Shattered

The waves broke and the reflection remained

The tide shifting, gently.

The sand dampened and the sun began to set

Footprints disappearing on a beach long forgotten.

Snow gently fell and the soft Ocean breeze turned frigid

The water froze, briefly.

When the air warmed, the reflection began to show its cracks.

And when he went to touch his reflection, he no longer felt the gentle waves.

Instead, he felt the cold, frigid water as his reflection shattered.

Journey’s End: A Tale of Love

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” -Abraham Lincoln


A Note From the Author

A post written nearly 2 years ago. Lost to the ages, brought back to life. This article has been left in its entirety, with minor edits made to help the overall flow of the article itself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!


In honor of this being my 69th post on WordPress (nothing to read into here), I thought it would be fun to talk about relationships and love. So if you’ve ever been curious about my thoughts regarding this topic or wondered what deep secrets Mike is hiding, this is the time.

A Rare Glimpse

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m management by trade. A benefit of management is a lot of proper management and leadership is understanding people. To not put a one size fits all label but rather see the little nuances, do some math, and create a picture of each person. One aspect in particular is emotional intelligence. Which, in a nutshell, is how well you understand others emotions, as well as your own. Can you accurately read someone’s facial expressions? Their body language? Are they fidgety? Does this mean they’re nervous? Excited? Uncomfortable? As you can see, it is a fairly complex topic and it’s taken me about 5 years (if not a lifetime) to have a somewhat decent grasp over. To go further, I’d also like to acknowledge the unconscious mind. I read a lot of business/ business psychology books and I’ve spent years learning how to pick apart my mind in order to reprogram my behavior. As such, I have a good understanding of who I am, what I want, and how to get there. I’ve also been an observer most of my life, with excellent listening skills (developed over time) and a desire to understand.

I Walk a Lonely Road

Say what you will about when boys and girls start to fall for each-other and develop crushes, but for me I’d say it was around first grade. The scenario was this: I go play with my friends or I go for a walk around the schoolyard with a cute girl. What did I choose, being a first grader? My friends of course. Any regrets? Nope. Then after first grade, there was another cute girl that came along. We went through elementary school, middle school, and high school together. I’m 99% sure she liked me and while I liked her, I made the mistake of going after the girl I couldn’t get. How did that go? As well as one can expect.  The girl that got away? perhaps, but let me make a note of that.


Everyone talks about the one. You listen to any love song and more often than not it’s about the one that got away. Usually the singer is filled with regret and what sounds pleasant to the ears is more often than not obsessive. You want to know how stalkers are born? Surprise, this is how. It’s not letting go and moving on. It’s OK to be upset and give yourself time to heal but sooner or later you have to move on. And of course, love is messy. Hormones run wild, people go insane. Love is indeed a feeling… Anyways, the point I want to make is that there are multiple “ones” out there. If a girl breaks your heart, don’t worry, another will come along. It may take a while, but it’ll happen.


So, back to the story. Come college, I took a break. I was waiting for someone to come along and save me from myself. I thought I deserved a girlfriend and resented those who had one. I sound like quite the charmer, no? Everyone has their issues and nobody is perfect, so I figured it would be fairly easy. My philosophy back then was girls dated assholes. And yet no one came… So I started burying myself in my work. Work was a distraction. After bumming around my Freshman year, I had a job by my Sophomore year. I’d go to class, work, and sleep. My first real taste of responsibility. I had money and that was spent on books and classes. Then I quit and joined student organizations, where I had even more responsibility. I was shy and awkward back then but I still remember one of my mentors saying, “one day the right girl will come along for you”. Simple, yes. True? Don’t know yet. Fast forward a few years to last Winter, when I first installed Tinder. I had my first date. Coffee by the water front. And afterwards? A walk along the water front and then a walk back to her car. We exchanged numbers and then? She got cold feet. I uninstalled Tinder and continued to focus on making myself a better person. I wasn’t perfect, but at least I was trying. Then came Spring… The cherry blossoms began to bloom and my professionalism was at it’s peak. At this point I was juggling both being the Director of Social Media for management club and being the Service Chair at the same time. I wasn’t looking for love. And then one of my friends decided to touch my arm… The cruelty of the human touch. Like a witch, she put me under a spell. I, being the rational individual that I am, tried to fight it and didn’t quite understand what was going on. After the touch and suggesting that we go dancing, she went in for the hug. If I had any chance at this point, it was now gone. The casual arm brushes, the “accidental” touching of hands, the subtle mention of weddings in everyday conversation, or the “how much I love fro-yo, we should go sometime”. Of course there is more (all of which is well documented in my personal journal) but I think you get the idea. So I said, “what the Hell?” and asked her out to drinks. She said yes and she tried to drag me back to her place to do God knows what with me. I politely declined, citing that I had a job interview in the morning. Being the Gentleman I was, I was in it for the long game. So come the end of Spring, we were making summer plans and it felt as though I was on top of the world. So I figured I would ask, “do you want to go on a date”? Not asking to date regularly but rather than “hanging out” it would require a tiny bit of commitment. What did she say? “I’m flattered Mike, but right now I’m looking to have fun, focus on myself, and then see what life has in store”. Best part? She was playing the field with her childhood friend, saying they were just “friends”.

So my fragile heart was now crushed to dust and I was  left to sweep what was left into an urn. And what did I do? I buried myself in my work. I found a summer job and simply worked. It was a summer thinking of what could’ve of been but what would never be. Up until this point I had always assumed women were more mature than men but this instance shattered that illusion. And then I was in Germany.

Germany was there to mend a broken heart. I had 3 months of pain and in a sense got a chance to hit the reset button. I worked on my flirt game. I learned German pickup lines, reinstalled Tinder and tested the waters. My goal, as I have so elegantly put it, was to be “wild and free”. So I played the field, saw how far that got me, and simply enjoyed the ride. Of course, it being 4 months, there wasn’t enough time for anything meaningful to transpire. That’s besides the point. I gained the confidence I needed, changed my look, and essentially was reborn in Germany as I made some of the most meaningful relationships in my life. This was the final hurdle, to break away from the shy and awkward Mike of the past and fully embrace who I wanted to be.

Coming Home

And now that I’m back from Germany, I’ve gone on a few dates. The first date was terrible (nothing in common) and the other date was interesting… Nice date (although no second date). And of course, the story wouldn’t be complete without a little more heartbreak. There was a girl in my class who once again touched my arm. Then she’d sit next to me everyday and invade my personal space. The “accidental” brush, the flushed face, dilated pupils, heavy breathing, even mimicking. And then the cursed corporate holiday came, Valentine’s Day. A holiday where people who are in relationships try to make up for 364 days of neglect (love should be year round) or a holiday that has now become single’s awareness day. So I, being the hopeless romantic I am, decided to ask her out to coffee after conferring with her friend beforehand on whether or not she was single (according to Facebook and the friend, the answer was yes). The result? I got a, “I’m flattered but I’m kind of seeing a guy from Spain right now”. And was my heart broken? Not at all. I was frustrated but I learned a lot in Germany. Perhaps more than learning to love others, I learned to love myself. So being rejected on Valentine’s day didn’t phase me.

The Fragility of Love

Over Spring break I went for a walk. I live on a mountain (more a glorified hill) and at the top of this hill is a park. I sat down and enjoyed the view. To the side I overheard a girl and a guy talking. The guy was trying to convince the girl (who was with another guy) to be with him. Over the course of a few minutes, the argument the girl made eroded and at first she talked about being loyal, then how they weren’t really together, and then it was over (rationalizing her decision all the while). The mood had soured and while I was simply there to gaze out to the horizon and ponder the vast mysteries of the world, I got up and without looking, walked back down the hill.  I always have to wonder how truly happy people are. People profess their love for each-other yet I don’t think many know what that truly means…

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Mike Cole’s Year of New

2018 has come to a close. And it’s a year best left buried. While I found “success” I’ve struggled. I feel my soul slowly seeping and what was once new has become routine. Now is a time for me to define 2019 before 2020 rolls around all too soon. To look at my life and see where I want to be in a year.

Last year I had written an article and meant to post it in January, to declare to the world “How to New Year Properly”. And the moment came and past. And I did not “New Year” properly. I played it safe and while I kept some goals for a time, most fell through and I was left to the mercy of the world.

So ultimately, my year is themed and having a month to reflect, I don’t think the “Year of New” is enough; I want this to be the “Year of Finishing” as well; A “Year of New Beginnings” so to speak. To clear out the clutter and find stable ground in an unstable world. In addition to a theme, I have chosen a word to represent the year, “Forward”. Forward can mean many things to many people but my focus is towards progress and being up front; not bottling in my emotions and saying what’s on my mind. It’s a year to stand up and put my foot down.

Goals for 2019

Language

I have not been diligent with my practicing. I am off and on again with my languages and in addition to Learning German, I have also decided to pick up French. Obviously I feel it’s important, however, I have lacked the motivation to maintain consistent practice as I am unable to see the long term benefit in the short term. I’ve tried fixing this by joining the Duolingo clubs and time will tell if this works. It’s the first step, but it is my hope to join more communities for my interests and ultimately expand my network.

For specifics at this point, my goal is to practice at least twice a week on Duolingo for both French and German. I would also like to start watching more shows in German and eventually watch a show in French.

My tangible goal for the year is to be able to help with translations for both German and French.

Run A Half Marathon

More and more I am realizing I respond well to what I can see. I need tangible goals to create the framework for improvement. So what better way to get back into shape than to start with a distant goal, one that will require training and discipline? As I write this, it sounds absurd and I think that’s exactly the point. This is just right outside my comfort zone.

So it boils down to this: Exercise 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes and it can be whatever I want it to be. I can go bouldering, running, or even do push ups as breaks when I’m playing video games.

My tangible goal is to sign up for a half marathon in my city and hopefully race close to January of 2019.

Learn to Program

This has been long overdue. If I want to move forward, I will need skills that position me as an acting agent and further my ability to create. I am starting with the basics; Javascript and Python. From there, I might branch out, but I do not want to bite off more than I can chew.

I’ve already started with Codecacademy and I’m trying to sit down to watch LinkedIn learning videos. However, each time, I have fallen short. So now, I have a long term goal in mind: to design a video game. This is the challenge I need and the goal to really push my ability further. The game will be either 8 bits or 16 bits and could be a minute or 60 hours, so long as I have something tangible to show by the end of the year.

Writing

This is the big one and perhaps the goal I’m most excited to achieve. Over the past couple years, I’ve been working on my creative writing and think it’s at a point where I can start pushing my comfort zone even further. My writing goal for this year is to publish a book.

As far as specifics, I am starting with Poetry. The goal is to have 30 poems written and once I have done so, I will publish (most likely on Amazon). Right now I am playing with different formats and trying to add variety to my writing.

My other goal is to re-imagine my posts never published and bring the majority of them to see the light of day.

Cooking

As the list grows longer and longer, I should be worried; however, this is the most excited I’ve been in a long time and I can’t stop writing; I had forgotten how great it feels to set goals to achieve.

For cooking, it is simply to cook a dish once a month. To go out, buy groceries, and make anything. Ideally, I’m cooking to be healthier and to find what I enjoy; cooking relaxed me in College and I should’ve never stopped.

The tangible goal is to make cheese sticks (weird, I know). I tried once before and had a breaded cheese blob and it has been my greatest cooking regret.

Painting

Truth be told, it can be painting or drawing. I am in need of relaxing hobbies that soothe the soul. I need a hobby where I can catch my breath and create more than just vivid descriptions; I want to see what I create.

I’m starting out small and small is all I need; I want to attend one art class and have one painting I can be proud of. Online tutorials are great, but for this, I feel the need to go out and be part of an art class.

Road Trip/Camping

I do not consider myself a great driver. I can get some bad anxiety and figured I could kill two birds with one stone. The goal for this is to get me out of the house and more comfortable with adventure. When I did study abroad, I nearly had a heart attack but I grew so much. This goal is of the same mindset. I already have a trip planned in May and am taking a week vacation at the end of February so things are already shaping up to be better than the last two years.

My measure of success will be if I bought the sleeping bag and tent I’ve been saying I was going to buy and to not only go on a trip to the beach but to go camp overnight or for a couple days.

Epilogue

So that’s it, I now have my goals in writing. A basic roadmap to get me started with the catalysts I need to jump start my life. In addition to these goals, I want to get out once a week; whether that’s getting drinks downtown or trying a new restaurant, seeing an art display, or visiting a park, this year is about stepping out and creating the environment I want to live my adulthood in.

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As always, thanks for reading! What are your goals for the new year? Have you started? Are you happy with your year so far? Let me know in the comments below.

The nightmares we believe

When we are children, we are afraid of the dark. We seek a candle to light us to bed. And still we dream of monsters. The battle between light and dark is constant. For without light, life cannot exist. The darkness twists and distorts, creating illusions and playing tricks on the mind. People spend most of their lives running and they forget the very reason they start running in the first place. It is only when the path forward is blocked that they have time to stop and catch their breath. And what do they see when they turn around? The creeping darkness.

So what is the darkness and what makes it so terrifying? Therein lies the  problem. The darkness is many things at once; regret, sorrow, guilt, anger, jealousy, rage. It is every secret kept, every opportunity not taken, and the time that you can’t get back. It is death incarnate, always chasing and never slowing, only wearing. And at the same time… It is nothing at all. We shine a light through the darkness and see nothing. No monsters and what we thought would be there, isn’t.

And yet we are afraid. It is only when we see the sun peak over rolling hills do we realize that forever long the night seems, the sun always rises.

Personally, I find comfort in the darkness; its shadow like a blanket. Perhaps not so much the darkness but rather the light that shines through. Some nights you may get a rolling breeze, and the soft glow of moonlight, which can be both mesmerizing and somewhat unsettling. The breeze can easily turn into a howling and the light can slowly recede, leaving only darkness. And yet, when we open our eyes, we realize morning has already come.


The Don’t let Mike Starve fund

This post, fun fact, has been sitting in my drafts since July of 2017. It felt incomplete and I had always meant to add more. So come today, I reread the post and have found it to be one of my better pieces and what was missing, was found. The only change I have made since then and now is the final line, "And yet, when we open our eyes, we realize morning has already come." I hope you enjoy this piece and am glad I finally get to share it with the world.

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