Tuesday morning journaling in November

Haven’t had much to say on here in a while. Feeling a cold coming on since yesterday morning, so I probably won’t type much today. Just a short update.

Not sure how to describe my feelings lately. This year has been chaotic and unexpected on various fronts, most especially in watching my former partner fall in love with someone else and become engaged, with the wedding scheduled for this January. That’s been a bit of a trip, though I do wish him well. Just leaves a person a bit unmoored when your people drift away. He’s still around so far as phone conversations are concerned, but he’s moved with her out of state and this month has successfully sold his house. Times change, as they need to. Still feels a bit bizarre though, seeing his life alter so dramatically in such a short amount of time. But he’s happier and he fits in well with her family.

I’ve set adrift this year, trying to figure out where to focus my attention since that chapter has officially been closed. I won’t go in to details about my lifestyle and proclivities here today — just know that so much remains up in the air and that shifts back and forth continue occurring. My business took a bit of a downturn over the summer due to a few clients moving out of state (seems everyone is fleeing this place all of a sudden), so that’s been a bit nerve-racking to contend with, forcing me to be much tighter with money. But money tends to be easy come, easy go, so I don’t worry too terribly much. I always find a way. Plus I’ve taken on a part-time side job, not so much for the additional money since it doesn’t pay well but for the opportunity to work in a completely different environment than I’m used to, learn some new skills, and to take up some of this time I find on my hands. Idle hands are the devil’s play things, so they say, and lord knows I’m prone to give my own inner gremlin too much leeway when bored.

Times aren’t bad, they’re just kinda different. Reconnected with a friend whom I had a bit of a falling out with back in the summer. Glad to be back around him and to be past all of that. We likely can prove valuable to one another if we play our cards right. Negative lifestyle choices always factor in to our ordeal, but maybe this time we’ll figure out a way to make things better. I’m no longer convinced I can contend with everything on my own. People need their tribes, need somewhere to belong and others worth trusting. Leaders worth following. But I also know that no one can save you but you.

Been lying low and unfortunately not felt up to chatting with family members who’ve reached out in recent times. Nothing personal, just don’t know what to say to them. Plans have changed and convictions overturned for the time being. Not wishing to worry them but also not interested in offering up justifications. Hence why I live 900 miles away. Space and privacy can be a luxury.

Sometimes I still think of leaving this place eventually, but I know not where I’d rather be. Winter is coming and it’s already getting bitterly cold here, per its norm. Still resistant to breaking out the thick winter coat just yet, but soon enough it will force my hand. In a way I’m kind of glad I won’t have to work outdoors as much for a change.

My soul hurts a bit lately. Been going to the gym off and on. Haven’t been to the shooting range in probably 3-4 weeks but will eventually. Yes, self-care matters, and I know I feel better when energy is exerted and physical intensity forces me out of my head for a spell. Stomach hurts a good bit this past week, but I ate well on Saturday when out with a friend and also made myself eat dinner last night. I have very mixed feelings about my life choices at present, but I’m trying to have a little faith that things will turn around in due time. As always, much of the problem lies within my own thoughts and framing of life. It’s difficult to feel grounded when the future appears so perplexing. I don’t know how to effectively respond to it other than to try to find a home, so to speak. Figure out where I belong and take up roots there. Because this blowing in the wind bullshit is for the birds. Done it for enough years and feel the toll it’s taken. Individualism is the bee’s knees, but we’re indeed collectivists by nature as well. And I can’t really see a point to any of it when viewed from my own isolated, alienated, individual perspective. That hasn’t changed and apparently will not. Moorings matter. Civic nationalism always used to matter to me too, but it’s no longer enough either, not when we see what’s being done politically here and abroad. We the common people are losing a say in how the future unfolds. Part of me finds it all rather terrifying, but part of me has been living with these thoughts so long that I’ve grown used to them. I just know that the orientation needed has be about something bigger than oneself, has to include others one can work with, or else all these precious principles we claim to care about wind up being meaningless in the end.

I’m not depressed currently. Or at least not to the level I once was. Some would call me “black pilled,” which I initially didn’t like the sound of but am growing to accept the term. I am, however, emotionally tired — worn out and needing to somehow recharge. This has been an ongoing concern that needs to be remedied. Some of us need people around and recognize how strange we can become when left to our own devices for too long. Sometimes it feels very necessary to pull away from others and hole up in my apartment alone and to take care of myself; but so too it feels necessary to come back out to socialize and reconnect and to share one’s den. It’s been interesting observing how noting so many of life’s complexities actually strips one down to paying attention to basic core concerns. It’s as if the bigger life shows itself to be, the smaller we seem therein and the more the root fundamentals come to matter. That’s what it’s been teaching me anyway.

So, life remains crazy and mad, as to be expected. A lot has changed and yet a lot still remains the same. I’m not certain of much right about now and have many mixed feelings. But I am glad to be back around someone whom I’ve missed. I have no idea what the future will hold for me and try very hard not to stress too much about it nowadays. It’s just life — try not to be overwhelmed by it. Keep it simple, stupid — a good mantra to keep in mind. My dreams have nearly all disintegrated over time, so I’m not entirely sure what to aspire toward now, truth be told. In a sense, I’m lost, but not entirely. Or at least I’m not overly panicked about that fact at the moment. Just feels paralyzing sometimes, not knowing where to turn or what to do. Expectations can do more harm than good. Stripping down to essentials appears to be the new name of the game. I’m not sure what it means to win, though I have a clearer idea of what it means to lose. Sometimes we need to tread water and just be where we’re at, letting go of the guilt and anger that keeps poisoning our psyches. Just be human, fallibilities and all. I keep asking myself what I’m afraid of, but I can’t say for certain. Lots of things, yet fewer things over time. Missing out on worthwhile experiences worries me.

My confidence isn’t high at this time. Insecurities are a plague. The hope is that through dedication to simplicity perhaps this will improve eventually. Conscientious living in an effort to combat (or at least learn to better manage) neuroticism. It’s all a big experiment, as always, trying to figure out what feels like the proper way onward.

Perhaps it can be no other way…

Some people say they can’t understand how so many others can be deceived into supporting communism and denouncing capitalism. Others say they can’t comprehend the logic of those who display signs stating “support the blue.” People also like to talk about how silly it is to follow religions and pray to unverifiable deities.

There’s so much we can’t grasp about one another.

Something I can’t understand about a number of you is how so often you prove willing to accept government’s official narratives about events that couldn’t possibly have played out as described. Case in point: the events on 9/11/01. I’m still stuck back there, unable to accept political discourse since then as being anything more than farce. Yet I apparently belong to a minority in possessing these views. That’s been troubling me for a long time, this representing either a severe departure from reality for myself or for a whole bunch of you.

So I keep turning back to the question, again and again, trying to locate the flaw in my own thinking since people like to say that when you find yourself in opposition to most others, the problem likely lies within yourself. Fine. Challenge accepted. This has been an ongoing struggle in trying to reckon with what my lying eyes and mind are telling me versus what so many of the rest of you are saying.

A video I came across last night, just one more in a long line over the years, on top of so much I’ve read on the subject, along with the contradictory news reports from back around that time in 2001:

Building 7 makes no sense in accordance with the official narrative. Most won’t even touch that portion of the story, leading me to believe that people won’t reckon with its implications precisely because they fear the questions that will unearth. Flight 93 makes little sense either. Nor does the Pentagon attack. Nor do the twin towers falling into their own footprint.

Yet I’ve read where physicists dismiss such inquiries with condescension. And I’ve taken note of the many mainstream publications backing the official narrative. I’ve also listened to military personnel aggressively admonish people who dare to scrutinize the official claims.

And still I remain stuck, unable to go along with the flow of what appears to be the majority in this country. Do my eyes and mind deceive me?

Everything turns into little more than a circus in light of that information. And the inquiry into it forces one back further into history, learning about how America hasn’t been what we’d like to believe for at least a century. Then further back, branching out across world history. Through this exploration I’ve learned a great deal about human nature and how people are willing to believe nearly anything under the right circumstances. How we’re prone to repeat certain cycles. How successive generations wind up having to learn hard truths for themselves, again and again, despite all prior warnings laid out for them by those who came and learned the hard way before.

Such inquiries have led me to the understanding that I am wasting my time and energy in identifying too closely with our human/material realm. Hence why past people sought to turn toward God probably. It’s a never-ending maze that covers the same ground again and again, yet we so often remain blinded to this fact. So much is an illusion, created by us and for us. Power has been the name of the game since antiquity. Lies and deception aren’t new, though what is new is the vast amount of information available to us today, allowing us to challenge what’s presented before us and compare it to historical precedents.

And yet still, many refuse to look. Why?

Because to do so would undermine our current beliefs, hopes, dreams and strategies. How does one orientate oneself within a twisted labyrinth with no way up or out? What does one believe in when the principles we’ve been taught to embrace and uphold are exposed as mere talking-point lures to lead us toward serving ends that defy these very same principles? What is the value of Truth in an impossible see of misinformation/disinformation, wherein acknowledging what is real leads to ostracism, ridicule and even threats of violence? Worse, where such expressed thoughts can get one labeled as “crazy” and, if very unlucky, sent involuntarily away to be evaluated by psychiatry professionals.

That’s where the truth appears to stand today. Exceedingly unpopular, rendering those who insist on speaking it social misfits and pariahs.

Certainly doesn’t help that there’s also this label of “conspiracy theorist” whereby one gets dismissed right away for mentioning anything associated with its major talking points. Also doesn’t help that some who embrace such subject matter are prone to take up other lines of inquiry that are much less provable/more speculative, reducing the credibility of “conspiracy theories” as a whole in the eyes of many onlookers.

I get to thinking sometimes these days that there really is no point in trying to “wake” people up to these ideas any longer. Sometimes I wrestle with the question of whether it’s right to even attempt to do so when they seem so blissful in their ignorance as is. Perhaps shattering their illusions is cruel and would only likely lead them toward deep depressions that they might not escape. Is it the selfish side of oneself that wishes them to see what you see, even if that means paying for it by descending into hell as a result? Is it a case of misery loving company? I suffer in this way and so should you? I don’t know.

But I have a few people close to me who claim to be happy and beg of me not to mention these sort of things, preferring their tranquility to remain intact. One I speak with on these topics occasionally, but he’s immune to my concerns on the topic. Just goes right along with his day as if nothing had been said at all. Never stops to question. Never seems to care. As much as I love him, I have never been able to understand him on this level. I’ve been forced to accept that it’s truly a difference in our personalities. But what he calls optimism, I call distracted escapism. Sure, he’s a good person. Probably a lot better and more helpful than I am. Yet in this instance he blatantly and outright prefers to not know. He prefers his peace of mind. He prefers the comfortable lie.

I told him today that while I can sympathize with people like himself, I won’t pretend to respect that decision. He said nothing in response.

And that’s how it goes. The silence of friends can be deafening at times. Many times I’ve wondered if I’m just losing my mind here. If there’s something wrong with how I interpret information. If I’m truly and utterly deluded in this respect. And if so, what can be done about it? But then I return to the materials and keep digging for answers, and it keeps telling me that I’m not wrong on this. Might not know what did happen on 9/11, but I know damn well what didn’t happen. What couldn’t possibly have happened. Regardless of what so-called “experts” have come out saying otherwise. They’re doing a disservice to their own fields of study by confusing people about the sciences in an effort to prop up political preferences. Deep down I believe they know that. I hope they do, anyway.

I’ve been wrong on plenty of things in this life. Don’t normally assume myself to be right about much. Mostly I am a wanderer and ponderer, asking questions and listening to various viewpoints while studying life. But there are a couple areas where I have to take a stand and state the obvious. Call me loony for plenty else, fine, but a building on fire for a few hours doesn’t fall like that. To “pull” a building means to intentionally demolish it.

Demolition.

A fire doesn’t cause a steel structure to fall like that (or to fall at all). Recall that that building wasn’t even hit by a plane.

How are we, in good conscience, to continue pretending this didn’t happen and that our government didn’t lie about it? How is it all right to lead people to believe there’s something wrong with themselves mentally if they won’t believe and accept the official narrative?

No, we’re certainly not all on the same team. That’s been made clear many times over. Many will sell the rest upstream if it means their precious illusions can be maintained for just a little while longer. Many care more about redecorating their homes and pleasing their corporate bosses than they do about the state of this nation. So why do I care about the state of this nation? I don’t have kids. The future isn’t mine. Why do I care about law and order if so many of the rest of you obviously do not, despite all your lip service to the contrary?

Not sure how to answer that, though I’ve felt my allegiance to our so-called social contract waning for quite a while now. What do I owe any of you? If ignorance is bliss, then have at it. You receive the government you deserve.

Sounds cold-hearted, doesn’t it? Does to me too. I don’t wish to feel this alienated, but I don’t know how to swallow lies and smile while doing so. I’d rather be alone if that’s the trade-off. So greater solitude is something I’m trying to make peace with currently. Can’t stand to watch another person walk away from these realizations and head back to the bar where he can drown it all out, year after year. Hard to listen to those close to me say they’d rather stay happy, nevermind these ongoing, unjustified wars in the Middle East that our tax dollars fund. How she’s too anxious about her own problems and past, too busy raising kids right now to worry over such seemingly irrelevant matters…

I’m not trying to judge my people harshly. But I do judge all of us. Someday when our economy topples and foreign nations intrude on our domestic affairs, do you think they will look upon us with kindness and charity for our human rights record? Do you imagine they will sympathize with our extravagantly hedonistic ways that led us astray? Will our God hear our prayers once we’re forced down our knees?

I don’t know. I just know this isn’t right, and I wish we’d care more about the exploration for truth rather than simply securing our comfort. And that’s a pipe dream. Humans simply are this way and always have been. Some of us have a fetish for staring into abysses, but that doesn’t necessarily make us better people either. I’m not sure what the game plan ought to be anymore or how to orientate oneself in this situation. Our government lies to us more often than not, and there’s little reason to have much faith in my fellow Americans to do a damn thing about it. I try to forgive us for being this way — perhaps we cannot help. Perhaps people have always been prone this way because it’s simply something within our nature hell-bent on being this way. So maybe it really can’t be helped. Maybe those who say there’s nowhere to turn but to God are correct. Whatever that even means in a world where religions have proven very deceptive as well.

Perhaps radical individualism is our fate. Maybe it can be no other way. Even as so many others opt to collectivize so as to skew power in their favor…

This is what an existential crisis looks like.

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.

______________________________________________________________________________

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 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 as 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?

Speaking of “batshit craziness”…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like the blind leading the blind…

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

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

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

Makes the head spin.

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

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

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

An introduction to the Frankfurt School (Philosophize This!)

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

Part 1, “Introduction”:

Part 2, “The Enlightenment”:

Part 3, “The Culture Industry”:

Part 4, “Eros”:

Part 5, “Civilization”:

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

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

Part 7, “The Great Refusal”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simple, yet not easy. C’est la vie…

Journaling Friday night in the new year

Just got off the phone with my best guyfriend. Love that guy. A true-blue friend to the end. Helped me put things back in a better perspective.

Life is a gift. Never guaranteed tomorrow. Reflecting on people whose lives have been cut short or who just are no longer with us. Imagining some of their circumstances and how their passing leaves their loved ones’ mourning. Definitely puts my own little ongoing “existential crisis” in proper perspective. I am a lucky human being. I live in America and have an apartment that’s pretty comfortable, a solid roof over my head without worries on how to pay the rent each month, have food in my belly regularly that tastes great, enjoy indoor plumbing and heating during these cold Midwestern winters. And I have awesome friends, real people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds and tell it like they see it while coming from a place of good faith. That’s a big blessing. Plus, I still have my Grandma.

Don’t even feel the need to cut the man down to feel better about where I’m standing right now. This was all inevitable, and we both knew that. And that’s fine. It is better this way, truly it is. I know this, and I also know I’m a lot stronger these days than I once was. Proof is in the pudding. I got this. Just had to mourn a bit, per my custom, but it’s all right. I’m feeling better tonight already. Thoughts like to roam and ruminate, that’s a given, and the stupid alcohol cravings like to pester me when stressed out. Drinking never fixed a damn thing, though, so no worries about falling in that trap again. Would be too disappointing to give in to that again — takes too much strength to keep trying to quit over and over. Once the line is cut, it’s best to leave it alone. SO VERY GRATEFUL that I quit drinking in 2017, allowing me to approach 2018 without that weighing me down and messing with my emotions and basically fueling the drama in my life. It’s a choice, but I am so glad that I made it and have stood by it.

It’s easy to get down on oneself and just focus on the negative, but sometimes I just have to pause and recognize my own accomplishments so as to make that sense of futility back the heck up. Doing better than I was 7 months ago. Doing better than I was in summer of 2016 when I took sabbatical in Mississippi, and even back 3 years ago. Learned a lot through that leg of the journey. Can’t fully regret it due to its lessons presented, even the really painful stuff. In a way, it’s all a blessing since it did provide valuable insight and new perspectives. Living and learning…

Stupid earworm of the week that I finally caved into and am listening to on YT currently:

That gem was Hall & Oates’ “She’s Gone.” Literally have been waking up to that song playing in my head for the last 4 days. LOL! How dumb. On one hand super-annoying, but also kinda funny since I do love that song but my brain is such a drama queen. That song just keeps circling through my mind this week, pestering the hell out of me, but tonight I find it delightfully goofy. Not sure if that part of my brain is trying to torment or amuse me, but it succeeded at both. Ha

A comment someone left that cracked me up:

If John Oates’ mustache couldn’t keep her from leaving, nothing could.

Gotta love the internet. 

Time for another tune.

One that it helps me to listen to occasionally is “Getting Better (All the Time)” by the Blind Boys of Alabama:

Just a beautiful, humbling song.

Gotta keep on keeping on. Onward and hopefully upward. Try to walk like a more upright human being, despite being a monkey who isn’t as evolved as imagined.

My compulsivity remains a challenge to continue wrestling with. And so be it.

Very lucky when the power of love touches our lives, even when it’s accompanied with pain. Probably can’t have one without the other.

Always have to return to that one.

I know I’ve got this. Truly am in a better space these days. Helps to reassure myself occasionally, versus just berating myself for not being where I think I ought to already be. Life is not a race.

Ben Harper’s “Where Could I Go”:

There’s no deal to be made with the dawn…

The truest truth.

But the verse that’s been on my mind again a lot lately is where he says:

They say freedom is just another place to hide

Something about that rings so true…

“Well Well Well” by Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama:

Excuse-making is something we’re really, really good at.

Switching gears, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On”:

Tonight is kind of a rough night. My head hurts, lungs hurt, eyes hurt. I’m pretty emotional. But it’s going to be okay. Been down this road many times already with him and need to step on. Everything tells me so and has for a long time now. Only holding myself back at this point. Not even sure what the hell I’m afraid of anymore. Thought about all my supposed fears and I can see their irrationality. Amazing how seeing a problem really is only the first step and doesn’t remedy it much, but c’est la vie. Some say seeing is half the battle. But I have been inching into the future and made a good bit of progress already, so it’s not likely we’re stepping up from rock bottom. Attachments are hard to let go of, but it can’t be helped. Severance is necessary. Besides, he said and did enough bullshit himself, and I really don’t need that anymore. We’re not bad people, but we are on such different tracks. And at the end of the day it’s not even really about him. He’s just been made the focal point over time. This is my own journey, and I have a responsibility to myself to take better care of me, including cutting ties that wind up perpetuating pain and stifling personal growth. The back and forth and repeated game changes and general drama have run their course. There’s no going back to that. Not even if invited once again. It’s no good for anybody involved. And now I really need to be the one strong enough to keep walking. Keep caring but maintain distance. Return to my own life without him playing a central role within it. Can’t focus on my own shit when we’re hanging around with one another. Way too distracting with no positive end in sight. We know this.

The jealousy will pass. And I’ll try to keep busier during the evening hours so that I don’t concentrate on him being out with the new woman. He needs to move on, and hopefully he stays safe in doing so. But I don’t like being lied to, and I’m so sick of our drama. He riles me the hell up, and it never changes. Says stuff that just drops my jaw sometimes, but whatever. That’s his life to manage and navigate. I don’t want to stand too close to it anymore.

On the upside, I did demonstrate that I could quit drinking while still hanging around a heavy drinker. Dawned on me that people say not to do that probably because it can be so difficult, but I did it and it was easier than even I expected. Because I am truly wanting to be completely done with that lifestyle. Of course he’ll remain in it, and a part of me does get jealous of that, even though I’ve come to loathe the barscene. Part of me gets to feeling like I’m being left out, like that life is moving on without me. But that’s such a dumb thought. I’m moving on, regardless of what it or they are doing. Sure, it used to be fun at times, but I’ve paid my dues on the downside of what comes out of it too and don’t want it anymore. That may be his life, but it’s not mine nowadays, and I need to find new directions to turn my attention. Sitting around toying with the internet isn’t enough, and I really need to get out more. To where? I don’t yet know. Maybe just go on walks when it’s not too icy.

Feel like I just need to take care of myself right now. The last 7 years have been a really tumultuous ride that I want off of. But at the same time, it’s disorienting for that ride to halt so abruptly. It’s done it before and it’s always jarring. But oh well. Let this be the last time.

Too much solitude does make me nervous. And that’s the fear I have to confront.