Everything works… to a point

It works everytimeI spend my days and nights trying to make sense of things, things that don’t make a lot of sense, things that just seem plain wrong. What I’ve learned isn’t much but I know that just because something seems wrong, doesn’t make it wrong. Just because something seems right, doesn’t make it right. It might make it right for me, but I’m not the only person on this planet. Trying to understand the world through the lens of “what is right?” and “what is wrong?” has not been very helpful, at least not for me. I find more understanding by looking at what works and what doesn’t work. It’s a more scientific approach. Right and wrong are hard enough to define, let alone identify. That’s why we turn to our feelings or to religion or to the law to determine these things. That’s why people who can’t feel these kinds of emotions, sometimes called psychopaths, have a hard time distinguishing right from wrong. Of course not all psychopaths grow up to be serial killers, some grow up to be priests, politicians and corporate CEO’s.

Not being able to feel is not my problem. Sometimes I wish it was. Sometimes I feel way too much. Sometimes my emotions get in the way of me doing what I really want to do. At the same time, I realize that it is only because of my emotions that I am capable of doing any of the things I do. I am an emotionally driven person. This is how I work… and it works… to a point.

This is also how I view the world. As senseless as things seem sometimes I recognize that things are the way that they are because it works. Let’s face it, if it didn’t work, things would be different. The problem is that none of us are on this planet alone. What works for one person may not work for everyone. I realize that I may be oversimplifying things but at the core, this is the problem with everything. The solution is to stop doing things that don’t work for us. We can’t expect the people for whom things are working to change.

This all makes me think about my marriage which ended nine years ago. For six years it worked… well it worked well enough. There did come a point where it stopped working and even though I worked at it with all I had I still could not make it work. Once I stopped doing what I was doing the marriage disappeared and I was a much happier person. Unfortunately the divorce wasn’t quite that simple. The marriage didn’t just disappear; it was destroyed violently just not by me. I took the passive approach and went to work trying to devise the least destructive way to dissolve our marriage. I suppose my mistake was not communicating what I was doing. Perhaps if I had we could have worked together and had a more peaceful dissolution. Perhaps not. In any case it worked.

There is one more thing that I need to include in this post because I missed it in a previous post and I’ve been regretting it ever since. In writing about why we do what we do I completely missed that fact we have a conscience and a belief system. Much of what we do, we do because we believe it to be the right thing to do. Beliefs can be a powerful force. Beliefs can make things work that simply would not work without a shared belief structure. Belief can make things appear to work that really aren’t working at all. As a human, I’m a big fan of belief and consider our complex systems of beliefs to be the primary thing which separates us from the rest of the life forms on this planet. Still, beliefs can be problematic. Our beliefs are not always terribly scientific. Sometimes our beliefs are just plain wrong.

The good news is that beliefs are malleable. Beliefs can be changed. To be honest, I’m pretty stubborn about my beliefs but it’s not a very long list. It includes love, acceptance, forgiveness and honesty which are generally considered to be pretty good things. For the most part, my believes have served me well. They work… to a point. There is bound to be some friction when dealing with people that don’t share my beliefs. At this point I can do one of two things if I want things to work: I can change what I do or I can change what I believe because I don’t believe that I have the right to change another person. Actually, I just don’t believe that works.

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Life is beautiful

The other morning, to be specific, the morning of Tuesday August 20th, 2013, I woke up with the most incredible sensation. As my eyes opened to greet the day I felt absolutely convinced that life was beautiful and that we lived in a world where everything was exactly as it was meant to be. For that moment in time I was living in the best of all possible worlds.

Then two hours later I woke up for real. I had in fact only been dreaming of this world. But could there be some truth to it? Could it be that life actually is beautiful? Many people have suggested that it is but given that I write a blog titled “Life Sucks, So What?!?” I clearly have my doubts.

Still, for two hours I was living in the best of all possible worlds. I was completely safe, happy and receiving everything I needed or could possibly desire. In that moment what I needed more than anything, to the exclusion of everything else, was sleep and what a beautiful sleep it was.

So this begs the question; does life suck or is it beautiful? I don’t think that I am going too far out on a limb to say that it is both. I realize that this might upset some of my friends who are convinced that life is beautiful but welcome to reality.

Actually, that is the real question. What is reality? I love my happy-go-lucky-life-is-beautiful friends but sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like we are not living in the same reality. Perhaps that is the case. Perhaps there are multiple realities. Or as I like to think of it; reality is just really, really fucking big and no one person can ever see all of it at once. Sometimes we see the parts that suck, sometimes we the parts that are beautiful.  Some people carve out their own vision of reality by only seeing what they want to see. Actually, that might be most people but I don’t have the budget to do the research and frankly, most statistics suck. Feel free to prove me wrong it you want to conduct a study and quantify the beauty of statistics.

My life is as an artist… or philosopher or whatever the fuck I am. I see my job as looking at everything, trying to make some sort of sense out of it, and doing the best job I can at communicating what I see. My job is to connect the dots. My job is to bring the universe back to earth. What I am quickly realizing is that the universe is really fucking big and that there are a lot of dots. I feel like an astrologer looking up at the ancient night sky and thinking, “there has got to be an answer in there somewhere”.

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The truth is that all those dots are connected. They all affect one another. Some connections may be more significant than others, just like some of our personal relationships are more significant than others, but the truth is we are all connected. To be honest, the dots connected by astrologers seem a bit random to me, but so what?!? We all have to make choices in this universe and if it works for you, who am I to judge?

Reality is big enough for everyone. If you want to believe that life is beautiful, go ahead. There is plenty of evidence to support that theory.  If you want to believe that life sucks, it’s pretty easy to do that as well. If you think that there is a supreme order to the universe and that everything happens for a reason, be my guest. If you think we live in completely chaos, I feel ya there too.

On this particular day in late August three young people including a toddler and a pregnant woman were shot in my neighborhood.  While no one was fatally injured there is no denying that this was a tragedy and the outrage exhibited by the community is completely understandable. My heart goes out to all the victims and to everyone affected by this incident. This has got to stop and our communities have got to come together and do a better job.

Still, I feel it’s important to point out that there were 387,750 people in Minneapolis who were NOT shot that day. Our odds of being shot on that day in Minneapolis were less than 1 in 100,000 or 0.0008%. Fortunately I don’t need a big research budget to come up with those statistics but they don’t exactly help much either. Crunching numbers and connecting dots seems pretty stupid when we have bullets connecting with flesh.

On that same day I took my daughter and her dog Toastie for a walk along the Mississippi River, across the Stone Arch Bridge to explore the ruins of the old mill city. It may very well have been one of the best days I have ever spent with my daughter but what I found most profound was that my daughter had a dog. She got this dog just a week before but she had been dreaming of it for two years. She even had the name picked out. So many people tried to dissuade her from her pursuit of getting a dog but she persevered. I encouraged her to keep her dream alive because even if it was unattainable I know that life can only be as good as our dreams.

And her dream did come true.

My dream in which I discovered a world of beauty could come true as well. I doubt that it will but so fucking what?!? Of all the misguided dreams and false hopes out there, believing that we can make the world a better place is one I’m willing to embrace.

Speaking of dreams, given that tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom I want to leave you with these words of another unrealistic dreamer, Martin Luther King Jr:

The bitter red pill

Saturday saw the end of whatever manic phase I was going through, or at last the end of whatever benefit I was receiving from going through a manic phase. Morning was not fun. Mornings are hardly ever fun but I felt hungover which is not typical for me.

I managed to pull myself together enough to squeak out 600 words or so. As I was making my way through my third proofread my son arrived home from college. I hadn’t seen him since January and should have been overwhelmed with joy. I was excited to see him but I didn’t feel like I could fully connect with the emotions appropriate for the situation.

I stopped what I was doing so that I could focus on him. I wanted to hear about school, his girlfriend, his theater projects and his music. He was eager to share his new EP with me. It’s really good stuff. These are some amazing kids, amazing musicians, amazing songwriters and it’s impressive what they can achieve with such limited resources. I listened intently as we discussed music and more.

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Then I was eager to get back to writing. My son was eager to get to writing as well. Unfortunately, blog writing and song writing do not go well together. I couldn’t concentrate. I found myself surrounded by music and getting frustrated. I was getting frustrated with my son. This was not his fault.

In fact what he was doing was brilliant. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted him to stop. I wanted complete quite. Well guess what? What I want doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t get to order the world to meet my needs even if I have the power to do it. I could have told him to stop playing and he would have, but that would have been fucked up!

I was frustrated and annoyed but I kept it to myself. I wish that I could have felt the joy I know I have when I hear my son playing music but in that moment, it was no where to be found. Despite all the ways that I wanted the world to be there was no escaping reality.

Embracing, accepting and whenever possible, rejoicing in reality has been the theme of this past weekend. In a way, it’s the theme of my life.

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My friends, my close friends, those that hold a truly special place in my heart, we often talk about “real” people. I love evaluated, delineating and categorizing things. I don’t like doing this with people. People are far to complicated to be placed in boxes. The fact that we do; I believe to be at the core of many of our social problems.

My therapist says that there are two kinds of people: those who believe there are two kinds of people and those who don’t. I kind of like that but my favorite is; there are 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary and those who don’t.

So who are these “real” people. I mean all people are real, right? We all do things that are fake. We all lie. We all lie to ourselves. We all have blind spots and aspects of life we choose to overlook.

But how many of us really want the truth. How many of us would really prefer the truth to what we have convinced ourselves is real. I have my own take on reality but I’m not prepared to get into that right now. In place of my own thoughts I want to present this:

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in itdoesn’t go away.” ― Philip K. Dick

Who is really willing to give up belief to live in reality. Who is so willing to embrace their doubt so completely as to give up their faith. Who is willing to take faith in the unknown and trust that reality it is better than the lie. Who, if standing before Morpheus, would take the red pill.

These are the noble souls we call real people, not because they would be the ones to take the red pill, but because they already have. Most were never given a choice. Most were slapped upside the head with such a heavy does of reality that they could never escape. I don’t know if this was the case for me. I feel like I was granted the opportunity for a mythical life of fantasy. I just never believed it. I kept trying to wake up. Now I am awake and it’s not pretty… but it is real. I’m not trying to escape, I’m just trying to survive.

Some of my friends are trying to get back in the Matrix through drugs, alcohol,  money, sex, violence, work, religion, self-righteousness, fantasy, denial… all  powerful forces, all things I participate in at times, all things that are no competition for reality. That is because they are all part of reality.

Okay, that is part of my take on reality. To say that reality is only what exists when we stop believing is to deny all that we believe in. Our beliefs, even if false or inaccurate are still real, they still exist and therefor cannot be separated from reality.  Sorry to get all existential but I am kind of an existentialist… just being real.

So I have a friend. One of those special friends, a real friend. Someone who is not trying to become part of the Matrix. Someone who is trying to become who they really are. Someone who by quirks of fate was not born who they really are, yet was born in a time of scientific and technological advances to allow them to alter themselves and become who they really are, as all of us have the choice to become who we really are or to alter ourselves to become who we wish we could be. I’m not saying which is right. Who I wish I could be, my ideal person, is probably a far better person than who I actually am, yet I believe that I am here for a purpose and whatever that purpose may be, I will be.

Saturday night this person wound up sleeping on the floor. Probably because of my shifting moods. As the night came to an end for me I was not cordial. I was demanding, insistent and done with being awake. I was done and the couch was mine. I didn’t like that I was being rude but I was done pushing myself beyond my limits. I knew the cost of doing that and I wasn’t willing to pay it again.

The following night I was able to convert the couch into a bed and found a hansom soul by my side. The gratitude of this occurrence did not escape me.    This too was a person I would conciser a real person yet the feelings were not the same. I believe that all souls have equal value. I wish that I could treat all the same. I wish that I could be the slut that I used to be but something was different.

As morning came I needed to tell this gorgeous creature, as beautiful as may be, we did not have the chemistry that I desired. But real and in my honesty there was no opposition, disappointment perhaps, but no denial. We were real.

Life Sucks! – my introduction

Life Sucks!

If you don’t think so you haven’t been paying attention. Or you are a fucking idiot. Both of which I think kind of suck! Everyone I know is either suffering or six-feet under. That sucks too! People have shitty jobs, shitty living situation, shitty love lives. And those are the lucky ones. There are plenty of people who are unemployed, homeless and lonely. People deal with addictions, eating disorders, mental illnesses and physical disabilities. We have racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, class-ism and every other motherfucking stupid judgmental bullshit you can imagine. Even those who seem to have everything going their way can get struck with cancer, violent crime, natural disaster or the loss of a child. And our government sucks! They can’t seem to get anything done. Our infrastructural sucks, our healthcare system sucks, our education system sucks! We all suffer from tax laws we don’t like, from spending on things we don’t want, from laws that don’t help us and impede our personal freedom. And the free-market is anything but free. Blame Government, blame Corporations, blame God. Anyway you look at it, it just fucking sucks!!!

So What!

I’m not saying don’t do anything about it. Hell, I’m an activist. I devote my life to working on making the changes I want to see it the world. But change takes time. So I guess what I am saying is, so what the fuck do we do now? Right here, in the moment, with the shitty life that we have been given. What do we do to make make it worth living today? For starters I would say that we recognize that as shitty are our life may seem that there is someone who’s life if a hell of a lot worse. Maybe a little gratitude would be in order. Eh, fuck that! They probably did it to themselves anyway. They probably didn’t work hard enough or didn’t follow the rules or are just aren’t as fucking good as you. You’re pissed off at the people who have it better than you that you don’t think are any better than you. Those assholes who are fucking with your life, making it suck so bad. Yeah! I hear ya. Well ya know what? They probably have someone fucking with their life too… so the question remains… what are you going to do with your own life? And as far as this blog goes, the question is what am I going to do with my life? My plan is to live it as honestly and genuinely as possible. To live with causing as little harm as possible. And to have as much fucking fun as possible!!! If I can actually do a little good… yeah, well that would totally kick ass!

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