It’s a Good Life if You Don’t Weaken

As I sit here playing Fallout 4, on bed rest because of this lung infection that I’ve had for two months and haven’t taken care of until last week, I have the volume turned down on the TV. Any sound that I’m hearing is coming from the windows outside, and from the music that I have playing on my phone. Specifically, I am listening to the Phantom Power album by the Tragically Hip.

Much like millennium, mentioned in a previous post, this music brings me back to a specific time in my life, made golden by the light of memory. The first song I ever heard by The Tragically Hip was Bobcaygeon. It was about 4:30 in the morning at the time of year when the sun starts to rise a bit later each day.

I was depressed, heartbroken, and within a month of fully giving up on life. I hadn’t slept in a week, and my thoughts were barely my own. I had MuchMoreMusic on, because it played calmer music than MuchMusic. Bobcaygeon came on, and I was instantly hooked. The mood, the solitude, the mental state, all could have contributed; and might not have. I’ll never really know.

What I do know is their music helped to carry me to somewhere more stable so I could carry on. This was nearly twenty years ago, and yet memories are burned into my brain, indelible, of sitting in the wan morning light and hearing Gord Downie’s calm sonorous voice. Walking along the bridge west of Celeste at 11 at night after leaving Leon’s house, and Don’t Wake Daddy was just starting up as my boots crunched through the thin sheets of ice on the sidewalk.

Specific moments, frozen in time by one band, as no other has done.

I don’t generally cry when people die, particularly celebrities, as overall I feel like they’re going on to better things. I cried when I read that Gord’s cancer was terminal. I cried through their last concert. I cried when he died. I’m getting misty just writing this.

His job wasn’t nearly done. He left a hole in the world when he left. He was one of few true and pure voices of love and decency.

He will be missed, but memories and music are forever.

Be Your Own Advocate

In today’s increasingly selfish and desolate society, it is important to know that there is one person who will always stand up for you:

You.

The Current Meta

Advocacy and allyship groups continue to become more fractured, not being satisfied with their problem being part of a whole host of problems being solved. Instead, their very specific and often undefinable problem must be first in line. The LGBT movement alone has become a warzone in which transgender people now call gay people oppressive. Straight black men are considered the white people of black people. There are even transgender groups that call other transgender people transphobic. It’s mind boggling just how ready people are to be at the throats of people they once allied with or held close.

Even unions, the time-honored vanguard against morally corrupt corporations and small-time bosses who would feed on their workers have become a veritable mafia; using thuggish intimidation tactics and harassment to ensure that equity, not equality, is enforced. Anyone who doesn’t want to be part of the club is going to have a very hard time at their job. The Union wants its dues.

Even party politics has become a mine field. With no side currently being decent, the people who are decent have no home.

Who Can You Turn To?

You’ve made it this far, haven’t you? Despite all of the things that have happened in your life, including the things you were sure you’d never make it out of alive, here you are. Maybe you ought to listen to yourself.

Even if family, friends, and other people wish you success in your endeavors, it is ultimately up to you to push yourself to the finish line. No one can do it for you. The good part of that is, once you’re determined, no one can stop you, either.

 

Why So Negative?

Image somewhat related.

It’s strange in this modern day that people take such pride in the negative things about humanity. There is that quote that people often attribute to Marilyn Monroe that goes “if you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best”. I understand, as do many people, the intention behind it. It’s trying to make it clear that people, as a whole, are flawed. The thing is, it’s unlikely that there has ever been a time when people didn’t know that. Everybody knows that every person that they encounter has their own set of problems, difficulties, and things that make them less than perfectly appealing to be around.

“I’m a bitch and I know it”

The problem that has become apparent,however, is that far too many people use that quote and others as an excuse to be lazy about their interactions with people, or to be less pleasant. Most people that are encountered on a daily basis are decent people. They’re willing to have a conversation with a complete stranger, and don’t at all put up a front that suggests that they might have misanthropic tendencies. There are, however, a very few people however, who believe it is their duty to show the world and everyone in it just how crazy or angry they are. They hold it close to their heart as part of their identity. They go so far as to tattoo it on their body. They take any opportunity they can to tell you how “Loco” they are. Facebook would suggest that these people are the majority. Reality makes it clear that this is simply not the case.

I Miss Mayberry

It used to be that people put on their best face when they left the house. No matter what was going on in their home, they wanted everyone to believe that everything was going perfectly. The term “fake it till you make it” seems to apply pretty well here. The glut of TV shows and other media that suggest that every family is a dysfunctional band of misanthropes that has become popular in the past decade or so is disheartening. The Cosby Show was a wholesome program that did not center on race, people’s various mental problems, or disgusting things that people do. Instead it focused on creating good habits and following good patterns. There was even an episode in which Cliff taught Rudy how to mop the floor. Real, actual parenting happened right on the screen in front of all of America.

Full House was another of these shows. Bad things would happen, and instead of succumbing to the difficulties found, the characters would find ways to overcome. Oddly enough, the show featured a family that was far from normal as well, yet they were not portrayed as dysfunctional.

With the advent of Netflix, the show Fuller House has shown that this sort of wholesome programming is not only still acceptable, but popular.

Why, then, do we focus on the negative so readily?

A popular argument that has been bandied about for years is that we crave things that make us feel better about our own selves without having to actually do anything. This is why people still have losers from high school as friends on Facebook, even though they wouldn’t be caught dead associating with them in real life. It’s also why reality TV is such a big deal: we love to watch awful people be awful to each other so that by comparison our somewhat dysfunctional normalcy looks like an example.

That’s great for most people, but what about the ones who actually do go around being awful in real life?

Short answer: some people are just naturally assholes.

The long answer is a little more entangled. Due to Asperger’s, high functioning autism, or simply having had a bad upbringing with useless parents, some people just don’t know how to function normally within society. The problem comes when an Internet and a media full of people like that try to make it look normal, and suggest that it’s actually normal people who are abnormal.

Suddenly, treating people like human beings instead of treating them like statistics is frowned upon. This point will be expanded upon in a future article.

So, what’s the takeaway? I’ve got shit to do.

In short, normalcy is being attacked, as is decency, because those who are incapable or simply too lazy to do it are trying to make their version of normal into everybody’s. It’s just like the Healthy At Every Size movement. They simply can’t or won’t take the effort, and so try to normalize it while stigmatizing anything else.

Oddly enough, they take a lot of effort in doing so.

 

On Motivation

Most people think they know their motivation. Do you?

What motivates you?

Motivation is not just a buzzword. Your motivation is a deeply personal thing that only you truly know. You might not even know what it is, and this lack of knowledge could be what keeps you from reaching your true potential.

These days, in the United States, it seems like most people are motivated by bills, and keeping up with the joneses. There is such a desire to look successful even when you’re not, that people will work miserable jobs, long hours, and have an overall unfulfilling life.

When these people were in elementary school, and the teacher asked what they want to do, how likely is it that one of them said, ” I want to watch my hours burn away in a mailroom, and then working in front of a fryer, while my friendships erode around me”

More likely they said they want to be a firefighter or a police officer or a doctor. More likely their answers were rooted in the desire to do a job they’d enjoy rather than the desire to pay the bills using the job as a vehicle.

Are you doing what you like right now? If not, are you pointed in that direction?

You ought to be. If you hate your job, your free time ought to be spent finding a new one. A more fulfilling one. Maybe even a career. Your free time could be used to make yourself better for the life you want. School, or online coding classes, anything that will help you become the person you want to be.

I’ve found my motivation. My motivation is joy. Over the next few years, you’ll learn more about me, and you’ll see why it took three decades to figure this out, and why it’s such a revelation to me.

Until then, go seek out your motivation.

Taking Control

Happiness comes to those who control their lives rather than letting their lives control them.

The happiest people I’ve known or seen have been those who took control of their life. They were either born into a family that valued that way of doing things, or they got tired of how life was treating them and decided to take control for themselves. However it happened, it has always ended positively.

One thing that makes these people happy is the paradigm shift from ‘things you have to do’ to ‘things you choose to do’. Joe Rogan, a famous comedian and TV show host, doesn’t have to make a podcast every day. He could easily stop, or drop his production down to once a week, and his fandom would not disappear. His life would not change much at all if he completely stopped doing what he is doing and changed paths. He chooses to do a podcast each and every day though. He’s almost got a thousand up.

There was a time, however, when he had to do things. He had to take a TV or promotional contract, or he’d lose his house.

Most of us are at that point right now. We’re in debt up to our eyeballs, and working just to stay afloat. It’s funny, though, to see that there are people making minimum wage to support their family in the same exact boat as doctors who can’t stop spending money. It’s a distinct lack of control.

Believe it or not, there are people out there making minimum wage who have their lives in order. They choose a simple, no-hassle job and a simple life. They are happy, and in control. I’ve known quite a few. Those who are unhappy and out of control have bought an Escalade when they make less than 2000 a month. The bank who owns the truck is in control.

My wife and I have two vehicles. One is this beat up old Pontiac that is practically falling apart. It has great A/C and comfortable seats, but looks like it got chewed up and spit out. The other is a pretty Volvo with leather seats and a sunroof with okay A/C that was given to us. My wife will drive the Pontiac instead of the Volvo. To her, the Pontiac represents our ability to control our lives. It is something we bought and have paid off. The Pontiac, warts and all, gives her pride. The Volvo, no matter how pretty it is, feels like dead weight to her.

Controlling our lives is not always pretty. It always starts with working harder than those who are not in control. It always starts with risk, fear, hardship and the unknown. Eventually, though, the path we create straightens out. It aligns with us, and points where we want it to.

Are you in control? Are you honing your life to the fine point it needs to be for you?