Saturday, March 28, 2015
Addiction is a way of postponing suicide. I know what I'm talking about, because I've wrestled with addiction at various periods in my life. I realized that being an addict was a means of dividing my inner torment into manageable packets. Without this strategy I might have been overwhelmed by my pain. These manageable packets were all the individual doses of my comfort-drug of the moment. Aside from the usual substance abuse, I also regard most of my consumer obsessions as addictions. When I became enamored with photography I didn't buy equipment as a mature adult. I bought all my gear compulsively. I was crazy with wanting gizmos. I built up such formidable debt that I watched my income dribble away in un-manageable packets, flowing into the pockets of credit card banks.
I can talk about my poor abused childhood, the family violence I endured, but I'm not keen on rehashing that old stuff. Everyone has their story. I'm more concerned with the way our entire culture has become a society of addicts. Not only is addiction pervasive but it's encouraged. If I could count certain products advertised on TV I would likely discover that smart phones, automobiles and fast food are the most touted items, and that their marketing is designed to increase their addictive potential.
If I came from a remote galaxy and watched a recording that consisted ONLY of commercials I would conclude that earth people (or Americans, at least) are infantile morons, gullible yokels who respond to glittering things that promise fulfillment. That promise is delivered in a silly cajoling voice that I wouldn't use to coax my dog to take his medicine. Who IS this lady in the white medical scrubs with the blue lettering in a white room full of boxes? Why is she escorting ordinary citizens on a tour of her product line, a line that promises SAFETY, SECURITY, REDUCED RISK AT A FANTASTIC PRICE? Why does she look like an android? Her name is Flo. Flow? Go With The Flow? Should we trust this Flo with our insurance needs or should we trust the funny little lizard who is so personable and harmless? I would trust the lizard because he speaks with an English accent. Everyone knows that Englishmen are stalwart folk with stiff upper lips who know how to cope with life's emergencies.
Addicts. Every one of us. The question is simple. Why are we in such pain that in order to survive we must subdivide our lives into manageable packets of agony?
Hmmm, let me see: our planet is being poisoned, our most beautiful animal companions are being poached to extinction, our families and support structures have vaporized. We are the loneliest people in history. Expressing our emotions is amazingly difficult because we fear judgment and rejection. We have forgotten how to FEEL emotion much less express it because we are so occupied with managing the insane complexities of daily life. That takes a lot of mental energy, daily life. Who has the time to stop, reflect and feel? And if we could feel, we might be driven towards a sense of empathy for those who are afflicted by war, tyranny, famine and homelessness. Who wants to feel that sad?
No no no no no! If I felt that sad I might want to kill myself. But if I could look at my human companions on this earth and if we could admit to one another that we feel terribly sad and lonely, that might help me. That might alleviate my sense of isolation. I might even make new friends. I might let go of my fear of judgment and rejection when I discover that everyone has the same woes, the same addictions, the same thwarted needs for simple humanity.
What do you think? Is it possible to create a new paradigm based on authenticity and compassion?
Friday, March 27, 2015
Monday, March 16, 2015
March 15, 2015
Sometimes I wish that I could live someone else's life. If I were given a choice and I could magically flip into that other life, yet retain my memories of this current life....wouldn't that be great? Or even if I couldn't retain my memories....
There's a little voice inside me that says, "Uh oh, that way lies trouble. The very concept of wanting to escape your life says so much about your pain."
I can safely say that today I do not want anyone else's life.
There have been parts of this year that I would have jumped into the life of people I see on television. Oh my god! I would live the life of a fictional character! Or even the life of a commercial!
Essentially, the desire to live someone else's life is a form of suicide. That's how bad it got! I would have traded places just to live in a nice house. I would have traded places just to have a group of friends. I would even have traded places to drive a nice car.
Pathetic. Sad. I've been plagued by a sense that I wrecked my life by making a couple of epic bad decisions whose consequences have rebounded down the years until they combined to put me in a prison of my own making.
Fortunately that depression lifted. I'm functioning better and I'm mobilizing a bit of drive to put me back on track towards achieving some of my dreams.
There's a lot of talk about dreams these days. There's a lot of guilt attached to failure. If you haven't achieved your dreams, why....you're a loser! You didn't work hard enough. You didn't focus, you didn't "seize the day" and now you're just another wannabe standing in the food stamp line.
I'm suspicious of The Dream Machine. I wrote an essay about Oprah and her sales juggernaut of "Dream Fulfillment Technology". You can read it here: Dream Fulfillment Tech
Dream fulfillment is so quintessentially American. Do you think that a hundred years ago people invested so much thought and energy into the concept of personal dreams? I think The Dream Machine is a marketing construct, a broad distracting drama to remove our attention from the impact on each of our lives by our current historical context. We live in disturbing times. We live at a moment in history when theft is being committed on an institutional scale, when our oceans are being filled with toxic sludge, when our forests are being expunged. How do we respond to that as individuals? Let's indulge in a metaphor: the Earth is a body and the oceans contain the planet's reservoir of blood. The Earth's circulatory system is fed by the ocean to the rivers and lakes and those veins and arteries feed back into the ocean in a vast system of pumps and valves. Our planet is metaphorically like a human body. Its condition is felt by each of us and we know, however subliminally, that things are not right. Ask any fisherman. The big fish are almost gone. The great schools and the worldwide migrations have been disrupted by the sludge in the Gulf Of Mexico, the toxins in The China Sea.
If we're not sometimes depressed then we are numb. That's worse. Much worse. So..I may be depressed by my individual circumstances but I am also a citizen of this planet and I am directly impacted by the world-wide crimes against nature that are being committed by faceless men in suits or young greedy people who drink too much Red Bull and are obsessed with being the "winners" in...in what...is life a contest? Is it a game show? That's not how I view life. I view life as a sacred activity. I view life as a mystery that we are not yet equipped to penetrate.
Living in my own life is important because I have responsibilities of which I am not fully aware. I just know I have them. No matter the suffering I endure, I'd be an idiot to switch lives with anyone! This is the life I got. This is the life whose problems I must solve. I feel a vast untapped potential in myself. I don't give a shit about winners and losers. I just want to feel as if I belong with myself, in my place and time and that I'm doing something, however small, about fighting the evil people who wear expensive clothes and think about how much money they have and how much more they can make if they replace Worker X with Worker Y because Worker Y will accept lower pay out of desperation to feed his or her family.
I rambled a bit but I think I stayed somewhere near the point: don't live anyone else's life. You got yours for a reason. You don't even need to know the reason. Just be loyal to your own life and do your everyday work as if it really counts.
It does. It really counts.
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