|The wheel on the rock keeps on turning.|
A couple of years ago, I posted about the simple pleasures of treating oneself. And I'd still say there's a certain solidarity to it. Between then and now, however, a combination of events (including the loss of my car) made me realize that most things I find pleasurable have the potential to be money vacuums. Films, books, music, and games--the best of them might become life-long inspirations, but the vast majority provide only short-term stimulation. I was lacking a sense of discipline, allowing insatiable wants to fill my home, time, and energy. With only myself to blame, I reflected on whether I was my own worst enemy, and if I needed to defeat a part of myself in order to evolve and make myself a better person. I sought ways to deflate my ego.
At that time, the work environment I was caged in had a strange way of making me feel like anything I did was never good enough. In retrospect, I wasn't sure if it was genuinely a fault of others, or if it was a negative funk spread around by other griping folk. Combine that with my ongoing struggle to deconstruct my writing and figure out why it wasn't connecting with anybody, and I became trapped in a negative feedback loop. I expected bad things and nothing good. When nothing good happened, it validated my feelings and the loop dug deeper like a drill in the psyche. People often tell me I'm too hard on myself, because I might sense disappointment or disapproval in anything from a fleeting glance to command decisions, and I took it as a sign that I failed somehow. And when I think about the past, I cynically believed that failure wasn't really tolerated or embraced as gleefully as you might read about in other articles posted nowadays.
Except, when I'm asked about what I've specifically failed at, it's all micro-failures that many folks have probably forgotten by now. Lately, I've resolved to stop expecting the worst out of everything--out of people, situations, work, and everything. Let come what may. If it's bad, then it should roll off like a rain droplet on a leaf. At least I want to be that zen-like, because I know that negative reactions to negative actions only results in another negative loop. But positivity usually does perpetuate itself, and can defuse bad things before they explode. Everything that goes around comes around. I've been perfectly content when I go through the daily grind without expectations, and can greet every obstacle or challenge without a preconceived judgment or expectation.
In light of that, I see now that deflating the ego was probably not the ideal solution--maybe it needs to be inflated some. It's arrogance that I always feared, but then again, everybody's arrogant to some degree, and one can't create without some level of audacity. What matters more is my ability to deconstruct--to not hold things above reproach, including myself, so I can learn, adapt, and move on.
In 35 years of life, this is my conclusion thus far: there is an inherent power to falling then rising. It's the pattern of every story, both fictitious and real-life, that elicits a tear or catharsis. I've always struggled with myself because, as Plato saw perfect forms in everything that was unattainable because of human imperfection, I also felt that there was a level of perfection I could never achieve, and I feared how others saw me for it. But if perfection can't be attained, then why beat myself up over it? As Tyler Durden said, "Maybe self destruction is the answer." He says this in Fight Club not in the spirit of beating oneself up, but in becoming reborn.
In light of all this, what am I doing on this fine day? Writing. This blog post for one thing, which turned into an outlet for the last few years' worth of musings. But my actual writing is going through a revival of sorts, as I sought more lessons and learned to embrace the power of voice and "showing" more. It is Camp National Novel Writing Month again, and I am partway through a sprawling space adventure of sorts. I know it stinks in certain parts, but the time will come to tear it down and build it back up, because that's all part of the process. In a little bit, chances are good that I'll run off to Barnes and Noble to peruse their film section (because the Criterion Collection movies are on sale, woohoo!) and their books. Grab a free Starbucks coffee if I can. Then run to the library for a write-in--something I should have been doing all this time, but life (and my continued abhorrence towards driving) kept getting in the way. I figure I really ought to connect with other writers more, because I do feel comfortable and at home among them.
Shopping spree? Eh, it's not things or treats I really need right now. I looked forward to simply using the time to write. Even if it never amounts to a publishable manuscript, it'll at least be the gift of gratification and fulfillment that will make this Birthday, like any other day, feel .
30 or so years ago, I remember my parents blasted Journey's "Wheel in the Sky" from their hi-fi system. I might not have known what it was at the time, but something about the lyrics and melody spoke to me. It became a favorite of mine in childhood, and it remains so today. The song held up, and its words carried a message that I felt mirrored my own life. Having lived and worked in several different places now, I really don't know where I'll be tomorrow. But the universe continues in endless cosmic cycles. It's a reminder that the past is gone, the future is coming, and we should all live in the moment.