I pay a tax, for my equilibrium or, my peace of mind. I work out in the morning and then, on some days, I write three pages of stream of consciousness journaling -“morning pages”, detailed in the book The Artist’s Way. I write exactly what comes to mind: whining, bitching, anger, shame, angst, that puzzled look a girl gave me at the coffee shop 3 days ago I’m still pissed about. It is a way of ridding the mind of all this toxic waste before beginning the day. At the end of the morning pages, I sit outside, preferably in the grass, leaving my phone inside, for 15 or 20 minutes to meditate. Some days it occurs to me that: This is enough, this has always been enough and it always will be. My breath, the wind, a sunny day, are all beautiful and enough. “Appreciation over Expectation” I repeat to myself. What do I have to complain about right here and now? With the grass under my legs, the smooth breeze in my hair, the flowers, the warm sunlight on my skin, the birds chirping. Nothing, I have nothing to complain about. This feeling is here whenever I choose to tune in and listen.
On the days that I pay these three taxes, taking 2 to 3 hours of my day, I get to a good place in my mind, a relaxed place, not a great place, not an ecstatic place, not a high place, but a good place, and good is good enough. Good puts me in striking distance of the summit. The summit of happiness is still something like Mount Everest, in magnitude and difficult, so it will take many years to a lifetime. Anyone who thinks they have it figured out, is just full of shit, or in denial, or ignorant. On the days I pay the happy taxes, I’m on the field, I’m in the race, I’m a viable contender for getting to the summit. I can thank God every day, for being in striking distance of happiness, because there was a long stretch of time where I had no hope, I couldn’t envision a light at the end of the tunnel, I saw no justification or reason for my misery and feelings of worthlessness. This being said, my existential dread has become more pronounced in the last year or two as the sand continues to drain from the hourglass, never to be returned.
I’m learning (by falling and continuously getting up) that any happiness I feel as a result of others: a compliment, a girl that shows signs of liking me on a date, are unreliable. They are false friends, like the drug high. This is an inside job. It all needs to come from the inside or its bullshit. The number one person I need to earn the respect of, is myself. I need to be able to live with myself for every second for the rest of my life, to be able to look him in the mirror and be ok with that person. I need to drag myself through all manner of different people and perspectives and emerge unharmed. This is not an easy task. 99-100% of what people experience is a direct result of their inner workings being mirrored in front of them. They are reproducing in their own schemas in their mind, the limited subjective reality that their programmed brain allows through, first and foremost, I do this.
Simplicity vs. Options / Scarcity vs. Abundance
In 1997, my world was smaller, yet richer. I was 7 years old. I looked forward to going to the movies and seeing Men in Black. It was a thrill. I played GTA (Grand Theft Auto on PC) and ran down innocent pedestrians on route to mass killing sprees. I played Mario Kart on Nintendo 64, and Wayne Gretzky 3D Hockey. I played basketball out in my front yard. There was no internet porn. No internet, no internet by today’s standards at least. No cell phones. Life was richer, what I defined as life, had more taste and texture, I loved myself more because I wasn’t auctioning my attention off to every little news story and “must-see” show. I interacted with more people in the flesh, not from behind a screen. More options and technological advancements have turned Bobby(today’s youth) into a dull boy. I have become more entitled and spoiled and I have begun to mistake a life for merely existing: passively letting the TV make noise at me and calling it a life. It is all an illusion and I get the sense that my life would be vastly improved if I gave up all my cell phones, computers, devices. Simplicity, lack of options, is what keeps me happy. Isn’t the human mind already bogged down enough with stressing and inaccurately projecting future grandiose success and paranoid extreme failure?
When Hurricane Sandy hit NY in 2012, I spent 3 weeks with no power, listening to am/fm transistor radio by candlelight at night in winter coat to stay warm. I could see all the stars at night and I felt more connected to the earth and my own essence than I have in a long time. I crave oblivion. I crave isolation and solitude in nature that will bring me closer to myself. the cage of imaginary captors in the digital world wants to keep me in its grasp. Could I exist in the world with out touching an electronic device for a whole year? Your world as you know it would shrink but in a way you would be reacquainting yourself with your own mind. The sad lonely, kid sitting in the corner of the playground in the back of your mind that no longer gets to engage with anything or anyone.
My reason for writing this blog is to attempt to bring down the barriers that I put up and that most people put up. I write to try to defuse the hyper-active electric fences that people erect around their being as protective cover. The fuel and energy sustaining the electric fence is ego, delusion, belief in these cultural ideals of wealth, beauty, individual triumphing over group that the American media wants us to believe. Above all, the fuel for this fence is the idea that the individual is more important than the whole, this attitude pervades American society and is embedded in the identity of “American.” “I don’t need you, I’m successful, look at my watch, look at my hot wife, my car, look at how I got married by age 30 like all my friends. I work at a job I hate so I could buy a house that I will be paying off for the next 30 years, I deserve a pat on the back for that, don’t I?? This better damn well be what happiness is, or else I’m screwed. I’m truly free because I rely on myself and don’t need anyone else but me.”
If the Peru trip taught me anything, it is that we are all wounded in some way, and no one has anything figured out. It is almost comical to see how people think they have achieved some level of authority and wisdom above others because they make money in their chosen field. This charade is so deeply embedded in our way of life that it is almost impossible to distinguish from reality; the reality that we are clueless children, pretending mostly to have it together and have things figured out. I should make one distinction. Certain people have figured out their own domain and mastered it, but they limit themselves to this one domain and are utterly ignorant and judgmental of anything that.
Reading a good book that keeps you turning the page turner, or “I can’t put it down” The problem is that putting it down is that you have to come back down to reality and it is such a downer. The reality that your mind and imagination can create is just so, so much better. Too bad one can’t exist in the reading, receiving state forever, we must, act, relate, love, have sex, go forth and multiply. The me of my imagination will always be bolder and more heroic than the me of reality.