Saturday, December 11, 2010

Time to walk the walk

I think I'm beginning to get a handle on this discontent thing. 

That doesn't necessarily mean I'm "dealing" with it, per se, only that I've developed a small theory on the matter.  I'm starting to believe this haze of personal unfulfillment is based extensively on the idea of Expectations.  I mean, it's no wonder Dickens' opus on maturity in Western Civilization uses the theme directly in its title.  Whether it's one's self-expectations or those of family or society, happiness seems to be measured in the achievement of (pre-)determined goals.  Societal norms, family traditions, even ideals churned out by the most revered of religious institutions, Hollywood, play an enormous role in what I believe to be ingredients for "true" happiness.  Unfortunately, being able to see your destination ahead doesn't mean you actually know how to get there. 

I suppose this is the point where the adage "the journey is half the fun" should run up and punch me in the face then tell me to smarten up.  And I would be thankful toward that randomly violent adage for shaking things up a little.  However, upon a moment's reflection, I would realize that things have been shaken up on numerous occasions previously.  Yet I remain discontent.  My greatest flaw, according to myself, I should say (who knows what everyone else "tsk tsks" over when thinking of me), is that I'm perpetually philosophizing about the destination without effectively applying myself to the journey. 

I am on a path.  I have to believe that.  It would be quite disheartening to consider otherwise.  Whether that path is predestined by some guiding force or dependent, step by trepid step, upon my own choices, I believe I am on my way somewhere.  The past five years have been relatively cyclical, in hindsight.  My current career has a large part to play in that.  The ups and downs of life have almost always paralleled those I have experienced in show biz.  Now, encouragingly enough, I am on the precipice of potentially the greatest "up" of my career.  That will undoubtedly translate into a unprecedented acme of self-worth, a prospect I am anticipating immensely.  But as the cycle progresses and I recognize more similarities between aspects of life both healthy and un- from the past, I approach each new experience with a heightened caution.  Never a bad thing, you might say... It's a sign of maturity, another you might say...

I want to be able to announce to the world with reckless abandon and utmost confidence that I am irrevocably on my way.  I want to state in a voice of permanence that I am taking on the expectations I have placed on myself with no chance of failure.  I long to shout out at the top of my lungs that I have blazed my own path to my own idea of paradise whether it bears a likeness to that of the populus. 

I am on my way... I guess it's simply time to walk the walk.

Monday, November 29, 2010

So much can happen in 17 days...

Yes, it's been that long since I last attempted to put my thoughts to keyboard.  I feel somewhat guilty but it's not as if I haven't been through this before.  Just browse any journal I've ever begun writing (but do so under deathly peril) and you'll quickly see that I have a problem following through with a regular dose of self-expression.  However, on this nondescript Sunday night, I have finally found the procrastination tiresome. 

Of course, for those who know me well enough, you may all be wondering how I've neglected writing about the biggest news to have happened to me and my family, well, EVER!  Please allow me to remedy that.  Exactly a week ago, darling, cherubic, Ava Marie Schneider was welcomed into the world.  With her came a wide array of idealistic sentiments flooding my consciousness.  All that is beautiful and good in this world is encompassed in this bundle of flesh.  Words that often fall flat when society becomes saturated with good intentions such as hope, virtue, and purity brought tears to my eyes as I fixated with all the love in my heart at a being known to the open air for only a few hours.  She encapsulates the simplest definition of these words yet exists as the most grandiose example we could possibly attribute them to.  She is perfection personified.  Perhaps that's a wee bit biased on Uncle Jonathan's part.  Forgive me my hyperbolic ways...

...actually, scratch that.  Permit me, if I may, to expound a little, in dramatic fashion, upon the virtues of little Ava's mother, my sister, Anne Marie.  I am literally in awe of my baby sister.  Throughout the pregnancy, my admiration and appreciation grew from an above average brotherly level to an extraordinary one.  She dealt with everything from mood swings to swollen appendages to complete lifestyle changes with the grace and positive resignation of a saint.  On the morning she and her astonishing husband, Thomas, left for the hospital to really get down to brass baby-delivering tacks, she had not only spent the entire night suffering through regular contractions but alerted me to their departure in person, in my room up a flight of stairs!  Fast forward a full day of intensifying labour pain and I found myself sitting beside her room at the Women's hospital listening through a flimsy curtain to all the life-giving action mere feet from me.  It was the most surreal moment of life so far for me.  And if I thought I had been proud of my sister before, what followed was pride exponential!  She was in such pain but pushed through with grit and determination even though she believed she had no strength left to proceed.  She gracefully fought through the traumatic experience with nary a whimper.  I was stunned.  She provided me with the greatest example of fortitude and strength I have ever witnessed firsthand.  This example will undoubtedly fuel me in trying times I have yet to face in life.  All I can continue to say is how astonished I was at the human being my sister has become.

And the human being she has now given life to...

May I, with the power of your family here on earth and in heaven, provide you, Ava, with every opportunity to live a healthy, happy life, filled with all the love one could possibly receive.

I love you, sweet angel...

Uncle Jon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today, I remember...

As the clock ticks towards midnight, thereby bringing the world another November 11th, I find myself struck to the core by a phrase uttered by a character in a TV show I watched this evening that so perfectly exemplifies the spirit of those who we will honour tomorrow.  In this particular episode of "House," a teenage boy bound to a wheelchair, thanks to congenital muscular dystrophy, offers half of his lung to his sister.  This girl had gone to superhuman lengths to showcase her love and admiration for her disabled sibling yet, thanks to the hands of fate (and the writer's of the show), found herself inexplicably hurtling towards death herself.  Of course, the giant obstacle is, by donating half of his lung, he will cut the rest of his already shortened life in half.  The parents, given the impossible choice of deciding what to do, are aided by the sister's attempt to kill herself to make sure her brother can't do anything.  Once the brother becomes aware of what he needs to do, he wheels to her bedside, clasps her hand and says to her:

"You do so many great things... I just watch.  I get to watch, and coach, and cheer... but that's not me out there.  It never will be.  If you take this piece of me, carry it with you, then I really can share in everything you do.  This is the great thing I can do with my life.  Don't make me live without you."

Of course, the tears prompted by the scene were carefully targeted by those creating the show but it certainly affected me nonetheless.  And yet, while being completely engrossed in the scene, that one line jumped out at me instantly.  This is the great thing I can do with my life.  I don't believe it's a coincidence that I happened to watch this episode on the eve of a day that causes me to annually take such a poignant step back and reflect upon what I hold dear and what I imagine those the day honours must have felt. 

My grandfather is a 91 year old WWII veteran.  The final decline of life has most certainly started for him as he is but a shadow of the boisterous, athletic, jovial creature I have always known.  My grandfather never actually saw official "action" as a soldier but he was overseas and participated in all the duties a soldier in waiting must perform.  Amongst all the tennis trophies, the social recognitions, and the business successes (of which there weren't THAT many, making the actual successes that much more meaningful!) he amassed over his lifetime, it is his few years of service that most profoundly resonates with him.  He was a part of an event that forever altered the landscape of our world.  He was proud to have been a part of it and, as his memories continue to fade and his body to deteriorate, it is this pride that will live on.  For it lives on in me.  It is this realization that made me connect so strongly with that one line from the brother in the TV episode.  My grandfather has passed along this pride I now carry because he truly believes he did a great thing with his life. 

We have been given the greatest gift of all, the gift of life.  We have been given the opportunity to make an impact on the world we all share.   Our lives are but a giant, blank canvas simply waiting to be bedaubed by our experiences, waiting to preserve what great things we have done with our lives.  Your canvas may tell the world how you gave your sister a piece of your lung at the cost of half of your remaining time on the planet.  It may tell the world how you were a part of possibly the single most important event of our species' history.  It may tell the world how you fell climbing up a staircase when the twin towers collapsed or were lost to the tsunami.  It may tell of the millions of people influenced by you or the millions you donated.  It may tell of the gift you gave the world through some creative medium or the enjoyment you gave by showcasing your gifts.  It may simply tell of your perpetual dedication to those closest to you. 

Open yourself to the opportunities available to you to do great things with your life.  Respect life.  Help a life.  Save a life.  Better a life.  Listen to life.  Give in to life.  GIVE life.  Live life.  But, most of all, LOVE LIFE.

It is for the love of life that we remember.  However, we must remember not only the men and women who served in the great wars, or those who fought in any military conflict, or the vast number of people affected by war but also those who die in the fight against injustice, hatred, and oppression.  Those who have gone before us trying to paint their canvasses with designs of a better world deserve every honour we can ever bestow upon them.  By remembering them tomorrow, we will all be doing one of many great things with our lives.

Buddy (what we affectionately call my grandfather), I love you very much and am fiercely proud of what you've given me.  There will never be enough opportunities to thank you. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

While waiting for an episode of "House" to download...

...I figured I'd treat myself to a little online journal entry, an entry that just so happens to be available to the faceless world through the internet.  As those of you who may deign to read these words are well enough aware, I am a novice, a tyro, a beginner beginning to try my hand at keeping your interest with witticisms and observations of my daily existence.  On the flipside (yo), what's in it for me?  Incomparable adulation and unsurpassed praise, of course, but there must be a smidgen of catharsis pour l'auteur, mais non?  I mean, where else am I going to be able to pretentiously expound upon all things "me," expecting all the while to delight, amuse, even inspire <gasp!> "you," and throw in random phrases in French? 

That question was rhetorical.  At least that's what I understand of rhetoric thanks to English 12.

So, you are all now privy to a newly formed partnership.  It is a brand spankin' new marriage between the narcissistic (I actually think I'm relevant enough to inflict myself upon humanity... and don't bother thinking "Gee, Jonathan, your mother already did that by birthing you"), the altruistic (I actually hope I can bring a bit of mirth or insight or levity to your day), and the therapeutic (who doesn't need to get things off their chest?).  Call it "Theranaralpeutruisticisstic Writing."

It'll be the rage one day.  Just wait and see. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

In the beginning...

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a lamentably single man in possession of no fortune whatsoever, must be in want of a life. 

- J. Winsby, author of Pride? Incredulous!

Yes, it is my goal, my attempt, my hope to parlay a fraction of the meandering musings which attack my conscious reality (and some of my subconscious fantasy, if you're lucky) to you, the multitudinous populus maximus.  Bah, who am I kidding?  I'll settle for the minimus.  Thanks to some free time, some inspiration from other blogger friends, and enough self-awareness to know I actually feel what I have to say may be meaningful or interesting or downright comical to someone out there, I will, from this day henceforth, endeavour to enlighten the masses with a consistent dose of Vitamin Me.

There you have it.  My mandate. 

I hope to see you here again real soon.