Lost and Found

Do you have to be lost to be found?

Can we start our lives with a perfect intuitive sense of what occupation will satisfy our every need? What person, when we first meet them, will be our life partner? Which item from the Taco Bell menu will be the perpetual order?

For me, no. For most people, the answer I also think is a resounding no.

I am always fascinated when people know exactly who they wanted to be when they were five years old and actually do such. Like Stuart Copeland, the drummer from The Police. Apparently he always knew his life’s passion was music. From a young age there was no other occupation that would satiate his spirit. And here he is sixty or so years beyond birth playing and composing music.

Certainly outliers like Stuart are fun to highlight and needle our own brains into exhaustive critical spirals. The inevitable self-doubting questions about our earlier pastimes and ideal vocations left in the dust.

What if you really were supposed to be a zoo keeper or a beautician? Is it too late to even try?

The answer is almost always no.

Ray Kroc and Sam Walton were in their forties or older when they respectively created empires.

Countless authors never wrote a book until in their fifties.

But that’s not much consolation. Don’t you wonder how those successful late bloomers filled their time until the turning point we can all recognize today?

Was Henry Ford just twiddling his thumbs until one day, when he was 45, the first Model T came off the production line?

………………(much suspense).

No. He was out figuring his shit out. Being a crazy moralist and engineer for Edison’s company. Starting his own automobile company that failed hard. Still being a wild-eyed puritan with a work ethic like a banshee. And finally getting the shit sorted out and making something that people actually wanted. And still being a crazy moralist and probable bigot.

Regardless of certain character flaws, I think we can all respect the amount of labor his invention spared humanity. And now we all still sit in traffic because we’re addicted to that device which consumed him so passionately.

What can you create in your life that will make people all tolerate sitting unhappily in a seat for an average of 756 hours in their life?

What’s in the Tank?

I awoke this morning to the slamming of a door in my house about ten times. It’s an old door that has a mind of its own, or more likely is haunted. The house is 122 years old after all. I guess my roommate, who is also old had had enough shit from that door.

I get it. I’ve been pissed at that stubborn door before too. Sometimes it will open as you walk past it, in some sort of unknown defiance.

But seriously, why did it have to be a 5 am that he chose this obstinate battle with an inanimate object?

Suffice to say, I slept like shit.

It’s ok now, he’s a nice fella overall and we all have our moments.

This week has been a tornado of tech conference and gold lame suits. Handshakes and international germs.

I’m just dang tarred. That’s “tired” in southern for you non-soulful people.

It’s all good. We are riding to the end of our quarter. The electricity is high in the air. And I start a new position in the company come Monday.

Things are shifting. The sun is lowering its head daily in the sky, preparing for the autumnal cleansing rains. So long as they hold out past the bluegrass festival next weekend, I have no complaints.

What’s the point for you to know all of this? I can’t say for sure. Perhaps none. But I’d hate to think you read this far only to listen to abstract bitching and life projection.

But, sometimes that’s all that’s in the gas tank. The words that the hands will allow to pass through from the mind. I think of that imagery a lot: from mind to hand. Maybe I’ll do something with that.

At first glance, this style of writing appears sloppy and uninteresting. At second glance, it probably appears the same. And yes, it’s probably true.

I have a ways to go to restore the connection of interesting, insightful, poetic thoughts that I’d like to have if I ever did have them.

Practice is sometimes about just going through the motions. Just tinkering on a piano or across the guitar strings. Making the sounds. Building the callouses. True, it could always be a Bach cantata if you know that’s what you want to perfect. Because, after all, practice makes permanent.

So, this practice of winding, stream-of-consciousness is most likely detrimental in the long run. But for now, it is refreshingly liberating to have no chains affixed to my wrists as I wander the literary gamut. The only resistance I want is the necessity to create daily. The rest, for now, I will ponder freely and instinctually.

So, thanks for reading and for your patience.

Today I Lost

Sometimes you don’t win.

That’s ok.

Really, it’s not.

But still, it has to be ok because there is no alternative.

Sore losers lose even harder.

Bad winners are still winners at the end of the day, no matter how cocky.

Perhaps a truck will hit them one day, but today, they are shitty winners and you are the loser. We can forgive them because winning is like a drug. The less accustomed to it you are, the more you tweak when the effects hit.

But today, I lost and I don’t know why. And it sucks.

You can do your best (purportedly) and still lose. That happens.

Really, there was more that could be done, but then again you could always sleep only 4 hours a night and tape your eyelids open when you wake up to memorize a new language every year. How far are you willing to go to succeed? Or perhaps in SF sales parlance, “Crush it!”

I can’t say for you. I can hardly say for me. It just comes with my intuitive sense of what I’d like to accomplish.

And today, I wanted to win and didn’t. Which sucks.

Tomorrow I will continue to try and win.

 

 

Posture Roulette

While people talk about flags and knees and such, let’s have a little side conversation.

Let the storm of fluff and posturing blow over while we engage in honest discourse.

How much of what you say or do is because of a deep and truly held belief vs. what you think you should say to be perceived a certain way?

Right, that was a terrible way to phrase what I’m getting at.

I’ve written a little about posturing before, but feel like the topic needs a refresher in my own mind.

For example, tonight I was speaking with a prominent businessman in charge of tens of millions of dollars of sales. We were having a good flowing conversation and he mentioned, as an aside, another business by names he worked with and asked lightly if I knew of them. His tone and face implied that they were a large and well-known company. I said that I did and we continued talking.

Here’s the thing, I did had not heard of them before.

Why did I agree? It would have been so easy to say, “No, I don’t.”

I suppose I knew that it really didn’t matter to the larger point he was making. Also, he seemed to be a few beers down and he seemed very comfortable with his tempo. I didn’t want to interrupt it with seemingly non vital questions to the larger point he was making.

Was this posturing? I think it was, albeit posturing light.

I have gotten a lot better about admitting ignorance when something new is brought to my attention, but every now and then the old habit kicks in. I used to be more afraid that I would look stupid if I didn’t know everything someone talked about. Which is in itself a pretty stupid thing to think.

It is also a shitty weak form of posturing.

Posturing is inflating or straight up lying about aspects of yourself to achieve some end.

In the lighter cases it is forgivable, immature, human behavior. On the more serious end of the spectrum is severe sociopathy leaning towards psychopathy.

It is easy to posture and we have all done it.

Telling your parents you got an A on the spelling test, though it was an F.

Conspicuously lifting the heavy weights when the girls dance team is practicing in the gym.

Being the first into work every day even though you spend the first hour drinking coffee and browsing the internet.

Saying you’re an entrepreneur when all you have is a website and a business card.

You know, being a big fat ego on legs.

Know this, you are not invisible to discerning eyes when you do this.

Sure, you will fool many people, mainly because we are all self-conscious inward-staring creatures but that’s another blog post.

Karma is real, but it’s not a mystical force of revenge. It’s statistics.

How lucky does your ego feel today? Good luck out there.

How to go to Space or Learn Hendrix

There’s nothing wrong with having a plan even though most plans fail.

What is there without a plan?

I’ll tell you what there isn’t: a person.

Even the snarkiest nihilist has a scheme to next put food in their mouth. A plan. It may not go the way they assume, but the desire is there.

Is a plan just another term for a desire?

Yes. But that doesn’t matter. Desires also change. Growing into sterling iterations or fading to dust.

It’s all a big joke for the universe to watch adolescents and young adults make plans, knowing their lives will follow a clean line towards the ideal future.

Good parents make sure their children experience the cosmic laughter and ensuing humiliation while they are young. They don’t coddle them when the jump out of the tree and get a gash on their leg. But they don’t berate them either. They help and discuss. And maybe make fun of them a bit.

It’s those who get out of the nest, expecting every sunrise to be shiny, their path cleared of obstacles, who get the real mud in their teeth.

They either double down from here, change the route, or give up on entirely.

I’m no Jimi Hendrix, but when I was younger of course I was going to be on the same level. Then, ten years went by and I’m the same age Jimi was when he died. And still 100x worse at guitar than him.

But I just changed the plan. Now I have a job that allows me to have leisure time to practice guitar. No, it’s not enough time or focus to become even close to Hendrix level of skill, but it’s enough to please the original intent.

I mean, I was also supposed to be a quarterback for the UT Longhorns…that one died early.

Anyways, just because the plan fails and the universe laughs, doesn’t mean the original desire is dead.

If it lingers and scratchs from within, find the most comfortable way to include it into the feasible path ahead of you.

You won’t be an astronaut, but you can still get a telescope and show people the rings of Saturn from your deck.

And who knows, maybe you will fly into space for $50,000 before 2050.

Can Your Why Survive The Waffle?

I’m a waffler. Sometimes  my thoughts and intentions seem more scattered than a chicken coop in a tornado. Yes, that’s kind of horrifying imagery, sorry imaginary chickens…

My interests are varied and at times even non-existent.

Haven’t you too ever felt like sitting on a porch and drinking a cup of coffee is as complicated as life should be?

My mind varies between figuring out which way to go, dodging analysis paralysis, while at the same time questioning the importance of analysis period.

I’m going to preempt your wondering whether I’ve figured out a solution. I haven’t.

Best I know is to follow the strongest truth thread tugging at myself. Make a disciplined approach at following through with that thread, and reflecting every six months or so if that belief/desire combination is increasing or lessening my overall happiness.

Of course happiness is such a useless and vapid term that I hesitate to ever type it out. But then again, that’s the best term my professional waffle of a mind can conceive of to describe the esoteric contemplation of life right now.

Sometimes I’m most satisfied ten miles into an exhausting hike on an empty stomach. Other times it is in a crowd of people listening to loud music and celebrating our combined spirits. Then at other times, both of those seem like horrendous ways to spend my time and I’d no sooner leave my room than put my feet into a bag of rattlesnakes.

Waffling. Man, it can be exhausting not knowing exactly how I will feel even 5 hours from present. But knowing this about myself is power in itself.

I don’t like being fickle, so I try to avoid planning things too far out. There are downsides to this, such as missing out on limited offers and spots filling up. But on the whole, I’d rather choose the things I do and the people I’m with deliberately instead of out of scarcity.

For instance, today, there were several things that I could have chosen to occupy my time and mental energy a week ago. And I’m so glad I didn’t. There is no way in hell I want to interact with strangers or even people I know. It sounds mentally exhausting, also I may be fighting off some kind of sickness.

There’s no way I could have known I’d feel like this even three days ago. So, I try to contain my waffling by planning for spontaneity.

Who knows? Maybe on my walk today my disposition will brighten, some strangers will throw a frisbee to me and we’ll grab a pint afterwards and have stimulating conversation. Probably not, but I’m open to the possibility.

I’m not sure I’ll ever overcome my waffle nature. If I dedicated time to ignoring my inner voice I could perhaps become a real life hacker and crushin’-it-bot 9000 and be turned “on” whenever I determined.

But maybe not. I hesitate to be one of those people who say “Well if I wanted to I could do X…”

I do believe in self-improvement and learning, but not with unrealistic terms and conditions. There has to be a seed of desire to spark the necessary inner growth to become greater at X.

Just saying you want to have a ten-million dollar company doesn’t mean shit.

Just saying you’d like to have written ten novels before you die is an empty statement.

Will you create day after day action to achieve that desired outcome and…

Where is the Why? And can that Why survive the waffle?

Listify Yourself Exhausted

Sure, doing is great.

Checking off an item from a to-do list can create an inordinate amount of pleasure in most people.

People unconsciously, or consciously, compare lists with others. The length, density, importance of task, levels of completion.

The drive to listify one’s life doesn’t always manifest in a physical paper rectangle with items ready and willing to be scratched off. Often these tasks can be intangible, lingering phantasms of undefined guilt.

My generation, not entirely unlike previous ones, is obsessed with that grand and nebulous notion of ‘success’. Though, there are a few perverse twists that are new and unique.

Everyone has an internet megaphone and the wattage/loudness does not necessarily correlate with those who are actually successful or interesting.

It can be too easy to fall into the trap of comparisons and head aching guilt that you are somehow a failure because that kid from high school posts everyday about how shiny his car is and how safe his neighborhood is for his incoming brood of children. Man! What a productive rapscallion he is! Never mind the crippling debt creeping up to his eyelids and subservient shopaholic spouse. He will never let you not be aware of his cold shower regimen and the amount of seminars he attends. The negative is slyly swept under the rug.

But it’sall good. This isn’t the kind of productivity I want to address, more an example of one way we can be tempted to think we’re not enough. That dirty scourge of comparison.

For me, and maybe many, knowing yourself, your own true potential beyond our internal fantasies, is difficult.

I have a hard time admitting that I deserve to take some time to lean back, nap, recuperate after hard work. I’m tempted to say you know, actually enjoy life, but I know that repose without effort is a curse.

But.

There are times when you must listen to your inner core after completing a satisfying number of tasks at hand and stop.

Just stop. Get better. Attend to your soul. Comfort food is real.

Be honest with yourself. You can always push that extra mile if circumstances are dire. Thing is, they aren’t, and you still have 200 miles left in the race. Maybe walk it out for a bit if you’re thinking of quitting.

Don’t let people not running your race dictate your rhythm.

Louisiana Thoughts

I’ve had a powerful draw to go to Louisiana lately. Why, I do not know. Well, that’s not entirely true. It’s almost too intangible to attempt to describe in words. Do you ever get those mysterious lusts that arrive and torment whether or not they are satisfied?

I hope so. But also, I don’t expect everyone to have similar brain wirings.

Most of us are familiar with cravings. But this is different. I’m talking about deep and essential longings to which the end is not entirely clear.

For me, I think Louisiana represents repose and elucidation of my own inner spirit. Or something like that. I’ve spent time in New Orleans and have driven across the state once. New Orleans is ridiculous, but amazing in its own right. The food, music, buskers, men in gorilla costumes trying to sell heroin.

But what really stuck in my soul was driving across that lush, sweet, beautiful empty state.

The amount of empty space to think any thought you’d want satisfied my inner core. Large oak trees in grassy Savannah’s. Meandering rivers bordering forests and swamps, tying in neatly with other watery arteries.

Perhaps Louisiana isn’t the solution. Maybe it’s a dream that pervades wherever I am in my life. The difference between the hustle and reflection. Yin and yang. Ren and Stimpy.

Whatever analogous solution works for you.

Right now, my lust is for shrimp. That is more achievable and perhaps more intelligent.

Ah, wandering ponderings. Good for a Friday. Good night.

Choose Your Curmudgeon Wisely

Am I a curmudgeon? I sit here and write this languidly, knowing that if I don’t want to, I don’t have to leave my room tonight or interact with anyone.

I think I am a curmudgeon. Humanity is fascinating to me but individuals become tedious. Everyone needs help and who’s going to supply it?

I like to say that I’m a caring person, and perhaps this is ostensibly true. I would help anybody in dire straits that I had the ability to help, whether this mean administering first aid, defending, or even helping to push a car or change a tire.

But I’m not talking about being a decent person. I mean being the kind of person that always keeps the bigger picture in mind and knows when to choose their battles. Someone who has a friendly smile and positive advice when others come to them with their problems. A person who has that perpetual can-do attitude and doesn’t complain. I’ll sum up all of these characteristics as Upward Looking.

Look, I get that this is probably nobody in real life. We all have our moments.

Though, some people embody more of these upward looking characteristics than others. Only, not all of them all the time.

A curmudgeon by nature is highly skeptical, fatalistic, and misanthropic. All words to simply describe someone you don’t want to be around for much time. They may have interesting notions, but their tiresome demeanor doesn’t make up for how bad they make you feel.

Ok.

I’d like to say that I feel in good company with other historical curmudgeons like H.S. Thompson, Nietzsche, Twain, Vonnegut, and Louis C.K. These people were successful and respected, if not necessarily in their own life, then afterwards.

But I’m not successful or revered or paid for my miserly tendencies.

Perhaps being a curmudgeon is a begrudging privilege that accrues with time and measurable valued production. Or perhaps those fellows became successful due to their contrarian instincts. I think both are true.

But, you can’t be an asshole when no one knows your name and expect another invite to the party. And if being a jerk is the goal from the get go I have a feeling that boat won’t get far.

You must heel that petulant instinct to criticize and lord over the flaws you perceive. Choose your criticisms wisely in a tough situation for that is when you will be judged. Anyone can sail a ship in calm waters. What about during the storm?

Don’t be an Asshole

I recently recounted the story of the worst date I ever had to a friend.

It was the same day as the presidential inauguration this year. I met this female through an internet application on my telephone. A digital stranger. Though, we had been chatting for a week or so before we met and it seemed like we would hit it off.

That was a highly incorrect assumption.

Perhaps it was because of all the noxious political fumes in the air, or the fact that I think she had consumed a drink or two before I arrived, but things started off poorly.

One, I didn’t recognize her entirely from her pictures. They were, it seems, from years before and not entirely representative of the modern truth. But, this is inevitable with humans and the internet, so, whatever.

She was playing billiards with some dudes when I arrived, which I thought was kind of cool. So I sat down and watched. Though, still not entirely sure that it was her because of the inaccurate pictures. Anyways! Come to the end of the match, I introduced myself, we hugged and sat down to figure out if we hate each other.

We did.

As a rule, I avoid bringing up government politics. I will talk about it if asked, but I don’t think it is a productive type of philosophical conversation, and, more often than not, people just get defensive and irate.

So, I asked her what she did. She worked as a prosecutor for the federal government. Hooray!

I was genuinely interested, but at that moment a girl walked by holding a huge sign from one of the many protests around SF that day. So my date brought up how offended she was about the entire day and how outraged she was that she works for the same government that is now led by a group of people she despises.

Fair enough. I agreed that was a predicament and tried to change the subject, or maybe I didn’t, the details are fairly hazy from eight months past.

I do recall her saying in a halfway joking tone that if I was a ‘Trumper’ the date was over. She said it as if she could safely assume that nobody should be opposed to her beliefs. This bothered me.

For the record, I don’t like the man. As a human or a politician.

But the smug assumption that I fit neatly into someone’s preconceived and acceptable notion of the world irks me. So I told her the truth about me being an anarchist.

Let’s just say the next twenty minutes or so I could have done without. She was polite at first if not a bit stunned. Then came the questions that inevitably spiraled towards ruthless accusations of me not caring about homeless pregnant women or amputee orphans with cancer.

It got bad quick.

After a few minutes of this gross accusatory onslaught she was almost in tears of rage. Then I got to have a few words in.

I told her that I thought she was more of a bigot than she probably thought. I don’t think I used those exact words, but got the same point across. I explained that if her goal was to simply make me feel bad rather than understand why I hold my beliefs, then she will probably always be mad at the world.

She calmed for a while, but I could tell the storm of accusations wouldn’t hold at bay and it returned shortly.

So, I cut her off in mid-sentence by standing up from our table. I said

“Look, I think you are a good person at heart, but I don’t think this is going anywhere and frankly I don’t need to end my day here being yelled at.”

We still managed to hug and parted ways amicably-ish.

I have no problems having conversations around uncomfortable and divisive subject matter, but I do have a problem with rude people.

And trust me, I used to be a real asshole in this realm. I’ve said things to people I’ve disagreed with that still haunt me to this day. Not only do inaccurate and excessively harsh accusations not change someone’s mind, it makes you a villain. And we love to hate villains and make sure others know of their evil, hence why I’m writing this right now.

In all seriousness, I don’t think this lady was a villain. It was an emotional day, there were a few drinks involved, and it was a date with a stranger. Lots of stress and potential for fuck-ups.

Just, try not to be a judgmental asshole. The more stressful of a situation you can remember and practice this, especially in stressful situations, the more good you will produce.