I spent many years of my life in a constant state of travel between cities, states, and countries which gave me an unprecedented look at people across a wide spectrum of life. Many folks who I never would have bumped into if not for our paths momentarily crossing as we got from point A to point B. Time and time again, I marveled at the complex lives around me. The solemn woman in Tampa who was on her way to unplug her comatose sister and dreading that she might have to adopt her nephews. A gregarious Czech man in Dusseldorf who plied me with beers and espressos till the AMs as we suffered through an overnight layover at the airport. 70-year old traveling buddies who drank me under the table on Belvedere martinis, straight up with a twist, while regaling me with tales of Reno, Hawaii, and San Francisco.
All it takes are a few moments amongst the people sharing this world and you quickly see that humanity is a beautiful tapestry of grays. Not the black and white, us versus them, 0 or 1, divisive categories we’re so often corralled into. It’s what makes me hate labels the older I get. Not once has a person I’ve met, and made the effort to converse with, ever been solely defined by a label or demographic. The few words I use to describe myself are merely entry level descriptors for the social chameleon that I am.
I hate individuals who treat others as talking points instead of human beings. Life is fluid, people are fluid, ideas and viewpoints have more nuance than news sound bites and internet headlines lead us to believe. You can’t tick a series of boxes on a checklist and have it equate a person. That’s a fantasy held by those with no desire to expand the boundaries of their limited worldview.
Let’s try disposing of trite labels and getting to know one another. I guarantee you’ll be surprised.
Image by Christiaan Colen on Flickr.
It’s interesting how the human mind shifts gears whenever it approaches the end of something—a time period, a struggle, a relationship—reflecting on the moments leading up to its conclusion. An attempt at understanding is made even when no chance at comprehension is possible. Then, like sifting through tea leaves, we try to predict our futures based on what came before.
I’m incapable of predicting my future even more so than the average person. Uncertainty has lodged itself permanently into my way of life. Medical uncertainty, geographic uncertainty, and a multitude of other variables that refuse to be solved. I always sucked at the “where do you see yourself in X years…” question and it’s only gotten worse. I’ve given up on trying to map things out and will instead roll with the punches.
That being said, this past year has left me punch-drunk. I’ve been battered within an inch of my life, but I’ve learned a valuable lesson, one that I’ll be using in the coming new year. My natural inclination in life, and social media, is to share my intent. Whether it be a new undertaking or a goal I wish to reach, I’ll shout it from the rafters hoping to connect with the like-minded while holding myself accountable to a nebulous them. 2016 has repeatedly shown that this method doesn’t work leaving me with ashes in my mouth and a trail of broken ambitions behind me.
Rather than continue on my loop I’ve decided to make a change. A small shift in my being which I hope will yield huge benefits. Every personal project will be a secret project. Every life move will be revealed after the fact. I’ll focus on the doing and not the announcing of things. Perhaps this will help me avoid God’s laughter. Yes, I understand the irony of broadcasting my desire to stop public disclosures, but I am still a writer and oftentimes need to work things out on a blank page before an idea makes sense even to myself.
Photo © HBO, edits by Gabriel Novo
I spent the last 7 years pouring hundreds of thousands of words and countless hours into Cuban Nomad. It had been my sounding board, my confessional, my soapbox, and my classroom. Oftentimes, I didn’t know how I felt about a particular matter until it was in text on this website. I shared triumphs and defeats, illness and recovery, new starts and sad ends.
Then it all went away. 7 years of writing blinked out of existence because of technical glitches.
It felt like my guts had been ripped out, but only for a moment, because I soon realized this was an opportunity. I had grown over the years as a writer and as a person, so instead of carrying around old thoughts and broken links I could have a fresh start. A place with which to explore the next 7 years of my life (and hopefully many more).
It will continue to transform while I finalize its design, but in the meantime, welcome to my new digital space.
Photo © Gabriel Novo