Manhood 101

Understanding that I might court controversy, I feel obliged to spout a crazy theory about how–if you find yourself a man–you might optimize your manhood (from an emotional, not anatomical, perspective).

I give the disclaimer that I am not, nor have been to the best of my knowledge, a woman. My manly mandate may apply to women as well. To what extent, I can only report second hand.

But here it is, one of the most basics of basic manhood. Ready?

Men keep their word.

In the original “Godfather,” Vito Corleone talks to Michael about managing the Family and says, “Women and children can afford to be careless, but not men.” The Godfather might seem like a specious source of spiritual wisdom, but his remark has been borne out in countless situations in my life. A man has a special bond with his word that, if not treated with great care, has the capacity to unravel everything about him.

This is not to say that women are immune to the impact of not being word-as-bond. But it’s a different–not quite as hardcore–relationship. They can say things that, if said by a man, would be unforgivable. To illustrate: If a girlfriend says she hates her boyfriend, he’s expected to shrug it off. If he said that to her, the remark would never, ever, ever be forgotten or forgiven.

If a man is 2 hours late for an appointment, he won’t be forgiven because he looks nice in a sundress. He broke his bond. He’s a punk and a flake. Many women can glide through the same situation and be labeled “mysterious” and “ethereal,” rather than “weak” and “unreliable.”

It’s different.

One possible explanation for the difference lies in the David Deida idea that masculine energy manifests as steadiness and integrity, while feminine energy manifests as flow and change. The caveat is that some men have feminine energies and vice-versa, but that’s the general idea.

The feminine works best when grounded by masculine integrity and direction; without that energy, her behavior is like one of those sprinklers with the spaghetti hoses, shooting and spraying everyone in sight. Alternately, she might take on the role of the man, protectively shutting down her emotions so she can enjoy the emotional constancy she longs for.

The masculine works best when it is charged with the feminine’s ability to connect with emotion and feeling; without that energy, he is dead to the world, an emotionless automaton doing shit for the sake of doing it. Alternately, he might be a hyper-sensitive wuss, a self-medicating strategy for treating his feminine energy deficiency.

In relationships, when the man–or the masculine partner if same-sex–is not careful with his word (i.e. his integrity), the feminine partner feels unsafe. She becomes anxious and/or erratic in her behavior. Rather than looking at his part in the situation, a man might say something like, “Women are nuts.” While it’s hard to argue that some women are nuts, most men don’t do much to improve that situation, demonstrating the reliability of the Greek stock exchange.

Men will perpetrate this same blame-shifting on other victims: their bosses, governments, etc. Rather than looking at their carelessness and lapsed agreements, they’ll declare the other party FUBAR.

Are you a guy or someone looking to be more manly? Having issues in your relationship, work, dealing with the Man? Consider:

  1. Where are you not keeping your word? Broken agreements, unkept promises, etc.
  2. Where are you not taking responsibility for your carelessness and lack of integrity? Are you blaming your woman, your guy, your boss, Mitt Romney, etc. for all of your woes?
  3. Write out a list of all your lapsed agreements and broken promises. It doesn’t matter how long the things are outstanding. Maybe it’s something you said you would do last year and never did. Late is better than never.
  4. Do one thing from the list immediately. It could be doing something for your woman, guy, pet, boss, standing up to the Man, etc.–something that you said you were going to do and didn’t do for some lame reason.
  5. Pay attention to how your perspective on that situation changes. You are responsible for your life and how it turns out.

You Give Me Reason to Shower

In 2010 and 2011, 2 of the coldest years in New York City history, I lived in a house with no heat. When I got home at night I put layers on. My around-the-house uniform included long johns, fleece pants, double wool socks, a t-shirt, fleece pullover, heavy wool sweater, parka, a scarf or two and a hunter’s cap. I slept in the same outfit under a sheet, a fleece blanket, a light cotton blanket I never bothered removing from the summer and four thick, down comforters.

In an incident I chronicled in this blog, my pipes froze, forcing me to perform midnight, 30-degree, water-cascading-from-the-ceiling household triage. Shortly thereafter, my landlord (a very loose designation) shut the pipes off. It had become so cold that the water in the toilet froze, forcing me to concoct creative waste removal operations. Because there was no drinking water, I walked around with jugs to fill when I had access to running water.

I lived this way partly because I was convinced that I was being spiritually tested. I was proving that I could find peace and meaning in the face of really uncomfortable circumstances. And I achieved that. I developed a physical and spiritual toughness, cultivating an ability to cope–and occasionally thrive–in harsh conditions.

But it was uncomfortable. Without so much as a fireplace, I was living in conditions that a neanderthal would probably find intolerable.

So why did I do it?

There was the spiritual thing, which had more than a trace of truth to it. Though the spiritual test conveniently coincided with diminishing savings and nearly nonexistent income.

The other reason is this: People can put up with some pretty lousy shit if they believe their behavior only impacts them. I can be miserable when I believe I’m the only one who’s subjected to it. I can live in a freezing home if I’m the only one who has to bundle up. I can let my personal hygiene fall off in tragic ways if I’m the only one smelling it.

What changed–the reason I type without gloves on a January night–was that my life became about more than myself. I got a girlfriend, girlfriend became wife, wife will one day be a mother. The guy who was okay porting collected rainwater from the roof to flush the toilet had little or nothing to do with being a great boyfriend, husband or father. It’s not that one is wrong and the other right–they’re just two different people.

In an ideal world, my motivation would be purely intrinsic, the voice of God would speak through me, divining me an intuitive wisdom that shows me the way of strength and goodness. Every so often, that’s how it goes.

More often, my motivators are extrinsic–something I cherish outside myself compels me to step into a bigger role. I want A, but A is not possible as long as I’m being B.

Let me clarify one point: I’m not promoting betraying oneself. The changes I’m referring to are aligned with who we are (our intrinsic motivation). The guy who got a job, a heated apartment and wanted to take care of others is more aligned with who I am than my previous incarnation as Nanook of Brooklyn Heights.

With these thoughts in mind, consider:

  1. Name an extrinsic motivator in your life. Preferably this is something you want to have or have but are not feeling fulfilled by (e.g. relationship, job, goal).
  2. What way of ‘being’ is preventing you from having this situation work? For me, I was being lazy and proud. Lazy about creating income and too proud to admit that I didn’t enjoy hanging around a sub-zero living room.
  3. What impact are you pretending doesn’t exist by holding onto this way of being? For example, saying you don’t care about something or want something when you really do.
  4. What way of ‘being’ could make the situation work? In my case, I had to grow up–or ‘be’ responsible.
  5. Take one action today inside of this way of being.

Seeing What is Possible, Dealing with Reality

Emily Dickinson: Possibility/Bedroom Dweller.

Emily Dickinson wrote the famous verse, “I dwell in possibility.”  Unlike the famous poetess, many of us dwell in limitation, using the past as our main referent for the future—i.e. because we’ve have never done it in the past, it will not happen in the future.

Possibility on the other hand allows for unprecedented realities.  Something that has never happened can happen simply because it’s possible.  We might not know how it will happen, but when we acknowledge the possibility, we are more likely to take the action corresponding to realizing that possibility.

For example, if we think being physically fit is impossible, based on the fact we’ve been unhealthy our whole lives, we won’t do the things necessary to be fit.  Conversely, if we believe being fit is possible, even if we don’t know how, we can figure out ways to realize that objective.

There is a dark-side of possibility however.  It’s what I call “the narcosis of possibility.” The easiest place to see this is at 12:15AM after a few vodka-sodas.  You invent a possibility, like starting a business.  You can’t wait to start making it happen.  The dude on the next bar-stool is going to design your logo.  Any-fucking-thing is possible!

You wake up the next day with a vague recollection of what was so great about your idea.  You try to muster the enthusiasm of the night before but are preoccupied by thoughts of coffee, eggs and Law and Order reruns.  You think of your lack of business skill, money, etc.  Fuck it.  It wasn’t that good an idea anyway.  Reality trumps drunken possibility once again.

This phenomenon is not limited to buzzed brainstorming.  Many sober minds have conjured great ideas that do not withstand reality.  We get psyched about a project, relationship, fitness plan, etc., but we fail to deal with things as they are in reality.  We don’t acknowledge our level of business training, our emotional maturity (or lack thereof), our state of health, etc.  Instead of developing these things, we become overwhelmed by the gap between possibility and reality, often doing nothing.  There are others who use willpower and force to bridge that gap—these people can make things happen, but generally at the expense of their health and happiness.

Sometimes we can’t admit that just because something is possible, it doesn’t mean we should do it.

Other times we create a possibility aware of the realities we’re dealing with.  It’s something we’ve considered well.  We have an idea and plan to carry it out.  But once the plan is in motion, we don’t ask ourselves often enough, “Is this working?”

Lest I be too abstract, I’m writing about myself.  I started this blog 6 months ago based on the possibility of writing for a living.  This idea was pure, uncut possibility.  According to the past, I had no reason to believe I would make it happen.

I love the writing part and the feedback I’m recieving.  I love processing my life and helping others process theirs.  But I haven’t been dealing with a couple nagging realities:  I don’t love not making money or working in isolation.  I’ve been trying to will these things out of my reality, but I can’t seem to do it.

Sure, it’s entirely possible I can make money if I refine my plan. I could find more ways to engage people.  I actively do both these things.

But the truth is I’m not dealing with reality.  I want to be better at working alone.  I want to be more of a self-starter.  I want to be one of these people—who seem so numerous on the internet—who through pluck and Twitter, amass great followers and fortunes.  But in reality I am not these things—at least not right now.

I have to assess where I’m at, based not on the narcotic effect of possibility, but on the sober truth of reality.  From there, I can create a new possibility.

The new possibility I’ve created is to continue to develop my writing, but with more human contact and steadier income.  There’s an ancient tradition I am going to employ to remedy this situation.  It’s called a job.

Maybe if Emily Dickinson took a similar approach, she would have left her bedroom.

It’s important to note that deviating from an original possibility is not killing it.  In fact, sticking to the original plan would kill it.  My new possibility affords me self-expression through writing, supported by the stability and relationship building of a job.

Here are some things to consider for yourself:

  1. What possibility in your life is being thwarted by reality? In other words, name a dream—one you may or may not be taking action on.  Within that dream, what realities are compromising your ability to take action or enjoy acting?  For example, you want to date, but don’t do so because you have trouble being open with potential partners.
  2. What new possibility could you create if you dealt with reality as it presently exists? Using the above example, based on your lack of skill, you could create the new possibility of being supported, getting a dating coach or asking someone who is romantically fulfilled to find out what he or she does.
  3. Take one action that based on this new possibility right now.

Alpha Males and the Women Who Love Them

Want to go out on a date?

Like many children of the 70’s and 80’s, my folks divorced before I was old enough to realize they were married.  When I was two years-old, mom got primary custody and dad got every-other-weekend.  Aside from 4 days per month, mom was both mother and father.

I love my mom.  She did a great job raising me.  But she’s a woman.  And there’s only so much a boy can learn about being a man from a woman.  I was like one of those boys who are raised by a pack of wolves, and think they are a wolf too.  Except I was raised by a woman, and…you know.

Being raised by a woman, I inferred a lot of things about how to behave toward women.  I inferred that men and women are the same thing with different bodies; that I must be polite and respectful; that I mustn’t make women sex objects; that I mustn’t be too assertive or aggressive; that I must listen to what women say.

I abided by these lessons for a long time.  I grew up to be a polite, benign, sexless, ineffectual wuss.  I had almost no relationships throughout my teens—living in a state of frustrated and unrequited sexuality.  I was 20 before I lost my virginity—not by any virtue, but because I was so sexually retarded.

Like many, the cure for my frustrated sexuality was alcohol.  Being drunk afforded me an opportunity to inhabit my masculinity—a state where I didn’t have to be polite or respectful; when it was okay to make women sex objects; when I could be assertive; when I didn’t have to listen to what women said because I could see what they wanted (2 very different things in my experience).

As it would happen, women responded far better to my drunken inappropriateness than my sober wussiness.  As a drunken lout, I had a chance.  As a polite and sober wuss, I had none.

Unfortunately, the more I drank, the more inappropriate and distorted my masculinity became.  I slurred catcalls to women on the street.  I hit on girls who were clearly not interested in me, once earning a black eye from a justifiably angry boyfriend.  I tried to sleep with any woman who’d have me—a population that decreased inversely proportional to my rate of alcohol consumption.

These drunken years gave me a taste of what it meant to inhabit my masculinity, but the consequences of drinking made it an unsustainable formula.

Many years after getting sober, I recognized that my effectiveness with women—and life in general—was still lacking.  I still had trouble attracting women and, I later realized, attracting all sorts of things in my life.

This realization led me to the world of “Pick-Up Arts”—a subculture made popular by Neil Strauss’s book, “The Game.”  I can’t tell you all the things I learned while reading it in this post (it would get too long).  But one of the main points is that women are attracted to alpha males.

What is an alpha male?  An alpha male is a man who leads; he knows where he’s going and what he’s about; he doesn’t apologize for being who he is (including his sexuality); and he doesn’t seek other’s approval (probably the most important attribute).  Alpha status can be established by brute force (hence why a lot of assholes get so much action) or cooperative power (nice guys can and do succeed with women and in life).  Also, alpha status isn’t a hierarchal system; there can be multiple alpha males in a room.

I saw that I failed with woman because I believed what women said they wanted in a man—an open, respectful, caring guy.  It’s not true.  Women want alpha males—men who don’t apologize for who they are; who might want a women, but don’t need them or their approval.  Many of my drunken forays showed me that first hand.

This is not to say an alpha male cannot be open, respectful or caring.  My opinion is that real alpha males are inherently those things.  But an alpha male doesn’t do those things to please others.  He does them because that’s who he is.

With all this in mind, here are some things to think about today:

Men, stop being wusses! Stop being inoffensive.  It’s offensive.  It’s better to elicit a strong feeling, even if it’s a negative one, than no feeling (important note:  I’m assuming that I’m addressing responsible men, who know how to respect boundaries and know the difference between right and wrong).  Own your life.  If you don’t, anyone and everyone else will.

Also keep in mind that wussiness with women shows up in other areas of your life.  Where else do you bend yourself in the face of something you want?

Women, stop trying to out-alpha the men in your life! Stop trying to prove you are as strong as they are.  Doing this leaves no space for men to be strong for you, which is what men want to be for you.  And it’s what you secretly want to be done for you.  What many women end up doing is proving their strength, but doing so alone or surrounded by their commiserating women friends.  Neither situation is desirable.

The Best Excuse Ever Told

I heard it once said, “Most people consider a good excuse and no result to be a result.”  Some examples of this adage:

  1. I was late because the subway was down (late + difficulty = I’m reliable)
  2. I didn’t talk to that girl because the bar was loud (no phone # + loud bar = I’m bold)
  3. I didn’t finish that painting because work got in the way (no painting + busy job = I’m an artist)
  4. I’m single because there are no good men/women out there (alone + lack of suitable partners = I’m a good partner)
  5. I didn’t lose that weight because of the holidays (fat body + social eating = I’m healthy).

A well-thought out excuse makes otherwise crappy results acceptable.  It maintains a peace—however uneasy, with whatever impact—between what we do and what we say we want and are committed to.  We say we want to be reliable, bold, creative, in a relationship, healthy, but because of subway delays and Stovetop Stuffing it’s okay that we behave differently.  The impact of the excuses is that friends and colleagues wait (or tire from doing so), we live afraid of talking to women, we feel creatively unexpressed, we live cut off from prospective mates and inhabit unhealthy bodies.  But it’s okay, we have a good excuse.

Excuses obscure a dark truth:  that we might not be committed to the things we say or think we we are.  A person who is committed to being punctual will be on time regardless of train repairs; he’ll get out of the train station and take a cab if he needs to.  A person who is committed to being in a healthy relationship will figure out what’s in her way of achieving that.  She will not blame a sparse dating pool.

Assuming we want to line up our commitments with our actions, we have to stop excusing our behavior.  We have to acknowledge results as they are:  that we were late; that we didn’t talk to the girl; that we didn’t finish the painting; that we are alone; that we are fat.  It’s not that these results are bad.  It’s that they don’t accord with what we want and are committed to.  In fact, the excuses verify that our results are not want we want.  If they were those things, we wouldn’t need to excuse our behavior; it and our commitments would line up.

All of this came into relief for me after a frank talk last night.  My friend bludgeoned me with the contradictions between what I say I want and am committed to and what I’m doing.  I say that I want and am committed to being a personal development author and speaker and that I want to make my living doing it—a living that could support a family.  What I’m doing is writing away without clear direction, much less remuneration.  I’ve been pitching a book idea to literary agents, but even that has been only half-thought out.  I didn’t do market research.  I didn’t run it by the people in my life.  I didn’t do the things necessary to make sure I fulfilled on my commitment.

My excuse has been confusion:  that I don’t know how to do the things I want to do.  I’ve reasoned that I will figure it out soon.  This excuse doesn’t not ameliorate my rapidly emptying pockets.

This leaves me with a pit in my stomach.  The pit is the turd of commitment, wondering whether it’s going to be released or if I’m going to get off the can upon which I sit.  Will I act now (the only time a committed person can act) or salve these contradictions with another, more elaborate excuse?  (I’m leaning toward the former route).

With this in mind, here are some things to contemplate for your life:

  1. What do you say you want or are committed to that you are not doing?
  2. What is the impact of not fulfilling on this commitment? Wasted time, dejected friends, unexpressed desires, poor health, etc.
  3. What excuses make your lack of results surrounding your commitments acceptable? Lack of money, time, a tough childhood, a rough time in your life, an unsupportive environment, etc.
  4. What are your excuses hiding? For example, that you are not in fact committed to the things you say you are, that you are afraid you won’t be able to fulfill on them, etc.
  5. Write out a list of the results in your life that contradict your desires and commitments. Write them undiluted by excuses.
  6. Commit to one thing for next week to fulfill on a desire or commitment.  For example, commit to meditating 10 minutes every morning without fail.  Note your excuses when you don’t want to fulfill.  See how these excuses stop you in every area of your life.

What Do You Want?

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

I had coffee with a new friend the other day.  He asked me the dreaded question—the same question I ask when I encounter someone who is experiencing confusion, powerlessness or frustration with his life.  Answering this question can threaten the delicate balance of the answerer’s emotional and physical ecosystem.  The question is, “What do you want?”

I was flummoxed.  I thought I knew, but things had changed since the last time I wrote out what I wanted.  You see, every now and again I list out what I want for my life.  I get as detailed as possible, creating a material and emotional blueprint for my life.  The more detailed I get, the more likely I am to move in specific directions and ask specific questions.  Here are some examples of things I currently want:

  • To develop my writing such that it supports me and a family materially and spiritually in abundance
  • To start a family by the end of 2012
  • To live each day joyfully and filled with love

My wants exist as possibilities.  They are often unprecedented and have little relation to my past experiences.  The trouble is if my past dictated what I want now, I would content myself with a heated home and a girlfriend who doesn’t shoot heroin.  Not a particularly inviting future.

The most unsettling part of the question is what stating my desires entails.  If I want this, then what do I have to do?  Who do I need to be?  What if the actions I need to take and the person I need to be are different than what I’m doing and how I’m being?

Well they are different.  How do I know?  Because my current actions and states perfectly ally to produce what—and only what—I currently have.  In other words, I do what I do and I am what I am and that gives me exactly what I have.  These actions and behaviors are manifestations of unconscious desires (looking good, comfort, etc.), which are fine, but not necessarily gratifying in the long run.

If I want things other than what I have now, I need to supplant my old actions and ways of being for new ones.  For example, in order to make my living off of writing, I need to be bold, disciplined, organized, etc.  These new actions and states might not jive with last night’s engorgement on grass-fed beef and sweet potatoes while watching Deadwood on DVD.

I answered my friend’s question as best I could.  I’m not totally clueless as to what I want.  But I also saw the need for refining what I want.  It’s easier to chart a course with a map.

With these thoughts in mind, here are some exercises I’m incorporating into my life and suggest you do too:

  1. What do you want? Get as detailed as possible—emotional state, health, profession, relationships, living environment, etc.  These desires should be authentic—i.e. they are your desires, not ones shaped by the past or someone else’s conceptions; do your best to keep what your parents’ or a multinational corporation’s desires for you out of your answers.  Feel free to co-create with the people in your life; for example, make sure what you want aligns with what your wife or business partner wants.  Don’t butt desires.  Write them down and keep them somewhere you can see.  Be willing to amend if you’re wrong about what you want.
  2. Who do you need to be to get what you want? This step is aligning yourself emotionally with your desires.  For example, if you want to be a professional singer, but you’re too timid to audition, you will need to be courageous.
  3. What do you need to do to get what you want? Once you believe that what you want is possible, you will have to take certain steps—go to that audition, write that novel, quit that job, etc.
  4. Every morning, ask yourself “what do I need to do and who do I need to be to get what I want?” Write out your answers and let them inform how you conduct yourself in the world.  See what happens.

 

To Meat or Not to Meat

What do I know, I'm just a caveman writer.

After my buddy Jeremy and I hung out the other night, he invited me to a late concert.  I said no.  I had a date.  Because Jeremy is a vegetarian, I couldn’t share what that date was.

I rode my bike to the Whole Foods at Bowery and Houston.  I snuck in, hoping no one I knew was there.  I milled around the produce section for a few minutes, trying to lose PETA agents who might be on my trail.  My covert ops were meant to obscure my destination:  the butcher.  My date was with meat.  We hadn’t gone out in over 4 years.

I’ve been a vegetarian off and on for 16 years.  My reason historically has been the environmental toll meat production takes compared to a vegetarian diet.  My last spell started when I was dating a Mahayana Buddhist.  Mahayana’s believe in an elaborate system of reincarnation, with possible rebirths in hell realms, ghost realms, and many other nasty sounding places.  One of the lower realms is the animal realm.  Contrary to the idealized version of animal life many people hold, Mahayana’s believe that animals are in a state of near-constant suffering, forever at the mercy of their needs, lacking consciousness to transcend them.  Where you go in the next life depends on your end-of-life karmic balance; basically a matter of how much negative karma you’ve burned off during your life.

A Bodhisattva is someone who tries to rid himself of negative karma and achieve Buddhahood (or at least higher rebirth).  He achieves this by devoting himself to freeing all living beings from suffering.  Aiding to that suffering means lower rebirth for you.

I decided to go veg to cover my bases.  I didn’t want to risk lower rebirth.  But even if Buddhist beliefs were hogwash, I could see that most livestock live lives of nonstop, abject suffering.  This is particularly true of livestock raised in the industrial-agricultural meat complex, where animals are shot up with growth hormones, steroids and antibiotics, force-fed, stuffed into diseased and shockingly small spaces, and killed in brutal ways.  I wanted no part of it in this lifetime, much less pay for it in the next.

Continue reading “To Meat or Not to Meat”

On Talking Shit

Watch out for empty speech.

When I boozed a lot, I bought a micro-cassette recorder to keep track of all my ideas.  I was certain alcohol was the lubricant that unlocked my genius.  While drunk, I spoke poetry, I ejaculated ideas of earth-shattering import, I was an uncaged, intellectual giant.  And while I couldn’t stay drunk all the time (try as I did) I could record the profusion of profundity my debauches unleashed.

I would listen to the recordings the next day, eager to convert my ideas into gold.  What I invariably heard was horseshit, unless you consider protracted, vowel-heavy emanations the hallmark of genius.  “I aaaaaaaaaamm gooooooaannnn staaaaaaann, aaaaaahhh….”

Meaningless speech is by no means the sole domain of 2AM drunken ramblings:

  • “I’ll call you.”
  • “Maybe see you there tonight.”
  • “I’m going to cut out sugar this month.”
  • “For sure, let’s start a _____ group/business/team.”
  • “Blah, blah, fuckity, blah.”

We say things all the time that we either don’t think through, don’t mean or are irresolute about.  We make plans, conjure up big ideas and declare that we will make them happen—“for sure”—only to forget these things or “change our minds” when we see what it takes to carry them out.

Breaking our word is made easier by peers who let us off the hook because they don’t want to get called out on their broken word.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call last night,” we might say.

“Oh, that’s cool.  Don’t sweat it,” they say, knowing that their excusal is a coupon for their own future transgressions.

What happens over time is that every promise unkept, appointment missed, agreement broken and project abandoned creates a karmic residue.  It’s not only that others learn not to believe what we say.  We don’t believe what we say.  We don’t trust ourselves.  The connection between what we say and do is weakened.  Depending on how far we let it slide, our word can mean nothing, little or, as is the case for majority of people, it’s like a lottery that pays out every now and again.

This whole “be your word” thing is dicey in some circles.  Many think, “Don’t be such a hard-ass.  Take it easy.  They’re just words.”

I would love to take it easy.  I would love it if all the things I said but did not follow through with had no impact on me and didn’t diminish people’s estimation of me.  But my experience is unequivocal:  when I break my word it diminishes my power to make things happen.

If you’re finding it tough to keep you word, or you feel like you can’t get shit moving in your life, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Keep track of what you say. Whether it’s a planner, notebook or phone, have someplace where you keep track of what you say you’ll do (this includes old stuff).  Let your unkept words burn a hole in your head until you follow through with and complete them.
  2. Honor your word, even when you don’t keep it. There are times when you are compelled to break your word for whatever reason—sickness, injury, death, some unmissable opportunity arises.  If that’s the case, honor your word and do your best to clean it up.  If it’s a broken appointment, reschedule.  If it’s a project or goal you set out to do by a certain time, renegotiate the time.  This caveat can be abused.  We can become known as a cleanup crew for broken words.  Honoring your word in the face of a broken one is plan B.  It’s easier to stick with plan A wherever possible and keep your word.
  3. Shut up. Really, stop talking shit.  Stop saying things you don’t mean or have no intention of following through with.  It’s better to not make an appointment than make one and miss it.  I heard somewhere, “A good man does what he says.  A wise man doesn’t say much.”

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”

Dames and Dumbfucks

Everything's cool man.

I shan’t mince words.  I’m a liar.  And exactly 2 years ago, my lies created a life where I felt like someone was pressing the butt of a broom handle into my chest all my waking hours.  I was in a relationship and living with a great girl.  She was cute, generous, worldly, punctual, committed.  But she was in a relationship with a liar (me) and we were fucked from the beginning.

The first lie was the most basic one:  I thought that she was, or someday would be, someone other than who she was.  I saw red-flags from our very first meeting.  I rationalized them away to perpetuate the idea of the relationship—something I wanted to believe in.  But rationalizations are not solid building materials for relationships.

The trouble, in short, was we had nothing in common.  Our politics, spiritual views, tastes, communication styles were often diametrically opposed.  I joked about these things at first, but as time elapsed and our incompatibility became more glaring, the humor evaporated.  These issues would come out in fights and feeble attempts at communicating, but I knew, underneath my ideas and rationalizations, the relationship was DOA.

One night in February 2009, we got into a fight.  It was the same fight.  She accused me of not wanting to spend time with her.  She was right.

I would typically cauterize the fight with lies that I wanted to believe were true, but knew were not.  This night, I couldn’t do it.  I knew this fight would go on as long as we were in a relationship.  I knew things would not get better.  I knew she was who she was and I was who I was and given that, we had to break up.

So I told the truth and was promptly asked to move out (it was her apartment so there was no question about who would leave).  She went for a walk and I stuffed as many of my things in a large duffle as I could.  It was a Tuesday night at midnight.  I was a bum, but one with a modicum of integrity. Continue reading “Dames and Dumbfucks”