LYL

Evolve or DIE.

Chapter 5 – B.S. is Overrated

WARNING: This is probably one of those rants that some of you may read and say, “Oh, God. Shut up.” Or, “Wow, I see that too.” Or, (hopefully) “Damn. I’ve gotta’ stop with the b.s.”

FYI, B.S.=Bullshit, not beauty school or butt scratchers. 

Here are a few words of advice from a kid who probably doesn’t have too much of a “say” in your life, but here they are anyway.

On my way home from work today (the long, tough, death-sentence-of-a-ride-home-cause-LA-traffic-sucks), I had quite a bit of time to think. What did I think about? Well, as I’ve stated before, I’m a people watcher. I’ve noticed a lot of people blame others for their own mistakes. They play the victim, when in fact, they are the ones who caused the problem in the first place. I’ve met quite a lot of “fake” people. Which is why the people I call “friends” is a very small group. I’d rather keep it that way. Now, some may say, “You’re just anti social.” or “You’re weird.” (That’s my favorite). Truth is, I don’t waste time on people who don’t have the guts to admit when they’re wrong. If you fucked up, you fucked up. Don’t sit there and blame others for your bullshit. Grow up. Deep down inside, you know where the fault falls. Think about it. Is it your fault? Be an adult, grow some courage, say you’re wrong and stop lying to yourself and others. You are no better than the person sitting next to you. Acting like you are and blaming someone else for your pain is an act of cowardice. The greatest act. The world is full of cowards, snakes, thieves and backstabbers and it’s sad to see people put on a front and wear a mask. Get over yourself and get real. The world will appreciate it and so will you friends/family.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody!”-Rocky Balboa

I was born with a gift (not really). I can smell bullshit a mile away. I can see through people like a window. I can sense when you’re lying. I can see through your fake-ness and see the mask you wear. Remove that mask, cut the crap and live your life the honest way. Trust me, you’ll feel a lot better. Happier. The “woe-is-me” act is overrated. BS is overrated.

I wish you way more than luck on your path to redemption.

LYL

Chapter 4 – My Dad Pedro

April 16th, 2011.

I head over to my grandparent’s house because Dad is not doing too well.

We call him “Dad”. He’s “The Man”. He’s like everything all us grandsons could ever wish to become. He’s got everything anyone could ever need. A family who adores him, a wife who he loves and loves him right back, a home, a fridge with Coronas, tequila in the cupboards and a whole list of other things that would make anyone feel at peace. This man worked hard all his life for himself and his family. He would never forget to give his grandkids their “domingo” or “allowance” as most of us know it as. The thing is, he’s sick. Really sick. Mesothelioma. Bad news.

I head to my grandparent’s house (Mom and Dad’s). We call her “Mom” because, well, she’s Mom. You know, a member of the ELITE group of mothers. She’s amazing. You know how they say, “Ain’t no cooking like Mom’s cooking?” Well, she definitely proves that statement to be true. I could start naming a few things but I don’t feel like salivating all over my keyboard and then going to the kitchen to attempt to create a dish that will most likely taste like cardboard, only to end up with bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

My grandparents have always been an amazing pair. I’ve always looked up to them. They’ve always been such a loving and happy couple. When I would think about one, I would also think about the other one almost immediately because they’re like one person.

Dad was pretty sick and was on a lot of medication. It then needed to be turned into chemo, which we all know is not good news. The first chemo treatment kicked his ass pretty much. Weakens him even more than he already is. Stays in the hospital for a few days and is sent home with hospice. That’s when it begins to get worse.

I get to my grandparent’s house. It just doesn’t feel right. Another day fearing the inevitable. Death. When someone is sick to the point where the outcome is obviously death, you can never quite accept the fact that time is running out. It’s the hardest thing to accept. No one is ever ready for it either, no matter how you “prepare”. Mentally and physically, you’re not ready.

I’m at my grandparent’s house and everyone gets to see him. EVERYONE. I have a shit-ton of family members in the “clan”, so having everyone visit Dad while he was sick was definitely an event. Dad was and is our rock. Our foundation. A pillar of strength. Like I said, he was “The Man”.

Dad is in his bed and clearly struggling. Seeing someone you love struggle during their last days is really heartbreaking. The helplessness you feel is so difficult to deal with. Seeing everyone else in pain just adds to the pain you’re feeling and fearing that one phone call that brings bad news just adds to the anxiety.

I sit on the couch in the living room with a few other members of my family. We sit and talk but don’t really have a conversation. We speak but don’t really make any sense (if that makes any sense). Dad is in his bed with one or two other people staying by his side. My younger cousin grabs his guitar and starts playing. Nothing really in particular, just playing guitar. The sun shines outside and the room goes quiet. We all just breathe in the sounds of his guitar and it almost hypnotizes everyone. Calming. Peaceful.

Then it happens.

“Guys, you might want to come in here!”, says another cousin of mine.

Dad is struggling to breathe.

“Oh fuck.. Here we go. This is it.” I think to myself.

My heart is pounding.

Dad is still struggling to breathe.

All I can do is hold his hand and squeeze. I can feel his pulse slowly fading away and his breathing slow down even more until.. his heart stops. No more pulse. No more breathing. No more Dad.

He’s gone.

Everyone’s already a wreck. We all pray, hold on, cry, hold each other and slowly let go of Dad. Then it’s Mom who has to let go of Dad. God, that broke my heart. Seeing her say goodbye to her soul mate just tore me up. That’s everything I want. To have a connection just like them. To be happy and in love, just like them. To be just like them. Genuine. Honest. Pure. Happy.

Death has never been more real since that day. Feeling someone’s heart stop.. Unreal. I’ve never experienced anything more real in my life. Feeling the heart beat of someone I love and having it fade away has changed me forever. Seeing two people who love each other so immensely having to go separate ways will tie your stomach in knots for days.

Never take life for granted. You never know how much time you have left or how much time a loved one has left. Always, always, always let someone you love know you love them. Remind them. Saying “I love you” should not be something to be feared. Say it. Mean it. Show it and hold onto it as long as you can. One day, we’ll have to let go. One day, our hearts will break when we have to say goodbye. One day, you’ll have to feel someone’s heartbeat fade away. And I promise you, it will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to experience.

Dad is in a better place now. He’s watching over us all and I know for sure he’s smiling his usual smile, anxious to give us kids our “domingo”. Anxious to have a Corona with us or have a shot of tequila. I miss his laugh, his smile, his hugs, his “domingo”, checking out girls on TV with him and just his presence. His voice. Seeing him in his chair. His “Hello!” when you walk in the room. We all miss him. He’ll always be “The Man”. He’ll always be our Dad. He’ll always be what we hope to become.

I love you Dad.

Until we meet again.

Chapter 3 – Smile

I’m starting to notice a few things as I’ve grown older. An ugly trend of human behavior towards others. I people watch a lot. More so now than ever. Step back, take in the view, analyze the situation and dissect the entire moment. Sort of like biology class only this time, it’s with people and their own lives. My conclusion: humans will eat each other alive to get what they want sometimes. Selfishness can drive a person to inflict physical and emotional pain on another person without hesitation. That’s one fucked up fact in today’s world. It’s sad.

With the world population nearing 8 billion, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be meeting people for the rest of our lives. As we meet new people, relationships develop on many different platforms. How you treat each other determines how the relationship will grow. Like a flower or like weeds. Beautiful or ugly. I’m pretty sure that idea is understood by the entire world. It’s common sense (At least, I think so).

Death is the only thing promised in this life we live. That’s it. Once that pill is swallowed and the fact is understood you can then come to the realization that life is a privilege. It’s not a competition. How many followers you have on a social network does not get you a better seat in the big stadium in the sky. It does not make you that much cooler than the dude working at the gas station for 8$ an hour. This idea has been created by all of those people living in a spotlight. Hashtag here, hashtag there. Follow me. And I’m people watching again. Hm. If I add enough tags to a post, will I become famous? Will I wake up tomorrow and be cooler? No. I’ll still be the same nerd from LA working hard to make something out of his life for HIMSELF and his FUTURE. Living life through a social network can distract people from the real world.. You know, Earth? Where humans use voices to communicate? That place. I mean, obviously technology will evolve with time, that’s inevitable. But it seems like nowadays, everything is somehow linked to a social network. It’s almost scary if you think about it. Anything you do can be exposed. The porn you’re watching. The articles you read. A doctor’s visit. It’s unbelievable. But, getting back to the point of this rambling… People.

The ugly trend: People taking advantage of others. Using someone for your own personal gain. Backstabbing. Lying. Cheating. Stealing. Judging. When did we get to this point? Human civilization can only survive if we work together and help each other. How the fuck are we supposed to create peace if all we do is fuck each other over? I mean, really. Think about that for a second. We are all guilty of being an asshole. Each and every one of us. No one is better than anyone else. It has to be a collaboration. We have to work together to create this balance. It starts with one small act of random kindness, as they always say. Smile. Say thank you. Say please. Hug someone, fuck it. It goes a long way. Respect people.

Like I said, death is the only thing promised in this life. We are all headed to that same place in the ground, 6 feet under. You will not have a better spot in the earth if you cheat your way through life. The better you treat people, the better you’ll live. The happier you’ll be. Share the world with the person next to you. Share your life. We only have one. Accept your mistakes, learn and then move forward. Cherish the times you spend with your friends and family. No matter how insignificant the moment may be, cherish it. Remember that moment forever. One day, that person you shared that memory with will be gone. All you’ll have is a memory. Let go of grudges and negativity and live in that oasis in your mind that’s filled with memories and moments shared with others. I’m at that point in my life where I don’t have any enemies (that I know of), I’m not angry at anyone, no grudges with anyone and I’m happy. My friends are the greatest thing ever. Each and every one of them no matter how much I see them. I’m a lucky kid and I thank God every day for giving me this life. Every obstacle has brought me to this point in my life where I can honestly say, I’m supposed to be here. This is how to live life. Happy. Smiling. Sharing. Living. Loving.

Smile.

Because all of your bullshit is really nothing to complain about.

Because you could be dead.

Because you could have nothing.

Because you have air in your lungs.

Because you can.

LYL.

Chapter 2 – The Great Wall

Well, I’ve made it to 27. As I sit here and think about all that’s happened so far I realize that only now, I’ve found myself. I know who I am and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m proud of who I’ve become. With all of the ups and downs the past couple of years, I didn’t think I’d ever get to this point. It’s always when you’re at the lowest of lows are you forced to find yourself. I’ve made it past “The Great Wall”. Most of us are lucky enough (or unlucky) to go through this test. Heartbreak. A true test of character.

Have you ever invested so much blood, sweat, tears and heart into something that you believed would last forever? Have you ever felt so attached to something that you would give up anything to keep it with you at all times? Well, I’ve been there. I never thought about life without it. Everything was revolving around this ball of energy. It was like a magnet. I was addicted. Stuck. For years. I never lost hope because when everything worked out, EVERYTHING worked out. THAT was what I believed in. That little spark of an element still unknown to scientists. No one could capture it but anyone and everyone could see it, feel it and admire it. Your world grows and grows and pretty soon, it’s all you know. Wake up, get sucked in. Live in this world where all you see is the same thing. You find a reason to relate everything to this one thing you can’t seem to stop thinking about. It takes over your entire nervous system. Wake up, get sucked in. All you live for is this. It’s all you know. All you want. All you NEED? No.

Not everyone falls this hard for someone, I know this. Not everyone sees things how I do, I know this. Not everyone can be honest with their feelings, I know this too. But I also know, everyone’s heart breaks one time or another. When your heart breaks, you lose your equilibrium. I’ve been there. Wake up, get sucked in. Lose your balance. Time goes so slow. Time heals all wounds? I hate that saying.

Truth is, sometimes things change. Sometimes people change and that’s okay. The hardest pill so swallow is accepting the fact that change is inevitable. When you accept change, you accept life. When you accept life, you accept happiness. I’ve been there. I’ve not only experienced all of this first hand, but I’ve seen it happen to quite a few friends and family. All that’s left is a challenge to get up and smile. This is the “Great Wall”. Learning how to pick yourself up and find a way after everything you’ve built gets destroyed. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I accept the fact that everything I loved, is everything I loved. Some people stay bitter and angry because all they can see is the pain and frustration they went through. You have to look at the possibility of progress for both of you. A relationship can turn ugly and turn into a disaster filled with insults, hatred and lies. After the dust settles, you can either stay angry or see the possibility of progress. You just got your heart broken, what have you learned? You just lost everything you cared about, what are you going to do about it? You just lost your best friend, who are you going to count on now?

Make progress. Don’t settle for a grudge. Grudges don’t bring you happiness. They do nothing but make your life shitty. I’ve been there.

Accept change. Pick yourself up. Keep moving forward. Smile.

I never thought I’d make it to the place I’m at now. I’m happy. Genuinely fucking happy. The person I’ve become is exactly who I want to be. I’ve made it through the Great Wall and I can look back in my rearview mirror without feeling angry at the clouds of smoke behind me. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. True. Time heals all wounds. True. Only the strong survive. True. Patience is a virtue. True. Just do it. True.

I may not be the smartest man alive or the most popular kid on the block or the guy with the most followers but I can promise you one thing…

The next time you see me, I’ll be smiling right back at you.

I wish you way more than luck.

LYL

Chapter 1 – The Accident

Basically, the main reason for this entire thing is because I was given a second chance at life. At 21 years old I met one of Death’s favorite little sneak attack. I had an aneurysm. Specifically, it was an AVM (see here). My brain was bleeding and I had no idea what an aneurysm was until this all happened. There’s a very slim chance of surviving these “knife in the back of the head”-like freak accidents. Well, I was one of those kids that made it. Now, I’m not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me or for you to be sad or anything, because this is all just a part of my life. This may sound crazy, but I’m very grateful for this accident. Yes, I’m happy this all happened. It changed my life COMPLETELY and all for the better. The only thing I miss from before the accident is having my peripheral vision in my left eye. That’s completely gone now. BUT, from not being able to see out of my left eye at all to gaining 85% of my vision, that’s enough to make me a happy kid. I’m lucky to be here today and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to go on. A second chance.

Ok, now let’s get to the point of all of this. Why did this all happen? I would constantly ask myself, “Why me? Why did this all happen to me so young?” I was a healthy kid, it didn’t make sense why it all happened. Then one day it all came to me. Everything made sense to me. Let’s start from the beginning.

I was just promoted to a Courier position at FedEx. I was excited! I was going to be driving on my own, listening to my own music out on the road and making pretty decent money. At 21, I was going places. At least, that what I was thinking at that point. Then, one day, July 8th of 2006, it’s 10 o’ clock in the morning and I’m setting up balloons and tables for my Mom’s 50th surprise birthday party that’s happening the following day. BOOM. I feel like I get shot in the head. Fall down. I’m blind. “What the fuck is going on?” My brother takes me to the hospital and I spend the next two weeks going through MRI’s, CT scans and angiograms. Those two weeks were a blur. Worst time of my life.

I’m on disability for a month. Still blind. Still weak. Skinnier than ever before because I lost so much weight. Since I’m on seizure medication, I have to give up my route. I can no longer drive for FedEx. Fuck. Now what? I’m restricted to light duty for a few months and since I lost my route, I get demoted to a part time position. I’m a Dangerous Goods Agent.

That’s the back story.

One day I’m getting audited by someone from the FAA. Her name is Judy. I tell her the story you just read and she’s amazed that I’m back at work so soon. The audit goes well and that’s the last time I figure I’ll see Judy. A couple of years go by, I’m doing better and I transfer to the airport. We have an FAA audit and look who it is, it’s Judy. I say hi and ask if she remembers me. She looks at me and starts crying.

“I’ve been looking for you for so long!”, she tells me.

I look back at her with confusion and a half smile. She begins to tell me that shortly after she met me and learned about my accident, she had an aneurysm. She had it a little worse than I did because she had to undergo brain surgery. She then tells me that the only reason why she had the motivation to make it through her ordeal was thinking about how I had an aneurysm and was back at work, talking, walking, speaking and writing a month later. She tells me that she thought about me everyday and could only think about getting better so she can find me and tell me her story. Well, she finally finds me. She tells me her story. She makes me cry and then I realize what I was meant for in this world. Maybe not my entire purpose, but a part of it. I was put here to help this woman through something she might not have made it through if it weren’t for me. I made a difference. I helped someone. And not the kind of help you give when someone falls down, the kind of help that saves a person’s life. I helped her.

Everything happens for a reason. We all have a purpose. We all meet lots of different people and sometimes you may wonder if you make a difference. You do. Each and every person makes a difference. Take a second, stop, listen to everything happening around you. Hear yourself breathe. Listen to your own heart beat. You’re alive. When you’re on the verge of dying, your only wish is to stay alive to do all of those things. Appreciate everything around you. Your bed, your sheets, your feet, fingers, toes, eyesight and family. There may come a day where you could lose any of those things, and then you’ll wish you enjoyed that one thing, for one more second than you actually did. Life is precious. Don’t waste it. Go out there and smile. There’s always someone who has it worse.

Love Your Life.

Introduction

Hello curious Internet-goer!

My name is Charlie. A goofy 26 year old kid from Los Angeles with great ambition and creativity (At least, that’s how I see myself). I’ve decided to start a blog, as you can see. Why? Read on.

After taking a step back and looking at my life (where I’ve been, what I’ve gone through and where I’m headed), I feel like I need to share my story before I’m either too old to remember anything or just too busy (read “lazy”) to be able to. Consider that a warning. Expect an opinion on random thoughts that you may not like and most likely some ranting and rambling (I like to think my opinion has value sometimes. Don’t we all?). That’s what a blog is for, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m a positive thinker but we all have our complaints and observations. I feel like I’ve made it through quite a few challenges in life that not everyone has the opportunity (or curse) to experience. This is where I can share those experiences in my life and how I felt as I experienced them. We all search for the “meaning of life” and we all want to leave behind something to be remembered for. We all want to “touch” somebody’s life in some way, am I right? If you get something out of my blog, I succeeded in changing the world, through one life. Your life. It doesn’t matter to me how many or who actually reads this thing, but those who do, I thank you for actually being interested enough in me to read what I’ve got to say. I hope my stories touch someone or at least make them think about their own life and what they’re doing with it. Most of all, I hope to make someone laugh and/or smile. That’s my goal. Everyday. Spread love and happiness. Kind of like a modern day hippie. Minus the drugs.

I apologize in advance for most likely wasting your time with nonsense. I know there are countless other cooler “nonsense” things on the Internet to waste your time on, but you wasted it with me and mine. I commend you for that and thank you.

After a deep conversation with a close friend of mine, she suggested I write a book. I looked back at her with the “yeah right” face we all make (The one that looks like you just stuffed 4 sour Warheads in your mouth. Remember those things?). For some reason, the suggestion was like a post-it note stapled to my head. I couldn’t drop the idea. I wanted to write about everything. Maybe not exactly a book, but something like it.

The chapters will be in no particular order so it’s not an accurate timeline of how things have happened so far. Each chapter has a lesson that I’ve learned or realization I’ve discovered. Some may just be pointless.

Anyway, here they are, in no particular order.

Because my friend suggested I do so.

LYL

-Charlie

20111214-101602.jpg