Are You Arguing with Reality?

ah, the good life.

I spend the majority of my days in front of a glowing computer screen. Though my job involves building, I am a facilitator of building rather than a builder myself. My fingertips are more calloused than my palms.

My situation is far from unique. Most professionals nowadays, regardless of profession, are stationed in front of glowing boxes. I also work from home, so the majority of my face-to-face interactions are Skyped or with clerks at the grocery store.

I often romanticize about what it’d be like to get back to the earth, living off of foraged lingonberries and caribou meat; maybe start a farm growing tubers and chard. Streaming would be limited to water (FYI, I’m from the suburbs and grew up in with a remote in my hand).

It’s possible that a wholesale withdrawal from society is the answer–that there’s some sort of fundamental flaw with the trajectory of humanity and a modification of the status quo is insufficient to restore balance to the planet’s ecosystems, much less my inconsistent levels of sanity.

Then again, my fantasies might have different causes. I have a tendency to make reality wrong and fantasy right. For example, if only I were tilling the earth instead of typing on a computer, I’d be happy; if only I had a new carbon fiber road bike instead of my heavy, steel one, I’d be happy. And so on.

There are a couple delusions inside these fantasies:

  1. That the current thing/person/state/activity is the problem.
  2. That the ‘instead-of” thing/person/state/activity will solve the problem.

I know this because I’ve been quite happy typing on a computer and riding a heavy, steel road bike, and I’ve been miserable in the country and riding a sweat new carbon fiber road bike.

The real function of these fantasies is that they allow me to shirk responsibility for being happy right now. Because there is something in the way of my happiness (be it a job, possession or person), I don’t have to do anything. It’s their fault.

What if we all let go of the certainty that reality–the here and now and all that entails (including who we are)–is wrong? This is not to say the world isn’t falling into an intractable psychological and environmental tailspin [couldn’t resist the opportunity to editorialize], but rather that our happiness need not depend on things being any way other than the way they are. Happiness never comes later, when. It happens now, with.

With these thoughts in mind, consider:

  1. What fantasies are you holding onto that prevent you from being happy now?
  2. Ask yourself, “If I had that thing/was that way/etc.” would I really be happier? Prove it without resorting to memory or assuming based on ideas promulgated by US Weekly.
  3. Ask yourself, “How would I be and what would I do if nothing were wrong with things as they are?” 
  4. Stop waiting for things to change or get better and start living. 

 

 

 

 

Who or What Owns You?

Who buys and sells you? Image via Steamboat Pilot

Which of the following people or things dictates your actions and choices.  Check all that apply.  Answer honestly.

  1. Your mother
  2. Your father
  3. Your step-mother
  4. Your step-father
  5. Your sibling(s)
  6. Your extended family
  7. Your girlfriend or boyfriend
  8. Your husband or wife
  9. Your ex-girlfriend(s) or ex-boyfriend(s)
  10. Your ex-husband(s) or ex-wife/wives
  11. Your job
  12. Your boss
  13. Your coworkers
  14. Your unemployment Continue reading “Who or What Owns You?”

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”

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”

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.

Facing Doubt and Indecision the Mormon Way

WWBYD? Image via Wikipedia.

Fortunate for my readers, I have finished watching the PBS documentary about the Mormons, but not without a comet’s tail of inspiration from these hardworking, family-oriented, non-drinking, upright Utahans.

Many know that the two most important figures in Mormon’s founding were Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.  Smith was the guy who found the gold plates, wrote the Book of Mormon, wedded quite a few damsels and was killed in Carthage, Illinois by an angry mob (apparently a not-too-uncommon way to go back then).  He was the proverbial charismatic leader:  surefooted, sweet-tongued and good looking.  Like Jim Morrison or Tupac Shakur, his glamorous legacy was embalmed by an early death.

Young was the stalwart—more of a Randy Newman or Tom Petty figure.  Stolid, long-lived, awkward and not-so-easy on the eyes (see pic above).  After Smith’s murder, it was the corpulent Young who led the Mormon’s slog across the plains and over the mountains to Salt Lake City.  If Smith was the hare, Young was the tortoise.

Throughout the early years of Young’s tenure as Mormon leader, he was plagued by doubt.  He was not blessed with Smith’s speed-dial-with-God variety of inspiration.  He didn’t think himself worthy of his position until a vision in 1847.  Continue reading “Facing Doubt and Indecision the Mormon Way”

How Meditation Messed Up My Life

Learn thyself.

“Between stimulus and response is our greatest power—the freedom to choose.”
Stephen Covey

Quotes like Covey’s are like spiritual Sweet-Tarts, sugary rushes of wisdom lacking real nourishment.  Who hasn’t gotten inspired by Goethe’s “whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”  My root chakra tingles just writing it.  I want to do all the things I’ve been too much of a puss to do.

But what happens after the axiomatic rush?  Doesn’t it always get subsumed by habit?  No matter how clever or true, few quotes can match the power of habit.  Habits are our neurological earthmovers.  We can hear and believe that love is the answer and that our bodies are temples, but if we are in the habit of being hostile to our parents and eating McDonald’s, those axioms mean nothing—they are spiritual marshmallow fluff.

I subscribe to Covey’s quote about choice in principle, but often find myself veering from it in practice.

Most of us exercise little or no choice to the various stimuli in our lives.  We are almost totally on automatic, reacting to situations without any awareness as to why. Continue reading “How Meditation Messed Up My Life”

Have an Unispired Week!

Waiting for inspiration is like waiting for Shaq to grant you three wishes.

“Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.”
Woody Allen quotes

After opening my computer to write this morning I read emails for 10 minutes, typed a couple replies and emails for 10 minutes, searched for a vacuum cleaner for 30 minutes, searched for parking lots around LaGuardia for another 15 minutes, searched for a new pair of cycling shoes for 10 minutes, made several pitstops on Facebook for a total of about 15 minutes, read a blog post about Raghava KK for 3 minutes, watched his TED talk for 18 minutes, took a crap for 5 minutes.  After nearly 2 hours of extraneous mental activity, my mind felt totally sapped of inspiration.  I didn’t want to write the words you are reading.

In the summer of 1997 I rode my bicycle from Boulder, Colorado to Seattle, Washington to Portland, Maine.  I started the trip physically unprepared, getting exhausted after riding a few hours.  This would have been easier to endure if the weather hadn’t been so shitty or if there were any people in Wyoming, the first state I passed through.  Instead, in addition to an incessantly throbbing body, I contended with temperatures in the 40’s, grey skies presaging frequent bursts of freezing rain, epic winds and desolate roads leading to few towns, whose populations seemed indifferent to my arrival. Continue reading “Have an Unispired Week!”

What Does the Company You Keep Say About You?

Friends to the (very near) end. Photo via good-times.webshots.com

Then

Big Pete was a rotund twenty-year-old with thinning red hair that reached down to his butt.  He sold and consumed copious amounts of cocaine.  He drove his Jeep on a suspended drivers license.  He gorged nightly on beef jerky shoplifted from 7-Eleven.

His roommate, The Captain, owed his name to his affection for Captain Morgan rum.  The Captain was a bald-on-top, mullet-down-below, goateed, beer-bellied, mid-forties, unemployed chef from Boston.  He sat around his apartment all day pulling bong hits, consuming Captain and Cokes and watching MASH reruns on the FX channel.

Pete and The Captain were my neighbors and, for all intents and purposes, my best friends. Continue reading “What Does the Company You Keep Say About You?”

Thought of the Week: Life Never Happens Later

Not the best pic to convey my point. Image via break.com

“How would you live if you lived 100%?”  This was a question I posed to myself in a dream last week.  I woke up seconds later contemplating the question’s implications.  What was I waiting for?  When are you really going to invest in your dream of being a writer?  When are you going to stop being a miser with your money?  When are you going to tie up all the loose ends in your life?  Do I think there’s a better time than now?  Am I waiting for circumstances to improve?  Don’t I know better than that?  I got out of bed resolved to start living 100% then and there.

Before I started living 100%, I had to pee.  After peeing, I had to meditate.  Then I needed coffee and toast.  I couldn’t very well live 100% without showering, flossing and brushing my teeth.  By the time I had left the house and performed my automaton-like morning routine, my resolve to live 100% got knocked down to 68%.  After a typical day of email correspondences, some writing, web-surfing, Facebook, eating, and other mundane tasks, resolve dipped into the upper 30’s.  I will live life 100%, but later. Continue reading “Thought of the Week: Life Never Happens Later”