Saturday, October 29, 2011

Enjoy the Silence

I passively accepted that I would not use this blog to ramble on about music.  It's been so much of my existence and identity. My joy of it seems less because it was ever present for so long. These days quiet is the constant in my life, at work, at home, anywhere I find myself stationary.  Music has been reserved to a movement specific indulgence.  I used to be late all the time, to school, to work etc. cause I was always trying to finish a song before I left. That's the honest to God truth. I didn't put thought into how long a song or album was when I would wake up or get ready to music, my mind was focused on the emotional reaction it inspired.

I don't know when the turn from music began, but I know it really settled in when I started Biking.  No distractions allowed was my motto, focus on the road, the vehicles, the pedestrians, cause they're probably preoccupied.  Then I got my driver's license after all these years, and wanted to really focus on driving. Once I got comfortable, music and driving because a lockstep procedure.  Only when I thought there was problem with my car did I turn off the music.  And so it's remained.

My knee jerk reaction to being dumped twice over in years 4 and 5 of a relationship was to write about the concerts I went to, journalism as therapy.  It was a win win given the lack of coverage for so many artists I liked.  After a while journalism got in the way of my enjoyment of the shows.  I would rather just move and emote, I didn't want to have to think about setlists, memorable details.  Concerts where zone-out experiences in the past, and after a while I chose to let them be that again.  Same with listening to cds. A cd review in my head became a simple 5-point scale lfrom like do dislike.  The details of what I hear just don't vary enough for me to sustain a regular practice of writing about music.  I'm really only writing about my perspective, not the music itself.

So writing about music is a byproduct of genuine inspiration.  The music is so good that I have to go beyond moving and emoting to vocalizing my appreciation of it.  Instead of trying to explain how good something is to each of my friends who might be interested individually, I might write a article about a band.  To expose more people to the artist I might pursue and interview.  These are the little things I do, but more than anything I'm content to thank them if I see them at a show, and support through a purchase of some sort if I can swing the cash and don't have the goods or have someone to gift them to.

All in all, I've found it easy to just be mellow and quiet, I've conditioned myself to it over time, and it works for me.  I spend more time hearing my voice in my head than I do using it thanks to text messages.  The other twisted satisfaction I get is when I see people making mistakes driving or blathering into their cells arguing with someone about something in public and think, "I used to be that person all the time, tethered to communicating with someone for some purpose that was a cautionary tale at best."  I see them, and I see bondage.  I make sure they don't run into me and go about my merry way.  I used to say that love was about comfortable silences.  I knew some people who thought that was a really nice idea/ ideal to pursue.  I didn't really understand the depth of what that means when you are deeply involved with someone.  It means, being comfortable enough to not care whether or not someone is acknowledging when you are near or far.  It's faith in the notion that when the time comes they will acknowledge you warmly, but are fine not hearing from you until that time comes.

i'll proof this later, time to build...something.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Quick One While He's Away

I could go for laughs on this thing, but I only pull that off when I'm uniquely inspired or playing off people who are funnier than I am.  It's a shame or is it a blessing, cause my sense of humor is, how do you say?  A Hot Mess.  I make a habit to visit this one place, it's not really a City, but it's got a sense of being a place with lots of people with good senses of humor and they do a good job of putting me in a mood not far from how I act with my family and closest friends, as far as "being funny" goes.  Sometimes we're caustic and harsh, but it's seldom ever anything but all in good fun, even if it is at the expense of someone else.  I know that's horrible, but there was this whole period of 1996-97' where I would joke about my Red Sweatshirt making me feel evil, and that I'd "woken up on the dark side of the force in the morning." so I guess it's par for the course that I take pleasure in coarse humor.  It could be a lot worse, cause I've heard and said worse than what typically flies across the blotter in that Burg of Laughing folks.

There was a point 12 years ago when I wanted to start a comedy publication, along the lines of The Onion, which I was seriously loving back then, called The Rag, pun intended.  I was probably at my worst as far as my humor was concerned, and pretty unhinged and uninhibited in my delivery.  I was in the midst of a descent into complete irresponsibility, and running from the ominous feeling that the College Town I was in had this Final Destination like bead on my mortality that I had to escape.  To get my mind off my Fight or Flight crisis, I took to cracking crazy jokes to bide my time and mask my unraveling.

One great thing that came toward the decline of that period in my life was the true story of me being Trapped in a Stall in a certain public restroom at a certain public university, with a toilet I had freshly clogged.  It was a Crazy story written immediately after my successful escape from the stall and bathroom without being discovered.  The jubilation I felt resulted in what I consider the funniest thing I have EVER written.  It was a Victory lap of an email, of which I have little to NO recollection with the exception of a line that acknowledged my crime when it was probably later discovered  "Who was the father of that funk???"  Yeah, that story was CRAZY.  I could rewrite it, but it would lack that manic zeal.  And of course none of my friends are the kind of nuts that have kept every email ever sent to their account over the last 12 years... like I have.  Too bad I wasn't saving sent messages.  That one was a gem.  Anyway, I have my moments when I'm hilarious in person, but only when I'm telling true stories or riffing on goofy and wicked ideas, but it's really easy to jump the shark in mid-stream, so yeah, no jokes on this blog.  Well, at least not yet.

We Don't Have to Breed.

I’ve been procrastinating on this blog for a few days.  I know exactly what I want to write about, but haven’t got around to committing it to text.  The subject is intellectual reproduction supplanting biological reproduction.  Or in layman’s terms, not having kids, and living on through your example or the ideas you share with others.  Consider it a very personal form of reducing your carbon footprint.
In the realm of emotional costs and benefits, commitment vs. liberation, having a family is a noble and worthwhile expense for people who can make that leap.  It seems, based on the behavior of a lot of people, that they can’t afford to make that leap and stick to it.  Their relationships don’t last, they emotionally divorce themselves from their families emotionally etc. etc. etc.  It’s all one manner of alienation or another.
I’m not alone in not having children.  I know a decent amount of people in my generation, and a growing number of people from the previous one, that don’t have any kids, and may never have any, for whatever reason.  Some of these people are childless by force of nature, some by circumstance, some by choice.  In some cases our priorities aren’t topped by procreating, and that pursuit isn’t a pursuit at all.
Back in college I met a Barista who expressed a desire to remove their self from the gene pool.  I think being exposed to their thought process played a part in me recognizing how biological reproduction, at its best, was a pretty powerful demonstration of acceptance of yourself, and your partner, physically and mentally.  Ideally you are putting everything that is yourself biologically in a raffle with the same of your partner, and in addition you’re bound to your partner to raise and provide for this being who will be a reflection of your biology and your personalities via your mutual or exclusive efforts to be parents.  That person-to-be goes forth into the world as your legacy.  That’s not always how they are treated.
The worst-case scenario is that in biological reproduction a child is just a consequence of an impulsive act of gratification devoid of any consideration of your or their future.  Another worst-case scenario would be children conceived solely to be bred as replications of their parents regardless of their own will and desires.  I personally find that to be incredibly egocentric and potentially counter-productive since one of the key features of adolescence is self-actualization and differentiation.  Authority figures and rigid impositions of will don’t usually go over well with teens trying to assert their identities.
All that considered, it dawned on me that I may be removing myself from the gene pool, but not from life.  The push to maintain our health and emotional well being via a sort of recreational perma-adolescence rings true, but the balance required to achieve this and also be a responsible adult (not to mention parent & romantic partner) is something very few of us are prepared for.   Our culture hasn’t really put a lot of value (actively, because actions speak louder than words) in commitment and perseverance when it comes to negotiating relationships.  “the Heart wants what the heart wants” after all.  Who cares if the heart has been sold a bill of goods with the shelf life of a worm on a line?
I value family greatly, and understand the functional utility of one generation supporting another, and the love that engenders motivating the young to care for the old when they are unable to care for themselves.  I find myself actively and passively deciding that my only contribution to the world will likely be of an intellectual and material nature (if only in my personal sphere of influence).  Part of the reason I grow more content with this comes from the realization that most of the good I’ve shared with people in my life comes from sources that predate most of the people who’ve been involved in my education.  There’s nothing novel about my experiences in life, or my families, but they are Personal, and that is important, if only to us.  My biology doesn’t limit whom I can share that with.  The only thing required is empathy and understanding.  If you embrace those things toward a person, the nature of the relationship and communication your share with them stands to influence you as much as one with a relative might.   Being kin to someone gives them a head start, a certain amount of built in credibility, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll have a positive relationship with that person.  It’s wonderful when you do, but with this generation of folk I’ve known, as was the case with the previous, there is a rift between generations and a lack of identification.   It’s changed as we’ve gotten older, but there are some cultural rifts related to the lapse of certain values and traditions.  The result, as far as I can tell, is that people identify more with their peers and mentors of their choosing.
As far as I’m concerned, I realize that if I choose to not pursue parenthood, then it’s my responsibility to create a means to provide for myself in my old age or if infirmity renders me incapable of providing for myself.  That, or I have to share enough good will and love with the people in my life to inspire them to willingly share the same when I am in need.  No matter where you stand on having children, you can’t shake your connection to the rest of humanity other than self-destruction in the most literal sense.   I value life, and recognize the selfishness of that act.  I may be selfish and self-centered but I also value the people who constitute my social existence and the ideas that have made me value them and life itself enough to want to communicate them to anyone who’s interested and discover more of the same.  That exchange of thoughts and feelings is one of the finer things in life as far as I’m concerned, and satisfying enough for me to not see any purpose in furthering any Abrahamic ambitions in the proliferation of my genes.  It doesn't hurt that people are sharing their genes, but not much love and wisdom, and there's a generation of children in desperate need of the things I have to offer as an empathetic adult who doesn't have biological children to share with.  Working where I do, I'm hoping I can share what wisdom and empathy I've got with the next few generations in a positive way.  If I can, that might just be contribution enough for me to satisfy any internal need I have for a legacy in this life.  Time will tell.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

For Shame

Shame is an emotion I have been familiar with for most of my life. Whether it be for things I was exposed to without knowing how foul they really were before I was old enough to know better or wickedness I committed as a response to some unfettered emotional response I had when I was a child and older. I don't let go of it, I'm haunted by it. I still feel shame over things I did when I was 4 years old. Wrong is wrong. Those feelings of shame and disappointment in what I did, who I was, are the greatest force in keeping me from repeating those shameful actions. No measure of learning or embracing of some uplifting perspective have served to modify my behavior more than those shameful memories have. 

Remembering how foul I can be, and not dismissing it is one way I humble and check myself. I tend to recall the things I've done more than the things I've been subject to. When I start to drudge that stuff up, it's less shame, and more helplessness. There are things you don't want to put out there to people because of the grave nature of the subjects, or the potential misinterpretation they might garner. Whatever the reason, it's another manifestation of a sort of shame. I hate to think that any righteousness I may come to understand in this life is the byproduct of my own exposure to, and perpetration of immorality. The reality might just be that. Maybe I'm a slave to dualism, fixated on dialectic reasoning to ascertain any understanding? 

Some things you don't forget and they shape you, and sometimes those are the most important things that happen to you in your life. If the last time you see a child face to face, they are asking you if love them because you just told them "No." when they asked for something they wanted, for whatever reason, and the last visual you have of that child is them crying and waving goodbye as you leave to go away for months on end, you will regret it. You'll feel ashamed that the last time you could have seen her you were running your mouth talking to a girl who was hardly interested in you, instead of being somewhere near your own dorm so you could see your sisters and their children, who decided to surprise you by bringing up your winter clothes when the first cold snap hit that fall 15 years ago. I'm always going to regret that, and feel a certain amount of shame for not being able to see them all and hold my niece that one last time, and maybe when she left she wouldn't have tears in her eyes?

Sometimes I just don't get it.

I have a hard time investing in nuanced thinking and things I consider concrete or matter of fact. It’s no fault of anyone other than my self. In a way I’m being oblivious, or on some level obstinate. I’m at my worst when someone is being ironic or sarcastic about something I haven’t considered in regards to them. My tendency is to take things at face value. I can turn skeptical or cynical at the drop of a dime, but that’s usually just a defense mechanism when, for one reason or another, I’m put on the defensive. I’m predisposed to take things as they are.

Usually someone deadpans a line about something that I didn’t expect, and I think “Huh?”, “They can’t be serious?!?” and I will say something in response that takes what they say literally. The usual response I get is, “I’m not serious Will(ie).” I usually say, “Oh, I didn’t think you were.” Which is a half-truth. It’s hard for me, and hopefully everyone else, to not be judgmental.  We can’t be indecisive in life and also be responsible. Judgments in a colloquial sense are choices and predispositions towards one thing over another. So, to not be judgmental I’ve become pretty ambivalent about things that happen “in the moment” as far as what people say, what people do, what happens. I just don’t know people deep down, all I know is what they give me and what I presume. When this is just based on what people say and do, and I don’t get to see a lot of that, my reaction to people is to not react. When I do react, I’m probably not going to react the right way because I’m already assuming I’m not going to get it. I have learned over time that this is really frustrating to people. I also know that I can be really insulting when I react by throwing out the weak assumptions I can recall in response to something someone says that was sarcastic or said in jest. I’m doing myself a disservice because I’m throwing out assumptions I’d already kicked to the curb, and by bringing them up I sound like I’m judging someone. The reality is I’m just confused as to why a person would bring up those kind of things.

It gets confusing for me because there are two tracks of humor that I apparently get mixed up: Self-Depreciation and Satire. I know a good number of folks who make light of their lives by putting their flaws out there, making light of themselves. I also know a good number of folks who make light of situations by pointing out how ridiculous they are through personal examples or anecdotes. Anymore, it gets hard for me to tell one from another because I’m ambivalent about so much. I don’t assume I know who one person relates to or how another person relates to their self. So, I just fall back on not assuming.  I don’t know enough to have a valid opinion, which is fine as long as I’m content with some level of apathy. As long as I don’t really care about a person or a situation, my detachment goes unchecked. But when I am actually invested and motivated to Feel, that’s where I have the most potential to completely screw up and alienate myself by saying something half-cocked, off-base, insulting, and contrary to my intent because I’m throwing out those weak assumptions and ideas trying to figure out what someone is getting at when they are being sarcastic or satirical while I was in my literal la la land.

I’m at my weakest when I fall back on knee-jerk reactions to reconcile my confusion about a situation, taking shots in the dark just to get my bearings back. Does that make me a simpleton? Maybe it does? Then I think, is all this sophistication necessary, or is it just alienating people from one another, a means to differentiate one group of people from another? Like inside jokes and things like that, that create an atmosphere of inclusion and exclusion? My gut reaction is, that’s beside the point if I’m offending or alienating people because I miss the point of something they say in passing to make light of a situation or themselves, or both? The problem is, sometimes I can’t tell the difference, and regardless of that person’s intent I get confused, and wind up in a Catch-22 situation. Do I ask a question and ruin the joke? Do I try and play along when I’m obviously confused? Do I do a combination of both and make things even more confusing? All I know, is that by doing anything I run the risk of offending and alienating myself from any person I was being social with. I don’t know of anything more alienating that feeling like you risk being judge by what you say and do, by people with which you want to establish or maintain friendship. Because of that, I know it’s got to be really disappointing when someone you thought was your friend throws out assumptions about you that attack your character and motivations, regardless of intent. Having those extremes, would anyone want to be friends with someone if things could go that bad, that easily? That’s what really disappoints me right now, acknowledging the distance that really exists in my relationships with friends, family, acquaintances, etc. In general I want to keep the apologies to a minimum in my life, not because I don’t feel I have anything to apologize for, but because I don’t want to make people feel hurt or offended. Knowing that I have is disappointing. I am disappointed in myself, but I’m also mindful that self-pity is veiled passive-aggression as I understand it. Overplaying shame for pity's sake, seems disrespectful of another person‘s emotions when they are offended. Out of respect, they should be allowed to reconcile their emotions on their terms, in their time. So, it’s a challenge to stand for something, for sake of argument let’s call it Righteousness, and not offend someone, without everyone being forced to have a relativist viewpoint. There’s something “off” about imposing relativism. If we don’t have relativism across the board to some degree, peoples’ opinions are always going to potentially offend someone.

Knowing that I probably will offend people, particularly people I care about, with any political, spiritual, philosophical, or otherwise view I hold and express in action or word is an alienating proposition. That’s what led me to ambivalence in the first place. Ambivalence feeds my confusion and apprehension. Confusion and apprehension muddles my reactions. Muddled reactions undermine and compromise the communications I have with other people. So why communicate with me? The alternative would be for me to be as decisive in my communication as I am in the personal action I take in my day to day life. In the end you get the same result, people will judge me on what I say and do, the positions I take or reject. Or not. There are so many outlets for social interaction, so many relationships we can maintain through mediums that would have evaporated decades ago because of distance and time, outside of conventional correspondence. I think about the deterioration of society and our ability to relate to one another in ways that aren’t superficial, and I feel like even the things people used to call “deep” are superficial, because we can only go so far with them before we alienate ourselves from each other. Thinking and feeling like that makes you wonder if it’s worth it to try? Is it just better to shed situations that require compromise and more effort to communicate and relate? To be honest, I don’t have a solid opinion, because the obvious ideal answer should also be the practical one, but what I observe in reality undermines it. What does it matter what I think is correct if everything at work around me is working towards negating it?

I just know I don't like making people feel judged or misunderstood, and I don't like feeling judged or misunderstood.  I do accept responsibility when I am wrong, be it malicious intent or haphazard/ careless actions, or any other manner of ill I inflict.  I know the feeling well, and want to avoid it as much as possible.  I also understand I bare the responsibility for my actions when I do royally screw up and run rough shod over a friend or stranger in the process of sorting my thoughts and feelings out in words and actions.  It's an ugly process unfortunately, one I prefer to keep to myself in all honesty, and my failure to do so is a failure indeed.  You have to learn to know better, and you have to know to do better.  I've been lazy, and it's time to learn again.