Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Primary Obstacle

The primary obstacle to unfucking one's fucked life is one's own fucking mind. Demons, specters, shades, half truths, misunderstood truths, conspiracy theories, doubt and fear populate the fucked mind. I am not here speaking of mental illness, but rather of mental laziness, immaturity and the mindset of victimhood.

Contortions in reality become the norm in order to shoehorn reality into the predetermined shapes and contours of the lazy, immature, fucked mind.

Baby, this I know.

It still takes my breath away to consider the power of how our thoughts dictate our reality, our lives as they are lived. Feed yourself a diet of self-loathing, of doubt, of victimization by outside circumstance and you are a loathsome victim, forever unable to wrestle the power of your name, your thoughts into the shape of the life you somehow feel entitled to.

You are entitled to nothing. Your breath is your gift and the rest is up to you.

* * *

A hundred years ago I stood on the roof of a warehouse on Chicago's west side. It was a sleety, miserable night. I was there as part of a film crew making an awful cops and guns B movie called Excessive Force. Movie making is a lot of tedium with little to do, and bursts of activity followed by more tedium. I was on the roof just to be outside, to feel the cold rain in order to stay awake.

A beautiful woman who worked in the Prop department was outside on the roof as well and she was crying. She was tall, with strawberry blond hair and the creamy, freckled complexion of the Irish. I was in love. When I asked why she was crying she told me that researchers somewhere in the world had found the crest, trough and crest of a sound wave they could trace back to the Big Bang. She said, "Why can't they just leave it alone? Why can't they let there be any mystery in our lives?"

Not exactly what I thought she might say. Who cries over sound waves?

I said this: It doesn't matter what they've found. There's still the mystery behind the mystery of what, exactly, exploded. All physicists eventually become mystics. For me, what exploded was the mind of God, and so set everything in motion. There's no God the Father, or Mother. Only the possibility of it. By whatever hand we live and that is all the mystery we need.

It didn't make her feel any better, but I gave myself a leg up on unfucking my life - if only I'd of listened. We are set in motion - our origin and our destination unknown - and it is up to each of us to create meaning, to build purpose into the magisterial accident of our existence.

Now that you breathe, what are you going to do?

The only tool available to you is your mind. You can use it to be small, narrow and filled with raging fear, or you can choose otherwise. The greatest obstacle to unfucking one's life is one's mind. The greatest tool in an unfucked life is one's mind.

You choose.

__________

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Each Of Us

Each of us must contend with the circumstances of our lives. Every set of circumstances is distinct, unique, separate from any other set of circumstances. And each of us is solely responsible for how we respond to what is unique and singular and wholly precise in our lives.

Yet no one set of circumstances is more acute or worthy or desperate than any other. We puff ourselves up in our minds to assume the mantle of greatest suffering, the greatest obstacles to overcome, etc. And it certainly seems so.

But that is part of the fallacy that keeps our lives fucked: the universe doesn't give a fiddler's fart for your suffering, your difficulties, your ineptitude. That is a projection onto the cosmos of our inherent puniness. We don't like being lost; we don't want to be alone; we want our lives to be unfucked. And so we create stories about our lives and the events in our lives. We ascribe meaning on the blank face of time. We create. This is our genius: WE CREATE.

This spark, this impulse to render meaning out of nothingness, to carve purpose into our time is breathtaking. When we create (and I would argue that all creation is story) we are closest to fulfilling our potential, closest to using the capacity that exists between our ears and not only what exists between our legs. It is this extra step, this ability to plumb a deeper core that can unfuck what is fucked in our lives.

* * *

The act of creation is to bring into being something that did not exist previously. (Do not assume that creation is beautiful or beneficial - much of what man has created is his own doom.) Idea, thought becomes a physical reality. Babies, books, bombs, etc. are all made in this way. The baby may become Mother Theresa, or Typhoid Mary, the book may be Mein Kampf, or If On a Winter's Night a Traveler..., the bomb might be Hiroshima, or an IED. Creation is value neutral. It is the intention of the Creator that matters.

The great American Philosopher George Carlin once said, "There are no bad words, just bad intentions."

True. True.

So what is it you have created out of the magma of your life, what has your wisp of undifferentiated nothingness become? If your life is fucked you created it. No one else. No outside circumstance. Just you. The story you've chosen to tell is one of victimhood, of being a special case, of being unique and entitled where others are common and undeserving.

* * *

In Kurt Vonnegut's second greatest book, Bluebeard, the hero, Rabo Karabekian, has lived a fucked life. An artist by natural inclination, a man who could render the human form as beautifully as the Dutch Masters, he instead becomes an abstract painter, befriends Rothko and Pollock, etc, and creates huge canvases using house paint that in about five years peels off his canvases so they are now blank. He loses his marriage. Loses a connection to his children. Loses much of everything except the paintings his friends gave him during their time together in the 1940's and 50's, so that now, Rabo Karabekian is a wealthy, wealthy man - the largest private collector of Abstract Expressionist paintings in America.

But Rabo is something else as well. He was a soldier in Europe at the end of the war and the sights he saw, the mass graves, the murder, the desolation are part of him as well. Finally, in his early old age he undertakes to paint a massive triptych of the war - a modern Hieronymos Bosch. There he lays out the vision of his life. It is horribly beautiful. He works on the painting in secret but is found out by an annoying house guest.

He wants to dismiss the work, for he is ashamed of his gift, of not using his gift, of not saying what he needed to say at every moment in his life. He has long denied his ability. The house guest, a ferociously overconfident woman tells him that is "meat did that," that his body as well as his soul created that painting and that he should thank his meat for its work.

And there, in one moment, Rabo Karabekian unfucks his life when he says, "Oh happy soul. Oh happy meat. Oh happy Rabo Karabkian."

* * *

Find your story. Tell it. Thank your meat, and unfuck your life.

__________

Friday, July 23, 2010

Last Night's Storm


Last night's storm got me thinking.

Storms blow through our lives as regularly, as powerfully, as weakly as storms roll through the sky. In the midst of a rain storm we do not believe we can alter the course of the storm by our will. It rains and storms until it is over, until it moves on. In severe weather there is damage, clean up, and occasionally injury and death.

So, too, the storms in our lives.

Why, then, do we believe we can turn those personal storms into sunny days? It can't be done. Those storms are the product of two immutable things: the past and others' decisions. The longer we bemoan the fact of the storm, the longer we remain bound to it. The only change that is available is on the other side of the storm where we are presented with a new set of circumstances that incorporates the storm just past and we can decide how to proceed from that point forward.

You have a responsibility, an ownership stake in the storms in your life. You helped create them by the decisions you made, or left unmade. You have a hand in your own battering. That is why you can't alter the arc of the storm while it is happening. Your next shot at influence comes after.

But know this: it is always going to rain because while you can exert control over your own actions, your own thoughts, your own way of being in the world, learning from your past mistakes, you cannot do the same for the second immutable law of personal storms - other people's actions.

Get to this point and you'll no longer care what others do, what your opponents do, what those who would cause you harm would do because you are FREE of them. When you stop trying to control, influence or change what another might say or do, but instead concentrate your efforts on your own life, your own decisions, you leave behind the strife and stress of trying to accomplish the impossible. Let them go to hell - it is their decision. When did your life run so smoothly you had time to devote to running theirs?

Enough arrogance. Besides, isn't all that meddling just a cover for your own ineptitude at living the life you have in your hands?

* * *

Storms, once survived, if they are survivable, clear the air, wash the streets, replenish the water table, break the grip of humidity and cool things off. You can no more avoid a storm than you can avoid your death. So why bother trying?

Use what you have until you no longer have it.
Enjoy what you have until it is gone.
Care for what you have as long as you can.
Love your life so your death is not bitter.

__________

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Early Arrived

"I early arrived at the insight that when no answer comes from within to the problems and complexities of life, they ultimately mean very little. Outward circumstances are no substitute for inner experience. Therefore my life has been singularly poor in outward happenings. I cannot tell much about them, for it would strike me as hollow and insubstantial. I can understand myself only in the light of inner happenings. It is these that make up the singularity of my life, and with these my autobiography deal."

- CG Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections

* * *

The "I early arrived..." is a gift of unparalleled proportions; some souls simply know themselves complete and their lives are an expression of that knowledge. But so too the fucked. Are our lives not an expression of our fuckedness, our dithering, wavering self-knowledge, our incompleteness?

Yes. Of Course.

Each life is an expression of its own awareness, what Jung would call its inner happenings. I'd argue that the fucked life is one focused on outward circumstance with little or no attention paid to its inner life. Not that an inert, life-of-the-mind approach is superior, but that in order to move through the changing circumstances of our lives and retain a sense of self, a sense of our identity in the enormity of circumstance, we must know who we are and ACT in accordance with that knowledge.

Anything else takes on the stink of being fucked.

What strikes me today is the distance between where we think we should be and where we are. No one ever has the two line up, even briefly, without fighting against the inertia of emptiness, the inertia of confusion, the inertia of not knowing one's own self.

Overcoming this distance, bridging that gap is the only courageous act man has available to him. For there is no outward reward, no external circumstance to which he can bind himself. All you get to use to unfuck your life are the inner happenings of your soul, your own true self. And that is why it can seem so impossible.

__________

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Was Describing


I was describing to my brother the choices in front of me. There were three options and all of them carried a significant and immediate downside, a loss that could only diminish my life - though each in a different way: maintain the status quo, fight tooth and nail against the status quo, or simply quit.

I explained to him that each option was a type of death, an abandonment of part of myself and it wasn't simply which hurt less, or which would be easier, or which still held a kernel of hope for a better day inside it - no, I told him that the outcomes could not be any of my concern. They existed as projections into the future and were going to be influenced by circumstances beyond my control or ability to imagine.

If the concept of deciding based on outcomes is removed, what remains?

Just yourself. It is a moral question - who are you and what are you willing to do, willing to accept, in order to be who you are?

To quote Roger Daltry, "Who the fuck are you?"

* * *

It is impossible to know the future. That is why so much money is spent of fortune tellers and tarot readings and statistical analysis: we need to know the lay the land before we venture out.

Except it cannot be done.

The future acts like a verb not a noun: it is not fixed, nor is it predictable. Trying to lasso it is the source of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle: the more you know about something's position, the less you know about it's motion or momentum. For my purposes here: the more you think you know about the future, the more solidly you are living in the past.

Living in the past, or with the status quo is living in The Wasteland. You are fucked and you either don't know it or don't care anymore.

But once you know you are in The Wasteland, once you know you are fucked, you can't un-know it and the you have to decide:

Who the fuck are you?

__________

Monday, July 12, 2010

Miklos Radnoti Was



Miklos Radnoti was shot and killed by retreating Axis troops in 1944 after spending the four previous years as a slave laborer. In 1946, in an exhumation of a mass grave his body was found, identifiable by the small notebook he had hidden inside his clothing where he'd continued his previous work as a poet.

THE EXILE

From the window I look out on a hill,
the hill does not see me;
I hide out; a poem trickles from my pen,
though it makes no difference now,
I see it, unable to figure out why
such grace from an ancient bosom:
as ever, the moon alights on the sky,
and the sour cherries open into blossom.

9 May, 1944


FOAMY SKY

The moon sways on a foamy sky,
I am amazed that I live.
An overzealous death searches this age
and those it discovers are all so very pale.

At times the year looks around and shrieks,
looks around and then fades away.
What an autumn cowers behind me again
and what a winter, made dull by pain.

The forest bled and in the spinning
time blood flowed from every hour.
Large and looming numbers were
scribbled by the wind onto the snow.

I lived to see that and this,
the air feels heavy to me.
A war sound-filled silence hugs me
as before my nativity.

I stop here at the foot of a tree,
its crown swaying angrily.
A branch reaches down -- to grab my neck?
I'm not a coward, nor am I weak,

just tired. I listen. And the frightened
branch explores my hair.
To forget would be best, but I have
never forgotten anything yet.

Foam pours over the moon and the poison
draws a dark green line on the horizon.

I roll myself a cigarette
slowly, carefully. I live.


* * *

In the miasma of our fucked lives we tend to focus solely on ourselves, with no ability to see anything beyond our fuckedness. We are myopic. Miklos Radnoti is an icon in Hungary, though little known elsewhere. He was one of six million - utterly anonymous to the machine that killed him. Yet he was not anonymous. He was loved and loved his wife. His circle of friends, family knew him and he had readers who read him.

Anonymous only in death - not in life.

Viktor Frankl survived the camps. Miklos Radnoti did not. And yet they are the same. Both chose to live with death all around them. Both chose to write when simply having a piece of paper was cause to be shot. Both chose to continue their work, the only work they knew, in spite of the outward circumstances they lived in. And one died and was buried in a mass grave. The other lived to an old age. Both altered the world because of the choices they made.

* * *

My copy of Radnoti's poems was given to me in 1984 by my Hungarian language teacher, Borbala Szendro. I was leaving Budapest after being part of an exchange program with DePaul University. There was an English language bookshop on Vaci Utca where I would spend my afternoons. I missed my language. Borbala came with me one day and saw this on the shelf and bought it for me, telling me I needed to know Radnoti. She cried when she retold his story.

The book has sat on my shelf for 26 years now. I did not read the poems when it was given to me. I had no interest. But as time crawled by I found myself looking again and again at what a murdered man wrote. And there on the page was life, insistent, tired, unfailing life.

This is the work of poets - to remind us to live

FOR A COPY OF STEEP ROAD

I'm a poet and nobody needs me,
not even if I mutter wordlessly:
u-u-u- no matter, for instead of me,
prying devils will sing relentlessly.

And believe me, believe you me,
the cautious suspicion is justified.
I'm a poet who's fit for the stake's fire
because to the truth he's testified.

One, who knows that the snow is white,
the blood is red, as is the poppy,
and the poppy's furry stalk is green.

One, whom they will kill in the end,
because he himself has never killed.


* * *

The earth is one mass grave. What will they find on your body?
__________

Friday, July 9, 2010

Man's Search For


"Man's search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a 'secondary rationalization' of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning."

- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning

* * *

If you are fucked you have no will to meaning: there is no search. Your fuckedness precludes any other possible meaning. It is a closed circle of logic: I am fucked, therefore I am (fucked).

When I first encountered Viktor Frankl's work it was liberating. By the time I'd become familiar with it on multiple readings it had become harrowing; the challenge, the demand that only I could determine the meaning of my life and then live by it scared the shit out of me. Better to re-read the book tucked safely away behind a locked door and murmur assent to the prescription for unfucking my life than actually, you know, putting the book down and unfucking it.

The only way to unfuck your life is to pull you metaphoric dick out of whatever metaphoric hole it is in. You did it. You undo it. Frankl's argument is that in order to have the courage, the will to unfuck yourself you have to have a reason to, the meaning behind it all and only you know what that is or what that can be. It is a choice only you can make. It is not a boon from heaven. It is an active, conscious choice on your part. Without it you are fucked but good.

* * *

A hundred years ago I was falling through a divorce at the ripe age of 26. I was tending bar at the time and one of the customers knew some of my story and offered to take me out to lunch. I've forgotten his name, but he was about ten years older, successful and completely at ease with his life. At lunch he asked me this question, "What is it that you do to make yourself happy? Just for you. Just your own happiness and sense of pleasure and accomplishment?"

I had never been asked such a question. I didn't know it could be asked. I had no answer, for I did nothing to make myself happy. In that moment, and to my shame, I suddenly knew why my young marriage ended, why my wife said goodbye. I recall the heat of embarrassment filling my face. I said, "There's nothing." And he said, "Well, that's the problem isn't it? You have to choose. Something. Anything, and get started. If it doesn't pan out you can always choose again."

I then told him cooking made me happy and from that moment to this I have made it so. Up to that moment I liked to cook, but derived no special pleasure from it. It was only after I chose it to make me happy that it did. It isn't the final product that makes me happy (though you want it to taste good), but the process and acquired knowledge and experience that grounds me, fills me with satisfaction and happiness. When I cook I am as unfucked as I can be and it was a choice, not a blessing.

* * *

Unfucking your life is not a passive thing. You must be active. You must constantly choose, constantly prioritize what you will engage and how you will engage your life. Sitting back, letting others decide, hiding in intellectual nooks and crannies, bemoaning your fate without ever taking up arms against that dolorous fate is just plain fucked.

Don't do it.

You are better than that. Each of us is. You have to choose it. You have to choose life over death while you can, because, eventually, we're all gonna be just dirt in the ground.

__________

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

There Is Only


There is only this: live before you die. Anything less, anything that interrupts, impedes, diverts, diminishes, or in any way cedes authority for your life fucks you, fucks your life and wastes the one thing that is finite in this world: the time you get to storm around this planet.

Time itself yawns to infinity. You and I but yawn to the grave. Knowing this how can you refuse the freedom of responsibility, refuse the life-giving power of your name, your time, your abilities? How can you let it simply wash over you, or let it peter out? How can you refuse the love that is there for you, the love that lies unused by most men because it demands one thing from us: to not compromise it with excuses and manipulation.

If you lived to a hundred, you still die. Like Jonah you can't outrun the whale. So what are you going to do? Wheedle? Whine? Complain? Claim exception? How about this - live like you mean it.

* * *

I get to say all this because I have lived poorly; I have wasted my time on the most useless things: events beyond my control. It has been a sputtering life.

Reinhold Niebuhr, in 1934, in a sermon he preached gave the world what would later be called The Serenity Prayer and adopted by AA as their go to shorthand for their work:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.


My mother kept a copy of this prayer in our kitchen as I grew up (she has it still) and she would nod to it from time to time and tell me it was the most beautiful prayer she'd ever known. And then she'd go right back to ceding the authority for her life to her mother and it struck me then, as it strikes me now, that it is not enough to see beauty or love or to desire those things; it is not enough to know the face of your enemy; it is not enough to pray for wisdom; what is necessary is the will to act in accordance with what you've learned, with what you know to beautiful or loving or wise or of great danger to your soul.

Too often Niebuhr's formulation is wistfully shrugged off as impossible, a rueful hopelessness descends as if acceptance, courage and wisdom are beyond human purview.

Fuck that. Wake up.

The full version of the prayer reads:

God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.


It is the last line that matters here. You have to use your life to live it. You have to use it up before you lay it down. Anything less is just fucked.

__________

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Hundred Years


A hundred years ago I lived and worked in a funeral home on Chicago's north side. It was how I managed to get through the last two years of my undergraduate degree. The neighborhood was still down at the heel, soon-to-be gentrified, and was home to three transient hotels within spitting distance of each other and the funeral home. Prostitutes, drug dealers, the insane and solitary old men peopled the neighborhood and we buried them all. But the largest population that wound up in our morgue, set for a cheap cloth-covered casket and a quick burial paid for by the state were the drunks, the stumble-down, sterno-eating rummies whose faces were forever puffy with fresh wounds from the beatings they took on a regular basis from the other drunks fighting over a bottle.

They were my professors in The Fucked Life 101.

I knew them on sight, though never their name until they died. They all were skinny and weak from the booze, the cigarettes, the shit food they managed to eat from time to time and the simple hardness of living as they did.

There was one drunk, a guy somewhere in his fifties, who would disappear for three or four months at a time and then return to Belmont Avenue and all it had to offer a fucked-in-the-head drunk. One day the funeral director - a great, kind, tubby red-headed fellow named Karl - and I were standing at the front door having a cup of coffee, watching the parade of characters straight out of Hieronymous Bosch, when Karl says, "Looks like Bobby's back," and he pointed to a tall scrawny guy, drunk at 9 am, screaming at a fithy, overweight woman. Karl continued, "Bobby takes the cure once a year, heads back home to Tennessee, finds Jesus, a warm bed and three squares from his family, but always manages to find his way back here. Been like this for as long as I've been here. Going on 15 years. We'll be burying him soon enough."

* * *

Taking the cure, cleaning up your act, getting one's shit together, is useless unless you make it stick. I'd argue that getting yourself unfucked only to slip right back into the patterns and habits that fucked you in the first place is worse than never cleaning up because you now know better and turning your back on it (because you don't have the balls to stick with it) is soul-crushing. Unwashed decrepitude is at least ignorant, and so blessed.

Karl's comment on Bobby's cycle of sobriety and Belmont Avenue struck me like a two by four to the forehead - I'd seen it before; I'd grown up with it but didn't have a name for it. It wasn't drink that cycled through my family's life, it was the unending pattern of emotional abuse and abandonment to that abuse that I recognized in Bobby's gaunt frame, in Karl's comment, for we, too, as a family would take the cure after a blowup, and we'd sail quietly for a month or so until the next eruption came, followed by more unkept promises to change.

The fucked are toddlers who refuse to learn that climbing up bookcases causes those bookcases to fall on top of you no matter how many times those bookcases fall.

Among the worst by-products of such cycles is the arrival of hope. Hope, the promise of promises made, does more to keep you fucked than the original fucking because you hold to a vision of how things might be, rather than dealing with how things are. It is wishful, magical thinking that has no support, no ballast, no grounding to allow that vision to come to fruition. It is always Spring. It is always becoming. It never arrives.

Look at the patterns you've established. Do you take the cure from time to time when things run bad only to set it down and forget where you've been, or are you the one washing and feeding the drunk, hoping this time he'll get it right?

Here's how all this ends:

A month after Karl and I saw Bobby screaming at his greasy girlfriend we buried him in a cheap cloth casket. He'd been eating sterno for the alcohol in it and so poisoned himself unto death. His cycle complete.

* * *

If you think this is about boozehounds, you are wrong.

__________

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I Went To

I went to the university and said, "Listen, I don't want to be get back into that bottle." I had put in all the hours necessary for the degree; all I had to do was write the goddamn thesis. They wouldn't let me move into another place and continue my education, so I said to hell with it. I went up into the woods and spent five years reading. I never got the Ph.D. I learned to live on nothing. I was free and had no responsibilities. It was marvelous.

- Joseph Campbell

* * *

This past year was a time of no risk for me. Zero. To others looking in it might not have looked that way, but I knew better. The efforts, the motions, my words and deeds were meant only to comfort my fuckedness, not undo it. Risk always means letting something go, choosing one thing over another and saying good-bye to what has to be left behind. I had no such interest. Everything was done with an eye to keeping it all, to not choosing one thing over another, but holding onto flowing waters.

The equation was happiness exists in my memory, not in the present, so I will remain in the past. Simple.

But it was a lie, a sweet, sweet lie that meant no harm, but was worse than any outward circumstance because now I'd lost my balance and could not withstand, bear, or overcome any circumstance. I'd put myself in irons.

Campbell's story of leaving his Ph.D. behind so he could pursue his education is a stunner. This is the Depression and he walks away from certitude, from a decent job, and instead spends the next five years of his life reading in order to become who he was.

Fucking brilliant.

How many times have you been told, or in fact have told others, to get a degree as a fallback - "You can always teach." Bullshit. Only teachers should teach. It is hard work and nobody needs a bunch of panty-waisted losers who can't make up their mind about what they want to be when they grow up at the front of any classroom.

The fucked life is a hedged life, the bet always being covered by an opposite bet - no losses, no victories.

* * *

Midway on our life's journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost. To tell,
About those woods is hard -- so tangled and rough

And savage that thinking of it now, I feel
The old fear stirring - death is hardly more bitter.
And yet, to treat of the good I found there as well

I'll tell what I saw, though how I came to enter
I cannot well say, being so full of sleep
Whatever moment it was I began to blunder

Off the true path. But when I came to stop
Below a hill that marked one end of the valley
That had pierced my heart with terror, I looked up

Toward the crest and saw its shoulders already
Mantled in rays of that bright planet that shows
The road to everyone, whatever our journey.


- Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Canto I, trans. Robert Pinsky

* * *

The fucked life is an old story. It is the very stuff of all our stories. Something must always be left behind, let go of, destroyed in order for what's next to emerge, in order for life to proceed, to fulfill itself. Resisting the call of life, clinging to the past out of woundedness, out of longing, is an immature response - one not worthy of the breath you draw.

You act as if your trials and troubles and crosses to bear are the sum total of what life affords you. They are - until you set them down and set out for the woods and spend the next five years reading, or whatever it is you have to do in order to live your name.

All you have to lose is your fucked life.

__________

Friday, July 2, 2010

Maybe It's Not

Maybe it's not all at once, maybe it is more a question of slippage, the incremental and impossible to notice in-the-moment erosion of integrity that happens when an excuse - any excuse is made - but the fucked, invariably, are liars. You can't have one without the other.

Consider:

Your work is to discover your work
And then with your whole heart
To give yourself to it.
- Dhammapada

Put your principles in to action - now. Stop with the excuses and procrastination. This is your life! You aren't a child any more.
- Epictetus

The great problem is bringing life back into the wasteland, where people live inauthentically.
- Joseph Campbell

Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems, and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
- Viktor Frankl

Each is tacking towards the same pole: authenticity. The fucked are inauthentic. The fucked compromise themselves and their lives by claiming exception to the tasks life constantly sets before them. The fucked want to be excused, an exception made for them because they have no ballast, no sense of who they are, and are storm-tossed, rootless, hungry ghosts who have lost the capacity to know they are lying to themselves.

* * *

I know that when I have allowed myself the luxury of being a victim to outside circumstance my life has been miserable, unlivable. This draw to exception, this draw to pity, this draw to woe-is-me compounds, by a power of ten, the already difficult matter of dealing with/overcoming/surviving that outside circumstance because now the burden shifts way from my consciousness and I am at the mercy of a universe that has no such human capacity.

Lies beget more lies and the lies you tell yourself are the worst of all because they infect everything: you are the contagion.

But you are also the cure.

The fucked life does not have to be permanent. It can be and often is, but it can also be undone. Just as the habit of lying to oneself is incremental, so too the cure: it doesn't happen all at once. It happens over time. It happens moment to moment. It happens when you choose to live by your name regardless of anyone's approval, or lack thereof. Happiness is won when you quit making excuses for yourself, when you quit blaming the universe for your troubles and can carry your responsibilities without looking for some one to applaud you.

It is your choice.

... every failure to cope with a life situation must be laid, in the end, to a restriction of consciousness. Wars and temper tantrums are the makeshifts of ignorance; regrets are illuminations come too late.
- Joseph Campbell

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