‘My’ Life Doesn’t Exist

…and neither does ‘yours’

a spider at the center of a web with a dark background dotted with eerie blue blotches of light
Robert Thiemann

My life doesn’t exist. There is no such thing. Your life is also fantastical, a fake — it is a falsity. It’s one way to see, this view resulted from society. Sounds like madness! Of course, I haven’t explained myself. Let me explain…

Life belongs to no one; it cannot belong. I don’t have a life, but neither do you. We participate in it — at least, that’s one point of view. Imagine God as a spider… Wait, some don’t believe that much. So first, imagine a creator, or a family of creators. Our holy makers and undertakers — then imagine them all as spiders.

Now imagine they made a web as big as the universe, if you can. Imagine your life — what you perceive of this fake thing — as one fragile string in the web. Yes, I suppose like the thread of life, it can be snapped — though convenient, that’s not really my point. But imagine the string as “your life” on this web, loosely stitched and attached to another. And not just another, but another and bound over others, like natural spider webs are spun.

You could picture those other pure strings of silk are the “lives” of parents, husbands, and wives; of friends, kids, co-workers — coaches. In your life may be bosses or subordinates. The coordinates will match your specifics, though, here are no gimmicks. I ask to picture that web as Life itself. You are a golden strand on its mighty fabric, one piece shared in its great wealth.

Taking care of “my life” has been hard to attain. Trying to control something that isn’t mine leaves a knot in my brain. As we say “my world” or “my universe”, we know these things aren’t ours. They’re figures of speech, forms of expression — so too should be “my life”. For as the Earth belongs to none and the universe is not owned, I cannot be the master of something so vast and so old.

Taking care of Life and focusing non-stop on only mine is like taking care of a forest and looking just at one tree. I can nurture and protect it to beautiful perfection, while the greater forest burns down into ruin around me. No, the goal should be the forest as a whole, or shouldn’t it be? To spread care and nurturing to all trees, to all beings. So the whole is what makes life, and not a singularity. We see that as one tree can’t make the forest — I can’t make Life for me.

And it doesn’t have to be total care and improvements made at once. Some days I water down the trees, and some days, plant a new one, or watch after animals, or sweep up the floor’s trash. Some days I check for fires, search for poachers; I prune or check on the tree I grew. Some days it’s cool to soak in the shade in the undergrowth, feel all the life around. I helped to cultivate this Great Wood. I am in it; it lives through me.

So life breathes, eats, sees, and dreams — life manifests through me. And through you, and by all things, and all life’s situations and beings. It means we are living; we are alive. “My life” is not even a goal. It cannot be improved, for it was never mine to own. Life is shared, a drama, an experience felt by all its participants. And the best?

Without each of its working parts, the forest cannot thrive. I said, without the people, creatures — experiences together, then we cannot have Life. Because it is not something to be had. It is not mine or yours. Because without us, life endures. Now we get it. So let’s share it.


This story/poem came from the concept of life being best lived when it is experienced with others, especially those we love. I notice how easily I can miss life’s great opportunities and meet great people by putting up the blinds and focusing on myself. True life seems to happen when I’m open, when I spread my thoughts, when I share life with others. It seemed like a good idea to share with you, + a chance to mess with some cool spider metaphors 😉

*Find this story and others like it on my Medium page

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That time I knocked over a Vietnam Vet

Grampa was a rolling stone!

upper middle-aged black man with a hat smiles in laughter
Duncan Sanchez

Some days they’d make fun of funny-looking people, some days they’d laugh at each other.

There was this one time when Neboh’s grandpa came to visit him for a while. Unexpectedly in the process, Neboh ended up knocking down his poor Grampa, as he was called, out onto the hard sidewalk! Let’s take it back. So Grampa had recently found out he had a serious disease, a rare kind of Parkinson’s that was offset from his days fighting in Vietnam. Blame the agent orange. Anywho, the effects were starting to manifest in what would be a long journey against his illness. But … Grampa had another journey in mind.

Neboh and he had talked several times about going to Brazil, hitting the beaches, maybe catching a look at some sexy ladies. Well, Grampa’s balance wasn’t working too well, he had to use a walker at this point. Instead of Brazil then, one day he told Neboh;

“Hey, Neboh! Feel like walking with me up to the store?”

So, there they went. A teenage boy and his 60-something grandpa walking steadily (slowly) on a walker. If there’s one thing teenage boys hate, it’s doing things slowly. Besides it being hot as Southern California in the summertime — because it was Southern California in the summertime — and the grocery store being about a mile away up a steady incline, Neboh couldn’t figure out why Grampa wanted to walk all that way just to get a simple bite to eat. It might’ve just been a soda or something, Neboh can’t even remember. Well, off to the races they waddled.

Okay, they got their soda or whatever it was. Now comes the tricky part of going back downhill. At the time, Grampa was no small man, I mean, he had some size on him still. All that helping him up the inclination had made Neboh pretty worn out. Since the way back was mostly downward, he figured;

I practically pushed him up the whole hill. I think I deserve a little break.

On Grampa’s walker was a little flap seat and a handlebar. Neboh had the bright idea to sit on the bar while Grampa sat on the seat, and he would let the walker roll itself down the hill. Simple as that, right? Yeah. That went wrong real quick. They hadn’t rolled three seconds when Grampa started yelling:

“What are you doing?! Woah, woah, woaaaaa …” CRSSH!

It wasn’t quite like a car crash, but pretty close. The two had landed right in front of some random person’s driveway down onto the concrete. Grampa was rolling this way and Neboh rolled the other, both with their elbows scraped up. As his body rotated over the hard ground, Grampa began to wonder how safe of hands he was in after all, earnestly questioning his grandson’s dumb choices. And it just so happened that a truck was passing by at that very moment. The driver immediately stopped her car (like skrrt) and hopped out of the driver’s seat.

“What are you doing to him? Oh my God!”

The lady was freaked out, to say the least. All she saw was a man, apparently hard of walking, wrestling with a teenager on the floor. She wouldn’t be out of line to assume that Neboh was trying to assault his own grandpa. Despite this, she did help Grampa up and asked if he needed a ride or something nice, completely ignoring Neboh. He said he was fine, and so the lady carried on; Neboh carried off with Grampa. He learned not to ride on the handlebar of a walker ever again 😉


Context, please! So Grampa was a Vietnam vet, as you could tell. I always had great admiration for him, having grown up on the streets of ‘50s-’60s South Central L.A., fought in and survived a horrific war (against his own will), and later went on to become a successful businessman, father, and trend-setter. The man had style. Later we would go to visit him in Tampa Bay with his gorgeous lakeside house and his larger-than-life persona. The disease hit Grampa seemingly from nowhere, as life does for many of us.

The whole story above could foreshadow my and Grampa’s relationship later on. It forced him to move to Los Angeles, which made us a lot closer than we would have been had he stayed in Florida forever. And one man made our time together totally outrageous, Grampa’s caretaker. We’ll call him Mr. B.

Mr. B. had zero (0%) filter and Grampa knew it. I’d go to spend time with the two of them and leave just laughing my face off. Some days they’d make fun of funny-looking people, some days they’d laugh at each other. Some days they’d laugh at the fact Grampa couldn’t swallow his food so well, which would make him cackle even harder and erupt it all out in a fit of laughter onto his clothes. Then there would be jokes about who’d clean it and going to the bathroom and, “Now you’ll have to wipe your own ass, Grampy, I ain’t your momma!” I guess the point is that we made it fun, and there was almost no feeling sorry for him or each other or anyone. That happened in movie theaters, at the beach, at the mall. And all in his wheelchair too, I mean, this man got around more than I did with a fully functioning body at the time!

I was going through deep mental challenges and isolation in those days. Going to visit Grampa was such a cool distraction from that stuff, and it let me get out of my little world. Seeing who he had been and what he had to go through now made me so much more grateful for my health and strength, grateful I grew up in a time where the draft wasn’t enforced, grateful I had someone to look up to like that. My mom was super busy during those days too, and so going to the VA hospital to visit Grampa was a great way to spend time with her and other family members.

Ultimately, no one knows for sure what can happen to us or our loved ones in the future. That’s why all we can do is live up the moments we have while we have them. Grampa’s situation was a terrible one, but we made it an inspiring one through laughter and adventure and storytelling. It was never a dull moment, I assure you of that one. Being a veteran, in general, can be tough. There are all sorts of mental challenges and physical ones, and those guys and gals have gone through more than we can probably imagine. But it helps to focus on the bright side and think of the humor in situations. Asking, What is helpful about this phase I’m in right now? How can I learn from it? It certainly was a beacon for helping me through my comparably mild challenges.

Also, don’t be afraid to make jokes and have fun! Suffering is a part of life, but we’re here to enjoy ourselves. It isn’t over till it’s over, and I’ll always carry that lesson with me. Oh, and that thing about walker handlebars. I’m glad you could come and reminisce about that time …

Some advice on International Relationships

Originally Published: on Relationship Matters by Susan Rex

(https://relationtippmatters.wordpress.com/2021/06/18/some-advice-on-international-relationship/)

a mixed-raced couple hugging and smiling, relating to the topic of advice on international relationships, a guest post

Guest post by; Trystn Waller on what you need to know about international relationship


With so much connectivity today, many people will explore a variety of relationships. One side of this that’s been made easier by way of the internet is international couples. Some of you may have thought about, once tried, or even are now in an international relationship. And well, that makes two of us. With all the concern about how different they are, how might these kinds of relationships be like any other? What makes them more difficult, and what good comes from them? Here is a bit about these kinds of relationships, along with some advice from someone who’s in one.

Read similar posts:

Like any other relationship;

The first thing I can tell you about an international relationship is kind of obvious, but it’s important to remember. Just like with any other relationship, it requires two people (or sometimes more) who decide to be together regardless of whatever else is happening in their lives.

With that said, you can bet it’s going to require sacrifice, selflessness, some forgive-and-forget, and some good old give-and-take. Like in “national” relationships (?), involvement with the partner’s family is likely going to be a part of the deal. Another trope that’s common in most relationships is having to accept the partner’s past and “baggage,” whether that is perceived as good or bad. Understanding and comprehension go a long way.

Difficulties: The hard part;

When talking about international relationships, the most difficult thing that comes to mind has to be the distance. An overlying question, at least during the beginning stages, will be how to make time to be together. Depending on where the partner lives or on your situation, this could be a heavy financial weight on the couple.

Many countries require visas for citizens to get to their country or vice versa. Even if they don’t, passports cost money too. Some countries don’t require a passport for entry depending on where you’re coming from, but then the plane/bus/train/boat/border coyote will cost you. No matter how you look at it, just getting to your international partner will be a struggle.

Because of this, much of the communication will likely be on the internet at first. Couples might go months, if not years, just talking on the phone or by video until they can finally meet. This could mean the slightest delay in response causing you or your partner to suspect the worse.

“Why aren’t they answering? They should be at home by now. Are they cheating on me? Did they die?!”

That’s not to mention the cultural differences. Often different people groups within a country have clashing cultural traditions, so you can imagine what that looks like for international couples. And if the foreign partner happens to speak a different language then that adds another barrier and a tremendous challenge to be overcome. That is, assuming neither of the partners is bilingual.

Benefit: The good part;


That’s a pretty long list of challenges, but there is a lot to look forward to with international love. Since these kinds of couples tend to have to communicate so much more, this builds stronger communication skills. It also has the potential to create a stronger bond between the partners. Imagine if the only way you could spend time with your partner was by talking. You won’t be sitting and watching Netflix all day, that’s for sure.

That’s the kind of thing that builds trust and unity in any relationship, though it’s exploited a little more with the online nature of international couples. This kind of commitment also opens the partners up to another culture, a foreign language (or accent), and different ways of life. This can be highly enriching for the partners in that they can gain an entirely new perspective, later allowing them to consider things they never would have thought of before.

One can also feel the triumph of making it work after all the ostensible barriers get knocked down and you finally make it together. Approximating with another culture and a different lifestyle, you have the potential to gain some true sympathy for what others (especially immigrants) have to go through.

Of course, if you’re the one that will be going off to see the partner, one benefit is travel. Go and see the world, explore the country the partner lives in. It’s a chance to see another part of this wonderful planet!

Some advice: Listen if you want;


From personal experience in an international relationship, I’d say communication is number one. The key is finding, no, making time to talk with your partner. That has to be a priority because it’s the only time you have with them. Even when the couple is together, the language/cultural barrier may make things tougher than usual on one of the partners, so communication is doubly essential here.

With that said, partners should prioritize together time all the time, but especially while far apart. Whether on the phone or laptop, I and my wife always celebrated Valentine’s Day, birthdays, holidays, and whatever else together. That’s how you make it feel like you’re together.

Because the partners are so far apart, jealousy and insecurity about what’s happening on the other end could be a problem. I’d say be understanding of this and know that it’s a part of the journey. As the couple continues to grow together, they’ll trust each other more and more. It takes a constant reassurance of your presence and your commitment. “I’m here. I love you. I’m with you. I’m yours.” I know it’s a little old-fashioned, but get romantic, y’all. You just have to prove you can be trusted. Can you?

Lastly, if one of the partners speaks another language, I’d say learn that language. It doesn’t have to be too fluency, but at least well enough to communicate. This sounds like a given, but I’ve been watching 90 Day Fiancé. I’ve seen those people that just rely on Google Translate to talk to their partner. Shame on you.

But really, it goes back to respect and communicating, and you kind of need to know how to speak to do that. I mean, non-verbal signs only go so far. Beyond speaking or hearing, the ability to respect another’s culture is key too. One doesn’t have to adopt the culture of their partner completely, but having a sense of understanding and respect, being willing to hear what their culture is all about is super important. After all, showing respect earns respect, am I right?

Conclusions;


I hope this little list of pros and cons helped those of you in or considering international relationships. Or maybe you’re just curious. Either way, this is in no way to discourage or encourage anyone to love someone from another country. There are obvious and more discreet challenges, but all in all, it’s a relationship that requires the same building blocks as any other. What do you think? Would you be willing to try this kind of relationship? Or did I steer you away? Happy reading, and love one another!


**Thanks again Susan for the opportunity to host this article originally on your website! I look forward to more colabs in the future. Keep on teaching them about healthy relationships! -CultSurf