Monday, May 24, 2004

More Mind Numbing Perceptions of Me

I've set up a journal blog for my mindless thoughts. The link is under the Perceptions of Me to the right.

Hope to see ya there!

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Contortion of Fear (Updated 6/13/04)

"You have to challenge yourself. And it's how you go through the challenges - the ones that threaten your life a bit, that determine weather you grow and learn as a person. You have to go out and live the possibility of failure and not fear that."

Nick Nolte

Within that quote lie the plague and the cure. We are all so consumed by fear ... everything we are, everything we do ... hinges on our ability to master it or the power that it has over us. The fear to act or sometimes the fear not to, shackles our ability to think, and in most cases, our fear becomes overwhelming and debilitating. Fear keeps us from asking out that beautiful girl, it keeps us from loving again after the loss of a spouse or a child, and it keeps us from taking action in our lives and leaves us to reside in mediocrity.

I'm suffocating in this town; do I give up a decent paying job to possibly start over at $8 an hour somewhere else while I find myself. Do I sell my home here and risk being homeless again if things don't work out? A fear that if I actually make something of my self at 34 that i'll be consumed with regret because I did nothing about it sooner. Do I ever marry again and put myself in a position to lose the love of my life 5, 8, or 10 years later? Do I love anyone, fearing that love just doesn't last? The fear of starting over again locks those thoughts away and we fail to act upon any of them.

Will we ever take a chance on really living life if we are scared to death that we won't succeed?

As the fear builds we become "comfortable" to just settle for what we have ... for what our life is right now, and we discard any thoughts of what our life could ever be. In light of that ...

Do we have to accept fear in our lives to not be afraid of it?

Fear will continue to exist as long as our minds fuel it with our distorted perceptions of things. Perceptions that may have been instilled from very early in life. As human nature dictates, perceptions of what to be afraid of are as hard to change as life long habits. Although, if a smoker of 30 years can quit smoking ... then, theoretically, we can stop being controlled by fear.

A good start is to know your fears ... their strengths and weaknesses. What are you honestly afraid of? What fear lies beneath that? And what fear lies even deeper, beneath that one? We have to dig as far as we can to find that source as our fears tend to layer on top of each other. Then ask yourself ...

"what is the consequences to us if we don't act upon and over take that base fear?"

I didn't take that better job out of pure fear of failing, and my family suffered with a less that comfortable life. I didn't make that move to Boise out of pure fear of starting over with nothing, and now I'll never know if there is more to life outside of this hick town.

I don't ever want to know the consequences of my inability to take action in my life based entirely on fear; though it will always be something I'll experience, because my fears are so powerful. Until I master them, I will become them.

That leaves a burning, sometimes painful question unanswered. Is allowing fear to drive us ... is settling for a mediocre life contorted by fear; enough consolation for the possibilities and potential that we may sacrifice if we don't face it?

Regardless of how you ask that question the answer will always be ... no!

That's how I see it. How do you see the world?

"Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear.
And I can't help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear take the wheel and steer.
It's driven me before, and it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal.
But lately I am beginning to find out that I should be the one behind the wheel.
... It's driven me before and it seems to be the way that everyone else gets around.
But lately I'm beginning to find that when I drive myself my light is found."
Incubus "Drive"

Harlan Ellison Quote from May 2204 issue of Writer's Digest

"But basically, it sounds as if you still have no fear?" WD

"I guess that's my curse. As Spider-Man says, 'With great power comes great responsibility.' In my case, with fearlessness comes great stupidity. I'm just not afraid of things. There's nothing anybody could do to me that would make me afraid.
People do things out of fear. They'll lose their job, their rep will be ruined, no one will love them, their family won't be able to eat, blah, blah, blah.
Those are exactly the usual fears that society uses, and has always used, to keep you in line, to keep you doing things you don't want to do, to shame you into political correctness and conformity in a job you don't like, in a relationship you can't stand, terrified that if you don't worship and think exactly as you're told, you'll go to hell or, worse, never get that autographed photo of Jerry Falwell.
Cursed or blessed, I've never had those paralyzing fears. I've been on my own since I was a kid, on the road at age 13, and I bypassed all the early middle-class crap that programs us to be shivering, rationalizing chickenhearts. I have no fears.
I'm not a firebrand - I'm just too lumpen to have fear. You can't allow yourself to be frightened, not if you want the writing to have heat and reason and passion."

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Mortal Affliction

"Sometimes in our lives we face "issues" clearly defined and difficult ... death, sickness, financial reversal, the abuse of a family member. But, often just as trying, is the long, tedious, wearing down of every day. The job that needs to be constantly redone, the relentless undoing of our dreams. All the things that work away at us may dim our intentions. We mean to be steady ... and instead we dry up under pressure like a river in Arabia."

Maurine Proctor

It's a complexity that every one of us becomes susceptible to at some point in our lives. For a time we all become caged and spend life in the "solitary confinement" of an invisible box; sometimes just going through the motions; always feeling as if you've just woke up and can't shake the cob webs from your head. How long this period lasts for us determines if we are ... in fact ... depressed. (Such an evil word.)

At what point do we banish pride and finally admit to ourselves, let alone to others, that we are honestly depressed? When the job we do doesn't fulfill us? When we leave the building after a work day and feel like you can't remember the last time you saw the sun? When the relationship we are in (or lack of one) doesn't complete us? When I am almost home and realize that there are three stop signs on this road and I don't remember stopping at any of them. ("Yes, I'm sure I stopped! Oh ... maybe that was yesterday.") When all you want to do is sleep and hope to wake up in a different life, or worse, feeling like you just want to cease to exist. Or when, somehow, there is a strange comfort in that vague oblivion.

"Shit happens! Deal with it."

That really is good advice. Many times it's just as simple as pulling our head out of our ass and getting over life. Although, what happens ... what becomes of us when our strength to "get over it" or the energy and desire to do or care about anything is completely sucked away?

Is this euphoria "curable"? Generally they throw pills at the problem to "fix you". And drugs are great! The blue one causes you to break out in a rash, the red one causes intense heartburn, and the pink one "can cause ulcers, hair loss and some sexual side effects." These pills that are designed to "cure" me ... depress me.

The advice is quick to come ... "Just don't be depressed." "Simply choose to be happy." "Find the right mate, get a different job, start over in a new town." Etc. I'll agree with the skeptics, depression is all in your head and yes it can be changed by simply changing your mind ... in the early stages that may work, but when it's taken hold It's just not that easy. Each suggestion, regardless of merit or sincerity, is its own brick wall, and in the greater scheme these steps won't "fix" us until we "fix" ourselves.

As empty as we are, as much as we wish someone would just understand and somehow help us, (or on the other end of the spectrum, wish God would just take us so that we could slap him up side the head for the life he gives us!) The only real cure is inside of us. No external remedy will completely correct our distorted perception of things. We have to challenge and change our perception of how we believe we feel.

When depression is engrained even the easiest questions like, "What is making me so unhappy?" are the hardest to answer because you honestly don't know. The frustration is so intense when you lose that ability and it drives you deeper.

People perceive depression negatively. If you're depressed then you're obviously unstable. That's true to an extent. Chronic depression could cause instability, but average cases are average people like your friend or your mother, and even yourself. Stable, well-adjusted people who know something is wrong, though they don't know what. And as silly as it sounds, depression is not something you can catch! I'm amazed at some people's phobias of things that they don't really understand.

The worst thing you can do is be complacent. Find an activity that keeps you busy ... that keeps your mind stimulated. My job keeps me busy for a total of four hours. After that I have to "look" busy. For $10 an hour it sounds like a dream job ... though it's not because that sleepy, disconnected, "there's gotta be more to life" feeling creeps up.

The largest help is to realize that you are not the only one who feels that sting. Chances are that everyone has or has had some symptoms of it. And never ever feel sorry for yourself or else the quicksand will only take you faster! I promise, if you do, no one else will! Use that energy for change, not for reflection on what your life is or isn't.

Am I an expert? Clearly not on getting out of the rut, though I've experienced it, I've survived the hardest part of it. I still fight it sometimes, though I do so with out drugs (prescription or illegal) and from experience, alcohol doesn't work either. I simply, slowly change my perceptions a little every day. That is the only thing that you always have the power to change! It may take some anger at yourself because the power to change your own perceptions will be the hardest thing you'll do. Consider driving in a straight line. If you make a small one foot change in direction, over many miles your final destination will be significantly altered.

If you're not suffering from depression but you know someone who might be, please don't help them with phrases like "just get over it, just don't be depressed, or why are you so down all the time." Etc. No matter how genuine or sincere you are, it will not work. It will make things worse because they will begin to believe that they are the only one with this "incurable" problem. That's a seed from which will grow the more serious forms of depression.

The ideal way to help is to give them your number and take theirs. Leave an open window for them to call you or you call them. And by all means talk about anything but how they are feeling. Don't ask them how they are. Concentrate on creating how they are your self. Be a friend, talk about anything or nothing, invite them to do something to keep their mind moving (stimulated) and they will be (feel) fantastic just because you made the effort.

"You either get busy living or you get busy dieing" Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption

Life is depression! Your perception of it is your defense. Remember that ...

"The quality of life is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you." RWE

It's also how you perceive and interpret those things. It's not necessarily about the worn out advice of thinking positively ... it's about managing your reactions to things to lift you over the obstacle. It's about calmly keeping your head above the water until another log floats by.

After all, without wading through all the shit, would the good things matter to us at all? Would we even be able to recognize and appreciate the good things?

Challenge your perceptions of everything. Look on the world with new eyes and things will begin to change shapes.

That's how I see it; how do you see the world?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Writers Dream

On the urging of a good friend who is a wonderful amateur poet, this is my first attempt at the art.

The Writers Dream

They spent they're lives under a veil
of uncertainty, fear, disappointment
plagued by the omens that make them who they are
and dreams that make them who they will be

Finding serenity in the kindred
who know the same pain
enduring tempests that bend them

They reach for words that
contain meanings beyond meanings
stenciling images of their minds

Lonely in their quest
searching for others who share their vision
who find joy in the meaning they see in life

They are the ones who's dreams and thoughts
will shape an unshapeable world
together making the unreal plausible
realizing their truths as life

A select group of hearts sharing the same soul
a solemn soul with an intense story to tell
scribed into the flesh of many hearts
by nothing more than a quill and a bottle of ink

copyright 2001 Mel Smith