Back on the scene

Well, I’m officially back in the dating scene again. Been out and about for a few weeks now, first very slowly and hesitantly and now just going for it. Might as well. He’s not coming back — is happy with that woman, and so be it. Gotta wish him well since he and I went through hell and high water, so it is good that he’s found someone he’s more compatible with. So now it’s my turn to hit the scene to see what’s out there.

Was invited to a live blues band performance on Sunday, which was very nice. That man and I intend to go see another band this Friday in a nearby city. Seems like a decent man, appears to have his shit together, works in the software industry. Definitely likes me. And I was pretty darn upfront with him too. Politically we’re in sync. So, we’ll see where that goes over time.

Met another man off the same dating site a few weeks back, but that one I’m just interested in being friends with. Very nice person, just not attracted to him, but his personality was awesome. He and I met for dinner during our second outing, and he’d like to go out again sometime soon.

And then I met a wildcard. A gorgeous man with captivating blue eyes. That one I feel the most chemistry with, and he gave me a lift home last night. About to walk back for my car this morning once I get some coffee in my system. That one is also a lover of blues music, and my god, he is sexy as hell. And smart (an architect, no less). Ambitious in an entrepreneurial sense. Lost a game of blackjack to him last night, so now I owe him dinner. We’ll wait and see what comes of that.

I’ll admit that I’m a bit nervous about this dating situation. Feels like new terrain all over again. Been many years since I seriously went into the dating scene. Still speaking to Former and hearing how his life is going, but I take it better these days than before. Hurt like hell for a while there, despite knowing it was inevitable. Now the idea is growing on me. He picked what appears to be a good woman, so I can’t fault him for that. And he and I have been on the outs for years now. It had to come down to this eventually. Not even sure what I’d do with him if he did come back to me. We’re such different people who need different things in this life. But we’ve grown so much alongside one another — that bond doesn’t go away. He encourages me to get out here to date and mingle, and so I am. Queer as it all can’t help but feel.

Trying to catch my stride in all of this and seeming to get the hang of it. Am back to drinking though, right or wrong, and aiming to not let it overtake my life again. Keeping it more within reason, more moderate, never alone, generally avoiding hard liquor. Been hitting the gym at least 5 days a week since getting back into it after the winter months. Lost a bit of weight but have a bit more to go before I’m content. Was super busy with work this past month and finally have a break as of Sunday night. Gotta make money while the getting is good. Probably was a gift from the gods to keep me busy during otherwise tumultuous times. Kept my schedule structured, made me behave.

Now that I’m off my leash once again, I’ve arranged a couple meetings with new people this week, beginning tonight with a man from a dating site. Just going to meet for a drink or two to get acquainted. A fellow transplant. Tomorrow meeting with someone I’ve already met a couple times before — friend material only but a cool guy. Avid gun enthusiast with land outside of the city limits. He’s healing up from a major work injury, so we’ll hang out over a couple drinks to chat. Thursday night meeting with another man, that one a corporate accountant by trade. Just meeting people and seeing what’s what. Last Saturday I hung out with a guy from the bar, but he’s not my type either. Might be fine to mingle with when we run into one another while out and about, but we were very mismatched. Then Friday night off to see another live band.

And so it goes. Out and about. Learning to live again in a new way. Gotta bring what confidence I have to the forefront and relate where possible. So far, so good. Won’t pretend to entirely know what I’m doing here, just aiming to keep it real and to apply what I’ve learned over time in regards to my selection process and how I choose to present myself initially. Not getting any younger over here, and yet, this really isn’t a bad age to be back out in the scene. Most men in their 40s who have kids are raising teenagers, so gone are the days of dodging men with young kids at home. We’re all a bit more mature these days, past our fitful and lust-filled 20s. And many of them have their professions sorted out and are in more comfortable positions by midlife. I remain the wildcard that I am, and that likely will never change, but I was never aiming for a conventional lifestyle or work situation.

Mmmm….those blue eyes though. Tantalizing. That’s the kind of man I generally shy away from since I have to assume someone that attractive is going to be trouble. But he actually seems really down to earth, from a farming community, interested in small town development. And for whatever reason seems interested in me. Crazy as that is. That wildcard right there is the most intriguing currently. The feeling that churns up inside me gives me hope that this whole dating process isn’t a lost cause, that it might actually prove fruitful and interesting.

So I’ll keep taking care of myself, putting my best foot forward, and seeing where this takes me.

Speaking of “batshit craziness”…

Recently while perusing the listing of local counselors and therapists on Psychology Today’s website, I stumbled across (to my horror) a profile belonging to somebody I used to know well. There she was, after having completed her master’s degree during the last 7 years since we cut off contact, offering her services as a licensed therapist to work with children, adults and families, claiming to specialize in treating depression and providing grief counseling. Charging, according to the site, $140-$250 per session (notably with no sliding scale fees available for low-income patients, though accepting various insurance plans). Huh.

People pay THAT woman for help??? WOW. Pardon me for sounding like an arrogant jerk here, but I knew that woman for a few years as a friend and can’t help but find that shockingly absurd. Mentioned this to another friend of mine who also used to know her and he too was floored by the news. Just goes to show that the mental health field will indeed take all comers, so long as they can pass the social work or psychology curriculum (which apparently isn’t too terribly difficult).

I knew her, and through knowing her I can’t imagine her having anything of value to bring to the table when it comes to aiding anybody with depression or overcoming grief. Sure, she herself experienced grief when her father died, but that doesn’t mean she’s a good candidate for helping others in a similar predicament. In our time knowing one another she was drinking to blackout limits on a regular basis, taking home strange men who she’d then accuse of raping her (due to them taking advantage of her blackout state), contracting STDs as a result (on more than one occasion), and then completely fucking up her social services job that eventually fired her and then aggressively refuted her attempts to collect unemployment benefits (a very painful lesson to her that occurred shortly before our friendship ended). THAT lady, a mere 7 years onward, is now credentialed to be a source of aid to others, and at a very steep price.

Okay. Examples like this are why I don’t place much faith in the mental health field. Look, even if that woman has turned her life around and is doing much better these days (as I sincerely hope she is), that still doesn’t qualify her to be a mental health professional to others. It would take a lot more than a few years and an additional academic degree to provide her with enough life experience and wisdom to be of much use to others. I recall her temperament and in no way can I see her personality as being that of someone who’s truly and deeply committed to helping others or exploring life in open-minded ways or relating to depression in others. She was one of the more selfish women I’ve ever befriended, and I say this as a pretty damn selfish woman myself. The difference being that I have the sense to recognize I’d be a charlatan if I hung out a shingle and played therapist to others for a paycheck.

I’m not trying to come across angry here. Mostly I’m incredulous. And I can’t help but wonder how many folks have visited with her and whether they felt they actually received any benefit from doing so. Was she mentally and emotionally present with them during sessions? Does she have any worthwhile advice to offer, or is she just regurgitating whatever she read in college textbooks? Is she sober these days or still living each day in the hazy fog of a perpetual hangover? Has she actually done more soul-searching over the years and unearthed the problems and pain that were driving her own self-destructive tendencies? Is she less of a bitch nowadays?

How does one go from raging drunken party girl to professional counselor in such a short span of time? And how does one feel right about doing so? She’s younger than me, so in her early 30s by now. How much useful advice can people like us give to others when we’ve spent our 20s drowning our sorrow in bars, depending heavily on the help of friends and others ourselves?

Like the blind leading the blind…

Just strikes me as utterly queer to have come across her profile on there. Yet another example of what I’ve grown aware of over the years: that there’s a disproportionate amount of fucked up people in the mental health industry. By that I mean that the very people we’re instructed to turn toward during our times of need unfortunately tend to be the ones who have a shitload of drama in their own lives, and often enough of their own creation. Why? My assumption is that those of us trying to heal ourselves tend to be drawn to those fields and their material, which for some gets them thinking that because they learn a lot about these subjects that that then qualifies them to join such fields in order to earn a living. In short, crazy attracted to information about crazy transforms into professional for other crazies in order to earn a profit and prestige. Maybe it’s a way to help oneself to feel less crazy by comparison. I don’t know. I just know that it makes me very uneasy when I keep seeing this play out time and again.

Reminds me of a close girlfriend of mine whose uncle is a child psychologist. He and his mental health field wife had one daughter and she happens to be one of the most batshit crazy people some of us have ever known. Seriously. Enough to where my friend’s husband refuses to leave his own kids alone with the woman for any amount of time. And of course, as to be expected of completely unhinged people like herself, she went to college and became a teacher. And when that blew up in her face finally (due to her bizarre behavior and ongoing disruptive lunacy, including screaming on her cell phone and hysterically crying in front of a classroom of children, that ending one of her teaching jobs), she’s now decided to return to college to pursue her master’s degree. In what, you ask? Psychology. Naturally…

Nevermind having been locked up in a psych ward herself due to multiple suicide “attempts” (more like manipulative displays to distress and guilt the hell out of her parents, who continue to financially provide for her into her 30s).

Makes the head spin.

While I can understand the attraction to these fields of research, it’s one thing to learn about them and yet quite another to preach from their pulpits. Unhealthy people aren’t the best at defining or demonstrating what health is. Winds up being abstract and theoretical rather than lived experientially. I can understand this as a lover of sociology — the study of human dynamics, particularly among or across groups — as someone who repels from groups. It’s as if we’re attracted to that which is foreign to us. Not saying we can’t offer up unique perspectives about these subjects through our own research, but how helpful to others are we likely to be when we can’t embody that which we wish to teach?

Just a thought this morning. The more I learn, the less I really can claim to know. But I do tread carefully in my dealings with anyone claiming to belong within the mental health establishment (in any capacity) since life has been teaching me that crazies tend to flock within its ranks. And I’m not down with having my mind screwed up even more by folks who play a role they have no business playing.

The way that game is currently set up, there are no checks and balances to deter unhealthy people from joining such fields and then passing along their own warped way of looking at life onto others (or simply wasting our time and money in our search for useful guidance). And yet we as a society grant them so much power and funnel the masses toward these supposed professionals. It’s worth seriously pondering on the potential consequences of this trend.

An introduction to the Frankfurt School (Philosophize This!)

Don’t expect any mention of Erich Fromm in this podcast though, unfortunately. Fromm being the Frankfurt School author I’m most familiar with. But it’s still an interesting podcast to listen to, especially recommended for those who have a knee-jerk reaction against anything relating to the Frankfurt School.

Part 1, “Introduction”:

Part 2, “The Enlightenment”:

Part 3, “The Culture Industry”:

Part 4, “Eros”:

Part 5, “Civilization”:

Part 6, “Art As A Tool For Liberation”:

What is referred to therein as “monopoly capitalism” sounds to be the same as what I generally refer to as Corporatism and/or oligopolistic capitalism. The difference being that the market situation has grown and expanded through the domination of sectors by key major (and increasingly global/multinational) corporations that wind up working in tandem to shut out competition from smaller businesses and upstarts (whether via political lobbying efforts or through technological strangleholds, etc.). To me, calling it monopolistic at this point oversimplifies the reality we’re confronting, though I can understand why Marcuse would use that language in the 1970s.

Part 7, “The Great Refusal”:

Pausing at 4:55 in that last clip…yes, and it’s precisely that concern which drives my own interest in the arguments and ideas put forth by people like Dr. Jordan Peterson. Though Peterson is well-known for criticizing neo-Marxists and those he refers to as “postmodernists,” he’s still absolutely right about how one needs to “clean your own room” before attempting to engage too far in the process of attempting to overhaul society. Why? Because “cleaning one’s own room” is about more than just literally doing domestic chores — it’s about developing our own individual selves, grappling with our own limitations and shortcomings, and taking more time to study history broadly so that we can have a better handle on what all has come before and why we humans find ourselves where we’re collectively at now. These are complex matters, not simply bumbling errors brought about by idiot, racist/sexist/”traditionalist” predecessors who gave too little thought to life and living or who were all so blinded by their own destructive agendas that they gave no shits for the fate of future generations. That’s too close-minded and uncharitable of an interpretation of the unfolding of history and the motives of people in the past and the institutions they designed over time. We have to step back and really take time to think deeply about what we’re confronting here today and how it came into being incrementally over the course of the rise of civilizations. Not any easy task. Requires a great deal of personal reckoning as well, due to our own individual biases and wishful thinking and brainwashed programming delivered via mainstream sources, educators (even those who were well-intentioned in their own right), and the wider culture and the narratives it depends on in order to survive.

The further I’ve gone down this rabbit hole over the years, the deeper I recognize the rabbit hole to be. There are no simply answers here. Not even that many clear-cut enemies necessarily. Just a bunch of us humans trying to make sense of reality and to play the games according the rules we understand (or rebel against them if that’s our bag). Domination and power certainly do factor in to the lived human experience, but so does SO MUCH else. It’s not so simple of a matter as destroying hierarchies and we’ll all eventually be free to live in peaceful equality with one another. No, that’s just begging for the creation of a power vacuum which will be filled by the ambitions of other groups of people operating under their own ideologies that will very likely prove even less effective than what’s currently in place. It’s a precarious situation at present, compounded by so much idealism in the hearts of protesters who like to imagine themselves as having the magical, never-before-tried answers to what plagues humanity. And many of them are blind to the lessons of history as well, largely due to ideological obsessiveness and the narrowing of focus that commonly entails. They will not prove to be saviors either, I’m willing to bet.

That doesn’t mean we have to throw our hands in the air and accept the current status quo as the only game worth playing because all else (like communism) likely will prove even more fatal. But it does ask of us to be careful and cautious in moving forward, to pay closer attention and to not be so arrogant as to assume we ourselves and those we politically/socially identify with have discovered ultimate answers to these complex problems and issues. Humility is absolutely essential here, lest history just keep on repeating (or rhyming, rather) in a downward spiraling fashion (thanks, in part, to new and powerful technologies coupled with greater centralization than the world has ever known before). Power available today is like that of no other time in history — be heedful of that fact.

Many of us want to see change be brought about, for human societies to become healthier and less dominated by economic interests solely. Plenty of us grasp the alienating features of modern life and what that can and does do to us psychologically and socially, and how that then spills out to impact all other aspects of society. But the way to bringing about change indeed isn’t going to come through simply protesting in the streets or certain interest groups vying to dominate within academe and the corporate and political world. That’s just a recipe for more disaster, so far as I can tell. I lost all faith in that approach. It’s become more a question of individual development and social evolution, of working with what is within our direct control and making decisions that allow us as individuals (and the communities we choose to devise or partake in) to live more in alignment with the values we claim to hold dear. Not trying to force the hands of others, since that won’t work. Better to find ways around the perceived obstructions and to test our own mettle than to attempt to overthrow society as a whole, especially when no better game plan is yet afforded to all of us on a society-wide scale.

People don’t wish to hear this, because it sounds harder. Much easier to instead try to push for change in the streets or by screaming at people in lecture halls and pulling down audio equipment so as to disrupt speakers we dislike. Much easier to behave destructively, rebelliously, than to take the time to comprehend our own inner tyrants and the consequences that produces in a reverberating fashion across society and on up through history. Much easier to blame the “other,” somebody else, than to recognize our own part played in this due to the human nature we share. Doesn’t matter that we were just born into this and didn’t ask for this. Nobody originally ever asks for anything, and all were born into it. That’s no excuse for refusing to do the heavy lifting required in this life. Turns out that giving in to such destructive tendencies and acting like rebels without a clue winds up doing more harm than good oftentimes, especially to our own selves, though it’s usually years on down the road before we can recognize it for what it is.

There are no easy answers here, and there likely never will be. It’s just us and our strivings and our need to learn to communicate more effectively with one another about our conflicting points of view. And that’s okay. This is what we have to work with. There was never a rose garden back before, no ideal worth returning to necessarily. Just the movement and expansion of Life in all its complexity on up through time. Never perfect, at least not in the rational sense that we humans like to dream about, nor will it ever be. But we co-constructors of this reality, particularly in terms of our own actions and choices herein. So we start there, inside oneself, that being where we have the most control and are capable of reaping the greatest benefit in our lifetimes.

Simple, yet not easy. C’est la vie…

“Albert Camus on the Absurd (The Myth of Sisyphus) – Philosophy Core Concepts”


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“Joe Rogan Experience #1081 – Bret Weinstein & Heather Heying”

“The Master and His Emissary: Conversation with Dr. Iain McGilchrist”

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