“I Seek Comfort in Rejection”

Photo by Michael Competielle

Normalcy and normal people bore me. I’ll glaze over during monotonous dribble of conversation as people will often tell me the things they are going to do. I’ll yawn and think about pairing my socks. Actually, I don’t even pair my socks as that’s boring too. My latest quest would be to own 10 pairs of unique socks that I care to wear as the mood strikes me and certainly easy to pair.

I can generally entertain conversations based on what people have done if they’ve actually done something. Ironically most people haven’t done anything. Sold a bill of goods by mass marketing and propaganda I find many people are living a life curated by their parents, who were curated by their parents who were curated by… nobody cares.

Shallow existences hidden behind suburban homes with white pickets fences (do people still put up picket fences or do they now hide behind privacy fences.) Boring cookie-cutter homes built conveniently close to cookiecutter shopping. The same boring place, town after town, state after state.

Excessive consumerism has modeled a fallacious facade hidden behind limited choices and repetition of the same old same old. I can hardly walk through a mall or big box store without becoming bored and disengaged. The same crap lining the shelves regardless of the corporate brand. Safe, secure and I’d assume maximized profits.

Critics no longer are critics and reviewers no longer reviewers. Seemingly just puppets marching in step behind the next payday. I never really feel th sincerity of the review. Lacking passion and conviction.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot more, which in turn has inspired my writing. It pains me as I follow certain writers, having found a lucrative payday and stick to a lane we know isn’t actually real. A path I refuse to take I’ll write based on my current mood, reread briefly and hit publish.

Metrics and metering mean nothing and general acceptance possibly less. My charge comes from my volumes of work based purely on self-expression. I create mostly for myself and therefore mainstream acceptance isn’t required nor desired.

I’ve never fit in anywhere, always the odd duck with nicknames like Weird Mike. Kept at arms length for fear my oddities might be contagious.

I feel warm and complete in the outside world, surrounded by the outsiders. The artists, poets, and painters. Those that take risks, the ones who say fuck it. The ones who sit alone on a bus praying no-one takes the seat next to them. Mortally in fear of the pressure of small talk.

I seek pleasure in the eccentric, the independent, the extreme.

My favorite music, films, and art are often viewed as avant-garde, experimental and unique. All of which have multitudes of layers only discovered after continuous revisiting and review.

“I think it’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations. If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting”. David Bowie

Daily I write and for the most part daily I’m rejected. I’m uncertain if what I write is pure slop or am I unearthing another unique version of me. What I can say with all certainty is for the few that get it, that reward is immense.

Stopping Time by Living in the Moment

Photo by Michael Competielle

The Quest

One summer my wife and I decided to take an extended weekend trip to the Town of Woodstock in Upstate New York. We had only a few sites we felt we needed to see and without real plans, we decided mostly wanted to connect with the stunning mountains while looking to relax and relieve some stress.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Heading upstate we stopped at Storm King for the Buddhist inspired Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition exhibit of hammered copper sculptures placed throughout the cleared grassy fields which then inspired our weekend of searching for enlightenment.

After arriving at our resort, we headed into Woodstock so become familiar with our new surroundings and plan our next few days excursions. The plan for the following morning was to hike to the top of the Overlook Mountain range.

The Adventure

Waking up early we stopped for breakfast before heading towards the trailhead. We had a hardy breakfast of Catskill Coffee, eggs with toast and tomato. Fueled for the hike we drove the last few miles to the trail base.

As we parked we happened to see the most serene Tibetan Buddhist Temple we had ever seen. With visiting hours starting in the early afternoon we had a goal to reach the mountain summit, meditate and then head back down to visit the monastery.

The trail was relatively clear with a steady incline. We set a good pace and climbed towards the summit. Midway up the mountain range was the abandoned stone skeletal remains of the Overlook Hotel. We explored the ruins, refueled and continued our climb.

The Goal

In the distance, we saw the landmark Catskill fire tower and knew we were close. As we walked into a final clearing we reached the Overlook. A rock outcropping that runs east to west that overlooks the Hudson River Valley below.

Photo by Michael Competielle

The two-hour uphill hike was vigorous yet calming and upon reaching the Overlook and seeing the beauty of the Hudson Valley was worth the effort. We sat on a huge rock outcropping and stared down into the Hudson Valley. Everything looked so small and peaceful as we felt like giants. After a few moments of rest and some photographs we decided it was time to head back down the trail, anxious to make it on time to the Monastery.

We began our descent with a bit more speed as gravity and familiarity were on our side the effort required was minimal. We talked about our love for nature, and our feeling of accomplishment and we reached the bottom of the trail.

The Reward

Photo by Michael Competielle

As we headed over to the sacred Tibetan Monastery we were immediately silenced by the prayer flags dancing in the slow mountain breeze. We passed the King of Mantras Auspicious Gateway and headed up a path towards the buildings as we saw Monks walking away from the Monastery heading to go have their afternoon lunch. It was perfect timing as the grounds were then open to visitors such as ourselves.

Our tour guide was a Woodstock resident for many years, an artist songwriter that volunteered as often as she could. Here volunteering offered her to not only help in the gift shop or provide tours but it also allowed her the ability to sneak into the temple for meditative mantras.

New Learnings

Our guide explained to us the history of Tibetan Buddhism and the basic teaching. She then began to explain how the Holiness 16th Karmapa had found and blessed the sacred land here in Woodstock for the building of the first Karma Kagyu monastery in the United States.

We learned of the years it took to build the Monastery and grounds, of famous visitors and about The Dalai Lama’s teaching in the Monastery.

Photo by Michael Competielle

I was glazed over at the wealth of information our guide had bestowed on us that day however one I’ll never forget was to live in the moment. As we entered the Main Shrine-room we had to remove our shoes and take a seat on a prayer cushion left behind by the monks who had just left the shrine. She guided us on how to assume a lotus position and some basic principles of meditation and prayer.

We were taught about Sutras and Mantras and quests for enlightenment. Various practices and rituals Monks and partitioners would partake of during retreat and teachings.

She continued the tour showing us the Courtyard, Meditation Platforms, Shrine rooms and we exited into the gift shop. Feeling mentally cleansed and emotionally connected I purchased my first set of Tibetan Mala Prayer Beads.


As we said our goodbyes and left a small donation to our guide and the Monastery we left the grounds purified and enriched. Our visit was a springboard of research and selfhelp as I work daily to stay in the moment cherishing each experience. My attention to detail and recognition of my local surroundings has increased exponentially and my love for the earth and her creatures lives on.

Your Writing Sucks

Why I Send Myself Hatemail

Photo by Michael Competielle

I’m not a writer but more of a storyteller. My style is based on my actual feeling and emotions and on my interpretation of the truth. For the most part, I’m writing how I speak and more realistically it’s how I think. I use the words love and hate often interchangeably based on my current mood and situation. The reality of the matter is I’m creative and therefore I take risks.

Creative People Traits

  1. easily bored
  2. risk takers
  3. color outside the lines
  4. think with their hearts
  5. make lots of mistakes
  6. hate the rules
  7. work independently
  8. change their mind alot
  9. have a reputation for being eccentric
  10. dream BIG

stolen from somewhere.

You never really know what version of me you’re going to get. My current thoughts and mood are plagued by my current emotions. I put passion into most everything I do and I’ll visualize myself doing things prior to making an attempt. If I can’t see myself doing something, generally I know I won’t partake.

Daily I try new things and need to find inspiration to get myself on board with my new experiences. I’ll try new things having visualized the outcome and honestly, it often doesn’t work. Many people wouldn’t notice or even care however my minds eye knows when I’ve gone astray.

Plenty of my creative endeavors have been pure trash, thrown by the wayside and discarded. My embarrassment and self-judgment often pollute my flow and produce feelings of anger and sadness.

The rules I follow are my heart and my gut instinct, the only emotions I know I can truly trust. Sounds can be lies, tastes can be poisoned and sights can be a mirage and only your inner voice will guide you to the truth.

I have a pure distaste for rules and restrictions. Asking my confidant, my minds eye if we can break them my inner voice always says absolutely.

Ironically for someone who doesn’t generally follow the rules, I have a lot of personal rules and you know what… I break those too.

The rule of thirds.

Ok, so I’m a Libra, which means I’m a scale and all about balance. Call it the rule of thirds such as hot, warm, cold or red, purple, blue. My favorite color is purple, I like my drinks warm or room temperature or evenly balanced. This is a basic guideline I generally don’t break and helps in my decision-making process.

I’m a Vegan based on three distinct different reasons, empathy to animals, environmental concerns and lastly diet. Politically I lean towards being a Progressive or Independent since I don’t fully align to the Left or the Right.

I like my day broken up into one-third work, one-third play and one-third rest. As much of my work is play and my play often work, my rest can get clouded with the other two thirds. Not a horrible situation to be in except when I’m questioning my abilities rest can become work.

Functioning as a sine wave I have my ups and downs. Deadlines and complexities are equalized by positive yardage and motion. As I envision the finish line and keep my mind’s eye on the prize I’ll internally battle the emotions and push myself towards completion. Sometimes the completion of a project, design or article yields a joyous feeling however just as frequently I land into a world of self-doubt and anticlimactic disgust.

Kind words and acceptance from others does not always work to convince the only actual quality I can trust which is my gut instincts.

As I may be self-deprecating and question my abilities and recognize my shortcoming what I don’t lack is confidence. Instinctually and with utmost confidence I can make decisions and continue to trudge forward. I can take criticism at face value and analyze the data to determine if I’m off the rails and need adjustment.

Photo by Buddha Joe

Honestly, I’m Living the Dream as I daily have the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone to try new experiences and my new mistakes. Somewhere between my two happy places which are the mountains and the beach is the equalized me. Writing, photographing, recording and creating. I’m my own harshest critic who aggressively doubting my abilities and qualifications. But the power of being creative I can recognize my shortcomings and push myself through my self-doubt and make myself proud.


Zen and the Art of Lasts

Appreciate life experiences as if it’s your last

Photo by Michael Competielle

Sitting helplessly in a electric chair I watched my fathers motor skills diminish rapidly. A former draftsman, artist and entrepreneur with perfect penmanship, he struggled to hold a pen to write the word hello.

His Multiple System Atrophy was affecting what little was left of his physical being. Trapped inside his sunken body was his mind, still detailed and sharp like a tack.

Months earlier I questioned him on why he was giving up, not writing his memoirs, explaining his life. He had gotten to a point where he had given up the fight.

We had collectively made decisions as a family on his future care and how he wanted to live out what weeks or days he had left. Forced to eating through a feeding tube, stuck in an electric chair, cherrypicked into his bed he refused to live out his days in a hospital. He wanted to stay home surrounded by his belonging.

An avid book reader, he had a massive library of leather bound literature, fine furnishings and artwork, all material possessions he believed completed him. I made my most noble attempt to teach him mindfulness and practice however he only saw the pain of his decline and his last few years he missed the moments.

Recently I was talking to a best friend of mine about the situation. He’s currently going through a similar scenario with his beloved sister. My only advice is to live in the moment and treat every experience as if it were your last.

Stepping out of the plane in a foreign place, embrace the experience. What does the air smell like, Listen to the sounds. Walking along city streets recognize the people, their expressions, the vibe.

Stepping out onto that amazing beach, listen to the surf, smell the salty air and watch that stunning sunset as if you’ll never see another again.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Always one to be in a rush my mother and my wife would yell at me to chew my food, taste it and enjoy it. They are correct, one day you won’t be able to chew or eat certain foods, and you’ll wish that you could eat a steak just one last time. But what if this next time your eating that steak you take your time? You slowly chew and taste the flavors, the texture and add that experience to your memory banks. When you next are asked about your favorite meal, you’ll remember it in vibrant detail which you could describe.

When I travel now I no longer plan specific details, just going with the flow of the journey. Weather doesn’t change my plans as rain, wind or even hurricanes can be a once in a lifetime experience. Instead I embrace the uniqueness of the scenario and program each detail into my memory banks. I’ll use most or all of my senses to log the event.

The last day I saw my father alive, we both knew it. We often struggled in our relationship to express to each other how we felt, however I saw it in his eyes. As I left and headed to the airport I told my wife with absolute certainty that was the last time we would see him alive. Unfortunately I was right.

The irony of this is I’m complacent with how it ended. We were in our own terms, and shared our last moment. Not a day goes by I don’t think of my father, often not in the best regards and often with bitterness.

What if he had listened to me by embracing those last years of his life present and in the moment.

All experiences good or bad are experiences. We choose what details and emotion we extract from a given moment. By focusing on the positive details and embracing those who share them with us, your last’s will be your bests.

I’m writing daily to chronicle my thoughts, perspective and interests. Daily I challenge myself to do more than the day before. I’ll someday leave behind a long legacy of myself, uncertain if it’ll matter to anyone besides myself. One day I’ll return to my projects, writings, photos, films and life to recollect myself.

My mind won’t stay sharp forever and so therefore I’ll need to document my last’s as I feel I’ll have many. Daily I look at the details in everything I see and touch and often wonder why I never noticed them before. The life cycle of a flower, the growth of the baby fawn, the sounds of a summer rain.

My quests for quiet places is for self reflection and immersion, determined to not follow in my fathers footsteps missing out on the last years of his life.

I’m present, in the moment and spontaneous. I don’t generally make plans for the future as future is unknown and not predetermined. I’d rather stay right here, in this moment and hope it never ends. Cataloging every detail as if it’s the last.

Michael Competielle


The Power of No…Setting Your Own Boundaries

Photo by Michael Competielle

One of the first words I learned as a child was the word No. I know my parents and elders felt my use of the word was the last great act of defiance however I was clearly setting my boundaries.

Having a firm understanding of where our boundaries are helps us to set the rules of which we personally live by. Rules are made to be broken and therefore if you have a open mind and are willing to understand other’s perspective you may decide to modify your rules.

I’ve overcome some of my own obstacles I’ve encountered simply by saying “no”.

On two separate occasions I quit smoking cigarettes. The first attempt at quitting I tried the nicotine patch, gum and finally settled on sweets and then salts. I’d devour entire bags of chips, cookies just about anything in an attempt to not smoke. It worked for slightly more than two years and then one stressful afternoon I said “ fuck it give me a cigarette” to my friend Billi and there I was back to smoking two packs a day.

The second time I quit I used a different tactic, I simply said “no”. No I don’t smoke anymore. Going on over ten years now since I last smoked I occasionally still miss it however it’s just something I no longer do, Simply by just saying “No”.

Better than a year ago I decided to become a Vegan. Dividing my reasoning into thirds my decision is one third environmental, one third diet and one third empathy to animals. How did I do it? How did I give up cheese, burgers and bacon.

I said “no”.

Watching documentaries on Netflix I’ve become aware of the environmental impacts of large scale factory farming and the lack of sustainability. These same documentaries showcase the quality of life the animals are accustomed to or in reality horrifying conditions. I’ve learned about the health issues associated with eating an animal based diet and finally decided…. You guessed it. To just say No.

By setting my own boundaries and having a firm understanding of what things I refuse to do, decisions have become simple. No I don’t want a cigarette, no I don’t want to take drugs, no I don’t want a beef burrito. And why? I have boundaries…. Invisible rules that I’ve created and follow.

  • I don’t pour concrete on Mondays
  • I don’t rewire Alarm Systems on Fridays
  • I don’t plan my weekends ahead of time
  • I don’t grocery shop for a week
  • I don’t cheat on my diet because I’m on vacation

The list goes on and on. By clearly setting my own rules by saying no, it’s become easier to do concentrate fully on the situations where I don’t say no. Yes I like to teach people to think, create and find themselves. I like to help people design things, their businesses, spaces, mind and their future.

My abilities to say no is not me being argumentative, I’m being demonstrative as I set my own rules and boundaries.

Tomorrow I make break or modify my own rules based on new understandings or information. I’m always open to re-evaluate and examine life and it’s challenges and attempt to overcome the struggles.

With complete confidence and certainty I’m capable of making large amounts of decisions with a limited amount of thought or contemplating as I’ve already preplanned the basic rules and guidelines of which I follow.

The opposite of “No” is “Yes” and the secret of getting to “yes” is the ability to say no quickly and easily saying no to the things you know will not work.

I can maintain my boundaries in just about any situation simply by saying “no” as I examine my options. My favorite thing to do is say yes. Getting there isn’t always easy however when I do it’s guaranteed to be the right decision and my best decision.