Do better

Seriously, what the fuck?!? I had really hoped that I would wake up in a better mood. I have plenty to look forward to today and tomorrow but anticipation is not enough to get me out of the now. It seems that all I do is just a way to distract myself from what is otherwise a shitty and painful life.

Well so be it! If I’m depressed, I’m depressed. I know it won’t go on forever even if I do nothing. If I do nothing I will find boredom. Through boredom I will find inspiration. I will find a distraction that will allow me to keep moving. If I keep moving I know I will once again find beauty in life.

There is beauty in life, there is also misery. No matter what I do, as long as I’m paying attention, I will find both. I don’t think that means it doesn’t matter what I do. Certainly some things are better than others but I can only do what I do… so I’m going to do that.

If I’m depressed I’m going to do depression…

Okay, I’m done with that now!

Now I’m going to play SuperBetter!

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Not gonna happen

As I was  biking home I was lost in anticipation about telling you about the totally worthwhile day I had. I know that people follow this blog and I felt like I owed you that. But then when I got home I was overwhelmed with depressing thoughts. I don’t want to give you that. Instead I’m going to go to bed and see how things look tomorrow.

Another day

I have rehearsal tonight. Tomorrow is Halloween and my final official day driving pedicab for the season. Friday I have a show in Duluth. But what to do now, in this moment?

As I stare at the never ending to-do list in my brain I feel overwhelmed. But I don’t need to take it all on. I only need to do what I can do right now. There will be many more days to come in which to do everything else. Today I only need to deal with today.

So here’s to it!

A good day

Today has been a good day. In fact I’ve had a couple of good days so far this week and it’s only Tuesday. I woke up yesterday with a strong sense of guilt. Actually I woke up with a strong sense of embarrassment but after I let that go the guilt quickly emerged. This is not an uncommon experience after a night of heavy drinking but I think it’s more common when whiskey is involved. Sunday was a whiskey night.

Anyway, I felt like I had an apology to make. I’ve been doing a lot of wrestling with shame, guilt and apology. Frankly, I haven’t seen the point to any of it. I have seen guilt as imposed by the outside as an attempt to control and shame as a lack of self-love. An artist should never apologize for their art and no one should ever apologize for who they are. If you are being a genuine authentic person, you should never need to apologize.

Or so I thought.

I have apologized however. I do see their social purpose and benefit of apology but I’ve not really understood what it meant and how it was associated with guilt and shame until recently. To be honest, I still don’t understand it completely but I think I’m on the right path.

Brené Brown has a couple of TED talk videos dealing with shame and guilt that I have found eye-opening. I highly recommend watching them both (in order) but the main point I want to convey here is that guilt is saying, “I did something wrong”, shame is saying, “I am wrong”.

But understanding this still didn’t help. I still couldn’t see the difference. When I’ve done something that hurt another person they hardly ever say, “you did something that hurt me”, they usually say “YOU hurt me”. As I result I hear, “I am wrong” and I’m not willing to take that on.

It was only yesterday, AS I WAS WRITING “Do what you do” that I realized that I am not my actions. That is not to say that I’m not responsible for my actions, only that they don’t define me. It just means that I can separate the two. It means that I can separate shame and guilt. It means that I can apologize for what I did without having to apologize for who I am. This is a good thing. Considering that I’m going to do what I do, I may have to get really good at apologizing.

So back to my story…

I felt like I had kind of been a dick to my friend the night before and that my actions may have hurt her. I sent her a text message stating as much and it turned out that I was right. I had made a situation personal that didn’t need to be and that prevented me from being the compassionate empathetic person I want to be. I’ve got my hang-ups and insecurities and I do that. I also have the ability to recognize it, take responsibility for my actions and apologize.

Fortunately I was also presented with an opportunity to make amends. Her favorite bar-tender was leaving Mortimer’s after eighteen years on the job. She wanted to go say good-bye to him. She was going to drive to see him but driving to drink is stupid. Cold weather biking kind of sucks too but if you have a friend that bikes all winter long, maybe it won’t be so bad. I got to be that friend.

So vowing not to drink whiskey, I set out to help my friend get across town to south Minneapolis by bicycle. There are a couple of things to know about cold weather biking. The first is to dress in layers so you can stay warm. Second is to not sweat. This means biking slower. It also means taking breaks so we stopped half way at Clubhouse Jager for a drink. On the way back we stopped at the 311 Club.

To not bore you with details, let me just say it was a successful night. I was able to polish off a couple of glasses of wine in my friends garage before I was completely done. I crawled into her bed, chilled to the bone, but quickly warmed up sandwiched between my beautiful friend and her awesome pit-bull.

I woke up this morning at about two in the afternoon. I wasn’t moving too fast, as is typical for me, but I was pleased to not be hung-over given that I drank a total of thirteen drinks the day before. I snuggled with my friend some more before embracing the day.

I’m in a period of transition between working my ass off as a pedicab driver and tackling a really long to-do list of all the things I have been putting off. The wonderful thing about having a really long to-do list is that just about anything I do will move me forward. Today I decided to tackle mowing my lawn and fixing the drip in my bathtub.

I borrowed my friend’s power mower to mow my lawn. Most of the year I can do just fine with my push mower but the first time I mow and the last time I mow I really need the power of a gas mower. In the past I have rented, but having a friend who will loan me theirs is even better. Fixing the drip was easy, I just needed to take the time and get the part. Today was that day.

So life still sucks but it is what it is and what it is is a lot. If you keep it simple, do what you do and pay attention you may find that some days are pretty damn good!

Do what you do

After realizing that life has no meaning or purpose other than life itself; after realizing that I have no choice but to live I am faced with the question of how. I have given myself permission to just do it.

I play in a rock band so Saturday night I played a show. I spent all day getting ready not because I wanted everything to be perfect but because it’s what I do. I had no expectations and nothing to prove. I was just going to do what I do. I made some mistakes, not everything was perfect but it was by all accounts a great show. People loved it and I loved the accolades but I would have done it regardless of whether anyone cared. It’s just what I do.

After a show I’m often asked if I had fun and I routinely say, “Yeah, it was a blast!”. Honestly, I don’t even know if I enjoy playing shows. I know if I’m not playing shows I’m disatisfied but I don’t think I play shows because I find them fun. I think being me is fun. I think I play shows because it’s what I do.

On Sunday I drove pedicab for the Vikings-Packers game at the Metrodome. I enjoyed being able to help lost out-of-towners get back to their hotel. I enjoyed giving a ride to a woman who was headed to my very first apartment building in Minneapolis. I enjoyed being the highlight of some people’s day, although I must admit that for Vikings fans, the bar is pretty low.

I’m often asked if I love my job. I tell them that I do, very much. This is way too much work.  I could never do it if I didn’t love it. I think underlying this question is a sense of guilt. Some people express this by stating that they wish they could help me pedal. I tell them to just relax and enjoy the ride. Just let me do what I do. They will have a chance to do what they do when the ride is over.

Friday night and last night I drank until four in the morning. I do enjoy drinking and I’m pretty good at it. It’s what I do when I don’t have anything else to do. In many ways it serves the same purpose as playing shows or driving pedicab. It’s just a lot more fun. When I’m drunk I can just be me. When I’m drunk I live in a world without fear and with no consequences. When I’m drunk I can do anything I want… except play music or drive pedicab.

But I am not what I do. What I do is thoughtless, it is habit. Life is not found in our habits but in what happens when we are really paying attention. I’m going to do what I do but I don’t want to mistake that for living. I don’t want to confuse what I do with who I am. I am a vessel for life.

 

The problem with everything

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, But not simpler.”

— attributed to Albert Einstein

The problem with everything is the problem of absolutes. It’s the same problem as nothing, always and never. It’s the same problem as zero and infinity. Even though mathematicians have found a way to utilize these concepts they don’t work for everything. You can’t buy zero eggs or drive to infinity.

It’s the problem with whole and hole. What is a hole? Is it a thing or is it the part of a thing that is not the thing? You can’t have half a hole. Every hole is a whole hole but if you make it bigger it doesn’t overflow. It is still a whole hole but it only exists to the extent that it is not part of the whole. But is the whole still whole if it contains holes and if not, where did it go?

The problem with everything is that it lacks perspective. If everything is everything then where does it begin and where does it end? Like a fish in a fish bowl we can never know everything if everything is all that we know. But if we can’t know everything does that mean we know nothing?

The problem with absolutes is that they lack perspective. For anything to exist it can only exist to the extent that it is not something else. At least that is the simplest way to understand anything. But can everything be reduced to binary understanding?

Einstein taught:

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I would like to suggest that both are miracles and perhaps there is only one way to live your life.

 

Good enough

There are ways to make getting drunk alone enjoyable but waking up alone and hung-over is still no fun. So I just laid in bed until my head cleared recounting the previous days activities. I probably started drinking just as I made my last post. I began work on another but quickly turned from writing to talking on the phone. I never got out of the clothes I slept in the night before. I had liquor and pizza delivered to my house. Over the course of fourteen hours I drank eleven beers, half a pint of whiskey and spent eight hours on the phone.

This week has been quite the roller coaster ride for me. I’m very grateful that I have this outlet in which to write about it but even more important to me have been the friends that have stood by me. As much as I want to believe that I don’t need anybody, as much as I want to believe that nobody needs me; the truth is inescapable.

The truth is that there are some people in my life with whom I cannot live without. The scarier fact is that there are people in this world that cannot imagine a life without me in it. There are people for whom my very existence gives their life hope and meaning. I’ve got to say, that is a pretty big pill to swallow. As appealing as suicide seems sometimes, it is simply not an option for me. I have a responsibility to be here. You have a responsibility to never let me forget that.

Seriously, I need your help. I love that there are people who think that I am amazing but I don’t really feel all that amazing. That is simply too much to live up to. The truth is I’m fragile and I hurt. The truth is I struggle and I fuck up. I want to be amazing but when I fall short it is devastating to me. It is devastating to others as well. I really just want to hear that I am good enough but maybe that is not an option. So if i have to be amazing, I’m going to need your help.

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