Sunday, November 22, 2015

Recognize Choice

I was up before the sun today. I placed some coffee grounds at the base of the french press and put the kettle on the stove. I put on a pair of pants, shirt, jacket and shoes; took a step outside. 

The darkness of the night was still upon me as I waited for the sun to awake. There was a faint breeze I could feel on my uncovered skin. The leaves of the surrounding trees were rustling in the background. The tall grass field moving like waves of the ocean, a light dew covering the stems. The cold from the dirt beneath me rises into the soles of my shoes; I'm aware of its presence but I choose to ignore. 

I take a deep breath in through my nose and exhale through my mouth. The morning air fills my lungs and brings excitement for the day ahead. The breeze across the back of my neck causes my hair to stand on end. In the background I hear the kettle whistle; it's time for coffee. 

I return indoors to prepare the coffee. I walk to the cooler grabbing a small yogurt and return to the counter to grab a piece of fruit. I pour my travel mug full of the dark roast; steamy aroma filling the air as I replace the lid. 

I grab my water bottle, helmet, pads, and BASE rig, as I walk through the door. I toss them into the trunk and start my car. 

There is a warm orange glow behind the mountain; it's a beautiful silhouette. The sun is coming and the day is about to begin. 

As I drive down the dirt road gravel flips up hitting the rocker panel below. Dust clouds fill the air behind. Rays of light shine through just reaching the rear view mirror. I feel warm. 

The pull out is empty. I place the car in park. I open the door, the morning cold is inhaled into the cabin. I step out, gather my gear, tighten my shoes, and proceed to walk to the trailhead. 

As I hike I see my breath in the air. My pack against my back gathering moisture from the warmth of my body. Two birds fly in a circle overhead, the presence is peaceful. 

I approach the base of the steep terrain and dig my shoe into the sand, the footing doesn't feel secure, but I proceed. The rock face isn't far from here. 

As I near the exit point and drop my gear, I step to the edge of the cliff and overlook the canyon below. 

I put my rig on securing my leg straps and chest strap. Double checking to ensure everything is in working order. I place my helmet on my head clipping the buckle beneath my chin; tightening the strap firmly against my skin.  

Again I walk to the cliff, toes nearing the edge. I close my eyes and inhale. Focus consumes me, the only thing that matters is this moment. I'm completely aware of my breathing, the sound of nature around me, and the presence of all things, now. 

I lunge forward propelling myself off the cliff in a single, controlled, and stable movement. There is a brief moment where there is complete freedom. I am no longer grounded to the earth or a victim of gravity. I am not falling, or flying, but I am free.   In this moment there is no sound, no temperature, no smell, and no control. I am weightless.  

As I accelerate toward the earth, the wind noise heightens and the peacefulness of the world is no longer present. I reach back, grasping my pilot chute firmly and throw it sideways in one powerful motion. I feel the light tug as it inflates and proceeds to pull the canopy from its container. As it reaches line stretch I abruptly sit up vertically in my harness. A sense of comfort overcomes me as my adrenaline slows. 

I descend into the valley, canyon walls towering overhead and casting shadows on the ground below. 

I navigate to an open area where my feet touch down gently. A calming feeling is present as I start to gather my gear. 

I look up to the exit point and take in the beauty around me. The contrast of the sun behind the canyon walls and the deep shadows on the ground below. A slight breeze makes the trees sway and brings a chilling sensation. 

I am no longer free. I am no longer falling, or flying. I am now a victim of the gravity that binds us to the rock we call home. This universe is heavy, breathing is difficult. 

I proceed to walk back to the car, happiness is in my heart. Everything that I did today was a choice. 

I choose, peace. I choose the silence of dead air. I choose the sound of nature. I choose to recognize the detail of the day. I choose small things. I choose this moment. I choose to live. I choose freedom. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What Happened to Privacy?

“All human beings have three lives; a public life, a private life, and a secret life.” 
~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

But do we anymore? 

Now day’s social media has taken over our lives, and our privacy. I’m talking Twitter, Facebook, Four Square, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr… the list goes on and on. I seem to be less concerned with the privacy settings on these platforms, and more concerned with the people using them…excessively.

I’ll be the first to say, I’m guilty of sharing personal, private, and unnecessary information on social media. We’ve all done it, and some may continue to do it. I post on my Instagram 4-5 days per week for sponsorship reasons. But at what point is enough, enough?

Do people actually gain value from the number of followers they have? Do they achieve more self-assurance from the number of likes on any given photo? Do they get joy out of sharing their every move of every day on their ‘Story’? Do they feel it’s necessary to ‘check-in’ when they arrive at their destination?

I’m not talking about a casual post, a rant, or even an opinion. I’m not referring to a few snapchats while you’re at a party, or even a ‘check-in’ that you arrived in Hawaii.

I’m talking about the people that snapchat their daily routine or update on what they are doing every hour. People who ‘check-in’ that they made it to Hawaii, now they are getting shaved ice, now they are at Wal-Mart, now at such-and-such a beach. I’m talking about a pictures posted as things are happening, all the time, always. I’d like to call this “Serial Sharing.”

People are so hungry and needy for the approval of others and to create a following, I don’t understand it. I constantly see peoples profile’s on Instagram go from following 400 people to following 1200 people; almost overnight. They do this to gain followers and then immediately turn around and unfollow those who have not followed them back. I see this happen with my own following. There are even apps that allow you to buy followers. It’s sad that many people have turned to these forms of media to create a sense of self-worth and attention.

What happened to our privacy or having portions of your life be private? Doing things without telling everyone what we are doing in this very moment. Enjoying our time out with friends without being glued to our phone so everyone else knows ‘how cool we are.’ Setting aside our ‘fake’ life, for our real one. Doing some volunteer work for someone in need. Or maybe just help a loved one who is going through a rough patch. Doing a nice deed without marketing it to the world. What happened?

Again, I’ll admit social media has a lot of positives when used in the correct way. This has made networking much easier, keeping in contact with those in our lives, and even job opportunities. Overuse and ‘Serial Sharing’ is where I try to draw the line. Don’t you want a bit of privacy in your life? A bit of surprise? People wondering what you’re doing, instead of knowing every waking hour?
I doubt many will read this post, and others may not care. The intent of this was not to offend or discount the people who do this, as it is not about anyone in particular (I’m waiting for people to start blocking me as I hit submit). You all know who I’m referring to, the people who are constantly blowing up your feed. But if I may, I’d like to leave you with one suggestion.

Next time you post, post for a reason. Post because you are passionate. Follow because you have a genuine interest in that person: whether it is their photos, their life, or their passions. Post to inspire. Check-in because you’re at your vacation destination and then let your phone take a comfortable ride in your pocket. Post if you have to (sponsors, money, etc.). Most of all, post because you feel it will bring someone some joy or happiness.

I’m not advocating to boycott social media like many of these other articles around. More, I’m trying to understand the reason behind what is happening in today’s world. Why are people so drawn to all these insignificant platforms that they need to share every detail of their life? Why not keep some things close to you, home, and those you love?

Again, I’ve been guilty. But…

When you’re me, you think about it. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

By 26...

Life is a 2 lane road that travels 1 direction.
The direction is North, South, East, and West. 
I know it's confusing... it's life.
~Levi Arnone

It has been over a year since my last blog post. I’m sorry to those of you who follow and expect more from me, I would like to be more consistent. However, I do not want to fill my blog with meaningless posts just to meet a monthly quota.
For those of you who have been following, or have read my posts before, you will know each post has a certain ‘feel’. I try to convey that feel through my writing in a passionate way. Hence why I don’t post often. I have to feel passionate about what I’m writing, or it is difficult to get my point across.

Well, the time has come. I have had this topic on my mind for a few weeks and I cannot seem to escape it. This only means one thing… write it down.
I think many of us, if not all, have a ‘plan’ as we mature and get older. For many this ‘plan’ can come as early as middle school, some in high school, many in college, and others after that. Hell, some of us still don’t have a ‘plan’.

When I refer to a ‘plan’ I’m specifically talking about how we envision our future life. In a way, we are setting a loose goal and vision of exactly how we want things to go. It’s basically a rough draft of our life as we progress down this path called LIFE. Some of us may write our ‘plan’ on paper, others talk about it, and for some it’s all in our head.

This is a small outline of my ‘plan’, or so I thought. Mine started to build around age 18 when I was about to head off to college. It went something like this: Finish my Bachelor’s degree, land a great job, and start my MBA. Be married by 26, have a couple of children. Build a house, get some nice vehicles, a few fun toys. Have controllable debt (house payment and maybe car payment). Live happily.


Let me tell you, my ‘plan’ did not go according to plan. Some things were able to fall into place and my ‘plan’ was now becoming my reality. Today, here I am, 26 years old. I have finished my Bachelor’s degree but never started my MBA. I’m nearing 4 years working for a great company. The rest… well, it never really happened.

The ‘plan’ that I had envisioned years ago never really happened. In fact, I’m glad it didn’t happen. I think society and the people around us shape our reality and tell us the way things “should” be. It’s okay not to follow in those footsteps, though. You don’t have to have a ‘plan’, you can make it up as you go. Blaze your own path and do the things you want to do, not the things you think you have to do. The things you wanted at age 16 you may not want at age 20. The things you want at age 20 may not be what you want at age 25.

Today I’m still deciding; do I want to be married? Do I want to have kids? Do I want to go back to school and get an MBA? Do I want to build a house, or live in a big ass van and travel around? Will I ever switch jobs? These are all things I’ve questioned recently that I never thought I would have at age 18.  

I never pictured my plan being something like this: Get my Bachelor’s degree, get a good job. Start skydiving and jumping off other high objects. Spend large amounts of money on parachutes and wingsuits. Selling my truck and motorcycle to downsize; put Jeep up for sale. Start working in the skydiving industry to support my hobby. Be in a series of relationships, some good some bad. Start going bald (definitely not planned). Figure out what I’m doing with my life…

There is nothing good or bad about this. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do things. It is simply an observation I’ve made when I look back and say, “By 26 I…” and realized so much of it never happened.

Now I’m working on my next ‘plan’… “If I live to see 30…” ;)

When you’re me, you think about it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Kind Of Beautiful

My kind of beautiful doesn't have blonde hair; blue eyes.  She can't always be found on the catwalk at a local fashion show.

My kind of beautiful doesn't wear designer clothes or drive the latest Lexus. She can't always be found with makeup on and her hair done up.

My kind of beautiful doesn't have brown hair; brown eyes. She doesn't waste her time trying to please others.

My kind of beautiful doesn't have a perfect face. She can't always be found twirling her hair around her finger.

My kind of beautiful doesn't know where the best tanning salon in town is. She likely doesn't have time to paint her nails.

My kind of beautiful doesn't have perfect teeth. She doesn't get caught up in others drama.

My kind of beautiful doesn't have a 'model' body. You won't always find her at the gym.

You see, my kind of beautiful is different.

My kind of beautiful loves adventure. She is open to new experiences.

My kind of beautiful prefers natural beauty. She already knows she is beautiful.

My kind of beautiful has nice clothes. She wears them on special occasions.

My kind of beautiful doesn't waste time pleasing others. She is too busy being herself.

My kind of beautiful can hold a conversation. She is passionate.

My kind of beautiful is intelligent. She is quintessential.

My kind of beautiful is glowing. She has been sun kissed.

My kind of beautiful has a perfect smile. She only has time for happiness.

My kind of beautiful is healthy. She is active in all walks of life.

My kind of beautiful has a sense of humor. She laughs at her mistakes.

My kind of beautiful is personality. beautiful.

Think about it...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I Didn't Think...

Didn't Think...

You always said I think too much
Why worry about the future and what you can't control

So I changed my ways to avoid the thoughts
 I was having every day

Thinking if I didn't think
You'd never go away

So I didn't think there would come a day
I couldn't kiss your lips

I didn't think there would be a day
I wouldn't hug you around the hips

I didn't think there would be a day
You'd say, let's just be friends

I didn't think it would end this way
Left sitting on the fence

I didn't think about things
I know I can't control...

So I didn't think I'd never see your smiling face

I didn't think you'd be looking for someone
To fill that empty space

So I didn't think I should have thought about thinking you would leave

But now you're gone; gone for good
And I am here alone

And now I wonder do you THINK of me
The answer is probably no

Because all along everything
Was under your control

So I changed my ways to think again
Now I miss you every day

The more I think, the more I know
I'm sad you went away.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Direction is Difficult

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
- Jon Krakauer

Recently I had a conundrum in my life that I couldn’t seem to get passed. It wasn’t a major event or series of events that changed my outlook; but instead, a self-reflection. I looked at myself and those around me and asked, “Am I really happy?” This made my mind go crazy and reflect in more directions than I could comprehend at any given moment. Emotions began pouring through my body and mind as if it were a fast moving stream flowing through a plethora of pebbles and rocks. I found myself distracted by all of the different aspects; I couldn’t take one steady path and analyze it as I had hoped. The bulk of this feeling, coming from the lifestyle I’ve been living.

As I analyzed my situation further, I began to feel complacent. Nothing I seem to do has felt good enough for me, I feel as though I’m not progressing, changing; I’m becoming stagnant, almost, boring.
Any of you reading this that know me are probably thinking, “Levi… complacent?” It sounds absurd to them due to my lifestyle. To them, I’m always up to something; be it skydiving, scuba diving, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, etc. All of these things I participate in on a regular basis, but perhaps it is not as ‘regular’ as I’d like.

This becomes more apparent when I pull my career into the picture.  I love my job; the fact that I’m able to help thousands of people communicate each day is a very rewarding thing. I’ve been with my current company for 2 years now, and in my position for 1.5 years. I feel as if I’m stagnant because I haven’t experienced change in so long. My routine is just that, a routine. Which leads me to sit and wonder… isn’t there something more? Working thousands of hours a year in order to get a couple hundred hours to go to the place of my choosing; as money allows?

Even though work bounds the lifestyle I love, and limits my freedom. It is also a necessity in order for to be able to do the things I want to do. It all costs money. Fortunately, there is a way around it; becoming a professional athlete. It’s an extremely rare opportunity and only a small portion of individuals that have that dream, will get the opportunity to live it.

So where does one divide the line of living a life of adventure and prospering in this beautiful world that was put before us, and the realm of working to ensure you are secure, can retire, and continue living ‘the dream’? 

Balance seems to be the logical choice, and rightfully so, but it also comes with compromise. We can’t experience everything, and have nothing. Yet at the same time, we cannot have everything and experience nothing. It all depends on how you choose to allocate your recourses (money).

Being a well-rounded person is difficult. You want to have everything and do everything, but a dollar can only stretch so far. So you compromise doing things that others might do more often, or on a regular basis, and you accept that you find happiness in different ways. Some individuals want to have nothing to show for their money, but be rich in experiences and travel. Others want to have fancy cars and a big house, but never leave their comfort zone. Yet those who want a bit of everything, or are financially privileged, try to get a little bit of both.

It seems to me that this thought isn’t one that will go away any time soon. It’s something that I continue to search for in my life. More experiences, more toys, more friends, more traveling, more skills, more time, just….more. When you’re me, you think about it. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Just [be]

"Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." -Willam Faulkner

Well, it's been just over a month since I posted last. Since then my brain has been going crazy about what subject/hobby/bothersome issue to write about next. I think this one has been a long time coming. 

It's simply about, life. It's a truly amazing thing to be brought into this world by two individuals who were able to share something special. However, this post isn't about sex or making love. Like I said, it's about life. 

Those you of you who know me, know I'm a 'go-getter.' I don't sit around for things to be handed to me, I strive to move forward and work for what I want in life. Outside of career goals, needs, and wants; I try to live the same lifestyle. 

First, lets put career aspirations in focus. Far too often I see people sit around waiting for the next opportunity. They talk of a business they want to open, a product they want to develop, a store they want to manage, or a position they want to attain within their company. That's great! I will encourage and support them in whatever they choose. 

However, 98% of the time, it's all talk. Anyone can say they want to open a business, or design a product, etc. What sets people apart are the 'go-getters.'  What are you doing that the other guys aren't? How are you going to get there? Do you have a plan? Do you have a measurable goal? How long will it take? The list goes on. 

When I try to ask these questions, it's usually followed by a list of excuses. Don't have time? Make some. 
Don't have money? Work more, buy less, find an investor.
Don't have the motivation? Then you really don't want it. 

What it comes down to, is finding what makes you tick. What do you REALLY want, and how bad? If you find yourself making excuses, find a way to turn them around and MOVE FORWARD.  The worst thing for yourself is to become stagnant. I don't understand how people can sit around wasting their god given talents, 'waiting'  for what's to come. It doesn't have to be a competition, but rather a way of self improvement that we should strive for. 

So I guess my question is, why? Why don't people have the mindset to achieve something greater than themselves? Why are they happy being stagnant? Why are they comfortable living an 'average' life? Why do they lie to themselves?  Why can't they 

When you're me, you think about it.