Be Fearless Like Me!

Let's look at the eye of the f'ing tiger (or lion as the case might be) .

I marvel at my power.  I am an unstoppable force, crushing inner and outer obstacles with the aplomb of a samurai facing battle.  For me, fear is a foe met and conquered.  Behold some of the areas where I have mastered my fears:

Staying home alone. I do not hesitate when it comes to isolating in my apartment.  I will watch one Netflix movie after the next with unshakable placidity.  I don’t even fear watching movies I’ve seen many times before—I have seen both the Godfathers I and II at least 10 times each with the steadiest of nerves.  Nor do I fear consuming foodstuffs purchased at Trader Joe’s while watching these movies.  As unbelievable as it sounds, I can simultaneously eat tater-tots dipped in barbecue sauce while watching Lord of the Rings without a vestige of timidity.

Shutting down my emotions. Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but I have no fear of withholding how I feel.  Whatever the situation may be, whether it’s expressing how I feel to my girlfriend, family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, I can shut down my emotions with lightening quickness.  My mastery is such that I can stuff my emotions down until I’m virtually incapacitated.  I can smother my needs, suppress how I honestly feel, even withhold my concern, with Herculean strength.

Not putting myself out for scrutiny. While many people have difficulty withholding their gifts and talents from the world, such is not my lot.  I have years of experience withholding who I am.  I have library’s worth of unread writing.  I have fearlessly dodged scrutiny and judgment innumerable times.  I know what you’re thinking:  “How do find the strength to withhold all that?  Where do you store all your undistributed gifts?”  Frankly, I don’t know sometimes.  Perhaps this fearlessness is just another one of the innate talents I keep to myself.

Surfing the web, emailing and text messaging.
This one might sound the most improbable, but it’s true.  I have nary a shred of fear wielding these electronic sabers.  I can surf the web for hours, check Facebook links, scour the news, refresh my email inbox, and rattle off pithy texts on my phone, all without churning my stomach with fear.  I suspect I could even approach a woman online if I didn’t have a girlfriend.  That’s how little fear these things cause me.

Not asking for help. I can go years without addressing a need, stewing in pain and toil, never succumbing to the urge to ask for help.  This is made more impressive when you consider that help is all around me much of the time.  I seem to have been born with an indomitable pride that precludes me surrendering to even the most dire needs.

Wasting my precious life. This feat is almost beyond belief.  I know this life is extremely fleeting.  I have had people close to me die or undergo serious health issues.  I know that this window I have here, with all physiological cylinders firing, is a very short.  And yet I appear to no little fear squandering the hours of my days, stewing in resentment, asking for shit I don’t need, looking for my ego to be stroked, not loving those around me, not helping those in need, not sharing my gifts or engaging my world.  My strength is beyond comprehension.

If you too want master your fears, I urge you to keep reading my blog.  It may not be an overnight matter, but with time, determination and assiduous devotion to my instructions, you too can live as fearlessly as I do.

Celebrate Dependence Day

We're whole together. (Full disclosure: I couldn't think of a relevant image for this post).

No home, a big duffel in hand, a bigger backpack on back, I headed to the uptown 1 train to crash on my buddy’s couch.  My body felt like a plucked tuning fork.  I heard every car honk, every splash when wheel hit puddle, felt every distant train rumble, smelled the dankness of cold-moisture and curbed garbage, saw every glimmer off the pavement, every swirl in the florescent lights in the train-stop.

The train arrived.  I sat and pulled out my notebook.  I had just broken up and everything was still and clear.  What had brought me to this place was clear—all the lies, all the needs I suppressed.  I was done.  I had needs.  I wrote down what I needed.  Someone who listens.  Someone who likes reading in bed (or at least appreciates that I do).  Someone who is openminded.  Someone who cares about the environment.  When I rattled off a couple pages of these things, I wrote out a declaration that for everything I listed, I would be willing to deliver the same thing.

I arrived at the 116th street stop.  A light glaze covered the bricks of Columbia’s campus walk.  I gulped in air.  I hadn’t breathed in a while.

I called my mom and told her what happened.  I apologized for lying to her (something I would do a lot of in the coming days).  Dishonesty cannot be not contained.  Lying in my relationship made it easier to lie to friends and family.  Since talking about my relationship was dooming it, I quit talking or showing up.

I got to my friend Chikodi’s place.  It was 1AM.   We talked for a couple hours—about what happened, what went wrong, what was possible now.  2 years of dammed energy were released.  There was no way I was going to sleep, so I pulled out computer and started to write.

Dear…
It’s almost 5 in the morning, I can’t sleep.  I just broke up with _____.  I’m laying on a friend’s couch.  I’ve very little idea what’s next—just a clearer idea of what will no longer be [doing my best imitation of Neo at the end of the Matrix]….I was just thinking about you.  How I’d love a lover who I would be excited to have you meet.  _____ was never that, and I’m sure it drove a fissure in our relationship….I’m sure there was an invisible but palpable toll on our connection, that everything had to be filtered through the lies that maintained my appearance of emotional and spiritual health.  It just wasn’t there…the health that is.
So to long health in a short life.
Love
David

I needed and wanted people in my life.  I was totally dependent on them. Continue reading “Celebrate Dependence Day”

Defragment Your World


What are the gaps in your life? Any why are you still using a PC?

About 3 years ago I made a determination to stop doing work that was inconsistent with my values.  I was 31 years-old, had recently finished my undergraduate degree and was squandering my vital juices on well-paid, but meaningless work.  I wanted something more from my life.  I figured the first step to doing meaningful work was to stop doing the meaningless stuff.

The quick backstory of my late graduation is that I dropped out of school when I was 23 to get sober.  After floundering through much of my 20’s, I found myself 27 years old, bereft of direction, with access to an education trust set up by my grandparents.  The choice to return to school seemed obvious.

While in school, I continued to work 20-30 hours a week as a cater-waiter captain—essentially the head waiter or maitre’d of an event.  The job paid between $30-50 an hour.  Because my tuition and living expenses were paid for by the trust, most of the money I made from that job was saved.  I finished school flush with cash.

I got my degree in creative writing and literature.  I wanted to write for a living, but ideas about how to do that were not forthcoming, so I continued to cater in the meantime.

But catering created a huge internal inconsistency.  While it was fun and easy, I saw its net impact on the world was somewhere between zero and negative 1000.  Most events created mountains of waste, which completely ran counter to what I knew about what was going on with the environment.

Destroying the environment would have been tolerable if the work seemed important.  Instead, my principle duty was idealizing the artificial.  Most events were product launches and other PR events or posh dinner and cocktail parties hosted by the ridiculously-rich and mostly gay.  I directed staffs of male models and actors to create fantasy worlds—ones littered with chiseled features; ones that precluded ugliness, age, poverty or any other unseemly aspect of reality.  I felt like I was responsible for arranging human parsley sprigs on cardboard steaks. Continue reading “Defragment Your World”

Live Life Drunk

Be a lethal weapon without the booze. Image via In Touch

The Foundry held the dubious distinction as Boulder, Colorado’s coolest nightspot.  It was a sprawling, brick-walled, high-ceilinged former theater filled with mostly ornamental pool tables.  It was a regular haunt at the peak of my drinking career.

One night in the spring of 1998, I went there with my buddy Drew.  It was a sausage-fest, littered with hapless guys in baseball caps, nursing their drinks complaining about the lack of women.

This night occurred during my halcyon drinking days.  I had recently returned from a bicycle expedition from Boulder to Seattle to Portland, Maine.  I left a pudgy faced, thin-limbed boy, I returned a chisel-faced, strapping man.  To exploit my new appearance, I started going out all the time, getting the attention I had longed for, but never received, in my adolescence.  And whereas my previous intoxicant was marijuana, a substance I used to smother my libidinous urgings, I was now drinking bourbon, which gave those same urgings megaphonic volume.

So there I was in this charcuterie, 21, handsome, cocksure and reaching a sweet-spot with my bourbon buzz.

Continue reading “Live Life Drunk”

Fuck Your Life

Carpe diem. Image via amazingdata.com

I was having a conversation with some friends about sex and the question was asked, “What do you like about sex?”

I answered that during sex, the division between who I am and who is “other” is broken down.  By penetrating someone I am emotionally connected with, getting her permission to treat her body as my own, touching it in any way I choose, wherever I choose, the confines of identity are loosened.  I am transported to a place where there is no self, no self-centeredness, leaving no one to injure, no one to have problems, no one to suffer.  Only delight.  And I like orgasms too. They feel good.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m re-reading David Deida’s “The Way of the Superior Man.”  The passage I read today is called, “Do it For Love,” where he outlines different ways a man can deal with women and the world:

There are two ways to deal with woman and world without compromising your true gifts or dribbling away the force of your deep being. One way is to renounce sexual intimacy and worldliness, totally dedicating yourself without distraction or compromise to the path you choose to pursue, free of the seemingly constant demands of woman and world.

The other way is to “fuck” both to smithereens, to ravish them with your love unsheathed, to give your true gifts despite the constant tussle of woman and world, to smelt your authentic gifts in this friction of opposition and surrender, to thrust love from the freedom of your deep being even as your body and mind die blissfully through a crucifixion of inevitable pleasure and pain, attraction and repulsion, gain and loss. No gifts left ungiven. No limit to the depth of being. Only openness, freedom, and love as the legacy of your intercourse with woman and world.

If we are to buy Deida’s conceit (and I do), we should examine and choose one of the two ways (note:  this lesson is not strictly man-centered, though it is directed to people who identify primarily with their masculine energy).  While the choice might seem obvious for most of us, there are some who lean toward the first way, i.e. the way of the renunciant.  We are done (or wish to be done) with worldly stuff, with its junk, competition, struggles, pleasure and pain.

If this is your choice, choose it, commit to it.  This does not mean you have to become a monk or a nun, nor does it mean you must abide in this place forever.  It just means that you should honor that inclination and not pretend like the accumulation of worldly pleasures is your chief aim in life.

For the rest of us, fuck we must. Continue reading “Fuck Your Life”

The World is Your Dutch Oven

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI23U7U2aUY

Have you ever been sitting alone in a public space letting off stinky farts?  On the one hand, we might feel comforted by the fact that we are alone.  Somehow smelling our own farts doesn’t bother us as much as smelling other peoples.  Personally, I am strangely curious about my farts’ particular flavor profiles.  Sometimes they’re highly sulfuric, sometimes they have a rotting vegetable thing going on.  They have a certain compelling dissonance, like Schoenberg or a Michael Haneke film—you want to cover your ears or look away, but something draws you in.

On the other hand, our solitary comfort is an uneasy one.  Since it’s a public space, we don’t want anyone to enter our orbit until the smell goes away.  We do quick, dog-like sniffs, monitoring the rate of dissipation, hoping that when someone does inevitably come by, the fart’s intensity will have mellowed.  But what if they come at the peak of its intensity?  We fear what people will think of us, when they know we are capable of such odoriferous atrocities.  We fear being scorned.  Maybe they’ll walk away and avoid us in the future, affixing a scarlet F to our blousons.  Maybe no one will like us when they know our acrid insides.

Self-expression can be a bit like farting in a public space.  We feel compelled to emit something, to share our unique funk, but we are afraid of what will happen when other people are exposed to it.  What will they think of us when they smell, see, hear, touch or taste the things that lurk inside of us?

Here are some questions to ponder today:

  1. What is the fart you are trying to conceal from the world? What are you holding back, hoping no one knows about you?
  2. Are you content to worry in isolation about your fart being smelled?
  3. Or are you willing to invite people into your Dutch Oven? Are you willing to be known inside and out, giving people the opportunity to appreciate your particular funk? 

11 Ways to Make Your Bed in Time for Cartoons

Remember when waking up was fun? Image via crystalcomments.com

You wake up.  You peel yourself from bed.  You pee.  You make coffee.  You think about the day ahead.  You wonder how you will face the challenges in front of you.  You eat breakfast.  You check email, Facebook, glance at the news.

You get in the shower.  You let the warm water soothe you.  You are aware of the concerns and responsibilities that await you on the other side of the shower-curtain.  The relaxing shower makes them seem manageable.  You get the thought that today will be your day.  You will do something different today.  You will work out today.  You will eat only raw vegetables.  You will ask your boss for a raise.  You will ask that cute girl out.  You will flirt with that cute boy.  You will tell your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife how much he/she means to you.  You will break up with your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife.  You will read for an hour instead of watching TV tonight.  You will handwrite your grandma a card.  You will go dancing.  You will work on that novel.  You will do things differently.  You will do all the things you know you are meant to do because life is precious and short.  Carpe-fucking-diem.

You get out of the shower.  You get dressed.  You leave the house.  You get on the subway or into your car.  You pull out a magazine or your ipod or turn on the radio.  The enthusiasm you felt in the shower begins to be displaced by the thoughts that hit you when you woke up.  You get to work.  You check email again, start work, deal with whatever needs to be dealt with.  You become too absorbed in your work to ask boss for that raise.  You’ll do it tomorrow.  You go to lunch.  Raw veggies don’t sound filling enough so you get a Turkey sandwich and a cookie.  You see that girl or guy, but are too preoccupied by work and other concerns to talk to him/her.  You want to shoot your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife a loving note, but think it’ll seem weird.  You return to work a bit sleepy.  The day drags.  You don’t feel productive.  You wonder what you’re doing with your life.  You get off work.  You’re too tired to work out or go dancing.  You’re not feeling inspired so the novel will have to wait.  After looking at a computer monitor all day, reading seems like a chore, so you order Thai takeout and turn on the TV.  You watch TV until 11 or so.  You go to bed, a bit disheartened but confident tomorrow will be different.  You do this for forty or so more years and die.

Give up hope of things ever getting better materially or spiritually.  They won’t.  Give up hope that there’s a good time to act.  There isn’t.  We can do something right this moment, and I don’t mean buying or eating something (for some reason, these 2 things represent a lot of people’s ideas of seizing a moment).  We can express our love, write a letter, go to the gym, meditate—whatever your truth dictates.  What matters is that it’s done now.

Stop reading and do something you’ve been waiting for a good time to do.  Do it now.

The Joy of Breaking Down

You don't get strong pushing a functioning motorcycle.
  1. Eighteen years-old.  I had just spent three months sitting in my folks’ basement continuously high, working out, watching TV, in near-complete isolation, interacting only with parents and pot-dealer.  Bleakness prevailed.  I thought learning how to play my dad’s old guitar might help.  I just needed $30 for a book so I could learn some chords.  I asked my dad for money.  He said no.  I broke down crying like a baby.  It had nothing to do with the guitar book.  I needed help.  I realized I had never asked for help before.  I asked for help.  I got help.
  2. Twenty-three.  I was in Munich, Germany, debauching my way through Europe after two years spent more or less continuously drunk.  All my waking hours were dominated by drinking.  My mornings—if I could get up in the morning—were pervaded by hangover-induced physical violence.  My early afternoons were spent in regret and physical recovery.  My late afternoons/early evenings were spent thinking about how getting a drink might not be a bad idea.  My nights were spent drinking, repeating cycle.  By Munich, I couldn’t handle it anymore.  My body was shutting down.  The myth of drinking to have a good time was being demythologized sip-by-sip.  I couldn’t go on.  I stopped.  I asked for help.  I went home.  I got help.  I got well.
  3. Twenty-six.  I finally broke up with my ten-year-senior, ex-stripper, adolescent-child-toting girlfriend after five unsuccessful tries.  I couldn’t seem to do anything right, even break up.  I was bouncing from job-to-job.  I had no purpose in life, no direction.  I was desperate.  I needed help.  I asked for help.  I got help.  I found direction.
  4. Thirty-two.  I was in a very unsatisfying relationship with a satisfactory woman.  She was the picture of who I thought I should be with:  pretty, successful, spiritual, worldly, etc.  And I was totally fucking miserable.  I had spent two years trying to make a connection.  I moved in with her.  She was under the impression that we were going to get married.  I knew better.  The weight of my lie was like an anvil bearing down on my chest.  I distrusted everything I said.  I went to bed early and got up late.  One night, we had a fight—the same fight we always had.  I saw the opening to get honest.  I was honest.  The relationship ended.  I moved out within an hour.  I had to rebuild my life in an instant.  I asked for help.  I got it.

At an event I host, a programmer named Amit Pitaru gave a talk about designing the best motorcycle to travel through South America.  He said that when asked, most people said they would want the most reliable motorcycle they could find.  The prospect of getting caught in the middle of Nowhere, South America is not an enticing proposition.

But he described the worst thing that can happen on a trip to see South America on motorcycle:  not breaking down.  When you break down, you have to ask for help.  You get to know the locals.  You create bonds through your interactions that would have never been possible zipping by on a problem-free bike.  You might witness a beautiful sunset fixing your clutch.  You might meet a great family or friend fixing a flat.

He went on to say that on your never-break-down-bike, you zip past little towns never interacting with anyone you don’t pay to help you (restaurant, hotel and gas station attendants mostly).  You attract thieves because your fancy bike probably makes you look like an easy target.  You move through the country efficiently, but detached.  You have no problems, but you have no meaningful experiences either.

His point:  life is not interesting without breakdowns. Continue reading “The Joy of Breaking Down”