Tag Archives: journal

Close Quarter Confession

Entry Date: October 11th, 2017

I’m sky high.

And by sky high, I merely meant that I am currently sitting in seat 34D (the last seat on the right side, near the lavatory) on this Delta airplane. An Asian (I believe Chinese based on the language-I studied Mandarin in college) woman is fast asleep next to me while her son watches Pepper Pig on an iPad. There’s a sense of isolation in this position, but do not mistake it for loneliness. I desire this solitude. It makes the traveling…less hectic; and, I am blessed with the ability to decipher my thoughts-this is an added plus when one is at the beginning of something.

A new chapter began this week, and it started with a DM (yes, a direct message). How can something so simple, and partially ridiculed by society, start a revolution in me? Because, I had to take the risk, and create an opportunity that was previously nonexistent. When that message left my device it didn’t matter if it landed in the inbox (it did), or if they didn’t respond (they did).

What mattered then, and still does now is that I will waste no time being a content observer, not when my dream is to be a director. A director does witness, but only does so to devise their next action-either born from strategic intent, or sheer improvisation. This I wish I could say I knew already, but I only realized it this past Sunday, when I watched my script come to life on a screen.

Peninsulas & Pyres

Foresight has informed me of my foundation; it is built upon opportunities, risks, tactics, faith, fear (and the conquering of it), and so much more.

I feel as if I’m a missing member of this Asian family, for they are steadily drifting toward my seat; but, they are at peace so I will not disturb them. On this voyage to my new life, I am alone, and in this aloneness, I will learn who I am. Maybe I will discover that I am like one of the dull faced drones who previously occupied the boarding area. This creativity and talent could be a fluke, a momentary spark in the darkness that showed signs of blossoming into a blaze, only to die when the ventilation blew too hard. I may very well die, and I quote the great Billy Crystal “one of those New York deaths where nobody notices for weeks until the smell starts to seep through.”

This is a possibility that this reality materializes but, luckily, this isn’t my only option. No, there are countless others, one for each word that my pen writes. And, this is the reality I dare to choose… A realm solely made for the manifestation of whatever dreams I dare to dream. Yes, I am not only a dreamer (ahem, Pisces), but a do-er as well; and though I live for a challenge, there is nothing like conquering a task that was given by the self. I accepted long ago that my spirit is a seeker. It desires to chase. What it desires, honestly, depends on the day of the week. Why be confined to one choice anyways?

I have talked quite lengthily about my next adventure, however, I must now address the actions that are required for it. Truthfully…I don’t know the next step after arrival. And this may, possibly, be the ideal answer for anyone in my position; the act of leaving the specifics of each step to the self that encounters it. Technically, there is nothing one can do now to bring a reality into fruition, and yet they can do everything as well. Confused? I know, that’s how I feel as this mother and son cuddle, now encroaching in my chair space-bubble-aura-thing.

I wish to turn on the light-there is no window at this seat-however, I, again, do not wish to disturb them. Irony at its finest, because seconds ago my flash nearly blinded us (I failed to take a picture of the distance, or centimeters, between our shoulders). It’s fitting that I am writing in the dark, the physical manifestation of “Unknown.”


Moments over Minnesota

I, much like the rest of humanity, am unaware of what to expect out of this life. This has been learned, along with the idea that expectations are arbitrary anchors; they ground us on abstract shores, creating the delusion that our vessels are steadily rocking with the seagulls rather than descending into the briny blackwater. I can’t preach to you as if I’m immune to them; they still do appear in my mind, but their appearance does not signify acceptance.Just like the child who recently stirred in his mother’s lap, I am young and naive; however, I am aware of the power of choice. This is what separates me from the anchor, and depart from the comforting (or complacent) seaside cottage. I will not be bound to the rusted chains of a dying reality, instead I will shed the expectation before embarking on each experience. Without the imaginary safety net for insurance, I will be granted two options: sink or swim.

By eliminating the “what if” factor of setting expectations, and tolerating the tension associated with the presence of the “Unknown”…maybe, just maybe, I can prepare my soul for the next voyage. Without expectations present, action is now the required force to create a reality, a result, or a byproduct of a risk. Action is required if I wish to best the “Unknown”; if I wish to best the darkness within. No longer are the days of silent observation, from this day onward, I will be the director that I’ve dreamed of becoming.

A self portrait taken in the lavatory. I had to wake up the family to get to the bathroom though 😦

Flight Plan

The sky yawned this morning.

It drowsily rubbed away the darkness as the sun awakened.
Cotton pillows fluffed while the first rays of the day spread across the horizon.
From such a vast height one forgets that there is a world full of sleeping folk below, because we are the early bird.

The sky soaring albatross that beats its blackened wings against the wind, heading westward with hopes of sharing its feathers with those who have never known the joy of flight.

The Spectrum of Self – Manny Amaya

The self is complicated and simple at the same time. In my eyes one’s self is a spectrum. On one end you have face value stats. Your looks, your environment, and what you don’t mind consistently sharing with the world. Call it your involuntary self. It’s simply who you are day in and day out without trying. But on the other end – that’s when it gets tricky.

Can that “simple” self also be who you’re not? Could this simple “you” actually be a persona you tirelessly try to keep up? That’s when it gets complicated. If a person dons a persona mask when they leave the safe comforts of their room, but no one meets the real them, does the mask become who they really are? Deep right?

As for me – I have two layers. My unapologetic self. The daily Manny. That’s the surface. That’s my face value. But my dreams, desires, my demons; those aren’t for everybody. Those are for the people I trust. It’s not a different me, just a more complete me. Make sense? You don’t show all your cards first. But again that’s just me. So I like to stay in the middle of this spectrum of the self. I like not worrying about who I look like to other people, because I know that they truly and honestly won’t know me unless I want them to – and I like it like that.


Do You Bleed Ink?

Hello and if you’re reading this then you’re either A) a follower of my blog (thank you!), B) you’re a writer interested in the “Inspirationist Experience”, or C) you clicked the wrong link. Whatever brings you here I welcome you, today is a special day.

In my previous post, I asked fellow writers to answer a very important question, “why do they write?”. I know that the answers are as diverse as the people participating in this event so I thank you for taking the time out to do some reflection before we dive into the “challenge.”

The Inspirationist

What is an inspirationist? It’s very different from inspiration, which is often multiple things. Inspiration could be the way the clouds look at dusk when laying on the wet grass, it could be the elementary school teacher  who battled testicular cancer while still enlightening the future, or it could be the Facebook video of goats screaming that a high school accomplice posted on their timeline. All these are fantastic forms of inspiration,, but how does that translate to this vague title? The inspirationist is the person who is capable of seeking, understanding, and then projecting the emotions and thoughts from a source of inspiration into a physical product; in this case words. We capture the essence of a subject and polymerize it with our own soul to generate a brand new creation, which in turn becomes a source of inspiration for another. We are both the first domino and the last in a chain reaction, our small actions tipping off something much greater than what we probably understand. Artists are not the only ones who can be inspired, the average person can experience this feeling and serve as a source of it as well; but the inspirationist is one who takes it and discovers why it was inspiring to them. I’m asking you all to participate in this project because I believe that each of you are inspirationist, or have the ability to becoming one, if you wanted. I’m not going to put that label or categorize you, but this phrase is the best way I can describe this group of deep thinking, soul searching, life discovering group of individuals. If you consider yourself to be such a thing then congrats, you are in the right place.

The Experience

This is a writing challenge. It’s meant to push you, to provide guidance, and to give you positive feedback when appropriate; but ultimately it is what you make it (cliche, I know). If you take it seriously then maybe you will be able to attain your goal that you set for yourself (if you have no idea what I’m talking about then click here). If you slack off or don’t put the effort into it, then your words will only dissipate out of your head and never land onto paper. There will be five topics to this experience, giving each of us roughly six days to tackle a subject. I will describe the topics in greater detail below. There isn’t an official deadline, but it would be nice if individuals could stick to that six day time table; you won’t be penalized by it in the slightest, but you may end up hurting yourself if you get behind (but who am I to say that?). I know that life gets busy and that things will always come up, but the truth is, if we care about something we make the time for it. Just for this month, make the time for something that you truly care about. On December first you can go back to your normal routine however I’d like for you to give this a shot and put forth an effort that rivals the way you work towards your financial goals, towards your relationship, and towards your future.

All forms of writing are accepted. I know that some of you are songwriters, many are poets, some are journalist and others have amazing blogs; so I will allow all forms to be used because words are words no matter how they are put together. I would encourage you all to try your hand at a new form of writing (at least once) and see how that works, this is a safe place for experimentation and error making. Another objective that I would like to implement is a goal/reward system. When the sixth day hits and you submit, post, or share your work, I want you to treat yourself to something. It can be as small as a candy bar, or a new car (which I’d recommend against). Learn to set goals and upon reaching them, relish in the moment, and after the moment is gone begin working towards the next. The other and most important objective is to create a community (at least for this month). I want for each of the participants to meet, interact, and share their stories with each other; this is more than just a solo event. When you watch birds migrate from north to south, we never notice the solitary flyer; it’s the arrow-shape that catches our eye, as we watch them move forward together to their goal. I’m tired of flying alone, and I hope you are too, so we can all learn to fly together. With this community I want us to practice, to some degree, accountability. On the sixth day, we will briefly discuss our topics, why we chose them and then express what we aim to seek in the upcoming week. This is more than a network; this is a body of unique cells, each with their own strengths and weaknesses (that can be improved upon).

The Topics

  1. The Self
    1. Write about the person who you catch staring at you in the mirror, who’s voice you constantly hear but never witness, who asks you questions that you can’t answer before bed. You can go deeply personal and fight your demons, or you can just write about how fat your cheeks get when you eat too much chocolate. We start with the self, because that is the most important person.
  2. The World
    1. It is the words of the writers that people will read when they want to know about this time period. Take something from this world and discuss it. It can be the election, current events, the canceling of vine or even the daily weather. This section is devoted to something that would be newsworthy.
  3. The Element
    1. Our world does not just consist of people, there are an infinite number of elements that affect our daily lives. Take one of them and describe it. Maybe you find yourself gazing at stars when the moon is absent, maybe it’s time and it’s tight grip on our lives, or maybe you enjoy chasing sunsets on your bicycle (lol me). Write about the thing that would never be able to write about you.
  4. The Other
    1. There is a me, which means there is a you. What is that you to you? Take one of these and discover them. Write about someone else. It could be your highschool ex who left you for college, a patient you once visited in the hospital, or it could be the homeless man you gave change to on the subway. Use this to share your raw feelings about another.
  5. The Unfamiliar
    1. What do you not know? What question plagues your head on the regular basis, why not tackle that here? Take this and dive into the unknown. Write about something that you have little to no knowledge about. What’s life like as a Syrian refugee, where did the legend of vampires come from or what was it like to be a chef in an Egyptian palace during the reign of Cleopatra? This is your chance to test your minds ability to compute something that it never would normally.

The Conclusion

Boy this is going to be exciting (if it all comes together).  We’re going to have a grand adventure with each other as we all embark on this writing journey. I hope your hand is currently itching to dive into this “assignments.” I am going to extend my blog, The Nuclear Cottage, to each and every one of you. A cottage is a place that travelers can come find comfort while away from their home without having to actually settle down, I want this page to be that for each of you. With your permission, I’d share your work and give you an opportunity to discuss a particular piece that you chose to broadcast. You can share all of them with me, or only one, but I hope that you share. I’d like to close this out with a quote from Ai Weiwei one of my favorite Artivists (another quirky word). He stated that “your actions create your world.” Take a second and think about this simple quote, what kind of world do you want to live in? Do you want it to be surrounded by materialistic trinkets that have no true value, or do you want it to full of thoughts that you turned into actions in the form of words. Whatever your answer to that may be, I want to at least help you create your world, which is why I am doing this. For me, I want my world to be one where my imagination and reality are one, and the word “impossible” is removed from my vocabulary. In order to create such a world, I must take the necessary actions that will inevitably create that world. In closing, let’s work together to help one another to create each other’s world, a world where words are never-ending and  dreams are eternal.


“Will I Ever Become an Artist?” 

When I travel (which is becoming more frequent), I spend majority of my time journaling and documenting my experiences. Once I’ve amassed enough trips and stories, I plan to publish them in some form or fashion. But here’s an idea of what goes on in my head while I’m in “nomad mode”.  This post is an excerpt from my trip to Atlanta this past September. 

Once again I’m on the road with a feeling burning in my soul. I have come to accept that this is what we call “passion”. It flares from the depths like a waking furnace ready to provide heat. This passion strikes me in the most unconventional ways, whether it’s in the subjects from my pictures, the words being inscribed in notebooks, or the phrases shared in conversations. This time it was words, certain targets that I seem to cling to when uttered. Authenticity, originality, creation, perseverance, determination, and most of all art. The elusive dream sought by all souls on this earth. We seek it, it seeks us as if we play a childhood game. We skirt around the idea, afraid that if we touch it or place the label upon ourself that it will disintegrate like the decaying leaf in fall. Why do we fear such a word?
Is it because we are incapable of understanding it’s meaning? Or do we believe that we are unable to call ourselves an artist without first creating art? Then the question expands, what shall we define as art! And most importantly, who’s definition of art is considered right? The concept and answer may lie in the individual. Some, as myself, will not take the title because they view art as a grand creation that required tireless hours and the handling of caustic emotions. Other believe that it is simply anything that is created by the hands of a man or woman who has passion in their heart? Although I am only a novice, adolescent at best, I have begun to ask the question that every aspiring artist must ask. Will I ever become an artist? I think if this question is asked and an answer cannot be found, then they must keep asking at each opportunity. The answer will come when the persistence of the producer matches up with the passion of the product. If your work has inside of it, a piece of you or your soul and another is capable of interpreting that at the most basic level, then you have created art. I do not need the viewer of my photographs to know why I took the picture, I must give the viewer the chance to ask that question and come up with their own answer. To be an artist means you must leave room for your viewer to create an idea in relation to the work you have created. It is a symbiotic relationship that must exist in order to reach the true purpose of art. If one is capable of doing such a thing, and consistently, then they have the right to call themselves an artist. As an Adolescent Artivist, I believe myself capable of producing such work; however I must improve upon the consistency. In an ideal scenario I’d want all of my works to entice a viewer, but now I am only able to have certain works fulfil that task. It takes persistence, an artist is not born overnight. He does not abide to the rules of time yet a single work does not denote an artist. The soul must toil, both internally and externally, hoping to find a balance between the order of their mind and the chaos of their heart. Our soul is the mediator between the two, and the spirit is God’s way of caring for the soul, because it is constantly drained trying to appease both elements. Once the soul has uncovered the secret to balance, and this is contingent upon the individual, it may now transmit its understandings into the body. The body will then utilize its power in relation to the physical world to create a work. This work is the sum total of the soul, spirit, heart, mind and body. If a work is able to withold all five qualities, in any degree, then surely it must have the power to generate an effect in someone else. The viewer will question the motives, the meaning, the concept and the technique; each will be answered by the different part of his existence. So to answer the universal question, will I ever be an artist, I smile gladly to the sky, with the soft raindrops kissing my eyelids and say “I am becoming one, everyday”.

Destination Detroit

It’s a slow sunrise this morning, lots of clouds hanging in the sky. There are breaks in the curves, not enough to brighten the day yet, but a break nonetheless. It’s fitting really, the morning resembling the quiet drag of a cigarette. Wisps of smoke floating between fire and packed earth. We don’t watch the night disappear enough, it’s a serene moment. The twilight is being playfully chased away by the waking day. Slowly the colors begin to appear, blending with the hazy canvas. My eyes are so used to the shades of the sunrise that my irises have adopted their palette. No matter because it still takes some time for eyes to adjust to the light, no matter how many times I’ve gazed upon the stars. I will miss this night, for it is one that I have watched grow from a speck against the horizon. Nurturing it with words as we discover how similar we truly are. Our lives existing on a cycle, however, one day mine will end. I used to be afraid of such things, and I still am, but the fear isn’t paralyzing. Instead it pushes me, forces me to seek a fulfillment that I was unable to find elsewhere. Hmm. I hear the divine paint whispering, it sounds like fresh coffee, revving engines and newborn raindrops ready to escape from the grey clouds. It all hangs in the balance. Just as day has learned to offer the sky, so too must we learn to share this space given to us by God.

Always Returning

This is it. Standing in the airport, watching them all go. As do I, back home. With new ideas, and ink. New York was proof, that the person I’m becoming is not only tolerated, but welcomed by the world. And by myself.

To operate in a space freely, using my camera to do what? To show that God is everywhere. There’s work to be done, so much work. Each day needs to be used to the fullest. Don’t forget what you have learned here:

Continue reading Always Returning