Posts Tagged ‘life’

Over a year ago (nearly two years, I think) I began engaging in simple meditation. No chanting because I wouldn’t know what to chant, no music because I wouldn’t know what music would help (although I later began to play sounds of rain because nostalgia), no words or rituals. I just sat cross legged, staring at the wall (although, I would bow before and after because it helped to have a beginning and an end to the practice). It’s probably worth mentioning that I appropriated a few things from some other cultures that I had no business appropriating. I didn’t know this was problematic at the time, but I learned to know better and put away all the extra things that I was not a part of, but continued the practice.

At first it seemed difficult and fruitless, but over time it became easier and eventually I began to see things in a different light. I thought I saw things as they really were, and there was this really strong sense of euphoria when I realized I could abandon the things that made me unhappy and I didn’t have to live in the past. I could be myself and actually understand what that meant. I began to feel whole again. Nature brought me contentment—I know it sounds silly, but I could feel the life around me when I went for walks in the trees. I felt like a real living, breathing part of the world; connected to everything in a way that I hadn’t felt since I was a child.

I went days, months, almost a whole year without a panic attack and laughed every day. I was getting better, this was really happening and I could scarcely believe it.

Then something happened. A few things happened, actually, around the same time and any one of them could have been the thing that did it—but it shattered my illusions of peace and contentment. I was wrong. I hadn’t been dealing with pain, I hadn’t been enlightened, and I wasn’t putting mind over matter. It was just another technique to lie to myself and stifle the memories. I went back and read the things I had written at during that timespan and realized how nonsensical it all was. I was just making things up as I went with no rhyme or reason so that I didn’t have to listen to myself. I still consider doing a massive clean-out of most of my old entries, but I think it’s useful to remember where I came from. (I still meditate, but for different reasons.)

The panic set back in again, worse than before and with no warning signs, the connection I felt had been severed and I felt more separated from other people than ever before. Things got so bad that I began feeling suicidal again for the first time since I was a teenager. I could feel my instinct to keep myself alive get slowly drowned out by the desire to disappear. Then something else happened.

I told a friend about my traumatic experiences as a child and teenager. They took me out for a beer. I went home feeling a little better.

Nothing is easy.

Reach out.

Read Full Post »

I’ll just start off by saying that this whole entry is purely inspired by this article. I swear I made sex noises when I read it. I read it and then read it again, and then I went to talk about–but wait, no, I want to read it again, okay now I’m ready to write, no I’m going to read that article again. Oh god, don’t stop, keep going. That article made sweet, sweet love to my conscience. Facts are not things that take sides. Facts are not your political views. Facts are not your precious fucking identity. They might support some of your arguments but they do not–they cannot–depend on your morality. They might sit well with your agenda, and if they do, then that generally sits well with me. Of course, I believe it works the other way, too: your morality would be very finicky and fragile indeed if you only believed in cold, hard facts and nothing else as your moral compass.

I’d love to write about how you should deal with people on an individual level and never, ever, ever deal with somebody on the basis of what group they come from, but that would make me a hypocrite. That, and it’s much better addressed in the above article so just read it instead.

Still, it got me thinking about divisiveness: people seem really open to the idea of getting along–this is the future, after all–but it always seems to be the other person’s  fault that we can’t do it, and most efforts to join hands degenerate into something only slightly more subtle than a shit slinging contest. People are angry, and they have every reason to be, “if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention,” seems to be the rallying cry of EVERY GROUP ON THE PLANET. Leftists, right-wingers, anarchists, politicians, conservatives, queers,  everybody–and while that’s probably technically true (there is, after all, a lot happening where the logical–maybe even the humane–reaction would be anger), I take issue with the attitude of the statement. It’s not the anger part that gets me, so much as the manipulative manner in which it’s presented.

I’m sure a lot of you have heard the quote from Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” It’s a cliché, but it’s a good one. Still, it seems to me that getting angry is one thing, clinging to it is another, and encouraging others to cling to it… it’s just not the side I want to be on.

See, the screwed up thing is that everybody seems to think that the other group is getting what they want and that everything is going to hell because of it. Everybody thinks we’re all screwed forever while their supposed opponents are running wild. So where are the other guys? Where are these horrible, happy people that are ruining everything just so they can carry on with their wicked ways (and I swear to god almighty, if anybody mentions the 1% I will personally come to your house and release my pent-up projectile vomit on your face). I mean, somebody is pulling the strings, because somebody always is, and I have little doubt that it’s a group of people. I have even less doubt that they’re the type of people I wouldn’t trust as far I could throw them.

After all:

“The world is full of motherfuckers. Prepare and act accordingly.” –Henry Rollins

I get mad, same as anybody else. I’m not above it. I know that I get carried away with it, too. I know that I say ridiculous things in conversation without thinking, just like all those reactionaries that have me fuming on a daily basis. Is that the problem? Is it as simple as the fact that too many people talk without thinking? Or maybe that they think too much? Maybe we hear a purported fact and think, “how does this fit in with my morals, how must I interpret it to keep my political/religious identity intact, and who’s fault is it if it doesn’t fit?” and then we just get angry because thinking is hard? (Not trying to insult people. When it comes to this stuff, thinking is genuinely hard.)

I’m in no way trying to say you should quell your outrage when your morals are tested. I’m not saying that anger isn’t useful. I’m not trying to imply that some truths are subjective. I’m not even trying to say that you should stay neutral. Christ, I don’t really know what I’m trying to say. There’s been a sentence rolling around in my brain for the past two years and I haven’t been able to quite pin it down and say it yet. Just one sentence. It has to do with facts in relation to morals but every time I try to sort it out, the thought goes everywhere and just gets away from me. It’s something like, “facts are always worth knowing, but often not important.”

Again, that’s not it, but I think it’s close. For somebody who claims to be honest with themselves, I don’t know my own brain too well.

Let’s try this again:

I don’t know if you recall, but some time ago there were several studies of whether or not being homosexual was genetic/inborn. Now, they are trying to figure out whether or not being transgender is genetic. The usual rhetoric gets thrown around: some people find it dehumanizing (I’m tentatively inclined to agree), some want to know if there’s a “cure,” or “treatment,” and then there are those like me: those that don’t care whether it is or not. Are they trying to figure out whether or not it’s a fact? What does it matter? Are they trying to prove the “born this way,” argument?  Are we trying to settle some kind of natural law debate or some other bullshit? WHAT IS IT?

Alternatively, facts have a bearing on my day to day actions for no apparent philosophical reason. Like climate change and environmental damage. They are things–we know that now. They are real. Yet, I’m not going to have children to dump a ruined planet into their hands, I don’t believe in an afterlife (much less one where the outcome is based on who I was nice to/who I slept with/what worship house I went to) and when you get down to it, I find no philosophical justification for a moral structure at all let alone one grounded in how I treat the planet. Even if I leave the planet in a sorry state, I’m dead so what the fuck do I care? So why do I not eat things from factory farmed animals? Why do I try to be as environmentally conscious as I can? When I’m face with the fact that we’re strangling planet Earth, I do it even though I can’t justify it.

Ultimately, I think it’s because my friends can, and they’re smarter than me.

Read Full Post »

“Be realistic! Can’t you just, for one second, be realistic?
What that actually means is, ‘See reality my way OR DIE!'”
Dylan Moran

There’s a certain brand of pessimism that I can’t stand and I see it everywhere. I’m probably just as guilty of it as the next person but I’m going to rant about it anyway. It’s the kind of pessimism that hears something like this:

“Do what you want. Follow your dreams. Do what you love.”

And feels the urge to interject with something like this:

“I hope you like flipping burgers for the rest of your life”

As if all dreamers are idiots! As if chasing your dream is a fools errand and those that follow their hearts desire have no common sense! Fuck. That. Noise. You know why? Because I doubt anybody ever got what they wanted with that attitude. Of course there will be some bumps along the way. As the old adage goes, “Nothing worth having is easy to get.”  If you lose hope, you lose the game. While I’m at it–what the hell is wrong with us that hope seems a childish and unproductive thing?

Here’s what I think is going on: people know that living life how you want doesn’t always lead to happiness and therefore behave as though it never does. People know that the instant gratification crazed parts of our brains don’t always lead us to the right place and so behave as though that part of them is trying to sabotage their lives (it really isn’t, I promise). Of course you have to keep it under control but it took me twenty years to realize that it isn’t evil or deceitful. In fact, it’ll make ya feel good if you let it.

But when I say, “Do what you want,” there are those that say, “That’s not always a good idea.”
If you’re so damn smart and introspective then you should be able to read between the lines and know that I’m not advocating rampant hedonism or complete disregard for the rest of human-kind. Why does everything have to be taken at face value? Why do these people insist on dealing in absolutes all the time? No, I’m NOT being unreasonable. No, I’m NOT assuming you’re a mind reader.

That’s the cool thing about being human. We can see things objectively. Our ability to switch in and out of the lizard brain is why we’re so advanced as a species (relatively speaking).

I’m going to say the same thing two different ways and you tell me which one you think is better (don’t actually tell me, because I won’t answer):

Be yourself and do what makes you happy.
Be yourself but only when circumstances permit it.

That’s not how it works?

It works how I SAY IT WORKS

Read Full Post »