Been awhile since writing. Started new job, putting the finishing touches on self publishing my first full length novel and continuing the adjustment to a life in a new city. Not having a social circle has left me with time to think…sometimes too much. As the aging process continues to be more unkind to my body (all a result of my doing) I can’t help but think back to days of the past. The hands of time can be very unkind and to most they certainly are. Our decisions set the course of our lives off in directions we often don’t have a map to navigate. For a healthy percent of the population – at least here in America, though I suspect in many other places – we will never gain access to an effective GPS system to help us along.
It was during a recent conversation at a coffee shop I frequent that I found myself in a conversation about life and more specifically what I refer to as our ‘achievement timeline’. Living in Silicon Valley I’m often surrounded by intellectually brilliant people who are fascinated by data and quantifying it. It was to a group of such folks I explained my (though I’m sure someone somewhere else has termed a similar theorem) achievement timeline and the value it would have in people’s lives; particularly those transitioning to young/early adulthood. While I’ve not made an extensive search for analysis of my premise there no doubt exists sets of data that offer precise probability of achieving certain professional & personal outcomes based on where a person sits in their chronological being.
As part of the often time failed strategy of career days, summer job programs, the hyper-obsessive university preparatory process, perhaps the time has come to sit down and share the facts with kids. Knowing where the stats lay coupled with a healthy internal inventory is the greatest gift both young and old people can be given. Going back to the GPS analogy from earlier – imagine if you would for a second being stuck somewhere in your life horizon and having a sense of how you should proceed going forward based not on intuition (an often terrible guide especially for those of us who grow up knowing only a survival mentality) but rather on mathematical fact. A ‘do this – not that’ if you will. This I explained to the group of financially and professionally well-off individuals is the only way those who are left behind can stay there in comfort.
“If I had a world of my own everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
For those of you not familiar with this beautiful and strange arrangement the above is from one of literature’s most interesting characters – Lewis Carroll’s ‘Mad Hatter’. While I won’t implore a person to read ‘Alice in Wonderland’ I would encourage someone to give this statement some thought. We live in a world defined by the very principles outlined in his words. Beginning with the fairy tale characters of youth – Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny (American folklore) – and continuing with the stories perpetuated by religion we are fed a healthy diet of nonsense until we reach an age where these myths begin to come apart at the seems.
For some the transition from denial to acceptance is as easy as skipping a stone across a pond. To a handful of unfortunate others the destruction of this fantasy can be devastating. The oftentimes cold and heavy nature of life can, and frequently does, cripple an individuals development, ultimately leading to an emotionally retarded adulthood. The lies upon which our existence are constructed creates a fragile and false ecology that with even the slightest change in conditions can become so severely altered that the potential for survival ends in a zero sum game.
Navigating through existence can be a breathtakingly difficult task. We are in a world with as little truth to it as the one we spent our childhoods in. You see time and space while constant are of little use in a reality governed by perspective. Ideas give way to ideology, facts quickly change to fiction and the only logic is being illogical. In the spirit of this way of existing there becomes always more to lose and ever less to gain. Taking chances is no longer a potential for second place but not even an option. Slavery becomes the new freedom.
But take heart, there is a way to find the center of the ‘maze’. The key is very simple and lies in only a simple understanding. And that understanding is realizing that life, your life, my life, our lives, are not a single map but a series of maps. Maps that when viewed separately seem completely unconnected…of having little purpose or function and fail to give even the slightest glimpse into the nature of anything. But as a person begins to stack one on top of another…on top of another, on top of another this beautiful pattern emerges. Parts of this map will seem perplex, having amazing color and lines though no definable image. Whereas others will have clear but callous constructs.
It is taken in as a whole that the totality of all this will begin to make sense and the truth will emerge. You will discover that there is no truth and no untruth. There is no freedom and there is no slavery. Neither joy nor sadness are real. All that exist are time and space and perspective. The first two will always make sense, we can see neither but we know them to be so because of what occupies our life giving credence to them. The last is nonsense because it is governed by how we feel about what we see. If you (and I for that matter) can accept that what we feel may or may not be appropriate to what we see then whether or not something even makes sense or not will be of no consequence. Up could be down, blue could be green and that still will be fine with me…as it should be.
In 2014 I decided to write a manifesto of sorts, ‘Don’t F-Up: Life Lessons from a Serial Failure’ (https://www.amazon.com/Dont-F-Up-Lessons-Serial-Failure/dp/1312012218). The goal in putting together my thoughts – besides the therapeutic value of writing – was not to offer advice on what to do in life, but rather what NOT to do. Well…maybe not so much what not to do but rather some things to consider before making those bigger decisions. At that point I was on a real hot streak of losing. Divorced, broke, homeless, unable to financially continue nursing school, I was batting .000 with not so much as a glimmer of hope. It was during this time I really began to think about life, the choices I was making and the consequences of them. Fast forward to today and while there hasn’t been tremendous improvement I have been able to come away with some pretty solid thoughts. One of the key areas I’ve kept coming back to and have found solid footing on is advice.
Nowadays it seems as if there’s advice everywhere and most of it tries to lead people to a state of feeling rather than being. Giving and receiving advice has become such an emotional process it feels as though it should come with a box of tissues. Why has it gotten this way? I mean certainly people have repressed feelings and thoughts (particularly woman and minorities) but it appears things have literally careened off a cliff and I’m certain I know the culprit…bad advice. Throughout history and especially now in this so-called information age it seems everyone’s got an answer. The problem is a much greater percentage of people are wrong rather than correct. While psychologists, sociologists and the like can debate back and forth about the particulars of how, when, and why, I think it’s safe to say for most this starts early in life.
We’re bread like dogs to believe that while we’re growing up to trust the ‘experts’? And who are these experts you may ask? Well it appears that it’s anyone older than you -parents, grandparents, teachers, church elders, etc…and the older the better. Now while I’d never dispute there’s a large collection of experience and potential wisdom in all those years, there’s also a lot of backwards thinking and belief systems that research shows to be more harmful than helpful. So where does a person go to solve this problem? My plan is to expand on this topic in much greater detail down the road, ideally with some accredited individuals, but for the sake of introducing it to anyone reading this post, regardless their age (of course assuming they’re a bit older to even be able to read this in the first place, ie. adolescents) I believe it comes down to a couple of key things.
Ask yourself the following
- Who is this person to me and if they’re close (say a family member) is their relationship to you or you to them making figuring something out harder?
- The person giving the advice, what’s their track record? If they’re encouraging you to do (or not do) something, is it something they have done (or not done)?
- If seeking advice (which is still a good thing) what is it on and do you and the person you’re reaching out to deeply share the circumstance in question? And if so how did their situation ultimately turn out?
At the end of the day it really comes down to listening and thinking. Also take your time and ask questions, especially when you’re younger. You’ll be old and dead before you know it. Better to have taken a day, a week, month or even year to go over something and be pleased with the outcome than have jumped into the deep end of life not ready to swim.
Welcome to the first post of what will hopefully be many. With this blog/website I’ll be taking some time to discuss a variety of topics about life. I’m not ultimately sure where I want this to go with this but what I do know is that I’d like to get people engaged, thinking and talking. Thinking about what you ask? Well, life in general and the decisions we make in it. In the spirit of those truly wise folks that came before me (I do NOT and will NOT include myself in that list ever) I want to open people’s eyes to the way things REALLY are and will be throughout their lives. In a day and age of ‘fake news’ and near unlimited access to a variety of content times are as confusing as ever. So let’s try to make sense of this thing called life. I encourage any and all comments to posts I make and to the responses of others in a constructive (meaning not stupid) way – provided I can figure out how to properly set this up…which is anyone’s guess. So what can you expect from this site? First set your bar low then down the road my hope is to present topics with thoughts/opinions/ideas from a variety of people who seem to know what the fuck their talking about. Upward and onward thru the sea of horse shit we go together!
“Life is not a fairy tale, if you lose your shoe at midnight..you’re drunk.” – Not Sure