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.

Thoughts on loneliness and superficial living

This:

Not exactly certain what recent posts I’ve made public or kept private, but the topic expressed in the video above has generally been weighing heavy on my mind once again this year. Perennial concern I might as well consider it by now. Loneliness, lack of tribe, superficial social connectivity (e.g. bar pals, association via job alone, association purely for the sake of entertainment without bonding, etc.), isolated living and losing a sense of purpose to our lives seems to be a hallmark of modern life in what appears to me to be a failing civilization project.

It’s such a queer inquiry since, on one hand, we have so much to appreciate modern life for (such as certain technologies and medicines and comforts that enhance our quality of life), yet, on the other hand, we’re rendered less whole and less capable of functioning in a psychologically healthy manner as a direct result of several aspects of how life is being structured nowadays. Plenty still prefer to argue against this point, claiming the problem ultimately resides in us individuals who aren’t adapting properly, but I’m wondering if perhaps we’re expecting too much out of human beings when we assume that proper adaptation (whatever that means) is possible or that it itself doesn’t entail some very antisocial features.

On that last point, antisociality appears to be becoming normalized. For example, the individual who lives alone, works alone (or works remotely via computer), and who expresses disdain toward his fellow humans, preferring to not engage with the rest of us as much as possible (at least not in person) — is that not becoming more common these days? And are we not treating it as if it’s no big deal, dismissing it as harmless introversion and showing little to no concern so long as the individual in question remains gainfully employed and therefore contributing to our modern (primarily economic) perception of the common good? We call it a choice and like to regard it as a rather benign choice at that. But is it really? No consequences to this trend as we all go forward as a society?

Then again, I shouldn’t frame it as if we really care all that much about future sustainability for society since it seems clearly obvious by now that most can’t (or won’t) imagine beyond the next quarter or year and more rarely beyond our own lifetimes, children and their future progeny be damned. Might as well be honest about it. Mostly we pay lip service to giving a damn when really we care more about scoring points in our arguments today, wishing to come across as intellectual and morally righteous and forever inclined to cast the blame on that other group over there for whatever future problems may befall us as a people. Never our problem here today, especially not my own. But, in all fairness, we were all born into this and arguably are just trying to find our ways in the maze as it’s been constructed. Though I’d also argue that we’re co-creators of this societal maze since it has evolved throughout our lifetimes as well.

Anyway, antisociality is real and expresses itself in various forms. One currently popular form is preferring pets over people. We see it more and more, and no one seems the least bit taken aback by folks announcing such a preference. It’s treated almost playfully and humorously, yet some of us get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes reality and are aware of a growing number of individuals who live alone (or in what appear to be strained/empty marriages) and center all their (non-job-related) attention on their pets. And we hear these people speak of their fellow humans as “not worth dealing with,” contrasting the cruelty of humankind with the sweet naivety of animals. They’ve undoubtedly been hurt by people in their pasts and are retreating into the comfortable company of pets as an alternative, and I can see why that may seem harmless and even necessary in some cases. But the trend keeps mounting along with the attitude that likes to accompany it, declaring we humans to be jerks and monsters while Fluffy is immune to such evils. What worries me is the level of fantasy and escapism that is increasingly appearing bound up in that outlook. Do you imagine these people, despite their furry companions, are less depressed and/or anxious to where they’re at least less inclined to take prescription pills for managing their moods and worries? I’d like to see a study on that and am willing to bet that the comfort of pets still isn’t enough to overcome their sense of restlessness, purposelessness, and alienation.

Another form of antisociality that I am very familiar with is that which can come by way of frequent reliance on alcohol. Though here perhaps the primary goal is to escape our own selves, to get out of our own heads for a spell via temporary chemical lobotomization. And many of us would argue that alcohol can (or at one point seemed to) enhance our sociality, allowing us to more easily mingle with strangers and laugh and carry on. Problem with this strategy is it eventually proves addictive, as is the case with any dopamine-stimulating drugs. AND there’s a thin line between buzzed and outright drunk, the latter condition in no way proving beneficial for socializing over the long term. While we try to escape ourselves by checking out in this manner, we also manage to tune out from others also. Sure, we might go home and fuck them, but it’s not quality companionship and social bonding in most cases. The sex itself in these instances can be viewed as yet another form of escapism whereby we’re using the other person for our own personal sensual pleasure and to experience a temporary social connection without the formations of bonds or the acceptance of social expectations like further contact. In other words, it sets up shallow connectivity between chemically-altered persons who don’t give a damn about one another, which both tend to recognize the day after. Yet it’s oh-so-common, probably because we are lonely and this is one way to achieve physical contact and potential stress relief and a sense of comfort, however temporary.

Setting the sex aside, the barscene unto itself is problematic because of the culture common to it. No discussion of topics in real depth, particularly on matters pertaining to one’s spiritual journey or worldview. The name of the game there is entertainment, even if that means listening to horrific karaoke sung by sloppy drunkards-without-a-clue while overpaying for the supposed privilege to be there. Many of us have regretted our decision to spend so much time and money in such joints, yet we keep doing it because it’s a social venue we can easily access, especially in the late-night hours when our apartment walls threaten to drive us into comas of boredom. We’d rather go sit among a bunch of others and drink concoctions that rob us of our memory and ability to care much about one another. Can’t recall who said what and can’t really know one another, despite what emotionality may pour forth as the night wears on. Fake bonding that can’t be remembered clearly occurs. Superficial and relatively pointless, yet accessible more than practically anything else for those of us lacking tribes and families to turn to instead.

Then, drunks tend to engage in the next antisocial behavior so common to that lifestyle: we drive home in our altered states of mind. Demonstrating how much of a damn we truly give about one another and ourselves, numbed off to the fear of consequences (even after having experienced one or more O.W.I./D.U.I. or car accidents already). We cease caring about you or your laws or the future. Carefree living in the moment…

Also, it’s not uncommon for some to grow disenchanted with the overpriced barscene and to prefer instead to turn toward drinking at home so as to save money and be free from the idiot buffoons typical in that atmosphere. And that can easily turn into an antisocial situation itself, not only through avoiding people but by creating a situation where we can drink a great deal without checks and balances from others or cops. We can create a cocoon-type atmosphere when we drink alone, and that can unfold for years and turn into a very ugly situation in its own right.

Drinking and preferring animals over people are just two popular ways in which antisociality is manifesting these days. Not that alcoholism is a new trend, though us living alone opens up new possibilities there, new ways to conceal our problem from others and avoid detection from otherwise limiting factors.

Some might argue that intense video-gaming is another form of antisociality despite its social component since you’re each hidden behind screens rather than interacting face-to-face. Basically like each interacting from his or her own pod. Probably not all that different from the last several decades of people sitting glued to television screens, observing life unfolding as it’s been presented to us via those who wish to sell us products and propaganda. Then I get to thinking about people coming out about their porn addictions and how that negatively impacted their ability and willingness to pursue real, in-person sexual connections with others.

Then I veer off and get to thinking about all these people working jobs they don’t particularly like so as to buy stuff they don’t need, warehoused in houses they paid too much for, and all for what? Because that’s the prescribed way of life these days. THAT is commonly touted as success. Materialism over nearly all else. Slave to the economy. Is that way of life necessarily antisocial? No, but it possesses antisocial features as well, such as prizing economic interests over all else, particularly when it comes to one’s political outlook. That can’t help but impact society in various ways, including giving the impression to others that those disinterested in pandering to profit motives are useless bums unworthy of being brought into certain social folds.

A topic to continue on with another day.

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.

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.

Evening thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Maybe I will come to repent on certain matters. It’s a question of damage to souls.

Looking back, there are lots of reasons why, lead-ups and bad influences, and I’ll continue to take them into consideration when contemplating this matter. Not much more to say about them aloud though. Tired of my complaining anger. It was understandable at the time, but I’d really like to live the next half of my life without its bitter input. Scarred the mind, distorts the thoughts. Turns one into a full-grown problem child.

Amazing the webs we humans can weave for our own selves.

Civilization’s a hell of a drug. Plus, all this new responsibility foisted on all of us right as religions began dying. Interesting how that worked out. Though it probably couldn’t have been any other way.

To think that ideologies aren’t busily filling that vacuum is naive. Welcome to most-modern life. It’s bound to be a wilder ride.

It’s easy to get scared about the future, to feel overwhelmed, anxious, fearful about what rights we may lose. Nervous about crime rates spiking. Weirded out by the extremist fringes on sex and race being paraded in the mainstream press as if heroic and prominently promoted in various colleges — only to then have their ideologies embraced by global tech-giants Google and Facebook.

Known unknowns of the future…

Don’t know what’s going to happen to us as a nation or as the West. I care very much, but arguing with people over it isn’t changing a thing. There’s gotta be a better way. Put our money where our mouths are and gets some skin in the game.

So modern civilizations are fucking us up? Some say so. I don’t doubt it so far as its alienation is concerned. But what it’s become isn’t necessarily what it must be. Is there not room for positive change, for better innovations and more sustainable, psychologically-healthier options? I think there is. Why not have faith in that possibility?

But nothing will come into fruition the way we’d like it to if we sit here wasting time bitching while taking no effective action. No, standing around with a sign or pressing the government for more laws to govern what we’re allowed to say to one another does not count as effective action. That is unless you’re in cahoots with the idea of expanding government’s power, which isn’t a smart move any time but especially now when major corporations have come to exert more control over our political system than the voters. Not a good time to call on government to start censoring us over our pet grievances. Not smart — it won’t stop there.

We American fiddles are played easily. Get us up in arms over this or that cause, getting us foaming at the mouth at one another and demanding new laws to set limits on one another down here on the ground. It’s almost as if we humans don’t know how to stay out of shackles. Can’t seem to learn that trick. Too easily persuaded to put politics before principles. That’s us. Welcome to it.

I’ve been chomping at the bit for years. As have bunches of people. Most probably haven’t fully figured out why yet. We get to focusing on our petty grievances, our personal life drama, our perplexing pasts and upbringings, political drama, social drama, TV drama, internet drama. Can distract us for years. Often does. Hard to not get caught up in these traps — maybe even impossible. We feud as if sectarians, as if the other has caused our current national situation. Not I. Never I.

Man, I get so tired of chomping on that bit, waiting and wondering, feeling so powerless to do anything about the state of the world, let alone figure out my own personal bullshit. Then an idea struck me, something I first looked into about 10 years ago. Researching those possibilities currently. Gives me a little more hope and reminds me that this game isn’t over yet. We still do have options, at least in how we choose to live out the lives we have. Might not be able to control the future, but perhaps we can add alternatives to the mix. And perhaps we’d be better off in doing so. Maybe we’d learn more tolerance for one another, learn to work with one another on projects of actual value. Real work and real living. Ten thousand communities going their own way. It’s a beautiful dream that isn’t dead yet.

Maybe through reconnecting with nature and the roots of our survival we’ll learn a thing or two about that which we call GOD in the process. Just maybe. And likely we’ll be better off for it.

We’re not dead yet. We’re not bought and enslaved yet. Our minds and bodies haven’t ceased functioning yet. Nor has our creativity, good will, and desire for community. There can be more to this life than what some of us experience.

Isolation has its limits. Alienation is soul-damaging. Bitterness, resentment, depression, envy, false pride, and procrastination are ruining our lives.

Love can find a way.

Hello darkness, my old friend…

Come to find out, Twitter can be bad for the soul. Only started checking it more regularly in recent months, previously barely caring about the platform. Didn’t have much use for it other than as a place to store articles and links. But now I check the feed typically daily and scan through all the political grandstanding. Ideologies gone wild. Some are completely in love with Trump, while others entirely despise him. Then they foam at the mouth at one another and get worked up into a tizzy. Rinse and repeat day after day.

Feels like watching a bunch of handicapped weirdos attempting to compete with one another. Which in that sense is kind of nice since it helps me to feel more “normal” by comparison.  lol

Then again, sanity is fast becoming a rare luxury — or curse, depending on how you experience it. What’s that quote about how it’s no testament of health to be well-adapted to a profoundly sick society?

That’s the one. Krishnamurti said it.

It’s like living within a clown car, or a clown bus. Everybody’s at each other’s throats, looking for reasons to get offended or trying to get a humorous slam in. We’re going to meme ourselves to death on such platforms.

Was talking to a friend earlier today on the topic of U.S. politics and how people are losing their shit over Trump every stinking day since he took office. My friend has been tuning out the news for the most part, but he too considers Trump to be batshit insane. Okay. Well, I’m not interested in defending the man. Just strikes me as kind of funny since I can’t see how Hillary Clinton (or Bill too, for that matter) or Obama or 75% of Congress are any better. It’s one big fucking circus. And if you’re still buying into the Left/Right paradigm and believe one party or the other has your best interest at heart, you’re a naive and/or willfully blind fool. That’s my position and it has been for a long time now. Can’t shake my distrust of either side, especially knowing that each “team” received the same Big Corporate backing, meaning they’re serving the same masters.

Apparently it’s difficult for most people to accept that our politicians don’t give a damn about us. But they don’t. And once voter fraud becomes less detectable they won’t even care about winning our votes. Will just lie to us and keep the shitstorm humming right along. It’s what they’ve been doing as far back as I’ve cared to take notice and only gone off the rails more so in recent years. Like their aim nowadays is simply to entertain us and keep us divided and at each other’s necks, thinking we’re waging battles with one another that matter.

Meanwhile the richest get richer along with their politician lap dogs, and our government grows more powerful and less concerned about the will of its citizenry. Not that any two of us can barely agree on any one point. We the people are a clusterfuck of chaos jabbering at one another…just as I am doing on here tonight. Not sure if it makes more of a difference than talking to oneself. Seems not to since so many knee-jerk away from hearing or reading opinions they don’t already hold.

We will indeed wind up with the government we deserve…

Listened to my friend today lament how there should be “more compromise” between these two political parties and their adherents. Compromise? I had to laugh a bit at that notion, as if being a centrist is any kind of stance to take between those nut-job extremes. Said to him that we’re confronted with Party 1 which is pushing socialism/communism with the endgame winding up being totalitarianism vs. Party 2 which is pushing corporatism masquerading as free-market capitalism, also destined toward its own form of totalitarianism eventually. Pick your poison. Ultimately looks like a choice between different forms of slavery to me. Soul-sucking either way we turn.

In moments like that I wish the Libertarian Party were up to snuff anymore, but it hasn’t been since the days of Bob Barr. Gary Johnson, though I voted for him twice, is not a strong leader who makes enough intelligent, relevant arguments. Just keeps pining away for legalized marijuana, as if that might solve this nation’s problems. Frickin’ joke. All of it is. Which then makes me a bit more curious how the Alt Right will wind up factoring into this scheme, especially since so many claiming that political badge are associated with disgruntlement toward Jews and promoting the study of “race realism” in furtherance of their goal of racial segregation and the formation of ethno-states. Not a fan of their plan either.

No country for old men…or this middle-aged woman in the political outfield, wondering where the fundamentals of our Constitution have gone.

People talk, talk, talk, talk. Argue, argue, argue. And where is it getting us? Who are we convincing? Too many of those who come to see our duopoly politics as a big scam wind up tuning out and growing apathetic, which is understandable to a point since fighting this mammoth (along with so many people ideologically possessed on both/all extremes) looks like a losing battle. Futile. Basically like begging to go down history’s memory hole as a “lone wolf” madman framed as being against society. And in a sense we are against society, or at least what it’s becoming.

But there are no brakes on this clown bus. We’re cruising straight to where we’re headed. My bet thus far has been on the Political Left loonies winding up with the power to impose their utopian fantasies on the rest. But who am I fooling? Global corporatism is a force to be reckoned with, and they buy (or at least strongly seduce and help corrupt) most politicians of any stripe. So we’re looking at a fusion of wannabe-Communism/socialism within a corporatism context. How do you figure you’re going to get around this inevitability? The Alt Right doesn’t differentiate itself as being in favor of regulating corporatism, so that way doesn’t offer a true alternative either.

So then what? If people were going to stand up against this Machine, we’d have done it already, decades ago. The truth is that we’re too comfortable right now, too consumed in our own lives and the pleasure and curiosities new technologies bring. Many are also consumed with raising families — very energy intensive. Trying to earn money and then entertain ourselves to death, like everybody else is doing. Trying to learn life’s lessons and get our shit together. So no, most of us are in no position to do a damn thing about the trajectory we as a society are on. And as already stated, going up against this Beast, this Leviathan, would include going up against probably half the populace as well since they’re protective of this status quo (including the Progressives and so-called “radicals” who like to destroy shit). We’d all be lost without this convenient infrastructure, which would be severely damaged if enough tried going toe to toe with our current government. Would be viewed as treasonous behavior, unacceptable. Would mow you “patriots” down in the streets.

So what then? Vote? I’m so far past believing my vote matters, especially since I don’t vote two-party and most others do. Am a minority within a polarized/polarizing society.

Feels pretty pointless to keep bitching about it, but oh well. I’m going to anyway since that helps me keep my own sanity while observing what’s unfolding. This shit isn’t going to become functional — it can’t. It’s broken already, irreparably. Too corrupt — politicians, media, citizenry and all. We’re all already too dependent (no matter how independent you might like to consider yourself to be within this grid). And we’re too afraid. Rightly so, considering a true attempt at revolution would likely result in a bunch more of us locked in cages.

So what do we do? Pretending like it’s all okay isn’t an option for me. Nor is pretending that I don’t care. And don’t tell me to just go out and volunteer for some cause! Sick of that advice and already put in my time on that through the local peace community. Turned out to be a bunch of Leftist apologists for Obama, thereby not truly independent nor free from ideological obsessiveness. Hanging around with a handful of so-called “truthers” doesn’t sound too alluring either since unfortunately some of them are truly wackos.

Everybody frustrates me. This whole game irritates the hell of me. Try to tell myself not to take it too seriously, that perhaps we humans have to go through hell before we can recognize what’s truly of value. As humans before us have gone through over and over and over again. The lesson never sticks for long. Succeeding generations always wind up hell-bent on having to relearn it all the hard way, and perhaps it can be no other way. Technologies change our environments and lure us into thinking that this time if we try to play God it will work out for the best. This time we know something our predecessors didn’t know. This time around humans are more clever and innovative, talented and genius, plus connected through these amazing new digital networks. This time things will be different and we won’t all wind up victims to human fallibility and folly. This time we have precision, SCIENCE, on our side.

And this time we’re just as crazy and naive as any other time in history, albeit modern technologies allow us to take our dreams to greater heights that will lead to far greater destruction when our bubbles burst and cold, cruel reality sets in in the end.

Yeah, I’m the bringer of bad news. What optimism I reserve goes toward those speakers who do spread brushfires in the minds of many and get us dreaming outside of this box and reassessing what matters to us fundamentally. Never know what might prove to be a game-changer. Keeping an open mind for those unforeseen variables. “Nada es imposible.” So some like to say…

Feel like I keep writing this over and over again, year after year. Doesn’t change much, regardless of which political players switch positions. Just not sure what this perspective is asking of me. Seems to want to keep coming out, yet I’m no artist so I don’t know where to put it. Part of me says that what matters is the journey, not the destination. Because we may see a horrible crash up ahead is no reason to bow out of the game. If anything that should probably make us stronger, recognizing how little we have to lose in the end. But nations come and nations go. None are slated to last forever unchanged. If this is the future many of our fellow Americans want, then who am I to step in their way of having it? Don’t have any kids to leave behind in this nonsense. But it seems wrong to not resist the formation of hell on earth. Seems like that would be the ultimate calling for any of us, assuming we’re able to discern what’s what, which we tend to all disagree about. So we’re not going to be on the same teams, quite obviously, and so be it. It’s an individual endeavor anyway, regardless of what the collectivist ideologues would have you believe. Starts inside oneself.

We’re all dreamers…it can be no other way. To live and not dream is not to live. There will be no utopia in the end no matter which direction we choose to head in. Only approximations of hell, some better and some worse. Guess it’s a question of what suffering we’re willing to endure and for what, why. Because either way we’re going to suffer, you can bet on that. Most especially future generations once the public coffers dry up and more jobs are demanded to be provided by Big Government and its Big Corporate partners. In one sense this is history repeating, but in another this is a new phase with new challenges and new technologies very different from anything that came before. Greater likelihood for a far darker depth to descend into as well. In this age of manipulative psychology, global economics, and centralized power like never before seen.

It used to scare me, but I’m growing numb under its weight in recent years. Tired of being afraid of the unknown on the horizon. Also very tired of those who fancy themselves as optimists who are prone to freak out over my outlook, chastising me for viewing it this way, as if it’s simply a choice I make. Should we take pills and hide our eyes and cover our ears? Should we continue hiding in our addictions and drama and constant distractions? Is that truly the better way? Or should we learn to grow stronger in the face of these possibilities and set aside our utopian fantasy that we’re heading toward a fantastic future? Which seems like the most realistic and sane approach to you? Because you’re going to suffer either way, guaranteed.

The thought that keeps circling my mind this week is the fear of dying and the fear of living. So many of us fear both, and are thereby rendered paralyzed. So we stand idly by and watch what unfolds. Just another form of compliance since we wind up dragged along into the future whether we like it or not.

You would think such thoughts would be depressing, but I’ve been thinking along this line for so long now that they’ve actually transformed into something slightly reassuring. Perhaps because it forces me to view life in a day-by-day manner. Can’t change the past and can’t completely control the future. So we’re left with doing what we can with what we have right here and now. It boils down to how one lives his/her life. Outcomes be damned since that’s beyond our scope of power.

I do wish I had more answers than this. But apparently it comes down to one’s values, though I’d argue half the problem presently is that pet preferences have replaced values in our political arguments. Pro this and anti that is all we seem to hear anymore.

Getting tired so that’s enough journaling for one night.

Tuesday night journaling in late January

OK. Going to try this again today since my earlier entry was a bit too personal and therefore needed to be marked private.

Keeping it simple, I’ll just say this. My worry over the “relapse” last Thursday wore down and I no longer am as concerned about seeking outside help, at least so far as AA is concerned. It’s not that difficult to keep the alcohol out of my mouth (having made it over 7 months since the last time I drank and am right back to leaving it alone again), and my knotted stomach days later continues alerting me that it felt abused. That was a glitch, a momentary bad idea that I take full responsibility for, and it had a bad outcome (that shouldn’t be too surprising). Certainly not as bad as it could’ve been, though, thank god. Not worth playing Russian roulette with it, as I full well know already. I’m going to chalk that up to one bad decision in 7.5 months of sobriety and simply carry on with my plan to keep alcohol out of my mouth. Might not always be easy, but it is simple.

If I feel the need to reach out for external help, I will do so. Nothing is off the table in that respect. But my fear has abated and I recognize the situation for what it was. It feels like a showdown with “the devil” because indeed that is essentially what it is. And so be it. Hanging out with a bunch of recovering alcoholics doesn’t sound like the smartest way to confront that problem though.

One reason being that I texted this guy I met a couple years ago who had a horrible drinking problem and finally went to AA (he preferred the atheist meeting that is held downtown) and got sober. Good for him. We talked about all of that back then, and then we lost contact over time. I reached out to him the other day, while I was lying around on my comfy sack trying to recover from Thursday’s shenanigans, to ask if he is still off the booze. Unfortunately the answer is no. Said he made it 19 months and however many days. Said he broke his ankle a few months back and wound up moving back to his hometown and is now back to drinking with no desire to quit again anytime soon. Hmm. That’s disappointing since that guy was a poster-child for someone who needs to lay off of alcohol. The stories he used to tell me were disturbing, and I witnessed enough firsthand from him, which is largely what ended our interacting. So…that’s a bummer. And that guy was avidly on board with AA back before.

Not saying AA doesn’t work, just noting another example where someone in that program returned to the drinking lifestyle. Not exactly wanting to subject myself to making friends with people who are going to fall off the bandwagon and return to boozing. Strikes me as counterproductive, like it would be better to instead meet people who don’t have drinking problems. Because I have no desire to return to that lifestyle. It’s frickin’ suicide in my view, and so many of the people who’ve succumbed to that way of life for many years are bound to return to it. I intend to be an exception, and will be. Unless (or until) I grow old and get cancer, then all bets are off.

It’s not a lifestyle for someone wishing to live and make productive use of their years on this planet. Leave it for the hospice cases.

Heard too much negative stuff about AA. Though I’m willing to read their literature online and acquaint myself more deeply with their ideas espoused. Just don’t think hanging around with a bunch of its members is the best gameplan for me personally. I’d rather go it alone primarily. Social support can come by way of friends and family.

The counselor lady I used to see and sent an email to over the weekend has yet to respond. So I’m starting to think she doesn’t work at that clinic any longer. Might look her up to see if she’s practicing elsewhere in town. If not, I may consider arranging a visit with a therapist who specializes in addictions, since it might be good to gain more insight from a professional perspective. Maybe. We’ll see.

I’m not one to trust the mental health field much, but that’s just me. My Papa licked this addiction on his own, as have plenty of others, so I know it can be done. It’s one day at a time regardless. But I have so much anger and frustration toward that time in my life and the barscene as a whole (and my idiocy within it) that it’s not tempting to return to. Thursday night was the result of a self-destructive impulse to block out other pain in my personal life, which didn’t do a damn bit of good and only left me feeling far worse afterward, as to be expected.

As for my personal life… Former has fully moved on to this new lady and has announced her as his girlfriend. I’ve given him my blessing on that when we spoke at length yesterday. Undeniably an odd and crazy dynamic between us two. But now he gets to move on in this new relationship, and I told him I’d prefer to hear fewer details in moving forward. Their personal business is and should be their own. He’ll have to turn to other friends for those types of conversations. Yes, I asked some questions, and now I’ve heard enough. We intend to remain in contact, though less frequently, and I plan to reduce that further as time goes on. Because I really need to care for myself right now, having already devoted the last 7 years to our chaos. I’m admittedly a little miffed about a couple things he cared to share last night that I thought were attempts to rub salt in my wound, plus he confessed to lying to me on one matter, which was irritating. What’s going on with him? I’m not entirely sure. But either way,  we’re headed in separate directions now. I wish him all the luck and want the best for him, and he says the same for me. And we will remain friends, albeit at a much further distance.

So, it’s been an interesting new year thus far in that respect. All of this was inevitable and I accept it. Is for the best. That man and I cannot communicate effectively with one another to save our lives, and that gets to become her problem now. Don’t mean that to sound bitter, but damn. I deserve to purge our drama out of my system, and so I am. Not feeling sad any longer, though I will undoubtedly continue missing him a bit since we spent so much time together. But it’s also a relief quite frankly. Been on this carousel long enough. Wayyy past feeling disoriented and nauseous. He’s not a bad person, nor am I; we just had a ton of problems and weren’t suited for one another romantically, as we began figuring out long ago. I look forward to experiencing less stress in the coming months, as I’m sure he does as well. Those two already have a vacation scheduled in the spring, so I’m sure she can keep him entertained over in her corner at least long enough for me to work this attachment out of my system in case they don’t work out and he gets to thinking he can come back to me until he meets the next one. Nope. No more of that will be tolerated. Hurts too much to deal with that yo-yo bullshit.

And then I basically blogged the same damn thing I marked private earlier. Ugh. Oh well. This has been my life. Won’t claim to be thrilled with all that’s been going on (actually quite the opposite), but there it is. I’m a little over half a year into giving up alcohol (aside from last week’s reckless outing), and then I got to start off this new year saying goodbyes to my ex-boyfriend whom I’ve gone through the longest breakup in recorded history with. Was a unique relationship, to say the least. But I am actually very glad that both of these phases in my life have come to an end and that now I am free to head elsewhere. It’s all an adjustment though. Was pretty sad for a couple weeks there, but c’est la vie. This is the best timing for this to occur, and we both knew this day would come eventually. He sounds very happy and excited, and she sounds like a decent person, so far as we know. So, good for him. And that’s that.

Turned my attention to cleaning some in my apartment today after work and resumed re-listening to Mark Manson’s audiobook The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Didn’t make it to the gym this afternoon since my left foot still hurts, but soon enough. Later I began listening to Kevin Hart’s audiobook I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons while out at a little Chinese buffet that I enjoy.

Am supposed to bake brownies for my neighbors who are moving out on Thursday, which I may do later tonight once the dishwasher finishes up.

It will be quieter around here, but that’s okay. I need some time to myself right about now.

Funk rejection (an update)

Pulling up out of the funk I’ve been in the last few days. Was kind of rough for a minute there. Very likely hormones played a role. Not much can be done about it other than to wait it out. Might make some folks uncomfortable to even hear about, but so be it. It comes and goes, but always it will return. Figured out by now that to expect to live without the funk’s repeated interruptions is a pipe dream. Certainly helps to pull out of it when my loved ones and I are getting along. And I’ll leave it at that for now.

Went in for a massage yesterday, courtesy of a gift certificate received by a lady I work for. Had the masseuse lady work mostly on my left arm and back since those are my problem spots currently. And she did an amazing job! Haven’t had many professional massages (maybe 3 now total), and that was the best so far. Confirmed that I probably do have a mild case of so-called tennis elbow from strength training, so I have to take it easier on my triceps for a while. Need to pay better attention to my form too. But then she said it seemed to her that I have a disc problem in my lower back, which I figured has been the case for years. Can’t afford to see a doctor for that, so my only option is to strengthen my back and core enough to manage it, as I’ve been doing. There will be no surgeries in my future, no MRI scans, nada. Only physical therapy on my own and with my gym trainer. Been knowing this has been a problem for a long time already, perhaps since teenagehood when I first began experiencing acute lower back pain, but regular exercise has helped immensely in reducing the pinched nerve pain down my left leg over the last 3 years. It returns occasionally, but I’m doing a lot better these days than I was about 4 years ago. So, in short, strength training has helped, and I intend to keep it up for the rest of my life in order to maintain the feeling of relief.

We humans weren’t designed the greatest when it comes to our backs. Becoming bipedal messed us all up apparently. Ha!  But c’est la vie. My best guyfriend has been suffering major back pain again lately also, and he went in to see the doctor this past week since it got to where he couldn’t stand. Already had a surgery many years ago for discs in his back, and now other discs are acting up on him. Unfortunate. Difficult to enjoy living when your back hurts too much. He’s always been an active guy, but still he has to go through this. Not sure what to say about it other than to expand his exercise regimen since biking doesn’t really help build the muscles to support the back. He has medical insurance so they’ve provided him with pain pills and an exercise plan, with the option to undergo another surgery in the future if needed.

Told both him and Former that they ought to go in and see the massage lady I met with yesterday. Might do them each some good. Of course Former will have nothing to do with it, for whatever reasons.

Been cooking a decent amount lately, per my new norm since I’m trying to improve my diet. Fell in love with roasted brussels sprouts (who’d a thunk it?!). Been eating on leftovers of a beef mac-n-cheese with broccoli cuts tossed in — came out terrific. Made avocado/banana brownies again a week back, which were delicious, but I forgot to freeze them so they went bad pretty quickly. Today I whipped together an olive oil-based pasta salad with zucchini and mozzarella chunks to take over to Former’s house later since he’s cooking up a turkey dinner tonight. Looking forward to all that. Throwing caution to the wind in terms of carbs today so as to enjoy his spread. Last night I experimented with zucchini hasselback, which was just a notched zucchini filled with pepperoni slices and mozzarella (and seasoned with red pepper flakes and garlic powder), baked in an aluminum foil tent until fairly tender. Turned out good. Not a bad alternative to pizza.

What else? Been listening to a couple new audiobooks. Recently I finished The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains by Robert H. Lustig. An excerpt from his publisher’s summary of the book:

While researching the toxic and addictive properties of sugar for his New York Times best seller Fat Chance, Robert Lustig made an alarming discovery – our pursuit of happiness is being subverted by a culture of addiction and depression from which we may never recover.

Was a pretty good book by a pediatric endocrinologist. Would recommend it to my peers.

The book I’m currently listening to is Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is the Enemy. It’s so far covered a lot of what I’ve already read elsewhere, but I do really appreciate his delivery style and am planning to check out his book The Obstacle Is the Way in the future.

Haven’t been taking time with any print books lately, preferring instead to listen along while going about my day.

For the record, it’s now been over 21 weeks since embarking on my commitment to quit drinking. No slip-ups, though I did have some strong cravings last weekend for some reason. Former was drinking a strawberry margarita in front of me and I damn-near reached over to sample it. Then he’d partaken in a big sale at some local grocer that marked their alcohol way down, dragging home a crate full of bottles including Captain Morgan rum and wine and some blue stuff. Kind of tripped my trigger for a minute there, but then I refocused my attention and forgot about it. Gets easier and easier to leave alcohol alone. Already know what kind of a beast that particular drug can turn me into, not needing to reconfirm it. Moderation never worked for me, so the only option now is to simply leave it be. And so I do. But the cravings still come and go, as they perhaps always will. That little gremlin in my brain likes to try to remind me of the positive side to drinking, but thankfully I remain well-aware of the downside to it too. Can’t recall one without the other. Any substance that causes me to act like a fool and quit liking myself is no friend of mine.

An old man bar pal called up the other day out of the blue. Might be what initially set my mind to thinking about alcohol again. He asked where I’ve been, said he’d heard through the grapevine that I’d quit drinking, and then suggested that I should still come to the bar and just abstain from drinking while there. Not too interested, frankly. Especially not so as to visit with that particular grabby old man. Told him off a number of times already for groping me and saying perverted shit. Wish he’d lose my phone number (which I gave him a couple years ago when he gave me rides to and from the bar a couple times, before he turned as gropey). But of course everybody out at the bar likes the guy, thinks he’s swell and makes excuses for his behavior toward the younger female clientele (of course we’re all younger than him there). People used to say that I was “being mean” to him when I checked him, that he’s an old man so I should be more tolerant and forgiving. Ugh. Sometimes I really loathed my fellow bar patrons. They liked to make excuses for the sorriest shit. And I wound up looking like a bitch for not going along with the program. Oh well. So be it. I am a bitch. And I don’t like 70+-year-old men pawing at me while I’m out. He’s not entitled to do that. They can all put up with it if it suits them, but it bothered me, so I said so. And yet he still adores me, still considers me special and tries to get me to communicate with him. Says I remind him of his wife when she was younger. Lovely. I gave him a bunch of chances, but now I prefer to avoid him. Sure, it does make me feel kind of like a bad person to be so bitchy toward an old man, but then again, I also am really perturbed to see all these old men out in society demonstrating themselves to be such crappy role models. Don’t teach us anything; just prefer to act like perverts. Just here to get their jollies off messing with the (relative) youths. Gets old. Makes me feel queasy inside. I put up with such nonsense for years from a number of guys in trying to appear easy-going to those I was surrounded by. Well, they’re not worth it. Bunch of loser drunks with skewed consciences so far as I can tell anymore. Not saying that against all of them, but plenty of them, yes. Besides, those who aren’t like the rest still do tend to behave as they do so as not to rock the boat, so how’s that really any better? They enable one another.

So, yeah, I still have a decent amount of animosity toward the barscene. Probably partially because since leaving it I find myself a lot more isolated, yet I know this is for the best. Better than hanging around with a bunch of people who only concern themselves with hedonistic escapism. Gotta keep that party rolling on and on and on, lest they be forced to reckon with real life and how they’re failing at it. Fucking depressing. Depressed me about myself when I was a part of it too. Fifteen years is a long time to devote to such people and places, so I’ve paid my dues. Don’t owe any of them anything anymore. Their lives are their own, and they can poison and ruin them if they so desire. Not my problem and I don’t wish to belong among them. Been there, done that, and damn-near wrecked what I have in the process. And all for what? So as to lose yourself within a crowd? To try to tune out reality? Well, reality has proven to be awfully persistent regardless of how much alcohol I tried pouring on it. Better to just face the facts than keep on dallying until you wind up losing more.

I met so many characters in that lifestyle over the years. But when I sit back now, a few months removed from the last batch, with a sober perspective, I’m unable to grasp what the great appeal really was. Wicked women and stupid men like to populate bars. Myself included in that assessment. What makes us wicked? Remaining immature, which alcohol aids in by allowing us a repeated escape. Keeps one’s thoughts dulled, along with our reflections and introspection. Plus, it puts us in contact with others doing the same thing who are more than happy to pat us on the backs and tell us shit’s not our fault and to lay blame elsewhere. Because every regular in such taverns is looking to escape personal responsibility and negative thoughts about their own past choices and behaviors. Hence why we regularly drank — to escape something. To delude ourselves into believing the problems didn’t lie in us, that we were unfortunate victims of circumstance. That life is largely about luck so all we really need to do is wait around for that stroke of fortune to come our way (no active work required on our parts). To cry in our beers over past loved ones and heart-breaks and questions we can’t find answers to. To drown out the past instead of finding a way to forge through its remnants. To meet up with sexual partners to add to the hedonistic experience and provide an outlet for the mounting tension within. To await death, partying in the meantime, telling ourselves that you only live once and that there’s no point focusing on the things that bring us down. Etc. I’m very familiar with how that lifestyle operated.

Sometimes I get to feeling like I was put here so as to provide an example of what not to do. But now I’m taking steps toward better directions, so perhaps now I can redefine my personal purpose as a striving toward redemption. Lounging around in the muck with those perfectly content behaving as swines doesn’t help one’s soul one iota, especially not when that path is embraced for years on end. And now I stand a mere 5 months removed from it. So I’m still finding my bearings and trying to figure out where to go from here. Figure my Papa is probably proud that I gave it up too, and that gives me some peace. But I am still angry at what that lifestyle represented to me and how I let myself go within it, plus how much jeopardy I placed myself in by dealing with the wrong sorts, as well as what unnecessary drama and jeopardy I created.

It’s very difficult to forgive others, but I’m finding it especially difficult to forgive myself. Though I know I have to let that go eventually so as to move on, the bitterness that realization produces still has a strong hold on me. Makes me angry at myself along with all the others who aided and abetted me. Looking back on them all, I’m having trouble accepting them for who they are. Yes, sure, they’re a bunch of fallible humans like myself who are destined to learn things the hard way, as is natural. But damn. The severity of our blindness and how that spills over onto others is astounding. Willful blindness in many cases. Advantage-taking motivations and raw selfishness. Like not only did we lose our ways, but then we came to encourage others to follow in suit. We spread it around and lured others in so as not to feel lonely in the games we played. To feel validated perhaps, instead of shunned like we very probably deserved. But I was shunned regardless, before then, during, and still now. Gives me mixed feelings there since it felt like the shunning was what I initially (as a very young adult) was aiming to escape in the first place. And you don’t feel like such a misfit when you’re surrounded by a bunch of other misfits.

Too bad it was all an illusion. Didn’t fix a thing and instead created quite a few added problems. But here we are. Onward and upward. Can’t change the past.

There are some very painful aspects from the last few years that will continue to trouble me for many moons to come undoubtedly. Things that I succumbed to. Ways that I behaved. Surprised myself with how cruel I could be. And the reminders are always around. I’d love to blame the drug, but alcohol is only part of the equation. An important part, no question, but only one aspect. The rest involves reckoning with my own human potential, which, come to find out, isn’t so rosy and innocent. People say that you’ll bog yourself down in thinking about all of that, spinning it around in your head, that you’re just at risk of developing a new victim complex of sorts. Hmm. I can see where they’re coming from with that, and I am being careful in this stage as a result. But I have mixed feelings on such claims. You really have to see yourself as you actually are, not what you wish you were, not what you pretend to be, right and wrong. That stage in personal exploration is undeniably important. To try to skip that step is likely to wind one up seeking out another addiction to hide within. And that I cannot tolerate or allow. I’d rather be hard on myself and get it over with than treat myself with kid’s gloves and not ever get to the bottom of this situation, thereby risking history repeating. I understand why others shy away from such talk, as they’re so prone to do, but I am not them nor do I wish to pretend to be like them any longer. I can take the fight and I’m not so scared of myself and my capabilities. Seen enough of my own dark side that I can’t help but be well aware of it. Can’t force a genie back in a bottle once it’s out. Gotta learn to live with it. So that’s where I’m at presently.

So yeah, this is how my days go. One foot in front of the other. Try to keep steady, accepting that sometimes that’s not possible but putting alcohol in my mouth will most certainly only make things worse, as the past has proven. Don’t plan on staying in this state of mind forever, but this remains where I’m at right now. Life doesn’t always (or often) unfold the way we think it should or wish it would. And there’s no shortage of people out there willing to pat us on the back and help in deflecting responsibility elsewhere, but that’s not actually helpful, nice as it might feel at times. If it feels good, question it — that’s become my motto. Because we tend to be weak in the face of comforts and pleasures, though it should be evident by now that a lot of those lull us into a false sense of security. Which certainly doesn’t make us stronger and more competent in managing our lives.

All is a bunch of lessons to learn, and plenty winds up being learned the hard way. Such is life. Hop over one trap only to find ourselves mired in another we didn’t see. That’s just the way it often goes. But that’s also what makes life so interesting and perplexing. If nothing else, it keeps us busy in trying to make heads or tails out of what’s going on. Some days I’m up to the challenge, while others I’d rather hide my head, wondering what the hell this is all for. And that’s precisely the wrong question to be asking. THAT is where we succumb to seeing ourselves and others as victims of circumstances instead of as fellow travelers in this journey we call Life. Giving in to nihilism and destructive tendencies is too easy to be of much (if any) value. Counter-intuitive as it seems, it’s almost as if trying to carry the toughest and heaviest load we can bear winds up bringing greater life satisfaction, as well as provides a better example to others so as to lessen their fears. But I’m still sorting all of that out and won’t make grand claims. I just know that we’re capable of a lot more than we typically give in this life. Sitting up in a bar is for laborers after a long day working, not for commonfolk running from reality.