Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

We celebrate a day of giving thanks once a year. Less than 24 hours later we're out fighting for more. Developed countries have developed a disease - currency exchanged for goods without reciprocity. Accountability is gone for these products on the shelves - just keep accounting in the black, pretend the shit comes from friendly elves. Corporations are proxies keeping our consciences clean from the disenfranchised little hands assembling our things.

Its a superfluous celebration but it fits our society - we celebrate excess through all the crap we are buying. More shit than we need - more than most have in a lifetime we go crazy over sales while impoverished are dying. People stampede like they're running for their lives but their lives are what they're running from through the shit they buy. In other parts of the world when they stand in line, it's for clean water so their families can survive - another day but without another dollar they strugle as we take for granted all we have been offered. 

Settlers took this land through disease and gun - oppressing, massacring, making natives run. Indians cried for the land we disrespected - the white man's way of life based off an entitled perspective. History was flipped 90 degrees, culled of the evil making heroes of thieves. A celebration is invented twisting a legacy of bloodshed into thanks to God for his divine protection. 

You shit on your thanks when before the turkey is digested, you trample old women to buy cheap presents. Fuck Walmart, Bestbuy, retailers in general and for Christmas this year continue being thankful. Black friday is a blight on this time of year a magnifying glass making what's inside us clear. Analyze your desires, some of it's poison cause you don't deserve shit and you're so fucking fortunate. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Know Thy Craft

Gone are the days of apprenticing and mastering a skill. Now if you have even half a skill set you can be successful, at the expense of making the people you work with miserable. It's the walmart mentality applied to everything. I was in a 5 million dollar house last week and easily noticed shoddy construction briefly glancing around. It's not much different in the arts.  Any asshole with a digital video camera thinks they are a director or DP without having the requisite knowledge to actually do the job proficiently. Unfortunately technology allows users to not have to think, learn or retain information. 

I've met several people recently who are new to my field and they know nothing which would be understandable except for one thing - the internet. There is so much conyent you can find on topics in most any field that knowing nothing nowadays is inexcusable. Where is the curosity in people? The more you know, the more tools you have. Ask questions about everything - questions are free. Don't succumb to being a cheap item that barely gets the job done. Our world needs excellence from everyone not just a few. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

No Country for Honest Men

*This was precipitated by some family coming to visit my ex and kids. They ended up going to visit my ex's parents as well which I found odd. By no means is this meant to be whining. Only an attempt to make something creative out of current events.*

Times have changed - in actuality it's me, that morphed into something new wanting to be free. I have a family by blood, but backed away desiring something more. A blind man doesn't need to see to understand he's sight poor.

Never escaping the desire, hunting - like an addict for drugs - I thought I found a family through marriage but it was a prison cell of "love". Self discovery comes in layers and slowly you grow but the more you become honest the less you fit inside their homes.

28 years from birth the reality struck - life isn't black and white but a kaleidoscope being shaken up. I watched the shapes change admiring the beauty - broken pieces of glass colliding, my imperfect perfection revealing.

My son asked me today why my eyes look sad. Didn't know it was so obvious - I hate him seeing that in his dad. I miss the one person who makes me feel at home - my country without borders, love's piece de resistance. I don't think I'll be complete till I have her in my arms or learn accept being a lonely honest man.

People from my past life mingle like nothing has changed. I'm on the outside looking in as blood and exes communicate. I've got no corner to back, no posse or gang. I'm a man without a country like Snowden or Assange - I don't want fucking assylum I want a place where I belong. A home for honest men not an island all alone.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Necessary Evil

I saw a bumper sticker today that said "government isn't the solution - it's the problem". Our government isn't perfect but I don't believe there is a perfect solution. Give one person the supreme power or have a ruling class, there will be many disenfranchised. Allow everyone an equal say and eventually the majority, which eventually will be overwhelmingly lazy, will drag the whole system down.

I'm not an voracious reader of history but I do know that all governments fail eventually. I believe the success of the American system was due to the fact that the majority of her early citizens held a belief in hard work and self sufficiency - that and unfortunately many had no qualms building wealth on the backs of slaves. We have come to a point in America where the majority want an easy life such that comforts are practically handed to them. Unfortunately these benefits can be voted in by the majority in a democratic system and our benevolent monster is beginning to eat it's own tail.

People not government are what is wrong with America. Government is a meter of what we the people are willing to allow. Unless there is some collective tightening up soon we'll be headed down a hill at such speed that the momentum will making turning around impossible.

3xhausted

This week only had 3 intense days of work but they felt like a month (or the first cicle of hell). My new position at work he kept me busy almost non stop for all of the 13+ hour days not to mention being nearly perpetually on edge. I accidentally coined a new term when trying to describe through text how tired I was - 3xhausted. I figure it means you are extra tired to the point of your eyes feeling like they are going to fall out of their sockets. You all can use it too free of charge. Maybe it will catch on and I can use it as an icebreaker. "Yeah, that 3xhausted thing, I invented that". Totally wouldn't alienate people.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Burning My Face on the Stove

Today was my second day in a new position at work and this morning I was immediately thrown into the lions den. I was given the opportunity to attempt two complicated procedures both of which I failed at spectacularly. It's bad enough that I know I screwed up but when someone says "this is never going to happen" with the implication being "this guy sucks", it takes it to a whole different level of "I fucked up". My face started burning partially from being embarassed but also because I was pissed of with myself for not getting it.

Sometimes you have to touch the stove to learn a lesson. If your parents were cool they said "you learned something right?" and didn't freak out about your mistake. Thankfully I had a few of those people around me today and 7 hours later don't need a shiatsu massage anymore. You can't expect to do everything perfectly the first time and accruing a few burns while learning is part of the process. Eventually, even though the heat doesn't lower, you learn to navigate through it unscathed....or so I hear.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Canning Currency

A friend sent a link to me this morning about Mark Boyle, a guy who has lived without money for 7 years. He is my new hero - a legit status quo fugitive (and Irish to boot). His major premise is that many of our world's problems are due to currency allowing us to be disconnected from the impact of what we purchase and the damage it exacts on the environment and humanity. His lifestyle and mentality are right in line with my beliefs however I'm conflicted due to my occupation.

I love many things about my job: it is not the standard 9-5, we are a close knit community and many of us care about the environment and social issues. The one drawback is that there is a lot of materialism and grandeur tied to this business. We are providing a drug for the rat racers to numb themselves with which is the antithesis of what I believe.

The concept of living without money seems unconscionable but as with most things in life, almost anyone could do it if they really wanted to. What holds us back are fear and lack of introspective honesty. I've worked hard to get where I am and I'm not quite ready to give it up. Anything I've wanted to do, after pussy footing around for a bit, I just dove in. What's the worst that happens, you die trying? Shit, you're probably miserable already so how much worse could failing be? At the moment I can't live without money due to child support for the next 18 years but I can still live with a simpler mindset and use my money to attempt to affect change in the consciousness of western humanity. My hat is off to you Mark and I hope I can meet you some day and buy a pint for you.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Black the Fuck Up

A small amount of consideration was paid toward censoring the title as Black the F*ck Up but figured that if you're not offended by the * and are offended by the U being there, then you probably don't need to read my blog.

I am aware that this is the wrong part of the year to be talking about Black History month but it was on my mind the other day after I saw all the stages at a certain studio named after black actors. A lot of people would complain "white people couldn't do that. Like they get a whole month. Why do they get a whole month specifically designated for them?" Slavery was only outlawed 150 years ago in America and probably only in the last 20 years were black americans treated anywhere close to white americans. I think considering those facts where we are with race relations in America is remarkable. I don’t think it's some calculated attempt to get back at white America but just an effort to overcome the severe oppression their ancestors faced. Eventually there will hopefully be no differences related to skin color but time is needed to heal. Lil Wayne even said in one of his songs "fuck Jesse Jackson because it ain't about race now". All you people that are freaked out and insecure about your own identity - black the fuck up and get a life.

For all you people with white guilt, lose it. Guilt is a twisted antonym for empathy. I feel about as much responsibility for slavery in America as I do for the extinction of the dinosaurs but I do care a lot. What the world needs is empathy for all the downtrodden not targeted attemps at pacifying guilt.

Parental Approval Rating

Earlier today when I snapped the photo in this post, I received several compliments on it. On my way "home" for the evening I was thinking about how I should call my mother and then send the picture to her. It's ridiculous because I know what the response would be and it's not going to be what I hope for. I thought I was beyond the point of caring what my parents thought but maybe we never outgrow that desire. Maybe we are trapped in a prison wrapped in razor wire where it seems that the more you try to get out, the more you bleed but eventually you can break free....a psychologist would have a field day with this photo. 

Starbucks Rage

Trying to make a Starbucks run for work nearly set me off this morning. I pulled into the packed parking lot and waited for a spot that was about to open up. As soon as it does, some woman in a mini van also backs out blocking me from pulling in. Meanwhile a Nissan Z3000 something or other pulls into my spot. I say screw it and go to park on a side street only to have someone pull up right behind me making parallel parking impossible. Then I got all turned around on the asinine streets of Atlanta. Many profanities later I found a spot about a quarter mile away and said fuck it and parked. Starbucks as an establishment makes me nauseous but also stresses me out. I don't know these ridiculous drinks everyone wants and I'm afraid I'll come back with screwed up, over priced liquid so being in line just further aggravated my condition. If this was real life GTA and my mission was to kill as many hipsters as possible, I hit the jackpot in Little Five Points. I'd like to think I'd get a bonus if I choked them all with their scarves. 

As I waited for the order to be filled I relaxed and thought "if this is the hardest thing I have to do all day then I'm pretty spoiled". There are some cities that are super cool but only if you forgo driving. Maybe that should be a new law -  make it illegal to drive in major cities. But if you make cars illegal, then only assholes will have cars or something like that. The good news is I got over my little tantrum without having to have someone kick my ass and I had a fairly tasty peppermint hot chocolate. For everyone's saftey please keep crowded parking lots, hipsters and Starbucks out of my way. 

#Kindness - It's Trending

I seem to see more and more upworthy.com videos being posted around Facebook lately. Some I watch but some I don't I guess out of a kind of counterculture rebelliousness. Call me a pessimist but I highly doubt that most people alter their behaviour after watching a video. A few tears may be shed and warm feelings kindled but change is not affected. The term "sheeple" was coined because most people succumb to whatever peer pressure is around them at the moment. Very few have original thoughts in their heads or if they do, the chutzpah to follow through.

Am I happy that there seems to be a trend towards kindness and lifting up our downtrodden fellow man? Yes, but I'm also concerned that it's just that, a trend that may change as quickly as popular opinion for a president does. Please don't do something good because it's cool say to go to Africa and help orphans, do it because it's the right thing to do. Your behavior should be the same even if you and the person you are helping were the only two humans left on earth.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Universe Made Me Do It

With Thanksgiving upon us many people are taking the season as an obligatory chance to be grateful for things on Facebook. It's a good exercise but there's one thing that I find supremely irritating - people thanking the universe. Let me preface my rant with the following *I'm sorry if you are one of the people I am lambasting. I don't mean to hurt you, these are just my opinions and are probably just as full of bullshit as the next guy's.*

My problem with thanking the universe is that it's extremely nebulous. Basically you want to feel like a benevolent entity more powerful than yourself is looking out for you. You don't however want to anthropomorphise it lest you feel beholden to rules or instruction that a definitive being would have. Sure there is a basic belief in Karma that goes along with the universe blessing you but you can find the "do unto others" mantra in most belief systems.

Why does this matter to me? I don't care if you worship a god or not but I find it irritating for people to believe something just because it makes them feel good. It's not my job to burst people's fantasies but then again, this is a blog where I can say what I want and no one is forcing you to read it. There are two kinds of people in the world of faith - those who believe and those who know. I believe that if I went to space without an oxygen tank, I wouldn't be able to breathe because I've been told so by reputable scientists. However, I know that I cannot breathe under water because I've tried it and have experienced that it doesn't work. We can't test everything out for ourselves or no one would make it past the age of about 4 but belief can be a very dangerous thing if not tempered with a good bit of "I could be wrong" and "let me think about this logically".

If you are following a system that controls virtually your entire life then you should know not just believe. I think that's why the Universe ploy bothers me so much - it's dipping your toe into the world of faith just enough to get a good feeling but with no commitment or conviction. Drugs give good feelings but they are a tough thing to shake and beliefs aren't much different. I will laugh if I ever hear someone do something bad and says "the universe made me do it".

Friday, November 15, 2013

Inner Peace - SKUDOOSH!

When this week is all said and done, I'll have worked about 75 hours in the freezing cold, rain and on little sleep. I bring that up not to complain but to point out that I am exhausted and a bit down. Everyone sees the world differently filtering it through their previous experiences, establishing their "truth". It may seem true for them and even be situationaly a fact, but ultimately is not the truth. For example (let's go super emo) someone might say "no one cares about me, or wants me. I'm just going to be pushed away again." While that individual may have some legitimately bad experiences with rejection in their past, that doesn't mean it's always going to be that way but it probably will if they hold on to their pattern of thinking. Situations are facts - not the truth (unless you allow them to continue as a cycle in your life.)

I've finally learned to not take myself too seriously when I'm really tired or under stress etc because my perception is usually extremely skewed. I got off work a little while ago wet, tired and lonely with the prospect of sleeping in my car tonight kind of depressing. My life is adventerous I suppose but definitely not glamorous and possibly bordering on stupid. However, I am learning to keep my mind more focused and centered. The material things in life don't matter a whole lot but achieving peace in every circumstance is invaluable.

*I feel really sorry for homeless people. They may choose to live that way due to laziness or drugs but they are still tormented humans that need love*

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm Not Apathetic, Just Accepting

I've been noticing that recently I haven't been getting stressed out at much as I used to with work or relationships. After seeing all the inept people that have are working (if you can call it that) and continue to work, I've decided that with my work ethic, if I don't get hired it's probably outside my control. The quality of my work isn't suffering but my level of angst is very low now compared to the last 29 years.

The same goes for the relationships in my life. I may appear uncaring but that's far from true. What is different is that I'm not trying to avoid painful situations anymore; I have accepted that pain is part of life. My relationships will get the best of me that I can give but I've accepted that I'm not perfect and again, some things are outside my control. Pain is inevitable but my heart will heal when it comes and yes, it will leave a scar but if you don't take a few hits now and then you probably aren't living. Bring it Life. I'm not apathetic but I'm ready for your shit just like I've come to grips with paying taxes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

That's Harsh Bro

When most people find out I'm still sleeping in my car with the cold weather they serve up some version of "you're hard core but nuts". Here's a free tip for all you softies - get a skiing jacket for like $60, some blankets and you'll be fine. I've slept outside when it was 14 degrees and woke up well rested sans frostbite using that gear. I probably am capable of putting up with a lot more adverse circumstances than most people due to my childhood. There was the time my brother and I had to shovel the snow off our 900' long driveway, or the time I had to haul 5 gallon buckets of water 200 yards in the Connecticut, October night, or the time I stood there holding a work lamp as my father covered up the decking on the first floor of their house for winter all the while snow is falling and melting on my uninsulated rubber boots. Yeah, those were the days.

Calling back to my earlier post about my daughter playing soccer, it seems like you have to be forced to go through hard shit to be tough. I was listening to a podcast (Radiolab) about Kenyan runners and how scientists have tried to determine the cause of one small village's unprecedented athletic ability. The podcast guests surmised that while there may be some genetic advantages, it's most likely due to the heinous coming of age ritual where they are forced to crawl naked through stinging nettles, are beaten with sticks and circumcised with a pointed stick all the while not flinching less they be cast out. 

A debate still continues in my mind over God vs no god and here's why. I can't completely accept evolution because where did the matter come from first of all but secondly, childhood is one of the worst defects of humanity. So much can fuck you up as a child that you have no control over that you would think somehow we would have evolved to a point beyond that. Maybe we will get to that point or maybe its a stupid argument in the first place however if there is a god then I have to come back to - he's kind of a dick. Who says "I'm going to create beings with feelings and life long memory but with the option of being great hedged by the fact that you have to endure a lot of misery to attain it"? It's nuts right?

I know all suffering doesn't have to be emotionally painful but a good portion of it is. The hardcore believers will probably say that this is all due to the fall but I have a hard time accepting that either because then humans would have a fairly pointless life by everyone being on the same plane. Apparently suffering and the drive to overcome it are what make life interesting. You hear about geniuses killing themselves because they are bored with life so maybe I should "rejoice in my sufferings". That all being said, explain then how Heaven, a place devoid of suffering, will not actually be tormenting. 

I still have no idea how to raise strong "hardcore" adults while minimizing mental anguish but I guess time will tell if I found am alternative. As for the rest of life, fuck it, I'm where I am and I'll think about my existential crisis later. 

*I don't run my car all night or at all during the night : )

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11/12/13

The title of those post is completely irrelevant and unrelated to anything except that it's an interesting date. Dates however, are arbitrary measuring of cycles so I suppose there is a slight connection. Today and Monday have been stupid crazy at work with us setting up all kinds of stuff only to have half of it unused. I still get paid regardless so who cares right? 

I found a sheet in my car Sunday night and thought "how could I use this as a curtain over the back window of my car?" Then I realized "this is the kind of shit I get paid to figure out at work" and promptly grabbed a couple .5" spring clips and affixed the sheet to the plastic trim and voila, extra privacy.

Lastly, I ran 5K at the gym last night after work. Ok truth be told me knees started hurting after about 1.5K at 6.5mph so I slowed down to about 3.5 for a bit and then ran the last like 2.5 at 6mph again. Not super impressive but I hate running so I'm happy with it and hopefully will get better.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Broken Records

*This is for all my friends, current and future, who have gone through lots of shit. I love you guys*

Helplessly watching, completely painfully aware of the torment overtaking people I love so much. There are things that could change to ameliorate days going by but it doesnt change the years of trauma that have inundated their lives. People stand in judgement because of choices my friends make but most decisions come out of the way you were raised. You do the best you know how with the information on hand but some of those WMDs were just a smoke and mirrors sham.

I cry for you, mostly inside but I'm so proud of you for still being alive. I'm so glad you've found the stength to fucking survive but I cry because I know what it's like to want to curl up and die.

I wish I was a doctor who could go in with a knife, surgicially removing they memories like an evil cancerous blight. I'd even do like Ashton if that's what it took and not exisit if my wings lying still would right the wrongs in their books. When I see the pain in someone's eyes even though they've done nothing wrong I want pull out a bazooka or a sawed off - run around like Rambo and kick down some doors, blow up some assholes, show them hell's doors. Cause they've fucked up so much they don't deserve to be alive - like a bug in a zapper they should just fucking fry.

I cry for you, mostly inside but I'm so proud of you for still being alive. I'm so glad you've found the stength to fucking survive but I cry because I know what it's like to want to curl up and die.

As much as bringing justice would satisfy it doesn't erase the grooves their needle has cut into your life. There has to be a way to find a reprieve and I'll keep searching high and low, googling shit hoping for some answers even if there are none like a conspiracy theorist supposed smoking gun. I don't want to change you because I think you're fucked up but I want you to be happy because you're worth so much.

I cry for you, mostly inside but I'm so proud of you for still being alive. I'm so glad you've found the stength to fucking survive but I cry because I know what it's like to want to curl up and die.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Gym Rat

After two months of taking hobo showers I decided that it was getting too cold and too troublesome to find a spigot to connect to. Today I joined a gym. Don't get all excited ladies, I'm not going to get all Dwayne Johnson, that's physically impossible for this guy and more importantly, I'm unavailable. There is a secondary reason for joining the gym though. Despite being skinny my cardio could use a little help since I don't want to winded during potential extracurricular activities.

So as to not make it obvious that I joined the gym because I needed a shower today I ran a mile and a half on the tread mill in "rolling hills" mode. My legs are already thanking me but I smell good and feel refreshed so I'd say I'm winning. I did do a few pull ups and leg lifts (or whatever they're called) so I could feel a little manly.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Low Grit

*I decided to challenge myself and write in a different style today. This is an attempt at spoken word / rap*

A text on my phone said "man we're promoting you." An unprecedented opportunity considering the life I've been living through. Gratefulness and excitement filled me up - fighting tears on the way home as the realization struck - what I thought would never happen is beginning to play out, my life is turning into what I only dreamed about. After long periods of having the shit kicked out of you, a respit comes giving a moment to breathe, emotions you've been holding back,  begin to seep - out through the joints as you let down the guard when no one's around crying in your car.

I don't think that I deserve it because I've tried real hard, or been through tough times many wouldn't survive. When I stopped fighting, pushing, praying, striving - the closer I got to the top of this mountain I'm climbing. Taking credit would be asinine I know my ass out of nine cause I've had it handed to me about a hundred thousand times.

Talked to a guy who's world is changing too, said his life used to ride on square tires locked with a boot. A wake up call he answered, some hard knocks too, now he's rolling like a Bugatti gassed up with jet fuel. I said "when you don't avoid the bumps it rounds that shit out - knocking corners off in little chunks" its a gradual change like some fucked up geometry that changes the plane. When you avoid difficulties they're just displaced - another chance down the road to fall on your face.

I wouldn't go back and change my struggles if I could, just alter my responses served up on the altar of my life. The gods of fate don't give a shit, they'll protract your life indefinite. Slow down, relax, make the best of where you're at but don't let your dreams go they will work out - cause when you head down the rough road eventually it all smooths out.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Neural Weeds and Other Follies

Fall is here and temperatures are dropping which makes sleeping easier but showering more difficult. I haven't worked out what I'm going to do yet but I've considered sticking one of those electrict charcoal lighters in a bucket of water and seeing what happens. I guess I still need electricity for that to work so maybe that needs to be rethought. Everything else is going fairly well except, truth be told, I had a short moment this morning while folding clothes where I really missed my kids and thought "I'm living in a van. What is wrong with me?" It's a good thing my kids aren't here because it reveals that I need to find more strength in myself. They don't need to be my emotional support: that is my job for myself and them. I'm getting my life together so that hopefully I pass on an emotional quotient that will help my kids have better lives than me.

A new habit I'm trying to form is to start and end every day with gratefulness for what I have been blessed with. I also tell myself out loud truths that I have come to accept. Notice I said accept, not believe. You can accept something without believing it because while it may jive with your soul, your previous subconscious thought habits may oppose the truth. I find many times when I'm stressed out it is because all the years of thought patterns have started winding me up with little whispers that I don't recognize until I'm at DEFCON 1. Habits take time to form and to overcome a previous habit you need to be deliberate. My verbal reminders are a refresh button for my brain to knock down the neural weeds that are trying to grow. So far it seems to be helping a lot and hopefully one day soon I will transition from acceptance to belief.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Indelible Waypoints

Before I left the theater yesterday I went to pee (since I don't have a home) and I ran into someone in the bathroom that I hadn't spoken to since July - my former mentor. It was super awkward partially because it was in a bathroom but also because things weren't left on good terms last we spoke. Our falling out was precipitated by me doing something he didn't approve of and was under the impression he had implicitly instructed me not to do. To my knowledge, he never gave me the directive in question after the face to face in July where the fall out happened, I sent an email the next day trying to discuss the situstion. I fully expected at least an email dialogue to hash things out and after no response to the email and one word responses, if any, to several text messages, I let it go.

Following the uncomfortable hello waiting for a urinal to open up we talked outside the theater for a few minutes where he told me that I didn't fight for our relationship enough and if I had valued it, I would have persisted. I politely informed him that I wasn't sure what he expected considering the fact that he hadn't responded to my communiques. He just repeated that you have to fight for what you want leaving me feeling confused and manipulated. We both had a feeling like maybe this "chance" meeting was for a reason but that reason was dubious. He told me that our relationship had been one dimensional because I wasn't open to a lot of the spiritual insights he wanted to delve into but if I wanted to take another crack at things I would have to be willing to go there, take instruction and allow things to be broken with the promise they would be fixed.

I left the meeting disconcerted, self doubt beginning to swirl in my mind. Was this a wake up call for me? Am I an obstinante rebel that was getting another chance? This went on for about 45 minutes as I tried to get it sorted. Slowly after anaylizing and getting outside feedback, the thought crystalized that maybe the meeting was for a reason, but not the one I initially thought. This had been an opportunity for me to be challenged in my decisions, and beliefs and realize that I am happy with where I am thereby gaining more confidence.

Don't let your first impression of a situation always be your truth. Sometimes you will be pushed right up to the line of losing faith in yourself but when you push through, the tension slingshots you to a whole new level of confidence. "Random" occurances may happen to guide you out of a destructive path but just as often they are there to leave an indelible mark in your soul - a way point that not only lifts you up but can be reflected back on when you feel lost in the future.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

An Ender's Life

I just left the theater after watching Ender's Game so if you haven't seen it or read the book, SPOILER ALERT........

The movie is about a boy in a post alien attacked world (the humans won the fight). Ender along with many other children are being trained to hopefully defeat the aliens once and for all. There is a quote in the movie by Orson Scott Card that informs the entire plot "In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him."

The whole time the children are training mercilessly they are indoctrinated with the idea that they are humankind's last hope. When asked about his concern for Ender's mental and emotional well being Harrison Ford's character says "what does it matter if there's nothing to go back to?" A final battle simulation is the climax of the movie. If Ender and his team pass, he will be given a chance at the real thing. When the simulation starts, the enemy is doing nothing although they clearly see the human troops. Ender considers whether or not they are waiting trying to communicate somehow but when pressed, he attacks. The battle ends with a particle weapon destroying the alien planet. It's then revealed that this was in fact the real deal and the alien species have been wiped out.

Guilt stricken Ender says that had it been for real, he would have made an attempt to communicate first because why hadn't they attacked earth again when they clearly had the means. I don't feel like explaining how this last bit occurs but it will suffice to say that Ender finds the dying alien queen on the planet his base is on and promises to find a new home for the growing queen in her little pod.

I found the end of the movie analogous to my life and somewhat emotional. I was raised with a very narrow view of the world and life. The ungodly and their ways were clearly evil and not to be triffled with. I tried to live their "simulation" only to find that I was in the shit. When I finally had the chance to understand some of the "aliens" around me I discovered that most of the time when you understand someone, despite how annoying they may be, you love them. I've fucked up and have to live with it and will spend the rest of my life trying to put the pieces back together.

Intrinsic Lack of Self-Awareness: Trophies Are For Winners

My oldest daughter had her last soccer game of the season yesterday so I made sure I was there to see it and attend the party afterwards. Watching kids play sports is difficult for me because the lack of understanding, skill and effort are glaringly obvious. But they're 8 so it's all for fun right? "Stop being such an asshole man and let them just be kids." Here's where I have a problem with that, I don't believe that you should half ass anything even if its just for fun. That doesn't mean that you have to win every game but you sure as shit better give 100%. Many times when you hear about young peoole that are brilliant in school, they are also star athletes. My hypothesis is that it's mostly due to them giving everything their best.

Apathetic people seem to be apathetic in their entire lives, for their entire lives. I don't want my children to be mediocre yet I don't want them to be perpetually driven and stressed. There's a huge difference between being driven and being excellent: one tries, the other simply is. How do I instill baseline self awareness and excellence into my children without turning them into OCD perfectionists?

When I was 10 I played the only team sport of my life (baseball) for one season. For a multitude of reason, I was one of the worst players on the team and I knew it even though no one ever told me. In fact when they handed everyone trophies at the end of the season I remember thinking "I don't deserve this. I suck". Trophies are for winners but these days everyone is a "winner" just for showing up. It's a bunch of hyper affirmation bullshit which, in my opinion, helps no one. A computer program won't do well if not debugged and children won't excell if not guided. My daughter seems to be completely unaware that she has a lot of improvement to do despite having other kids on the team that are much better than her. I hate to be the one to break it to her especially since I only see her on weekends.

When people find out how I grew up they almost always say "well you are pretty normal considering...." I have always been extremely self aware which is why I am who I am today. My behaviour was constantly analyzed and compared to the "normal" people I encountered in the real world and I adjusted accordingly. I would be remiss if I didn't point out the fact that while my self awarness has made me fairly normal, it also tortures me because I have a tough time shutting it down. Judging yourself non-stop is exhausting. The reason for my "condition" is because my mother was critical of everything I did as a child with no praise to balance it out. She meant it to help me, and it did to a certain extent, but it also has caused me a lot of pain and turmoil.

By no means did I have the worst childhood ever, but I want much better for my kids. I hope I can figure out how light a fire in them without burning down their soul.