Friday, January 30, 2015

#Selfishness

Someone raved about the HBO show Girls to me a year or so ago so I ended up watching a bit of it. It's well written, acted and produced and I enjoyed the first season but by the second season I was starting to hate everyone on the show. The last episode I watched was S2E3 (Bad Friend) when Hannah tells Marnie what a bad friend she is. All the women in the show are constantly in competition with each other because they are extremely insecure and self-centered. Both Marnie and Hannah are shitty friends but when Hannah got Marnie to say "I'm sorry, I'm a shitty friend" and Hannah's response was "we can still be friends just as long as you know you are the shitty friend" I said "fuck this show". The cast seems to take steps towards growth but then always come back to their core value - everything they do is about them.

Jumping gears slightly, I have been watching the first season of Vikings and it's intriguing to see the characters motivations that are informed by a culture that is completely permeated by their religion. In the episode I watched today they went to a temple for the celebration they have every 9 years where they sacrifice 9 of every animal and 9 volunteering humans as well. At the point when they started doing the sacrifices, I had to shut it off as panic began to fill me. I didn't grow up with literal sacrifices however, the religious parents I knew, in essence sacrificed their offspring's childhoods for the sake of their god believing it was what was right. I find it infuriating and extremely sad to see people's lives being sacrificed, whether literally or figuratively, for a belief system in an invisible god.

Both of these shows and my commentary on them may seem like they don't go together at all but the common thread is that humankind generally will believe what indulges their self-serving needs. Everyone has insecurities they deal with but the mark of a good person is someone who works on their insecurities by acknowledging them but then doesn't try to satiate the void, choosing to focus on other people instead. Studies have shown that people who are more outward focused are happier. Self-involved individuals constantly focus on their insecurities (although they usually deny they have any) which only exacerbates the issue creating a self perpetuating cycle of unhappiness. The more you focus on something, the more you see it. People blame social media for many problems in our world and in many respects they are correct. The internet is a fantastic way to fuel insecurities and narcissism because you can  create a very sculpted image of yourself. There's also the fact that everyone has their own personalized feed that the world can see while you hope to receive their approbation. We have more interactions with a larger group of people than ever before but less connections because most people are completely myopic focusing only on themselves.

It doesn't matter whether it's religion or atheism - I would say our biggest problem in the world is selfishness. People find ways to justify the destructive means in which they salve their wounds ignoring the fact that their belief system is causing the world around them to crumble. Selfish people can't see the forest for the trees because they are too busy staring at their stupid selfies. Rome burns while they play Amazing Grace on the violin praising God for the trial, but in all reality the fire started because of laziness when someone built the blacksmith shop right next to where the hay was stored. I'm not convinced that their is or is not a god. What I am sure of is that we would find out the truth a whole lot more easily if we took our heads out of our own asses and quit looking to feel special and important. You don't need god or drugs or approval when you quit denying your problems but then shift the focus outward. When you start walking down the road of life instead of standing still being introspective, the bumps have a way of knocking the insecurities out of you because you face your fears for the good of everyone around you.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Kids to the Rescue

Let be honest - being a parent can be a pain in the ass. However, there is a fantastic opportunity to grow and see life differently when you bring children into the world. Kids don't start judging you till they are teenagers so you have an opportunity for about 11 or 12 years where you are very close to one or more humans who love you unconditionally. It is one of the best things you can ever experience. I get a lot of shit for having 4 children at my age but the thing is, becoming a dad in a way rescued me. There are times I bemoan the uneducated or under-educated decisions I have made in my past that burden me now but something I'm coming to see is that individuals who are always seeking their personal acme may take a painful and sometimes damaging road but it's really the only way they'll figure it out. 

As I was driving to visit my kids today, I listened to an episode of The Moth podcast where a woman was talking about how her family never said "I love you" to each other. Despite knowing she was loved the woman had to ask her parents if they could all try to start saying "I love you" in an effort to foster more closeness. I thought about how difficult and awkward it is to step out in an emotional area as an adult and began to wonder how I had done it. Growing up I don't recall my parents being very affectionate and saying "I love you" seemed more like sometime you did out of duty. My mom in particular never had anything positive to say but instead criticized everything. When I reached my teens, I had become uncomfortable with hugs and emotion in general but there was a part of me that desperately wanted to be different. As a parent, I suddenly had an audience every day that didn't judge me or make me feel stupid for hugging or kissing them, being silly or praising them. Most parents mean well but because of their own fears, they make mistakes and hurt their kids. The cool thing is if you choose to have your own children, you have a period of time where you can work into being a good mom or dad and change who you are and the things your parents failed in.

Being a dad has taught me many things:
- You do the best you can but each person is ultimately responsible for their own choices so I didn't have to try and cram god down everyone's throats or control my kids in general. 
- How to love and accept love but also how a parent looks at their own children. Being raised with the view of god my parents and religious influences they allowed in the home taught, I was very afraid of screwing up because god was "our father". If he was anything like my parents, I didn't want to make a mistake. True love unencumbered by fear is something that transcends imperfections because it focuses on the heart of the individual. My kids could hate me for their entire lives and I would still love them in another dimension or world after this one so it's hard for me to believe that if god is loving he wouldn't do the same. Learning about love released me from the god and religion that had held me captive for so many years.
- Watching my children attempt to learn things broke a lot of my obsession with perfection. No one starts anything a master but acquires skill over time building confidence along the way (in the proper environment). 
- Many of the things that my parents did that hurt me don't hold pain any more because I know they were trying to do the best they knew how. Sure it was fueled by a lot of fear which is not admirable; however, I have way more peace in my life because the new perspective removed the poison that had marinated into the memories.

Having a pack of children at such a young age wasn't the most intelligent thing to do but it's given me the heart I have today. I honestly don't know if I would be who I am if I had taken a different path. It's certainly not an easy path that has been fraught with pain and exhaustion at times but I'll be damned if I take the easy road. For our dreams and fulfillment usually sit atop a mountain accessible only through an arduous journey. The patch beckons "come, though the end is shrouded by over cropping rocks and clouds. Many will mock or try to dissuade, not understanding your soul and the demons you are trying to banish but each footstep will dislodge them till they no longer can find a home in your mind. One day, though you may doubt your own choices, if your focus remains true, an epiphany will be revealed - the steps you have taken were all necessary." Life is a journey traveled out of necessity to the truth we hold in ourselves. Those who examine and pursue truth and peace will not always appear to be the most successful people but success is not quantified by things or position but by what we have to offer in their absence. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sandwich Master

I just finished making (and eating) the most delicious sandwich on toasted and buttered rye bread, three cheeses (Havarti, Swiss and Pepperjack), some onions, two over easy eggs, topped off with half an avocado. It was one of those meals where as soon as you bite into it you know: this shit is fucking genius. The next thought through my brain was if I could make sandwiches like this everyday I would open a deli. But alas, I can't. I don't have the skill to create a dazzling menu nor the time to learn what is necessary. Instead, I used the skills I do have and try to make a go of it.

Do I wish I was a sandwich maker? No, but what I realized is that I want something I do in life to leave an impression on people. My efforts and passions making them think - this shit is fucking genius! I don't mean genius in a pompous way but genius where it is perfection of the form that is so sharp it penetrates their being leaving an indelible imprint on their soul. I think this is one of the reasons why some people are happy doing "mundane" work while others can't be fulfilled in the most exciting occupations. We all want to connect with the people around us; we're pack animals and need others around us to thrive. Some deny this and close off but those who acknowledge the truth are going to have a more difficult time feeling fulfilled in a job that doesn't provide the feeling of leaving an impact on someones life. I write because it's the best thing I can do at the moment, but I also look for ways to bring joy to other people's lives as I go through my day because it can make even the most mundane situation enjoyable.

On the flip side, some evil people want to leave their mark as well which is the motivation behind their actions but there are also some neutral people who attempt neither good or bad: they are usually selfish, scared and scarred. Maybe if we had more people who were passionate about touching the lives of others in a meaningful way the positive could overcome a lot more of the evil in the world.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Singles Club

I read an article today about meditation improving your sex life and one of the points made was that meditation helps you find happiness in yourself because "no partner, job, degree or number of zeros in your bank account can complete you". Numerous articles have popped up in my Facebook feed recently about singleness (13 reasons why wine is better than a lover, why I'll never get married, is there such a thing as casual sex?, etc) and its kept me thinking. There seems to be a big push for people to be affirmed that it's okay to be single "in today's world". While I can understand why singleness is being extolled, I have to disagree. 

There is a huge difference between being codependent and having a fulfilling relationship. However, many people incorrectly see them as the same. A codependent person needs someone in their life to function but a normal person's life is just made more joyful with a partner. If being with other people didn't make us happier, then why would anyone ever do it? Relationships are hard work at times and unless it is a political power play, they aren't something people willingly go into without expecting more joy. No one thinks "geez, I guess I'm so happy that I want to bring it down a notch by falling in love". On the contrary. Do you purchase a dog because you want to saddle yourself with responsibilities? Nope, its because it's going to improve the quality of your life.

There definitely has to be a good foundation with partners accepting and loving themselves, but that doesn't mean they can't have more fun with someone along side them. It's like having a piece of hot apple pie and then putting ice cream on top. Both are good separately but fantastic together. Love can be an illicit drug just like morphine but they can both also be used properly and for good. The push to be okay with your singleness is from two things: fear and selfishness. If you convince yourself that you are happy, then eventually your head will believe it but your psyche and body will not so we suppress the impulse to find love - it's tormenting self delusion. Being single doesn't have the anxiety of possibly being hurt so instead people are kept away. Singleness also keeps you from being responsible to anything because you don't want to care about anyone but you. Selfishness usually is derived from control which is a product of fear. 

Stop trying to convince yourself that it's okay to be single. Either work through your fear for a more rewarding life or at least admit that that's the reason and say "hey I'm too afraid or self centered" but please stop propagating this load of bullshit aiding people in being delusional. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Fugitive

Razor blades, blood stains, almost slicing through veins / I'm cutting it closer than a Mach 3 shave. 
Stick an IV in my arm to assuage this emotional pain / I V for vendetta but not on Guy Fawkes day,
I'm raging against the system every single fucking day like a T 1000 programmed to carry out judgement day / I'm pounding the pavement constantly trying to change / but I keep jacking it hammered soiling the soil with cum stains / I'm hearing complaints, but I keep on whacking / till I get this nut to cracking /
Cause who gives a fuck, I'm not going to tape my dick down, tuck that shit up / Come on now, don't pretend / you whack it every day while taking extends / or maybe you're a whack job with imaginary friends / You divorced your mind with an ice pick through your eye, married God instead, waved your own thoughts goodbye. 

You want me locked up, I'm a mental case / should be tied up in restraints for lacking the restraint to keep my feelings contained / Tramadol, Xanax, coke and weed help escape the screams, of the psychos in the ward, the warden is beating / I'm warding off zombies trying to feed / I'll stop my own heart beating before they think they'll succeed / I'm like Houdini jonsing / popping a pill / cause this illusions rusted over / maybe I've run out of skill / some days it just seems like I can't get out of the locks, but at least I'm tranquil as I suffocate in this box.

Lend me your ear and I'll bite it clean off / go Mike Tyson on you bitches, knock your fucking tits off /
Fry em up like the Colonel, they taste just like chicken / battered breasts on the stove top, I Bobby Flay your superstitions / stomping on your poor GA toes, I'm mashing your feelings / I'll serve you up on the side while I take you down just by breathing / don't fuck with a fugitive holding a gun / even if it's only loaded with words, you'll end up undone / status symbols are the status quo / I don't give a fuck about your Maserati, I hope you choke on your dough / I'm like the wonder bread wonder boy, I'm walking on air, all you people trying to eat me, it's so unfair / for you that is, I'll sit in your colon, make you so constipated the doctors will have to slice you open /

I'm like a tumor metastasizing throughout your body / I've taken it over - snatchers get in line behind me / Your brain is now mine, I control your mind / you tried to take me out but now it's you that's dying / maybe I'll move your hands, make you load a gun / have you put it in your mouth then make you shoot off your thumbs / the taste of cold metal burned into your brain, you should get a special medal for not going insane / maybe you should tweet that, but without any thumbs, it'll be like a Parkinson's patient assembling bombs wearing gloves /

I'll just walk away let you blow yourself up /
Leave you to your own devices - let you fuck your shit up /
Don't fuck with a fugitive from the status quo, I'm not going back to serve the time still owed /
I'm desperate, erratic and slightly disturbed so keep out of my way if you don't want to get burned /
Come after me again and you'll be wishing for Sherman, cause when I'm done with you, even the ruddy water will be burning.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winding Up the Catapult

Yesterday was my last day on a project I started 4 months ago I was extremely reluctant to sign on to. I had been trying to more or less freelance to maintain time to write but also because I didn't want to have to deal with any one specific group of people for more than a few days here or there. The job was doing something I wasn't very skilled at and honestly was one of the hardest things I've ever tried to learn to do in my life. I mean, I taught myself how to play the trumpet well enough in a couple weeks to participate with a Christmas band one year as a teen and that seemed easy in comparison. Most of the difficulty came not so much from the mechanics of the job but my fear of failure and angering / disappointing other people. It's hard to dance when you're worried about all the steps.

Thankfully I stuck through it and in the last month or so, I finally felt like I was getting the hang of it but realized it was mostly because I was fighting my demons. This point in my life is the happiest I have ever been and as I was looking back this past Monday I realized that all of the things I have pressed through have been like turning the wheel on a catapult. Each turn has been harder and harder but I feel like the arm is almost low enough to be loaded and cut loose. I don't believe in having dreams with very specific attributes per se (like I'm going to be president of the US by 45) but instead believe in having a vision of who we want to be (a leader for example) and all the other stuff falls into place. I know I'm a creative person and I've embraced and pursued it in the ways that I can - particularly writing. Before I didn't trust myself and was afraid to put anything out there that might not be the most amazing thing ever made because I thought people would think I was stupid. The truth is that everyone has to grow and advance and I'm doing that with each thing I write. Instead of putting off writing till I had "a decent amount of time" I've begun writing for at least a few minutes when I get home from work, or early in the morning before I leave. Who knows how the end product will be but in a few weeks, I already have 16,000 words written in a book. The average novel is about 65,000 words so I'm clipping along at a good pace.

When you quit doubting yourself or being concerned with your own lack of skill and just pursue you in little ways consistently, it's slowly putting more and more tension on that rope. I'm so thankful to have some people that love me in my life. It's way harder to change your outlook on life when you are struggling to find a ray of sunshine somewhere. Now I've got the whole freaking sun, things are growing and life is awesome.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Under Authority

The phrase "under authority" was bandied about frequently by my parents and ministers as I tried to navigate the transition from child to man. I believe the dictum is derived from Matthew 6:9 where the centurion states "I am a man under authority" to Jesus. The context is "I know what it's like to have power to get shit done because I have guys higher in the food chain above me that will hand out some whoopass if I'm not taken seriously". Unfortunately the phrase "being under authority" has taken on a life of it's own much like definitions of words change due to appropriation by a individuals with an agenda - control. In the past I struggled many times with feeling like something wasn't right for me but was told that I was being rebellious and not under authority. This became like a pinch collar on a dog where I was taught that if I stepped away from my authority's guidance, I would be vulnerable to attacks from the devil or general malfeasance that God would have otherwise shielded me from. Anecdotes (most likely completely conjured up) and erroneous correlations of events were used as propaganda to hard code us to toe the line.

Anarchy isn't a belief system I espouse however, we are ultimately responsible for our own actions so to sit and "be under authority" is you, passively choosing your fate. Becoming an adult was a hard transition because I was supposed to act like an adult but still listen to people like my pastor, boss, parents, in-laws etc if they gave me guidance in my life. That became rather challenging when I'm the one having to live a life other people are attempting to direct. With much stress and trepidation, I began resisting in small areas. Of course, my "rebellion" was attributed to the fact that my oldest child began having seizures from infancy along with other "failures" in my life. Slowly I realized that I had to live my life and figure it out, not the other people outside my head. Granted, I'm not so arrogant that I don't ask for advice; on the contrary, I love to hear opinions and advice from people who have gained success in the topic in question. However, no matter how much input and direction you are given, the fact still remains that your actions are yours and yours alone. Can you be blinded? Sure, and that's the point of this whole tactic - keep you from looking too closely at the emperor's clothes lest you find there aren't any.

Being under authority should be an empowering thing because you know that they have your back. You shouldn't be browbeaten to some meglomaniac's whims because you are afraid of the consequences of disagreement. Clearly there are situations where you can't run off and go freelancing (what we call it in my profession when someone starts trying to out think the boss and begins working without direction) but when it comes to how you live your life, that shit is up to you. Despite being brainwashed, I bear the culpability for the remainder of my life upon the termination of my parents legal guardianship. I was trying to go to sleep earlier and it ran through my head all the times I was told I wasn't under authority and what a load of crap the whole idea was. Some ideas take a lot to purge but I think I've finally gotten back to the dream within a dream, within a dream and rooted out the inception - my life will not be ruined by me taking over the reigns.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gravity

The sun and moon shared the same sky this morning;
Two lovers separated by vast distance; Separated by millions of miles and as many years.
She dances around the sun teasing him,  drawing closer, then retreating - a ball of rock and water coming between. 
Impinged affection. 

Reflecting his warmth in her face, she pulls on the earth begging it to stop so they might always be together. 
Slowly, ever so slowly the desire - that great pull of attraction, drags on what affords our very lives. 
Millennia from now she may succeed - their amorous longing rendering an eternal night over half the planet.

While they will never be together - wrapped in an absorbing embrace, they will continually be face to face.
Bidding us farewell, reflecting the sun's smile back at him. 
The moon hidden from earths view as lovers gaze upon one another. 
For now, at opposite ends of our sky yet closest in their orbit, they appear together. 
Declaring one day that regard will be their own uninhibited. 
We will steal their love no more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

True Religion

Night terrors etch themselves onto weak retinas; ghostly outlines remain in day an overlay of horror. 
Someone said "be safe in here from the evil, the fear": iron cages submitted to willingly
The lock upon the door turned solely by the will of the prisoners heart.

Pacing the floor, cold and uninviting. 
Detritus snagged through the bars entreating joy to take up residence.
Convinced these few shoddy comforts are the best they can afford.
Worn out mattress springs: poking, with every toss and turn.
A metal folding chair: awkward bent leg, cold, requiring precarious balance.
Still afraid.
Still unsafe.
Pretending this cage a castle.
Seeds of delusion, watered with years of faith 
Hoping one day the promise will materialize - dreams becoming eternal reality.

When all along happiness was only on the other side of the bars;
Requiring only blinking away the silhouettes, and summoning the will to step out of the squalid fortress. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Life on Your Toes

Tonight I watched Interview With the Vampire for my first and last time. At the end I remarked to my girlfriend that I can't get into vampire movies because I don't care about the characters. Vampires lack many of the limits humans face which seems attractive. Who doesn't want to live forever and experience everything in the world? But that's the beauty of being human - limits are part of what makes the experience. Our limits propel us to be our greatest because we have a hound feverishly trying to catch us called Time. If everything was easy or there were no time limits, life would get extremely boring very quickly. It's the fact that Kilimanjaro is difficult to climb that makes it attractive to all who desire to assault it's barriers, feeling pride at the summit because of the struggles they overcame. This is why I find it offensive to a degree when they pave roads into national parks or ameliorate a rough hiking path by carving steps etc.: when everything is special, nothing is.

While it may just be my personality, I think if I were like John Travolta in Phenomenon or Bradley Cooper in Limitless, it would only serve to drive me insane. As it stands now, I feel that I am capable of way more than I am accomplishing and it can be maddening trying to figure out how to be the best person I can be. Now imagine compounding that knowledge, skills and insight but being limited by 24 hours in a day (to be practical 20 because I've never heard of anyone who could live off less than 4 hours sleep consistently). From my perspective it would be tormenting to have that capacity yet be restricted by time. So you go back to the vampire argument - live forever - but again, you lose the challenge of it eventually and boredom rushes in like a tsunami. You can't permanently satiate desire or lust because our bodies release dopamine when you have accomplished something that was a challenge. Without adversity it doesn't seem really necessary to survival therefore becoming unfulfilling. I certainly am not attempting to glamorize the "good old days" because people had lots of problems then; however, you would think that with all the advancements and comforts we now have in our modern world that people would be much happier than they are. Instead the opposite is the case with more and more folks being prescribed a plethora of drugs for depression, anxiety, etc.

We fantasize about escaping the constraints of our mortal bodies and human emotions but without them life would really suck. I heard a story about a man who after an operation was no longer able to make "gut decisions" but instead used mental flow chart but with a critical flaw. The problem with absolute logic is that there are very few absolutes in our world which renders making decisions on that basis actually very difficult. This dude's life was ruined because he lost the intuitive and the emotional component of his decision making ability. He would, for instance, spend inordinate lengths of time in the cereal aisle trying to choose between the 5000 varieties on the shelf or take forever to sign a check because he had to sort out which writing implement was best for this application (or maybe he needed to save that black pen in hand for later because he might fill out a form requiring extensive writing in black ink). It's almost exhausting thinking about the back and forth and trying to convey it through writing so I can't imagine doing that on a constant basis.

They say "xyz keeps you on your toes" usually as a jovial way of saying something is kind of a pain in the ass but it makes life interesting. My girlfriend pointed out that good dancers live on their toes which I think is poignant because life is one giant dance. Dancing is one of the most soulful expressions there is and while I haven't done a scientific poll, all the dancers I have ever met were vivacious people. You need very good balance to flow in dance and being on your toes further challenges the forces of gravity trying to drag you down and limits your points of contact with the earth. It's a weird dichotomy, adversity is unpleasant but you have to embrace it to be successful and happy while at the same time trying to flee it because otherwise it will hold you in place.

My life has had numerous obstacles that I have hated because it feels like I'm always fighting a battle and it gets tiring. Today for instance I filled out a form to see what kind of mortgage payment an average bank would loan to me with my current income and expenses. Because I have 4 children that I pay child support for, the amount I would be approved for is so low that I would be hard pressed to buy a house in the ghetto of my city. This was extremely disheartening and I really felt fucked for a few minutes with anger towards my parents for teaching me so many fallacies and towards myself for believing them. After a few minutes I realized that this roadblock is simply going to push me to work harder developing strength and success that I probably never would have kniwn before.

I don't want to be a vampire, unbound, immortal, tormented by the eventual futility - I want to live on my toes, challenged and accomplished. There is something poetic knowing that the more I resist gravity, the more mass I will develop, in turn, causing gravity to pull on me just a little bit more creating a perpetual cycle that will keep life interesting till my days are over.