Friday, February 5, 2016

Tickle Me Über

My first Über fare on Tuesday took me to the front gates of an apartment complex at the end of a road pocked with abandonded commercial spaces. I was directly off one of the main roads in my city but just far enough back that it felt secluded. Both security gates were open which I was thankful for (I don't like call boxes) Truth be told however, their open state appeared to be permanent seemingly rusted in the tracks. Pulling in past the clearly old and well used mailbox, I turned to the left and was immediately confronted by rows of decomposing, boarded up tenements. A few Hispanics men who appeared to be contractors (based off of their truck) were the only humans I witnessed on that side of the complex. A cat, the only other life I witnessed, walked across a retaining wall holding in a small hill. Two of the men looked at me like I was in the wrong place and for a second I thought maybe I was. See, when I had initially clicked the button to accept the fare, I was directed to an address that was incorrect. Waiting in the driveway I sent a text to let the rider know what my vehicle looked like. When they called to say they didn't see me, we quickly determined that somehow I had been sent to an improper address about 4 miles away from where they were (ironically, I was right next to the correct address when I accepted the fare - but that's another story for another time where I list the epic fuck all, Über is)

Using Google Maps, I navigated to the supposedly correct address but other than the construction workers and the cat, the place seemed uninhabited. Maybe Über had screwed me over again? Did I mention that this was my first ride of the day? Oh yeah, that's how I started this post. Hell, I'm just trying to be helpful to anyone thinking of pimping out their car to a bunch of strangers - DON'T DO IT!!! 

*Phone ringing*
"We're up here on the hill". At the top of the rise the retaining wall was holding back, I noticed two people waving. "Copy, I'll drive around" I say more than once because they can't hear me due to the terrible phone relay system built into the Über app. I backed up and entered the gate on the right side this time. More dilapidated homes. It was like an infection was slowly spreading. Circling back around the complex I thought "I can't believe people are living here". I mean I've been in the projects. When I was a child, the church my family went to was in Bridgeport Connecticut. Google Father Panik Village it if you don't know about it - or take my word, it was pretty rough. I think the only reason we quit going was because they tore it down. The pastor and some church members (including my entire family) would go into the village to put on puppet shows for the kids about Jesus and try to give gospel tracts to the adults. From what I recall there was little to no vegetation. Whoever built the place poured a giant concrete slab and then plopped down rows of brick cells with bars on all orifaces. I don't recall there being any thing but some candy wrapper type litter on the ground. The starkness and lack of hope are what I remember. That and the spent shells we would find.

A funny side note:
One time we were "ministering" I remember running into an older woman who was in love with Jesus. She grabbed my 8 year old hands and loudly started trying to get me to "praise Jesus with her". I was mortified. I think I finally croaked out some half assed shubbabubbading (ask a Pentecostal if you are lost). She stops, still gripping my hands and says "we gonna see Jesus" and then kisses my forehead. I don't remember what happened after that because all I could think of was burrowing into the earth and dying. It all seems so ludicrous now - like how did that story ever happen? It's like someone played fifty-two pick up with Cards Against Humanity decks 1-75 (no, they don't go that high but I don't know if I could handle more than seventy five years of this shit before needing a better way to write a life story)

The point is, I've seen some shit in my life but this struck me differently. Maybe it was the "what that fuck are you doing here" looks I received from several people standing outside one of the few rows still not boarded up or lacking windows. Maybe it was just the fact that I haven't seen this as an adult before. Maybe it's nothing except the 286,101.6 hours that I have experienced and are continuing to steam ahead at the speed of light. Things I had no control over gave me a rather odd perspective on life. 

Dragged into this sad sight while trying to make a buck for my own livelihood, I was shocked that things like this, and worse existed so close to where I live. I am always aware of the fact that someone somewhere in the world at every moment is being tormented in a horrible fashion and it's worse than whatever I'm going through. Somehow that was drilled into my brain and though I'm not totally positive, I feel like that would be a fantastic way to manipulate people. Sarcasm aside, there is a nugget of truth to it but I just had no idea the situation was so close to home. 

There's more to it though. It's not just the current suffering - the buildings looked like a ghost town that is still slowly forming as the air is slowly being squeezed out of its lungs. Not only was it sad, it was eery. I've never been in a dying village before - it's heart breaking. It felt like it was gasping, not for help anymore, but just to slowly inhale and exhale trying to simply hang on. The status quo felt pretty well accepted which is understandable because many of us have believed a lie: There is no way out except somehow making it big or illegal activities. That's the system we've bought into. History has proven that those who are oppressed eventually object but it's not always successful. The problem is that just because your body is free, that doesn't mean your mind is free. Society brainwashes you before are old enough to know better. 

One of the first things most parents start correcting children for as they start to socialize with other youngster is sharing. "Share! If you don't share no one is going to want to play with you." You get the impression that if you don't give up what is yours you are going to be alone. It's especially damaging if the parents act disapproved because that tells the child "I am upset with you having a boundary". It's one thing to teach a child to not take what isn't theirs - that's called respecting other people's boundaries. You might think that that I'm making a big deal about forced sharing but I think it's damaging to the psyche of a child - as is tickling. 

Sitting on the couch earlier my girlfriend tried tickling me during an episode of Justified. I didn't feel like being tickled and thought I expressed I was pretty clear in my expression. However if you are ticklish, you'll probably be instinctively laughing while asking the other person to stop. Protesting seems to be the universal sign for "tickle me more". The rest of the show I spent holding her hands because I was afraid she would keep tickling me. That struck me as odd - I know that I trust her but why do I feel like I couldn't all of a sudden? Brushing my teeth it hit me. People laugh when they are tickled because their personal space is being unpleasantly invaded. They are squirming to get away and laughing so that they don't have a panic attack. I realized that I wanted to know that even if someone was joking around with me, if I asked for it to stop, it would. Unless a child has done something wrong, I don't believe their choices for what happens to their things or their bodies should be overruled. 

Most people are fed some form of a powerless mindset their entire lives but only thing we ever have complete control over is our mind and our choices. Some try to "make life their bitch" to quote one fellow I knew, while others acquiesce blaming anything and everything. To quote Arthur Ashe once again:
Start where you are
Use what you have
Do what you can. 

I truly believe in that method. It has helped me immensely over the last few years. This Über pickup reminded me of why I need to focus harder. Listen to Imagine by John Lennon and then come back here. It's cool, I'll wait....... Can you imagine a better world or do you mentally throw up your hands saying "well it would be nice" in a voice riddled with unbelief? I heard about a study of societies perspective on war.  The gist is that 80% of those interviewed said they didn't believe we could ever be without war. Why? "It's just human nature" most claim. 

Basically we believe that we are all shitty people incapable of being anything different. It's really quite stupid when all that's required is a simple shift of conscious choice. It's one of the hardest simple things to do because you are fighting the bombardment of sensory information that tells you otherwise. Life is a lens. Whatever you focus on, you see more clearly and it becomes your reality. From an early age our power to focus is overridden and programmed into a rut that we accept thinking it is our personality. 

What can I do? They say the truth will set you free and it does. As I've accepted life one day at a time surrendered in the now, I look back and realized why I had such a hard time up till now - I felt powerless because I had been raised to be. Many people abdicated their power by handing it over to addictions, religion, blaming others because they don't want to swim upstream against the flow of life they perceive. That's why you laugh when you're tickled, so you don't freak the fuck out from feeling suddenly and overwhelmingly invaded and powerless. It's like a pressure relief valve so you don't lose your mind. 

This isn't a hate letter to tickling it's just an example of how innocuous the programming can be. Societal programming isn't a conspiracy (or not most of it anyway) it's subconscious. Parents feeling powerless, passing it on to their children while blaming the grandparents. We all have the choice to live in the Now which is where the best version of yourself lies. Youtube Eckhart Tolle or buy his book The Power of Now. He does a fantastic job of explaining it so I will not try to reinvent the wheel. 

Humanity needs to change and the only relevant time is now. Stop accepting that you are powerless. Children love to say no until they are shown that it doesn't matter what they think. Of course those who are allowed to take what isn't theirs are highly likely to grow up into awful people having never faced an immovable object. It's a pretty simple structure: don't take what isn't yours and accept responsibility for your life. You can never control everything as hard as you try so why bother? Control your mind and subsequent choices and you will find your road. If you aren't taking things from others than you don't need to give a good god damn about what they think. They say that everyone has a price but I don't think that's true. We sell ourselves to retain whatever is the most precious to us. Most people blame life but unless someone has a gun to your head (or some other deadly implement) you don't have to do anything really. But what about a life or death situation? If you were told to kill an innocent person or you would be murdered would you do it? At that point you are deciding what is more precious to you - you're beliefs or your furthered existence in this body. We afford and make time for who and what is important to us. Stop ceding control of your life to others. That doesn't mean things will be easy but you'll be way happier knowing that you are living life on your terms projecting an authentic image of you. This isn't some wish it, want it do it bullshit - it can be hard work; however, it's not hard if you walk through one moment at a time only focusing on the now.

P.S. For anyone wondering, once I finally collected my riders, they asked to go to the dollar store less than a mile away because didn't want to walk in the sprinkling rain. I made about $3 for 30 minutes of my life but the amount of mental insight into my past more than made up the difference. Don't Über if you think it's going to make you rich. I would only recommend it if you want some good practice interacting with strangers and living in the moment.

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