Mind Munches

The love child of word vomit & metaphors

It’s My First Try

It goes without saying that we face a lot of pressure every day. Pressure to do or say the right thing. Pressure to look a certain way or be interested or educated in certain things. Pressure to be in the same stage of life as our friends or to forego our comfort level in order to satisfy the expectations of others. Pressure to be in control or have everything figured out.

I know I am constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering who might be pointing out everything I’m doing wrong or everything I could be doing better. I care a lot about what other people think, and I often worry that if I let them down or don’t live up to an expectation they might have in their head, I’ll get left behind.

Oftentimes before I go to sleep, I’ll go over conversations or interactions I had—sometimes that day, sometimes 15 years ago—and wonder what I could have done differently. How I could have gotten a bigger laugh or how I could have been more impressive or more interesting. I criticize the things I feel I got wrong and I agonize over the things I’m sure people are judging me for.

I put myself in last place, pointing out all the ways in which I’m behind or worse or failing, desperately wondering how I can catch up—to friends, family and complete strangers—and I grow tired and frustrated when I don’t see any progress.

Recently however, I have been trying to focus on a new mantra.

You know that old cliché about how we’re all running our own race? Well, what I’m trying to remember is that we’re all running our own race for the first time. In other words, this is everyone’s first try.

This life, this day, each and every second, is new to all of us. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We have no idea what to expect. And there is no do over button. We all get one shot at each day and some of them are going to be bad. Some moments are going to make us feel like we want to crawl into a hole. Some mornings are going to go completely wrong and some nights will end with us in tears. And even though it might seem like everyone around us is doing this life thing way better than us. Like they were given the cheat codes or the answer key, or were simply born better prepared to seize the day, we are all in fact on our first try.

This is my first try at being me. This is my first try at being 30. This is my first try at today.

And while it might not be perfect—in fact I can almost guarantee it won’t be—it will be something.

It will teach me something.

It will show me something.

It will lead me somewhere—even if I don’t know it yet.

And at the end of the day, I’ll just be glad I got the opportunity to try. And tomorrow, I’ll try again.

If it Weren’t for that One Crazy Hair

The other day I watched a YouTube video where Kylie & Kendall Jenner attempted to do their makeup while drunk. Regardless of your opinion of them or their reality show, the video is cute and funny and especially sweet if you have a sister or sibling that you love to laugh with.

At one point in the video, as Kylie is talking, I noticed that Kendall was looking at herself in the camera and trying to fix a part of her hair that (to her) looked off. She poked at it and combed her fingers through it, trying and trying to get it a certain way, while I was sitting on the other end of the screen wondering what is even wrong with it?  What flaw could she possibly be seeing?

Kendall, being an actual supermodel, whose job it is to be pretty and skinny and “perfect”, who was sitting on this video in clothes that fit her perfectly, with barely any makeup, promoting her brand-new tequila label, and undoubtedly raking in more than my annual salary by the minute. And yet, she swiped and swiped at her hair, distracted and frustrated, until she was satisfied.

At first, I wanted to think of her as shallow or vain, only focused on her appearance. But having watched the video and seen her personality, her humor and a little glimpse into her relationship with her sister, it was clear that there is more to her than that—just like there is more to all of us. But sometimes, even if it’s just for a few minutes, there is something that makes us feel like nothing else matters. Something about our clothes or our body or our skin or our hair or anything that stares back at us so glaringly in the mirror or in a photograph or on a video. Something that erases every other good thing going on and says, you look bad. This looks bad, and everyone else sees it too.

I know for me, I get especially self-conscious about my skin. I worry about when I breakout or when my skin is especially oily. I try to avoid pictures at all costs, and when one is taken it is all I can see. And while it might not be something that no one else sees, it is not something other people are focusing on. It is not a character flaw. It does not make me less of a person, less interesting or unworthy of spending time with. The same goes for that awkward way you’re standing in that one photo. Or the way your arm isn’t perfectly muscular. Or that those clothes aren’t laying perfectly on your body. Or the fact that your nails that aren’t painted. Or that your teeth that aren’t perfectly straight. Or that that one crazy hair just won’t stay in place.

None of these things discredit your heart or erase the goodness you bring into someone’s life. They don’t minimize the happiness in a photo or ruin the mood of a dinner shared between friends and family.

And while I know, depending on the day, that one thing can feel like a breaking point. It can feel like a good enough reason to call it quits on the day. To not want to leave the house. To cry or lean into bad habits or miss out on things you wanted to participate in. I also know that that one thing is not worth it.

It’s not worth your time. It’s not worth your energy. It’s not worth you missing the wonderful things going on around you. So let’s just leave it be. Let’s live inside the moments we’ve locked ourselves out of simply because we didn’t feel like we looked good enough to live them. Let’s not define ourselves and our lives on that pimple, or those jeans, or that sleeveless shirt, or that one crazy hair. You’re more than that. I’m more than that. We’re all made of millions of other colors and thoughts and dreams and ideas and memories that make us who we are and who we’re going to be, which is not and never will be defined by that one thing. So let’s put that thing aside. Let the crazy hair fly, and leave it be.

I Want the “More”

This past weekend I finished reading The Midnight Library which is a book about regrets. It follows Nora, a girl who is so consumed in regret and despair that she decides to end her life, only to wake up in a state of in-between called “the midnight library” where there are shelves full of books that each tell the story of a different life she could have lived if she made different choices.

This concept was fascinating to me, and instantly inspiring as I am someone who often finds myself wondering “what if _____?” I sat up wondering what my own “midnight library” would look like and what it would teach me; what different decisions could have led to different lives, and what questions could be answered by finally knowing if I made “the right” decision.

I loved reading Nora’s story and how she was able to uncover and disprove some of these regrets she’d been holding on to for so long, but I also found myself wildly jealous. Because the not knowing, the wondering and the regretting about the past can take all the fun out of the present. And sometimes when my present is sad or lonely or just hurts, I turn to those ponderings and regrets, believing that if I had done something differently, I wouldn’t have to be here, in the hurt.

But then I wonder, what am I really asking for? Am I asking for a life without hurt? Am I asking for a life where I never have to feel any pain or experience any loss or wonder about any fork in the road? Because while that sounds cozy and fun compared to all of this, it also sounds naïve and fake. It sounds like a life where I never learn anything, never overcome anything and thus never become more than I thought I could be. On the surface it sounds like a happy life, but it also sounds like a life where I would never really understand or appreciate what happy is.

We all go through bad things, we all experience hard chapters, we all have moments when we wonder why. And I wish there was a place to go and get all of the answers. A place like the midnight library where you could look at all the other outcomes of a situation and understand why that was the best one. Not for the best, most perfect life, but for the life that allows you access to becoming who you were made to be.

I don’t have all the answers—about anything really. And there are many parts of my life that I don’t understand or that I will always wonder what if. But then there are parts of my life that I catch myself saying how? How did I get to this wonderful place? How am I so lucky to experience this wonderful moment? And that is when I have to remember that it was all the moments that led up to this that got me here. It is all the good, all the bad, all the what if’s and regrets that still linger. They all make me me and they make my life my life. They are what have built me and will continue to build me as I continue to build this life. And while I’m scared for what’s ahead, scared of what might happen or what might not happen, I’m excited for it all because it will make me more. And at the end of the day, that’s all I really want—to discover all the more this life has for me, and that I have to offer the world.   

For Anyone Else Who Has Bumped Their Head

2020 has been full of big, hard things.

But sometimes it’s the small, hard things, the trivial things, that make a particular moment, morning, or even a whole day feel like a real personal attack. 

For me, these are some of those things:

1) When you accidentally touch a button or a zipper on an article of clothing fresh out of the drier and feel as though a few layers of skin on your fingertips are fried off.

2) When you somehow only kick one of your toes into a table leg.

3) When you are told, “you look tired,” after getting up, getting dressed and going out to face the day.

4) When you arrive home only to realize you forgot the one thing you actually needed from the store.

5) When you bump your head on absolutely anything.

6) When you get stuck in traffic when you have to pee (or worse).

7) When you put your phone (or anything) on the charger when you go to sleep, only to wake up and realize you didn’t plug the charger in.

8) When you accidentally chew a pill you were supposed to swallow.

9) When you run out of things to say with someone you just met and end up just staring at each other with no way to escape and no memory of anything humans talk about.

10) When you step in a puddle…IN SOCKS.

11) When you drop something and then catch it with cat like reflexes, only to realize that no one saw it happen and that even if you told someone they would just give you a polite, “wow,” because that’s the best they can do, even though you know you deserve applause, ovations, and maybe even a contract with the NFL.

12) When you reach the point of chewing gum where it tastes like wet cardboard and then realize you have nothing or nowhere to spit it out.

13) When you take a big first sip of hot chocolate and burn your tongue, ruining both the hot chocolate and everything else you’ll eat and drink for the remainder of the day.

14) When you break something the day you bought it.

15) When you have a spotlight shine directly into the center of your eyeball, making it feel as though it pierced your brain.

16) When you get stabbed in the roof of your mouth by a tortilla chip.

17) When you are gifted a piece of clothing that you hate, but have to pretend you love it because you can tell by the look on the other person’s face that they really hope you love it, and then have to wear it once or twice afterward even though it makes you feel like a potato.

18) When you are carrying a bag or a purse on your shoulder and the strap gets hooked on a pole, car mirror, etc. and pulls you backwards so hard and unexpectedly that you fall down.

19) When you get into a car on a windy day and accidentally shut your hair in the door.

20) When you go to a restaurant solely to order that one thing, only to find out they took that one thing off the menu.

If you or any of your loved ones have been personally victimized by any of these moments, I am truly sorry. We will get through this.  

Keep Hold of Your Elephant

I recently read former SEAL and current Congressman Dan Crenshaw’s book, Fortitude, which talks a lot about how to live a more balanced and controlled emotional life, especially in this age of “outrage culture.” In one chapter, I found a metaphor that really stuck with me and I wanted to share.

It comes from psychologist Dr. Jonathan Haidt, who described the human mind as a rider on an elephant. The conscious or logical mind is represented by the rider, and the unconscious or emotional mind is represented by the elephant. By all accounts, it would seem that the rider is (and should be) in control, but in certain situations, that elephant can pull and steer the rider in a direction they didn’t expect to go, and that won’t benefit them in the way they hope.

I loved this visual, partially because elephants are my favorite animal, but mostly because I felt like I’ve experienced this pull or sudden loss of logical mindedness in favor of a larger, more overpowering emotional response. And the harder I’ve tried to pull back and fight against that emotional reaction, the harder it’s fought its own fight, leaving me either frozen and at war with myself, or headed in a direction I don’t want to go. So the advice here is to realize that you are still in control. Your logical mind will always be that rider that can calm the elephant and steer her forward. But it is up to that logical mind to decipher—not ignore or belittle or wish away—whichever emotional reaction is trying to lead, and weed out what is true about it and what is not. What will benefit you (i.e. dealing with grief, mourning failure or rejection, etc.) and what won’t (i.e. worrying about things you can’t control, spiraling into self hate, tossing blame/anger onto other people).

In today’s society, we are told to react instantly. To immediately know our opinion, and, especially, to immediately be offended, angry, hurt, afraid, ecstatic, etc. I know I’ve felt the pressure to know exactly how I feel in only a matter of seconds—even if I’m not exactly familiar with what I’m seeing or talking about, and even if I don’t have all the facts or context that might help me form my own opinion. I know I’ve reacted to things based solely on the pressure to react, and the fear that if I didn’t, I’d be rejected, cast out, or left behind. I’ve looked on from my metaphorical elephant as a herd went running in one direction, and worried about the fact that we were still standing here, processing.

But the point is: that is okay. It is okay to process. It is okay to take your time. It is okay to go in the direction of the rest of the herd and it is okay to go in your own direction, as long as the rider is in control.

Don’t let hate steer you.

Don’t let fear steer you.

Don’t let doubt or greed or jealousy steer you.

Feel your feelings, listen to your feelings and then take the time to figure out which are telling you the truth and which are lying to you. Lead that elephant forward and do it on your own terms.

For Anyone Else Who is Opening and Closing and Scrolling and Sighing

I wrote this a little while back, but it has been resonating with me lately so I wanted to share.


 

It’s 7:00 p.m.

I’m alone, my roommates aren’t home from work yet, and I’m lying on my bed with a towel in my hair. I unlock my phone and I open Instagram. I scroll and scroll and scroll, and then I close it. I open Twitter, and I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it. I open YouTube and I watch a few videos with my head resting on a pillow, my hair making it damp through the towel and my feet kicking off the end of my bed.

I drop my phone on my bed and I walk into the bathroom. I take the towel off and hang it up, then run a brush and some product through my hair. I walk back to my bed and pick up my phone. A red notification shows up on Facebook. It’s a friend request from someone I don’t know, so I block it, and then I take a few seconds to scroll. At some point I lay back down on my stomach and I open Instagram. I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it. I open Twitter, and I scroll and scroll and scroll and then I close it.

I sigh.

I walk downstairs. While I make dinner, I leave my phone on the table so I won’t look at it. I open my computer and open Hulu, with subtitles, so I can watch an episode of something while I cook. Ten minutes later, a notification goes off on my phone. I look over at it on the table, and then I turn back to the stove and my computer. I finish cooking and set my dishes in the sink to do later. With a spoon I scoop myself a healthy serving onto a plate, then I grab a fork, a glass of water, and my phone en route to the couch, where I turn on the TV.

My food is hot. I put a pillow on my lap and I blow softly on the plate while unlocking my phone and opening Instagram. Hardly anything new has been posted, so I go to the discover page and I scroll and scroll and scroll until I learn more about a stranger’s life than I have ever known about some of my friends. When I realize I haven’t turned on the television, I put my phone down and scoot it away from me on the end table, and then I start eating.

When I finish eating, I put my plate on the end table and I clutch onto the pillow in my lap while I watch television. I like this show, but at some point I’m looking at my phone again. I don’t know what I’m looking for, but it feels like I should keep looking. When I don’t find anything, I put my phone down again and I go into the kitchen to wash the dishes.

I want to write tonight. To be productive. Maybe go to bed early so I’ll feel better tomorrow. I walk upstairs and sit down at my desk. I throw my phone on my bed so I won’t look at it, but then I walk over and pick it up because I decide I want to listen to music. Just music, I tell myself. But when I hit a snag in what I’m writing, I’m back on my phone, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling.

It’s 9:00 p.m. now and there is still nobody home. I’m tired. I want to say it’s because I went to the gym earlier, but it’s not my muscles that hurt. I want to say it’s because I woke up early for work, but I’ve been doing that for years. I lean back in my chair and let the exhaustion set in while I continue scrolling. When I find a tweet someone wrote about feeling tired, I feel understood, and I feel better.

For a second.

I throw my phone back on my bed. I need to write. If I write I can move forward, and if I move forward I will feel happy. But I’m too tired today. Today I need a break. I get up and walk over to my bed. Reaching for the remote on my bedside table with one hand, I pull my phone towards me with the other. With my index finger, I tap the screen, looking for notifications, texts, missed calls, anything, but there’s nothing there, so I flip it over. I pick a movie and I lay back on my pillow. I pick up my phone and I turn it in my hands. It’s just a fidget, but when I happen to turn it in a way that makes the screen light up, I glance down at it—just to check.

It’s 10:30 p.m. now and there is still no one home. One roommate said she’s working late, and the other texted to say she’s grabbing drinks with a coworker. So for now, maybe even for tonight, I’m alone. It’s just me. And it’s quiet. I pick up my phone and I scroll and scroll and scroll, but nothing helps. There’s nothing there. Or if there is, I can’t find it. Should I keep looking? Should I follow new people or unfollow those I’m no longer closer to? Should I post something? Should I take something down? Is there anything I can do to break this silence? Anything to make me a little more visible?

That’s what it is, I’m just not loud enough. If I was louder, people would hear me, they would see me, they would talk to me. I should post something. A picture or a blog or a tweet. Something funny. Something sweet. Something that makes people think or laugh or just simply answer. I should post something.

I scroll.

It’s 11:00 p.m. My eyes are heavy now and my stomach hurts. The house is quiet. My room is quiet. But my head is so loud. My phone is on the charger and I’m wondering whether or not I’m upset. Am I mad at my roommates? Am I mad at myself? Am I mad at all? Maybe I’m sad. Maybe I’m lonely. Or maybe I’m just tired. That’s it. I’m tired. I should go to bed.

I scroll.

Tomorrow I’ll do better, I think to myself. Tomorrow I won’t look at my phone. Maybe I’ll even leave it at home. No, what if I have an emergency? What if I need to call someone? What if someone sends me a text or a Snapchat or tags me in an Instagram photo or mentions me on Facebook or follows me on Twitter or posts a good YouTube video. Not that I care about that stuff. People know where to reach me. They could call my work if it was really an emergency. Plus, if I leave my phone at home, I bet by the time I get off work I’ll have so many notifications. And when I tell everyone I left my phone at home and just saw this, they’ll think I’m cool and casual and don’t need my phone—like the rest of the world. Which I don’t. I barely even look at my phone.

I turn my phone on silent. I don’t need all of the upcoming notifications keeping me awake. I turn over, then wonder if people are texting me. Namely that guy I like. I’m sure he’s apologizing for waiting so long to text me back. My friends from high school and college are probably sending me quick messages to let me know how much I mean to them. And my sister might have posted something about me on Instagram that people will think is funny and endearing and make them wish they were in my inner circle of friends. People are probably commenting on my blog, letting me know how much it means to them. I bet my follower count is increasing by the minute.

I roll over and pick up my phone. Nothing.

Right.

I don’t care.

I was just curious what time it was.

I turn back over and close my eyes. I’m glad I’m not one of those people who think their worth can be found in their phone. I bet they’re miserable.

Hate Will Never be a Prize

In a standard marathon, there are thousands of participants, from thousands of backgrounds, with thousands of stories to tell. In the early mornings of race day, they gather at the starting line, grouped together by their approximate pace, each person stretching, praying, pacing, dancing—anything that will prepare them for the journey they are about to embark on.

When I ran my marathon last year, I was surprised by the immediate kinship I felt with everyone around me at the starting line, even though we didn’t talk to one another, or even make more than a few seconds of eye contact. I felt bonded to them, like we were going into battle—because in a way, we were—and it’s easy to feel connected to people when you are working toward the same goal, and headed toward the same finish line.

The same cannot be said in every day life.

Oftentimes when you come into contact with someone in the day to day, you don’t know the path they are on, where they’ve come from, what they’ve experienced, or where they are hoping to go. For some, this is inviting, it’s an opportunity to meet someone new. For others this is intimidating, and a reason to feel self-conscious. And for too many, this is an excuse to jump to conclusions, pass judgment, and, ultimately, hate.

In a marathon setting, if your initial reaction towards one of your fellow runners was hate, it could keep you from making an ally that could inspire you, motivate you, and help you when things got hard. It could slow your progress, steal your focus, weaken your performance, and ultimately, ruin your race. And in real life, it will do the exact same thing.

We are not all running the same race, on the same course, at the same pace, with the same finish line, but we are all trying our best to keep moving. And when we hate, we give unwarranted obstacles not only to ourselves, but our fellow runners. We slow the progress of everyone when we decide we are more important, more valuable, or more worthy of getting to where we want to go than our fellow runners. We slow the progress of everyone when we don’t recognize our fellow runners as fellow individuals, fellow personalities, and fellow human beings, rather than a prejudged series of colors, shapes, sizes, uniforms or beliefs.

Running a marathon takes patience. Living a life takes patience. Forming relationships takes patience. And the quickest way to derail all of these is leaning into the ignorant and lazy habit of impatience. Of believing you already know what an experience will give you before you experience it, of assuming you know all that life has to offer before you live it, and of deciding you know who a person is before they have time to show you.

Be patient.

Be open.

Be helpful.

Be kind.

Romans 12:9-10 in the Bible says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

So let us honor each individual. Let us love them for who they are and all they can offer the world. Let us hate what is wrong, but not mistake hate as a prize. For the goal is not to hate the quickest, the loudest, or the strongest, the goal is to right the wrong and starve hate all together. The goal is to not only hold tightly to the good that we know, but to reach out for the good we are working towards. The goal is for love and respect to be more prevalent and powerful than doubt and bias. The goal is for every runner to believe whole-heartedly that they deserve a place at the starting line and have the opportunity to reach their finish line. The goal is for a person to be a person, at first glance, at first instinct, no matter what, and for that person to know they are loved.

Submitting My Friendship Resume

To Whom it May Concern,

Seeing as we are in a strange time, one that encourages not only kindness and politeness, but undeniable kinship and unity, I have come to the conclusion that we should be friends—from afar obviously, because, well, YOU KNOW.

That being said, I’ve attached my resume for your review. If the contents appear up to par, I’d like us electronically agree, from our own homes, that we are in this thing together, and will at no point physically or emotionally harm one another in order to get the last package of toilet paper or container of oatmeal.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Attachment: KimK_ResumeforFriendship

 

Kimberlee K.

kimberleek.com

Education:

Hiking Trails in Southern California

May 2014 – Present

Various Locations

Major: Keeping a Steady Pace

Minor: Heavy Breathing

.

Facts No One Should Know

August 2006 – Present

News Articles, Assorted Googling, Neighboring Conversations, Etc.

Major: “Did You Know?” anecdotes

.

Limited Slang

One day in Middle school – Present

Peers, Urban Dictionary, “Kids these days”

Major: Stealth Research

____

Work Experience:

Adult

Legally 2008 – Present

Various Locations

Concrete Identity Pending

  • Dresses self for a variety of formal and informal occasions.
  • Feeds self a variety of meals, both in controlled and uncontrolled portions, in order to sustain life.
  • Attempts to take on and maintain responsibilities
  • Cries periodically
  • Often says, “Thanks, I got it at Target.”

.

DIY

September 1995 – Present

Usually the Floor

Project Creator & Artist (of sorts)

  • Formulates a wide variety of projects capable of being made on one’s own
  • Fails miserably during the first attempt and throws it on the ground/in trash
  • Completes second (or third or fourth) try and shrugs at result, calling it “good enough”
  • Learns to love project with whole heart
  • Creates new project and starts the cycle over again.

.

Watching Movies

September 1990 – Present

Various Locations

Memorizer of Noteworthy Comedic Quotes

  • Watches a variety of movies both in theaters and on VHS/DVD/Blu-ray/Streaming services
  • Enjoys nearly all movies thoroughly
  • Chooses a number of anecdotes from the films to quote numerous times a day.

____

Other Work Experience:

Instagram Stalking

July 2012-Present

Hidden on the Internet

Creep

  • Follows curious thoughts into the depths of social media, often losing one’s mind in the process.
  • Becomes extremely knowledgeable in persons and events that bear no relation to me.
  • Audibly gasps often.

 .

Introverting

February 2002 – Present

Various Locations, Primarily Home

People Avoider

  • Often enters state of desire to be completely and utterly alone
  • Cancels all plans and stays indoors, making little contact with the outside world
  • Has minor moments of clarity regarding the benefits of creating and maintaining meaningful friendships, then makes a meal, turns off the lights and continues to introvert.

____

Awards/Achievements:

Summited Mt. Whitney

Has not broken a bone

Once made a triple decker bologna sandwich

Has vomited due to motion sickness in various major cities

Once hooked a mudsucker by the tail while fishing in the Owens River

Member of 2016 Winter League Championship bowling team: Beer & Waffles.

Has twice defeated The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Hasn’t died yet*

*Note: void when dead.

____

Strengths:

Sarcasm

Smiling politely

Requesting Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” at weddings

Making excel spreadsheets for every occasion

Committing to puzzles

____

Weaknesses:

Mini golf

Making omelets

Overcommitting to puzzles

Forgetting to bring toothpaste on vacation

Often drops phone for no apparent reason

Thank You, Kobe.

This past weekend might have been a lot of things for a lot of people, but there was one collective moment most of us shared.

It was an awful moment. The kind we’ll replay over and over again. The kind that 20, 30 years from now we’ll still swap, “where were you when..” stories about.

For me, I was in North Carolina, visiting my cousins. I was standing in line at an ice cream shop, taking bites of my waffle cone filled with Carolina Crunch as I waited to pay. Then, with a pivot, my cousin Ashlynn turned to me, phone in hand and said, “is this true?”

It was.

Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash.

As the day went on, the details came out. We learned that Gianna, Kobe’s 13 year old daughter, as well as seven other passengers—children, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands—had also been killed in the crash.

As the weeks go on, we’ll likely learn more. But for now, we’re just left with what we know, and what we feel.

And we all feel it.

Over the last two days, social media has been flooded with condolences, prayers and heartbreak, but more than anything, it has been filled with stories. Moments. Thank you’s.

Kobe Bryant will undoubtedly be one of the greatest, if not the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. But he was also, incredibly, so much more than that. He had only just begun to start his life and his movement after basketball, and it is clear in the heartbreak of everyone in and outside the NBA that they—we—are not only mourning a legend on the court, but an all around hero.

For me personally, growing up in Los Angeles, I grew up watching Kobe. And even though I haven’t always known basketball, I’ve always known Kobe, and thus, in many ways, to me, Kobe was basketball. His God given talent and his out of this world work ethic—he was a superhuman, destined, determined and demanding of greatness. This was clear to the die hard fan and the naked eye.

This is why, I think, this loss is so widespread and deep. Because suddenly there is a sense of hopelessness, a fear of emptiness, a question of: who now do we have to look up to the way we did Kobe?

I have read so many stories and been incredibly moved by the impact one man can have on an entire world. But while this loss is one we will always feel, I hope that all of that inspiration, that hope, that wonder that he brought to basketball, to fans, to friends, family, acquaintances, and everyone and everything in between, that those lessons will not only live on in his memory, but they will ripple outward, creating even more stories, more wonder, more inspiration, more love, not because he died, but because he lived.

So thank you, Kobe. There may never be another one like you, but there are so many who are better because of you.

May you, your daughter, and everyone else lost rest in peace. You will all be greatly missed.

Trust Me, it Works

When I was six years old, my parents gave me a Nintendo 64 for Christmas. And for many many weekend mornings after that, I would wake up early, sneak into the living room, and play Zelda: Ocarina of Time alongside my brother and sister for as long as our parents would let us hog the television.

Now, if you’ve ever played Nintendo 64, you’ll know that it takes a very delicate touch to get a game to work. Unlike many video games today that don’t even require discs, N64 games were thick, plastic bricks that you had to blow into the bottom of before you pushed them into the top of the console at just the right pressure. If it didn’t work the first time, you would pull the game back out, blow on the bottom again, this time in a harmonica like fashion, and then place the game back into the console, perhaps with only two fingers or with a series of delicate taps. Even at age 6, I quickly learned the series of techniques that worked for my particular console, and will utilize them in exact order, even to this day, without fail.

It’s funny how we can become inadvertently trained to operate things in a specific way without ever realizing that it’s peculiar, ridiculous or borderline ritualistic.

For example, my back door has a tricky doorknob. In order to lock both the knob and the pad lock, you have to shut the door, then pull and twist the knob, not so much that it reopens the door, but enough to engage whatever didn’t engage when you initially shut it.

To get my phone to play music in my car, I plug the auxiliary cord into the bottom, unlock my phone, then press play, pause and then play again.

I once had a hairdryer that only worked if you held it at a certain angle, so I would rotate my head in accordance with the limits of the hairdryer, which was great for stretching my neck, but terrible for giving me any kind of acceptable hair style.

To put on my favorite pair of jeans, I squat down into a catcher-like stance, and then jump up, repeating until they wiggle their way up into place. If I choose these jeans when I’m getting ready in a hurry, this process could almost be considered a round of cardio.

We all have a part of our house or our work that we’ll walk towards or lean against in order to get the best Wi-Fi signal, we’ve all had that phone or television that still worked if you banged the side of it, and we’ve all had a window that you have to prop open with a cup, aptly named the “window cup”, when you’re looking to let in a cool fall breeze.

Okay, that last one might just be my roommates and I. But you know what I mean.

Somehow, some way, we fall into these routines and methods that we only realize are strange when we have to explain them out loud to somebody else. And even then, even after we hear it back and think maybe we should, I don’t know, get a new hairdryer, we just shrug it off and move on, because starting a new routine, even if it might be easier, sounds way more complicated than just keeping with what’s familiar.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to turn my ceiling fan on level two, because on level one it clicks, and then I’m going to tip toe my way to the bathroom, using precise footing across the floor so it doesn’t creak, because it’s late and I don’t wake up my roommates.

It’s not weird, it’s polite.