What rights? We only have privileges.

A video of mine from a couple years back:

Felt timely, once again, at this juncture.

Mid-November 2016 journaling (on reacting to trifling women)

Blustery, cold day over here. Have a few things on my mind lately so might as well journal it out.

A few days ago my former and I headed out to my bar for a couple drinks on his birthday. And, as luck would have it, a certain 20-something female walked in (of all days to do so) who’s been trying to flirt with him in weeks prior and approaches him when I’m in the bathroom. Typical sheisty move that most of us are familiar with. Maybe not a major deal, but I tire of the way females like to behave while he and I are out in public together, especially considering it’s become so rare for us to go out together anymore. Mostly because we keep running into issues like this involving other females who, for whatever reasons, apparently want what they want and care not how they make other women feel.

Well, it irritates me. Makes me wonder why this is fast becoming the norm among females, why we seem to be coming up lacking any respect for other people’s boundaries and relationships, why we seem increasingly geared toward selfishness and a total lack of concern for how our choices and actions impact others. Is this a problem specific to females alone? No, but it’s noteworthy there, I do believe. We females may not be prone to criminality the way males generally are, but we do appear to be prone toward wreaking havoc in the social sphere, perhaps because that’s our sex’s greatest sphere of influence.

Don’t know, but tired of observing it continuing to unfold in these patterned ways. This leaves me perplexed on how best to handle the matter. Simply walk away from the situation? That basically feels like letting them have their way. Call them out on this bs? Then they’re prone to either cry victim or become aggressive, thereby further escalating tensions. Try to be diplomatic? People like to lie to your face, telling you whatever you want to hear, and then go right back to doing whatever it is they want to do, unhindered. So, I don’t know the best approach. But I do know I feel like I’m getting too old for this crap, like there ought to come some point where understandings can be forged and maintained, though I realize that to be wishful thinking since we’re all a bunch of strangers in various stages of personal development.

So, what then? Well, I got a little catty. Returned and asserted my presence, took my seat, and basically let her know (without cursing) in very few words that I’m not interested in playing this game. And let it be understood this was a sober exchange — he and I had only finished a couple beers after he got in from dinner with his son. Didn’t necessarily wish to be catty, but I saw no real alternative in this scenario since she, from what I’ve observed thus far in her interactions with others, will take a mile if given an inch. Figured it was better to cut it off at the gate and be done with it, to let her know in no uncertain terms that I’m not tolerant of her antics. And then he and I left.

Now, he was a little embarrassed by this, so we exchanged words when we got back to his place. Apparently I take too strong of an approach in handling other women, in his view. But I tell him that you have to, that lots of women will just plow right on through your subtle hints. He plays the sweetheart out in public, and people like him for this but they also tend to try to take advantage of him as well. I’m rougher in my mannerism, and the downside to that is I probably come across as a lot less approachable, which to some may seem like a bad thing. I’d argue it’s both positive and negative, that sometimes it’s for the best to not be appealing to anybody and everybody since that then reduces the unnecessary drama others bring me. He felt I should’ve just ignored her or at least not reacted until she had crossed a more serious line. Okay, but why is it automatically wrong to act preemptively when you’ve already assessed this person and figure on them most likely doing just that in due time? In other words, why give them the opportunity to create that drama in the first place?

He and I had to agree to disagree on this subject, as is so often the case between us since we’re such incredibly different types of people. He is far more agreeable than I am and prefers to avoid short-term conflict; I’d rather get things over and done even if that causes some tension that others might prefer to avoid. He said I likely only further encouraged her to cause problems going forward, but I’d argue that there’s really no clear way to stop a person like that, but you don’t have to stand by being tolerant of their shenanigans with your lips sealed. Continue reading

“Insight Into Depression – Sadhguru”

Ok. Admittedly I have some mixed thoughts on that one. Agreed in large part with what basically boils down to a stoic type of outlook on us bucking up and taking responsibility for ourselves wherever we’re able. Appreciate his videos due to that sort of message. And I tend to agree that working at a job where you don’t have the option to call in sick (as is true with my own self-employment venture) does encourage your body to get back up and get with the program when colds and whatnot arise. Might still be sick and it might be the middle of winter and the midst of a major snowstorm, but you still have to go out in it regardless. Would take a major calamity for that to otherwise be the case and still other preparations would need to be made if I were in a condition capable of doing so (or my friend would need to help out in contacting people on my behalf otherwise, considering the nature of my business). I can nod along with all of that.

However, some people I know seem to do everything right and one in particular even has a job where downtime isn’t permitted, and yet still he and a few others manage to get hurt or ill more often than what most of us experience, even with nearly daily exercise and a healthy diet and attentiveness to his health. The man has the luck of Job, as we like to tell him. Not everything is within the individual’s control, as we know. I just feel the need to address that and to acknowledge our human limitations in some respects. Though, yes, most of us have a lot more control than we’re willing to accept and productively act upon. That appears to be a given.

There is a thin line between sanity and insanity, and while anger itself I don’t believe pushes us there, it’s what we do with that anger, how we let it fester and multiply. There does indeed appear to be a point where we can push ourselves beyond functionality. Where we self-handicap, whether we consciously mean to or not. I am trying to come to grips with this notion inside myself these days, as someone who’s struggled with depression (or what I prefer to refer to as melancholy) all my life, yet never experienced it as a way of gaining attention or drawing others near since it actually tends to have the opposite effect. Worries people, stresses ’em out. But then again, telling anyone anything they don’t want to hear seems to do that nowadays. And perhaps it’s always been that way among people.

Yes, if we didn’t experience intense emotions then we wouldn’t face the possibility of them folding back in on us and creating a sabotage. Nothing necessarily wrong with being a sensitive, emotional person, regardless of what some like to claim to the contrary these days; it’s just a question of how we manage it. Not a big fan of labeling much as “mental illness” since there’s such a craze over doing so these days that it seems as if nearly all human phases of development and crises can wind up being diagnosed along those lines. I don’t see life that way, not to the extent that so many others seem to anyway.  It’s a worrisome trend, IMO, and one to not treat lightheartedly or with too much unskeptical deference to those claiming to be “experts.” People like to assume you’re nuts for stating that, and so be it. I personally think people place way too much confidence in the mainstream model of interpreting human interactions and psychodynamics, probably due to its multi-decade history of trying to align itself alongside as well as intertwined with the medical establishment in order to enhance its status so as to grow into the institution it’s become. Opinions of these matters will differ based on what information we’re working with and what biases we hold, naturally.

So it is understood, I am still seeking and pondering and working on these areas in my life and have no advice to offer others. Though the talks of Sadhguru have provided me with some small measure of peace and insight and thoughts I can relate with in plenty of areas over the last several weeks since I came across him online.

Combining talks like this with listening to the audiobooks of Dr. James Hollis in recent times has been providing me a lot to chew on and deeply consider.

My Jekyll & Hyde

Depression and alcohol do not mix.

I have a problem and therefore cannot drink alcohol anymore. Cold turkey. Yep. Absolute must. I have allowed this substance to turn me into someone I can’t stand. It blurs my judgment and is disrupting my life. This I have a responsibility to no longer allow to go on. Kept trying at cutting down on drinking several times and failed because my will power has been shit, but TODAY that changes: Tuesday, July 21, 2015. PERIOD.

No longer will I tolerate or make excuses for my behavior. I want (and need) to enjoy quality relationships with good people without risking screwing that up while not in my right mind. Alcohol has been involved in nearly all of the bad choices I’ve made in recent years, so it has to go. I cannot and will not allow this to continue.

Currently support is available and being offered up, so I’m taking it, very gratefully. This is the day. I will kick my ass and make this stick. There can be no self-forgiveness without this change being enforced.

Spartan Life Coach on drug use and abuse

“‘Drugs Are Weakness’ Telling the truth about drug use”:

Too true and hits close to home. I got in the habit of drinking too damn much. Depression is a bitch, it is true. But there are better ways of handling it than frequent intoxication, assuming one wishes to remain productive and become more responsible.

Glad to have never gotten wrapped up in hard drugs, though I have sampled a bit in the past. Never tried LSD though and am glad.

Hmmm….tough topic for me, so I’ll leave it at that.

Hurts me soul too

That was “Hurt Me Soul” by Lupe Fiasco, this being a song I stumbled across a little over a year back on Pandora Radio. Tonight it was chosen specifically due to its title.

Hurts me soul.

I hurt a bit lately. Changes. A couple current family-related concerns drudge up old memories and the blues. Drudges up some anger too. But whatcha gonna do? Can’t change the past. Just trying to keep managing the present as I go. Like my guy reminded me tonight, I do have most of what I ever wanted now, today. That being the love and company of my partner and support of close friends and Grandma, a non-corporate means of earning a living, keeping a roof over my head and food (and beer) in my belly, all the books I’ll ever have time to read, a reasonably well-behaved feline, a decent car, entertainment, freedom from participating in past lifestyle choices, etc. So why let the past poison the present? Well, that’s the tricky thing about our pasts…

It lives on in our minds, replaying bits and pieces triggered by whatever’s going on throughout each day. Smells, sights, similar circumstances, etc. The past doesn’t just fade away because we may will it to do so. And it never stops being a part of us. It’s what shaped and molded us, for better or worse — everything that occurred in the past and all the people we came into contact with interacted with the cores of our being and together helped chisel the art that is oneself.

Free will enters in to whatever extent, but is it not also influenced by the expectations of others? We certainly weren’t free to choose our families or the people we were tossed in with by them in our early years. And if you come up with any discipline you know you certainly weren’t free to interact in that environment and with those people as a free, autonomous agent. Resentments form and can simmer for years.

And then we hit adulthood and people expect you to flip a switch and turn off concern for all of that. Mine it for its good points and let the rest go. Spent much of my 20s trying to do just that. It was a worthwhile endeavor that taught me a lot about myself and others. Broadened my empathy for people I’d previously over-simplistically caricatured.

But I continue to struggle with the notion of forgiveness. It’s an Oprah-ballyhooed trendy idea. Forgive whoever who has wronged you so that you can feel better within yourself. You can release the anger and resentment and pain all on your own with no effort or apologies needed from the other parties. You can choose to not be controlled by your pain. You are responsible for your own feelings — no one else can make you feel anything. Those are the claims. Yeah, well, in case it needs to be said: it’s nearly all bullshit. It’s a guilt-inducing lie that tells the individual that they and their emotions can and do exist in a vacuum where they hold the reins and wield all of the power, independent of what others may do to us.

And it’s shit like that that makes me skeptical of the extremes people are willing to go to, in this case in the name of individualism. The notion of individualism taken so far as to expect us to behave as if completely atomized and capable of behaving with robot-like control over our minds and bodies is the talk of psychopaths, not ordinary people. Such cultural expectations would prove unsustainable due to the widespread psychological harm it would do. This damage arguably is going on already.

What a terrific performance by the Avett Brothers.

The tragedy of all that stated above is that more and more seem to be accepting Oprah and Co.’s logic, ignoring the reality that there remains a tension between each individual and all others they interact with, extending out to wider society and then to all of humanity. It’s a web, and it also stretches back in each one of our pasts to all interactions with others and our environments experienced before. Sounds abstract, but we intuitively understand this or at least behave as if we do.

People may want to argue that bringing in our connections with others is some sort of scapegoat in our attempt to deflect personal responsibility outside of ourselves, holding to the belief that we each possess ultimate power over our emotions and our lives and that those who can’t toe the line are just lazy and lacking in will power and therefore deserve to be miserable. But who do you figure they’re referring to in that last bit? Why, most of us, that’s who. Nearly anybody possessing a conscience and sentimentalities of the heart.

Some people want to talk nowadays as if everything ought to boil down to “logic” and “reason” and “rationality” and “proof” and “empirical evidence” and mathematics, but that’s only one half of life. If that’s the yin, where’s the yang? It’s in our heart-felt emotional lives, our connections with others, our families and clans of belonging, our impulses and creativity — so much of what makes life feel worth living. We are social beings first and foremost, which is to say that if logic gets in the way of that, we tend to stray from being too logical (always while convincing ourselves that we’re indeed very logical — when don’t we?).

I’d argue sticking with the “yin” described above and neglecting the “yang”-side of life will prove a serious detriment to humankind eventually, making it illogical in the end. It’s pandering to a life out of balance, and when scales are tipped too far one way they tend to ‘knee-jerk’ back in the opposite direction before settling out. It’s anyone’s guess how long it could take, this being a process that plays out on and on and on.

Individualism vs. collectivism is the great social paradox. It’s a tension that cannot be naturally resolved. Not that I see it as a problem necessarily needing some sort of permanent resolution. It’s just the way life is, and we experience it on many levels, from the political sphere on down to our interpersonal dynamics and the memories that spin off from that and follow us throughout our lives. We like to think we individually are so mighty as to not need help from others, but it is an illusion disproven from the moment of conception. No human is capable of being an island, not fully and completely. Adults who attempt it frequently wind up going mad with depression. We are social beings, first and foremost.

Our lives are woven in the fabric of this tension. We are products of paradoxes that we have little choice but to learn to live with. Because they belong to the designs of the natural world, the framework we are bound to exist within.

Brings to mind another funny paradox about living as slaves. Humans have enslaved one another for at least as far back as civilizations have existed and perhaps even before then. Slavery is probably what allowed civilizations to come into existence in the first place. Cheap expendable labor, freeing non-slaves up to tend to other matters, like sitting around theorizing. Slavery allowed the West to rapidly ascend, and it arguably formed the foundation for capitalism (though we don’t call it slavery anymore, preferring economic jargon that sounds more sophisticated and somehow less barbaric). Capitalism was special, though, in that it freed masters from responsibility for their slaves. No more needing to house or feed them, while still not being required to pay employees a living wage. It’s clearly evident this, at bottom, is a cost-cutting scheme dreamed up by masters-of-old.

But anyway, what’s funny is that slavery is what we humans are fighting to try to stay out of with one another, now taking the battle to the political arena, and yet without slavery ever having existed the world would look very different today. Most people would likely still be either farmers or hunters out of necessity, because people would have to pull their own weight as best as able. This means big, centralized civilizations would serve no function, and therefore wouldn’t have come into being. Rather than be slaves to other groups of people, all humans are left to contend with their dependence on nature, the ultimate slave master. People wishing to escape that reality wound up in no better position unless they belonged to the master class(es), oftentimes determined by technological advantage achieved off the backs of those previously conquered. And which is worse? In the end will we not wind up being forced to contend with nature as ultimate master anyhow?

Ah well. Strayed far off the original topic of guilt, resentment, family, and individual power to forgive and move on. How much power does one individual possess, and does that amount of power fluctuate throughout our adulthood? Can we always help weak or tormenting spells, and should we always try to stomp them out? Do they not potentially provide value as well in allowing us time to think and ponder and rehash and soul-search?

Which brings me to the thought that initially inspired me to blog this evening: I am a soul; I have a body. This came to me after reading the titles of a couple of videos by atheists disputing the idea of people possessing souls. They say there is no evidence that souls exist, and I can’t help but chuckle. None of us really understand what a soul is, and how can we? It’s understood intuitively as representing our essence, of which our body is the vehicle. How might someone convince a skeptic of this truth? Probably can’t, because it’s not of the realm of science, at least not at this juncture. I suppose it doesn’t matter much what others happen to think on this topic — at least not to me. It’s not even a subject we can wrap our feeble languages around, let alone hope to prove or disprove.

So I continue on in speaking and thinking as I do on that. And today I am aware of suffering within my spirit. It began with a memory popping in mind first thing this morning, and more reflections followed as the day wore on. It happens. Even if I could fully forgive everything, I can’t forget. Beyond that, I’m not convinced everyone deserves forgiveness, particularly those who never ask for it. Maybe on some level it becomes the right thing to do, just to release the situation and let it rest as what has already come before. But a desire to stay the hell away from certain people seems unavoidable as well as healthy in plenty of cases. And then there’s grief over what’s been lost or broken, that being a tough pill to swallow and simply accept. To say that we can and should simply exercise our power to repress and move on strikes me as shallow and non-introspective, and in people who aim to do this I’ve witnessed the pain popping up later in life and dismantling their present. So it seems to me something we can’t simply walk away from and ignore but rather must go through and out the other side of, however long that may take.

But what does one do if stuck? I guess that’s where will power must come into play. If I will not direct myself, others may try to use me to serve their own ends, or I may be abandoned by those who lose faith in the health of our connection, and I wind up a slave to circumstances then.

Harshly put, Firefall. Noted.

… All is easier said than done.

… Is it really coming down to picking our preferred form of slavery?

Just thinking out loud again.