The tearing down of your own being? Or the destruction of your own peace? No. Than enough, no more. Allow these thoughts to again pass you by, for they carry with them no real anchor, only the hope that you may offer harbor for their taking. Don’t. And of others hatred directed your way? Also, don’t the same. Choose, then choose again. Remember, to each their own.

Okay, enough of this. Who cares if I’m tired of anything, anyways? Typically not many, sometimes not a one. Maybe I’d be better off by simply not caring myself, not of just anything, but of what I perceive to be worth the time.  Again, not that of just anything, but of things of this nature; harmful. Let it go, move on, simply stop. It can be that easy. It is that easy, if you want it to be. If you choose it to be. Maybe easy isn’t the word. But, if not easy, able; always able. Let it be difficult if you must, “If it’s endurable, then endure it”; accept its confront, but remember, you’re able; always able.

Choose not to be compared — and you won’t feel compared. Don’t feel compared — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be doubted — and you won’t feel doubted. Don’t feel doubted — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be confused — and you won’t feel confused. Don’t feel confused — and you haven’t been…

Choose not to be hated — and you won’t feel hated. Don’t feel hated — and you haven’t been…

“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.” – Marcus Aurelius

But I do — than you will. And if I don’t? — than you won’t. Choice always remains. You’re able; always able.

And in closing, all I want to do in this life, and I assume for many the same, is love. Love what I do, love who I am with, love where I am, and love where I am going — than you will — if you choose to. And this choice? Remember, to each their own.

In the Still of the Night by David L. Golemon

How did you come across the book?

The first book I read by him was called, um… ‘The Supernaturals’… and this is part two if it. He has a lot of other books out that I just haven’t gotten around to yet, but ‘The Supernaturals‘ was the first.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

It’s about a group of people who met… in the first book they were only about… eight people, and only two or three really knew each other. This book takes place about seven years later, so these people have gotten closer, but they still have a lot of issues. It is about… well, supernaturals… so it is sort of a horror book… but its also about human nature. It’s about politics too, which is very timely… I mean, I didn’t realize that until I started reading… but its very timely now… and its about a president who is disturbingly like what we’ve got in the White House. So, um… yeah, so… I have no idea how its going to end, but it’s just very, very interesting, and um… some parts are disturbing, because… oh my goodness… human nature… people who’ll do anything for power. But, then again, there’s a lot of friendship in this too, because again, these people have gotten to know each other, and each of these people have like real, serious, um… somewhat tragic backgrounds, so… its good to see them come together. But yeah, lots of disturbing stuff in here too, which is… uh, I mean… to be expected.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh, absolutely! I would recommend it to anybody who… who… just enjoys a good book that you can just sit down with and just, you know… go with it! Yeah, just go with it. Don’t have any preconceived notions about what its about… just go with it. Normally people would say, “Well ok, if you like horror, then go…”. No… just, just read it… just read it! You know… cause’ I mean… I read everything… you know, I read everything. I don’t care, you know… you cant tell me, because I’m reading a horror book, only recommend horror books to me… no! Read everything! If its an interesting book… recommend it to me, and I will read it! So… same thing here… read it!

Theodora: Actress, Empress, Whore by Stella Duffy

How did you come across the book?

Truthfully? I work in the same building as Penguin Publishing, and there’s always free books in the mailroom. Yeah! That’s how I came across it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… its mainly about a woman who is just trying to find herself… and she’s going through these major changes, so I feel like, in regard to perspective… I mean the character, she’s very daring and true to herself, so I feel if anything, that’s the perspective… to just stay bold!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes, I would recommend it. Probably to one of my best friends who is an English teacher, just because I feel like she would appreciate literature taking place in the 6th century. So… that’s who I would recommend it too.

Nothing More

By Justin Cude

It isn’t lonely,

for I have been there before.

Its absence,

nothing more.


Pair this short read with ‘The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone‘, brought to you by Maria Popova’s brainpickings.

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory

How did you come across the book?

Funny you should ask! I’m actually in a book club, and I am about to meet them… um, pretty soon. This was a book that someone else chose. It’s only like five of us, but one of them picked this book for the month… and I’m just about to finish it up. Otherwise, I would never think to pick this out. It’s really good actually… I like it. That’s the part of… the good thing about book club… you read books that you wouldn’t normally pick yourself.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… this is like… kind of a historical account of the Queen of England, in around the early 1500s… and, uh… so I guess it just kind of opened my eyes to thinking… or the logic of that time. I guess that’s pretty much it.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Absolutely! This is… it has a really strong female, hero character… and, so… it shows that women can overcome… we all can overcome.

Remember, you must die.

By Justin Cude

Death; oh, how it has flooded my mind lately. More appropriately, the thought alone has consumed my attention, stood defiantly in place against my hesitant rebuttal, and toiled with my attempted understanding of its ominous position. However, with this, and with recent encounter of its inevitability and its swiftness, death’s ever lingering presence has also brought about a sense of compartmentalization, towards how I divide the allotment of my time, who I decide to allow my being, and what I deem as worthy within and of my life.

Death has a funny, and yet a not so comical way of bringing back to the moment reality. We all will die, yes, there is no changing this. Despite our various efforts towards a guaranteed life of longevity, no matter how cautious or how tame we live out our days, they are numbered, and they remain, with unyielding persistence, in tally; destination and departure unknown. With this… memento mori.

Derived from Latin origin, memento mori, when translated to our modern form of the English language, reminds us bluntly, ‘Remember you must die’. In reference to the piece pictured above, from a perspective more poetically crafted, ‘Vanité’, master pieced by 17th Century French painter Philippe de Champaigne, displays through detailed expression the thin line of existence in which we abide. The tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time); life, our current experience, remaining in constant shadow of death, which we may encounter at any moment. The only guarantee between the triad conveyed at median; death.

There is no guarantee of a life, even less, if possible, no assurance of time. We aren’t promised a single breath, no law of nature ensuring us an abundance, or even a presence, of either element. So why are we so wasteful of it? Why do we engage with such petty occurrences and tasks? Why do we allow our lives to be consumed with such oblivion, with negligence towards its fragility? There remains a thin line between our existence and our demise, yet, we act as if the former is forever. Again… memento mori.

As mentioned, I recently encountered death, not my life, but a loved one, and as I write this, with mind lost in consumption of its very nature, I find it, with slight grief, irresponsible and selfish of myself to only be aware of it now, in light only because of our latest confront. A loved one, so dear and close to my heart, to my being, to my life, almost taken away, by a true evil of this world, one which affects us all, directly and indirectly; addiction. Stolen it felt, robbed, if even only for a moment, with monstrous lack of care or of concern for all involved, for death does not carry with it a sense of compassion or refrain, only a duty, a duty to take, always too soon it feels, for death doesn’t, it only does.

How arrogant it feels though, how wrong and self-loathed it seems to allow the tribulation of another the right to provide you with any sense of pain, or for that matter, of thanks; he experienced this inevitably, you merely observed, for now. You have no mind even to what it truly entails, to what he truly experienced. Is there pain? Perhaps a release? How intense the struggle? Do we succumb with ease? Or, maybe, just nothing.

Enough, these thoughts, they’re needed, these feelings too, and it’s okay, life tends to provide the test first and the lesson later, death staying true to this form. Meditate on this however, understand what this is, this feeling, this experience, this will happen again, to you even, to another so dear, sooner or later, but no matter, for it will happen again, no matter.

But oh how it hurts when you are so near it, how odd and unsure the moment it provides, how abrupt it impedes everything, stops us on our path and challenges us to accept, for with death there is no other way, no alternative route, so accept. Death ceases life, but life itself does not cease, and that is the hardest truth to accept. Beyond you is more, beyond our loved ones, beyond this moment, the same, but no matter, nor you or I will be a part of that, we are only a part of this, right now, so the future, no matter, only now.

So than, what to take from this? Death is always there, here rather, around you and I, always, right now. You are already dead, your life already destined to end, finale inscripted, you just don’t know it yet, you don’t truly know it, and by the time you’re allowed to, you’re gone, too late.

So than, what to take from this? Live, live now, before it is too late, do not fear death, rather accept it, embrace its forthcoming with repose, for… ”nobody dies before his time comes, so I am calm. I know I am going to die, I just don’t know when.”

Thankfully, with deep gratefulness of fate and of circumstance, he is still here with us, still able to converse, still given time to express ideas and to share perspectives, to create and to learn, still capable of life and of love and of all that comes with it. We all are, remember this, you the same if you are reading this now.

However, this experience, as gratuitous its perceived purpose at the time, excavated from within me, from depths of inactive essence, from thoughts of idle action, an awakening and a forging of a practice, one towards understanding and of gratuity, towards acceptance and of regard, for this life, for death to come, and for the sustain of this moment… “thankful, for it is not ours to own, only to borrow. Death will come, know this, use this.”

You may be sitting there, reading this, believing it to be a rather pessimistic piece, but I would argue against this innate impulse of thought. Allow this idea, or truth rather, to bring about a vigor for this life, for this moment. Again we all will die, yes, but now, right now, truly be grateful to be alive, I beg you.

Wherever you are, right now, reading this, look up from your screen, now around you, and find the beauty of this moment, better yet, bring beauty to this moment. Take a deep breath, come back to your being, feel the world and its nature around you, understand the best you can with acquiescence the common fate of us all, and be grateful and amazed to be a part of it. You will die, yes, no matter, but for now you must live.

From this moment on, in our constant face with death, to reference the always pertinent Stoic philosophy, to quote Marcus Aurelius, “…think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breatheto thinkto enjoy,to love.”

And with this, memento mori.

The Tin Drum by Günter Grass

How did you comes across the book?

Oh! I go off into Strand, and I simply like to read… I just… I guess lately I like to read European authors… and he’s German; I’ve never heard of him actually, and realized that he actually received a Nobel Prize for literature. This was his first book… written 50 years ago. Yeah, he was born in the 20s, in Germany, so, even though it’s a translation, it’s absolutely interesting to read. But, yeah… well, I’m on page 13… interesting enough!

So far, what perspective have you gained from the book?

Actually… with this book, its difficult to say… considering that I’m only on page 13, but… I mean, I think that he writes in a very poetic way. However, it is from the perspective of someone who is in a mental health institution, so… it’s not as focused as you would expect. Yeah, I think that it is very interesting! I read reviews of the book, and they said it was quite revolutionary at the time, right, when it was published. Sorry, I can’t tell you more about the perspective!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Again… very hard to say… very hard to say at this point. I mean, I was born in Romania, right, so I feel very close, like geographically to the area… so I think of everyone who is coming from there, trying to understand that period, would probably gain from reading it. So, I would definitely recommend it to my daughters, because I think that the style is very different to what you read these days… not that it’s better, but it’s quite different; like the sentences are a lot longer, and the paragraphs have a lot more ideas… that sometimes makes it hard to follow actually! But, a lot of thought… you sometimes have to read paragraphs again, in order to really get it!

Visibility Marketing by David Avrin

How did you come across the book?

I came across the book a few weeks ago at… Strand Bookstore. I’m a business person… an entrepreneur… and marketing is everything… and so, I looked in the column… the row that marketing books were, and I came across this one. And one thing… one of the reasons that I picked this book, as opposed to some of the others… it’s from 2016, and so I wanted something that was fairly current, in light of social media and those types of things. So, yeah…. so I chose this one.

So far, what perspective have you gained form this book?

I think one of the main points is being authentic. In other words, if you say that… in terms of a business… if you present yourself as, or position yourself as being… you know, a person concerned with customer service, providing good customer service… than you need to do it. If you say you provide products on this day, or services on another day, or whatever… than you need to do it. You know… so that’s one of the things about being authentic… if you say you’re going to do something, than do it.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Umm… I would recommend it. I will say… to be honest… some of the stuff I knew, so it’s more so reinforcement for me, because I read this type of stuff… and I have read it for the last 20+ years. But, I would recommend it, and I would recommend it mostly to someone who’s starting out I would say… in business… because marketing is crucial and most people think it’s just about having a product or service, and that’s it… and then everybody will just flock to them because it’s such a great idea, great product or service… but it really is about how people engage or interact with your product or service, or you as a company… and it is about being true, to the brand, true to what you say the company stands for. So, I would recommend it to… uhh… mostly newbies… but anybody can learn!


P.S. This individual is also a writer himself, author of the book Think Outside the Cell: An Entrepreneur’s Guide for the Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

How did you come across the book?

Umm… I was… how did I come across this book? I think I was reading a review of another book… it was a fantasy book… and it mentioned this one, which is the first in a trilogy, and it described as… like, “Harry Potter for adults”… so I was like, “Yes, I need to read that!”

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oh man! What perspective? Umm… well the thing about the book that is interesting… that makes it different from normal fantasy genre… is the hero of the story is telling his own story, looking back on it. So, it kind of plays with perspective in an interesting way… I wonder if it’s gonna kind of like, mess with that at all, and have him be an unreliable narrator, or anything like that. But, umm… I don’t know… as far as perspective in my own life? Not really!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes! I would recommend it to anyone who’s remotely interested in fantasy… likes Game of Thrones… any of that stuff; it’s really well written. A lot of times I get scared to start a book, so I’m like, “Oh, what if I don’t like it?” But, this sucked me in immediately! I’ve already read 200 pages in about a week… so… yeah! It’s addictive! I definitely recommend it for fantasy fans.

A Poem to Share: ‘Smile’ by Gloria Carter

Listening to Jay Z’s latest album released, 4:44 , I was moved by one song in particular, more specifically it’s ending passage. Given the beginning of a new week, I wanted to share with you all the beautiful words of Gloria Carter, Jay Z’s mother, and her reasoning for our choice to Smile:

Good morn or evening friends,

Living in the shadows, can you imagine what kind of life it is to live? In the shadows people see you as happy and free, because that’s what you want them to see.

Living two lives, happy but not free. You live in the shadows for fear of someone hurting your family or the person you love. The world is changing and they say it’s time to be free, but you live in the fear of just being me.

Living in the shadows feels like a safe place to be, no harm for them, no harm for me. But life is short and it’s time to be free. Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed.

Smile.

– Gloria Carter, ‘Smile’

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

How did you come across the book?

This is a book my father read to me as a child… a lot of sweet memories… some of the best memories of childhood is my dad reading to me as a kid, so I thought I’d re-read this one.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

It’s an adventure story… a coming of age story, and the cool thing about it is… it follows this young boy who’s serving as the shipmate on a boat, and it’s really… he’s realizing a lot the realities of a pretty harsh and broken world. But, it’s told in a really just fun, kind of, you know, child’s story; I think there’s something beautiful about it, because I read it as a child and it just seemed like an “adventure story” and a fun time, but you look back as you grow up and you realize that you’re learning things about our broken world and how we embrace them… and how we deal with them.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yeah… I think it’s a great story; I’d recommend people to read it to their kids… yeah, I don’t know if people still do that, but it definitely is a special thing… at least in my memory. But, I think there’s something to reading simple fiction as an adult, you… if you’ve like … like, I’m finishing up studies at university… you read a lot of kind of erudite, and thick books… and there’s something about reading something simple and easy, it just gets you back to the joy of reading… you get to 110 pages in two hours, you know… it’s just nice.

Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen Ed.D.

How did you come across the book?

Because I needed to read it for work, so it’s a good tool to learn how to work with kids.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

It shows that there are many ways to be kind, and to be strict with kids, and you have to know how to use both.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Ok… would I recommend it? Yes, because for parents that do not know how to teach kids… this book is perfect.

Move On And Let It Be

By Justin Cude

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be…

When you find yourself in times of trouble, whoever or whatever Mary may be to you and your natural incline, let the guidance of your own directing mind lead you; nothing more. Listen to your internal words of wisdom, be selective from which you hear external of this, move on and let it be.

And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be…

In your hour of darkness, or moment, or second, or however present it’s duration, allow the internal to stare you down as you stare back, never wavering nor allowing oneself to turn away in guilt, or in shame, or in doubt; strong and steady stare back, accept this, allow it, embrace it, become it if you dare, then, move on and let it be.

And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer
Let it be…

And when the broken-hearted people, or those broken by disagreement or by disgrace of their own nature, living in this world agree to begin accepting first themselves and second their brother’s and sister’s, there will appear an answer. Once acknowledged, once accepted, once felt and embraced, no more doubt of this, no more hate of this, no more refraining from this, move on and let it be.

For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer
Let it be…

For though they may be parted, at this moment of opportune, which is every moment we are given if we understand it’s potential, there will forever remain a chance that they will see. Allow others their rightful time to become aware, in due time, in accordance with their own nature, in timing of their own experience and choice. There will always be an answer, move on and let it be.

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow
Let it be…

And when the night is cloudy, and the opportune moment seems to have passed, understand, or rather truly see, that there is still a light shining down on me, on you, on him or her, on us all, and it will shine whether we accept it or not, always there will remain an answer, on until tomorrow and of tomorrow of that, move on and let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom
Let it be…

Waking up to the sound of music, whatever that melody of serenity is to you, the Mary of your choosing and of your nature will come to you, there is no right or wrong here so do not worry, once again, speaking, some moments with a subtle whisper and others with roaring demand, words of wisdom for you. Listen, accept, or not, it’s up to you, if not now, maybe later, but, no matter your choice, move on and let it be.

There will be an answer
Let it be

There will always be an answer, but that is for you to see, move on and let it be.

George, Nicholas and Wilhelm by Miranda Carter

How did you come across the book?

It was probably an internet search… my mom is housebound so I buy a lot of books for her and she’s interested in history, so… and I’m interested in history, so… I think I just came across it and it looked interesting… and it is, very!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

I just think it’s fascinating to… you know, it really helps us to understand where we are if we know where we came from… and, I think it’s just fascinating! What fascinates me about that time period is that, you know, all of the monarch’s that were involved, in World War I… they were cousins, all related to Queen Victoria… and that sort of… not really incest, it’s not the right way of putting it, but… yeah, they were… they’re still all related… the royals. But, I just find it very fascinating… and I think that we have to understand history in order to understand the present.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I’d recommend it to people who… you know, what I like about the book is that it’s… it’s history, but it’s very readable… I think people are sometimes afraid of reading biography, autobiography history because they expect it to be dry, but this is really a beautifully written book… Miranda Carter is the author, and… yeah, I’d recommend it to anybody who’s interested in… I mean, it’s European history, it’s not American history… I read a lot of American history as well… but, I think we’re living in a time right now which is going to be written about, a lot! We’re actually… we’re living in the middle of history… I mean we always are, but… right now it’s just really fascinating, and… you know, it’s fascinating to see what our relationship with Germany is becoming because everything that happened in this book… you know, the end of War World I was only a hundred years ago… a tremendous amount has changed in a very short period of time, and I just find that fascinating… the acceleration of things… and now with the internet and these devices that we all carry, things are accelerating at a really fast pace, and… I don’t know… I think looking at the past gives us perspective on the present.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

How did you come across the book?

Actually, I bought it in… is it World Aid? First Aid?… Goodwill! The american version! I’m actually on holiday and I just needed something to read… and, as I like a bit of Sci-fi, the description caught my eye… about a flu pandemic so, you know… very american, based I think… well, anyways… at the moment I can’t remember where its based… but, it’s american! And, yeah, it’s so far been brilliant!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Perspective? Hmm… I guess… people are people, everywhere! Umm… I’ve literally only read a few pages… hang on… Toronto! It actually takes places in Toronto! Well, so far, not a lot has happened… a guy actually died on stage and the main witness that you see this from actually wants to be a paramedic, so it’s all kind of tying in and it proved that his calling was true, as he ran up on stage and tried to help and save him. And, his girlfriend went home and left him there… so. He was thinking that she would feel that he was a hero, but all she said was, “could you bring milk? I’ve gone home!” We haven’t even hit the flu part yet! So yeah, I guess that’s what I mean by people are people!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I think it’s a touch too early to tell… but so far I would, to people who like books that are a bit different… maybe. And, a bit weird! Yeah… so that’s it!

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

How did you come across the book?

I actually heard of the writer himself first from a friend of mine. He recommended to me a commencement speech from the same author called ‘This is Water’, and after reading that I decided to look at a couple of his fictional works because I prefer fiction over nonfiction. So, I read his first novel, which was ‘The Broom of the System‘, and umm… because I kind of liked his style I decided to go on to this one because it’s known as his magnum opus, and so… a lot of people sing high praises for it, but a lot of people also kind of criticize it for being so lengthy and just kind of like rambling, but I think that it will be an interesting read.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

I mean the thing is… more than a perspective from the book… like from the information from within the book, I think it’s teaching me something about being a reader, and I think it’s… it’s making me realize just how, I guess… how much more I have to read, or how much more I have to experience through reading itself, because… it’s like I’m reading the book, and I’m like going right to the dictionary because I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know what this means, I don’t know what this means!”, I think that just… it’s also kind of… it’s kind of really an awe-inspiring feeling knowing that there are so many writers that are just so talented. I’m actually majoring in English so I… I’m like… perhaps looking forward to publishing something in the future, but just knowing that there are geniuses out there who can use diction so freely… and such complex symbols or analogies with… ease… it just… it really humbles the reader. So, it’s teaching me a lot about just how much work I have left to do.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Umm… I think… so, I did say that I read a previous book of his, ‘The Broom of the System‘, but I also read a series of his essays… just really recently; it’s called ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again‘. What I’ve heard from people is that… because this is quite a lengthy book, unless you’re really invested, or unless you’re really curious about the author or the book itself, I think that you’ll find it really difficult to continue reading it, because I find myself sometimes struggling through a page but I’m just like, “OK, I know what to expect from the writer”, because of his previous writings, so I’m kind of looking forward to it no matter how lengthy it is. So, I think if someone were to get into this writer, I would recommend his essays first… and then I would recommend maybe reading ‘Infinite Jest‘.

The Martian Tales Trilogy by Edgar Rice Burroughs

How did come across the book?

Well, I’m familiar with the seriesfrom a child… like, I read most of them in school and haven’t touched them… I’m up there so… since like, junior high. So, you know, 20 years later! I was in Barnes & Noble and I was just like, “You know what? I love the series I just haven’t gone there in a while… I haven’t read them in so long”. It’s my first summer read; I read a lot of books in the summer!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well, I really found it interesting… the author wrote it during a time period where there were so many different… I guess in terms of turn of the century here in America… he wrote in the perspective of a Virginian that grew up at the end of the Civil War, so then the conflicts that were going on were addressed… you know, people were still referred to as slaves at that time… like everyone… they were itemized into specific categories based on wealth and color and race and religion. But the character eventually travels to, which I’m familiar with, to Mars or the red planet, or whatever they’re calling it in the book, and the order of hierarchy of people is actually reversed; like the red skin person is, they’re the top because they are the top tier people… the darker skinned people are like the oldest living, or the black race is the oldest living race of people… and the white race is kind of referred to as like a monkey or like a third-level… like kind of in reverse order as it was set up at that time in our country. Yeah, it’s a very interesting perspective which I remembered from reading it before, and it’s like I wanted to re-read it and see where I’m at now and how I see it with, you know, a lot of the progress we have made and then watching a lot of the regression in the past election we’ve had, and I’m like, [bctt tweet=”Some of these things I need to revisit” username=”cityreadsnyc”], and really just get in touch with my… I grew up in the south, so get in touch with my southern roots a little bit, so. I’ve found it interesting so far.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would definitely recommend it for… well, first of all, it’s a classic so… but it’s a classic that reads in a fast paced modern perspective, or a relate-able perspective… so, if you’re someone that  went to go see ‘Lord of the Rings’, or went to go see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, and enjoy reading… you would actually enjoy reading this because it still is relate-able and adaptable currently. It’s not just something that’s only for a specific time period; it’s very general and you can relate to most of the characters in it.

How To Spend Our Lives: In The Moments, Of Course.

By Justin Cude

[bctt tweet=”How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Are you there yet? Are you where you want to be? Or, better yet, are you where you believe you should be? Are you doing whatever it is you would like to do? With whom you intended to do it with? No? Well, perhaps then it is now that we change the way we view our experience here before our uncertain lot of time chooses to depart from us.

For years — and I would wager for many the same — I had been working towards a destination, an end point, a place that I felt I needed to reach before I could fully enjoy this life. I was wrong and I am here now to share with you why. If I had not stumbled upon the commencement quote of this piece, who knows how much longer I were to have fallen for the promise of tomorrow without ever having realized the offering of today; more appropriately, the offering of now. Please, before moving on any further into this read, do your best to comprehend and to truly welcome into this moment the power and the defiance of this quote’s meaning, in alliance with its subtle plea:

[bctt tweet=”How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

There is no place of reach, not one destination that will provide any of us with our ideal environment nor peace of mind to feel and to do and to create, to live rather, however it is we would like to. Along with this, there is no other time but now to realize that the actions we take at this very moment, the priorities that we set for our current engagement, the tasks that we deem as worthy of our attention at this junction of time and of opportunity, and the people that we surround ourselves with this instant, either by nearest allocation or of distant admiration, do in fact provide the context of our lives; the context contained in the raw sensations of now rather then of later. In complete accordance with this, waiting for certain things to come to fruition, or for certain events to occur, we must realize that we do not have choice, for they currently are not and they may never be, and that is OK. This is not to take away the importance of future, for the acts of planning, of envisioning and of progressing still serve as healthy exercises, as long as we remain indifferent to their presence and engaged in the moment we are given. Instead, what’s important to understand is exactly what this quote is telling us:

[bctt tweet=”How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Our lives are now. They are not tomorrow and they are no longer yesterday. So, whatever it is we aspire to, however it is we would like to spend our days, wherever it is we would like for this occur, and whomever it is we would like for it to be surrounded by, realize your life is only now, and now is the only time it can happen. A string of consciously engaged moments make a life, not a longing for our tomorrows, or a holding onto of our yesterdays. But, of equal to or of greater importance to understand along with this is that you are not the only one this moment encapsulates. We all have a now and they may not always match; not in wants, not in needs, not in location, not in ideals, and not in other countless facets of our instant; accept this and carry on. This moment is more precious than you think, so this indifference should not take us away from ours. It should only provide us with greater opportunity towards becoming more attuned with ourselves in the time we are allotted, in which case we can learn to appreciate and to be more grateful for our contemporary. Therefore, right now, let us all remind ourselves:

[bctt tweet=”How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Live accordingly.

**Updated 8/1/2017**

At this very moment, while going back and reading underlined content from my most recent completed read, ‘The Stress of Life’ by Hans Selye, M.D., I came across a vigorously highlighted section which further supports the needed and demanded attention from us all for this moment, the one right now, the one you are choosing to use to read this, and the subsequent moments we may be granted; enjoy:

So many people work hard and intelligently for some immediate objective which promises leisure to enjoy life tomorrow; but tomorrow never becomes today. There is always another objective which promises even more leisure in exchange for just a little more work. Hence, very few people in the usual walks of life retain the ability to really enjoy themselves: that wonderful gift which they all possessed as children. But it hurts to be conscious of this defect, so adults dope themselves with more work (or other things) to divert attention from their loss. Some people nowadays even speak of “workaholism” for the behavior of those who work merely as a means of escape from a life which became stale.

The inspired painter, poet, composer, astronomer, or biologist never grows up in this respect; he does not tend to get the feeling of aimlessly drifting, no matter how poor or old he may be. He retains the childlike ability to enjoy the impractical by-products of his activity. Pleasures are always impractical, they can lead us to no reward. They are the reward. It is common place to say that money is no ultimate aim, but few people seem to live as though they understood this. The labors of the artist who succeeds in expressing some hidden aspect of his soul in painting, or of the physician who learns how a hitherto inexplicable disease develops, may have practical advantages for him — benefits which can be expressed in dollars — but this is not the kind of reward that can make his life a real success. The great financier must also seek his final compensation elsewhere. To find it he must stop worrying about the success of his enterprises, at least long enough to think of his own success. He must first find a way of life which can assure him the equanimity necessary for enjoyment, and then he must learn to distinguish between what can give him pleasure and what are only means to buy pleasure.

The most acquisitive person is so busy reinvesting that he never learns how to cash in. “Realistic people” who pursue “practical aims” are rarely as realistic and practical, in the long run of life, as the dreamers who pursue only their dreams.

Again, live accordingly.



For other perspectives on our moment, pair this reading with What is a Prospector? , Janis Joplin on the Urgency for Love, and Neil Young on one’s Fervent, Unyielding Search for the Fabled ‘Heart of Gold’.

Aristotle’s ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

How did you come across the book?

It was a book that has been on my list because I’m really interested in Stoic Philosophy; I really like reading Plato and Aristotle and all that… and so I hadn’t read this one… and so I put it on the list!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oh… that’s a tough one! A lot of… you know… practical ideas about the human condition are spoken about in this book and it’s really… well, one of the interesting perspectives is how universal it is, after thousands and thousands of years! You can pick up this book and realize, [bctt tweet=”Wow! Things haven’t really changed in the human psyche all that much! ” username=”cityreadsnyc”]So, that’s been my main take away and kind of using some of these lessons and concepts to inform my own life.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh… that’s a tough question… another one! These are good! Umm… I would recommend it if you’re looking into thinking deep and thinking about society… thinking about people… thinking about yourself… and examining it in a different lens, and kind of questioning the world around you. So, that’s who’d I recommend it to… anyone who’s looking for answers… or looking to ask more questions!

Reality’s Delusion: How Sure Are We?

By Justin Cude

“Reflect often on the speed with which all things in being, or coming into being, are carried past and swept away.”

Recently, in conversation with a new acquaintance, a perspective was shared with me, or rather towards me, depicting the substance of a situation in context of our exchange; “There is reality and there is delusion of situation, and this is an example of the latter”. It didn’t hit me then, but as I pondered his statement later on, a thought stirred about in my mind indicating error in his chosen insight, not in accordance with his intent but rather with the concepts entirety. Be it ignorance or ambition on my part, nonetheless, this narrow inclination is one far too often shared, justified, believed and cast onto others as definitive truth that the self-appointed arbitrator has deemed reality; be aware of this, but ignore it. However, for sake of digression, pressing on, though not spoken aloud for auditory consumption, thoughts of internal reserve contain the ability to produce a noise much louder, within the individual at first and potential for the greater good second, if expressed effectively and with collective intent. Now, in this text, I hope to give opportunity for its communicable understanding.

“Existence is like a river in ceaseless flow, its actions a constant succession of change, its causes innumerable  in their variety”

– Marcus Aurelius

This reality so often spoken about, one thrown around with such strong and confident conviction, remains in a constant state of change, for the concept of reality itself understands the weakness of its own stable and the dubious fluidity of its mere arguable grasp. This is not a new understanding, for it is truthfully the product of many great minds of before, and of our worlds observatory nature; thought of, understood and communicated through the ages by virtue of mediums of both presenter’s choice and of the times expressible permit. However, for sake of skeptics needed assurance of example, one relevant to our current moment of existence, ponder on the following:

[bctt tweet=”Reality is negotiable. Scarcely anything stands still, even what is most immediate. – Tim Ferriss” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Far too often we are fed to belief against this, having been taught by others who have been fed the same. I am not ignorant enough to fail to realize that this is not the case with all, as there are numerous examples to look upon, expressing themselves no matter the field nor their pursuit. Artists, creators, musicians, innovators of business, trade, architecture, industry, fashion, scientists of all studies, writers, poets, inventors, and so on; the list remains unending. What do they have in common? What sets them apart apart from the rest? What grabs our attention of their pursuits fruition? They question one thing; reality! Then, they make the choice to ignore the commotion, to make their own noise in this world, to follow their own unique beat in line with their visions rhythm.

“We should not, like sheep, follow the herd of creatures in front of us, making our way where others go, not where we ought to go.”

– Seneca

Reality in this context represents a paradigm of nature; the two are the same, both in mystery and in question. But, for the majority conditioned to leave nature, and in accordance reality, left alone, how do we begin the revealing? In these moments, we shall turn to others, towards their examples and towards their work, and in this moment, as I struggle with this myself, I turn to none other than Hans Selye, MD, otherwise known as the Father of Stress. Without now taking the exploratory dive into his life’s impressive and profoundly progressive work, I instead want to share with you what lead him down his own road of unknown, towards the unraveling of his own questioning, shared in an excerpt from his famous classic ‘The Stress of Life’, a book about stress in the applicable sense and of our unique ability and innate quality to adapt. Though the language is relevant in regard to his particular question, the concept shared and practiced is appropriate no matter your contemplate:

How to Question Nature

What is disease – not one disease, just disease in general? This question lingered on in my mind, as it undoubtedly has in the minds of most physicians of all nations throughout history. But there was no hope for an early answer, for Nature – the source of all knowledge – rarely replies to questions unless they are put to her in the form of experiments to which she can say “yes” or “no.” She is not loquacious ; she merely nods in the affirmative or in the negative…

Occasionally, if we ask, “What would you do in these circumstances?” or, “What is in such and such a place?” she will silently show us a picture. But, she never explains. You have to work things out yourself first, aided only by instinct and the feeble powers of the human brain, until you can ask precise questions, to which Nature can answer in her precise but silent sign language of nods and pictures. Understanding grows out of a mosaic of such answers. It is up to the scientist to draw a blueprint of the questions he has to ask before the mosaic makes sense. It is curious how few laymen, or even physicians, understand this…

Only those blessed with the understanding that comes from a sincere and profound love of Nature will, by an intuitive feeling for her ways, succeed in constructing a blue print of the many questions that need to be asked to get even an approximate answer to such a question. Only those cursed with a consuming, uncontrollable curiosity for Nature’s secrets will be able to – because they will have to – spend their lives working out patiently, one by one, the innumerable technical problems involved in performing each of the countless experiments required.

What is disease? – What is stress?

I did not know how to ask the first of these questions; I did not even think of asking the second.

In closing, do not be afraid to question reality nor apprehensive in your questionings implement. Reality is largely, by its own nature, negotiable and plastic, and we as humans were meant to explore every facet of our enigmatic undergo. If you do not know where to start, in form with the ones who have found their paths continued questioning, start with an interest, and if that one doesn’t work, start again with another. You do not need to know much to begin, other than to begin is the only way. And, to keep equipped in mind, parallel with what’s to come:

[bctt tweet=”Remember that all is opinion. – Marcus Aurelius” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

How did you come across the book?

This was on one of my reading lists when I was in high school. I had like a hundred contemporary classics that I wanted to read through, and a hundred like “Classic Classics” that I wanted to get through… I don’t remember what my lists were titled… but this was on there! I had seen it in book stores, never bought it and then I went to my Godmothers place in Boston and she had a copy… long story short, she gave it to me with a nice little note in the back!  It says… [bctt tweet=”Eyes changed after they looked at new things.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… to be honest with you, its kind of… well, the girls perspective is that she’s just really eager to learn and to gain education anyway she possibly can… which I guess is kind of nice for me to be reading while I’m in business school because I don’t really want to be in school. I like to learn things, but I like to learn them on my own and not forcibly in a classroom… but here’s a girl who can’t do that… and so she’s learning on her own, because she just doesn’t have the luxury to learn in a classroom. So… I think that’s kind of the perspective that I’ve gotten so far… and maybe it’s been a little motivating!

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Yes, I’d recommend it. Umm… it is a little slower as I kind of mentioned… and I think it’s… I’ve been reading it for over a year… I mean I’ve read other books in between but, I’ve been reading it for about a year and I think I’d recommend it to people who are still in school or who are thinking about going to school. For me it’s kind of also… I miss New York… and it references a lot of old New York that I wasn’t even a part of but… it just kind of makes me nostalgic. So, anyone who wants to read about growing up in Brooklyn in the 19… I don’t know, I think it starts in 1910 or 1920 something… so, that would be… yeah… I also think it’s like a contemporary classic… Betty Smith I think published this around the 50s or so and it’s on those classic lists so… yeah, I think it’s more of a young adult into… like, I would say maybe early teens to late 20s would be a good group to read it… I’m not sure, honestly. It’s kind of a baseline book… like it’s not… there’s not much going on in it… but there’s also a lot going on in it… internally and externally. It’s just kind of more like seeing the perspective of living in poverty in Brooklyn during that era… and what you would have to do to sort of survive and get by. I don’t know what else to say about it… it’s just a great book.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

How did you come across the book?

So… I’m an avid movie watcher and a good friend of mine, Amy, put me into the movies years ago. At first I was like, “No, I’m not watching this cause I don’t want to be a part of the system! And everybody’s obsessed with these things!” And then I sat down and I watched them… and I was obsessed! The movies captivated me but I’m not a big fiction reader… I read history, but I’m not a big fiction reader… but um… my wife has been bugging me, “Babe, come on… like every year I’m like babe it’s time for us to do our Harry Potter binge!”… and we watch all the movies again… and she’s like, “You’ve gotta read the books!” So… at first I was like, “You know babe? You know me… I struggle when I read fiction books… like, I’m good.” So she said, “Fine, I’ll buy you the audio book.” And so she gave me the audio book of the first one, and I listened to it… and it was incredible. I couldn’t stop listening to it! So then I was like, “Babe… I think I want to read the second set of books.” So she bought the collection… and I read book two in about a week and a half… and I’ve just been storming through book three! This one’s my favorite movie… and now it’s my favorite book! This is…. this is incredible! The symbolism in it… you know, the story in general has captivated me on a whole different level… that’s why I said you picked the wrong person to interview ’cause I have this like deep Harry Potter theology about my life and… Prisoner of Azkaban really embodies, you know, that selflessness and that… living for others… the thing that I’ve always loved about the series in general!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Oooh! So… I was just telling him… there is, you know… the interesting thing about Harry Potter… and if you know about the story of Harry Potter… you know, he’s this kid and he’s born in one world but his parents were killed, so he had to be raised in another world… and later on he goes back to this other world and… some reject him, some accept him, some glorify him, some… you know… hate him… and it’s this… this thing where he has the weight of the world on his shoulders and he is literally just existing as a kid… growing up and learning. I realized, for me… it doesn’t matter what your destiny is, it doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter what your background is, what your future holds… you know[bctt tweet=”… grow, and just live! Take the shackles off yourself and be free!” username=”cityreadsnyc”] For me, it hits a little closer to home because as a Christian I look at… I’m like man, Jesus came to this earth and he died to give his life to us for our sins, and I’m like… here’s this kid who came to a world… they didn’t receive him in it… ultimately in the end there’s this correlation to that, and I don’t want to give any spoiler alerts, but… if you haven’t seen it, check it out… but if you know it, you know he ends up giving up a lot of himself for this world and it becomes this beautiful story of love and no matter what… in this story particularly, he has so much anger towards this one character, then in the end, ends up forgiving him and showing grace to him… and it’s so amazing because… he’s just a kid. You know, I’m like, if this kid can embody this kind of love and this kind of passion for life, then… so can I. That means everyday, live it to the fullest… everyday be free… everyday take the shackles off myself, the shackles that people have put on me… my parents have put on me, my friends have put on me, teachers put on you, educators put on you… and, whatever people put on you, it is to your best interest if you just… take them off, and just be you. Be Harry Potter, be free in your little world, learn what you got to learn… and if people say you’re not good enough, whatever… you know, just live free man… be free for who you are. There’s too much beauty in this world to live it beneath shackles and chains. So… that’s what I got from this.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Umm… oddly enough… I’d recommend this book to everybody and anybody! You know, for kids, it is an imagination roller-coaster! Like, this woman… and even when you know her story of how she wrote it, you start to realize that the woman who wrote this, J.K. Rowling… she’s a conqueror; she fought against so much just to get to a place where she could produce these magical books. And then, so much more as a Christian… you know, I know people who are like, “Ah, no! It’s witchcraft… you shouldn’t read it.” And then I realized one of the greatest authors in my opinion… C.S. Lewis… penned one of the greatest fiction stories… The Chronicles of Narnia… and if you ever get a chance to read those book’s, which I did go back and read… they are an incredible adaptation of what it means to really just… believe! The problem with the day we live in now is, we stop believing. Everything has to be tangible before we believe, and I’m sorry man, like… I want to go back and believe in the mysticism, and believe in the magic, believe in the force of love… the beauty of what magic does and how it makes us feel… I want to believe and I don’t ever want to lose that, and I don’t ever want to lose my imagination, because… what I’m noticing is that the reason why the world looks the way it does is because people stopped having imagination…. people stopped believing for more. Books like this man, they open kids up to the world; to see and to be like… [bctt tweet=”Man, the flick of a wand could create this! And I’m like, Yes! Go out and imagine.” username=”cityreadsnyc”] You don’t have a wand, but you have a computer… and you might not have a wand, but you can build something… and go and stretch your imagination… and I don’t care if somebody tells you that you can’t fly; jeez louise… you can fly! Somebody tells you, “You can’t walk on water.” Give it a chance… you might walk on water! People will tell you so much… and I look at it and I’m like… somebody told me one day, “Naj, you will never teleport.” And I was like, “That’s my lifelong dream, to one day teleport.” They kept saying you will never teleport, and I’m like, “Cool… because somebody told somebody they’d never fly… and now look at us… we’re flying!” The minute I stop believing that I’ll teleport… that’s when that dream is dead, and that’s when I will never teleport. And trust me, it sounds silly… look, I’m 36 years old… I’m not actually sitting out here saying, “Yeah, jump off a building and fly!” I’m not talking about being irrational or irresponsible; I’m talking about… just dream! Dream big man! Dream that this world will stop living based on the colors of our souls, thinking that it’s just black or white… no man… dream one day! Look at Martin Luther King… he had a dream, and that dream turned into a reality! We’re still fighting for it, but… that was a dream, and somebody told him lunacy, somebody told him it was magic, that it was imagination… and I just… it’s when we give up on those dreams, when we give up on changing the world, that’s when the world stops changing…and that’s it. I recommend it to everybody and anybody. [bctt tweet=”The thing is… just have your eyes open! ” username=”cityreadsnyc”]Like me… I wrote this book off when it was a movie because I was like, “Witchcraft, Witchcraft, Witchcraft!”… until a friend of mine was like, “Nah, it’s chill. Check it out!” Stop living with your eyes closed, you know… you never know… you’re rejecting stuff for rejecting stuff sake… accept stuff and then sift through it and realize if you don’t want to spit it to somebody else, or if you don’t think you should even eat it… spit it out, you know… put it to the side. But yeah… there’s so much more about it man!

Consider the Lobster and Other Essays by David Foster Wallace

How did you come across the book?

This is my roommates book actually, and he’s traveling in Europe so I borrowed it while he’s gone… and I’m in love with it… it’s great!

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Well… David Foster Wallace’s writing is amazing… his style, if you’re not familiar… it’s like he uses these end notes that are used to put jokes in the middle of… well not always jokes, sometimes their informatory… but uh, in the middle of the text, which is great. But the very first… as far as insight goes… it’s really his vocabulary… it’s amazing so it’s… I mean I’m a song writer so it helps me jot words through my mind. [bctt tweet=”He’s also very funny and smart which I love; it’s great when someone can mix the two.” username=”cityreadsnyc”] It’s sad… unfortunately, he ended up committing suicide… but yes, he was very smart. The specific essay I’m on right now is about him covering the 2000 primaries when John McCain was going against Bush… so, he’s just talking about the times current politics in 2000 so it’s very interesting to read that from his perspective.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

I would recommend this for sure! To who? I mean, literally everyone! I think… it’s just…. all of it is amazing… but yeah, anybody who is interested in writing… his grammar is impeccable and his vocabulary is just amazing. So, like I said, as far as songwriting goes, it’s really helping me out a lot just purely through his vocabulary… it’s amazing!

‘The Man In The Arena’: Much More Than A Quote

By Justin Cude

As I write, I am under the assumption that most of you who will read this post will have also had prior exposure to the ambitiously moving quote from Theodore Roosevelt, known now more prominently as “The Man In The Arena”. Though expression of equal and greater value in regard to it’s surrounding content both initiates and further facilitates these words, given its lot in the grander scheme of oracle derive, for those who have not yet felt the quotes might, enjoy:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

As stated; Moving; Powerful; Inspiring. However, in this short piece of mine what I wanted to share with you all, as mentioned in the preceding passage, was content of equal or greater value, both prior and post Roosevelt’s illustrious recite. Below I will share with you words leading up to the discounting of the critic, to those eloquently following suit with the cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat; again, enjoy:

Prior to the discounted critic:

The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life’s realities – all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The role is easy; there is none easier, save only the role of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.

In short; Do yourself instead of talking of others doing. Act as opposed to remaining apprehensive. Remain indifferent to the words of others who merely contain the superficial expanse of aggressive words but very little, to non-existent, in their actions fruition. We all contain the ability to act, but we must be courageous in its implement and in its practice. [bctt tweet=”It’s OK to be afraid, but fear more the consequence of idle and fear less the act itself.” username=”cityreadsnyc”]

Post those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat:

Let those who have, keep, let those who have not, strive to attain, a high standard of cultivation and scholarship. Yet let us remember that these stand second to certain other things. There is need of a sound body, and even more of a sound mind. But above mind and above body stands character – the sum of those qualities which we mean when we speak of a man’s force and courage, of his good faith and sense of honor. I believe in exercise for the body, always provided that we keep in mind that physical development is a means and not an end. I believe, of course, in giving to all the people a good education. But the education must contain much besides book-learning in order to be really good. We must ever remember that no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness, in any way make up for the lack of the great solid qualities. Self restraint, self mastery, common sense, the power of accepting individual responsibility and yet of acting in conjunction with others, courage and resolution – these are the qualities which mark a masterful people. Without them no people can control itself, or save itself from being controlled from the outside. I speak to brilliant assemblage; I speak in a great university which represents the flower of the highest intellectual development; I pay all homage to intellect and to elaborate and specialized training of the intellect; and yet I know I shall have the assent of all of you present when I add that more important still are the commonplace, every-day qualities and virtues.

In short; development of the collective should remain the highest standard and consequential aim of a society. However, this starts with the individual, with the lone development and sustain of self-mastery. Thereafter, or in midst of, the greater pursuit of collective progression, not in terms of industry or of capital expansion, but in the realization and in the development of an aware, able, and self-mastered people. To interject with ever relevant and always comprehensible Stoic perspective, to quote Marcus Aurelius, “That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.” We are the bees and our moment of existence, along with our universal position is the bee-hive. We are responsible, so as a people, let us become aware of this responsibility, for the hive and for the bees which make up that hive.”With great responsibility comes great power”, and that power is found in the human practice of doing.

The responsibility we all were handed from our first breath, or rather from our first insight of being and of aware, remains ours to our last breath, or rather in the passing on of character and of understanding on a generational basis; this will be difficult, this will be hard, and this will be ours. [bctt tweet=”Own the duty or be owned by the duty’s in-acted upon declare.” username=”cityreadsnyc”] And, to further quote Theodore Roosevelt, in moments of our inevitable disbelief or refrain, find strength and courage in these words:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”



Attached below is a copy of Roosevelt’s entire speech, titled “Citizenship In A Republic”; I encourage you to read it. However, as with any reading, understand the context the best you can, take from it what you will and leave behind what you choose. Reading itself is an act of individual understanding, unique to you, your desires, your perspective and your ever evolving existence. And remember, enjoy!

The Man In The Arena – Citizenship In A Republic – Theodore Roosevelt

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

How did you come across the book?

Well it’s really famous… I mean, it’s considered one of the great american novels… so I knew about it. It’s one of my very good friend’s favorite book… and everyone kind of shits on it for being like a really liberal, douche-bag kind of book and I was just like, “OK, I should definitely read it before I judge it.”

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

Umm… it has a lot of really complex characters who are very… endearing; I like that. It also goes across time, so it’s a little bit confusing… but in a nice way.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Oh! That is a hard question! Umm… I would recommend it to people who don’t really pay attention to a book’s reputation before they read it… because if they do pay attention to the book’s reputation then what I recommend doesn’t matter because this book has a really notorious reputation. But, for someone who likes being disoriented and appreciates a… a genius… I mean, he really was a master at what he did… then yeah, I would recommend that they try it.

Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

How did you come across the book?

Well, it was written as sort of a poetic radio play by Dylan Thomas. Strangely enough it was first performed here in New York City in 1953. He was Welch but, uh… he occasionally came here and he lived here… in fact, he was a terrible alcoholic and he drank himself to death here. There’s a famous pub up in, uh… near the Meat Packing District where he would frequent. Well, anyways, I’ve known about it for many years and I think I probably heard it on the radio when I was a small… young, boy. And I haven’t really read it for a long, long time. So, as I was in the pub the other week I thought, “hmm… I’ll get a copy of ‘Under Milk Wood‘ and read it.

So far, what perspective have you gained from this book?

It’s really about the kind of individuality and eccentricity of people… and how that should be just love and admired, regardless of any kind of moral judgement. So it’s… it’s pretty amazing; it’s a great read.

Would you recommend it, and if so, to who and why?

Well, funny… I would recommend it to anyone, but… my daughter lives here in New York and she’s not a great reader, so first thing I’m going to say to her when she gets home is, apart from reading Raymond Calvel, which I’ve also given her… she must read this. She’s 32 and she’s not been a great reader of fiction… which is her loss so far.