Cavalier

Does it every annoy you to meet someone that isn’t confused?  Have you ever met someone that was completely confident in all their assertions?  When I was a boy, it seemed to me that adults knew things.  They didn’t believe things they knew them.  They didn’t seem confused about life to my eyes then, but it was a farce.  The things I was sure of when I was a boy, I am unsure of now.  Odd how deeper knowledge of the world brings not “enlightenment” but an obfuscation.  As I continue to learn about life will I eventually cross through the nebula and find some clear air, where I can rest assured of something?  Or will deeper knowledge always lead to deeper confusion?  Will I just become set in my ways one day when I’m in my 30’s or 40’s?

There are a lot of subjects in life that I’ve adopted a cavalier attitude about.  Most of these subjects are polarizing ones: Christianity & religion-in-general, gay rights, relationships, abortion, politics, etc.  I’m afraid I’ve become something of an “Idea Hipster”.  I rarely agree with the mainstream perspectives on any subject, and I constantly find myself off in the margin.  It’s an alienating feeling.  The most polarizing issues in our society tend to be very, very complex.  How could 314 million (US) people possibly come up with only two different sides?  Everyday I become a little more frustrated with “Bumper Sticker” politics, theology, and ideas-in-general.  There is literally no perspective about life that can be boiled down to fit comfortably into a pithy phrase or quote, but people want to live simple lives and keep clean ideas in their minds.  People want blanket solutions to complex problems, and poetic answers to cosmic questions.

The problem, perhaps, is that people aren’t using their imagination.  Is it a new problem?  I don’t know.  Maybe we’ve all stopped using our imagination and allowed the internet, TV and radio to imagine things for us.  Or maybe the world has always been full of people who have never had their paradigms challenged, and have never had to wade through an uncomfortable shift in their perspective.  Shifts in perspective are always uncomfortable, because they don’t often arrive in the form of revelations or epiphanies, but through slow labor and mulling.  It is an aversion to pain and change that keeps men and women from using their imagination, to placing themselves in the positions of others.  Truthfully, though I decry their stubbornness, I understand it completely.  And I do not think I could, in good conscience, ask someone to go through the pain of change, even if that is what is necessary for everyone’s health and sanity. Why? Because, perhaps ironically, I don’t think I would like that myself.  Change is such a voluntary and internal process that even the slightest challenge to a persons point-of-view can cause him/her to go into lock-down mode.

If there did exist a single phrase that could sum up the solution to the all the world’s problems, I think it would be this: “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself”.

To satiate my current hunger for Audrey Hepburn films, I watched Roman Holiday and Sabrina over the last two nights.  I very much enjoyed Roman Holiday.  It resonated with me for some reason. Sabrina, not so much.  Still a decent film, but the first half of the film is surprisingly frustrating to watch.

Anyhow,

There is so much to do, and so little time.  Still, the harder I push for something in life the faster I burn out.  Sometimes I wonder if I won’t be struggling against the tide for my entire life, reach the end, and have nothing to show for my troubles.  This is probably my greatest fear – to put all this energy into creating something, to pour out everything and find that it wasn’t enough.  I think of how pointless life is if luck is the only thing that will determine success.  I try not to fall into that line of thought, however.  Far too cynical, defeatist.  If I find that I cannot enjoy something – if I’m so focused on the final product, I stop.

Finding joy in the process of things lowers the risk of it all being for nothing.

 

Cynicism

Living next to a city isn’t very fun when the few friends you have don’t ever go outside.  There is so much to see and do – museums, aquariums, memorials, landmarks, concerts, plays, etc.  The more time I spend being a hermit in my room, the dimmer and more dreary my life grows.  Sometimes I just go out alone and see what there is to see, but I rarely enjoy it much.  I don’t like spending that much time with my own mind.  Thinking too much – being far too stoic – is a real problem for me.  The more time I spend with my own mind, the more likely I am to lead myself down a dreary path. I have an inner-slant towards cynicism.

Cynicism is a poison.  I could write for hours about the negative effects of cynicism in my life.  It so heavily influences day-to-day decisions and attitudes that it can spread rot over every part your life when left unchecked.  Letting cynicism reign free is like never cleaning your teeth – people will start falling out of your life…just like your teeth would if you didn’t brush them.  

Anywho, tonight on the roster is Roman Holiday, Hepburn’s first big film!  I’m gonna sit down with a cool glass of gin, fill out job applications, and watch this film.

 

 

Why are weights so heavy!?

I’ve got a few sets of dumbbells sitting in the trunk of my car – up to a pair of 35 lbs.  I should really carry them up to my apartment, but they are oh-so-very heavy.  Unfortunately, I live on the third floor of my apartment, which is not equipped with an elevator.  I’d like the meet the engineers who decided that creating a multi-story building without an elevator was a good idea.  Aren’t elevators required by law for handicap accessibility or something?  Whatever.  I don’t know why I’m paying so much for this place.  Harken unto me!  Change will be coming soon.

I spent this past weekend getting my hands on a bunch of classic Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly films.  I amassed quite a number of them – enough to keep me watching for the rest of the semester, most probably.

On a different note, here is great song, performed live, from the new Young the Giant album:

It’s unpleasant for me to do things that I find unpleasant, unsurprisingly.

I’ve begun to realize how important it is that you can enjoy the process of things, and not just the end results.  I’ve found that if I can’t enjoy writing a song, or a story, or any piece of creative work, then I am unlikely to be satisfied with the final product.  If I’m not enjoying the process, I probably won’t even complete it.  That isn’t to say that there is isn’t energy and hard work involved, but if it always feels like a chore – if the only positive thing I can see is the end result – than I’m doing something wrong.

It’s true for life as well.  My motto for the past couple years has been “Go hard of go home”.  Living by that motto, but not enjoying life at all, is a good way to burn yourself out.  Last semester, I felt like a bitter old man at just twenty-two.  Cynical, unhappy, pessimistic, full of regrets and complaints.  These days, however, I try to catch myself before I slip into that well of despair and self-pity.  I remember to enjoy where I am right now.  It costs me nothing to switch attitudes mid-thought.  It doesn’t take much energy, just a little inner-vigilance to keep watch.  Something I am really beginning to believe is that if I can’t be content right now, when am I going to be content?  I’ve already reached some of my goals – places where I thought I would finally feel peace and satisfaction, but I didn’t feel anything except for the urge to do more.

You don’t have to trade anything for contentment.  You’re not giving up success or personal ambition and drive.  If anything, being content and finding joy where you are will clear the air and light your path.

———-

On a different note, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia begins anew tonight, so that should be great.  I had intended the watch Cool Hand Luke and fill out job applications, but I suppose I can put those off until tomorrow…again.  A water-main recently exploded in my apartment due to the excessive cold.  The only possessions of mine damaged were a few books (which I’m still going to try and get reimbursement for).  I’ve had some very intense, and very noisy dehumidifier equipment in my room.  Finally, however, the repairs are done and the walls are dry and I can be a hermit in peace once more.  No more random people barging into my room (it worries my that random people have keys to my room) while I’m napping to check the drywall’s water level!

Video store, Hepburn, Kafka on the Shore

I went to a mythical place yesterday.  A place that, until recently, I thought was lost to the world forever.  It was a video store.  Strictly speaking, this particular location of ‘MovieStop’ (a branch off of GameStop) did not rent out movies, only sold them.  I came across this magical place during my mostly fruitless search for classic Audrey Hepburn films. (Classic films are apparently a rarity these days.  I would procure my copies by…less official means, but alas I live on a college campus.)   Sadly, MovieStop only has a small collection of classic films for sale – but they are cheap, like the rest of the DVD’s sold there.  I managed to find a copy of “Funny Face”.  It was enjoyable…it had it’s charms, but I probably wouldn’t place it in my top 5 Hepburn films.

On a different note, I’ve recently been pondering the phrase “Art for Art’s Sake”.  Every song I write is easier to flesh out then the one before it.  I’m also excited less every time inspiration hits.  I guess this is because I rarely see any reward for the love and care I put into a song.  I suppose at this point I should just try and enjoy the process instead of expecting some kind of prize when I’m finished.  The feeling is just so indeterminate.  I have a couple people willing to listen, and I’d likely receive a pat on the back for my efforts, but I’d rather hide my creation forever than be patronized for it.

On a different, different note, I have been listening to the book “Kafka on the Shore” in audiobook format.  I’d heard only great things about the book, but now, 4/5 of the way through, all I can say is that I despise this book.  I deleted it off my phone without even getting to the end.  The entire book was just really bad philosophy poorly disguised as storytelling, with the occasional graphic sexual scene thrown in for good measure…to each his own I guess.

Start Again

I burnt myself out last semester in my attempt to write interesting material for this blog.  Naturally, I found no satisfaction in it – because I have no readers.  That is fine, and even appropriate.  The primary purpose of this blog is twofold:  So I can practice my writing, and so I have at least a tiny urge to do interesting things with my time.  Of course, I’m not using a very formal writing style and I barely give half a thought to the next sentence I type, but at least it keeps the gears turning.  

I felt like a trapped animal last semester (my first semester at a new university).  I didn’t do anything worthy of writing down or retelling – I spent my time alone, twiddling my thumbs.   I live near a city, but it isn’t a very safe city.  Even if I had some place in mind that I wanted to visit or some adventure I felt compelled to begin, I never feel completely comfortable driving to strange places around this city.  I don’t really have any friends, so a lot of activities seem lame without amiable company.  Truthfully, I don’t really like people all that much.  I feel especially adversarial towards my fellow university students.  I have a lot of excuses like these. 

By the middle of last semester I found myself resigned to average grades, late nights, and drinking on weekdays.  My world was pretty colorless, so to speak.

I would like this semester to be different.  I am taking a small number of classes – mostly classes I think I will enjoy.  I have been applying for jobs, and not only because I need the money – which I do.  ‘A busy mind is a happy mind’, they say – and I’ve decided I think too much.  I’ve spent countless hours over the past two years mentally chasing my tail.  It has been a combination of self-pity and failed attempts to draw conclusions about the world.  The world is so bizarre, and I can’t seem to make heads or tails of it.  So I’ve decided I need to think less – be less stoic all the time.  I want to fill my waking hours with experiences that exercise my mind and bring me to new places, but experiences that don’t force me to draw conclusions about the real world.  So I’ve been reading a lot, and listening to a lot of audio-books.  It is a good way to keep the mind unaware of itself.  

In any case, I am fiddling with some new ways to live this semester.  If I can muster the focus, I will write some short stories and likely post them here.