Sunday, February 16, 2014

Coming to the point

There is an idea floating through our contemporary world, of which most who are not scientists don't fully understand, myself included. However, the idea posits (as near as I can grasp the current cultural zeitgeist of it) that time may not actually exist as we understand it. In brief, Time is an illusion of perspective. Of course, my personal experience (or perspective, if you will) of time is that I can accrete experience so that my experience grows and I become a slightly different person, either good or bad. In the objective sense, if I learn math or another language, I can use that learning at a later period.

However, the accumulation of experience and its ability to coalesce into learning, is something that I think about in the philosophical sense. Do I, or can I, become a better person by struggling with experiences that are difficult. Pain, as a physical mechanism, teaches us to avoid things that are harmful to us. However, pain also occurs when we have experienced damage to our systems. Is there a point in which damage has occurred, causes pain, and repair is no possible. Is there a difficult experience that damages us as people rather than teaches us how to become better by avoiding that damage in the first place? I am not sure.

It's been too long since I have written here. Seven months? I am no longer in the depths of despair about my being, but I do feel damaged in a way—like my difficult experiences of the recent past will have consequences that extend beyond my time to try and repair the damage, considering that repair may not even be possible. I have hope that I can be guided to a better path, but I feel a lot of regret for not managing my time better in the past. There were so many lost opportunities for something else that it is challenging for me to try and not dwell on them. Part of me feels like I have ignored some internal warnings much to my own peril.

From here on out, I think that what I will be trying to concentrate on is accumulating the virtues that I feel I should acquire, and trying to endure the experiences that are left to me, ones that I do not want, cannot avoid, but will be forced to face regardless of anything I could do to mitigate them. Yes, I will face difficult experiences ahead, but my focus is no longer on making all of the "right" moves to avoid those experiences, but on making the right changes in attitude and behavior to be able to withstand what I cannot avoid and to adapt to the things as best I can.

I have felt attached to someone specific for a very long period of time. Someone with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Someone with whom I wanted to build a future with. However, she does not really want to be with me, even with (or because of) our past together. We have been interacting with each other, with degrees of intensity, for over ten years. Recently (like a few days), I have come to feel that it never be possible to repair that relationship, and not because I haven't tried. I am a man of many faults, but now I fully understand some of our obstacles were not ones I placed in our path. I have tremendous sympathy for the challenges that we faced, and intellectually, I place blame with no-one. Emotionally, I feel burned by the differences in our beings that made reconciliation impossible. I have been sad, seeking a compromise along any route that would not require me to abandon my healthy sense of self. I may have been able to make it work for awhile longer if I forced myself to accept the notion that I was the center of all our problems, that I was focus of all the blame, that my choices alone forced us down this road. But, even after seriously searching long and hard for a way to accept all of the mistakes, I found I could not do it. I may experience bouts of low self-esteem, but at least intellectually, I know while I accept responsibility for my previous poor choices, I cannot accept blame for things that I did not cause, nor endure the misery of anger that I am not the source of. It is possible for someone to be unconsciously affected by tragedy, and for the effects of that to spill out into other areas of their lives without them recognizing that source. In essence, another person's actions have traveled through time to disrupt my attempts at closeness. The person I was seeking to make a life with is still echoing the earthquake of pain that another person caused.

Of course, to be truly honest, I believe that if she could heal from all of that, I might have a chance at building that life with her. The change this time is that I do not have much hope of that happening anymore. My cajoling, attempts to seek closeness, efforts at being sensitive and communicative were all rejected. I have done all I know how to do.

Now, I face a future that no longer includes her. I experience regret and remorse for that loss of a potential relationship. Perhaps I always will. But, I now know that I cannot be chained to a future that may not be. I have to move on and try and be a better person in the future.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Trying to Lift My Vision

Another late night: almost 1:00 am now. The issue with today was that I slept for a couple of hours in the middle of the evening (6–9pm), which made trying to go to sleep at a decent hour pretty much impossible. I hardly got any sleep the night before, and my head has throbbed with a sort of pressure headache. I've interacted with everyone politely, even amiably, just as they may have avoided me due to a subtle vibe of alienation that radiates away from me like a silent radio signal.

I continue to wrangle with my negative emotions as much as always, but I think I have been dealing with them a bit better today. Even though today was a short workday, I got a few projects done and feel pretty good about catching up on them by the end of the week. I still have two projects for other people that I must complete very soon, but they can wait for the time being. The summer is my busiest as far as work goes. I grapple with motivation when it comes to my individual designs. That will be my next career/personal challenge.

And, speaking more broadly about how I feel about life and my place in it, I think I can see a certain kind of emotional acceptance about my current situation that makes the inevitability of the future more easy to grapple with. Poverty and struggle may be my lot in life, despite my ambitions for more outward successes. These last few years have really clarified for me how focusing on my inward successes, and trying to develop into a better person, is my true and most important goal anyway. The outer successes would have been nice, but I always knew that it wasn't the most important. And as the prospect for that outward acclaim or achievement falls away, the inward self-directed enrichment process gains some momentum. Of course, I truly hope that no one thinks that I am saying I am perfect, or even that I am a slightly better person than most.

In fact, most of the intense depression that I felt these last few months has arisen out of a painful recognition that, even a year ago, I was a better person than I am now. Through a combination of actions and inactions, I have fallen backwards into a trap that holds me tight within the frozen grip of regret and churned up frustrations. All my good intentions were transmuted into foolishness, and even then, I ignored most of what I should have been doing in the search of another distraction. I have learned the hard lessons of dissipations and lethargy. I still try to come to terms with compromises that have cost me more than I would have wanted them to.

Of course, there are all sorts of signs and signifiers during the day that leads me to one of these thoughts or another, and I realize that it all sounds so very vague. So, I will leave it for now to discuss my day.

Like I said earlier, I had not gotten much sleep. After informing my "boss" that I was tired and that I may not be in to work right away, I ate a small bowl of cereal and went back to bed. I probably dreamed about something, which was frightening in its limitations, but I do not remember it. I do not have nightmares in the traditional sense. My nightmares arise out of the limitations that the dreams show me, out of the possibility of a life circumscribed by poverty, chance, and fate bought through earlier actions. I wish I could tell you how I am haunted by some of them, but most people wouldn't understand the implications. And, honestly, I am glad that I dreaming again. My dreams had left me for a few weeks, and it scared me in the way that adults can be scared without showing it on their surfaces.

I approached work in a workman way and probably did more than I thought I would get done. I feel a little wistful frustration about this job because there are always deadlines that are too close to do any real research or exploration of the themes, symbols, or possibilities. But, I don't dare feel too much frustration because I recognize that I have much more flexibility in this job than I would have anywhere else. I am lucky to have this job, and I know it. In the back of my mind, I am deeply worried that I may lose it in the future, but I do not think that it will be something that I have caused. I feel relatively assured that I did the best I could to prevent that outcome.

After work, I went home and had dinner with my parents before drifting off in that nap. When I awoke at 8:30ish, I talked with them briefly, and discovered that my sister had asked my Dad to purchase her something from the store that she claimed she needed. Perhaps she does, but her needs are always immediate and transcendent above everyone else's. It would be easy to tell another person no, but my sister cannot help who she is or how she thinks. And so the order of the day is compassion.

I drove into town and went to Walmart. I called my parents on my cell phone, and asked them what kind of thing it was that my sister needed. My dad told me, but I couldn't find it there. Therefore, I went to Safeway, and after a lot of searching found, it.

I went back to work and made another gameplay movie for youtube, but I think my heart is going out of it. It takes a lot of work, and the initial returns that I imagined I might be able to achieve appear as elusive as ever. I could do more research over the issue, but that would require even more work.

I've been thinking that I need to return to all of the other interests that I have fostered throughout my life, and continue to develop those. I could go back to writing and drawing. I could read more, take time for myself and photography. Worry less, and allow other people to take personal responsibility for their own lives. I may be an irrelevant person in the grand scheme of history, and I may have harmed inner and outer self and damaged both, but I still have time left. Perhaps, through perseverance and more effort, there is a chance to claim some small amount of personal dignity so I can arise as a person who was given wisdom through some occasional and self-inflicted hard knocks. I wish to hear the voice of wisdom speaking to me, and guiding me through a life of difficulty. To feel the rays of the sun of wisdom and assurance shining on me once more. To be washed in the seas of forgiveness for those actions and inactions. And, to ascend to a wholesome place of truth, insulated from the cold winds of sorrows and pains that are always reflected in the downward glances towards an earthly life. I want to lift my vision towards a broad and warm horizon of better internal possibilities and confirmations that I can personally achieve.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Uncertain about Writing

I am really uncertain about whether or not I should write a book. It seems like it is something that I have put off for a very long time. There has always been an internal prompting for me to write one. However, as I get older, I think to myself that almost everything I thought was important really is not. Every pop-culture reference, joke, effort to improve myself, vocation, avocation, etc. was simply another distraction away from something else I should have been focused on. Maybe that other thing was to express myself and my views with a novel, especially since my writing is one of the few things that I have gotten the most positive feedback from other people about, but then again, maybe not. All I know for sure is that the "one thing" that I should be working for always seems to escape me. I know it is there, but I don't know what it is.

I'll be really honest at the moment. I am solidly middle-aged. I have no money for retirement, a part-time job that I can barely do regularly and probably should have been fired from a year ago, and tens of thousands of dollars in student debt. I never managed to find a companion to share my life with despite my efforts to try, and I have no tangible assets like a house of my own, savings, or a decent car. It is hard not to feel like the world's biggest failure.

I wish there was another word for jealousy. Jealousy implies that there is a passion inside the person afflicted with it, a drive that keeps the fires of emotion burning hot. The jealousy I feel is very cold. It is a sad recognition that many things that I dared to hope for are somehow impossible, so daring to hope feels dangerous. If I had allowed myself to feel the hot jealousy for the average achievements of a common person (ie. a steady and successful job, a loving family, a pleasant relationship with a wife, etc.) then I would be consumed by pain. Instead, whenever I feel the first twinge of wanting more than I can apparently achieve, I avert my inner and outer gaze as quickly as possible. Too much focus on those things will be dangerous. I can't do it.

I keep hearing from everyone around me that the economy really is difficult right now, but I have to say that, when looked at globally, it hardly seems like our economic problems will be solved soon enough for me to benefit from. I need about a hundred miracles for these troubles to go away, but I doubt they'll be arriving any time soon. I don't want to sound so negative, but I have to say that the whole world is in a real fix, and that, while I didn't personally cause the troubles it has, they will affect me more than I would like and more than I can change. Writing, a broad and non-specific avenue towards a fantasy of redemption, whispers into my heart and suggests that it is the only hope I would ever have at climbing out of my current mess. It has been done before, but I also know I'd have to be very lucky and have a better plan than I do now.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Grinding my way towards Discipline

I still end up hurting myself in these weird internal ways that I feel that I should be better able to control. It's those small moments of choice, where the gust of a impulse or whim blows quickly upon you, and then, ignoring a reflective thought, you allow yourself to be pushed in a direction you would rather not go. It's the later recognition of these small moments that grind on me more than I want.

Is it in my personality to foster discipline, to choose the more difficult paths, to accept the many failures and move forward towards hope? I believe, when I am truly honest with myself, the answer is yes. But, I am equally bewildered when I try to describe how I might go about acquiring that discipline—the regulatory control over my choices brought about by detachment—and applying it to my life.

My inner voice says, "I know I can do this. It is within my ability. I must persevere. I must continue despite the emotional consequence of actions or inactions." I know that voice is right. The only path is the path forward. Still, the difficulty that this internal project holds disturbs me in a powerful way.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Functionality

It seems like everytime that I come to this journal lately, it is to write about how difficult life seems. I think I will just accept that. I know that it doesn't endear one to other people to continually discuss all of the problems that life has in store for us as we wend our way awkwardly through it, but this journal is more for me than it is for anything else. It is a place to grasp a few thoughts I have at these writing moments, and fix them in place. The hope is that, by capturing thoughts, they can be examined a bit more objectively in the future, but I would have to develop more of the habit of reading what I have written. Aside from a glance at the most recent previous posts, it is rare that I go back over much of what I have said. I also know that a lot of what I have already said, I have said before.

It is true that my previous post discussed an event that will have (and probably has had) a profound impact on my future and my future plans. Yes. It was one of the worst moments of my recent life, and definitely the worst all year. I cannot help but end up using at as a jigsaw puzzle piece in a metaphorical narrative about my life. Unfortunately, as that awful piece slides into place, the larger story the picture reveals isn't pretty. Perhaps I have the piece in the wrong place, or perhaps it is not a piece to the puzzle I am trying to solve. However, if I place it where it seems to fit, then the story told by all of these little events is ultimately one of failure. Of course, it is difficult to know how much of this failure is under my control. Yes, I have made some bad choices, but then again, perhaps previous experience has made some of these bad choices more inevitable than they would have otherwise.

I suppose I could look at it like this: Through no fault of your own, someone steals the keys to your car. With you keys missing, it is more likely that you will be late for work. Once late for work, you miss an appointment to discuss a new client account, and due to an argument the client had with his children that morning, he is in a bad mood and decides to cancel the order. It would be very human for the person who had their keys stolen to feel frustrated, to feel as if there was something in their control that they missed, to feel like the bad results of the day were their fault. And yet, it wasn't. It was the bad intention of the thief and the bad mood of the client that led to those places.

So, it follows that, due to no fault of one's own, a poor economy could lead to poor job prospects, poor jobs prospects means a financial tightening of the belt, which leads to poor diet, which leads to poor health and frustration, which leads to even further difficulty. It is easy for the people suffering from economic forces beyond their control to feel like a failure for not having done more, for not being super-human enough to transcend those problems. And yet, looked at objectively, they, as one individual, have little effect on a economy that is created by thousands, or millions.

This is where I suspect I am at. I have a narrative about my life that seems to fit. I have missed chances and opportunities everywhere I turn. I see some of the challenges I have had to deal with, especially ones that I know others do not have. But, eventually, I am uncertain. Maybe some of that bad feeling comes from a real tangible force that I have little or no awareness of. I could be grappling with something that isn't entirely my fault.

But, of course, even with all of our challenges that we face, we are responsible for engaging with life as it presents itself to us. We must figure out a way forward, even if there is something pulling us back. After all, I am best able to measure my own intentions and efforts than anyone. And, even after working at this problem for a long time, I keep coming up short. I keep thinking about how I should have known better, should have worked harder, should have dedicated myself to make a more genuine effort. I do feel blessed that, among the people living today, I have a slightly better insight into the kinds of behavior that are more likely to lead to a better place. This knowledge has prevented me from making even larger mistakes with even greater consequences. Still, if there was an objective third person listening to all of my thoughts, watching all of my actions, then I am not so sure I would fall into a positive light.

I do not want to feel like everything important I have reached for has escaped me. I do not want to feel like I have failed at all of the big things in life. However, after petty arguments with people who cannot be expected to be any more heroic or long-suffering than me (and I am light-years away from either condition), I feel like a tremendous failure. I am not responsible for anyone's choices other than my own. I desperately desire, but do not know how to transcend the emotional toll that bad experiences, or my own inability to live up to my high expectations, has on me. I would like to be able to float above some of the petty difficulties that, intellectually, I know do not matter. However, it is too easy for me to feel hurt and frustrated by poor choices I have made that lead me to even more disappointments.

It must be said that the crack of uncertainty about any of this grows larger when I admit that depression could be coloring all of my so-called objectivity. It is hard to judge my best moments and far to easy to condemn my worst. Still, every slip on the razor's path increases my fears that I have not exerted the right type or amount of effort to be a happier person who is functional enough to live life as an independent adult.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Difficult to Say

Sunday was one of the worst days I have had in a year or so. Life seems to hold so many mysteries for me, and lately, most of them have been unpleasant at least on the surface.

Of course, I understand that unpleasant experiences are not always harmful, or exclusively harmful. I'm sure we often learn more about ourselves and each other on our worst days than we do on our good ones, as long as we commit to learning how not to end up hurting ourselves (or others). The bad helps us avoid similar experiences in the future, or acts as a practice when we try to handle them differently. Those awful moments can have benefit, even when you are overwhelmed by strong and and poisonously enervating emotions of frustration or depression.

These difficult experiences, combined with my age, is helping me to realize, in a tangible way, that I will not experience many things in life I have been exposed to. I will never travel around the world seeing its many wonders. Now, I understand that I will probably not have a family of my own, or a house, or a well-paying career that would be emotionally or financially fulfilling and provide me with a positive sense of purpose.

These handful of moments, these light sketches on the pages of life, are ephemeral. Everything is washed out by a greater unveiling of lights where it suddenly takes on a new or changed appearance.

I am not sorrowful that I will not experience them before growing old. No, the challenge for me is to try and not feel sad about not being able to share all of those experiences with the people who I have grown to love throughout my lengthening years. Things don't matter, neither does a new or exciting experience, unless there is someone whom you care for (and care for you) to share it with.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dream that persists throughout the Day.

Today was not as productive as I would have liked, but I did manage to get some things done at work, as well as try to assist my family in feeling better about their personal troubles. I still need to mail some important letters, but I will get that done tomorrow.

The most interesting part of my day was the nap I had this morning. I have been feeling especially out of energy lately. My night routine isn't much of a routine at all. Aside from being below perfect health, I go to bed at irregular times, so it is often that I wake up at a good time, between 5:00 and 7:00 am, but I wind up falling back asleep around 8:00 or 9:00 am. This was one of those mornings. It was during this extra sleep between 8:00 and 11:00 am that I had a dream that I was working in some non-teaching capacity at a school, perhaps I was even attending some college level class there. It was while I was in the auditorium, helping to clean up or assist with the other younger students that I met the most beautiful and vivacious teacher. Her dark auburn hair and lovely figure was not the most intriguing thing about her. The most intriguing thing was that she seemed to be genuinely interested in me as a potential romantic partner. She wanted to go on a date, not as a way to fill an emotional need of hers or to play out some predefined cultural role that dictated how she should find a partner. It was a genuine interest in me as a person. I remember feeling disoriented by it. I could be a confident person in almost any other scenario except this one. I was pleasantly surprised, uncomfortable, and slightly incredulous and suspicious.

It was this dream that hung with me all day more than anything. More than my sister's complaints about her life's struggles. More than the work that I needed to do. More than the television shows I distracted myself with. And more than the chores I did before going to bed. I am not sure why these internal journeys of the inward spirit take so much precedence over the more tangible ones of the outward being, yet in this case, it did.