Thought Catalog

I Wish You Were Here

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 08:30 PM PST

Ángela Burón

It pains me to know you're hurting
further than my arms can reach,
that I am unable to protect you with the entire
span of the Pacific between us,
that no number of emails or texts
or FaceTime minutes
can bandage the bruises
he hammers into your skin.
There are days I think of you
until the expression on my face
is a postcard he will not let you read:
I wish you were here,
I wish you were here,
I wish you were here.
I keep three clocks set to your timezone
as reminders
that my 2ams
are your almost middays,
that while the moon wanes in this sky
you are under the sun someplace else,
feeding breadcrumbs to birds in a park
wishing for wings of your own
and I imagine that for a fraction of a moment,
you're not so afraid.
Fly home to me,
where the hands that hold you will tremble
with passion not violence.
where you will not be a possession,
but the universe I inhabit,
Fly home to me. TC mark

21 Little Things To Make More Time For Next Year

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 08:00 PM PST

Christopher Campbell
Christopher Campbell

1. Explaining your stance to people you think are ignorant. Laughing them off makes you ignorant as well. Sharing with them why you think and feel the way you do is how we collectively evolve – whether or not they listen is not your problem.

2. Cooking yourself breakfast. If making every meal for yourself is impossible or just exhausting, at least commit to taking time each morning to care for yourself in one of the most simplest ways.

3. Taking care of your long-term self. Acting on behalf of what you'll want in 3 months, or even 3 years, not just what you impulsively desire in the moment.  

4. Reading the books that have been on your shelf forever. The ones that are half read, or even untouched. The ones that interested you in the moment, that you were gifted, or that you suddenly didn't have time to finish. Make time.

5. Reading the books you loved when you were in high school. Retrace the words that made you think and swoon and cry when you were just old enough to begin to actualize those emotions in a real way.

6. Donating $20 a month to a cause you claim to believe in. $20 is pretty minimal, but at the very least it's likely many people could afford to do it – divvy up $5 donations to a few sites you care about (like Brain Pickings, or Wikipedia) and a Patreon account, or perhaps setup a recurring donation to Planned Parenthood. Skip a few morning lattés and walk your talk.

7. Being angry (not cruel). Anger is good. Anger is usually what happens right before change. Anger and cruelty are two entirely different things, and cruelty is what happens when anger is suppressed. So get angry about the things there are to get angry about, and do something about them.

8. Reading in bed, especially on rainy days. Or really not needing an excuse to stay in bed for an entire Sunday morning (…afternoon).

9. Sleeping. Prioritize sleep before everything else and you will find that everything else improves.

10. Letting something consume your full attention. When left to its own devices, the brain will preoccupy itself with what it knows best: fear or survival. At the end of the day, the biggest problem with your life could be just that you're thinking about it more than you're living it.

11. Finding, and focusing, on what makes you feel calm. We believe that a "good life" is one in which we suffer for our success, yet most real success – which has a lasting, emotional reward – is the result of what's effortless. To be "calm" doesn't mean to just sit in a sauna and ignore your responsibilities. It means to find flow no matter what you have to do.

12. Making more phone calls. Don't let another year go by without calling your grandmother or talking to your mom regularly or whatever else you wouldn't want to look back and regret. You do not have forever with the people you love.

13. Broadcasting less and savoring more. Make a serious commitment to limiting your social media time. Validate yourself by living the life that's in front of you, not by projecting the one you wish you had.

14. Opening more windows, taking more walks outside. Get fresh air while you sleep or at least let your apartment air out while you're at work, and begin your day with a walk just for the sake of it. Starting each morning with something leisurely sets a very particular tone for the day.

15. Snuggling. With the person you love. Or your pet. Or yourself. (Definitely yourself.)

16. Doing what comes effortlessly to you. Sure you have to pay the bills, and sure there are only so many hours in the day, but take time to doing whatever it is that flows naturally: writing, painting, singing, swimming. Even if you're just doodling on a notepad or singing in the shower or doing laps at the pool, the point is that you're doing what you were born to do.

17. Having hours-long conversations with people – in person – without picking up a phone, or checking the time, or getting distracted by a deadline or a chore that went undone. Only reason break focus to refill their glass of wine.

18. Treat people to the little things. If you're going to buy things like coffees out or shopping trips for yourself, treat the people you spend time with to a drink or a gift now and again. It's so simple, so uncommon, and so absolutely touching to be on the receiving end of.

19. Acknowledging your fears. Don't let them silently control you. Release yourself from yourself by simply letting yourself feel. Emotions won't kill you, but suppressing them will – and they'll take down everything else in your life in the process.

20. Writing letters. Honest notes to friends, thank you cards, end of the year notes to colleagues, a letter to your grandma, a handwritten invitation, a grocery list.

21. Enjoying the life you have, not the one you're working toward having. You'll find that the only time you really "arrive" is when you decide to, anyway. TC mark

Want more articles like this? Check out Brianna Wiest’s book The Truth About Everything here.


A Letter To The Next Man To Say, “I Love You”

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 07:00 PM PST


When the moment comes, and you are ready to tell me that you love me, please understand, that I will probably love you too. But I will not know how to tell you. I will not know how to accept that your definition of love is different from the one I have heard before you, from my last "love".

When you say those words, the three that every girl waits to hear, I will do my best to realize that you are different. I may smile, I may cry, I may have a blank stare on my face for a few moments, a face that reminds me of fear. You are opening up your heart to me, but I need you to know there are still a few bruises on mine, from my last "love".

Bruises that I am not ashamed of. His definition of this word that I no longer understand the true meaning of was different than what I thought it would be before him. His definition included screaming, mocking, hitting and spitting. But I realize now, that I am free. He used to tell me I was not good enough to be with anyone else, but that I was good enough for him to see – potential. So many insecurities formed, from my last "love".

I remember the first time his hand pulling my hair did not match the words coming from his lips. The way he looked into my eyes and aggressively grabbed my hips. Told me I was "used", and that no one else would ever want me. But I didn't have to worry, because he would "never let me go". I believed what he said, every hateful word, all spoken, from my last "love".

As a little girl I wondered what it would be like to be loved by someone else. To fall asleep with them. To wake up with them. To eat, to laugh, to smile with them. All the aspects of life you think of when you say the word. In my world, though, it was different, from my last "love".

But after two long years, I was able to see that the light at the end of the tunnel was brighter than the darkness I was living in. That not eating was not going to make me more beautiful in his eyes. That crying was not going to make him easier on me. That sticking up for myself did not matter. Because he did not L-O-V-E me. He just wanted to control me.  And I see it so clearly now. So long, last "love".

I am not broken from my bruises. I am not defeated from his words. Understand that after years of Taylor Swift songs and books I now know what the word means. I am sure, it exists, and it will exist for me.

So to the next man to look me in the eye and tell me that he loves me. Please understand I will love you too. I will eat with you, sleep with you, smile with you, and be with you. But in that pure moment of vulnerability when you say those three words, just know I hear you, and I believe you.

You are my next love. And you will be my best love. TC mark

My Daughter Wants To Know Why Our Elf On The Shelf Is Behaving Strangely… We Don’t Have An Elf On The Shelf

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 06:15 PM PST

Flickr, Bethany King
Flickr, Bethany King

“Mommy, Jingles is gone.”

The fuck. What day is it? I could’ve sworn it was my day off but that can’t be right because Ava is at the edge of my bed, shaking my shoulder, and this little shit knows how badly I need my sleep on my days off. It’s still dark out. This better be good.

“What, Ava?” I groan, rolling away from her grabby little hands.

“Jingles. Is. GONE,” she repeats in that insufferable tone only 6-year-olds can pull off.

Who the fuck is Jingles?

“Who’s Jingles?” I ask my pillow, editing for language.

“Our elf!” Ava stamps her foot. When I don’t turn back to her, she scurries over to the other side of the bed so she can thrust her face in front of mine. “He told me, he said he’d have a special present for me today but now I can’t find him ANYWHERE!”

Okay. Let’s get one thing straight here. I don’t do that Elf On The Shelf bullshit. It’s a waste of time, it basically bribes your stupid kids into behaving for a month, and it’s just a glorified way for Facebook parents to take ridiculous photos and share for god knows what reason. Do you have any idea how many pictures I’ve seen on my timeline where a full-grown adult, someone I smoked weed with in college, has dropped Hershey’s Kisses into a toilet and posed that idiotic elf over the bowl? Too many fucking times.

So you understand my confusion.

“Where did you get an elf, Ava?” I ask, groping for my phone on the nightstand. 4:02 am. I am on the brink of a very serious time-out.

“He came through my window last night.” She sticks her lower lip out in a pout that sort of makes me want to slap it off of her.

I wouldn’t do that, of course. I don’t hit my kid. But if you have kids and you act like you’ve never thought about it, you’re a dirty liar.

“Why was your window open?” Sitting up, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. Yes, a time-out is on the horizon for sure. The heating bill is going to be through the roof.

“Because he was tapping,” Ava insists. “I had to let him in! It’s cold outside!”

Fuck. Now I’m going to have to install those stupid child-proof window lock things.

“You’re not supposed to be opening your window, Ava. Or telling lies.”

“It’s not a lie! I couldn’t leave Jingles outside!” My daughter’s wide brown eyes are filling with tears now. Great, meltdown mode. “He was tapping and he was cold and he said he’d give me a present and now he’s GONE!”

I press my hands to my face. I’m running on four hours of sleep and short on patience.

“We don’t have an elf, Ava. And Mommy needs her rest. Please go back to bed.”

Her lip is quivering now.

“What if,” she says tearfully, “something HAPPENED to Jingles? Something bad?”

Wonderful. I’m going to have to go buy a fucking elf now. I draw the line at the Hershey Kiss shits, though.

“Maybe he’s just… taking a vacation.” I have to slow this train wreck before it gets out of control. I get out of bed and stretch. Time to lie to my kid, just like the rest of those losers on Facebook. “Where did Jingles say he would meet you?”

“At the Christmas tree,” she sniffles.

“All right. Come on, let’s go check.” If I can stall for time maybe I can go get one this afternoon and put a stop to the tantrum. I know Ava, she’s not going to let this go. Kid’s got an insane imagination and is as stubborn as I am.

I take her by the hand and she leads me, scampering, to the living room. I’m going through all the different bullshit scenarios I can make up for why her new “friend” won’t be there when I see it: the little body nestled in the branches of our Christmas tree, illuminated by twinkling lights.

One leg is crossed over the other in a very relaxed pose, almost as if he’s kicking back. His outfit is white, not red like ones I’ve seen on Facebook. His face is awful.

He’s sitting next to a Monster High doll, a blank-eyed goth Barbie that I recognize as Sarah Screams, the doll that Ava put at the top of her Christmas list. I was going to buy it for her but instead it’s posed in our tree next to this repulsive little thing. Just before Ava snatches the Sarah Screams doll, I notice that the elf — Jingles — has his hand up Sarah’s skirt.

“Sarah Screams!” Ava squeals, hugging the doll tight to her chest.

What the fuck.

I feel like the thing is staring at me. I don’t really want to touch it, it seems like if I touch it my skin might burn, but I move to take it out of the tree and my daughter shrieks:


I jump, almost like the words came from Jingles instead of Ava.

“What?” I demand. It feels like the air has been sucked out of the room.

“If you touch an elf they lose their magic!” she insists.

Where has she been learning this shit? More importantly, where did Jingles come from? And the doll?

“Ava,” I say, keeping one eye on the elf, “where did you get these things?” She looks at me over the top of her new toy.

“I told you. Jingles brought it. He came in through the window.”

“Did you take it from a store?” I look around for discarded toy packaging and don’t see any of it. “Did someone give it to you? Be honest with me.”

“Mom-meeee,” Ava whines. She seems frustrated. “Jingles gave it to me! I keep telling you and telling you!”

“You’re telling lies again,” I say.

My daughter looks on the verge of tears, clutching Sarah Screams tight.

“I’m not, Mommy, I can’t tell lies because if I do Santa won’t bring me presents and Jingles might leave!”

I consider taking the doll from her but this will surely cause a tantrum. Besides, can I really believe that my six-year-old daughter shoplifted it without me finding out? But… what’s the alternative? That the elf came through her window, like she said?

From his pose in the tree, Jingles smirks at me.

“Okay, okay.” I usher Ava away from the Christmas tree. “Take Sarah Screams and go back to bed. I need to get some sleep, and so does Jingles.” She skips off to her bedroom, happy as a clam.

When I’m sure she’s in bed, hearing the door click shut behind her, I pick Jingles up by the hat with the very tips of my fingers. Holding it far away from me like something that stinks, I carry the elf to the garage and dump him in the trash can.

Jingles is going on a leave of absence. If Ava wants an Elf On The Shelf, fine, but not this one. I’ll get one from Target. But mostly I’m just hoping she’ll forget the whole thing. At least there’s only two more days until Christmas.

I’m cleaning up the dinner table when Ava stomps into the dining room. Her new favorite toy is tucked under one arm. She’s scowling at me.

“Mommy, where’s Jingles?”


“Is he not in the tree?” Stalling for time as I scoop uneaten macaroni and cheese down the garbage disposal.

“No. Where is he?”

I’m rinsing the plates and feeling oddly guilty as my daughter waits for an answer.

“He disappeared this morning,” I offer in a voice that’s so cheerful it kind of makes me sick. “Maybe he’s off someplace else again? Getting you another present?” The Target shopping list is growing steadily.

“No. You’re telling LIES, Mommy.”

Why am I letting my kid make me feel like shit? I’m the parent here, not her.

I turn from the sink and face Ava.

“Honey, Jingles isn’t our elf, okay? I don’t know where he came from but he doesn’t belong here. I bet Santa will send another elf really soon. There’s still a few days before Christmas, that’s enough time for the North Pole to find someone new.”

I don’t like the way Ava is looking at me.

“Jingles isn’t going to be very happy,” she says mysteriously, and leaves.

Fuck Jingles. Mommy needs a glass of chardonnay.

For the second day in a row, I wake up to the sound of my daughter’s voice.

“Look, Mommy!” she cries right in my fucking ear, jerking me out of a sound sleep. “Jingles came back again!”

I have no idea what she’s talking about, for a second I can’t remember what the fuck a Jingles is, but as I reach for my phone to see what ungodly hour of the morning it is I freeze.

Sitting next to my iPhone is that fucking thing. The elf in all white. The screen of my phone is utterly destroyed, a shattered mess.

Jingles is holding a hammer. He’s smirking.

Ava is in her room crying. I gave her bottom a good whack after finding out that she’d broken my phone to get back at me for throwing Jingles away. She insists it wasn’t her but if the little shit is stealing — because that’s what this has to be, she had to have stolen the elf and the doll and when I got rid of her new friend she broke my phone.

I should’ve seen this coming, I guess. She’s been whining about how all the other kids in class have an Elf On The Shelf and I ignored it. After her dad left she started acting out but it was always in little ways, not eating her dinner or trying to sneak into my bed at night.

Sarah Screams is on the high shelf in the hall closet and Jingles is in the dumpster behind Target. I did the rest of my Christmas shopping but I went fairly light on the presents and like hell was I going to get another elf.

I’m drinking wine and distracting myself with Christmas movies. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to afford another phone, the holiday has my savings pretty much wiped out. Maybe after Christmas I can get a burner or something to hold me over until I’m eligible for an upgrade.

Fucking Elf On The Shelf.

For a moment, I think I hear tapping on the window, but it’s probably just the wine. Or the wind.


It’s Christmas Eve. Things around the house have been… tense. Ava isn’t talking to me much but I gave her back her doll so that brightened her up a little.

We’re setting up the milk and cookies for Santa. I’m arranging them near the tree when Ava asks quietly,

“Can I get the carrots for Rudolph?”

I glance at her and my heart aches. Poor kid. She looks so pathetic. It’s her first Christmas without her dad so I guess I’ve been pretty hard on her. It’s just that times are tough and I guess I just don’t know how to handle myself. The holidays are stressful for everyone. And that god damn elf.

“Yeah, sweetheart,” I tell her, trying to use a nicer tone than I have in the past few days. “Rudolph’s gonna need carrots to make his nose glow so bright.”

This makes her giggle a little and I feel better. She runs to the fridge and takes a little longer than I expect her to, but before I go in to check on her she runs back into the living room with the carrots.

When it’s all done, there’s a plate of cookies (I’ll need to take a bite out of each one), a cold glass of milk (I’ll have to drink that too), and a small bowl of baby carrots (good luck on me imitating reindeer teeth marks). I put Ava to bed and go to the garage to get the presents out of my trunk where they’ve been hidden.

While I’m stacking the wrapped gifts in my arms, something behind me skitters across the floor of the garage. I nearly drop them and freeze in place. Fucking mice. I’ve been putting out rat poison for them but sounds like they’re back.

I take the presents inside and arrange them neatly under the tree. I take the requisite bite of each cookie and finish one completely — screw it, it’s Christmas. A nibble from the carrot, and fuck is my mouth dry.

I drain the glass of milk in a few quick swallows. It tastes funny, like maybe it’s about to turn, but I’m still thirsty, so I go to the fridge and pour a few more glasses. When I go back to the living room, I give the place a once-over to make sure it looks like Santa has been here. That’s when I spot the note under the cookie plate. I’d somehow missed it before.

Ava must have left a message for Santa. What a sweetheart. I pull out the note and before I can read it, I see Jingles perched in the Christmas tree, smirking at me.

What the hell.

His white outfit is just as pristine as the first time I saw him but he should be soaked in garbage juice by now. Not to mention there’s no way he can be here. THERE’S NO WAY.

My gut rolls. I suddenly feel so sick.

I look at the paper in my hand, a scrawling child’s handwriting in pink crayon:

I’m soree Mommy. Jingles is mad at you and says this wat I have to do.

He says he will take me to the north pol and I will meet Santa and get lots of presints. I want presints and you are a meen Mommy. Jingles is nice. He tells me things at nite and last nite he told me to put the funny powder in your milk.

I want to meet Santa. I’m soree. I will miss you Mommy. You were not always meen.


I scramble to the kitchen, to the sink, forcing my fingers down my throat. My first instinct is to call 911 but I don’t have a phone. Ava broke it. Jingles broke it.

Some of the milk comes out in a lukewarm rush but not all of it, not enough, my stomach is still rolling and it’s starting to get dark in here.

I stumble back into the living room, trying to make it to Ava’s room. I fall to my knees in front of the Christmas tree and vomit again on the carpet. There’s blood in it this time.

Jingles is on the floor now. In front of the tree, next to the presents. And the last thing I see as I lose consciousness is the three boxes of rat poison he’s sitting on.

And from somewhere behind me, I hear:

“Can we go to the North Pole now, Jingles? I can’t wait to meet Santa.” TC mark

When It’s Easier To Miss Them Than It Is To Move On

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 06:00 PM PST


I am having a great time missing my ex.

Just kidding.

No sane person would admit that, right? Missing somebody is horrible. It's grueling. It's a lonely, painstaking affair. It robs you of your happiness and sets you apart from what you want.

And yet so many of us seem to get stuck there.

Something ends, and we refuse to move on from it. We cry our tears out. We change our lifestyles. We make all of the necessary adjustments that are healthy and productive and strong after something so important ends and yet we cling to their memories still. We use them as an excuse to not try with anyone else. We use the pain of being not over someone as a reason to stop putting ourselves out there.

We get comfortable inside of missing people. We build homes there and defend them with the whole of our hearts.

Because here is the truth about missing someone: It is the easiest thing on earth to do.

When you're choosing the pain of missing somebody, you are choosing your own form of pain. It's self-inflicted. It's within your control. You can make the conscious choice to miss them, so you do.

You reject potential romances because you can't imagine re-creating intimacy. You hide yourself away because you tell yourself you still have pain to process. You use the not-being-over someone as an excuse to opt out of every situation that scares you. Because as long as you’re rejecting the world – and not vice versa – then you are still the one in control.

When it comes down to it, it's just easier to miss someone who's gone than it is to pin your hopes on something real. It's easier to mourn someone than it is to take real chances. It's easier to dwell on the heartbreak you have than to set yourself up for another. Starting over is a process that is inherently laden with risks, and they're risks you don’t feel brave enough to take.

It's safer in the home that you have built inside of missing someone. And so you board up the windows and you stay there.

But at what point during this painstaking process do we make the choice to call ourselves out?

We can stay put where we are almost indefinitely – letting chances and trials and opportunities pass us by because we do not feel ready to start over. But some part of us must know that we're only doing ourselves a disservice. We’re no longer heartbroken and bleeding. We’ve been on the mend for a while. And after a certain point, we’re simply protecting our hearts out of fear.

Because the truth is, we may never feel fully prepared to start over.

It's never going to feel comfortable to put ourselves out there. It's never going to feel natural to date someone new. There will always be an inherent, unavoidable risk that comes along with the decision to put ourselves back out there in a real way, but it's one that we need to embrace if we ever want to stand a chance at moving forward.

Nothing bad ever happens inside the safety of the walls of our heart-ache homes, but nothing wonderful happens there either.

All of the best things – the brightest things, the most courageous and incredible and awe-inspiring things that have the power to move our lives forward – happen outside the walls we have built up.

And at a certain point, we all have to decide that we owe it to ourselves to tear them down. To step outside of those walls. To try again, even if we’re terrified to do so.

Because there is no future to be had inside the tired, beat-up remnants of the past.

But there’s a helluva future outside of them.

And as soon as we’re brave enough to face it, it’s ready for us. TC mark

The Man Who Invented Everything

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 05:00 PM PST

Brian Andreas
Brian Andreas

They sat there in the dark, both looking into the fire. Now & then, one of them would grab a stick & poke at the red coals & then drop the stick on top & wait for the wood to flare up with a brighter light. Other than the sound of the flames slowly chewing on the hot coals that were its dinner, it was quiet. Finally, the man cleared his throat.

I know the man who invented everything, he said.

The boy nodded & tilted his head ever so slightly.

Everything, he said. Even the things that people think haven't been invented yet. He was one who stood on the shoulders of giants. Who actually invented the giants whose shoulders he stood on. There is no doubt in my mind that he laid the groundwork. So, it is not a far distance to stretch when I say he invented everything.

If you don't mind my asking, the boy said, how is it that you have both the honor & good fortune to have met the man who invented everything? Not that I don't think it is perfectly possible, given what little I know of you.

The man smiled thinly. I take no offense, he said, as I look no different than any other stranger you'd meet in the wood around a campfire. But the look of a person is never a true indication of the mysteries they’ve managed to stumble on in their life.

The boy nodded & made a note to himself to add that to his list of Things Worth Remembering.

If you must know, the man said, it was a complete accident of birth. He was my father.

He invented the way you feel when your child is born.

I do not know if anyone could tell you the first time my father knew he was going to invent things. I certainly could not, since I was not there in those early days. But with what little I've been able to piece together from old photos & the memories of my older relatives who knew him before he entered my life, I'd say he most likely started to invent things before he knew the word 'invent.' He had what one would call a habit of invention.

I can remember lying in bed, with him leaned up against the headboard, telling my brother & me of how he'd invented the moon & the smell of roses & the way oil in a puddle shines in the sunlight. How he invented the taste of pancakes & the way birds land on telephone wires & the sound of rain on the roof of a car.

He stopped. It's easy for us to say now, who know so much about the modern world, but it's good to remember that it's not so easy before someone invents the idea of it enough for us to chew on & remember the truth of it for ourselves.

The boy agreed that this was a significant point & one that is often forgotten in our days of rushing about.

Anyway, he went on, as he got older, he invented more & more things that no one else had invented. Like the way his first girlfriend smelled like a combination of cherry yogurt & coconut & the first morning there was frost in autumn. He invented how you act when someone says I love you & then they kiss you on the nose & they tilt their neck just so & close their eyes & start to hum softly.

He invented the way you feel when your child is born & the people who bustled around doing all the things that needed to be done when a new person shows up left & no one else was in the room & you held him up in the starlight from the front window & tell him all the things he'll invent (but you don't use any words & you do it all in pictures you send to him as you look in his eyes).

There were many inventions along the way, some big & some small. It didn't really matter to him as long as he could keep inventing.

I will be grateful to him for this invention alone my whole life, he said. I plan to make good use of it when my own children are born someday.

There were many inventions along the way, some big & some small. It didn't really matter to him as long as he could keep inventing. He got invited to fancy dinners in New York City & London & even a place in Sweden where they had invented the original colors of the sea. It was a very big honor & there were people from the papers who interviewed him & asked him which was his favorite invention & knowing him as I do, I believe he would've smiled & said he loved them all, but his most favorite was the one he was working on now. But, he would say, that one's a secret.

This was the invention he kept in a shed in our backyard. There was a big red door on the shed & there was a shiny padlock & an old sign that said Facilities Only For Use by Customers. He had found the sign in a hardware store in a small town in Utah & it always made him laugh.

Which is how he invented a lot of things. He worked for a very long time on the invention he kept in the shed. He never told anyone what it was, or what it did. One night, after a simple dinner of roast chicken & green beans, he went to bed in the usual fashion. The next morning, we found him there, in his bed. He was smiling, as if he'd been dreaming of new inventions. These would be inventions for someone else to discover, because he was done. Except for the invention in the shed which none of us had ever seen.

A few weeks later, I was the one who opened the shiny padlock, he said. I used the key we found around his neck.

Inside the shed was a table. On the table was a metal box with a button right on top. Taped to the box was a piece of paper, covered with delicate handwriting. I don't remember the exact words at this moment, though I can find them for you, if you have any interest later on. But if you have no objections, I'm sure I can give you a reasonable paraphrase of what he wrote.

The boy had no objections & so the man continued.

I've invented a lot of things, it said. Some of them are helpful. Some of them are before their time. Some of them are after their time, but it doesn't matter because inventing is like breathing for me. You may not understand that now, but some day, I hope you will. Because it will make your life your very own. This is my most important Work.

It's like everything else in this world we invent: a thing to keep us busy while we're remembering how to love.

Even though it seems simple, the science behind it is quite complex & there are fewer than five or six people in the whole world who understand it well enough to be able to explain it in a way that won't put you to sleep. It is a machine that pumps out random letters night & day & sometimes you'll see a word that's sort of familiar, or hear something like a sigh, or a conversation on the other side of a big room & it will make you think of a night in Paris, or the laughter that always comes with a true first kiss. Or it will remind you of the sunlight coming in through the window of your grandma's sun room. Or the smell of wet pavement in a city after a summer rain. It will remind you of many things.

But here's the secret of this machine: it is not any of those things. It is a complete coincidence & the only reason it makes sense at all is that it's hard to believe anyone would go to all this effort for all those years for no good reason. So, you'll probably spend a lot more time trying to get it to make sense to you, until one day you look up, maybe you'll be walking back from the grocery store with ice cream & toilet paper. Or you'll be standing in an elevator listening to 'The Girl from Ipanema' & you'll look up & you'll suddenly understand, almost like the sun coming from behind a cloud, that it's like everything else in this world we invent: a thing to keep us busy while we're remembering how to love.

The man stopped & leaned down & grabbed a stick & poked a bit at the fire. A few sparks raced into the night, playing their little spark games before they were called home to bed.

I folded that paper in fourths & placed it in my pocket right over my heart, he said. I still carry it with me, but not in my pocket next to my heart, because I often forget when I do laundry & it is not good for an historical artifact to go through a full spin cycle. Now, I keep it folded in my wallet. I do not read it as often now as I did in those first days, but still I think I'll remember that moment, sitting there until the light faded to dark, for the rest of my days. TC mark

6 Things Secure Women Do For Themselves That Can Either Interest Or Intimidate A Man

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 04:00 PM PST

Twenty20 / sarahannahansen
Twenty20 / sarahannahansen

1. She openly communicates her honest opinion.

She's not the kind of woman who holds back what's really on her mind. She'll tell you how she's feeling, whether you like it or not. She values honesty more than she values your ego. So if it hurts, she'll feel sorry for a second and then move on, but only because she wants you to be that honest with her. And when you are, she'll appreciate it.

2. She misses you when you're gone, but she won't stop you from leaving.

When you tell her you're spending the weekend with your boys, she will tell you to have fun, and she'll mean it. She doesn't care if you have fun without her, just as long as you have fun with her. She is the type of woman who will "wish that you're here," but won't resent that you're not. You shouldn't expect this type of woman to beg you to stay. She feels your absence, but it refreshes her more than it hurts her.

3. She is unapologetically herself.

She is well aware of her quirks and flaws, and she has no shame in showing them. She accepts herself for who she is, and she will only be with a man who will do the same.

4. She doesn’t seek your approval, but she considers your view.

This woman doesn’t allow men to change her. She will never ask you whether she’s “allowed” to do something, she will use her own judgement and act accordingly. She knows right from wrong, so she won’t ask you to be the judge. And she won’t ever beg for attention. If you’re not giving her enough of what she wants, she won’t be afraid to leave.

5. She makes her own decisions.

She doesn’t allow others to influence her choices. She goes her own way, and she realizes that those who support her along the way are the only people who matter.

6. She’s fine on her own, but she still would like someone to share her life with.

She doesn’t need you, she wants you. Her independence is unfailing, but just because she’s independent doesn’t mean she wants to be alone. She loves to share her life with others whether it’s romantically or not. Her security in herself makes her realize she wants to find someone she can share that security with. TC mark

This Is The Difference Between The Idea You Have Of Him, And Who He Turned Out To Be

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 03:00 PM PST

Twenty20 / lolamyers
Twenty20 / lolamyers

You have an idea of what kind of person you want to be with, so you trick yourself into thinking he fits that mold. You need a piece with one round edge, but he has too many corners. So you try to fit him in, and you reposition him in every which way, but you can't change his corners you can only change how you see them.

So you do just that.

You ignore the things you'd rather not acknowledge, and you fall in love with only this part of him, the part that you've created in your mind, and the part that you’ve fooled yourself into thinking he truly is. And eventually you fool yourself so well that you can’t even remember the parts of him you’ve ignored.

Sometimes it feels so good to be with someone, the person you’re with may as well be anyone. But sometimes being alone is the time you figure out most about yourself, about the type of person you are and the type of person you hope to be, and then you’ll see that the person you one day do love will feel lucky to be with you.

And in the time that you’re alone, you’ll miss the person you thought you had, but as more time passes you’ll realize it wasn’t him you loved, it was the idea of him.

Because everyone wants to love someone who loves them back just as much, but most times it’s never a balanced scale. One end of the scale usually tips higher than the other, and just when you think it’s balancing out, the difference between both ends becomes that much more apparent. And it’s good to be a little unbalanced, but when you’re at the lower end of the scale, it doesn’t feel as good as they say it should. And this is when you start to ignore the voice in your head telling you this isn’t right, that he’s not right for you, and you’re not right for him.

Because you’d rather be with someone wrong for you than be with nobody at all.

But you won’t admit it, and that’s how you trick yourself into thinking you’re perfect for each other. And as you deny your fear of being alone it will eventually catch up to you. Because he might be the one to uncover that fear first, no matter how well you hide it, and if he sees you’re scared to be alone even when you’re with him, he’ll realize it’s not him you want to be with, it’s who you wish he was.

And then when he leaves you for exactly that reason you won’t understand why.

You’ll think it’s something you did, something you said, and he’ll give you reasons that attempt to ease the pain, and you’ll continue to wonder what you did wrong. But it was less of what you did and more of how you felt, and how those feelings affected your actions, and how you didn’t even realize, were you in love with him, or was it only the idea of him you loved? And when you can answer that question you’ll finally start to heal. TC mark

Aziz Ansari Destroyed My Career In Comedy But That’s Okay

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 02:00 PM PST

YouTube/Master of None

Throughout my life, even though we've never met, Aziz Ansari has consistently beaten me to the punch. It's becoming a theme. A sometimes very annoying theme. Although, for various reasons I'll discuss below, I do believe he has been the most important Indian Comedy Actor in the past 10 years.

In his new series on Netflix, Master of None, Aziz Ansari says, "There can only be two," referring to the idea that there can only ever be 2 Indians in one show at any point, max. Studio Executives and Networks are afraid to put any more than that, and they're afraid most of the time, to even put one on.

I remember when I started doing stand-up in New York City in 2003, and after watching me, a fellow comic asked me, "Oh, do you know Aziz Ansari? He's a young Indian stand up as well." Aziz was another comedian starting out in NYC at the same time as me. But even then, in 2003… in one of the biggest cities in the world, I got the feeling, "Wow, it's like there's only two of us."

There's a problem with the industry, and it has to change.

I love acting. Since I was a kid, it was the only thing I ever wanted to do in my life. I was good at it too. I won theatre awards in Middle School, High School, and University. It was my dream and I was determined to make it happen.

But, as an Indian guy with a British passport and an American accent due to growing up abroad, it's been somewhat of an impossible dream living here in London. Not just because of my lack of talent with accents, but with the inherent racism that seems to quietly exist within the entertainment industry here.

The great myth I had, when I started stand-up, was that doing stand-up would lead to comedy acting. It was the only reason I was determined to compete in U.K. stand-up competitions like the Amused Moose or Jongleurs, and try and win them, which I did. And it was the only reason I continued to grind away on the circuit for 8 years, day in and day out, and do stand-up spots on TV, with the tiny hope that I would get the opportunity to act in something, which would then lead to something else. But I never enjoyed stand-up, and I did it for no other reason than I thought it would potentially guide me back to acting.

But the reality is, stand-up is not the TV or Film industry. Stand-up is a meritocracy. If you work your ass off, the best comics will, for the most part, rise. You can command audiences to come see you. And these audiences will pay regardless of your race or gender or ethnicity. They just want funny.

The same is not true in TV or Film. Stand-up was always a means to an end for me. The problem, I discovered, is that the "end", does not exist.

In Britain, the below is the essence of every conversation I've ever had with a Producer or Agent or Director:

Them: We can't cast you because of your accent.

Me: Why?

Them: Well, we're looking for someone from London.

Me: But I live in London. I've lived here for over 10 years.

Them: I know. But we're looking for someone English.

Me: I am English. I've lived here for 16 years of my life. I was born here.

Them: I know, but English English.

Me: What's that mean?

Them: Someone with an English accent.

Me: Why?

Them: Because… uhhh.


This has been my life as a British-Asian-American Accent actor in London for the past 11 years. There-just-aren't-any-roles.

We don't live in a closed world anymore. People move around. People have weird accents. People have weird names and looks. And here's the thing: it's not that important. In fact, it's the least interesting thing about that person.

Of the roles on my acting showreel, about 85% of them have come from friends and performers essentially writing parts for me: Dan Clark, Julia Davis, Noel Fielding, etc., all wrote parts specifically with me in mind. Only two roles I've ever gotten in 11 years have come from auditioning. One was an ITV2 series called “Trinity,” in which I played a University student, and the other was a BBC3 pilot called “UP!” in which I played, yes, a University student. It is as though the only possible scenarios in Britain to have an American or Asian in a show is if it's set at university or school. It's frankly, insane.

I'm not even talking about Asians either. I'm talking about how parochially BRITISH shows are in Britain. If you were to watch English comedies, you would get the sense that there are absolutely no American or foreign people here at all.

“Catastrophe,” starring Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, is one of the first comedies I've seen in the U.K. that stars an American. “The Mighty Boosh,” with Rich Fulcher, is the only other one in the past 11 years I've seen since living here. 11 years. 2 Americans in comedies. It's shocking.

I remember being in a meeting at the BBC about an Australian female comic. They said it was hard to have her be a lead, however, because she was Australian, and British audiences wouldn't understand how she ended up in London. My heart sank. What in God's name were they talking about?!? We live in LONDON. A capital of the world. People from all over the world move here and live here. Why would an audience find it odd to have an Australian lead? It's mind boggling.

As Aziz states in his brilliant article, what we see on TV isn't representative of the diversity we see in life. We don't live in a closed world anymore. People move around. People have weird accents. People have weird names and looks. And here's the thing: it's not that important. In fact, it's the least interesting thing about that person.

Kal Penn (from Harold and Kumar fame) has talked extensively about how he had to change and anglicize his name because he wasn't getting any auditions with his real name, Kalpen Suresh Modi. After he changed it, his job offers escalated by 50% because Casting Directors couldn't tell he was Indian from his name anymore.

I'm not asking anyone for anything. I've learned in this life that you have to hustle and bust your ass to get anything.

Arj Barker (from Flight of the Conchords), another one of my favourite comedians of all time, also changed his name from Arjun Singh.

Why is this necessary? Why does this keep happening?

It is why I admire Aziz Ansari so much. In 2003, in New York City, you did not want a name like "Aziz Ansari." It was post 9/11, and the comedy climate was not good. People were still on edge, and walking on stage with a name like Aziz could not have been easy. I know that walking on stage with a name like Arnab wasn't easy. People judged. Quick.

But he never changed his name, and he hustled. He started doing his own shows at UCB, made one of the best sketch shows I've ever seen in my life for MTV (Human Giant), and played Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation. Tom Haverford. He beat a whole bunch of white dudes to land that role. He's the man.

As much as I support and appreciate the female fight for wage parity in Hollywood, a really awful and selfish part of me always thinks, "At least you have a wage battle you can wage! We can't even audition for any roles!"

I'm not asking anyone for anything. I've learned in this life that you have to hustle and bust your ass to get anything. You have to write your own scripts and make your own things. I've also worked in Advertising, TV writing, and as a Producer just to make a living, because I couldn't make a living doing what I wanted to do. Not everyone in life can do what they want. Life is not fair, and I'm not going to cry about it. And there are obviously much worse off people than me in the world. But, one of the main problems for me, and for other Asian actors, is that we can't get breaks in our careers, because there are none to be had.

There's a problem with the industry, and it has to change. It starts with Commissioners, and it works it's way down to Producers and Directors and Writers. It's a group effort, but when you see shows like Master of None or BBC3's Romesh Ranganathan: Asian Provocateur, you genuinely realize we're neglecting a lot of interesting voices out there.

I recently wrote a comedy pilot called "International Boy" which was exactly about all the above themes that I've had to deal with in my life. It was a personal script about the complicated times in which we live, and how one can't seem to be accepted because they're just too many things. Aziz Ansari might have beaten me to the punch again about this, but that's ok. Someone needs to get the message out there that things need to change, and he has the smarts and hustle to do it. TC mark

This Is All There Is (And It’s More Than Enough)

Posted: 11 Dec 2015 01:45 PM PST

Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday

It's interesting how much more we want.

For instance, for most of us it's not enough to simply be the product of the miracle of life. We need there to be an afterlife too, and we need to make sure we're eligible for it. It's not enough, to say, to live in some of the richest countries at the richest time on earth. We also want to be some of the richest people in those countries, to be in a certain percentage or above of those rich people. We don't even just want there to be an afterlife, we have to lifehack while we are alive because 75 years isn't enough either.

This same greediness pervades even innocuous, ordinary interactions.

I remember reading an interview with a famous popstar a few years ago and after I finished, I said to myself, "Ugh. She is just not very smart." This is ridiculous if you think about it. What the fuck do I care if she is not very "smart?" Being smart is not her job. And to judge someone—anyone—who is in other areas may be skilled and talented, as being somehow deficient because they lack some other additional thing that you feel entitled to?

More, more more, we want and need more.

No wonder we are stressed. No wonder we are so busy.

Sure, at first, this can be adaptive. We naively think that if we have some other thing—be it time or money or status or love—then finally we will have a chance to be happy. So it drives us forward. Maybe even makes us successful or accomplished. Until eventually, and inevitably, the lie exposes itself in all its preposterousness.

For me, it was a nagging issue in my house that made this feeling clear. Now, I've worked very hard and gotten very lucky and happen to live in what is undeniably my dream home. Yet when I look around sometimes it truly bothers me that the floors don't match. I want my dream home with floors that match. I need that little extra. More, more, I need more.

That drive has helped me do a lot things—but here it is, preventing me from enjoying something I actually do and should be more than happy with.

Which is really the consequence of such an attitude. Not only is it literally expensive—all the things we buy to try to satiate it—but it saps us of our ability to actually enjoy life and the best and most simple parts of life.

As Anthony de Mello writes:

"To enjoy a poem or a landscape or a piece of music seems a waste of time; you must produce a poem or a composition or a work of art. Even to produce it is of little value in itself; your work must be known. What good is it if no one ever knows it? And even if it is known, that means nothing if it is not applauded and praised by people. Your work achieves maximum value if it becomes popular and sells! So you are back again into the arms and control of people.”

That's where the chase of more gets you—forever dependent on other people, on the future—and you still come up empty. I can't say there is an easy solution to this, but I can share an antidote I have been working through my system with some success.

While I meditate or when I am experiencing some quiet, ordinary moment, I just say to myself "This is all there is. That is enough." The first time I did this, I was sitting in a sauna in Tromsø, Norway, looking out a window at the beauty of the Arctic Circle. The words just came to me. I think it was realizing that life really was majestic and awesome and all the things that were bothering me or the thoughts and desires running through my head were totally unnecessary in comparison. But I've come to see that these words are true in and and all moments.

If I'm exhausted and stressed—I am still experiencing all of the feelings and benefits of being a human being. If I'm fighting with my wife, I'm still in a great relationship. If I am sitting in the car, stuck in traffic, I'm still better off than most. If I die two seconds, I'm still alive in this one.

This is all there is. All there is is that present moment, with all its various negatives and positives, its extraordinariness and ordinariness. It's plenty. It's enough. It's more than enough.

Inside us, around us, at any given moment, are all the ingredients we need. Unless you believe that the many other people who have had more or less or lived at different times and experienced happiness or contentment were somehow delusional. Unless you believe that your life up to this point was meaningless because it lacked X, Y, Z and you're willing to accept the gambler's chance that you might never get them or be cut short before you do.

To me, that's delusional.

And it will make you so angry, unhappy, so frustrated with other people and external events. It's wrongly thinking that they're the asshole, that they're the one lacking, instead of you.

"You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men," as Epictetus says. "But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you."

No one and nothing will ever feel deficient either. And with this you will possess one of the most enviable gifts that one can ever possess: the ability to kick your feet up—anywhere, at anytime—and think: "Ok, this is good enough for me." This person, this thing, this present moment, this is enough.

Because it is. TC mark