Thursday, August 17, 2017

20 years

Twenty years ago today, this world lost a good man. It happens every day I know, in varying degrees of importance to us all based on connection with the loss, but this one changed my life forever. He was my dad. 
 My father was the kind of guy who would wait up late for the neighbors to come home so they would make it from their car to the house safely after the end of their work shift. People talk about having a block watch, but my dad was the entirety of the night shift on our block. There was no neighborhood meeting required, he just adopted the responsibility because someone had to do it. He was the kind of guy who would do literally whatever he could to help anyone who was one of the good guys (honorable folk), and often did so at his own expense. He lived in the West End of Hartford and while being encroached on all sides by crack heads, junkies and thieves, he refused to move. He toed the line because that is what you are supposed to do.  He had a habit of doing good for others (often without them ever knowing who did it) especially when he was in a bad place himself, paying it forward before that was even a term known to the vernacular. And so the ripples of his good actions faded into time, his loss is a loss to all of us. The world as a whole became a bit colder that day. What makes it especially tragic is that he was in excellent health until three junkies saw him as an available robbery target, confronted him in his own front yard, and shot him, taking him from us long before his time. 
 My father’s death taught me a few things, first and foremost the idea that life is short, unpredictable, and can be over at any moment. This was a lesson I desperately needed and still need to be reminded of often. I won’t bore you with the rest of the lessons. 
One might hear this story and claim it to be justification for an anti-firearm argument, but really it is a failure of the ‘criminal justice’ system since each of the participants in the crime had a rap sheet as long as my leg, and then some. None of them had the legal right to possess a firearm anyway. Criminals by definition do not follow the law, so making laws against firearms does not disarm the bad guys (obviously as evident here) but only disarms those inclined to follow the law. Also, after being shot my father was able to put a round through an assailant’s arm and leg, causing major blood loss and thus a DNA sample on the scene to verify the shooter’s identity when he later sought medical attention, so really this can be argued to be a case study of the fact that the tool is not the guilty party for the actions taken by the one who wields it. 

We all have many tools at our disposal. Make good use of them, and use them for good. In other words, don’t let them rust away in a drawer, use your skills, talents and abilities to the fullest, and with good intention.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Reality Avoidance Syndrome

*note I am not a mental health professional except as relates to my own life and mind. Nothing I say should be construed as advice.

Many years ago I coined a term, a phrase to name a situation that seemed to keep coming up in my life and in the lives of those around me. Reality Avoidance Syndrome is in a nutshell just the idea of people distracting themselves from their own personal and/or public reality to make it all tolerable. I still do this somewhat at work, to avoid my feeling like a captive, I listen to music or comedy or audio books and my mind goes elsewhere. The problem is that just like any addiction, it is easy to ignore the problem and the ramifications, and sooner or later you forget that you've been using distraction medicinally and have so much built up unprocessed angst that has been walled in a back corner of your mind, that you now have a big festering pile of feces to deal with. No one really wants to deal with a big steaming pile so it gets ignored and ignored until it starts pouring over the top of the wall or pushing its way out through the cracks.  The problem is we now live in a country where our primary export is entertainment (ie distraction) and the majority of the population of this great nation is so addicted to it that it is blind to the often unpleasant truths that are around us.

I am not without my own guilt in this, and for me the problem began very young.  I am told by my brothers that after our mother deserted the family I experienced a period of being borderline catatonic, which I have no memory of. I was about 3 years old after all. I have to believe this was a self protective mechanism to shield part of my psyche from the loss of our mother, so I freely admit there are times and places where a certain amount of compartmentalization of feelings is a necessary tool to going on with life.

However there comes a time when we must each unplug, disconnect from all distraction and reconnect with ourselves, heal our own wounds, heal the injuries to relationships with others and ourselves.. process all the debris of our lives, learn from it all, discard the trash but hold on to the love, and move on, better and stronger for the lessons learned.

In the end, love is all that matters.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Default State of Misery

Adaptability is undeniably a skill, an asset that tends to ensure survival, but it can have its dangers as well. When your default state is misery you will, as a coping mechanism, detune yourself from how you feel until it becomes automatic, autopilot taking you through the haze of work but also life outside of work.. ..and thus you miss out on huge pieces of your life. Important pieces, like the slipping away of a relationship with family or friends or a lover, the declining health of others, and even of yourself.
I once marveled at how life can mirror the act of riding motorcycle, in that where you look you tend to go. You have to focus. You must see past the problem to avoid driving straight into it. This is where I find myself, needing to look through the problem to navigate my way out of it.

It is said that mourning a relationship can be harder than mourning the death of a loved one, because death is final but the romantic heart holds out hope for another chance, even if it might never happen or even be what we want or need.. and I am undeniably an idealist and a romantic. Unfortunately my profound dislike for my employment has caused (forced?) me to dissociate from myself and my life so much so, that I have literally been absent and missed the past six years. In that time I have lost one great job (laid off with opportunity to be rehired but resigned CXX level position foolishly), lost both of my uncles, lost a relationship with marriage potential with a good woman, and most costly of all, handily discarded a huge chunk of my life bouncing between being numb and being miserable. I know I need to figure out my life again in the absence of this all, and start actually living again. I'm still trying to figure out how to do that.

Time to Wake the hell up.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Inspiration and Lessons

Inspiration comes and goes
But I do not create my flows
I simply pull them from the air
Above me as they're floating there

The word today commanding focus
Born from some unknown locus
Is simply that,  where do you look?
Distracted by film, tunes or book?

Though maybe all have things to teach
Truths as yet beyond our reach
Our lives do try to teach us things
And in so doing give us wings

We live our lives in love and loss
Ignore the pain, appease the boss
Do what we think must be done
Forgetting that we all are one

Losing moments days and years
Embracing joy, push back the tears
Ignoring lessons as we go
Stumbling 'bout as if we know

Push it back for far too long
And soon you'll wake to find it gone
The chance, the dream, the time, the life
The cherished friend, potential wife

Here we realize a truth
That pain itself is living proof
Repressing it is wasting life
And it can only end in strife

For that repressed emotion stays
Until processed and sent away
So we must feel, embrace and live
Averse to take and glad to give

Embrace all lessons as they come
And know that though not all are fun
All lessons in life are surely good
And guide your path as they should

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Irony of Love and Loss

The irony of love and loss are that those who we love will always have a special place in our hearts,  and hence cause us pain in their absence for the rest of our lives. We are after all a bunch of social creatures, we crave connection to others like us. It is a desire we feel right down to our bones. How then do we avoid this pain? I have systematically avoided pursuit of real joy in hopes that the misery that comes in life will be less dramatic of a difference from the emotional baseline. Some would argue (and have argued) that this only robs me of the joy but does not protect against the pain. There may be a truth in that..
After spending eight years together, it feels like a failure to walk away from the longest relationship of my life. There were so many memories made, so many moments shared.. and so many mistakes made. None the less, the space, the void left behind is cavernous and cannot be filled by outside means. It must be filled from within.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fair Warning!

I have, for the past two years been working much harder than I had to, to try to get on the right side of some financial situations.. and I've made great progress in those efforts.  However, I have also lost pieces of myself, my mind, my memory, my wit, my creativity, and severely damaged most of my relationships including having my uncle slip away without my even really noticing until he was mostly gone. My life has become work and getting paid at the expense of all else including my own sacred essence.
No More.
I fully intend to dial back to a reasonable work schedule to pursue some higher learning and a renewed course of self-discovery which is likely to include a significantly increased regularity of posting here and spouting off of random thoughts.
You've been warned!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Two Years Passed

So here I am 2 years (actually 23 months if you want to quibble about detail) since I began working a second job, bumping my weekly workload to 56 hrs per week minimum. Mostly it has been 60 hr weeks, with a few 68 hour weeks last year and recently settled into a casual 64 hour work week while getting about 5 hours of sleep a night. What has it gotten me? Well, not much. I worked on some junk but also worked on a one of a kind project (Enzo) with some personal satisfaction attached to that. My debts are largely paid off but not entirely, my net worth is in the positive range finally but I have very regrettably lost the most enduring romantic relationship of my life. The downward spiral of that relationship began about two years ago too, so one has to wonder about the correlation of the two. Really its no wonder at all, I've nearly lost myself to my work schedule, never mind losing relationships and closeness with family and friends.. and now I am floundering through my life adrift and aghast at what I've done to it. As I was reminded last night;
Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it 

-Ferris Bueller  

 .. so what now? I realize I've been running to catch up to some undefined level of success achievement I will probably never realize through normal avenues because I took a decade off from life 15 years ago. And I have lost touch with myself, my true nature, my inner philosopher, my idealistic heart, my romantic nature. A large part of the why is simple; mental pathways are strengthened through repetition, and I use anger.

A lot is said about anger being a poison, but in the truest nature of philosophy, it is neither good nor bad but thinking makes it so (Shakespeare). I liken anger to fire. Humanity as a whole has through the harnessing of fire learned to do things we were previously unable to do, from cooking food to make it not induce sickness, all the way up to traveling to distant planets and even sending spacecraft beyond the edge of our own solar system. But all this aside, no one would deny that fire is a potentially dangerous thing if allowed to run rampant. It is almost a living thing, it can be born of the right conditions, it consumes, it grows, it breathes, it can give birth to its own kind, and it can be extinguished.
So too is anger. It is something that can be harnessed to drive change and improvements, it staves off complacency so that I do not become lazy and just accept what I do not like. Many people have tried to guide me toward happiness, and while I do appreciate and occasionally dally in it, it does not serve me, it does not drive me, it does not help me aspire to achieve better things. Profound dissatisfaction (aka anger) serves me, but also has cost me. It has taught me, and it has made me forget.
It is arguably neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.

My pain is self-chosen, at least so the prophet says

-River of Deceit, Mad Season
The bigger question at this juncture is whether or not to continue this schedule of self-abuse toward some ultimate goal that may not come, or stop and look around for a while to make sure I don't miss my life as it is slipping by?