Saturday, March 31, 2012

I've Changed -

I spent some time thinking that not-drinking wouldn't fundamentally change the good things about me.  That is, that not drinking would allow me to out my bad aspects and push myself toward better, well, everything, and that the good things would just get better.

I was wrong.

In fact, the good things--what I value as good, and what others value as good--have indeed changed, and there's no arguing with that fact.  Whether they are better depends on the purpose you espouse.  If the purpose is not to end up a miserable pitiful and almost certainly dead relatively young man, then count me in--but try saying THAT at a cocktail party when someone asks why you're not drinking (and seemingly implicitly states that you shouldn't really even be there if you're not going to drink), not to mention all the fucking bullshit ceremony of "cheers" and whatnot that goes along with drinking, and not to mention all the heartfelt tenderness as well.

Try just saying to those heartfelt tender drunk people that you don't want to be loud and disgusting, and willing to fuck a wooden pole if it looks at you the right way (after proper sanding of course, and depending on audience).  Try just being nonchalant about a relatively major life decision in the moment.

Go ahead, look in the mirror and practice how you'll respond when they ask why.  They will, and you will have to.  And I'm telling you this right now, any response isn't really, fully, understood.  It is always slightly foggy (the way the response is heard), and almost always short term (why wouldn't you want this foggy glass of bliss?), even when the same people later talk about how little they actually want to drink, or express, in roundabout ways that aren't quite detailed enough, their tang of regret.

Ah well, suffice to say, the world is bent toward my reality and perception of it, and I can't do anything about that, no matter how long I've been sober.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Shame Begets Shame; Regret, Regret.

I meant to write a long detailed post about this topic, but I've been busy, either at work (tis the season), or at home (tis the Ikea mother load in my bedroom), and my wife's mom has come to live with us recently (and speaks a foreign language that I'm barely functional with, though I do understand more and more--but it requires effort, such that if I must put effort into other things, my comprehension goes down).

The point was only this: if we feel shame about our previous actions, and it has been a driving force, as I believe it has been for my life, then it makes sense to think about just how much of a perverse incentive it is, and how much of our time we're spending feeling like complete shit--AND to recognize that it might be around for a real reason (like motivation), BUT that the costs are high.  And without being balanced by other more production emotions, through a process of gradual understanding of the role of shame, well, we're bound to go on feeling shame automatically when certain environmental stimuli occur.  The point being only that we can retrain our emotional understanding of ourselves, and our role in previous relations, in hopes of furthering a more productive and healthy image in the future, one with a little less pain.

Regret basically goes along the same lines.

Both emotions are purges of a sort, too, in that they allow the expression of some ugly stuff, but both are also addictive emotions, in that they provide crutches toward not facing some of the stuff about ourselves that maybe we should--they are shields against understanding things like this:

1) Maybe we're just not as good as we thought we were

2) Maybe some of the behaviors that upset us in other people are also perfectly embodied in our own actions.

3) Maybe we are the cause of our own suffering more than others and circumstances, and also, therefore, of our hope.

And with a little bit of hope--what's the line from Bill Frisell?  Lookout for Hope?  Ah, sentimental and  nostalgic in just the right forward looking way.  I'll leave this little blossom of spring.  It is a horrid quality pic from my phone, but real just the same.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Know Your Bad Self -

Knowing your flaws isn't some deep metaphysical experience.  It can be simple.  For instance, you know you're short with people when stressed.  So guess what happens?  When you're stressed, you get short with people.  It doesn't mean that it represents the totality of who you are.  It simply means that it occurs.  To live a good life we need to neither eradicate all flaws or live high high on a pedastal.  We just have to live, fairly present, aware of why we crave things, and aware that our actions don't always match up completely with the reasons we tell ourselves we're acting.  It isn't a huge deal, though the consequences can be so.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Buying The Idea of Progress -

I spent a lot of time trying to tarnish the idea of buying into progress.  That is, settling down.  that is, getting a law degree and practicing law.  Working hard to make it to partner, to buy a BMW, to buy a house, to have kids, pay off the mortgage, and retire.  For what end, I aggressively wondered?  Death, my critical self answered.  Death and only death.  And that's one thing I don't want to rush, damnit.  Never!  I shouted it to myself, as I became an anti-.  Anti-everything and anything except.

And so fast forward 7 years or so, and reset the clocks folks, because I was wrong.  Very wrong.  Progress is real, and the results are tangibly nice.  Hard work can yield nice things, enjoyable pleasant things. Things that I enenjoy not because I've become fundamentally corrupted and materialistic, but because I enjoy them.  Like a nice pair of headphones to listen to music on.  Or a car that, well, simply put, runs reliably.   OK, I'm not at the car point yet, but I'm dreaming that one day I'll have a car that doesn't require constant monitoring of steering fluid.

Bottom line:  My rebellion WAS successfully disadvantageous to someone: me.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Perfectly Expressed Emotion -

This feat does happen, though maybe not often, and mostly in music.  There may not be a fit between the emotion I'm feeling at a perfectly expressed emotion in a particular song at all times, but when there is, boy does it feel good.

Which leads me to believe that people create things, at least in part, to get to the point of a perfect expression of emotion.  To give others what they had once received and been inspired by.  For instance, it is also illuminating to listen to perfectly expressed emotion music and discover what I'm really going through, especially after having endured muddied waters--even if the emotion itself is bad, it is revealing to share it and to know that there can be beauty in embodying it perfectly.

And so, maybe when people make music they are indeed chasing status.  I won't argue with that.  BUT, they're also chasing something more profoundly comforting and in an exceptional way, less opaque: momentary complete understanding.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Receiving Corrections - Being Corrected

Getting corrected can be vainly painful.  Also, though, it can be a tremendous opportunity to squash down the bug of ego and actually learn something; you know, like, improve the way you know how to live.

It can also make you better at what it is you want to do.  "Just a little pin prick!"

Sexually Rejected Male Fruit Flies Turn To Drink.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Day, When All of This is Better -

. . . you know the next few words: MAYBE I'LL HAVE A DRINK, or so I thought to myself, a few hours ago.  IF, and only if things get progressively better and there's like remarkably objective and true advancement, will I, one infinitely far day into the future, have a drink.  And before I could even complete the thought, my body slid into the negative space and said: Allow yourself one whole night of drinking.

And we all know the history that's being recreated with those thoughts, now, don't we?
Eating kumkwats and finding a way to habituate my brain toward a forward meandering sentences without pre-forming them conclusively, or tidying up all of the bows prior to creation.  It is a dichotomy I tell myself, that exists, in that writing, or producing, takes a place in the chronology of events, and editing comes afterward.  It cannot be untrue, though.  Without some product, there can be no editing.  And so, well, hence writers block.  You sit and think, and nothing is good enough, so you or I, we--we--mentally edit it until there's a little nub of confused circles and really nothing to actually write down.  Or at least nothing as close to the form of all of the mental edits told you were worth writing down.  Thing is, of course, that having the space to write down something--anything--away and afar from the internal editor, is valid in and of itself.  Creation and destruction, our old friends from freshman philosophy, and they are true.  As true as anything else these days can be true.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Facing Death --

Death is something we consciously avoid thinking about.  But what if you had a disease that gauraunteed shortened life and there was no cure for this disease?  How would that help to shape your behavior for your shortened life?

Personally, and this is strange, my first instinct would be to give in and stop trying so hard all the time.  But I doubt that's how I would really deal with it.

Busy as of late, folks.  Hope everyone out there is doing well.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Learn to Tame Intuition -

I've almost always been a strongly intuitive person.  On personality tests I was by far intuitive--off the charts.  And as such, it was easy to do some post-hoc justifications about events in my life that turned out unnecessarily bad.  Intuition doesn't always yield badness, though, so it is tricky to find a way to thread the needle of trusting it just enough, while also retaining the capacity of self-doubt.  I mean, I get that it could be a beneficial strategy to always follow intuition for some people, even objectively, without their subsequent justification.  So, anyway, I guess I'm at a point in my life where I'm starting to let my intuition back in, so long as I have bright line rules.  Which is to say that I'm not tingling with my own sobriety so much that I'm hesitant to even try something or take a stand on something, at least a little bit. For a long time I was plunged so deep into the water of "taking a stand" or "trying" it was a bit hard to see the forest for the trees.  So I backed way, way, up, into the cerebral restrained land of 20,000 feet up, unengaged with a lot of my own emotion about the world.  And therein lies the strangeness.  That is, that I can at once have a bunch of emotion and also be estranged from it.  To be completely honest, I think the idea that I experienced the world on a different level than the world I did happen to experience and that it takes time for me to realize the other level of experience that was previously submerged is a bit of a hoax.  It makes much more sense to say that I've learned valuable things about myself and others and applied them retroactively.  Anyway.  The point is only that I am allowing myself more intense, or colorful, or engaged, interaction, and less cerebral restraint.  That's the point.  And it feels good in a way, because I do feel in control.  And I do revert to cerebral states later.

One of the basic premises of life that I'd failed to grasp at any level prior to my sobriety was of repetition and knowledge acquisition.  It goes like this: you try something once, let's say running around a large park with a lot of interlocked trails.  You learn a good chunk, but you tell yourself you know more than you actually do, so the second time you run, you go out and get promptly lost because of  your over-confidence.  Now, instead, I stick to the same route a few times, maybe a month, and then branch out once I've had a chance to feel like things are truly familiar, in my gut.  Trick is that gut feelings of familiar take all sorts of practice, which was the missing piece before in my life.  OK?  Enough for now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lighten Up. The Rule.

To lighten up.

Stop taking seriously all of the things you currently tell yourself you must do.

Start trying to enjoy activities for the sheer sake of doing them, in that moment.


Stop trying to obtain status.  Relax and don't imagine life getting any better.  Ever.  If that were the case, what changes would you make?

Caveat: it is almost impossible to make flaccid the hard-on dreams of big illustrious lifestyle, mostly because those big dreams sort of keep us going.  The best answer I can give is to adjust expectations in an honest way, and see what you currently have going on.  Not being the queen of england or the king of france doesn't make your life worthless.  It may actually make it more worthwhile.

Deep Into Meta-Criticism = Depression?

Very simple thought for the day.  I spent a lot of my life creating, if you will, multi-dimensional and slightly flexible systems of criticism that, I thought, if I could just successfully communicate, would be the purpose of my life.

There's something ironic about this.  Instead of developing many-layered critiques, I should have been trying to build something up in the positive sense.  And.  The worst part of this: building positive structures, whatever they are (whether actual structures, scientific models, documents, or guitars), is actually much harder.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Runaway Audience Fantasy -

Most of what we do, even when alone, implicates or concerns other people in some large way.  I don't mean that there's a global supply chain and that it takes a host of folks to get me my tea (which is true). What I mean is that we, as individuals, so often act as if there were audience to act to, or for, that we often forget how alone we actually are.  There really and truly is often nobody watching.

This isn't necessarily depressing.  In many ways it can be freeing.  If our actions are broadcast out into the masses for collective judgment on a daily and micro-neurological level, we don't have to work so hard to impress everyone else.  We can, instead, honestly be free to figure out what we're interested in doing absent other people.  And, once we do that, we can reintroduce people to that activity to build healthy relationships.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Bowels of Self-Pity.

I've spent a lot of my life thinking I'm not good enough.

You know what I'm saying?  You've felt that way a time or two before?

Well, I certainly have, so thanks for asking.

Summon the audible warp speed machinery, as we peer closely into a specific instance of cowardice, next to the bowels of self-pity, as I cry on your shoulder and you cry on mine, and we curse the world for making us feel this way about ourselves.

When someone told us that we weren't the best.  When we had to lay out a modicum of effort in the hopes of an already diminished (shrunken, pitiless, frigid, and shrink-wrapped) return, one who doesn't even talk back it is so thanked by us for having resurrected it from the pits of sewage-eating bacteria.

The bottom line is this: What if we could have everything we always wanted?  And the way to get it?  Through shutting the fuck up about it all the time and putting in the work.  What if that was the only thing separating us from our dreams, or happiness?  From fullness? Would we still find a crack to complain into, to fill with our pre-manufacted sob stories of meta-criticism?  Or would step up and be consistent for once in our weak little meaningless lives?

We'll see.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Growing into a Stereotype?

Afraid that you, young adult, are slowly growing into a horrid stereotype of yourself, your culture, and your values, one that you were, just a few years ago, thoroughly repulsed by and found to be seriously similar to people like your parents?

I have the solution!

Stop idolizing stereotypes.