Pondering on purpose

Been bumbling through life up to this point and figure it’s a grand time to pause and consider my purpose going forward. Might’ve jacked up the first half of life, but here we stand now, at what could be the midpoint of life (assuming I live to age 72). Didn’t know how to guide myself too well the first bit, but it’s taught me a lot so I can’t entirely regret it for its lessons. Have to learn some way. Trial and error.

Anyway, I got to thinking tonight while watching a video from Pastor Joe Fox, after having listened to a few by him since discovering his channel recently. Paused to ponder and write down the thoughts that sprang to mind when contemplating what may be my purpose from here on out. What matters and what direction I personally wish to aim in. Basically loosely outlined a few goals/values/areas of focus. What I jotted down:

1.) To learn more and become skilled at various worthwhile tasks.

  • Sustainability (or at least the move toward that) matters.
  • Curiosity is actually a positive attribute.
  • Consider what’s of base-level, fundamental value to us human beings.

2.) LOVE MATTERS. Tough love included.

  • Connection matters.
  • Love of family, friends, values…

3,) No pain, no gain. Challenges are necessary for growth. Pick your poison.

  • I want to keep growing.
  • Respect matters.

4.) Quality of Life deserves attention.

  • Past, present, future, successors.
  • Consequences arise regardless of what may be our intentions.

5.) Personal Autonomy is sacred and God-given.

  • Hence our natural right to self-defense.
  • One is not merely a cog within a collective, but nor is one an island unto oneself.
  • Freedom matters, but so does Sacrifice. Find the BALANCE.

6.) What is that which we call God? What does God seem to direct me toward?

  • And how does one really know when it’s not just Ego playing its typical games? Discernment required. Meditation/prayer. Deep reckoning over time.

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That’s a start. Put it in writing. Reflected on it this evening. Could’ve added more, and did in a couple places.

Preparation matters too. I won’t claim to be of much use to others currently, aside from being cared about by my friends and loved ones (and tending to my job), but I do want more out of my life than what I have constructed thus far. The word redemption keeps following me around, going on a few years now. Keeps insisting that it matters, saying that atonement is required for some of what I’ve done, lest I never be able to forgive myself or the situations that arose as a result. Right or wrong, regardless of how many tell me to let it go and move on, this feeling stays with me, nags at me, proclaims itself to be real. And so apparently I must accept that and figure out what it wants from me. And I guess I will try to give it what it wants , if that’s the cost of some measure of eventual peace. So be it.

Have nothing better to do anyhow. Except languish in this apartment when I’m not working, watching the wheels go ’round and ’round, ruminating on so much that cannot be changed, that’s done and over with, regardless of fault or blame or regrets. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…

I look forward to however many years I get to experience in this next half of life. To see where it might go, to shape what I might become. There have been a lot of blessings in life too, and I am grateful, though there’s a lot that’s made me bitter. Gotta work that out, gotta direct that energy somewhere more productive. Otherwise life will likely turn out to feel long and pointless, aimless, meaningless…lost. That’s no good. But it does appear a bit daunting, knowing how much I wish I knew but don’t. To figure out how and what to learn while restricted to living where I do for the time being, rather isolated in the city. But I see what is within my control currently and know where to direct my attention more to begin with, so that’s where I’ll keep plugging away and expanding. The first steps in a better direction.

Helps to have something to look forward to. To realize what’s a better option, a more worthwhile struggle, and to start heading that way.

Been pondering vaguely along these lines for many years now, but it’s all finally starting to crystallize this year. Coming together, making better sense to me. That being a blessing unto itself. So, that’s where my mind is right now.

Monday journaling in early July

Hangovers truly do hurt more than they used to. Said it before but feel the need to say it again. Takes less to bring on the pain these days also. Makes me wonder how I functioned all those years if this was the fog I’d been routinely living within.

Amazing the difference in perspective time taken away from drinking provides. Makes it increasingly difficult to accept surrendering to that lifestyle, despite its ongoing powerful allure. I go back, guilt consumes me, my head aches and my vision blurs for a day or more afterward, stupid events may or may not occur that leave me resenting my weakness for giving in yet again, then I resolve to leave the mess alone until the next time I succumb to its temptation. Rinse, repeat.

A big part of the problem here isn’t merely a lack of will power — it’s a lack of an alternative direction, a better vision for the future. Some call this nihilism, which I suppose is accurate enough. It’s a lack of giving enough of a damn. Life feels very long and I’m not sure where to direct it from here on out, disconnected as I am from any great sense of community or common purpose. To simply throw myself into attempting to help others conjures up a whole host of questions, such as in what ways and how, toward what end, in service to what philosophy, would this be helping or rather enabling, etc., etc. Though that remains the conventional response from others during one’s “dark night of the soul” — Go help others so that you’ll quit focusing on yourself! If only it were that easy and clear-cut…

Makes me wonder where the line is between trying to be helpful and fashioning oneself into some form of masochistic martyr. The distinction isn’t as bold as people like to imagine, come to find out.

And what about one’s own self-interest? Oh sure, being of service to others can indeed boost one’s own sense of purpose and esteem, depending on how one goes about it. Can also waste a bunch of time and energy on matters of trivial importance too if you’re not careful. Can wind up leading to another dead end where you realize that what you’ve been attempting is just another game of smoke and mirrors, yet another useless distraction wherein you attempted to save others when in reality you can’t even save yourself. Food for thought.

I am bitter these days. Very tired inside from this unending struggle to right my wrongs and to reorient myself toward living and socializing. Apparently this is just the way life goes and there’s no real reason to complain, but it is wearing over time. Hard to recharge one’s batteries under the circumstances. Tough to decide on where to head from here, what to shoot for and plan for. It’s ultimately a question of values, though what I value isn’t necessarily in line with how I tend to live, truth be told. Bad habits can and do change us, re-shape us, deform us, corrupt us, perhaps in some cases irrevocably so. I’m not sure who I am when considered in this light. Seems pretty late in the game to fantasize about starting over and becoming something wholly different.

Also, I’m not sure how one can re-fashion herself into something new while planted within this larger social/political/economic context. Though I understand it needs to happen, I’m not sure how to go about it entirely. Sounds like a recipe for greater social exclusion, which pains me to consider. But there’s no way around it really — I know. The trick is to somehow stonewall myself in the face of that realization and attempt it anyway. Not as if most of the socializing I’ve been doing is worth salvaging anyhow — half these people I deal with are in no better positions themselves, so what are we really trying to hold on to here? A sense of escapism? Yes. Mutually-bolstered delusions and retreats into unfulfilling comforts. That’s all it is and all it ever was, so life has been teaching me.

But when I look out and try to imagine alternate paths, I wonder how I might walk them in my present condition. One foot in front of the other, you say. Sure, but unguided by much, heading toward the unknown from the abyss. Carrying with me my past pains and neurotic problems that have distorted my thoughts and emotions, because such baggage doesn’t simply go away despite our wishes for it to. Seeking what? New opportunities to socialize and maybe even experience a sense of community, to prove helpful and useful, to discover redemption of some sort so that my mind might give me some peace finally. In what fashion? That which can be sustained, that which is truly human. And that’s a long way from home.

Lots of charlatans out here in society pretending to be what they’re not, advertising lures that they can’t deliver on. I know that. Undoubtedly will learn plenty the hard way regardless of which path I choose. Learned plenty the hard way already, so what’s the real difference there? Wherever humans are, trouble is nearby — that goes without saying. I tell myself that I need an adventure, to break away from Cookie-Cutterville and all of its inane trappings that numb my soul and entice me to escape myself as a means of coping. I don’t belong here in this land of families worried about good schools and crime rates, jabbering mindlessly about mowing lawns and sports scores, regularly anesthetizing themselves in local pubs where people like me get in the way of their good times. I’m too moody and dark for this place, too uncomfortable in my own skin and itching for something more to life than this. Yet I too have been lulled into a sense of complacency here, appreciating all these creature comforts and tasty foods and the relative ease in which society functions day-to-day. Can’t shake the feeling of being an alien here though, over a decade running.

Feels like I’m hiding here, but from what? From God? From a call to leave my comfort and to instead risk everything I have for what I can’t yet foresee? Damn. That’s a tall order. But I get it — appears necessary. Just tricky and unnerving and leaves me wondering if I’ve finally flown the coop since all the rest here claim to be relatively content and aren’t chomping at the bit the way I am. Why must I differ from them? Why can’t I be content with what’s been provided to me? Probably because I’m a disagreeable jerk not originally from this place and unable (or unwilling) to assimilate properly. Not that these folks deserve to be given grief; they mean well. I just don’t know what to do with myself while among them. Serve them so as to earn a living, yes, but what else? And that’s been the question forming over the years.

Am I scared? Probably. Most of us fear change, even if we’re uncomfortable with where we’re at currently. Not sure why — just a normal human response, I figure. The longer I stay here, the more difficult it feels to leave. Yet the longer I stay here, the more bitter I become, and that’s of no benefit to anyone. Not sure where else to go. Will take me at least a year to pay off bills and raise money and finish out my lease, but in the meantime I have to worry about leaving alcohol alone and coping with my present circumstances. Kind of feels like a catch-22. The longer I stay, the more I fear I will never leave and will grow colder and more withdrawn until I cease to be me. It’s a conundrum, but I suppose it can be surmounted.

I do get lonely. The hours in a day grow very long toward the evening. I read up on what’s happening in my society and all sounds so chaotic, so impossible to reign in. On some level a simpler life is needed, maybe so that a creative life becomes more possible. Because what I’m experiencing now is not life-affirming, it’s life-deadening, numbing, trying not to feel what I can’t help but feel. And it won’t change just because I wish it would — I know.

The answers are simple, though not necessarily easy. That much is true. What do I have to lose? Not much by this point. Am already pretty isolated. Already have picked up and developed bad habits. Already learned the wicked ways of people, including that in my own self. Spent enough time staring into the abyss and feeling it staring back. Learned a good bit about what not to do and have a better idea now of what’s in my greater interest, finally, as I slide into middle age. Money comes and goes — that doesn’t dictate everything for me. Have a pretty simple life that’s uncomplicated by too many major responsibilities. And maybe it’s that which I’d miss the most, that being my perch from where I’ve been free to watch, listen, and ponder for all these years.

But then there comes a time for action, for putting into practice what all we’ve been wrestling with and figuring out. So, on to the 1-to-2-year plan. Research what I can in the meantime. Because, Lord help me if I am still sitting here in this city 10 years from now. That would represent the opposite of growth — pure stagnation. Not certain my soul could bear it.

Reckoning with where to go from here (Saturday morning journaling)

Not been writing much on here lately. Less and less over the last year or more. Been trying to get out of my head and more into my body through exercise and distractions. Why? Because I am stuck in a mental rut and can’t break free. On and on and on it goes.

Existential panic a few years back turned into a full-blown crisis, which now has subsided a bit and transformed into what might be considered a curious form of nihilism-of-sorts. Not sure how to define or describe it, but I grasp that it’s not a state of mind a person wishes to remain in indefinitely. How to escape it, though, is the million dollar question. Can’t reason my way out of this conundrum, as I’ve figured out.

Hence why people like Dr. Jordan Peterson can have such an impact and attract our attention, giving us hope for pulling our shit together by offering a gameplan for physical action. BUT…even there in studying his words the last couple of years I’m feeling left out in the cold due to irreconcilable differences in our outlooks for the future. His traditional orientation, life-affirming as it may be, does not gibe with this 21st-century citizen’s outlook on life. One reason being that I am child-free by choice and out of a sense of necessity, the reasons for which are numerous. This obviously reduces my ability to place so much emphasis on family in my own orientation. Not to mention that I am from a fractured family myself and lack a sense of connectivity in that sense as well. Which then can spill over into impacting one’s view of the community — in my case I live a very atomized existence within a community where I did not originate and apparently have never successfully assimilated. These aspects alone create a severe discrepancy between what Dr. Peterson teaches and what I actually experience, much as I continue to appreciate his viewpoints and share his material with others.

Furthermore, I’m not so interested in becoming what he and others suggest is the healthier option. Not because I wish to remain unhealthy by comparison, but because it doesn’t make sense for me personally. A few years ago I tried to fit this square peg through that round hole and created a great deal of pain for myself and others in the process. In the end, it doesn’t appear to have worked much and likely only shaved a few years off my life through the emotional/psychological turmoil it brought about. Wasn’t the answer I had hoped for in the end either, but here we are, required to face the facts that not all can live in accordance with such ideals. If anything, it’s spit me out with a renewed understanding of how deeply my own personality penetrates my being, how it cannot be simply be overhauled or denied without severe consequence to my overall well-being. Come to find out.

Yet where I stand now doesn’t feel like somewhere I’d recommend to others. Doesn’t feel like a place where one can grow comfortable and accepting of what’s what. Hence why I continue searching for answers or at least better questions to ask.

Introducing routine exercise over the last 3 years has proven very beneficial insofar as helping lift the sense of depression that had been plaguing me. Quitting drinking for several months also aided me with better orienting myself and improving self-control, though nowadays I go back and forth between spells of drinking and not drinking. Giving up cigarettes this year was another bonus, though I remain addicted to nicotine through vaping technologies. Finally severing the relationship of the last 7 years also provides some peace of mind, though he and I remain friends at a distance. Been sleeping more, at least some days, and that too has improved my mood stability. Lost 40 lbs. from my highest weight, with hopes of losing 10-20 lbs. more through improving my diet.

And yet, the neuroticism remains. Ain’t that a bitch? Appears to be a deep-seated part of my personality. Some say you must find some sort of creative endeavor in which to pour all that energy, and there I’ve been coming up empty-handed. Been writing less than usual, assuming writing even helps in that regard. Haven’t painted in years. So instead I offer up my help to others to work on projects around their home or yard occasionally so as to keep myself busy and learn new skills. And I cleaned my apartment thoroughly this spring, trying to reduce the smoke smell in this place after 9 years of smoking indoors here. Been trying to socialize more and meet new people, with mixed success. Haven’t been reading print books much despite a desire to do so, though I continue listening to audiobooks regularly. Resumed cooking new recipes that are in line with a low-carb diet. Also have been training at the range with my weapon, trying to improve my marksmanship.

Also continue keeping a finger lightly on the pulse of what’s going on out in society, though my interest in politics in general has waned over the years. All appears to be a losing battle — yet another reason for not bringing kids into whatever the future may hold. There are literally thousands of causes and issues calling for our attention, and yet we could spend 10 years focusing on only one and still may (likely) wind up with nothing to show for it in the end. Sad but true.

Sounds nihilistic? Does to me also. It’s not much fun being accused of being “negative” and a “downer,” so I try more and more to keep my mouth shut around most folks. It remains true that technologies are moving too fast for someone like me, that they’re leaving me behind and giving me a strong sense of foreboding for what is to come on down the line. We humans care an awful lot about power, control and respect, and yet here we are, confronting a very uncertain future where it looks extremely likely that the vast majority of us will lose more power and control over directing our own lives. And what does respect even mean in a time when it’s become customary to sell our souls to the highest bidder? Or just to make a living? Giving ourselves over to corporations in order to secure our livelihoods as well as for our material sustenance.

This is an inescapable existential quandary I find myself in. Simply shifting my perspective and pretending that what is occurring is actually fine and fun doesn’t appear to be a realistic option for someone like me. Consider it a shortcoming on my part if you must. Blame it on a lack of imagination or pragmatism. Whatever. I’m coming to resist this outlook less and less though. Hurts less when I accept it as being just the way things are and cease chomping at the bit so much. But it’s also a very alienating way to live. Gets in the way of social connections, particularly with new people. I do pray occasionally and ask for guidance, direction, and the answer I’ve received back troubles me. Sounds like another waste of time and energy, although I can see where it’s more than that, where it’s an opportunity for honing one’s skills in a way that never truly goes out of style despite being threatened by emerging global political designs. One word: sustainability. Seems to me it all comes down to that and always has, always will.

Yet I’m reluctant to jump in that direction as well. Not sure why, considering I’m not doing myself or others much good sitting here preserving myself in this apartment year after year, fretting over matters I have no control over. But I think we grow so accustomed to our lifestyles, even when they’re painful, because they’re at least known to us. The unknown is far more unnerving, even if it might prove ultimately beneficial in the long run. And of course changes often require money, financing. Life doesn’t sit on hold without money to maintain it. All of our material goods require a place to store them, lest we give up everything we ever worked for. The car must be paid off. Credit cards must be paid down. Have to figure out how to afford gas and the cell phone bill each month if no longer bringing in an income.

The plan that keeps running through my mind is giving myself over to helping on small, family-owned farms. Sounds crazy, right? But what’s crazier — trying that or continuing to live like this without a sense of purpose? Grandma says I wouldn’t last a day in that life, and maybe she’s right. But what realistically is my alternative at this point? When life gets to feeling like a very slow death, something must give. I’m less miserable than I was a few years back, but still I’m feeling the years slipping by, wondering what it’s all for more and more. Life’s been teaching me that suffering is inevitable, that really your only choice is to choose your pain. Suffer here or suffer there. Suffer physically or suffer mentally. Helps to become addicted to the pain, to embrace one’s inner sadomasochist. Endorphins are our friends. So far as I can tell, it’s all crazy no matter which way you turn. Human life all unto itself is crazy. We just grow accustomed to certain forms of craziness and accept them as the norm.

I don’t have a better answer than this. It’s not exactly what I wished to be presented with either, but that’s what I get for praying. Whatever I am praying to…

Self-preservation for the simple sake of doing so is such an empty endeavor. That much I have figured out. Life is meant to be lived, not hidden from. Not merely managed through the use of mind-altering substances. We’ve become the domesticated beasts who must beg others for what we need, and that’s a pathetic mode of existence unfitting for human beings. Our relations with one another are growing less authentic with each passing year while our lives are simultaneously growing more complicated. What’s all this technology for nowadays? To cage us? Does it really make our lives easier and of better quality? In some ways yes, in others no. Slavery truly never really ended, it just changed forms. Seems to me that now most of us are slaves and serfs, even if we don’t realize it. I’ve stayed out of the corporate game so far as work goes, but there’s no escaping corporatism in this day and age. This is what people are resisting when they call out capitalism, though they aren’t articulating their concerns very clearly. It’s a worthwhile fear, if you ask me. Not as benevolent and some like to portray it as. Extreme economic disparities being just one problematic feature it possesses.

I don’t know if humans can overcome this trend or if it will eventually overcome all of us. Am not convinced we common people might win this battle — that remains a question. Plus, I’m not sure most even want to. We’re not all on the same team, nor will we ever be. Any alternatives envisioned can’t help but differ as well. For years I’ve rolled around the thought of 10,000 communities going their own way, pondering what that might mean and why it seems necessary, so now I’m being called upon to practice what I claim to believe. To deny this calling is to become a complete hypocrite, a talker who will not DO. And it kinda pisses me off to feel like my hand is being forced here, being the rebel that I am and all. But what real alternative is there for me? Keep sitting here, day in and day out, pondering on life and growing more weary while feeling like I contribute little of actual value in response? My contributions will always be small, and so be it, but contribute in some productive way one must. Lest the nihilism blacken our hearts and minds and turn us against Life and those who seek to affirm it.

As a woman I will probably always have one foot in chaos, per my nature. And that’s all right. It’s to be expected. In the end, I expect Nature will ultimately win out regardless of what we humans might do. And I’m okay with that. Keep trying to remind myself that it truly is about the journey and not the destination since we’re all destined to be turned to dust. Waiting for what the future might hold is a waste of each day. Dark as I might be, I do love. Much as I personally might lack a sense of community, I can grasp the importance of it. No human being is an island. And local power is the only real power most of us will ever potentially be afforded. Which is to say through our interactions, interpersonal communications and work. Squalling online doesn’t change a thing. Forever trying to get laws passed to force the hands of others only will ensure that others will fight you on the political battleground indefinitely. Reason and argument can go a long way in changing hearts and minds, but not quite far enough. Not as far as bonding can take us. And we bond through what we share in common, through the work we do side by side and the respect we earn in one another’s eyes. Perceived differences tend to shrink in such scenarios.

I don’t know what’s right, but I have a few ideas on what’s wrong. What’s unsustainable yet heavily invested in leads to wrong. Leads to people doubling down on what won’t work. Leads to ideological possession and fanaticism because the truth can’t or won’t be accepted. And that leads us to a very ugly side of our natures, good intentions be damned. I’m not sure what’s really real anymore, but I have an idea or two on what’s obviously fake and false. It appears this is what’s meant by worshiping false idols — human-made idols that we’ve grown attached to and have our egos enmeshed with. Hard to let that go. Tough to admit how wrong we’ve been.

I don’t have any answers here, just a bunch of questions. And a recognition that what’s been tried so far isn’t sufficiently fulfilling. Life feels very long, even as each day slips by too fast. Might want to take advantage of our health while we still have it, put it toward some better use. Might want to use our minds for something better than continuously arguing with one another over matters that most of us don’t have any real control over. Casting blame and shame and forever seeking scapegoats to pin life’s problems on. Or entertaining ourselves to death through means that don’t actually help us improve our skills or well-being. Someday, when this country eventually falls, will we be a failed nation full of people with few practical skills beyond pushing buttons, rendered helpless and/or criminal when that which we’ve relied on falters? Will we then beg for any leader, foreign or otherwise, to remedy our plight, even if that means forsaking all the freedoms this nation was once about? I bet we will. Unfortunately so. We’ve lost something, in fact so much, that was once considered sacred in our spirit. It’s not about religion, it’s about character. My own character needs adjustment and healthy growth, and I don’t know if that’s possible in this current setup. Seems our common way of life unto itself is undermining in this respect. Impacts us all. What might change that? Guess that’s a question we each get to ask ourselves.

Back to sobriety

It’s been a long year so far. Not necessarily bad, at least not in full, but definitely strange, shifting, changing. The man who was once my love is now gone, off with a new woman, and good riddance. Our game went well beyond tiring. Though it is a transition to leave it all behind, to let it all go and not keep looking back. No point in questioning where all went wrong or why when the questions have already been asked countless times. The answer remains: life is crazy, life is mad. Sometimes people come into your life and things go berserk because of the dynamic between the players involved. Simple as that. Reminders of the past can create intrigue and solidify bonds that probably never should have been. But we learn from all experiences regardless.

That he referred to himself as a “martyr” during one of our last phone conversations a couple weeks back is severely disappointing. Thought we were beyond this cat-and-mouse game of accusations and guilt. But that game never ends apparently. The only way to stop it is to cease playing by ceasing interacting altogether. And so be it.

Unfortunately, throughout the transition I decided to try my hand at drinking once again after 7.5 months sober. As to be expected, this three-month spell only further proved my inability to moderate. So, as of nearly 2 weeks now, I have returned to sobriety. Absolutely necessary if ever I am to move on in this life and arrive at greener pastures. The past cannot be changed, and that drug doesn’t help a thing — just makes each day foggy and keeps the ruminating alive. Keeps the pain alive, forever in limbo.

Been giving a great deal of thought to the reality that is addiction. Come to believe that anything can be addictive, not only substances but also relationships between broken people with dysfunctional pasts. Seeking to fill a void is all it ever is, and yet it does not work. Will never work. Depression can grip you like a vice, strangling all that matters while robbing all present and future potential. That much I’ve come to see very clearly over time. That anxiety can’t dissipate so long as such a dynamic is allowed to interfere with one’s daily process. Just keeps the wounds raw and forever reopened, never letting healing to take place. Why? Who knows? Competitiveness? Anger, justified or otherwise? Needing someone to blame? Seeking an ultimate reason on which to lay blame (God, Life, etc.)? I tire of trying to sort it all out.

The answer is that it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s been over for years and yet kept rolling on so long due to being allowed to do so. Like sleep-walking, it just kept happening regardless of intentions. Unconscious motivations must drive it. As well as spirits, quite literally.

Alcohol is a hell of a drug. Seems rather innocuous when looked at through the lens of socially acceptable pastimes. But that’s a mirage, come to find out. It’s the closest I’ve come to feeling possessed by forces and drives that felt foreign, hidden, dark and destructive and nihilistic. That’s not offered as any sort of excuse, just a realization of the power of intoxication once indulgences have gone too far. Years and years went by within that lifestyle — nearly half my lifetime. More than half of his thus far also. Amazing how communication breaks down and truths wind up distorted over and over again. How crimes become commonplace, dismissed, accepted, laughed about, ignored, downplayed. Shocking how much time slips away…

Months slide by. Then years. And you arrive at a point where you have to ask yourself what the hell is going on here. Why have I forsaken myself? To escape? Why? There is no escape from reality. There are just ways to complicate it further unnecessarily. Addiction being just one, albeit a powerful one.

It’s not about transferring blame to a substance, though it is about recognizing the power such substances can grow to have over one’s life and mind. It’s certainly not a secret that people can and do fall prey to such traps and have for thousands of years. Why? Temporary easing of pain, escapism, alteration of mood, seeking pleasure, etc. And then one day you wake up to the inescapable realization of the shackles you’ve placed on yourself. A new form of slavery, this one self-induced. Not intentionally, sure, but intentions have little to do with what becomes real. All feels like a choice in the beginning. This sort of thing can even feel like fun…until it isn’t.

So much time escaped me. Years. Wake up and you’re middle-aged, worn out and feeling defeated, overwhelmed by new grief you’ve self-imposed through ongoing hedonistic pursuits, crying out to God to show you a sign and help give you the strength to walk away from what now binds you. Such is this lifestyle…eventually.

But here we are, back to taking a long hard look in the mirror. Back to recalling the dangers and pain we’ve put ourselves and others through. Back to contemplating future consequences if that path is not abandoned. Swirling in the stupid memories of a life on autopilot, of a relationship headed nowhere and only going through the motions. Of self-inflicted wounds created out of a desire to escape from thoughts and feelings of previous wounds. On and on and on it went.

Part of me feels guilty, like I’ve let myself and my loved ones down. But none of that can be changed now. All we can do is get up and stay up and learn to fight a better battle. Mourning over time and money wasted helps nothing, erases nothing.

I feel much better when I’m sober. But, at the same time, I have a lot of time on my hands needing to be filled in other ways. Been exercising more and trying my hand at preparing low-carb meals once again. Tried to get out to socialize and meet new people, but so far that hasn’t proven too fruitful. Needing to reconnect to my creative side, though it’s slow to come back to life. Been listening to a lot of music and am back to watching more films and videos. Occasionally go to the movie theater with friends. Resumed the decision to start getting up earlier so I would go to bed earlier in an effort to bypass the “witching hour” (as I refer to the late-night timeframe). Listening to audiobooks like usual, but also trying to get back into reading print books more now too. Finally worked on a website yesterday that I’ve been putting off for ages, so that was good. Still have a little more work to do on it. Glad to have bought a newer car a month back and am looking forward to taking roadtrips when time permits. Basically needing to get out of the rut I’ve mired myself in over the last several years.

Takes time. One day at a time. But onward we go…

Welcome 4/20/2018…

That was “Love Invincible” by Michael Franti (as shown on here many times already).

Another favorite, The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”:

Returning again to Depeche Mode’s “Hole To Feed”:

“Other Side of the World” by K.T. Tunstall:

Always liked that tune. It played randomly tonight.

“Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider:

Dixie Hummingbirds – “Nobody’s Fault”:

“Working Man Blues” by Merle Haggard:

“The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash:

That was a cover of Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” sung by Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers.

On a personal note, haven’t smoked a cigarette since Sunday night. Wishing to be done with that addictive slavery.

Hey slave

Isn’t it odd how much we’ve outsourced of our personal lives in modern societies? Our personal needs. We pay someone to massage us. We pay someone to listen to us (as in a therapist/counselor). We may even pay someone to have sex with us and/or to provide other forms of erotic pleasure. We procure pets who require a great deal of attention so as to pet in order to feel better, to give our lives a little more sense of meaning. Pet them and feel a bit better, all while we pine for contact with one another.

Seems almost a crime when one really stops and ponders deeply on it.

What are we doing? In what ways are we becoming damaged psychologically in this day and age, and why? Is it required and necessary that we endure this? Maybe the path must go through nihilism on its way — I won’t claim to know.

But look at us. LOOK at where so many of us stand currently. And only rising.

Now what? What then? What are we to do?

What’s a better approach forward? Where better to go from here?

Seems accurate that the best way to save others is to first save oneself.

Has the perfect storm resulted in an inevitable societal outcome, unchangeable by us regardless of what we individually and even collectively may attempt? Have we already gone too far? I don’t know. But I’ve come to think there will be a good bit of hell before we might arrive at some approximation of heaven on earth.

Some call that outlook pessimistic. I call it a realistic probability. And I have to contend with whatever life is bringing. Anything else is living in delusion. How can it not be?

Wednesday morning tunes (spring is finally arriving)

A new tune for me in recent months, Joe Bonamassa’s “Dust Bowl”:

Love it.

Haven’t been on here in a minute. Busy with life. Back in the dating scene in full swing lately. Been interesting so far. Though the one piece of eye candy who most excited me flaked out pretty quickly, unfortunately. Don’t know why and might never know. But ah well. So, moving along, I’ve met with a couple new people since, one of whom is interested in working out so we’ve been taking long walks and went to the gym one evening together. Another I met for the 3rd time recently for dinner and to see another live band, which was nice. Then there’s the gun show to look forward to this weekend, which I plan on attending with a buddy. And plans to go bowling this weekend as a first date with another gentleman I met once briefly.

Just staying busy…keeping in motion. Considering my options and working on getting out of my head and back into my body more so. Been cooped up enough thanks to our long winters, so now I feel the need to go out and mingle, to work my muscles and sweat as well as try restaurants I haven’t been to in years.

My former partner is off with his new love interest in Florida currently, lounging on the beach. Good for him. We both needed a vacation badly, so perhaps my time will come later this year.

And in other news, I bought a newer car last week. Very nice. Fancier than I had expected. The old car was pouring oil and leaking transmission fluid, on top of calling for various other expensive repairs, so it was time. Actually secured a good interest rate for the first time ever, and my goal is to hopefully pay this newer vehicle off within the year.

Up this morning cleaning and tending to chores, like completing my student loan repayment re-certification process. Fun fun.

Alice Merton – “No Roots”:

Was invited out to tea this morning before the day’s work appointments, but we’ll see. Waiting on laundry currently.

Definitely feeling different lately. Nice to have some social demands on my time considering how much time I’ve spent alone in recent years. Big, deliberate shift there. Feels healthy to get in motion and stay active and to get out of my cave. Speaking of this cave, spring cleaning has been coming along nicely and I’ve already donated at least 3 boxes of unwanted items to the Salvation Army, with another big bag of clothes and shoes ready to go today. So much junk needs to get up out of my space finally.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – “I Need Never Get Old”:

Dating in middle age actually is proving more enjoyable than I recall it being in my 20s, interestingly enough. Maybe because I’ve been through enough by now that I’m in no rush and have lessened expectations in terms of how things ought to go. lol Very strange dealing with these corporate types though, but I’m being open to them about my own resistance toward going that route myself. Prefer my simple life out here on a perch, observing the fray. Also a bit hesitant when it comes to dating men with kids, and I won’t even consider men with very young children since I know my limitations. But practically everyone went the family route, and so be it. I did not and will not. But at least their kids are grown or nearly grown by this age — that helps. Not to sound like a snob, just not terribly family-oriented myself. Former had a son who’s now in college, and that all went fine, but I feel like a fish out of water trying to play that game too closely. Best that I maintain a distance from too much of that. Though it’s true that the most responsible men out here do usually have kids, hence why they developed into more responsible persons in the first place.

To each his or her own…

A tune introduced to me just this week:

That was “Temptation” by The Tea Party.

Still considering my 2018 goal to quit smoking cigarettes. Feels like it’s coming sooner rather than later. The desire to save money while ceasing destroying my health is strong.

“A Quitter Never Wins” by Tinsley Ellis:

Recently saw him live locally. Being turned onto new music by the new people I’ve come into contact with.

Millennial bizarreness (early morning journaling in March)

It’s been a weird week overall. Good in some ways, odd in others. Last night proved a bit irritating thanks to two people walking out on me, one being a man I agreed to meet for a drink from a dating site who got bent out of shape immediately because he didn’t like my choice of bar to meet at (in his neighborhood, attempting to accommodate him — my bad — complained that he was the only white man there) and then took issue with my stating that I had met a couple other people as well and had prospects in mind. Should’ve just texted and called off the meeting, he said. Okay, fair enough, though I clearly stated beforehand I’m mostly looking to meet new friends and to see where things might lead thereafter. He then told me how his last date went a year back where he and a woman went out and got drunk, he took her to his home where she fell in his bathroom and broke the toilet and later didn’t offer to pay for the repairs. That sounds like a shitty date. Then he got up and marched out, all within about 12 minutes of us meeting. Kind of odd, but oh well. Yeah, I had a weird gut feeling to begin with and probably shouldn’t have agreed to meet in person. Was just an awkward and pointless outing with a middle-aged accountant — chalking it up to “nevermind that.”

But afterward I had agreed to meet up with a barpal I’ve been getting to know a bit (totally platonically) over the past month. That guy is 30, formerly in the military and currently a student, and the times we’ve met up before we’ve discussed religion, politics and philosophy (and played a little pool also). He had texted me to invite me up to the local tavern, and since that other meeting went so poorly, I figured sure, why not? My phone was doing some weird stuff that got me wondering if it had gotten infected (pop-ups pertaining to TouchTunes despite not using that app that day), which I was trying to sort out upon arrival. Not in the greatest mood starting out, looking forward to relaxing and engaging in interesting conversation with someone I’m already somewhat familiar with. Great. Well, the energy started off feeling awkward and uncomfortable, partly due to my mood since my technology was acting up and that accountant had seemed offended that he wasn’t the only person I had agreed to meet with from the dating site (which kinda boggled my mind), but also partly due to this barpal’s mood. He’s normally pretty high-strung and a bit argumentative, but in a quiet bar we’ve managed to converse and have it feel fruitful, so I figured we’d each calm down and the night could mellow out. But the music was loud and he was talking a mile a minute, starting off with military topics before abruptly turning the conversation to sex.

Not sure how or why that conversation came up, but I was only 2 beers into the evening by that point, so we’re not talking about a natural evolution of the conversation over the course of a long night between two drunks. No, we were talking about SJWs and their propaganda, and then I mentioned what happened that evening and also how my dating life was going, and right there he brought up anal sex, at first seeming to be joking but then refusing to let the topic go. He apparently wanted to get across his opinion that anal sex is important in all relations, even hetero relations, and that we women need to get with the program. I stated that that strikes me as an opinion influenced by porn viewing and that not all of us are into that sort of thing. He kept cutting me off and really trying to drill home his point that too many men are “homophobic,” that being their reason for not being open to the practice. He also took issue with my reference to anal sex as a “kink,” a word he seemed to be offended by. He kept bringing up homosexuals and jabbered about changing norms and spoke rather derisively about “the vag” (as he put it).

Admittedly, my head started to spin since he’s so talkative and interrupts constantly and came across kind of aggressively on a topic that I just didn’t care about and had no real interest in discussing further. Told him that I don’t see the big deal, that when it comes to people’s sexuality it can’t help but be subjectively assessed, that our personal preferences are our own and so be it. To which he then bizarrely mentioned how racist views are personal preferences too, as if that in any way related to the topic. Like, what? I didn’t understand why this seemed to matter to him so much and why he seemed so offended that I took a different view of the matter. It’s not as if I was pulling out my pitchfork and castigating him for his views, yet he was taking issue with my “vanilla” ones, in a neighborhood pub early on a Thursday evening. Turned to him and point-blank said: “You do you.” Find someone who’s into that and that’ll be cool. No worries. But it’s not for everybody. We don’t all have to see this the same way. Beyond that, the music is loud and I can’t hear what all he’s saying well enough and I don’t wish to keep on discussing this in a place where others are around and my voice has a tendency to carry. He kept on, so I then stated that I don’t find this conversation interesting. He then got up, looking pretty irritated, and said something about how I seem to be getting upset and turned to walk out. I requested that we step outside where it’s quieter and I can smoke so that we can settle whatever this issue is, but he acted pretty smarmy and walked away instead. Okay. That too was weird.

Wasn’t sure what to make of that. This young man was upset because I wasn’t receptive to the type of sex he’s into? All right, but he and I are not lovers, nor have we ever even flirted. I thought we hung out so as to chat about ideas and to tell one another about things we saw or read online primarily or to talk about atheism. Beyond that, berating someone over their sexual preferences is no way to entice them to lean toward your own. Struck me as a strange tactic. He kept referring to my claim of different sexual preferences being okay as a “logical fallacy,” which he wouldn’t elaborate on. Was such a weird topic that I couldn’t understand what he was driving at. What was he hoping to accomplish with any of it? Who cares if someone else isn’t into anal sex the way you are? And just because other men may not be doesn’t mean they are automatically “homophobic” or repressing their desires.

Quite frankly, it was like talking with an SJW of another stripe. My way or the highway. Agree with me or I’ll walk. If your views differ, your views must be ignorant. He had kept implying that I lacked sufficient experience with anal sex so therefore my perspective wasn’t as valid as his. That’s a very strange take on the matter, IMO. Must one engage in a behavior however many times in order to form an opinion about it? I guess I don’t grasp the hang-up here or his intensity over the topic. What does it matter? Again, we’re not lovers and I’m not condemning him for his own preference. I just don’t happen to share it. That’s reason to get up and abandon one’s beer and walk out?

Left me scratching my head on all that. Didn’t make any sense. Not sure what the hell was up with yesterday evening, but what a waste of time applying makeup to come out to deal with all of that. Finished my own drink and headed home, calling it a night. My bartender lady-friend assumed he wanted something I made obvious he wouldn’t receive from me, but his approach sucked regardless. There’s no shifting hearts and minds with that attitude. Though, no, I’m not the one to target for such fetish play. Call it whatever you want, it’s a kink to me, and that’s fine. You all can do whatever you’re going to do, but the rest of us don’t have to follow suit.

What’s up with this idea that because people’s preferences differ that that somehow is a threat to your own? Can it truly be offensive that someone else says “to each his or her own”? I told him that what adults choose to do is between them — I don’t care. What’s the problem with that?

See, what gets to me here is this notion that people are no longer satisfied with their preferences being merely tolerated — they now feel the need to impose them on others, to try to pressure you to adopt their own. That’s so weird to me. Why do that? You have your freedom, now go enjoy it. I’m not trying to stop you. Not even trying to talk you out of it. So, again, what’s the real problem here? The need for validation? That’s not my concern. He seemed to be trying to frame the matter as if I’m sexually naive and/or inexperienced, which just goes to show he doesn’t know me that well and is operating with erroneous assumptions. Beyond that, a person doesn’t need to experience everything to a great degree before recognizing their limitations and comfort levels. THAT is where some millennials and I part ways since there does seem to be this huge hedonistic push for us all to take everything as far as possible. But why? I took things far enough to grasp that that orientation toward life and living actually comes with drawbacks and unforeseen consequences, and that too is a valid perspective that I have earned over time. He kept saying the word “taboo,” as if anal sex remains so terribly taboo by this point in our society. It’s not the taboo that impacts my judgment there, as stated to him, it’s my own desires. That is a valid assertion because this is a subjective matter. I get to determine what I like to do with my own body. How is that difficult to accept?

That topic came up after he had talked about the military’s “SJW propaganda” whereby the male enlistees were instructed about how a woman saying no early in the evening cannot and should not be reversed into a yes later in the evening after the female consumed much alcohol. While I agree with him that we women do possess agency and probably shouldn’t drink ourselves blind drunk around people we don’t trust to care about our best interests, he was really angry about that topic. Yes, sexuality is tricky terrain, both in and out of the military. There are no clear-cut easy answers there that can be applied universally. Very much a situation one has to feel out for him/herself in every encounter. And yes, alcohol can and does lead to some bad decisions and then consequent regrets the next day, particularly among young people. Do we not see this clearly by now? He seemed angry that women get to change their minds, and I took the position that we all are entitled to change our minds throughout the evening. If I say yes earlier on, but then decide no, stop, no further, I retain that right. Though I should work hard to not put myself in such positions as that since, again, you’re dealing with very tricky terrain, especially when alcohol and sexuality is involved. None of which I was able to thoroughly elaborate on since he kept interrupting everything I tried to say.

Hmmm. I have some odd conversations with some odd folks sometimes. Not terribly uncommon. Gotten used to them over time, but they still do leave me wondering about humanity. As in, where is this all heading? What are our priorities here? What’s the goal in pushing these boundaries? Just to do so? How little do we even care about one another? Is this just another manifestation of our sense of alienation? I said the word “intimacy” last night and he abruptly stopped me and asked what that even means. That strikes me as rather sad if that was intended as a serious question. Have we lost our way entirely by now? Do young people truly struggle with the concept of intimacy? Is that too becoming a relic of a bygone era?

Dumb bar conversations probably shouldn’t consume this much of my mental energy, but it can’t be helped. Humans confuse me — always have and likely always will, in all settings. I can’t help but ponder this sort of stuff, which is probably why I’m better off finding more productive things to do than getting wrapped up in seemingly pointless conversations with bewildering people. But I like to think that conversing is key, that we must communicate with one another in order to make better sense of life and living. But…some days it feels like a lost cause and like we’re all already doomed. Pessimism on my part, sure, but I can’t see where all of this is heading anywhere worthwhile, at least not during my lifetime. Push, push, push is all we seem to know how to do anymore. Argue and pressure and deride and sarcastically and passive-aggressively agitate one another appears to be all the rage. Why can’t we be satisfied with exploring our own freedom instead of constantly worrying with what everybody else is doing? Why do we feel the need for others to join in and to do as we do? I take it as a sign that individuality hasn’t taken root deeply enough, particularly for the youngest among us. You do you. You don’t need millions of others doing exactly as you do. Hell, I wouldn’t advocate for others to follow in my footsteps — in some respects quite the opposite. Because not all lifestyles can be universally appreciated or experienced in a healthy manner. C’est la vie.

Tuesday morning journaling in February

Yesterday was a very dark day over here. So far this morning I’m feeling kind of numb. Not sure what all to say about it. Gets very tiring going through these depressive episodes, though yesterday was likely of my own making due to drinking the night before. That poison depresses the hell out of me, clearly so. One more reason to leave it alone forevermore. There truly is no upside to imbibing any longer.

But some nights it feels necessary to escape myself for a little while, hence why I chose to drink again. Doesn’t work though. Just piles on more pain. Makes it harder to get through the next day with a raging headache. Makes me feel emotionally spent and crazy.

I’d love to blame the alcohol alone, but my time quitting it taught me that this depression is just a part of who I am regardless. Apparently got to live with it somehow into the indefinite future with all of its accompanying anxiety and obsessive thoughts. Honestly, some days I’m not sure how I’m going to manage that. I can quit drinking for good (and will), but this I don’t know what to do with. And I’ve come to the conclusion that nobody else can help me with it. All that is paraded as “help” for it comes with their own consequences and side effects and problems, sometimes as bad as that which they’re designed to treat. Been down that road before and learned that lesson. So…not sure what to say about that.

People say “mind over matter,” but what is over mind? Do you really control your own mind? Can you truly claim to control your thoughts and emotions? Sure, we might choose not to give in to them, but we don’t control all that happens in our heads. Can’t.

Is it a consequence of nature or nurture? Probably both in most cases. I’m to the point where I don’t care what initially created this or got the ball rolling. Doesn’t matter. Just matters that it’s here and won’t go away no matter what I do. And I get to feeling so frustrated with myself for envying the lives of others, their coping skills and social connections and less neurotic personalities. Would love to be able to accept myself as I am, but I’d be lying if I said I did. Just can’t seem to forgive myself for ruining some things, much as I know it does no good to worry on that now. It would be one thing if it were just a couple regrets, but a lifetime of regrets is harder to stomach. Especially when I’m not sure how to move forward from here.

To speak about this is to invite criticism. People will say you have to get up, get on with living. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Quit dramatizing and catastrophizing. I agree and wish it were that simple. Hence why it’s so frustrating. I see others bounce back from so much worse, and I know I could too perhaps if I had something to believe in. That being the ongoing existential panic I can’t shake. My own logic and reasoning actually sabotages me in that arena, on top of the emotions I can’t stanch. I can see it all pretty clearly, but I don’t know what to do about it. I’ve thought about this many, many times over the years and still I can’t seem to fix it. Spoken to friends until I’m blue in the face. Doesn’t appear to be a problem I can think myself out of. No amount of expression provides lasting relief.

The closest approximation to a heaven on earth that I can comprehend has evaporated. I keep telling myself if I just get over this next hill, maybe there will be something worthwhile on the other side. To just have faith that there’s more to this life than what I’ve experienced thus far. That I can someday be of service to others through what life’s teaching me. And that’s what I really want to believe.

But right now it all seems so far away and I’m stuck in the middle of this long winter for now. Am not blaming anybody else for this predicament. I know they can’t fix it either. It’s my own mind playing tricks on me again. And my life as it’s been constructed up until this point is pretty fucking disappointing. And this degree of isolation is doing me no favors.

Everywhere I read people saying that you just have to learn to be alone with your thoughts. But there has to be some sort of balance, we being social animals. Too much time alone with our thoughts is crazy-making. Turn toward the internet and it’s crazy-making too. Political talk is crazy-making. Observing the lives of others as if on the outside looking in is depressing. More time alone doesn’t appear to be any sort of remedy. If anything, I need to get out of this cage of my own creation. Break free and get back among others.

But I don’t wish to complain, and it feels like that’s all I do anymore. Brings people down. Makes them worry when they’ve got other problems to tend to. And that makes me feel guilty. So it’s a feedback loop that keeps perpetuating this. Other factors contribute too, like probably hormones and events I can’t or won’t accept. Two days ago I felt pretty steady, then snap. All turned black in a matter of hours once again. And it gets so fucking tiring to keep going through this, wondering what’s wrong with me, why can’t I be like those other people? Why can’t I be stronger than this? Why can’t I be healthier than this?

I don’t know. The more I learn, the less I know to be real and true. So much seems like a mirage anymore. Can’t trust my own mind with its compulsions and expectations and gremlin voices and irrational fears. To have something this self-destructive living inside oneself, pretending to be oneself, is maddening over time. Makes you not trust yourself.

This isn’t how this game is supposed to play out. I wanted to be triumphant in some areas in life. Needed to forge connections that lasted. But I broke it all and now I don’t know how to put the pieces back together. Yes, we are individuals alive in amazing times with so many options and choices, and yet we’re more lost than ever before, knowing not which directions to take. And when we fail, we have only ourselves to blame. And when we need help, we have only ourselves to rely on. That’s the downside to modern life.